George Wehrfritz

Thailand's New Drug War

Thailand's ruling junta has earned a reputation for ineptitude since it seized power in September. But the generals are now winning points worldwide for an attack on pharmaceutical giants like Merck, Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Buddhist Economics

Thailand's finance minister, Prodiyathorn Devakula, said the new rules were meant merely to "close loopholes." But that's not how foreign business leaders saw it last week, when he briefed them in Bangkok on plans to revise the country's investment restrictions.

More Diapers, Please

October was a trying month for the obstetrics team at Hong Kong's Prince of Wales Hospital. On average, six women from mainland China entered its maternity ward every day, most just hours before giving birth--a surge that pushed the monthly workload for doctors, nurses and midwives to nearly double the ward's capacity. "They're in pain, they have complications and some have broken their water," says Dr.

More Power, Less Grit

In architectural drawings, the prototype power plant called FutureGen is most noteworthy for what's missing: a smokestack towering skyward like a perpetually lit cigarette.

Ready To Lend A Hand

The humanitarian response to the 2004 asian tsunami was swift and global. But of all the tasks outside relief agencies and foreign soldiers undertook, none was as grim as that assigned to the Indonesian volunteers in Banda Aceh dubbed "the body-snatchers." Their mission: to clear the provincial capital of putrefying corpses, both to preserve the dignity of the tens of thousands of victims and to prevent epidemics among survivors.

Growth or Happiness?

BusinessGrowth or Happiness?Thailand's coup could derail a tiger economy.When tanks rolled into Thailand's sprawling capital on Sept. 19, countless Bangkok dwellers celebrated the ouster of a leader many urbanites had come to despise.

'Too Rigid and Too Crude'

The fallout from North Korea's announcement that it had tested a nuclear device Monday--and hints that it may test another--has been swift and global. United Nations delegates have already begun debating possible sanctions, U.S. President George W.

Hong Kong: Roll Over, Adam Smith

In 1995, Hong Kong's then financial chief Donald Tsang defended the city's laissez-faire philosophy with a reference to Greek mythology. He cast the government as Odysseus, hero of the Trojan War, who defied the intoxicating voices of the Sirens attempting to lure his warship onto the rocks.


After years of brinkmanship, North Korea on Monday apparently tested a nuclear device deep underground, establishing itself as the world's eighth declared nuclear power.

No Bluff

It's hard not to ascribe Pyongyang's nuclear brinkmanship to unfettered paranoia. Yet perhaps the decision is the product of pragmatic calculation? That's the point of an essay by a prominent Chinese scholar published just hours after North Korea declared Oct. 3 that it soon would test an atomic bomb (thus obliterating any lingering doubt that it has joined the nuclear club).

The Quiet Coup

The image is steeped in irony. As tanks rolled into Bangkok to overthrow his six-year-old government on the night of Sept. 19, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was hunkered down at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York.

Wagging the Buffalo

Death threats don't worry Jovito Palparan. In fact, when communist insurgents declared him a "dead man walking" on Sept. 6, the Philippine Army's most hardened guerrilla-warfare expert dubbed himself "live man walking"--then went on a walkabout.

'Not Like in Africa'

Anand Panyarachun knows better that most what's in store for Thailand's next leader. Following a 1991 military takeover similar to the coup that toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government last week, the career diplomat became caretaker premierand, with generals peering over his shoulder, struggled to restore democracy.

They Don't Play Fair

Allan Meltzer ranks as one of the most strident critics of the IMF. As head of a 2000 U.S. congressional inquiry into the Asian financial crisis, which became known as the Meltzer commission, he drew conclusions that were seen as archly conservative at the time but have since become mainstream, including a call for the IMF to quit poverty relief and return to its original mission--fighting financial crises.

China: The Next Invasion

Two decades after Japan took the U.S. auto market by storm, here comes China. Dozens of Chinese automakers are eyeing the U.S. market, with some hoping to arrive as soon as next year.

China's Wealth Woes

Sometime over the next few weeks, a shipment of lawn furniture, brake pads, lamps or the like is going to make history. The manufacturer, one among tens of thousands churning out product 24/7 in China's humming coast-al cities, will fill an order bound for the United States, take payment in American dollars and add a 12th zero to Beijing's foreign reserve--pushing the tally over the $1 trillion mark.

Revving America

General Motors has an edgy new brand on its hands these days: Buick. From the leather-draped Royaum executive sedan to the peppy, Italian-designed Excelle hatchback and the streamlined LaCrosse sedan, its fleet has earned a reputation for style, precision design and superior quality, and their dealers score among the highest in the industry for customer satisfaction.

Bullish on Bangladesh

These days, it's not easy to be bullish on Bangladesh. Last month militant labor unions declared war on the country's vital textile industry, attacking dozens of mills and torching several in a struggle for wage hikes and new benefits.

Off the Wall

When Alan Skrainka discovered India back in 2004, its top companies were a bargain. As chief market strategist for Edward Jones investments, he started buying when the average share on Mumbai's main Sensex Index traded at roughly 12 times earnings.

The New State Capitalists

Until late 2004, the world hadn't heard of the ChemChina Group for one simple reason: it didn't yet exist. With the stroke of a pen, China's policymaking State Council shuffled assets in a handful of government-owned companies and, voilà, the China National Chemical Corp.

Will Korea Break Up Samsung?

It was hardly a triumphant homecoming for the leading corporate chieftain of Korea Inc. Sitting in a wheelchair with his right knee in a cast, Samsung chairman Lee Kun Hee ended a five-month absence on Feb. 4 with a rare press conference at Gimpo International Airport near Seoul.

A River in Reverse

Toxic spills have become all too common in China's rivers--poisoning the Yellow (diesel), a tributary of the Yangtze (sulfuric acid) and, most famously, the Songhua (benzene), just in the last three months.

Free Trade Is Not Enough

Free trade can kill economies. Just ask Robert Sisilo, the Solomon Islands' permanent representative to the World Trade Organization. If a sweeping trade package under discussion at the global body is ever implemented, his isolated nation stands to lose a mainstay revenue source: fees for access to its territorial waters.