Hong Kong: Freedom under Fire

 
Credit: ABC News
ANDO Saori
Researcher, Department of Sociology and Area Studies
Tokyo City University, Tokyo, Japan
Contact: info@globalculturz.org 

Hong Kong democratic movement has become a routine affair. It is now loosing patience and becoming a bit violent. A few incidents of arson has happened. The police is unable to control the situation and Chinese administration is tightening its grip. The attention of global communities towards the cause is almost negligible. In lack of any effective intervention by the global communities a revenge process will be initiated by the Chinese and Hong Kong administrations. To tackle with this situation would be a big challenge for pro-democratic forces. 
While Hong Kong is struggling to retain its freedom and civil liberties, China wants to grip Hong Kong in more effective manner. Since 1997, when Hong Kong became part of China under one nation two systems policy, there were several protests on the Honk Kong streets in apprehension of Chinese dominance. This recent movement broke out on Sunday and as claimed by the organizers, the Civil Human Rights front, around 1.03 Million people marched against The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement saying that the amendment would "will not only threaten the safety of journalists but also have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression in Hong Kong.” further stating, "This sword hanging over journalists will muzzle both the journalists and the whistleblowers, bringing an end to the limited freedom of speech that Hong Kong still enjoys.” American Chamber of Commerce, The Hong Kong Bar Association actively supported the movement citing the Extradition Bill as anti-people, which is yet to become law. The Common citizens of Hong Kong enjoy freedom which their counterparts in mainland China have been denied for decades. 

China has emerged as a robust economic and military power in last two decades. It has greater influence than ever, globally, now-a-days. The success of previous protests in Hong Kong was just notional. It is evident that China is not going to govern Hong Kong in a pious manner and it will indirectly try to control it in such a manner which suits to Government in Beijing. Several Human Rights activists are behind the bars or facing legal cases. Some of them were forced to leave the country. The global community is either neutralor has become just a silent spectator to happening of the Honk Kong due to their economic interests, primarily. A Government spokesperson said in a long statement, 

The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 (the Bill) aims to deal with a murder case which happened in Taiwan in early 2018 involving Hong Kong residents. At the same time, it seeks to plug the loopholes in Hong Kong's overall co-operation mechanism in criminal and juridical assistance matters, including the geographical restrictions and impractical operational requirements under the existing laws. The Government's proposed amendments, which have been thoroughly and prudently considered, can achieve these two objectives.

 The proposed amendments do not pinpoint any particular jurisdiction. After the legislative amendments, Hong Kong can, where necessary, using the same set of standards and under the principle of mutual respect, handle serious criminal cases by case-based surrender arrangements with a jurisdiction that does not have any long-term surrender of fugitive offenders arrangement with Hong Kong. The proposed legislative amendments will not affect any long-term agreements in force.

 All existing human rights and procedural safeguards provided for in the current legislations will be maintained under the case-based arrangements. These include the double criminality principle, protection against death penalty, restriction against re-surrender, rule against double jeopardy, application for habeas corpus and right to appeal and judicial review, etc. The Government will thoroughly and carefully consider each case. The executive authority and the court will perform their respective gate-keeping roles in handling all surrender requests. The Government will reject any surrender request if it could not meet the legal requirements. 
Journalists, Human Rights activists, and Business groups didn’t take the statement in good sense and came out for protests. Any such protest which defies the decision of Government like China will not survive long without the active intervention of global community and destined to die sooner or later.


    

Territorial Disputes and Global Peace




Mitsue Ishii
Growth & Smile Foundation
Isehara, Kanagawa, Japan


Israeli president Netanyahu pledged just yesterday to annexe Jordan Valley (West Bank) if voted to power again. He is confidant to get full support from the US for the same. Earlier Indian PM, Narendra Modi’s Government removed the special status of J&K State of Northern India. The opinion of the residents in these areas hardly matters to Governments. The role United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seems ineffective to resolve these disputes. The contentous issues pose a potential threat to global peace.    
A few months ago Russian president Vladimir Putin visited Japan. His counterpart PM Shinzo Abe at various venues entertained him across Japan and both of them are hopeful to improve their bilateral relation. It is known fact that Japan and the US share very strong defense and economic ties. That is the reason that Japan has to participate in sanctions imposed by the US on Russia over the issue of Crimea annexation. Ukraine and Russia came in front of each other and as expected the US imposed sanctions on Russia, creating more difficulties to one-time superpower nation.
There are four islands in the northern part of Hokkaido, Japan, which are, at present, under the occupation of Russian administration. Almost one thousand Japanese, born in those islands, are still living in different places of Japan. They claim those islands as their motherlands and met PM Abe to initiate the process to ensure their smooth access to those areas. Many of them have their ancestral graveyards and had been denied to pay annual tributes because of the stiff laws imposed on foreign visitors to reach the area. The Kuril Islands, as called by Japanese people are now becoming part of the public discussion and a national issue. PM Abe raised this issue while meeting President Putin. It had brought some hope for islanders of Kuril to visit their ancestral land with ease.
There are several smaller territories, with human habitation or without it, which are engaged in disputes among the nations. Another inhabited island of Japan, Senkaku, is claimed by China. China has raised the issue of Senkaku on several international and bilateral forums. As the economy of China is expanding, it is creating pressure over its own neighbors. It has territorial disputes with Philippines, India, Taiwan and Japan. President-elect, Mr. Donald Trump has already given an indication to tackle Chinese administration on various counts. But, China is not worried at all. It has created dependence for the other nations. In the case of the Chinese economy is affected, it will affect the rest of the globe. So there is a remote chance for any direct confrontation between existing superpower and the emerging superpower.
Like Japan, Russia and China, there are more than a hundred territories all over the world where two nations or several nations are engaged in disputes. Sometimes these disputes trigger a major war. There are examples of such happenings. There are examples of continuous confrontations at several places. Israel with Palestine and India with Pakistan are facing regular confrontations. Despite agreements, many precious lives are lost every year due to territorial disputes. The initiatives of UN and other global agencies were not able to provide any amicable solution to the issue. Though some nations had resolved the issue peacefully. Such an example is of Bangladesh and India. It is possible for other nations too, to follow. By resolving these territorial issues, militarization across the world can be controlled and economic relations can be improved among nations. There is also a concern for the innocent citizens who reside near the borders of these disputed territories. Ultimately every citizen must be ensured for a secure life. This is the only purpose of the world agencies.
   


Global Security Challenges in a Non-polar World

Photo: Credit

Kana Shimizu
Researcher, International Relations
The Open University of Japan
E-mail: info@globalculturz.org


The present US president has decided track back from global responsibilities. He clearly indicated that America should not be the custodian of global problems and it is better for the nations to resolve their issues themselves. At a time, with the existence of USSR, the world was bipolar majorly divided into American and Soviet camps. Though a few nations like India were kept themselves at equidistant with both of them under the new camp known as a non-align movement.  With the collapse of USSR, the world politics and economy became the US-centric and American dictates were binding to the most of the nations.  Though some fringe forces were daring to defy and the major jolt was 9/11 terrorist attacks on world trade towers. America dealt this situation firmly and finally killed Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the Al-Qaida, in Pakistan in a secret operation.  Until the rise of China as an economic power, political and economic supremacy of the US was beyond doubt. Former US president tried hard to maintain that till his last days in office. It was expected that political policies would continue with the victory of Hillary Clinton, which didn’t happen. Now rise in nationalistic spirits are on a rise. In India, PM Modi has taken several steps to attract foreign investments and fight internal corruption. The people of a northern state of UP, where his party swept the assembly elections, recently approved his moves. In Japan too, PM Abe is changing and reviewing policies for defense. And, as Mr. Trump, has advised US allies, to defend themselves; Japanese common people take it as a good move. In Britain too, a mandate for Brexit is against globalization and reflects a national interest.  Can all these events be read as anti-global phenomena? In my view, it is a time for disappearance of security and economic umbrellas. Each and every nation is fighting to boost and revitalize its economic conditions. In major developed countries there is no noticeable growth. It is very sure that economic affairs have become more important than anything else. The security and defense issues are related to protecting these interests only. Whether it is the South China Sea or Kuril island or even Senkakus or any other part of the globe, the disputes over geographical territories are connected with economic advantages. Though, the governments' project it as an emotional and national issue. 
After trackback by the US, global issues once again are going to be resolved by mutual cooperation and bilateral treaties. It is not yet know how will it impact WTO or other global organizations like UN, UNICEF etc. Though TPP is severely hit by the American announcement to withdraw from it. If the US begins to withdraw it role in global politics and defense and economy, it will be an opportunity for China to take that position. In Asia, it has already started its agenda to control the neighbors, occupy geopolitical locations. The key challenge is India, whose economy is also growing at a faster speed.The present US president has decided track back from global responsibilities. He clearly indicated that America should not be the custodian of global problems and it is better for the nations to resolve their issues themselves. At a time, with the existence of USSR, the world was bipolar majorly divided into American and Soviet camps. Though a few nations like India were kept themselves at equidistant with both of them under the new camp known as a non-align movement.  With the collapse of USSR, the world politics and economy became the US-centric and American dictates were binding to the most of the nations.  Though some fringe forces were daring to defy and the major jolt was 9/11 terrorist attacks on world trade towers. America dealt this situation firmly and finally killed Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the Al-Qaida, in Pakistan in a secret operation.  Until the rise of China as an economic power, political and economic supremacy of the US was beyond doubt. Former US president tried hard to maintain that till his last days in office. It was expected that political policies would continue with the victory of Hillary Clinton, which didn’t happen. Now rise in nationalistic spirits are on a rise. In India, PM Modi has taken several steps to attract foreign investments and fight internal corruption. The people of a northern state of UP, where his party swept the assembly elections, recently approved his moves. In Japan too, PM Abe is changing and reviewing policies for defense. And, as Mr. Trump, has advised US allies, to defend themselves; Japanese common people take it as a good move. In Britain too, a mandate for Brexit is against globalization and reflects a national interest.  Can all these events be read as anti-global phenomena? In my view, it is a time for disappearance of security and economic umbrellas. Each and every nation is fighting to boost and revitalize its economic conditions. In major developed countries there is no noticeable growth. It is very sure that economic affairs have become more important than anything else. The security and defense issues are related to protecting these interests only. Whether it is the South China Sea or Kuril island or even Senkakus or any other part of the globe, the disputes over geographical territories are connected with economic advantages. Though, the governments' project it as an emotional and national issue. 

After trackback by the US, global issues once again are going to be resolved by mutual cooperation and bilateral treaties. It is not yet know how will it impact WTO or other global organizations like UN, UNICEF etc. Though TPP is severely hit by the American announcement to withdraw from it. If the US begins to withdraw it role in global politics and defense and economy, it will be an opportunity for China to take that position. In Asia, it has already started its agenda to control the neighbors, occupy geopolitical locations. The key challenge is India, whose economy is also growing at a faster speed.

Time for Trade Wars?


CHOUNO Keiko
Researcher, International Relations
Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan
E-mail: info@globalculturz.org


Credit: AFP/Jung Yeon-je


The last week, a trade war broke out between Japan and Korea. The US and China are already in a war of trade and despite several rounds of official and non-official talks between the two nations there is no solution to it. As there are nationalistic governments are in power in most of the countries, the citizens’ pressure to protect ecomic interests of people and local corporates. In these trade wars there is less trade and more emotions. Asia Times writes, ‘The crisis blew up when Tokyo announced this month that South Korean importers of key Japanese semiconductor and display materials are now required to submit to new, and potentially onerous, 90-day government approval processes.’  The trade wars are not just economic they carry some cultural, political issues in the back drop. The issue of Comfort Women has become bone of contention as soon as Moon Govenment came into power. The new government repealed the earlier agreement between Japan and South Korea on Comfort Women issue. Earlier Japan imposed several restrictions on export of materials required by South Korean companies to produce computer chips. Despite foreign minister level tele talks, no progress achieved. Now both countries have removed each other from their respective White Lists. As scholars are speculating this trade war is going to escalate. S K Kim, associated with Daiwa, a reputaed borkerage company said "If Japan removes South Korea from the white list, the impact will be widened to other industry areas, which will be negative for both (countries),” reported CNN. Trade wars are used as a tool resolve the diplomatic issues. Japan and South Korea came together to fight the nuclear challege of the North Korea. But, as Asia News says, Tension between the two neighbours soared last October, after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japanese steelmakers to compensate wartime forced labourers from Korea. The issue escalated with South Korea ordering the seizure of the local assets of Japanese firms and refusing to form an arbitration panel to resolve the dispute. Such measures to settle diplomatic issues are neither good for the two countries nor for the global economy. In the mean the US and China are already in trade tussles and due to which Chinese currency had touched it’s lowest mark. China and US are competing to each other to be global leader. Expansion of naval and air bases in South China Sea is a big concern for many countires, particulalry for Japan, America and India. The US and Japan wants to ensure ‘Free Indo-Pacific’ navigation but due to Chinese presence in South China Sea, countries of South East Asia, India, Japan and America feel concerned. Now this tussle has resulted in the US-China trade war and both countries have already made several impositions on each other.In a recent development, Indian Government has revoked Article 370 in Kashmir a Northern territory of India. In retalliation Pakistan is curtailing trade and diplomatic ties with India. Trade war between the two nuclear-armed nations is set to increase.

Above facts remind us that in all trade tussles only ‘economics’ is not involved. Trades are governed by political, cultural and a few other issues.  The US has banned several countries in different capacities like Iran, Russia and North Korea.   

G-20 SUMMIT AT OSAKA: ACHIEVEMENTS, EVALUATION AND FUTURE ACTIONS

Credit: g20.org
 Laura Frank
Research Associate, CCGS
Berlin Chair
E-mail: Info@globalculturz.org

G-20 is a group of twenty powerful nations of the globe, which also includes European Union. In 1999 the group was founded with the aim to promote the international financial stability and a few other issues. Economic cooperation was the key agenda behind its establishment. Its consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Spain is a permanent invitee.

Since then G20 leaders have met thirteen times at different global venues and the summit held in Osaka (Japan) on 28-29 June 2019 was the fourteenth one. The economists have raised the doubts of its achievements and its relevance too. The G20 leaders are divided on several issues and the global character of the G20 is severally hampered in new emerging situations globally. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), US=China Trade tussles, Japan-Korea cultural relations, US-Russia tensions and many other regional issues are more dominant over the global goals. In that case G20 summits just become a mere ceremonial meet without a concrete purpose.

Eight themes were put forth for discussion in Osaka. These were (i) Global Economy, (ii) Trade and Investment, (iii)Innovation, (iv) Environment and Energy, (v) Employment, (vi) Women’s empowerment, (vii) Development and (viii) Health. These were important issues before the global leaders to ensure the global sustainable development. Whereas the US has already moved out of Paris climate accord and has faced criticism, it was expected that there will be hardly any progress to control global warming. The worries expressed by Japanese PM Shinzo Abe through the press release is quite obvious, ‘The world economy still faces downside risks due to trade tensions. The G20 shared the determination to take further actions and lead strong economic growth while paying attention to such circumstances.’TheUS-China trade war is, as experts say, is not going to settle till Mr. Trump is in office. Chinese BRI project is boycotted by India, the most accelerating economy of the world. BREXIT has created a big trouble for European Union and Germany is passing through a phase of sluggish growth.

The preamble of the summit declaration suggests that there is a will to get united and make the world a prosperous, terror free, energy secured, gender justice and healthy place for every human individual. It says, 1. We, the Leaders of the G20, met in Osaka, Japan on 28-29 June 2019 to make united efforts to address major global economic challenges. We will work together to foster global economic growth, while harnessing the power of technological innovation, in particular digitalization, and its application for the benefit of all.
2. Building on work done by previous presidencies, we will strive to create a virtuous cycle of growth by addressing inequalities and realize a society where all individuals can make use of their full potential. We are resolved to build a society capable of seizing opportunities, and tackling economic, social and environmental challenges, presented today and in the future, including those of demographic change.
3. We will further lead efforts to foster development and address other global challenges to pave the way toward an inclusive and sustainable world, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
One journalist said at the venue, Honesty is prime, rest will follow.
For us, Center for Culture & Global Studies, it is satisfactory that there is special mention of promoting tourism and strengthening cultural diplomacy. The Declaration states in its article ’24. Tourism accounts for a significant share of the world's GDP and is expected to continue to be an important driver of global economic growth. We will work to maximize the sector's contribution to the creation of quality jobs and entrepreneurship, especially for women and youth and in the creative industry; economic resilience and recovery; the preservation of natural resources through sustainable tourism planning and management; and the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development’.
We appreciate such endeavors of G20 leaders.


Follow Us

Video: City & Life-Tokyo

Brazil Feed

German Feed

Japanese Feed (Asahi)

India Feed (Hindi)

US Feed NYT

Australian Feed