World News Brief, Friday January 21

China admits it has much to do to improve human rights; Is it a shift in tone from President Hu? (+ analysis); Wikileaks banker fined then re-arrested; Who really killed Daniel Pearl?; Japanese debt reaches "critical point"; and more

Top of the Agenda: China Admits Human Rights Flaws

Chinese President Hu Jintao directly addressed China's record on human rights (al-Jazeera) at a joint US-China press conference, conceding "a lot still needs to be done" on the issue. Experts say the statements signal an apparent shift in tone, but stress that China still views human rights through the lens of the larger issue of national development (BBC). In his statements, US President Barack Obama also urged greater civil liberties and advocated for an open Chinese dialogue with the exiled Dalai Lama (WashPost). In private meetings, officials said the two leaders spent time addressing a number of critical points, including economic and currency issues, as well as North Korea and Iran.

Some analysts suggest the extraordinary pomp and circumstance surrounding the four-day summit, including two state dinners, reflect the changing nature of the US-China relationship and indicate China's rapid ascension to the elite echelon of economies (WSJ). With GDP growth of 10.3 percent, China surpassed Japan (Guardian) in 2010 to become the world's second largest economy. In the coming days, President Hu is scheduled to meet with several top US executives from firms like General Electric, Coca-Cola, and Boeing before heading to Chicago for more business-focused meetings (BBC)


Writing for the BBC, Damian Grammaticas discusses the significance of the moment President Hu was put on the spot about China's human rights record.

In this analysis for the New York Times, Michael Wines discusses the evolving US-China relationship and the prospects for significant developments in the current presidential summit.

China's exchange rate policy will dominate the economic dialogue between the United States and China during President Hu's visit to Washington. There's scant hope differences can be resolved, says CFR's Steven Dunaway.


PACIFIC RIM: Japanese Leaders Warn of Debt Risks

Japan's new minister for economic and fiscal policy told the Financial Times that his nation's debt had reached a "critical point" that threatened a rise in long-term interest rates. The government intends to initiate broad economic reforms, including a 5 percent consumption tax increase.



- Palestinians Push Settlement Dispute at UN
- KSM Killed Daniel Pearl, Report Finds
- Banker Re-Arrested in Connection with WikiLeaks


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on