China's economic forecast; no secret US military prison in Thailand; GM fears bankruptcy; Clinton chides Iran; Bashir is defiant; and more
Top of the Agenda: China's Economic Aims
China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao laid out Beijing's forecast for economic growth in his annual "work report" to the Chinese people, saying the country stood by its projections (Xinhua) of achieving 8 percent economic growth this year. Wen's speech was light on policy detail, however. The Financial Times notes that he neither introduced new stimulus measures nor clarified the extent to which outlays Beijing has already pledged would be new spending. Chinese officials told reporters yesterday (Bloomberg) that Wen would announce "a new stimulus package" in his speech, but this did not happen. Although China has spent more than any country other than the United States on fiscal stimulus, economists note that Beijing's expenditures thus far have done little to boost domestic demand, and are urging new outlays.
The Wall Street Journal reports Asian markets were mixed today, but that Chinese stocks edged slightly higher on hopes that a stimulus announcement might still be forthcoming.
The Journal's Real Time Economics blog has compiled analysis from several different economists parsing China's existing stimulus package. CFR's Elizabeth Economy and Adam Segal, in an expert brief from late 2008, explained many of the challenges facing China's economy.
PACIFIC RIM: Thai Prison Questions
Thailand's army chief forcefully rejected the idea (Bangkok Post) that the United States has a secret military prison in Thailand for captured terror suspects. The statement follows confirmation (BBC) from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that four years ago it destroyed tapes of interviews with terror suspects believed to have been held at a Thai military base.
S.KOREA: At the start of talks aimed at securing a free trade agreement, leaders from Seoul and Canberra announced they have already agreed to enhance bilateral security cooperation (Yonhap).