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The Welfare State Under Attack

FT: Currency dispute damages emerging nations. Korea Herald: Japan struggles to maintain its dignity. Asia Times: Turkey seeks closer ties with China.

US-China currency dispute impacts emerging nations

Felipe Larraín, finance minister of Chile, writes in the Financial Times that the current standoff between China and the US over exchange rate policies has significant implications for emerging nations in Latin America and Asia. To prevent greater impacts on the global economy, both the United States and China must act to eliminate global imbalances and exchange rate pressures on developing nations.

QUOTE: If they don’t they will place an even heavier burden on those emerging economies whose potential for growth can help push the world into a new era of sustained prosperity. That would be in the interests of all nations – China and the US included.

Japan struggles to maintain its dignity

Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former minister of defense and national security adviser, writes in the Korea Herald that Japan is struggling to maintain its dignity as it faces an increasingly aggressive China, which wants to dominate the Pacific.

QUOTE: Meanwhile, China is following its own definition of “dignity,” which looks to almost everyone in Asia – other than [Prime Minister] Kan’s government – as a right to dominate. Indeed, China no longer even tries to hide its desire for hegemony in the Pacific.

The collapse of North Korea’s regime would throw the world in disarray

Columnist Fareed Zakaria writes in the Washington Post that North Korea shows many signs of instability and poses the very real risk of collapsing. He argues that if the United States, China and South Korea do not prepare for this, “all hell will break loose.”

QUOTE: When North Korea collapses, it is easy to imagine chaos on the Korean peninsula that triggers a series of reactions from Beijing and Washington that are competing and hostile. Forget genteel rows over the yuan's value -- this is what could produce serious geopolitical instability.

China uses its monopoly on rare earth deposits to bully its neighbors

Columnist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that China now has a monopoly on rare earth deposits. This poses a danger to national security interests of the United States and China’s neighbors. Furthermore, China’s recent export restrictions violate international trade laws. 

QUOTE: Couple the rare earth story with China’s behavior on other fronts — the state subsidies that help firms gain key contracts, the pressure on foreign companies to move production to China and, above all, that exchange-rate policy — and what you have is a portrait of a rogue economic superpower, unwilling to play by the rules.

India strives to prove the success of its Commonwealth Games

South Asia correspondent Amanda Hodge writes in the Australian that Indian public opinion quickly went from criticism over alleged corruption and government ineptitude before the Commonwealth Games, to celebrating the event’s success. She writes that Indians are hypersensitive to any news that might distract from the story of the nation as an emerging economic power.

QUOTE: It will be interesting to see how Indian authorities deal with those responsible for the mismanagement and corruption now that the Games have ended and the spotlight is off. Perhaps the true test for India is not whether it has sold a modern, transparent image to the rest of the world, but whether it can prove it to its own population.

Fear of nuclear power dictates policy

David Ropeik, an instructor at Harvard University, writes in Project Syndicate that nuclear power scares individuals not because of its actual risks but because of its psychological characteristics. These fears lead to policy decisions that can put people in more dangerous situations.

QUOTE: Our fear of nuclear power has led to energy economics that favor coal and oil for electricity, at great cost to human and environmental health. Particulate pollution from fossil fuels kills tens of thousands of Europeans every year, and CO2 emissions fuel a potentially calamitous shift in global climate.

Europe targets welfare benefits in effort to reduce expenditures

Guy Sorman, a French philosopher and economist, writes in the Japan Times that the welfare state has enjoyed popularity in Europe for decades as it delivered the best of both capitalism and socialism. But now, as nations face bankruptcy, the welfare state is under attack.

QUOTE: European states have no choice but to reduce their expenditures, and targeting welfare benefits that represent, on average, half of European public spending is the easiest way to bring immediate fiscal relief. The welfare state will not vanish from Europe, but it is set to be scaled back.

Community Party elders show disillusionment with China’s censorship

Columnist L. Gordon Crovitz writes in the Wall Street Journal that there is a growing number of disillusioned citizens, journalists, and even Communist Party elders in China who are demanding that the country open up.

QUOTE: By censoring news in recent years about toxic baby formula, the SARS virus and blood centers infected with AIDS, Beijing has encouraged cynicism by its citizens about its own government. Even the elite—even the premier—wonder about their own liberties.

UK spending cuts will heighten levels of poverty and inequality

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, writes in the Guardian that Britain does not have to go forward with its draconian spending cuts. He argues that Britain should address the deficit by creating more jobs and stimulating the economy.

QUOTE: The cuts threaten to reintroduce Victorian levels of poverty and inequality. The coalition has used the notion of "fairness" as cover for a new division of people into the deserving and undeserving poor, and a demonization of those receiving welfare.

Turkey seeks closer ties with China

Saban Kardas, an associate instructor in the political science department of the University of Utah, writes in the Asia Times that Turkey and China have expressed an interest in establishing closer ties. Turkey has sought to show it can make trade decisions independent of its relationship with the United States.

QUOTE: [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan described the decision to use mutual currencies as a step to cement the strategic partnership between China, which is likely to dominate the world economy in the years to come, and Turkey, an emerging economy.