Judgment Time: Are Pledges Of Reform By China And Iran Real?

China’s Internet Crackdown Runs Counter To Efforts To Loosen Government Regulation?
In recent weeks, the Chinese government has launched a campaign against bloggers and any communication it deems as malicious rumour-mongering. That China would act to restrict free speech is not surprising. The government is not targeting all bloggers, simply those who have more than 5,000 followers – and the power to influence.

But, as The Financial Times notes, it is counterintuitive to its own stated policy to allow more freedom in finance and the markets.

“It is not impossible to envisage a clampdown on internet freedom coupled with a withdrawal of the state in certain limited areas. The Communist party has managed to square such contradictions before. But the two do pull in opposite directions,” argues The Financial Times.

The Atlantic says the effort is reminiscent of tactics last seen during the Cultural Revolution and, like the Times, sees a glaring contradiction.

“The massive campaign against “online rumor spreaders” also goes against the government’s effort to respond to public opinion. The Washington Post reported in August that the government is trying to understand public opinion “on an unprecedented scale” several public opinion centers being built across the country. But the crackdown on internet voices negates that effort,” the editors write.

Test Coming For Iranian Reforms
When President Hasan Rouhani was sworn into power, he demonstrated a willingness to improve ties with the West and to live up to claims that he was a reformer. He sought to distance himself from the bluster of former president, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad. Next week’s visit to the United Nations could serve as the first test of his commitment, says the Christian Science Monitor.

While no one expects a full embrace of the West or a reversal of policy toward Israel, but Ali Vaez of the senior Iran analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) tells the paper that “Rouhani’s UN mission is likely aimed at eradicating the memory of Iran’s provocateur in chief’s uncanny strut on the world stage. The goal is to repair Ahmadinejad’s damage and show that now pragmatism is in the driver’s seat in Tehran.”

Rouhani recently sat down with American reporters and has even shown an openness to the idea of meeting directly with President Barack Obama.

According to The New York Times, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that “there were no plans for Mr. Obama to meet with Mr. Rouhani when both leaders are at the United Nations early next week. But he said the president was eager to see whether the issue of Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved.”

Senator John McCain Responds To Putin Op-Ed
Sen. John McCain responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s recent editorial in The New York Times with one of his own in Pravda.

The op-ed – written for the Russian public’s consumption – asked the rhetorical question of how Putin was restoring “greatness at home and among the nations of the world.”

“He has given you an economy that is based almost entirely on a few natural resources that will rise and fall with those commodities. Its riches will not last. And, while they do, they will be mostly in the possession of the corrupt and powerful few,” wrote McCain, an ardent supporter of the Syrian rebel forces.





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