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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

November 21, 2013

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers around the world:

Nov. 18

The Australian Times on a real leap forward for China:

After the disappointment of the third plenum of the Chinese Communist Party, the announcement of sweeping changes aimed at remaking the economy will help restore perceptions of President Xi Jinping as a serious reformer in the mold of Deng Xiaoping. Deng’s foresight transformed the country from an agrarian backwater into the world’s second biggest economy.

The long-overdue relaxation of the ruthlessly applied one-child policy, imposed 34 years ago, is gaining most attention. While highly significant, it is one part of an ambitious blueprint covering 60 major reforms, with the potential to change the face of China. The reforms should liberalize its financial sector, making it more hospitable to private enterprise.

Much has been left unchanged. The foundations of government control over the economy, including the collective ownership of land and Communist Party control of state-owned enterprises, remain. So does one-party rule, with no dissent or democracy permitted.

The judicial reforms are welcome, especially the end of the draconian “re-education labor camps” in which people were arbitrarily imprisoned without formal arrest or trial.

As a symbol of the change, nothing is more significant than the relaxation of the one-child policy. The abolition of what has been a gross violation of human rights and an intrusion into family life is being mooted as “an adjustment and perfection of the family planning policy”. Such spin cannot disguise the demographic imbalances caused by the policy.

These have eroded economic growth and created a rapidly aging population the country has little hope of supporting. China would probably have another 400 million people without the one-child policy. There is a surplus of 25 million single males and the working-age population is shrinking. China has 200 million elderly people and the number is rising.

Wisely, Xi has recognized the need to confront such imbalances. His liberalizing blueprint has the potential to be as important as Deng’s 1978 initiation of the so-called “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” policy. But Xi is yet to grasp the nettle of how to deal with the dissent and demand for political change arising from the country’s economic success.




Nov. 19

China Daily on Biden visit to build mutual trust:

The United States Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew paid a visit to Beijing on Friday and Saturday and US Vice-President Joe Biden is also expected to visit China next month.

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong is visiting the United States where she will co-chair with US Secretary of State John Kerry the fourth China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange.

Such frequent high-level exchanges after the Third Plenum of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee indicate both countries are keen to build a new type of major country relationship, said an opinion piece from Xinhua.

The Third Plemum is an epoch-making event as it marks a new historical era for deepening reforms in a comprehensive way and the realization of a series of major strategic objectives. Naturally the US is eager to learn more about the direction of China’s future development.

The summit meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama held in June in California charted a new blueprint for the future of China-US relations. During the meeting, Xi called on the two sides to work together to build a new type of relations between major countries in an innovative and active way to serve the fundamental interests of the two peoples and to promote development and progress of human society.

There have been 15 times in recorded history when a new power has emerged, and 11 of them ended up in confrontation and war between the emerging power and the old power.

However, it is a different world today. China and the US must build a new type of major country relationship.

Intensive high-level visits and contacts enable the two countries to have in-depth discussions on issues of mutual concern, jointly work out solutions to these issues and translate the concept of a new type of major country relationship into reality.

Under the backdrop that domestic issues have become increasingly acute in the US, the Barack Obama administration might have a growing penchant for multilateralism in its foreign policy. The US is counting on China as a country to cooperate with it on international issues such as denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the Iranian nuclear standoff.

Under such circumstances, the US should shoulder more responsibility in increasing strategic trust with China.




Nov. 15

Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News on Obama should keep his word on health care:

It would be better to scrap the Affordable Care Act and start over on health care reform, but considering that it is President Barack Obama’s most important achievement and his cooperation would be necessary, that’s unlikely to happen.

At the very least, the president and Congress should make the law live up to the promises they made to the American people. The president suggested he would Thursday but didn’t detail exactly how.

Democrats wonder if they are about to be bitten a second time by the president’s baby. Obama rammed the law through Congress without the vote of a single Republican and without the vote of a number of Democrats.

Nothing says that even the most important law has to get a broad consensus of support. No law says it has to have the majority of the American public’s support. A law, big or small, just needs the support of a congressional majority and the president’s signature. But it is good politics and good statesmanship to seek broad approval.

Republicans understood that and used it to their advantage. In the wake of Obamacare’s passage, voters punished the Democrats and handed over control of the House of Representatives to Republicans in 2010.

Those troublesome off-year elections — particularly troubling for the party in power of second-term presidents — are rolling around again, and the Affordable Care Act still hangs around the necks of Democrats like the Mariner’s albatross. The bird smells particularly bad right now.

Republicans might have chosen the wrong vehicle for combating Obamacare when they shut down parts of the federal government. But their idea to block Obamacare isn’t looking so unreasonable anymore.

The millions of unwanted policy cancellation notices are just part of the problem. Many people are facing unsustainable premium increases. Some are the result of consumers paying for coverage they don’t need.

Republicans have had their moment of sullen stubbornness. Obama should pass on the opportunity to be similarly bullheaded and propose changes to the ACA that would allow people to keep their policies and give consumers some relief from their premium sticker shock. A leader ought to make good on his word.




Nov. 13

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Miley Cyrus being a bad role model for teenage base:

Miley Cyrus would be wise to go back and view some of her performances in her former TV show “Hannah Montana” and take some lessons on how a young lady should carry herself.

The girl we saw then is definitely not the same person we see today.

The sweet, innocent girl from years ago is now a 20-year-old pop star who has turned her nice girl image into one of a trashy vamp who seems to care more about making some kind of statement about herself.

She is now best known for being scantily clad and performing provocative dance moves, behaviors that make her a rotten role model for young girls.

Most recently, she set another bad example by smoking a joint on stage in Amsterdam at the MTV Europe Music Awards, along with the trampy dance moves.

Cyrus should be really proud of herself. Smoking a joint in a country where smokers can’t be prosecuted should really enhance her image as one who flaunts her unconventional style.

What kind of message does this send to the millions of her teenage followers?

It tells them that drugs are OK and that flaunting their bodies is how young women can get ahead. Talent alone not enough?

Cyrus should remember those who got her to where she is now. Many of them are the people who remember her as the innocent Hannah Montana.

To add insult to injury, after the incident occurred she tweeted to her fans, “Sometimes in life you just gotta decide to not give AF,” she tweeted Monday after the ceremony.

This is a prime example of someone who learned absolutely nothing from the outcry that followed her earlier behavior.

The worst part is that countless teenagers who follow Cyrus might get the impression that doing drugs and acting out in a sexual manner is OK at that tender age.

That simply isn’t the case, and we hope her young fans don’t follow her lead.

Cyrus has become a horrible role model. She should apologize to her fans about the dangers of drugs and begin ramping down her edgier performances.

She owes that to her younger fans who might draw the wrong conclusions from her actions.




Nov. 14

Kansas City Star on pressing ahead on Iranian deal to stop nuclear weapons:

The recent breakdown of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program was disappointing in many ways and to many people. But there’s still hope that a reasonable, verifiable agreement can be reached in the next round of talks beginning next week.

The United States, which has spent considerable diplomatic resources to move these talks toward a promising conclusion, must continue to be guided by two principles it has long promoted: Iran must never be allowed to build a nuclear weapon, and a deal with Iran must not compromise Israel’s security.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have been firm on those principles even when they’ve differed with Israel over the direction these negotiations have taken.

It’s not entirely clear what caused the current stalemate, though evidence suggests that not all the foreign ministers of the so-called P5+1 countries — the U.S., France, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and Germany — were in agreement with the two-step deal that seemed to be nearing completion last weekend. France, in particular, appeared to adopt Israel’s stance that the proposed agreement was, in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words, a “bad deal for peace.”

Is Netanyahu right? That’s hard to know because there have been few substantive leaks from inside the negotiations. And if the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was correct when he declared that this might be “a sucker’s deal,” then of course it must be rejected.

But it’s worth noting that Kerry insists the U.S. is not “blind” or “stupid” about negotiating with Tehran. ...

Although the Iranian people generally have shown themselves to be hungry for peace and in harmony with many Western values, the governments of Iran have promoted opposite positions in recent decades. But now that a radical Holocaust denier and loose cannon, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has left the presidency and been replaced by someone who appears to be more of a moderate reformer, Hassan Rouhani, there is real reason to hope that a verifiable nuclear deal can be struck with Iran.

As various credible accounts have it, the first step of the plan as now drafted would stop some — but not all — of Iran’s nuclear activity. In turn, Iran would get some relief from the stiff economic sanctions that have battered its economy. ...

Congress, which leans toward adding more, not fewer, sanctions against Iran, will be a tough sell. Congress should not move precipitously, with more negotiations less than a week away. And U.S. diplomats will have to prove that the first part of the proposed deal won’t give Iran six more months to build a bomb. That obviously would be unacceptable.

But it also would be unacceptable for diplomats to fail. If they did, military options — by Israel and others, including the U.S. — would move front and center, perhaps necessarily so. So negotiators must get back to work on a final agreement.




Nov. 17

New York Times on Thailand’s latest troubles:

Thailand is again on the verge of political turmoil. An ill-conceived amnesty bill pushed through the lower house of Parliament by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra earlier this month brought many thousands of demonstrators for and against the government into the streets of Bangkok, putting the country’s fragile democracy in peril.

The amnesty bill proposes to pardon almost anyone facing almost any charge arising from the period of political crisis from 2004 to 2010 — ranging from those charged with ordering the killings of demonstrators by the army and police in 2010 to some 25,000 people charged with graft and tax evasion. The bill would allow former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother, to return to Thailand from self-exile, grant him amnesty from a corruption verdict and restore part of his confiscated fortune.

Thaksin, ousted in 2006 by a military coup, continues to control the ruling Pheu Thai Party. Yingluck proved herself to be a mere proxy of her exiled brother by pushing the amnesty bill. The Bangkok establishment — the military, the business community and those around the royal court — fears and loathes Thaksin, who has support in the rural areas and among the poor. Soon after the demonstrations broke out, Yingluck backed down and all parties of the coalition government have vowed not to revive the bill. But the opposition led by the Democrat Party still wants to topple the government and continues to fan the street demonstrations.

This episode falls into a pattern in Thailand, with government transitions too often a result of mass demonstrations escalating into violence, then leading to a military coup. Since the founding of the Thai constitutional monarchy in 1932, there have been nearly 20 military coups and attempted coups; as many constitutions, charters and interim charters; and 25 amnesties, establishing a culture of political impunity where recklessness, corruption and even murder become the norm. In more recent years, the politically motivated Constitutional Court has at times moved to disband the ruling political party. The court is scheduled to make a ruling on Nov. 20, which could disband the Pheu Thai Party. Since 2006, the court has twice disbanded political parties under Thaksin’s control.

The Thai people deserve justice under law, not by amnesty. The Yingluck government, by pushing for the amnesty bill, has lost the confidence even of some supporters. The antidote to Thailand’s history of politics by coups and dubious court rulings is trust in democratic elections and reforms to strengthen the independence of the judiciary.




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