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Good Reads: From a bold vision for China to cyberwarfare to Norwegian fishing

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Evan Vucci/AP

(Read caption) Chinese President Xi Jinping visits with President Obama in California.

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China's Worldview

China’s new president, Xi Jinping, has a bold vision for his country, inspired by its ancient prestige. In Time magazine, Hannah Beech describes how Mr. Xi intends for China to match US military capabilities, becoming the strongest country economically, politically, and culturally.

This “China Dream,” depending on how Xi shapes his tenure as president, could lead to shifts in international dynamics. “How China sees the world matters because Chinese aspirations, tastes and fears will shape the lives of billions of people across the globe. Indeed ... China – and its worldview – may once again dictate the narrative of our age,” Ms. Beech writes.

But despite its desire to become the world’s main superpower, China must deal with internal issues first, Beech writes. Chief among these is stanching the exodus of the country’s elite – 150,000 Chinese received permanent residency abroad in 2011. “When a nation’s elite is ready to bolt at a moment’s notice, it says much about the regime’s lack of legitimacy and its staying power,” David Shambaugh, a China scholar, told Beech.

Hero or traitor?

In a carefully executed leak, former National Security Administration contractor Edward Snowden unveiled documents showing how US government programs mine communication data including people’s e-mails, Facebook posts, and even Skype chats. Digital surveillance is not new, especially during this era of heightened national security awareness. Gathering electronic information is legal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but Mr. Snowden said the government is redefining what is constitutional, creating “architecture of oppression.”

In an identity-revealing video interview with Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, Mr. Snowden explained why people should be worried about the government’s actions. 

“Even if you are not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded. And the storage capabilities of these systems increases every year, consistently by orders of magnitude,” Snowden said, adding that just a wrong call could raise suspicion. “Then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.”

The fallout of his actions is not yet known as the United States arranges to press charges against the whistle-blower. Whether he is a hero or a traitor depends on how one weighs the balance between civil liberties and national security.


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