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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 18/01/2011

 

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Hu Jintao starts self-confident visit to US

 

The Chinese President Hu Jintao sets out today for a four-day visit to the US. Contentious issues like the dominance of the dollar and China's growing military strength are on the agenda for discussions with President Barack Obama. The US once again faces an equal adversary, Europe's press writes.

La Vanguardia - Spain

China on equal footing with US

Ahead of his state visit to Washington Chinese President Hu Jintao has criticised US monetary policy. China is growing to be the US's equal as a superpower, the daily La Vanguardia writes: "Hu Jintao comes not just as the president of an up-and-coming major power but also as a no less powerful banker who has invested almost a billion dollars in US public debts. China's post-Maoist policy has been successful, and this poses a challenge for the US as the only superpower at present. … This successs can be summed up by the fact that China has managed to create a mutual dependence with the US. This is the equivalent of the mutual assured destruction between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War." (18/01/2011)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Dollar has had its day as global currency

Chinese President Hu Jintao has criticised the dominance of the dollar in the run-up to his visit to the US this week. It would not be a bad thing at all for China to dethrone the dollar as the global currency, writes the left-liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung: "The world doesn't need a dominant currency as an anchor, be it the dollar or the yuan. The finance crisis demonstrated how dangerous it is when a state gets too cocky with an overly powerful currency. The US was able to run up unlimited debt because everyone needed dollars to pay with. Now the bubble has burst. China has emerged stronger than ever from the crisis, and Europe will also regain confidence. The global economy is big enough for several international currencies. From a historic point of view that would be nothing new: before 1914 the British pound, the French franc and the German mark shared the role of international currencies. Today it could be the dollar, the euro and the yuan. The global economy of the 21st century is ruled by several powers. There is no reason why that shouldn't also hold for the currency market." (18/01/2011)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

Dialogue needed on military power

A new subject is likely to be on the agenda during the Chinese president's visit to the US, writes economist Zhang Wei in the business paper Jornal de Negócios, namely "China's growing military power and influence in the Asian-Pacific region. … However China's position on potential Chinese-American military dialogue remains unclear. Despite its reluctance to conduct strategic dialogue with the US China seems to relish the attention the US is paying its growing military power. … The whole story shows that an aspiring military power will inevitably come into conflict with an existing one if there is no regular, effective dialogue between the two. In that case China's claim to be aiming for a peaceful rise would sound hollow. China, the Asian-Pacific region and the whole world would be the victims." (17/01/2011)

POLITICS

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Sme - Slovakia

Tunisia is a special case

A few days after the fall of Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the head of government Mohammed Ghannouchi has presented an interim government with a cabinet including several members of the opposition, as well as ministers of the old government. The liberal daily Sme is not all too optimistic: "In the broad spectrum of the more or less dictatorial and undemocratic Arab regimes the Tunisian is among the most pro-West, most open and most secular. And this is another reason why the Tunisian revolution will not trigger a wave of democratisation across the Arab world, irrespective of whether these populations suffer from similar problems as the Tunisians. … Tunisia is an exception because the only real alternative there is not Islamic fundamentalism but an even harsher tyranny. A glance at the Iran of the ayatollahs or Hamas in the Gaza Strip suffices to understand why the democratic West waits before applauding when Arab or Islamic dictators fall." (18/01/2011)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Marine Le Pen is dangerous indeed

The elderly Jean-Marie Le Pen has handed over the leadership of his extreme right-wing party Front National (FN) to his daughter. Marine Le Pen should not be underestimated, warns the left-liberal daily The Guardian: "What is inescapable is that the current thrust of French politics is towards the right. President Nicolas Sarkozy, who last year instigated a national identity debate aimed at making people feel proud about their Gallic culture, is as aware as anyone that the 15% of voters who support the FN will prove crucial at the 2012 presidential elections. There has even been talk of a coalition between the FN and his ruling UMP party. Marine's strategic guile will be crucial to the contest. Those who write her off as pampered 'daughter-of' will, in the months and years ahead, be unpleasantly surprised." (18/01/2011)

Wprost Online - Poland

Pension reform divides Poland

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced at the beginning of the year a pension reform slated for April. It will reshuffle pension contributions in such a way that the part of their salaries which employees had previously paid towards their own pensions as a capital investment in the state-organised OFE pension funds will now be set aside for pensioners. The online edition of news magazine Wprost takes exception to the plans: "In its search for sources for financing the growing public debt, the government has opted for a double game: the financial service providers who manage the OFE open pension funds and the powerful political lobby that backs them symbolise part of the conflict. The second part is Polish society. The contributions that Poles have invested in a better future have been the most important source for their pensions up to now. The representatives of the OFEs certainly won't just sit back and allow this. They will try to find new ways of compensating for the losses they incur through the reduction of the contributions." (18/01/2011)

Sega - Bulgaria

Sanader case a litmus test for Croatia

Croatia is demanding the extradition of ex-prime minister Ivo Sanader, who has been imprisoned for several weeks in Austria. Investigations into corruption and money laundering on Sanader's part are currently underway in both countries. Croatia's determination to face up to its past has everything to do with its desire to join the EU, writes the daily Sega: "Croatia wants to break with its corrupt past, there can be no doubt about that. However this is not just a question of determination, but also of what actions are taken. For that reason Zagreb is impatiently awaiting Sanader's extradition from Austria. Nevertheless Sanader could upset the plans of many of his countrymen should he decide to give testimony before the committee of inquiry. ... His case will be a litmus test for the Croatian judiciary's ability to deal independently with serious challenges like the corruption of politicians and clientelism." (17/01/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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Blog Aktuálně.cz - Czech Republic

Fabiano Golgo on nations' inner cultural filters

Brazilian journalist Fabiano Golgo writes in his blog on Aktuálně.cz that concerns about a European melting pot are countered by an inner filter which all nations possess: "Italians haven't suddenly started drinking tea at 5 p.m. just because they're in the EU along with the Brits. The French are no less French just because the Germans are also in the EU. The only cultural specificities likely to cross borders are those that strike other nations as advantageous. There is a natural filter that causes the Spanish to speak Spanish and not Latin although Spanish is rooted in Latin. Local culture will always emerge victorious. The Slovakians didn't become Czech just from being the Slovakian part of Czechoslovakia. ... And incidentally, dumplings aren't a Czech speciality. As a child I ate them in Brazil - not in Czech, but in Chinese restaurants. Perhaps Marco Polo brought the dumpling to Europe? All of my Brazilian acquaintances who visit me here have a favourite dish at Czech restaurants: 'Great! Chinese rolls!" (18/01/2011)

Lettre - Hungary

Jiří Trávníček on the struggles of liberated literary life

The freedom achieved by the Czechs through the Velvet Revolution in 1989 has also liberated literary life in the Czech Republic. But it has allowed disruptive factors to penetrate this erstwhile protected sphere, writes Czech literary critic Jiří Trávníček in the quarterly magazine Magyar Lettre International: "All of a sudden Czech literature 'shrunk' to become just one among many literatures. … It was not accustomed to this. The Czech writer had always seen himself as something more than a mere 'author of books'. … The Czech writer has never been as exposed to competition from translated foreign literature as he is today. Currying the favour of readers is much more difficult nowadays. Nor is the situation of the reader easy: There are so many kinds of works on the book market that he is simply unable to keep an overview. Literary life has lost its fixed structure. … The borderline between Czech literature and international literature is more blurred now than ever." (18/01/2011)

ECONOMY

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

From monetary to debt union

Meeting on Monday in Brussels, the finance ministers of the euro countries failed to reach agreement on financial boosting the bailout fund. The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung nevertheless criticises the discussion over raising effective debt in the context of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF): "Have people failed to notice that debtors without excessive safeguards never get the best marks? More probable is that after Ireland and Portugal, Brussels is counting on Spain, Belgium and Italy also dipping into the billion-euro EFSF barrel. If so, another very different set of questions arises. Can the less stable countries of the Monetary Union bear the burden of all the debt sinners without additional costs? The increase in interest that the EU Commission must pay for its Community loan mechanism shows that borrowing would become more expensive for Berlin, as well as as for German citizens and companies. If the bonds of over-indebted states were also purchased with the EFSF billions, it would be tantamount to introducing joint liability euro bonds through the back door. Then the restructuring of the Monetary Union into a debt union would be done and dusted." (18/01/2011)

Les Echos - France

Airbus takes off, Dassault remains grounded

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus received more contracts than its US competitor Boeing last year. Meanwhile Brazil has renewed the tender procedure for at least 36 fighter jets although the French company Dassault was widely regarded as the favourite with its Rafale model. The business paper Les Echos comments: "As Airbus celebrates yet another international victory over Boeing, it is bitter to look on as Dassault sees the clouds darken over Brazil, where its Rafale was ready to take to the skies. Airbus, symbol of the unity of European industry, is taking off. Dassault, symbol of Europe's fragmented defence, remains grounded." (18/01/2011)

Die Presse - Austria

Apple will get along fine without its boss

Owing to illness Apple boss Steve Jobs has retired from the day-to-day business of the computer and electronics company. But even if the news triggered a brief dip in the price of the company's shares this will hardly weaken it in the long term, the liberal conservative daily Die Presse writes: "Apple is not a one-man-business. Across the world 40,000 people are working on the electronics company's success. The overwhelming majority of them know Steve Jobs no better than you or I do. 'Face Time' with the Apple boss is a rarity even in Cupertino. On the inside the business has been run for years by Tim Cook, who is now standing in for the ill Apple boss for the third time officially. So for most of the employees Jobs' departure won't change things at all. And the company is well placed strategically. With its iPhone Apple has been able to keep Google and RIM at bay. And the iPad, the first successful tablet computer, has no competition at present." (18/01/2011)

SOCIETY

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România Liberâ - Romania

No more patriotism when it comes to chest pains

In recent months several prominent personalities in Romania have been treated in hospitals in Vienna, including President Traian Băsescu. Writing for the daily România Liberă Nicolae Prelipceanu wishes more money was being invested in Romania's public health system instead: "Patriotism ends when your own life is at stake. Up to that point you stand by your country. … But if you have pains in the chest or elsewhere, that's it – you flee to Vienna. Perhaps it seems cynical to talk in this way of sick people, some of whom like the Metropolitan Bartolomeu of Cluj have reached an advanced age. I don't want to be misunderstood: I wish a speedy recovery to all those who travel to Vienna because of serious diseases. I wish the same for all those who don't have the money or the connections to go there and instead have to stay here and join the endless queues at medical practices. The longer they have to wait for a life-saving treatment, the more their hopes dwindle. I therefore fear that the more chances there are of healing in Vienna, the less there are of things changing for those who have to stay here." (18/01/2011)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Lack of snow clearing and gritting annoys Estonians

After the heavy snowfall of recent weeks the pavements of the Estonian capital Tallinn have iced over. The daily Eesti Päevaleht criticises the lack of clearing and gritting: "Stay at home!' - this was the advice of the city council for citizens struggling with the ice. The authorities are thus shifting the responsibility for pavements that can't be walked on to people who can't stay at home because they have to go to work or school. But also on houseowners who don't manage to clear the ice from the pavements on their property and who have not been obliged to do so by the city. And quite apart from all that: there are a number of streets in the capital that have no pavements: Who guarantees the safety of the pedestrians here? At any rate at least we now have a formula for the coming elections. Your work is stressful and your salary is low? You don't know who to vote for? There is an alternative: Just stay at home!" (18/01/2011)

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