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China-Japan Feud

FT: China should continue ignoring currency pleas. NYT: America’s super rich are furious. WSJ: New US policy on Myanmar fails to encourage political reform.

Japan expresses its assertiveness over the sea

James Manicom, a postdoctoral fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, writes in the Wall Street Journal that it is surprising that Japan has been as aggressive as China concerning a diplomatic crisis near the Senkaku Islands. Japan has gradually been expressing a more activist posture concerning its maritime presence.

QUOTE: The current standoff represents a new and possibly more dangerous phase of the dispute. Past crises over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands were sparked by nationalist groups. This time the trigger was the exercise of maritime jurisdiction in contested waters by China and Japan, which presents a potent challenge to the "shelve sovereignty disputes, focus on joint development" modus vivendi that has underpinned efforts to defuse tensions.

China should continue ignoring currency pleas

Stephen King, chief economist at HSBC, writes in the Financial Times that if China revalued its currency, this would not affect its competitive position in the global market. The bigger factor than its currency is the nation’s large pool of “under-utilized labor.” Furthermore, due to the size of China’s economy, any yuan appreciation would be a US dollar depreciation.

QUOTE: The US needs to pull back from what is becoming increasingly protectionist rhetoric. Americans should not forget that their own fiscal stimulus has been possible only thanks to the deep pockets of creditor nations such as China. Sanctions would simply send the world into a downward spiral of protectionism, exchange rate upheavals and interest rate shocks.

America’s super rich are furious

Columnist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that wealthy Americans are outraged at the possibility of paying moderately higher taxes. Their rage has become not only more mainstream, but also more acceptable and even fashionable.

QUOTE: The spectacle of high-income Americans, the world’s luckiest people, wallowing in self-pity and self-righteousness would be funny, except for one thing: they may well get their way. Never mind the $700 billion price tag for extending the high-end tax breaks: virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are rushing to the aid of the oppressed affluent.

Honor Chinese dissident with Nobel award

Vaclav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic, Dana Nemcova, a leading Czech human rights advocate, and Vaclav Maly, the bishop of Prague, praise in the International Herald Tribune the work of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and Charter 08, a manifesto calling for government reform and an end to the violation of human rights.

QUOTE: We ask the Nobel Committee to honor Liu Xiaobo’s more than two decades of unflinching and peaceful advocacy for reform, and to make him the first Chinese recipient of that prestigious award.

Despite benefits, people are psychologically averse to inflation

James Surowiecki writes in the New Yorker that it might make smart economic policy for the US Federal Reserve to encourage inflation. However, he argues that this will not happen because people hate inflation, even when it does little damage.

QUOTE:  People believe higher prices reduce their standard of living and make them “poorer.”

China-Japan feud has deep implications for the region

Correspondent Jonathan Adams writes in GlobalPost that the diplomatic feud between Japan and China over a fishing boat incident has deep implications for the region’s future security outlook.

QUOTE: It highlights the deep reservoirs of mistrust and animosity that remain some 65 years after World War II's end — and the failure of diplomacy, at least so far, to bridge that divide.

New US policy fails to support change in Myanmar

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that the US policy of “pragmatic engagement” with Myanmar ahead of the November election has failed to bring about democratic reforms. The junta continues to consolidate its power by ensuring the election is far from free or fair.

QUOTE: President Barack Obama will attend a summit in New York next week of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Burma is a member. If he continues to push dialogue above all else, the generals will get the message that it's business as usual.

Partisan rhetoric hides the complexities of the US economy

Columnist Robert J. Samuelson writes in the Washington Post that both the Democrats and the Republicans are using partisan rhetoric ahead of an election and simplifying the state of the US economy. Real debate on the nation’s challenging and more complex economic questions has been almost nonexistent.

QUOTE:  In an election dominated by the economy, the campaign discourse is strangely disconnected from underlying economic realities. The simplicities of the right collide with the simplicities of the left.

Global community strives to meet anti-poverty goals

Assistant managing editor Elizabeth Dickinson writes in Foreign Policy that the United Nations will assess if countries around the world are on target to meet the Millennium Development Goals and reduce global poverty. She writes that there has been some progress, but not enough.

QUOTE: The most important question now, experts say, is not whether the world can meet these goals, but how and where we won't -- in other words, what we need to do better from here on.

The rich need to be taxed more

Garrett Gruener, the founder of, chief executive of Nanomix and the co-founder and director of the venture capital firm Alta Partners, writes in the Los Angeles Times that President Obama should end the Bush tax cuts on the country’s wealthiest because the change is unlikely to affect business growth or investments. The extra revenue should be invested into American infrastructure and research.

QUOTE: Putting money into infrastructure — such as roads, bridges, broadband, the smart grid and public transit — as well as carefully chosen research initiatives provides a foundation for future growth.