US Opinion and Commentary

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China Struggles for Balance in Response to North Korea’s Boldness

Posted February 8th, 2016 at 10:09 am (UTC-5)
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It is unclear how long President Xi Jinping of China will tolerate what some analysts here are calling the humiliation of his country at the hands of a capricious Mr. Kim. But there are no immediate signs that Beijing will radically change course and turn away from its traditional ally.

My Secret Life as a Forbidden Second Child in China

Posted February 4th, 2016 at 5:03 pm (UTC-5)
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I did not know what “against the law” meant — I was too young — but I knew I was a second child, since family and neighbors sometimes called me “little number two.” My mind raced with questions. Among my favorite toys, what should I hide first before those people came to demolish my house?

North Korea: China’s Tar Baby

Posted January 13th, 2016 at 8:37 am (UTC-5)
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[T]he only real reason North Korea has yet to collapse is China’s largesse. … Why does China continue to prop up a regime that, as the “tar baby” of Asia, increasingly threatens to drag China itself into the vortex of nuclear war?

Vietnam Dangles at the Tip of the Chinese Spear

Posted January 8th, 2016 at 12:22 pm (UTC-5)
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Vietnam knows a rapidly militarizing China wants its natural resources, and is responding to this undisguised aggression with its own significant military buildup to protect itself. There are also cautious overtures being made to the United States by Vietnam, perhaps hoping to tuck itself beneath the security umbrella enjoyed by other U.S. allies in Asia…

China Is Sneezing Hard, Infecting Global Markets

Posted January 7th, 2016 at 4:53 pm (UTC-5)
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It’s a terrible start of the year for world financial markets. All of the major U.S. stock indexes dropped for the fourth straight day, losing about 5% of value since the start of the year. It was not unexpected. Twice this week, Beijing halted trading on the Chinese stock market after steep sell-offs. Just 29 minutes after opening Thursday, China’s market plunged seven percent. Europe and the United States braced themselves for the aftershocks. The government has been trying to address China’s trend of dramatically slower growth with policy tweaks – this week, by devaluing the yuan in a controlled manner. But the psychological calculations that drive traders to dump stock are not always predictable. Some economists say not to worry: this is to be expected and it is nowhere as bad as China’s sell off last summer. But the fact remains that when China sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. For global markets, 2016 has gotten off to a rocky start.

Look for America’s Enemies to Take Advantage of Obama’s Last Year

Posted January 7th, 2016 at 1:09 pm (UTC-5)
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China, with impunity, has fortified seven newly created artificial islands located in the hotly disputed Spratlys archipelago. … Will Beijing seek to push the envelope even more in 2016, fearful that the next president in 2017 — whether Hillary Clinton or a Republican — could be more like Truman or Reagan than Carter or Barack […]

North Korea’s Latest Nuclear Test Tests Global Limits

Posted January 6th, 2016 at 4:37 pm (UTC-5)
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North Korea’s boastful announcement that it tested a hydrogen bomb is being met with condemnation, skepticism and concern. The United States, United Nations, NATO, China and Russia all condemned the nuclear test. But the White House is casting doubt on the technological leap Pyongyang claims, saying “the initial analysis is not consistent with … a successful hydrogen bomb test.” A final determination is weeks away as the International Atomic Energy Agency and other intelligence gathering agencies investigate. In the meantime, diplomats are considering another round of economic sanctions North Korea as punishment. And foreign policy experts are weighing in on the possible fallout from this test: that is, whether or not North Korea has gone from fission to fusion.

Courage on Trial in China

Posted December 22nd, 2015 at 8:21 am (UTC-5)
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Over the years, [Pu] Zhiqiang has defended many journalists, petitioners and human rights activists. His legal advocacy, along with his valor and superior skills, made him a target for political persecution. The leadership sees his rising influence as a threat.

Unaccountable China

Posted December 18th, 2015 at 3:55 pm (UTC-5)
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… China has been engaged in the frenzied creation of artificial islands and the militarization of the South China Sea … a strategically crucial corridor through which $5.3 trillion in trade flows each year. But what is even more shocking … is that China has incurred no international costs for its behavior.

COP21: Turning Point or Empty Promises?

Posted December 14th, 2015 at 11:32 am (UTC-5)
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Nearly 200 nations signed the Paris accord to tackle climate change – but signing isn’t implementing, critics say. The deal sets out to commit signatories to reduce carbon emissions, but the targets are not legally binding. And that worries those who don’t trust big polluters, like China and India, to act. Even its most ardent supporters aren’t dismissing inherent flaws. Top US negotiator Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged this in an appearance on ABC News a day after the deal was announced Saturday. “I understand the criticisms of the agreement because it doesn’t have a mandatory scheme and it doesn’t have a compliance enforcement mechanism…. That’s true.” The other worry for detractors is that because the agreement is not a “treaty,” US congressional approval is not mandatory for ratification. Optimists point out that, while imperfect, the pact is a serious beginning, evidence that the world is no longer ignoring that which cannot be ignored.

2015 Paris Climate Conference: Another Bad Deal for America

Posted December 1st, 2015 at 11:06 am (UTC-5)
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…The EPA and other federal agencies are forcing accelerated reductions on U.S. industries to meet harsher COP21 targets. That makes energy more expensive and encourages manufacturers to relocate to China where environmental enforcement is lax.

The Heat Is On

Posted November 30th, 2015 at 2:23 pm (UTC-5)
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Expectations are high in Paris for a deal to slow global warming. President Barack Obama laid down the gauntlet during a trip to Alaska, saying “This year, in Paris, has to be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.” There are hopeful signs: the debate is no longer whether or not climate change exists, but how to curb the greenhouse gases that cause it. As negotiators from 195 countries try to hammer out an agreement over the next two weeks, some experts are saying it’s a waste of time. Why? Because there is no set benchmark or standard built into the process of promising exactly how much a given country must reduce emissions. Still others say that softer approach is exactly how to convince leaders to act, if not now, then in future.

Chinese-Americans Are Being Caught Mistakenly in the U.S.’s Cybercrime Dragnet

Posted November 13th, 2015 at 11:09 am (UTC-5)
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…While the danger posed by Chinese agents may indeed be real, so is the danger of overreacting to it.

India’s Dizzying Growth Is Not to Be Ignored

Posted November 12th, 2015 at 5:36 pm (UTC-5)
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This week, President Barack Obama used a newly-established “hotline” to send India his best as it marked Diwali, the country’s famed festival of lights. That same day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted the following: “President Obama & I look forward to meeting in Turkey during the G20 Summit.” It all sounds rather chummy. But not to economists and the like, who warn the United States is missing out on THE moment to engage more deeply with New Delhi. Why? Because this year, India surpassed China, becoming the world’s fastest growing major economy.

It’s Going to Take a Lot More Than a Historic Handshake to Fix China’s Relations With Taiwan

Posted November 9th, 2015 at 12:09 pm (UTC-5)
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It’s always better to talk than fight (there was much mention of peace by Xi and Ma). Yet, beyond the show of symbolism, the summit was underwhelming — a milestone but not a breakthrough, because it was much more about the past than the present or future.