- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Yomiuri Shimbun

China’s labor costs

TOKYO — Labor costs in China are skyrocketing. The low-cost environment in the country where abundant, talented human resources can be obtained cheaply is declining.

If China’s labor costs continue to climb, foreign companies doing business there may have to revise their management strategies. Moreover, China is reviewing its policy of giving favorable treatment to foreign companies.

The State Development and Reform Commission recently announced the unification of corporate income tax rates. Until then, China had given foreign firms a preferential tax rate in order to procure funds overseas because it had a shortage of capital.

At the same time, the commission said it would shift its goals in luring foreign companies from “quantity” to “quality.” To enhance its international competitive edge, China will probably seek to attract foreign companies in high-technology industries.

… Compared with other Asian countries, China still holds economic advantages. Increases in labor and other costs will promote advancement of domestic markets and industrial structure. Both the positive and negative aspects of the increased costs in doing business in China must be thoroughly examined.

The Times

A year after Hurricane Katrina

LONDON — A year after the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, the superpower that failed to save its most beguiling city put aside a day to remember it. … It is unlikely ever to return to pre-Hurricane Katrina levels, as refugees in neighboring states build new lives there while those who cling to visions of a revitalized New Orleans fail to agree which one to build.

… President Bush admitted that government at all levels had failed in the aftermath of the storm and since. He promised a better response next time. …

It is not hard to depict Katrina’s aftermath as more disastrous than the hurricane itself. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers admits its repairs to New Orleans levees are temporary at best. Swifter action and better co-ordination by myriad government agencies would undoubtedly have saved lives and lowered the cost of reconstruction, now put at $110 billion from federal funds alone.

But individuals, not government, will decide New Orleans’ fate. … In the absence of clear, quick answers from federal and state governments, ad hoc groups of current and former New Orleans citizens have been voting with their wallets and moving vans.

… Rebuilding has been brisk in largely white, middle-class neighborhoods which did not need to wait for federal grants to begin reconstruction, but almost non-existent in poorer black ones, whose former residents account for more than half the 255,000 people who left last August and have yet to return.

Some have been quick to see a plot to reinvent New Orleans as a smaller, richer, whiter city. It will, inevitably, be all these things, but it will remain the home of jazz and gumbo even as it becomes more like the rest of America. …

La Stampa

U.N.’s Lebanon mission

TORINO, Italy — One has the impression that those who govern us consider the United Nations mission to Lebanon an absolute obligation; to escape it, it would be cowardice.

They say that a great nation cannot withdraw from the historic duty to save the endangered peace in the Lebanese inferno. We are not a great nation, [but] rather a medium-size, quarrelsome power.

… Our participation among the ranks of the international peace force is honorable, but at the same time, we enter a situation for which we do not know how well we have calculated the risk.

Perhaps we are wrong, but our governors, certainly without wishing it, have characterized the effective tasks of our contingent with unusual euphoria, even if, up to now, public opinion does not know where we are going or what, exactly, we are doing over there.

In fact, our boys should cut off the supplies to the Shi’ite guerrillas, and possibly even disarm them. …

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