Some of the Chinese government’s recent policies seem to make little practical sense, with its decision to impose a national-security law on Hong Kong being a prime example.
The ongoing standoff between Chinese and Indian forces along the two countries’ disputed Himalayan border recently resulted in the first troop casualties there in decades, with some Indian soldiers killed in particularly brutal fashion.
Chinese diplomats have long had a reputation as well-trained, colourless, and cautious professionals who pursue their missions doggedly without attracting much unfavourable attention. But a new crop of younger diplomats is ditching established diplomatic norms in favour of aggressively promoting China’s self-serving COVID-19 narrative.
China’s decision to crack down on Hong Kong with a new security law has shocked the world. But to those who read the resolution issued last November by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it comes as no surprise. In that document’s section pertaining to Hong Kong, the CPC signalled its intention to assert full control over the former British colony.
The COVID-19 pandemic, much like a major war, is a defining moment for the world – one that demands major reforms of international institutions. The World Health Organization (WHO), whose credibility has taken a severe beating of late, is a good place to start.The WHO is the only institution that can provide global health leadership. But, at a time when such leadership is urgently needed, the body has failed miserably.
With the coronavirus continuing its brutal global rampage, it takes a particular sort of malign genius to put the United States (US) in the political dock as the death toll mounts and economic devastation spreads. Yet, that is what President Donald Trump is doing.But first things first. In every country, medical workers and support staff have been on the front line fighting the pandemic on behalf of the rest of us.
Of all the challenges that humans have faced over millennia, disease has always been a particularly brutal and resourceful enemy.The impact of disease has shaped history. Amerindians were ravaged by illnesses that the Spanish conquistadors brought to Mexico and South America; the “stout Cortez” of John Keats’s poem was accompanied by killer diseases like smallpox, measles, influenza, and typhus.
The coronavirus crisis represents the single biggest challenge for Xi Jinping since he became general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012. Individuals and families across China are living in fear. Multiple Chinese provinces are under virtual lockdown. The virus has brought significant parts of the economy to a grinding halt, as firms instruct their employees to work from home.
At the beginning of his satirical novel China Dream, which has a cover designed by the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Ma Jian expresses his gratitude to George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm. Orwell, he says, “foretold it all.”Ma, whose work is banned in China and who lives in exile in London, is of course reflecting on Orwell’s warnings about the threat of a totalitarian future in which dictatorships brainwash people.
The recent storm in Vietnam and the Philippines over a controversial cartoon is a prime example of how China’s intricately-woven influence in Hollywood is making its mark in Southeast Asia.Hollywood films are hugely popular across the world, and realising their potential, China has been actively buying media assets in the United States (US) since 2012 as its bids to exert its soft power through the entertainment industry.China is also the second largest film market in the world, and Hollywood
Since the Tiananmen Square massacre 30 years ago, China has achieved extraordinary economic development. Yet, contrary to the expectations of many Western leaders and analysts, the country has not gradually embraced press freedom or respect for civil rights.
30 years ago this month, I was in Beijing as a British development minister for the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). But what took place at that gathering – including the seating for the first time of a delegation from Taiwan – was overshadowed by what was happening across the city.