The China Daily Never Disappoints

Never, ever, ever. Today's front page lead story:

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Two points that go beyond a normal appreciation of my favorite newspaper. (For the record: state-controlled.)

First, on the substance of this story: In the two weeks I've now spent in China, I've heard the knowing-insider opinion, foreign and Chinese, seem to shift. In the beginning of June it was  "Yes, now that they been given a decent interval -- and now that they're not under face-losing public pressure from the US, and now that they can see that exports and the economy are surging again, etc -- of course the Chinese government will do something to satisfy demands that it unfreeze the RMB." Early this month, many people thought that something, even a tiny, token revaluation, would happen by the end of the month, in time for the G20 summit. Now in the middle of June I've started to hear, "Gee, do you think they might decide to tough it out and do nothing at all -- and keep the RMB frozen when their economists know that doesn't make sense and their diplomats know that's begging for trouble?"

I'm the very opposite of a "revalue the RMB" hawk. As a matter of economics, I've argued here and many other times that raising the RMB's value won't do much, directly, about the US-China economic imbalance, nor bring many jobs back to Ohio. As a matter of diplomacy, you rarely get real results by publicly berating the government in Beijing. Still, there's no question that it's time for the Chinese authorities to let the RMB start rising again. For global "rebalancing"  reasons (as here and passim) a chronic-surplus country shouldn't be holding its currency down in a time of still-precarious worldwide demand. Americans think this -- and so do Europeans, Japanese, developing-country leaders, and everybody else. Moreover, the Chinese officials could not possibly have been given a more respectful "decent interval" to make changes, without appearing to knuckle under to foreigners, over the past few months. So if they're not going to do anything even now.... well, it's worth watching carefully these next ten days.

Second reason to notice today's paper: The lead story's illustration of "analysis with Chinese characteristics" adds a piquant note to this other story, about the attempt of a Chinese newspaper group to take over Newsweek:

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Yes, Newsweek has its flaws; and, yes, the Southern News group that apparently tried to buy it is one of the more independent and enterprising journalistic operations in the country. (See item #3 here.) Still.... On general Chinese-government press theory, see here. And all of this is just on the front page!