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North Korea’s future geopolitics

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In the phase immediately after the end of the 23rd Winter Olympics in PyeongChang – a site located in South Korea -North Korea’s new global strategy is much more innovative than we can imagine.

In fact only the naivest analysts, who are almost always Westerners, were surprised at Kim Jong-Un’s “opening”  for the Winter Games organized in South Korea, which is allied with the United States.

Indeed, the framework of North Korea’s new international relations is rapidly changing, after the presence of Kim Jong-Un’s sister, namely Kim Yo-Jong, at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games and the large North Korean delegation including as many as 550 athletes, cheerleaders, etc.

North Korea has a significant presence in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea – and this will increase in the future – in addition to the well-known good relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan.

In the future, North Korea will operate in Latin America and Southeast Asia, independently of China but without hampering China’s interests or, in the near future, Russia’s.

The first aspect to analyse in the new distribution of strategic potentials around North Korea is the traditional one represented by Japan.

In the latest documents released by North Korea, the first consideration is addressed to the Japanese Prime Minister,Shinzo Abe, and his Foreign Minister, Kono, who warned  the various countries against North Korea when they visited Europe and North America, as well as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, against the dangerous “war designs” of the North Korean regime.

Firstly, there is historical and ethnic tension between the two countries.

It is worth recalling that,after the cease-fire between North and South Korea signed on July 27, 1953 (in fact, it was not a real armistice according to current international standards), there were almost one million Koreans who remained in the Japanese archipelago.

It is also worth recalling that the Korean general negotiated  also on behalf of the Chinese, who had participated in the conflict against US and Southern forces in large numbers.

Many of these Koreans living in Japan returned to South Korea, but all the “Zainiki Koreans” suffered marginalization, the loss of Japanese citizenship and harsh exclusion from the labour market.

However, the Koreans who remained in the Land of the Rising Sun and recognized themselves in the new North Korea, created an association, namely the Chongryon, while another association was established, namely the Mindan, that defended the Koreans close to South Korea.

Today, there is ongoing tension between right-wing groups and the Chongryon association, which has long been serving as North Korea’s de facto diplomatic mission to Japan.

Furthermore, also recently, North Korea has repeatedly accused the Japanese government of plotting to eliminate some of Chongryon‘s leaders.

Indeed, this is the core of the issue: the bilateral issue  between North Korea and Japan is also an ethno-national issue – a factor that must never be forgotten in North Korea’s current foreign policy.

The protection of the Korean tradition and ethnicity is a prerequisite for the North Korean regime.

Finally, in recent years, the North Korean nuclear issue has come to the fore – a phase in which, from 2007 onwards, Japan has declared itself to be unwilling to supply oil to North Korea because of the age-old issue of “abductions” of Japanese citizens of Korean ethnicity.

And that supply was connected to the Six Party Talks.

Furthermore, in 2009, the already difficult bilateral relations between Japan and North Korea further exacerbated, especially after North Korea’s launch of a space satellite – an action that caused the further extension of Japan’s very harsh economic sanctions against North Korea, as well as the closure to all North Korean exports.

Hence – as number one enemy of North Korea and possible primary US support for a military reaction against its nuclear bases –  Japan is seen by North Korea as the number two strategic and military enemy, after the United States, for North Korea’s political and economic survival.

On the other hand, without the United States,  the Japanese “Self-Defence Forces” would be useless against a North Korean attack.

For the current strategic juncture against Japan, North Korea wants to emphasize- above all – the current completeness and comprehensiveness of its nuclear weapons and the clear desire to “threaten the US allies”.

Hence, if Japan hits North Korea, the military reaction will be very tough and with a “salvo of nuclear missiles”.

Japan has also a new bilateral military treaty with the United States, just what Prime Minister Abe tried to further strengthen during his visit to Washington in November 2017.

Hence, between the Land of the Rising Sun and the two Koreas, there is again the same strategic, ethnic and cultural conflict that characterized the Japanese invasion of Korea to build the “Co-prosperity Sphere” from 1910 onwards.

In history and geopolitics nothing is created and nothing is destroyed.

Japan has also proposed a new trilateral military alliance with South Korea and the United States. It also wants to buy the US anti-missile system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) and strengthen its Self-Defence Force.

However, currently the network of InterContinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) leaves Canada and even the European Union without credible defences.

Currently there is no possible rational strategy against North Korean nuclear weapons: hence, – if we accept the policy line of the future necessary military clash – as President Trump hinted – the whole North Korean peninsula will be destabilized and, in all likelihood, China and the Russian Federation may decide to support North Korea.

In spite of everything. Rather than bordering on a country full with US military bases – a South Korea extended also to the current North Korea -Russia would act according to the model of its current operations in Syria.

China would do the same, despite the fact that there has always been bad blood between Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-Un.

Conversely, if Japan deployed its hypothetical future ICBMs – autonomous from the United States – there would be  substantial equivalence of set-ups, which would be taken very seriously in North Korea.

In particular, North Korea does not want the nuclear and conventional coupling between the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Alternatively, North Korea can only accept a policy of economic, political and military normalization between the United States, which should officially recognize the North Korean regime, and the other two Asian countries, which should accept the North Korean status quo and rebuild a “normal” political and economic network around Democratic Korea.

Currently, however, the United States thinks that North Korea’s global strategy, even after the Winter Games, is to immediately subjugate South Korea, as well as fully expel the US forces at first from the Korean region and later from Japan, and finally directly threaten the US territory.

In fact some analysts, mainly in Canada and the United States, even think of being able to reactivate the conventional war between the two Koreas, so as to eliminate the North Korean nuclear potential.

Would South Korea agree on it? And would Japan accept it? I seriously doubt.

It is not clear what the logical and strategic connection between the conventional war from South to North Korea and the removal of North Korean missiles is, but this is the current level of US strategic thinking.

Do the experts of US think tanks possibly believe that North Korea would easily be defeated in a conventional conflict, or that, if nuclear weapons were used by South Korea, it would not be able to inflict unbearable damage on the United States and South Korea?

What if the United States and the axis between South Korea and Japan would finally lose the war? It is a possibility not to be ruled out.

Or if North Korea decided to create such a missile escalation as to destroy – in different phases – the Japanese self-defence forces and the North American bases in the Pacific?

It is not the case. North Korea exerts its pressure with nuclear weapons to be recognized internationally and avoid American pressure in its vicinity.

This is the strategic factor from which to start.

Moreover, North Korea uses its nuclear network to rebuild its economy, which, however, is growing and now combines the private sector with the State one.

Hence it is no mere coincidence that Jo Yong Sam, the Director General of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, has recently underlined that there will be no possible contact between the North Korean and the US delegations to the Winter Olympics.

North Korea wants to reassure South Korea, not others.

Another aspect to note is that North Korea wants negotiations – essentially on an equal footing – between its government and the US one and the warning about the Olympics has exactly this meaning.

North Korea will never be satisfied with back-room dealings, intermediaries or rhapsodic contacts.

It wants the full, official and multilateral opening of negotiations.

In fact, it is worth reiterating that the friendship between the two Koreas, shown during the 23rd Olympics, has nothing to do with the future possible negotiations between North Korea and the United States.

Furthermore, the 2018 North American Nuclear Posture Review speaks of the North Korean “provocative quest” for nuclear weapons and missile systems, while the United States also thinks that in “a few months” North Korea will achieve an effective nuclear strike capacity on the US territory.

Again according to this year’s North American Nuclear Posture Review, North Korea shows “extremely dangerous rhetoric and activities” – hence the US political and military leadership wants a “full, complete, verifiable and irreversible” elimination of the North Korean nuclear program, which is regarded by the United States as the number one threat to international peace.

How can it be eliminated?

I believe that the United States erroneously thinks that the North Korean doctrine is that of the first use of nuclear weapons to support conventional operations.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review also believes that North Korea can begin to carry out autonomous major provocations, including precision attacks and missile launches against Japan.

This is not the case. In fact this has never happened, apart from the launches of ICBMs artfully fired into the sea before hitting targets in Japan or in Guam.

If anything, North Korea’s nuclear weapons will be used in possible joint actions on Japan and, above all, on the US territory – but if and only if there is an invasion from the South with the US support.

In that case, North Korea’s nuclear missile operations will certainly be a deterrent, but also fully operational and targeted directly against the US bases in Guam and Japan.

While Japan will be put in a position – with ICBM counterforce actions – not to respond or to scarcely react.

Decoupling between the United States, South Korea and Japan, as well as decoupling between the North Korean peninsula and nearby areas.

Nor is it possible to think of an effective US red nose strategy against North Korea’s nuclear positions.

In other words, and only for the United States, the issue would lie in hitting only some North Korean ICBM and nuclear positions to point to a possible escalation if the situation worsens or, possibly – although this is not clear yet -to generate a “slowdown” of the nuclear and missile programs in North Korea.

A slowdown that has no strategic significance for North Korea.

This is another serious geopolitical mistake: North Korea is in no hurry to use its conventional ABC arsenal, while the US red nose strategy could trigger North Korea’s reaction against the US regional allies, which would be effectively deterred from intervening in a future clash on the Korean peninsula.

Hence, according to the statements of the 2018 North American Nuclear Posture Review, the strategy of imposing “unsustainable costs” on the North Korean regime can have a dual effect, thus creating such waves of strong distaste for the United States in Japan and South Korea as to inhibit the US future reactions.

For North Korea this strategic policy line only means that President Trump wants a limited nuclear war with it.

But can it only be limited and not damage South Korea?

If, as is said, the US nuclear weapons are high-precision ones, they will probably limit the North Korean response. On the contrary, if the confrontation – also at a purely conventional level -involves South Korea, it will experience such an internal opposition and a political and military crisis as to endanger its very existence.

Does the United States want this?

Obviously North Korea also claims that its nuclear system has been designed to protect the country for “over a hundred years”, but are we sure that the US intelligence services really know where to hit or analytically know the geography of hidden and underground sites? I seriously doubt it.

Perhaps, the United States can further strengthen  economic sanctions – the harshest ones so far – against North Korea, as was indeed announced by President Trump on  January 24 last.

The sanctions do not cause much damage to North Korea.

In principle, it manages to avoid its effects by using ships of friendly or third countries, from Africa, the Caribbean, and Hong Kong, for its trade.

Ships that often change their names.

However, as President Trumps says, if sanctions have no effect, we will “move on to a second phase”.

It could be the already seen, but disastrous red nose effect -a childish resource that could only aggravate the situation.

Or the United States could think of a conventional operation from the South, by putting in the middle – as possible blackmail for the North – just the territory of South Korea. An ally, or am I wrong?

Hence, a clear improvement of reactions between the two Koreas is necessary for North Koreans, against the possibility of an exacerbation of the real or foreseen US operations against North Korea.

This is the sense of Kim Jong Un’s behaviour before and during the 23rd Winter Olympics.

However, there would be a further clear and simple solution: to resume the negotiations of the Six Party Talks, perhaps with a new composition of Western countries, and open negotiations between the United States and North Korea for mutual diplomatic recognition, as well as start a negotiation also for reducing conventional forces in both Koreas and wait (since it will come) for a statement in this regard by Kim Jong Un.

In fact, any nuclear war scenario would be self-destructive and ineffective.

For everyone.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

East Asia

Hollywood with Chinese Characteristics

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Authors: Dr. Abhishek Srivastava and Ms. Shreyasi*

Cinemas are an effective tool to project soft power and influence communities at large. A number of Hollywood production-finance firms in the last decade have seen a major rise in Chinese investments. Some of the biggest Hollywood box office hits are backed by Yuan. To maximize profit off of the Chinese domestic movie consumption market, these movies either have elements of Chinese culture or they self-censor to appease the Chinese censorship authorities. A dominant explanation to this phenomenon is that China pursues a significant influence in the American culture by infiltrating Hollywood. Hollywood itself has, through its movies, exported American values since its inception. Any impact on this industry will consequently reflect on its movie consumers eventually.

China wears the global box office crown worth $7.3 billion and reigns as the biggest movie consumer market in the world. It bounced back from the pandemic slump of 2020 and turned twice the amount of revenue only 26% less than pre-pandemic numbers. During the pandemic movie theatres all over the world were shut down, literally zeroing down the movie theatre business. China due to its regime style, somehow managed to open up theatres to some extent and garner revenues.

China opened its domestic movie market for outside films only in the 1990’s. The ever-growing domestic movie market China has made it a golden spot for foreign language films to get screen time and thereby huge returns. More and more Hollywood movies and especially blockbuster category movies are lining up to get a spot since Chinese authorities allow only 34 films per year quota to foreign language movies. This strategy along with the promise of money has resulted in Hollywood movies altering their plot, stories, scenes etc., to suite the regulations of the Chinese censorship authority. The censorship authority’s aim is to induct Chinese values and promote their ideas through the Hollywood movies. Last 10 years has culminated into an intersection of free market and Chinese censorship. This is an unprecedented path whose outcome is very unpredictable.

Another strategy is the use of China’s economic power to get into the American movie business and then trying to induct a cultural change. Los Angeles has a big presence of Chinese firms and conglomerates who have major or minor shares in big production houses or have co- financed individual movie projects. It is not only limited to production companies but theatre chains, distributing retails and public relations management companies are also being brought by Chinese firms.

Chinese Soft power and public diplomacy through movies

Joseph Nye coined the term soft power and further broadened the area of study to public diplomacy. Much of what he has written on soft power, tools used by the United States to exercise soft power is relevant even today. According to Nye, Hollywood in itself is the biggest soft power influencer of the United States. The power Hollywood movies have had on different countries through generations is incomparable.

According to Stanley Rosen, a professor of political science in University of South California and a specialist on politics in the People’s Republic of China, even after spending $10 billion year in exercising soft power, China has not been able to compete with the U.S. Chinese soft power is much more involved in dealing with the domestic crowd. Much of the soft power is controlled by the state. This does not allow a natural spurt in soft power. Successful American soft power on the other hand has largely grown away from the clutches of the government. And this is what Chinese authorities are trying to bank on.

China in Hollywood

As explained before, the Chinese production house and firms exert control by buying up screen spaces. But movies themselves self-censor to appease the censorship board of China. The aim is to make it to the list of 34 movies which is allowed screen time in the domestic movie landscape. Chinese real-estate and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co. has signed a deal for a majority stake in Legendary Entertainment that would value the U.S. film and television company at nearly $4 billion. Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings bought 10% of Skydance Media, the Hollywood company behind movie Terminator. The valuation of the deal of the production company is at approximately $1.5 billion. As part of the arrangement, Tencent and Skydance will co-finance movies, TV shows and video game projects too.

Apart from the Chinese values, an instance which shows the Chinese government’s good governance, foresight, China’s technology boom, good standard of living are expected to be shown in the movie by the producers themselves. The production houses of these movies often have Chinese co-financiers who work to make the Chinese authority happy. Any image which shows the country in a bad light is frowned upon. In the disaster movie, 2012, humanity is saved because the Chinese government had the foresight to build the life-saving arcs. In Gravity, Sandra Bullock survives by getting herself to the Chinese Space Station which was shown to be the most advanced one.

The 2006 released book titled World War Z, a zombie apocalyptic horror novel written by American author Max Brooks was adapted in a 2013 movie of the same name by the Paramount pictures production. The original plot of the book is about a global pandemic in which people infected with the virus turns into a zombie. The virus origins or the patient zero as mentioned in the book is found in China but the movie adaptation refers to the source of the virus to be in Taiwan. This allowed the release of the movie in Chinese theatres.

In 2014, hacked Sony e-mails revealed that the original script of the movie PIXELS, which was released in 2015, called for blowing up of the Great Wall of China but finally in the movie, Taj Mahal of Agra is seen being blown up. This change was done with the hope that the movie could gain access to the Chinese theatre market. Blowing up of a national heritage site was not something the audience or the national film agencies of China would have appreciated. This incident is a classic example of American movie self- censoring themselves to gain access to a huge market, thereby ensuring a decent profit margin.

Understanding how important movies are in constructing imagery, the Chinese authorities make sure the country is represented in the fairest and best way possible. This includes hand picking visuals of the country in movies, curating dialogues, altering plots, storylines and characters, changing the way the people are represented in the movies. The censorship is so strong and rigid that certain words and cases are not allowed in the movies. Issues of homosexuality, democratic values and free spirit, rejection of authority, liberty and equal rights are certain areas which are a significant part of the Western cultural discourse. Nuances regarding these issues are often put up in public discourse through movies. But when such movies are presented to the Chinese censorship for approval, scenes representing these issues are straight away omitted. This is an attempt by the authority to isolate the local population from western cultural values. A prime example is the 2018 hit, Oscar awarded movie The Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie represented the life and times of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the British music band The Queen and a well-known member of the LGBT community who died of AIDS. The movie’s cut which was shown in Chinese theatres lacked certain sections of the cinema which talked about the lead singer’s life as a homo sexual. This takes us again to Stanley Rosen’s argument that a bigger chunk of Chinese soft power strategy is within its border for its own public. The country keeps her media in check by regulating movies, especially foreign ones.

The 1997 movie, Seven years in Tibet starring Brad Pitt, depicts China’s controversial takeover of Tibet and the harsh Chinese rule in the country. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud and stars Brad Pitt and David Thewlis were allegedly banned from even entering China.

In the May month of 2021, actor John Cena apologised publicly on Chinese social media platform for referring Taiwan as a country. The production house of the movie, Universal pictures has a long-term co-financing deal with a Chinese entertainment company called the Perfect World Pictures. The movie is backed by Chinese money which made it mandatory for the actor to publicly apologise.

The sensitivity regarding Taiwan is so much that even public acknowledgement of the island nation as a country sparks outrage and objection by China. Tibet, Taiwan, Tiannamen square, Uighur province etc. are certain sensitive issues for the Chinese. The authority does not want any incident, in real life or in movies, to happen that could legitimise their existence, both amongst the domestic and the international audience.

China’s sensitivity to Tibet could be seen in the 2016 hit movie Doctor Strange, part of the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe of the Marvel production house. The ethnicity of a major character was changed completely. In the original comic books, the Ancient one is a Tibetan character, and the studio that was making Doctor Strange changed it to a Celtic character. The movie went on to earn around $109 million in the country. Eliminating a Tibetan character is an attempt to remove the issue of Tibet from the minds of any average movie watcher.

One of the top three highest grossing films in the box office of 2022 is the movie Top Gun: Maverick, a sequel to the 1986 movie Top Gun. In the original 1986 movie, the central character of Tom Cruise’s wears a jacket which went on to become a national rage in Northern America and consequently in more English language movie watching countries. The jacket on its back had a flag patch of US, Japan and Taiwan. In the trailer for the sequel released around two years back, Taiwan’s flag, which the island country has used since 1949, was seen being replaced with an ambiguous patch. This self-censoring by the movie makers was somewhat expected by audience since the movie’s co –producer, Paramount Pictures signed on Tencent, a Chinese tech firm to co-finance the movie. The Shenzhen-based conglomerate hoped to act as an “investor and co-marketer” of the film. But things turned out to be a different when the movie was released.

How receptive is the American movie industry and consumer?

The reaction of the American audience to the trailer, specifically to the changes made in the original jacket in the movie was extremely fierce. The aware audience has somehow grown a resentment towards artistic changes and additions made to American movies, done solely to appease the Chinese authorities. The makers of the movie sensed it and reverted to the original jacket which had the flag patch of Taiwan.

The case of Chinese authorities curating American movies is seen by Hollywood stakeholders as an attempt at altering culture and value system of the nation as well as the larger audience who are American movie watchers. Another matter of concern is the literal buying up of domestic movie production and distribution houses of America by big Chinese firms and conglomerates. A law has been introduced to the US Congress, that would regulate funding of these big American production house by foreign companies. In April 2020, Republican Ted Cruz introduced a bill titled “The Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies Act” that the Texas Senator described as “cutting off Hollywood studios from assistance they receive from the Department of Defence if those studios censor their films for screening in China.” The legislation, called the SCRIPT Act, was introduced in May and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. 2020 was also the time when tensions between the U. S. and China were at its peak and a probable trade war between the two countries was looming large.

Conclusion

Soft power is a long-term strategy which reaps benefit only in future. It’s arduous, laborious and results might not be visible instantly, unlike hard power which yields outcomes almost as soon as it is used. But when it does, it is the most profitable and significant investment a country could make in terms of both time and money. China realised this way back in the 1970s, when it mended relations with the U.S. The country has come a long way since the days when Bruce Lee’s movies were dubbed and rationalized to suit American and world audience. It is amazing to see how the world’s most powerful movie industry plays tune to China’s censorship authority’s pipe.

However, Beijing’s strategy of using money to implement soft power tactics has been unveiled. For a very long time this phenomenon was under wraps. Chinese firms pumping money in Hollywood production houses rose only post-2010 but it was done aggressively around 2015. When it comes to allowing foreign language movies to open in China, a limit of 34 movies have been posed. But these movies happen to be the biggest blockbusters of Hollywood, watched by a huge audience across globe. The impression these movies make is simply unimaginable. By censoring and planting favourable plot lines in movies, Chinese authorities intend to artificially manufacture of opinions. Off course, these opinions work in favour of the Chinese regime. This allows them to present to the world a narrative on issues close to Beijing’s heart.

*Ms. Shreyasi Post graduate Student, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

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The U.N. as a collective security says no to politicalized agenda

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Since the United Nations was founded at the end of the WWII, it has played a seminal role in preserving the world peace and international justice from time to time. Based on the U.N. Charter which champions the no-use of force and collective security, the U.N. is seen as a relatively efficient global organization of sovereign states since then. There is no question that the U.N. has historically promoted the decolonization and changes in the composition of the international community when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960. Since then, it is fair to say that the new states have come to end the dominance of the West which then commanded a majority of the seats in the General Assembly.

From the very beginning, a world public opinion is seen as the most potent of all forces for peace. Nowadays, it has been since more strongly developing throughout the world. In particular, the U.N. General Assembly is declared to be “the open conscience of the world as Hans Morgenthau used to argue. China has consistently and persistently championed the legitimate rights of the all states in general and the small/weak countries in particular. As Chinese government has reiterated that as the world’s largest developing country, China will continue to stand with all developing States, who are no longer the silent majority in international and multilateral processes.

Also as one of Five Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council, China should and also must stand up to defend the sacredness of the United Nation as it is a permanent forum in which countries could come together to deliberate and attempt to resolve disagreements rather than sowing the seeds of hatred among them. In reality, the U.N. has been used properly but is also misused and even abused by some governments for the purposes of politicalizing the issues and demonizing its rivals with no moral criteria or any bottom lines. Given this, this essay argues for the necessity of preserving the sacredness and purity of the U.N. for the original goal of acting a collective security rather than unilateral tool abused by any small bloc.

Recently, China allies itself with the statement made by Eritrea on behalf of a group of like-minded countries. Chinese ambassador Geng Shuang made it clear that remedy and reparation is an important way to deliver justice, offer consolation and promote reconstruction after wars and conflicts. Deeply victimized by numerous foreign wars against China in the modern history, China has endured immense losses. Accordingly, the Chinese people and the elite empathize with the heartbreaks of war victims, and sympathize with their misery. Meanwhile, China opines that any remedy and reparation should be achieved through correct political means and legal proceedings in line with international will, fairness and justice, and the humanitarian spirit. The U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly should and can play the role as expected by the international community.

Regarding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, China has reiterated its sincere concerns with the current situation in Ukraine and the four points about what must be done in the wake of the outbreak of the crisis and the four things the international community must do together later. It is self-evident that given a global, composite crisis in Ukraine, it is important to give serious thought to the following: first, conflicts and wars produce no winner; second, there is no simple solution to a complex issue; and third, confrontation between major countries must be avoided. China has and will continue to look forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. At the same time, it is imperative that the U.S. and its allies of the NATO and the EU should hold direct dialogues with Russia. This is the nature of classic diplomacy championing negotiation, persuasion and mutual compromises rather than driving a decisive victory in the battlefield.

Due to the discussion of China’s stances on the international issues and the role of the UN in the crises management, it is quite easy to perceive China’s refusal of the draft resolution on remedy and reparation submitted for actions of the Emergency Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly on November 16 since it has obvious flaws and loopholes and does not conform to China’s position and proposition. However, Chinese Ambassador Geng Shuang presented three points to verify the general principles and practices of the UN as a collective security forum.

First, legally speaking, China believes that the draft resolution intends to address the issue of international legal responsibility directly through the General Assembly, thereby overstepping GA’s authority. As it is well-noted that the UN Charter clearly stipulates the mandates of the principal organs of the UN and the General Assembly is not an international judicial body. Thus, it has no legal power to define and hold accountable for internationally wrongful acts. As a matter of fact, the resolutions previously adopted by the 11th Emergency Special Session of the GA do not constitute solid legal basis for remedy and reparation.

It is clear that the draft resolution aims to invoke the Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts to pursue accountability, yet, doing so lacks legal basis in a professional way. The aforementioned Articles are research products of the International Law Commission which is an expert body. It is not an inter-governmental treaty and not legally binding. From a perspective of international law, neither do the Articles provide legal norms to define an internationally wrongful act or determine whether such an act exists. Hence, it is not appropriate to cite the Articles to make legal determination and pursue accountability.

Second, given the fact the draft resolution intends to bless the creation, by some countries, of a mechanism for reparation and a register of damage outside the UN framework, thus it deviates from the normal practice. The above mentioned mechanisms proposed by some countries are not in the framework of the UN, not overseen by the UN, and do not report to the UN. Nevertheless, the General Assembly is requested to adopt a resolution specifically for their creation. This approach makes no sense and has no precedent in practice.

It deserves noting that the issue of remedy and reparation is of great dimensions and far reaching implications. It concerns peace and security on the one hand, justice and conscience on the other. Moreover, it concerns not only the sacredness of the United Nations, but also the justice of international rule of law. Thus, the issue of remedy and reparation needs to be presented in a legal and procedural way. Historically, countries in the world victimized by internationally wrongful acts such as colonialism, external interference, unilateral sanctions and economic blockade have the right to seek remedy and reparation. The action taken by the General Assembly today should help to provide correct guidance for the settlement of possible future claims of relevant countries for remedy and reparation. Yet, the red-line is that it should help to maintain the impartial image of the UN that treats all member states equally. It should help to ensure various UN bodies can work in concert according to their respective mandates. Regrettably, the sponsor states did not organize consultations in earnest, did not substantively respond to the concerns of member states, and instead insisted on pushing the General Assembly to take a hasty action which is totally unconstructive.

As it is well-known that the Ukrainian crisis has been ongoing nearly nine months. It has sent shockwaves throughout the world and brought more uncertainty and instability to the world. Since the crisis serves no parties’ interests including Ukraine and Russia, China has appealed to all parties concerned to return to dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible. In so doing, the international community, including the General Assembly, should work actively to this end, instead of intensifying tensions, provoking confrontation and aggravating divides. In fact, China’s position on the Ukraine issue is clear and consistent. That is to say that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be fully observed. However, the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be also taken seriously. Accordingly, China endorses the tireless work with the international community to play a constructive role in promoting the early realization of ceasefire and cessation of hostilities.

To sum up, China has no bias against any parties concerned in the Ukrainian crisis. Yet, the key is that China must act a responsible power to upload the authority of the UN Charter and the credibility of the General Assembly. Given this, China decided to vote against the draft resolution along with more than ten other countries, though they were a minority. For the end of safeguarding true multilateralism and maintaining the international rule of law and fairness and justice, China has done as it should do as always.

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East Asia

Silence on Uyghurs and Kashmir: A tacit quid-pro-quo between India and China

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On the 7th of October, India abstained from voting on a resolution for “holding a debate” on China’s alleged atrocities on Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. Although, on previous occasions, India had called for the human rights of Uyghurs to be respected, and had taken note of a UN Human Rights report finding human rights violations by China; When presented with an option to finalise and consolidate its stance on the matter, India chose to abstain from voting.

In this post I argue that, India’s choice to abstain from voting against China’s alleged human rights violation in the Xinjiang province, is part of a tacit quid pro quo between the two states to remain silent on each other’s human rights violations.

Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic community in the Xinjiang region of China, have been, and continue to be subjected to severe human rights abuses by the Chinese state. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has established centres which the international media has come to refer to as, “re-education centres”. At these centres the CCP works towards preventing citizens from being influenced by extremist thoughts, and to “nip terrorist activities in the bud.”

In the context of Uyghurs, a plethora of allegations have been levelled against China. These range from forced labour, illegal detention, to genocide, and may even extend to crimes against humanity. However, as discussed previously on this forum, even though the corpus of evidence on China’s violations of Human Rights against Uyghurs continue to grow, the same must be protected, and finally utilised to prove the role of the State in these human rights violations.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), to which China is a signatory, defines genocide to include, five acts. Evidence suggests, China has violated every single clause of this article. These include, (i) killing members of a group, (ii) causing serious bodily, or mental harm, (iii) deliberately inflicting conditions of life to bring about the physical destruction of the group, (iv) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and (iv) Forcefully transferring children of the group to another group. (For a consolidated list of human rights violations by China in Xinjiang, see this report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)

It is therefore, shocking to see that although India continues to stand for respecting the human rights of Uyghurs, India chooses to abstain from voting on China’s alleged atrocities on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

However, a closer study of India’s abstention on the Uyghur vote speaks volumes. India itself faces numerous accusations of Human Rights violations in the erstwhile state (and now Union Territory) of Jammu, and Kashmir. These range from civilian killings, to restrictions on freedom of expression, and many other forms of human rights violations. (A consolidated list of human rights violations by India in Indian-administered Kashmir can be found in this report)

Therefore, in light of this, India’s abstention can in many ways be seen as a quid pro quo between India, and China. China’s absolute silence on Human Rights violations by India in J&K, even in the face of growing evidence for the same, must be seen in tandem with India’s abstention at the UNHRC. Alternatively, India’s move to abstain from voting could also be a move to mollify, the ever-increasing Chinese aggression, and expansionist policies in the Indo-pacific.

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