World News Brief, Thursday May 12

US and China reach "milestone" deal on market access, technology and defence; Clinton still labels China's record on human rights "deplorable"; Another cuty shelled in Syria crackdown; Bin Laden's son demands inquiry; More strikes in Greece as EU reviews bailout; and more

Top of the Agenda: US, China Reach 'Milestone' Agreement

As two day bilateral talks concluded in Washington, Chinese and US negotiators struck a "milestone" accord (WashPost) on economic and military affairs despite several nagging issues like currency and human rights. The series of deals included an arrangement where top military commanders would meet regularly in what has been called the "Strategic Security Dialogue." The talks also secured compacts to expand US access to Chinese markets (FT) and Chinese access to US technology. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner praised the "tangible signs of progress," including a pledge from Beijing to protect intellectual property and alter regulations so that government contracts are not linked to improvements in its domestic technology base.

Progress in negotiations came as Chinese diplomats reassured Washington that Beijing is committed to liberalizing its currency (WSJ). Analysts suggest China is more keen to use monetary policy to combat inflation--an issue some view as the country's biggest economic challenge. However, leaders from the world's two largest economies continued to battle over the issue of human rights (BBC), particularly given China's recent crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described China's record on human rights as "deplorable," while China contends that it has made "historical progress" over the past several decades.


CFR's Elizabeth Economy writes that China and the United States face difficult diplomatic issues but also a chance to jumpstart engagement on military and cybersecurity.

In this interview with the Atlantic, Clinton speaks on Beijing's human rights record and said it is "trying to stop history" by opposing the advance of democracy.

In the South China Morning Post, CFR's Jerome Cohen asks, "If a famous figure like Ai Weiwei can be so blatantly abused in the glare of publicity, what protections do ordinary Chinese citizens receive from their police?"

In the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson discusses China's shrinking workforce and the future of US manufacturing.


In this CFR video, Adam Segal, author of Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge, discusses the policy changes needed to achieve the Chinese ambition to move from a model of "made in China" to "innovated in China."


PACIFIC RIM: Investigation Ordered into Fukushima Failure

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced an independent investigation into the breakdown of safety systems at the Fukushima power plant (FT). Kan said the government bore considerable blame for the disaster and stepped back from a previous target to achieve half of the country's electricity from nuclear power by 2030.

In this op-ed for Slate, CFR's Matthew Fuhrmann writes that aside from Chernobyl and TMI, nuclear accidents generally have not deterred countries from building additional plants.

China: Chinese officials say Beijing may cut interest rates in the remaining months of 2011 in order to combat a steep economic slowdown (Reuters). National economists claim that fixed-asset investment, the key engine of economic growth, will soon wind down as spending on new projects has fallen.



- Syrian Military Shells Homs
- Bin Laden Family Demands Inquiry
- General Strike in Greece




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