Must-Reads From Around the World, May 31, 2012

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Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident and legal advocate who recently sought refuge in the U.S., gives an interview in New York City on May 24, 2012

A Dissident Speaks – In an op-ed in The New York Times, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who is in New York after escaping house imprisonment in China’s eastern Shandong province and fleeing to the U.S. embassy in Beijing, reflected on the flaws in his country’s system of law and governance, and the challenges facing its future leadership. “China does not lack laws, but the rule of law,” he wrote. The blind activist is scheduled to speak at the Council for Foreign Relations on Thursday, CNN reports, where he is likely to answer the question, “What’s next for Chen Guangcheng?”

The Syrian Conundrum – The international deadlock over a response to the Syrian crisis remained unresolved as Russia vowed to block any U.N. support for military intervention in Syria, the Guardian reports. In a piece titled, “What the hell should we do about Syria?” Foreign Policy presents five solutions, ranging from arming the rebels to soliciting Tehran’s help, offered by observers of the ongoing conflict.

Not Welcome – In a detailed story in Foreign Policy titled “The Undiplomat,” Julia Ioffe describes the travails of a U.S. diplomat in a unfriendly foreign land. She charts the journey of Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, as he finds his feet in a country swept by a wave of anti-Americanism – and reveals the diplomat’s strategies in the face of hostility. 

Income Inequality – In light of the battle between austerity and growth proponents in Europe, Al Jazeera argues that austerity is only a positive policy “in good times,” or “if you’re a banker,” and that it only results in a “vicious downward cycle” during a time of recession. The piece gives the example of America, where it says that even Republicans know that “increased spending is better for the economy in the short term” during an economic downturn.

CEO-no – TIME’s Bruce Crumley describes French President François Hollande’s plans to cut public sector chief executives’ salaries in his new “leftist” program, arguing that an effort such as this is Hollande’s way of kicking off his “efforts to right France’s imbalances” and that even if it is largely “limited to symbolism,” it would still “carry much weight” with the public – which Crumley labeled “France’s 99%.”