Must-Reads from Around the World: February 20, 2012

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Mike Clarke / AFP / Getty Images

A group of protesters demonstrate outside the Foxconn annual general meeting in Hong Kong on May 18, 2011

Changing China — The announcement that Foxconn, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of products for Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard and others, will raise salaries from 16 to 25% at its Chinese factories signals a fundamental shift in the Chinese economy, the New York Times writes. Meanwhile, Fair Labor Association, a watchdog monitoring working conditions at makers of Apple products, told Bloomberg that its inspection has uncovered “tons of issues” at a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China.

Rebel City — Sixteen days of continuous bombing and rocket attacks, as well as dwindling access to medical aid, have transformed the Syrian city of Homs into a death trap, CNN reports. But this is not the city’s first tryst with violent rebellion. Foreign Policy explores Homs’ place in the history and the culture of the region, highlighting its centuries-old status as a bastion of resistance.

Pitiable Predicament — The New York Times reports on the plight of dark-skinned southern Sudanese, particularly women, who continue to live in the north, a land suddenly hostile to them. They lack jobs and opportunities, and have become the target of police brutality and violence. Read more about South Sudan here.

“Chollywood” Calling – The Atlantic explores the growing relationship between China and Hollywood. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping ended his recent U.S. tour with a stop in the movie mecca and is expected to soon announce a “major deal” between DreamWorks Animation and the Shanghai Media Group. Media mogul Bruce Wu also recently created an $800 million fund to support Chinese-Hollywood projects, while “The Flowers of War,” the most expensive Chinese film ever made, starred Oscar winner Christian Bale. But will a few Hollywood deals increase China’s global profile in the creative industries?

More than Aid – The World Bank will select a new president in April when Robert Zoellick steps down at the end of his five-year term. The presidency has always been held by an American, but China and Brazil are pushing for revised election procedures that could lead to a shake-up, Bloomberg reports. As the global institution prepares for a new leader, Zoellick explains why the World Bank is still relevant in Foreign Affairs.

Victory Assured – Polls show an easy victory for Vladimir Putin in Russia’s presidential election next month, with news agency RIA Novosti reporting that the prime minster currently has  the support of 58.6% of voters. Billionaire New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov trails in fourth place, and the news website Kommersant investigates why he is still campaigning.

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