In a rare televised address on August 8th, Japan’s aging Emperor Akihito put an end to weeks of speculation by hinting openly that he would like to stand down. Alluding to his failing health and growing inability to meet the demands of his role, the 82-year-old ceremonial monarch told viewers his stamina levels have been in gradual decline for some time. Akihito has been treated for heart problems, bronchitis and cancer in recent years.
The recent ruling by the international tribunal in the Hague on the deliberations between the Philippines and China over territory in the South China Sea has created a more precarious region. Chinese officials swiftly rebuked the binding decision that found its artificial island construction, behavior, as well as the supposed nine-dash claim baseless. China was not expecting a full out favorable ruling but surprised by the level of condemnation it received.
Following the recent abduction of five Hong Kong publishers, alleged to have edited books disclosing “inconvenient truths” about the Chinese government, thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest and fight for their right to have Freedom of Expression, which had already been enshrined in the Fundamental Law of Hong Kong.
In 1909, at the beginning of what was to be defined as “the short century”, the Italian Futurists said "We stand on the far promontory of centuries!" Today simultaneity, another futuristic concept, has reached around the world and, in particular, all people in every social class. What is simultaneous influences all our myths, behaviors and values - it is not just a mere economic or financial transaction. In fact, the World Wide Web connects, almost instantly, huge masses of poor and rich people, as well as elites.
In 2001, in response to an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreement with China regarding conduct in the South China Sea, Odgaard (2001) optimistically described the cooperation as the beginning of a “new order”. Odgaard remarked that, “The dispute highlights differences in the approach of the two entities to the balance of power, diplomacy, and international law…[and] the seeds of a new order emerge, representing a compromise between the security practices employed by China and Southeast Asia” (Odgaard, 2001, p. 292). As recent events have demonstrated, Odgaard weighted a liberal approach to the dispute too heavily, and China’s rising economic status has tipped the scales in its favor, allowing it to ignore ASEAN’s deterrence coalition.
Pending the periodical transformation of the North American political system, the Korean issue is surfacing again. It is a complex issue which is crucial to the strategic balance in Southern Asia. Moreover, it is precisely in the Korean region that the US (and also the European) balances with China and the Russian Federation are determined.
Despite concerns raised by few Western countries, such as Britain and the U.S., over the political, economic and military roles that China has been playing in Africa, China is successful in making inroads to Africa with reciprocal warm gestures from many African countries. The very visible progress in political, economic and diplomatic cooperation between Africa and China is a sheer showcase of this reality.
Several countries have supported the Chinese position on the South China Sea issue. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea — a vast tract of water through which a huge chunk of global shipping passes. It has bolstered its claim by building artificial islands including airstrips in the area, some of which are suitable for military use. The Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims to parts of the sea, which is believed to harbour significant oil and gas deposits.