Fe­in­stein givesUS a wake-up on spy­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

key to solv­ing many is­sues in the coun­try, so we must hold fast to eco­nomic con­struc­tion and main­tain a rea­son­able eco­nomic growth rate. The GDP growth tar­get of 7.5 per­cent con­sid­ers the de­vel­op­ment needs of the coun­try and is linked to the goals of build­ing a com­pre­hen­sive well-off so­ci­ety in the fu­ture and op­ti­miz­ing the eco­nomic struc­ture.

At heart it aims to main­tain the em­ploy­ment level, which is one of the im­por­tant in­dexes to mea­sure the eco­nomic oper­a­tion and ver­ify the sta­bil­ity of the econ­omy. The pres­sure test of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis in 2008 and 2009 showed that when GDP growth de­clined to less than 7 per­cent, there were prob­lems in the job mar­ket. So the lower limit of 7.5 per­cent growth rate is ac­tu­ally set to en­sure sta­bil­ity in em­ploy­ment.

How­ever, with the deep­en­ing of eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing and the de­vel­op­ment of the ser­vice in­dus­try, the ab­sorp­tive ca­pac­ity of the job mar­ket will grad­u­ally strengthen, so even if the GDP growth rate is lower than the 7.5 per­cent tar­get, the em­ploy­ment level can still be guar­an­teed.

To sum up, in or­der to re­al­ize the goal of steady growth, it is im­por­tant to keep a rea­son­able eco­nomic growth rate, so the govern­ment’s “rea­son­able range” is just like an in­stru­ment panel on the eco­nomic lo­co­mo­tive. With­out a cer­tain speed, we will have no ma­te­rial ba­sis for cre­at­ing more jobs, in­creas­ing in­comes and im­prov­ing people’s liveli­hoods, not to men­tion rais­ing the qual­ity of eco­nomic growth.

Some people be­lieve even slower eco­nomic growth will be good for push­ing for­ward the nec­es­sary struc­tural ad­just­ment of the econ­omy, but in re­al­ity, it is not a case of the lower the growth rate the bet­ter. Once the econ­omy slows through in­er­tia, the lack of con­fi­dence in an eco­nomic up­turn will form a vi­cious cir­cle, whereby not only will re­struc­tur­ing not be ef­fec­tively pro­moted, but the eco­nomic fun­da­men­tals will be harmed to such an ex­tent it will be dif­fi­cult and more costly to restart the econ­omy.

There­fore, we should nei­ther blindly stim­u­late the econ­omy, nor let the econ­omy slow be­yond the rea­son­able range. Only by bet­ter un­der­stand­ing the rea­sons be­hind the range and the na­tional eco­nomic strat­egy of steady growth, can suit­able poli­cies and mea­sures be ap­plied to pro­vide strong sup­port for eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing and its healthy and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. The ar­ti­cle was first pub­lished in Study Times.

Vet­eran US Se­na­tor Dianne Fe­in­stein prob­a­bly never knewwhat it was like to be spied on un­til now. Since last June’s ex­po­sure of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency’s ram­pant sur­veil­lance scan­dals, the chair­woman of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee has been a staunch de­fender of those sur­veil­lance pro­grams, de­spite the fact that these pro­grams have drawn sharp crit­i­cism and protests from both US cit­i­zens and people in na­tions around the world.

How­ever, on Tues­day, Fe­in­stein seemed some­how con­nected with the ma­jor­ity of people in the world, when she lashed out at the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency’s spy­ing on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s staff and com­put­ers. She ac­cused the CIA of try­ing to un­der­mine the com­mit­tee’s work on an in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port re­gard­ing the CIA’s il­le­gal tor­ture and ren­di­tion pro­grams fol­low­ing the Sept 11 at­tacks on the US in 2001.

Fe­in­stein said that the CIA spy­ing had bro­ken the lawand even vi­o­lated the sep­a­ra­tion of power prin­ci­ples em­bod­ied in the US Con­sti­tu­tion.

The courage demon­strated by Fe­in­stein, a Demo­crat from Cal­i­for­nia and a sup­porter of US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, should be ap­plauded, but the 80-year-old may not have changed her mind as much as people think.

Fe­in­stein is deeply con­cerned about CIA’s spy­ing on law­mak­ers, but she has not said it is wrong for the agency, and the NSA, to spy on or­di­nary people all over the world.

If US law­mak­ers’ right to pri­vacy is im­por­tant, what about the pri­vacy of or­di­nary US cit­i­zens and cit­i­zens in other na­tions, es­pe­cially those which are not al­lies with the United States?

Sadly, most con­ver­sa­tions in the US are about how wrong it is for NSA to spy on US cit­i­zens, fewseem to care to what ex­tent the NSA is con­duct­ing its in­va­sive sur­veil­lance out­side the US.

About 40 per­cent of US cit­i­zens still ap­prove of the govern­ment’s collection of tele­phone and In­ter­net data, which it claims is for anti-ter­ror­ism pur­poses, and only 53 per­cent dis­ap­prove, ac­cord­ing to a Jan­uary sur­vey by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter.

Fe­in­stein re­vealed she came to the Se­nate floor on Tues­day reluc­tantly. She has asked for an apol­ogy and recog­ni­tion that this CIA search on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s com­put­ers was in­ap­pro­pri­ate. “I have re­ceived nei­ther,” she said.

In fact, the whole world, in­clud­ing a small group of world lead­ers such as Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, has been wait­ing for an apol­ogy from NSA and from US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. But they have been wait­ing in vain.

On the con­trary, Obama has been un­apolo­getic when it comes to the US sur­veil­lance of gov­ern­ments and people out­side the US. In his speech on Jan 17, he said the US will not apol­o­gize sim­ply be­cause its abil­i­ties are greater. The US does not want in­ter­na­tional rules and norms gov­ern­ing cy­berspace given the huge tech­nolog­cal edge it has in spy­ing on other na­tions and na­tion­als.

Yet that kind of think­ing may well have to change, if other na­tions, be it China, Rus­sia, Ger­many or Iran, de­velop more ad­vanced sur­veil­lance tech­nolo­gies than the US. Al­though of course, we have not seen any other na­tion be­com­ing as ob­sessed as the US in spy­ing on oth­ers.

On Tues­day, CIA Di­rec­tor John Bren­nan quickly re­sponded to Fe­in­stein and said the CIA has done noth­ing wrong. But given that or­ga­ni­za­tion’s track record few are likely to be­lieve him. Many people in the US are wait­ing for the Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion on Fe­in­stein’s al­le­ga­tion, just as they await the full re­port by the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee to come out to show how CIA has con­ducted var­i­ous il­le­gal tortures, such as wa­ter-board­ing.

It is to be hoped that Fe­in­stein has opened the eyes of at least some in the US that it is wrong for the CIA or NSA to con­duct wide­spread sur­veil­lance on people in the US and in other na­tions. The au­thor, based in­Wash­ing­ton, is deputy edi­tor of China Daily USA. chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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