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China’s economy grew at a much faster rate than expected in recent decades, and its citizens are grappling with the cultural and social implications. Jonathan Alter writes in his new column, “China Sees Growth’s Perils And Searches For Social Conscience”:

In an age of “golden collar” workers made rich in the new economy, the Chinese are struggling to locate their social conscience. To move to the next level of development, the government needs to do the same.

It’s an important sign that even as China’s leadership continues to censor the Internet, it’s allowing online safety valves to let off steam.

The authorities are letting anyone with a mobile device — that’s 900 million Chinese — use monitored social-networking sites to have a conversation about what’s wrong with their national character.

Last month brought a viral video from the city of Foshan of a 2-year-old girl hit by a truck. The girl was ignored as pedestrians callously passed by; then she was struck by another car. She later died. Like millions of other workers, the toddler’s parents had left the countryside and moved to the city, where they let their daughter play in traffic.

The Chinese have an expression, “shao guan xian shi,” which translates roughly as “Don’t get involved if it’s not your business.” They have heard of too many cases where would-be Good Samaritans find that the victims of accidents try to blame them in order to extract money. But this story pricked the conscience of the nation. The press and legions of bloggers have been chewing over the implications for days.

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A scene from "Squid Game" on Netflix

Reprinted with permission from Responsible Statecraft

The Treasury Department's nine-page "2021 Sanctions Review" released on Monday makes vague recommendations for "calibrating sanctions to mitigate unintended economic, political, and humanitarian impact." Unfortunately, it offers few tangible policy suggestions on how to end the high humanitarian
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Mt.Rushmore

Reprinted with permission from Creators

In New York City, a statue of Thomas Jefferson has graced the City Council chamber for 100 years. This week, the Public Design Commission voted unanimously to remove it. "Jefferson embodies some of the most shameful parts of our country's history," explained Adrienne Adams, a councilwoman from Queens. Assemblyman Charles Barron went even further. Responding to a question about where the statue should go next, he was contemptuous: "I don't think it should go anywhere. I don't think it should exist."

When iconoclasts topple Jefferson, they seem to validate the argument advanced by defenders of Confederate monuments that there is no escape from the slippery slope. "First, they come for Nathan Bedford Forrest and then for Robert E. Lee. Where does it end? Is Jefferson next? Is George Washington?"

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