Foreign Affairs – Branko Milanovic / China’s inequality will lead it to a stark choice
- China’s model of political capitalism has produced staggering growth and lifted millions from poverty—but not without widening the gap between the country’s rich and poor.
- Inequality has become the Chinese system’s Achilles’ heel, belying the government’s nominally socialist tenets and undermining the implicit contract between the rulers and the ruled. Inequality erodes the trust that Confucius thought even more essential for good government than food.
- But aspects of the country’s distribution of wealth and income rise from the nexus of economic and political power within the Chinese system, and they suggest that the country’s leadership faces a difficult choice as to how, and whether, to restrain the growing power of a new elite.
- How can the power of such an elite be controlled? Absent elections, only by an independent center above it. The case is thus made for an ultimate power, residing in a narrow circle of top CCP and government officials who are faithful to their backgrounds. China is left with a choice between two visions: oligarchy or autocracy.
- South China Morning Post – Sidney Leng and He Huifeng / Coronavirus pandemic leaves China’s over-35s with uncertain job prospects
The New York Times – Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos / House managers rest their case against Trump, but most Republicans are not swayed
- House impeachment managers wrapped up their emotionally charged incitement case against former President Donald J. Trump on Thursday by warning that he remains a clear and present danger to American democracy and could foment still more violence if not barred from running for office again.
- With the sounds of a rampaging mob still ringing in the Senate chamber, the managers sought to channel the shock and indignation rekindled by videos they showed of last month’s attack on the Capitol into a bipartisan repudiation of the former president who inflamed his supporters with false claims of a stolen election.
- In the final day of their main arguments, the managers also sought to pre-empt the defense that Mr. Trump’s legal team will offer on Friday by rejecting his claim that he was simply exercising his free-speech rights when he sent a frenzied crowd to the Capitol as lawmakers were counting Electoral College votes and told it to “fight like hell.”
- But for all of the drama of the prosecution’s case, most Republican senators appeared unswayed and Mr. Trump seemed to retain enough support to block the two-thirds vote required under the Constitution for conviction on the single “incitement of insurrection” count.
- The Washington Post – Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey / Mounting evidence suggests Trump knew of danger to Pence when he attacked him as lacking ‘courage’ amid Capitol siege
Bloomberg – Alex Morales and Ian Wishart / U.K. and EU in standoff over Northern Ireland Brexit deal
- The U.K. and the European Union remain locked in a standoff over how to implement the Brexit deal in Northern Ireland, despite more than three hours of talks between top officials on Thursday.
- Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic held a rare face-to-face meeting in London, which their teams described as “frank but constructive.”
- But they did not resolve the key disagreements over trade that have soured the U.K.-EU relationship in the six weeks since Brexit was completed.
- Since the Brexit transition period ended on Dec. 31, tensions have flared between the two sides over a series of issues, including trade in financial services, the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, and the flow of goods between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.
- Financial Times – Peter Foster, Sebastian Payne, Arthur Beesley and Mehreen Khan / UK and EU to seek ‘workable solutions’ on N Ireland protocol
Euractiv – Frédéric Simon / Polish climate minister: ‘It is critical that EU legislation on hydrogen is colour-blind’
- The recent adoption of the Polish 2040 energy policy is a milestone towards future climate neutrality. It sets a clear vision of our strategy for a low- and zero-emission energy transition, which ensures energy security and creates the basis for meeting economic needs resulting from the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
- A draft Polish 2030 hydrogen strategy is currently under public consultation. Our proposal covers all aspects of the hydrogen value chain, including production, transmission, storage and use.
- The expansion of the hydrogen economy will support the increase in the share of renewable energy sources, give a new role to the gas sector in terms of storage, transmission and distribution of mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen and will be a way for climate neutrality of transport and industry.
- Phasing out coal is a very costly process which has to be done with a due account of what our public and our energy system can sustain. Not every EU country has an excess of renewable electricity in the system. Thus, the key issue in hydrogen production should be the level of CO2 emissions, not the specific technology.
- The Guardian – Fiona Harvey / Global green recovery plans fail to match 2008 stimulus, report shows
Further reading for the weekend:
- Project Syndicate – Gordon Brown and Mark Lowcock / Tackling the COVID hunger crisis
- Financial Times – Tim Harford / From vaccines to homework, why humans can’t stop overpromising
- The Economist / How well will vaccines work?
- The Atlantic – Madeline Drexler / The unlikeliest pandemic success story