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Monday, September 17, 2012

U.S. Files Lawsuit Against China at WTO

U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration announced today they will be filing a lawsuit against China at the World Trade Organization, claiming that China has given unfair subsidies to its national auto industry, leaving American automakers vulnerable. The U.S. also filed a complaint in July saying China has imposed $3.3 billion in duties on American cars, making them more expensive in China. The White House said this lawsuit has been in the making for a long time, but the announcement couldn’t have been better timed: Obama is due for a visit in Ohio, where as many as 52,400 people work in the car industry. U.S. Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said during the campaign that Obama isn’t tough enough on China, and promised to call China a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

Iran Nuclear Facility Struck by “Saboteurs”

Today, the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, said the power supply to the nation’s newest and most sensitive nuclear facility, the underground Foldow station, was blown up a month ago. He also said the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency had been infiltrated with “terrorists and saboteurs,” an accusation that may hinder diplomatic efforts to compel Iran to suspend its nuclear program. The Fordow station has been a major concern for western allies as it enriches uranium to a quality far above what is required for sustainable energy, and slightly below what is required for bombs. The announcement came after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been calling for the U.S. to draw “red lines” for Iran on its nuclear activity, said in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press the Islamic nation is six months away from having 90 percent of the enriched uranium necessary to make a bomb, something he described as the “red zone.”

Anti-Japanese Riots in China

A diplomatic crisis between Japan and China over islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan has escalated into violent protests in China against Japanese manufacturers. Last week, Japan bought from a private owner islands Chinese authorities claim belong to China. In response, China sent six surveillance ships to surround the islands and 1,000 Chinese fishing boats were said to be sailing to them, too. Protests took over a dozen cities in China as demonstrators called for a boycott of Japanese products. Toyota, Honda, and Panasonic, all Japanese companies, said some of their plants had been damaged, and Canon announced it will close two of its facilities. Japanese citizens living in China were asked to stay home while the violence passes. The dispute could contribute to hampering both Japan’s and China’s economies, as their trade relations were worth $345 billion in 2011. China’s Foreign Ministry said it will protect Japanese companies and expatriates, asking protesters to respect the law. The authorities are also bracing themselves for more violence tomorrow, the 81st anniversary of the “Manchurian Incident,” which set the stage for a Japanese invasion of parts of northeast China.

More Clashes Around the World over Anti-Muslim Film

Violence continued to spread across the world over a U.S.-made film that depicts and ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, something considered blasphemous by many Muslims. One person was killed in the riots that swept Pakistan, and more protests erupted in the Philippines, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Yemen, Indonesia, and Azerbaijan. This brings the total of deaths to more than 12 since protests began last Tuesday. An investigation began in Paris to identify the organizers of a demonstration that took place over the weekend outside the U.S. Embassy to France. Meanwhile, the identity of the filmmaker remained a mystery, although a convicted fraudster linked to the film named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was interrogated on Saturday in Los Angeles by federal probation officers.

Discord among EU Leaders over Bank Supervision

Discord arose over the weekend between euro area leaders after the European Union Commission, the EU’s executive body, presented a plan to have all Eurozone banks supervised by the European Central Bank by mid- 2013. French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici is pushing for “implementation [...] as fast as possible,” adding the U.K. would also “like a swift timeline.” At the other end of the spectrum, ECB Governing Council Member Ewald Nowotny, of Austria, rejected pressure placed upon the central bank, arguing that “quality must come before speed.” Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed, asking for these plans not to be hastened. A banking supervisor would be another step towards a banking union across the EU, and it would also be a prerequisite for banks to benefit from the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent €500 billion ($656 billion) rescue fund that will become operational on October 8.

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