Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: governance
Monday, 04 October 2010 11:26

Reducing the digital divide in Taipei County

Jason Wang, Chairman of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission for the Taipei County Government, elaborates on their policy to bridge the digital divide in their area.

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Monday, 28 June 2010 00:00

China gets global

There is good news on the global front: China is more and more living up to its international responsibilities. The gradual reevaluation of the Renminbi, voting at the UN to sanction Iran and even moving cautiously on North Korea, all of this shows that China is increasingly calibrating its policies by taking into account their global impact.

China’s prompt recovery after the financial crisis had made some observers fear that China’s new assertiveness would translate into unilateral policies. The Copenhagen psychodrama heightened such concerns. Fortunately, these concerns currently prove to be exaggerated: China’s recovery is fragile, and the country knows that its sustainability depends on the health of the global economy. Friction with the US and France has been put aside. Chinese diplomats and policymakers are conscious of the danger that would represent an isolation of China, and are making their own the old American wish of seeing China behaving like a “responsible stakeholder.”

The recent move towards salary rises for Chinese workers also goes in this direction. Joined with the (still very gradual) reevaluation of the Renminbi it provides for a leveled international economic playground and the emergence of new economic players. Besides, as the World Bank has recently noted, Chinese enterprises still have huge margins of productivity to realise, which can more than compensate for the expense created by rises in labor cost. A fairer social system should go along with a more efficient economy – and a country linked to its partners through common interests that are progressively better defined and assessed.

As is the case with other countries, China’s policies depend very much on circumstances and conjuncture. Unwelcome shifts in style and orientation are still possible, especially in what looks like a new period of economic uncertainty. Still, recent developments prove that the gradual insertion of China into global governance called for during the last decade by Chinese and foreign scholars is bearing some fruits. These fruits might not be yet ripe, but signs of hope must be noted and valued: the new international order is not all about competition. Reason and cooperation can still help us to break though rivalries, misunderstandings and irrational behaviors.

Painting by B.V.



Friday, 29 August 2008 00:00

Local Democracy and Climate Change

Urbanization has spread to the entire planet: the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban areas versus only 14% in 1900. This is not necessarily bad news: in fact, the city, say many analysts, can become a privileged place in the fight against climate change; the streamlining of the systems of transportation, water sanitation, energy distribution provide evidences of this fact. The experimental construction of "green buildings" that produce the energy they consume is another step forward. The city is also a place where information flows, a place of inventions, of collective discussion, and, as such, it can generate a number of innovative measures.

Actually, when it comes to the relationship between city and global warming, much will depend on ourselves, on the moral and political environment that policy makers forge for urban dwellers and on the collective conscience that we will develop. In this regard, the role of locally elected officials is essential. The development of downtown, the connections between downtown and suburbs, the method of garbage collection and recovery, the renovation of the systems of water sanitation... Each time, these issues prove to be partly technical, partly political, for it is always necessary to challenge vested interests and viewpoints so as to build a city at once more hospitable, more balanced and more human. Local democracy helps to introduce clearly the choices and issues at stake, giving people information and criteria that will allow them to understand, taking into account the diversity of their viewpoints, how to meet the "general interest". Yes, it is through local democracy that will emerge responsible, compact and united cities, carrying an innovative environmental project.

When it comes to environmental issues, should not the cities of the world hold more local referenda? Without doubt this is a good way to settle in difficult situations, when the fight against global warming requires sacrifices (use of automobiles, water prices, choice of such investment rather than another ...) It is up to the citizens then duly informed, to state the scale of their priorities and their values… and to draw the consequences of them. So, let us make local democracy become a decisive factor in the global struggle against climate change!

(Photo: B.V.)

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