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'This one's on us'

WashPost: Congress should confront China over its currency. WSJ: Closer ties with the US would benefit Japan’s global position. NYT: China’s blogosphere pushes its leaders to be more assertive

US Congress and big business should confront China over its currency

Columnist Harold Meyerson writes in the Washington Post that the U.S. Congress should do more to pressure China to change its currency policy. He also argues that American big business should stand up to China, but it is too afraid to offend its government.

QUOTE: American big business is now so inextricably invested in China that it won't defend or promote American-based manufacturing. Those tasks have fallen to our largest manufacturing union.

China has obstacles to overcome before it’s a strong economic power

Lan Lijun, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Canada, writes in Toronto’s Globe and Mail that despite China’s successes, it is not yet a great economic power. Its massive population amplifies any and all of its social and economic problems, and the country’s overall productivity is still low.

QUOTE: A country’s capacity or a nation’s strength is not only judged by its GDP numbers, but also by the quality of its citizens, its creativity, as well as its industrial, agricultural, military and international competitiveness. To be honest, we still have a long way to go in all of these areas.

South Korea makes troubling intelligence failures

An editorial in Sentaku, a monthly magazine covering Japan, argues that South Korean President Lee Myun Bak is to blame for a number of mistakes his country made in trying to gather intelligence on North Korea. It argues that South Korea has lost its ability to collect accurate information on the North or control its actions.

QUOTE: The Lee administration has pursued the policy of confrontation with the North, believing that the United States is always behind Seoul, but its actions are frightening neighboring countries that are concerned with the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Closer ties with the US would benefit Japan’s global position

Patrick Cronin, a senior adviser and Asia Security Program senior director at the Center for a New American Security, and Daniel Kliman, a visiting fellow, write in the Wall Street Journal that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan should exert his leadership by forging closer ties with the United States. For starters, Japan and the United States should strengthen their cooperation on intelligence gathering.

QUOTE: It would be fitting if a reaffirmed Mr. Kan begins to realize the alliance's potential to redefine Japan's position in a changing world.

China’s blogosphere pushes leaders to be more assertive

Columnist Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that the blogosphere has become the de facto voice of the Chinese people since they do not have other democratic means of expressing themselves. And the bloggers, he writes, are pushing China to be more assertive on a global level.

QUOTE: the Chinese blogosphere, where a whole generation of Chinese schooled by the government on the notion that the US and the West want to keep China down, now have their own megaphones to denounce any Chinese official who compromises too much as “pro-American” or “a traitor.”

New banking rules will not create a safe system

Columnist Martin Wolf writes in the Financial Times that new global banking rules are too weak to be effective. He argues that what is emerging is “simply insufficient.”

QUOTE: The regulators are trying to make the existing financial system less unsafe, incrementally. That is better than nothing. But it will not create a safe system.

Kim Jong-il’s son has a challenger: his aunt

Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former minister of defense and national security adviser, writes on Project Syndicate that Kim Jong Il is widely expected to pass his power onto his son. However, the leader’s sister, Kim Kyong-hui, may intervene and try to take the power herself.

QUQUOTE: There is, indeed, a growing belief that Kim Jong-il might, at any moment, designate Kim Kyong-hui to serve as a caretaker for the third-generation successor after his death. But Kim Kyong-hui may have other plans, such as becoming Kim Jong-il’s successor herself.

Baby Boomers should pass on an America that’s free from debt

Michael Kinsley writes in the Atlantic that it is the obligation of the United States’ Baby Boomer generation, which ran up massive public and private debt, to salvage the American economy.

QUOTE: We should pass on to the next generation an America that’s free from debt. Instead of ignoring it, or arguing endlessly about whose fault it is and who should pay for it, Boomers as an age cohort should just grab the check and say, “This one’s on us.”

Berlusconi leads Italy’s descent

James Walston, a professor of international relations at the American University of Rome, writes in Foreign Policy that Italy has suffered greatly as a result of the misguided leadership of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. His administration has been plagued by conflicts of interest, scandals, lack of direction, foreign policy gaffes and domestic woes.

QUOTE: It's a shame Berlusconi is so preoccupied with his own survival, because his country is in big trouble. Italy's relative decline began almost 20 years ago, when it became clear the economy was not able to face the new challenges of globalization,but every year production figures go down with respect to Europe, and of course China and the other emerging economies.

China warns Japan over “ridiculous, illegal” acts

Freelance writer Peter Brown writes in the Asia Times that the dispute between China and Japan over an incident near the Senkaku Islands shows that China may be becoming more aggressive over the East China Sea.

QUOTE: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the Japanese actions as a whole in this instance violated the law of nations and were "ridiculous, illegal and invalid". "Japan will reap as it has sown, if it continues to act recklessly," Jiang warned.