Liu Xiaobo and Charter 08

Forbes: Helen H. Wang

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded for Nobel Peace Prize. Below is an excerpt from my forthcoming book The Chinese Dream that provides readers context for what Liu Xiaobo advocates and why he is imprisoned. I hope the Nobel Peace Prize will help Liu Xiaobo regain freedom soon.

On December 10, 2008, on the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 303 courageous Chinese citizens signed a petition known as “Charter 08,” a manifesto for democracy.

The charter members pointed out that “China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government.” They called for political reform and laid out nineteen recommendations that included overhauling the constitution so that “the constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation by any individual, group, or political party”; separation of legislative, judicial, and executive powers; and systematically implementing general elections of public officials. Charter 08 essentially calls for ending one-party rule. Continue reading

What Happens When Money Flows Uphill

Forbes: Helen H. Wang

Many people in the U. S. believe that the Chinese currency yuan is undervalued by 25-40 percent, which causes large trade deficits between the U. S. and China and costs hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow the Commerce Department to impose tariffs on Chinese goods.

While there are many debates about the pros and cons of forcing the yuan to appreciate, few have paid attention to the root cause of America’s trade deficits. Stephen Roach pointed out that the United States has trade deficits with 90 countries around the world. The reason is that Americans don’t save. In 2009, America’s net saving rate was negative 2.3 percent. The United States has been borrowing from China and other countries to make up the gap.

To examine how America got itself into indebtedness, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that the current global financial system causes money to flow uphill from poor countries to rich countries, and it’s self-defeating. Continue reading