China's consumption economy; get used to low oil prices; sexual violence in Germany; pacifist Japan as diplomatic leader; fear and politics

A roundup of global commentary for the Jan. 25, 2016, weekly magazine.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP
A man takes a smartphone photo of his son at a "Star Wars" promotional display at a shopping mall in Beijing, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. The record-breaking "Star Wars" opened Saturday in China, where it is far from certain to draw in enough moviegoers to knock off "Avatar" as the world's all-time biggest grossing movie.

China Daily / Beijing
China’s growing consumption economy
“[V]iewed from a longer perspective, [the recent stock market plunges] do not necessarily point to gloomy growth prospects for the Chinese economy, which is undergoing a necessary transition from growth led by investment and exports to more sustainable development driven by consumption and innovation...,” states an editorial. “Chinese cinemagoers spent $53 million over [a recent] weekend to make Star Wars: The Force Awakens one of the highest Saturday/Sunday openings of all-time at the mainland box office.... [I]t definitely signals [the arrival of] consumption-led growth that will play an increasingly bigger role in determining the long-term strength of the Chinese economy.”

Hurriyet Daily News / Istanbul, Turkey
Low oil prices may be around for a while
“The increase in unconventional oil production coming from the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico and the shift in OPEC policy could be cited as the main reasons for the decline in oil prices that was observed in 1985-1986. The low prices continued for more than a decade and the prices turned back to their previous levels early in the 2000s,” writes economics professor Fatih Macit. “The 2014-2015 oil bust is similar to this episode in terms of the recent increase in the U.S.’[s] unconventional oil supply and the change in OPEC policy in November 2014. Taking into account this similarity, there is the possibility that it may take more than a decade for the oil prices to turn back to three digit levels and it will take some time for the market to come into a new equilibrium.”

Spiegel International / Berlin
Addressing sexual violence in German culture
“The sudden interest in women’s rights is feigned and is nothing other than a fake argument to legitimize one’s own racism. The trivialization of sexual violence is ubiquitous and deeply rooted in society and culture – German society and culture as well,” writes Sascha Lobo in a commentary on the rise of racist rhetoric online following the wave of New Year’s Eve mob attacks on women in Cologne, Germany. “The Cologne attacks on women perpetrated by mobs of men would have been a fitting occasion to address this state of affairs and to figure out why the majority of the German public cares so shockingly little about sexual violence – unless it is committed by ‘men with a North African or Arab appearance.’ ”

The Asahi Shimbun / Tokyo
What pacifist Japan could offer Middle East conflict
“Along with supporting the arbitration efforts by the United States, European nations and other parties, Japan should also work with the global community in trying to find out what could be done at this moment” to resolve the Syrian crisis, states an editorial. “We could now make the most of the confidence in Japan, which has played an original role in nonmilitary, humanitarian aid that is intended to stabilize the livelihood of Middle Eastern people.... Seeking a way to avert a conflict in a peaceful manner ... would be the best way for [President Shinzo] Abe to live up to the promises of ‘diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the globe’ and ‘proactive pacifism’ ... in the real sense of those terms. Seldom do we believe there is any easy approach to doing so. But that is the sort of diplomacy that Japan should be seeking as a pacifist nation.”

The Straits times / Singapore
Be wary of public fearfulness
“Ten months before a US presidential election, terrorism overrides the economy as the voter’s main worry. Society’s darker instincts are growing," writes Edward Luce. Both sides of the US political divide are also stoking it. President Barack Obama does so inadvertently. Whenever he cites terrorism as a reason to tighten gun control, gun sales surge.... Republicans, by contrast, are consciously amplifying public fear. Though America will take only 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, more than half of US states have said they will refuse to host any.... This is what [Islamic State] wants. At any time, public fearfulness is troubling. In an election year, we should be especially wary.”

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