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A Win for China's Dissidents

Economist: Emerging nations must stop acting so cautious. GlobalPost: North Korea shows the limits of American power. WashPost: Beijing refuses to embrace necessary changes.

Peace Prize gives China’s democracy movement a leader

Perry Link, who teaches at the University of California, Riverside, writes in the Wall Street Journal that when the Nobel committee awarded dissident Liu Xiaobo the Peace Prize, they helped give China’s democracy movement a leader to rally around. 

QUOTE: What Charter 08 and Mr. Liu are saying is, "No, 'China' can be something different, something better than a worn-out, old-style authoritarian government." Giving the Peace Prize to Mr. Liu provides a huge boost to that new vision of what China can be.

Emerging nations must stop acting so cautious

An opinion piece in the Economist argues that emerging countries must stop acting like their growth is fragile. They should be spending more and saving less to reduce global imbalances.

QUOTE: Poor countries, especially young ones, ought in theory to invest more than they save, and so be a net source of demand for richer, older ones, all the more so when the latter are in bad shape.

North Korea shows the limits of American power

Columnist HDS Greenway writes in GlobalPost that North Korea reveals the limits of American power. From exporting nuclear technology to the sinking of ships and kidnapping of journalists, North Korea shows time and again that it can act as it likes.

QUOTE: Iran insists it isn’t making a bomb, but an unbelieving America says it won’t take military force off the table. Korea says look over here, we have several bombs now, but military force is already off the table.

Beijing refuses to embrace necessary change

An editorial in the Washington Post states that China made a “remarkable” confession last week that the reason it has kept its currency undervalued is to avoid public unrest. The editorial argues that the comment confirms that China only cares about its own stability and does not worry about the high unemployment around the world.

QUOTE: Mr. Wen's comments show that China's government is running out of plausible excuses for its lack of flexibility. They suggest that the real threat to order, both within China and internationally, is Beijing's refusal to embrace necessary change.

Lack of energy bill shows Washington’s political failure

Columnist Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that the inability by the US Congress to pass an energy bill in the past two years reflects Washington’s lack of power. He argues that the US political system has failed to unite to produce policies the nation needs.

QUOTE: As the Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib once noted: “America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so. A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.”

Obama will have to replace hope with fear

Columnist Edward Luce writes in the Financial Times that President Obama cannot count on an economic recovery or his old message of hope to win him reelection in 2012. He should instead focus on using Americans’ fear of what a Republican president would do to the country.

QUOTE: Franklin Roosevelt famously said “the only thing to fear is fear itself”. Fear usually gets a bad press. But FDR may have undersold its electoral benefits. Fear of terrorism and surrender, for example, worked pretty well to assist George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004.

Developing nations won’t become the global economy’s growth engine

Dani Rodrik, professor of political economy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, writes in Project Syndicate that developing countries are unlikely to be able to carry the global economy because they lack a strategy that would enable them to sustain their growth.

QUOTE: China, in particular, needs to confront the fact that the rest of the world will not allow it to run a huge trade surplus forever. An undervalued currency, which serves to subsidize China’s manufacturing industries, has been a key driver of the country’s economic growth for the last decade. A significant appreciation of the renminbi will reduce or even eliminate that growth subsidy.

Time to cut entitlements in Britain

An opinion piece in the Economist supports the efforts of Britain’s new chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne to reduce the country’s middle class entitlements. It argues that the British must stop expecting the state to be a universal provider of non-essential services.

QUOTE: There are good reasons for the state to provide certain essential services, such as defense, education and health. There are also good reasons for government to help people in difficulties. Beyond that, the state should tend to leave people to make their own decisions with their own money.

Nobel black out shows China’s weakness

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, writes in the Daily Beast that China’s attempts to block all news on dissident Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize highlight the weakness of the state. She writes that his writings are dangerous to the government because they reflect the desires of a growing number of Chinese who want to see reform.

QUOTE: No degree of censorship will prevent countless ordinary Chinese people, government employees, party cadres, and students from wanting to know more about who Liu Xiaobo is, why he was sentenced to prison, and what is so dangerous about Charter 08.

Economists struggle to understand America’s high unemployment

Columnist Robert Samuelson writes in Newsweek that the US continues to see high unemployment because the country’s lack of jobs is cyclical and people then are out of work for so long they do not have the skills needed for the jobs that would be available.

QUOTE: In a weak economy, employers become more picky and cautious. They may advertise a job just to see who applies. Or they won’t hire anyone except an exceptionally qualified candidate. Or they won’t hire until they’re certain that their sales justify more workers.