Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Crowdsourcing to find Flight 370.
The Malaysian Air plot keeps thickening as anger in China among victims' families reaches a fever pitch. As my Bloomberg View colleague Adam Minter pointed out this week, this is the first major accident to take place in the era of mass Chinese air travel (Flight 370 was heading to Beijing). But that's not the only first. Here, Bloomberg News's Robert Fenner looks at how this has become perhaps the largest global crowdsourcing event as Tomnod.com, a website run by DigitalGlobe, taps more than 2 million people to scrutinize satellite images for clues on the whereabouts of the plane and the 239 people on board. Still no concrete sign of wreckage, sadly.
The yuan's curious dive.
The blogosphere is pulsating with theories for why China is pushing its currency lower, the most-common of which is to support exports amid tepid world growth. But here, Barry Eichengreen of the University of California, Berkeley offers one of the most intriguing explanations: to increase the yuan's global status. That is "feasible only if the authorities eliminate the perception that exchange-rate movements are a one-way proposition. So long as investors believe that the renminbi can only appreciate, opening the country’s markets will cause it to be flooded by foreign money, with unpleasant financial consequences, not the least of which is inflation."
Korea's coming reunification?
Is Korean détente imminent? Yes, says Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group. After visiting Seoul earlier this month, Bremmer thinks President Park Geun Hye's recent olive branch to Kim Jong Un will bring the two nations together sooner rather than later. One reason is Park's decision not to make to big deal of North Korean leader Kim's most recent rocket launch and instead to talk up the benefits of reunification. Another: the increasingly dire economic realities facing Kim's regime. If Bremmer is right, the map of North Asia could look radically different.
Panasonic's China hardship pay.
The Chinese won't be happy about Panasonic's move to offer pollution-hardship pay to employees sent to China. I'm sure some in Beijing will wonder if this is Japan Inc.'s way of embarrassing China anew as political tensions worsen. But Panasonic is the vanguard of giant companies that will more and more be forced to shell out a gas-mask premium to entice workers to live on the mainland. If China doesn't like it, the government should take concrete steps to clean the black air that imperils the economy's outlook.
A stroll through 1950s Japan.
Japan had its own pollution woes in the 1950s -- heady times as the nation recovered from a war that leveled cities from Tokyo to Nagasaki. Here, the Atlantic serves up a fascinating pictorial jaunt through a decade that saw the return of prisoners of war, the reemergence of Japan Inc., anti-communist riots, the Boston Red Sox playing in Tokyo, the arrival of television, the Westernization of entertainment, women driving cars, the nation preparing for the 1964 Olympics, you name it. It's a lively look back at a decade that set the stage for today's Japan.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @williampesek.)
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