Monthly Archives: July 2012

Leslie Hook has been reporting on a new vein of activism among young people in China, known as the “post-90” generation — born after 1990.

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Our picks for today include some very different pieces on protests from around the world. Here they are:

These are the pieces that got us talking over the weekend and this morning:

A woman looking at social media website Weibo. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman views social media website Weibo. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

In China, as is doubtless the case elsewhere, the distinction between online and offline is blurring. That presents the Communist party with a potentially dangerous problem. Online comment can serve a useful official function, allowing people to blow off steam and giving them the impression of freedom of expression. So long as it never leaves the realms of hyperspace, no harm done. Read more

We’ve got some gripping reads for you today, from our own pages and elsewhere:

The US and China: Prospects of the world’s largest economies

The eurozone has dominated headlines for months, but what of the other key poles of the world economy, China and the United States? Growth has been slowing in China for months, and the US is also struggling. James Politi in Washington and Jamil Anderlini in Beijing join Gideon Rachman to discuss the prospects of the world’s two largest economies.

Another salvo in the exchange of trade artillery, as the US takes China to the WTO again, this time over Chinese anti-dumping duties on American SUVs. The place and timing of the announcement is obviously political – how awful and cynical, how do these politicians live with themselves – but so what? No surprise or indeed change there.

More interesting is that this signifies (if you are an optimist) that the WTO is doing its job of directing the torrents of protectionist passion down the canals of moderation*, or (for the pessimists) that the WTO’s dispute settlement process is getting clogged up with the consequences of misguided mercantilism.

The US is basically trying to restrain retaliation against one of its own protectionist actions – the ”safeguard” blocks it imposed on imports of Chinese tyres in the fall of 2009. Those also had political intent (possibly more justified, according to my unusually balanced view at the time) but which were also entirely legal. Read more

Let me get this straight, did they just find God in a particle? Not exactly. But yesterday’s announcement that physicists at Cern, the European nuclear research centre, have glimpsed what seems to be the Higgs boson is nevertheless very exciting. Here’s why…  Read more

A quick round up of the stories that got us chattering on the world desk today:

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

An anti-ACTA activist in Berlin. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)

With all eyes on the eurozone crisis (and Barclays), it is easy to overlook other events in Europe which, in their own way, are just as important. I have in mind yesterday’s vote by the European parliament to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), an international accord aimed at cracking down on copyright theft.

From all sorts of angles this was a landmark vote. It was the first time that the European Union’s legislature had exercised its right, granted under the EU’s 2009 Lisbon treaty, to block ratification of an international agreement negotiated by the European Commission and approved by EU governments.

Some might call the vote an excellent illustration of why EU policy makers should never have given this blocking power to the European parliament in the first place.

Others, however, will see the vote as a welcome expansion of democratic control over the EU executive and national governments. This seems to be the sense of a statement issued by France’s ruling Socialist party, which hailed “a new inter-institutional balance of power” in Europe and “the active participation of citizens in the European debate”. Read more

Ukrainian opposition activists clash with riot police on July 4. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages

Ukrainian opposition activists clash with riot police on July 4. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages

Barely had supporters’ chants at the Euro 2012 final in Kiev’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday died out, before politics as usual returned to Ukraine. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning have seen violent clashes between riot police and demonstrators protesting against a law that would upgrade the role of the Russian language in the former Soviet state.

The law was rammed through parliament in a second reading at short notice on Tuesday, after being similarly rammed through a first reading a month ago – just before Euro 2012. It now needs only to be signed by president Viktor Yanukovich to take effect. Read more

Here are the pieces that caught our eyes today on the world desk:

IMF headquarters in Washington.  Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Continued discussion this week on winners and losers at last week’s EU summit, in particular eurozone guru Paul de Grauwe on why the ESM being able to buy sovereign bonds outright (which it already could, btw) is likely to do more harm than good for the likes of Italy and Spain. Using it to recap banks would be more useful, but it will take a while before Germany is satisfied that conditions are in place to take that route. (More evidence, as de Grauwe points out, that the endless bureaucratic EFSF/ESM dance is all just a way of trying to get other agencies to do what the ECB should be doing.)

Where does all this leave the rest of the world - and its favoured tool, the IMF - in its attempts to help the eurozone out of its crisis? The answer: struggling for relevance. The fund isn’t allowed to recapitalise banks directly or buy sovereign bonds in secondary markets; the only way it can use its money is by lending to governments.  Read more

Here are some of the articles that have grabbed our attention from today’s FT and elsewhere:


Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Italy stands on the front line of the eurozone’s battle for survival – but you’d never guess it from the latest available data on Italian public finances.

The cumulative budget deficit fell in the first half of this year to €29.1bn from €43.9bn in the same period of 2011, according to the finance ministry. If you exclude its debt servicing costs, Italy is running a central government surplus of more than 3 per cent of gross domestic product. This is fiscal virtue unmatched elsewhere in southern Europe – or in much of northern Europe, for that matter. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

“Life outside the EU holds no terror.” With that single phrase, Liam Fox has placed himself at the head of the large faction within the Conservative party that wants Britain to detach itself from the EU. As the euro crisis intensifies that faction will grow in size, both inside the Tory party and within Britain as a whole. Read more

Enrique Peña Nieto

Enrique Peña Nieto on July 2 (Daniel Aguilar/Getty Images)

What will the rest of Latin America make of Enrique Peña Nieto’s election as Mexico’s new president – and, with him, the return to power of the PRI?

Latin America felt like a very different place the last time Mexico held presidential elections in 2006. Back then, commodity prices were soaring and free-spending populist governments (or the “new Latin American left”, as they was sometimes characterised) were sweeping the polls. That is why the near-win in Mexico by leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka Amlo) was so closely watched. It would have made Mexico the crowning piece of a regional jigsaw dominated by populist (to varying degrees) or leftist (depending on how you view them) presidents in Argentina and Brazil, plus the more ideological group of ALBA nations – Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. At the time, such regional attention may also have emboldened Amlo, who went on to protest for three months, during sit-ins in Mexico City’s main thoroughfares and central square, that his victory has been stolen by Felipe Calderón’s centre right PAN.

Today, however, the regional political landscape has shifted. Populist (or leftist) governments are no longer ascendant. Read more

Here are some of the articles, photo essays and blog posts that have attracted our attention from today’s FT and elsewhere: