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LONGITUDE: “A bitter pill”

A new factor has come into the mix in the race for world leadership: medical science research, which boils down to the possession of knowledge, not technologies. The topic is the subject of the cover story of the new issue of the magazine “Longitude” (chief editor, Pialuisa Bianco), available on newsstands as of 4 February. The article analyses the causes and effects (“a bitter pill”) of competition between the West and China, not on the level of technology but of knowledge in a critical sector of global leadership. And the new factor in this race is that, as the Western pharmaceutical industry seeks to make inroads in China, with the obvious potential advantages in terms of business, at the same time it is offering China the opportunity to appropriate the wealth of Western scientific knowhow. The resulting effect is a “pill” that cannot avoid being “bitter” for the West to swallow. These two competitors are also the subject of an editorial analysis by the chief editor (“Careful what we wish for”) of a “weak spot” in the American and European approach to China. Both Europe and the United States have developed a sort of “psychological dependency” as a result of the economic enormity of “Chinese advancement”. Hence the wish for China to fail: “as the Western financial downturn accelerates the shift of economic power eastward, a certain psychological dependency forms: Europeans are humbled by the complexity of Chinese advancement, Americans by its grandeur”; and the fear “is manifested as a wish to see China fail” to achieve its growth goals.Are we sure – Bianco wonders – it’s better to be number one in a world that’s falling apart, rather than one of the co-authors, a major pillar, of a world that works? In reality, the chief editor asserts, the collapse of a global economic pillar such as China would do more harm to the West than to China itself. The magazine also offers a series of analyses on the state of the art of the eurozone, particularly its currency, explaining how and why overly restrictive measures could lead to recession, resulting in a “cure that’s worse than the disease”, since glaring asymmetries persist in the laws on budgetary discipline and economic convergence.The new issue of “Longitude” also offers a commentary on the upcoming presidential elections in Russia, which see Putin as unopposed but faced, in this go-round, with a highly complex scenario where human rights have also found their place.At what point are US/European relations with Iran, particularly with regard to the nuclear issue? Two articles respond to the query, one of which is dedicated to relations between Iran and Israel. The issue also looks at Hungary, with its new Constitution, explaining the struggle between two versions of authority, and how neither its institutional nor political profile resembles European democracy.