US SECRETARY OF STATE REX TILLERSON VISITS BEIJING AHEAD OF TRUMP-JINPING SUMMIT

The article originally appeared on India Today.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is in China, met the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday after which both held a joint press conference. There are reports in the US and Chinese media that US President Donald Trump is scheduled to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for a two-day summit on April 6-7 at his mansion Mar-a-Lago in Florida which Trump is using as his winter retreat. Tillerson’s China visit is being seen as intended to lay groundwork for the upcoming summit.

According to Global Times, the sister publication of People’s Daily, Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, Tillerson’s visit to China has ‘served to reduce anxiety over US-China’ ties. Global Times writes quoting Wang Yi that “the phone call between the two countries’ leaders has served as guidance for both sides” to work out further details.

After Donald Trump assumed the US presidency, the US-China ties have been under cloud with Trump indicating that he may take a different approach to the issues that China finds vital to its interests.

Though Trump put his faith in the One China policy during his first phone call with Jinping last month, his acts in the past have indicated otherwise. Breaking the three decade old US protocol of not speaking to Taiwan, Trump spoke to Taiwan president in November after his victory. Further, Trump said that the ‘One China’ policy was not sacrosanct and was open to new realignments, like with new trade deals. China ferociously follows the ‘One China’ policy and believes Taiwan is a rouge province that will sooner or later come to its fold.

WHAT CAN FIGURE PROMINENTLY IN TRUMP-JINPING TALKS?

The issue is expected to figure prominently in Trump-Jinping talks. And if we go by a report published in The Independent today that says the Trump Administration is preparing to sell Taiwan arms it needs in case of a Chinese attack, there are bound to be hard negotiations as Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, said after the Trump-Jinping call last month that ‘Trump always gets something in return in negotiations’. The new arms sales package to Taiwan, at a time when both countries are preparing for a summit between their leaders, tells that Trump is not satisfied with what assurance he got from Jinping during his phone call and he intends for more.

Though there were no discussions on Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) issue, it is another issue that Tillerson and Wang Yi would be hoping to work on set the contours of the talks when Jinping-Trump meet next month. China has come down heavily on South Korea for deploying the US missile defense system against North Korea after North Korea tested ballistic missiles this month. China is opposed to THAAD’s deployment in the region saying it disturbs power balance and is inimical to its interest in the South China Sea, another disputed region where China is pitted against the US and other world powers after a UN panel rejected Chinese claims on the South China Sea.

Tillerson’s China visit, it seems, is aimed at finding common grounds for bottleneck issues to prepare conducive atmosphere for Trump-Jinping summit, something that China also realises. Global Times, quoting Wang Yi, writes, “It is normal for China and the US to have their differences, and that open communication is essential.”

©SantoshChaubey

NEW ‘RUBRIC’ OF GEOPOLITICS IN A DONALD TRUMP WORLD

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

Geopolitics has always been shaped by few global powers, especially the US so far, even if it has been an increasingly multi-polar world.

But with the recent developments that have revolved around inward looking protectionist and autocratic powers taking central position not just back homes but in the overall flow of geopolitics, the world order is increasingly going to be shaped by four countries and an event, Russia, the US, Britain leaving the European Union (EU) or Brexit and China, the new RUBRIC that will shape the flow of geopolitics in the days to come. RUBRIC with changed evaluations and definitions that would try to outsmart the existing ethos in order to impose their own.

And the rules of this new RUBRIC will be written by their leaders, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the US’ Donald Trump, Britain’s Theresa May and China’s Xi Jinping, with new equations emerging after Donald Trump has taken over the world’s most prosperous and powerful nation.

WHY THEY MATTER

The US still wields enormous military power and if we say it remains unchallenged, especially after the demise of the Soviet Union or the USSR, it will not be exaggerating it. The US is also the world’s largest single nation economy and will remain so with its clout to greatly affect the trade blocks and negotiations.

Though the USSR is no longer there, it left behind a stockpile of nuclear arsenal that makes Russia a strong regional power that exercises considerable influence in Europe and Asia, even if it has had a volatile economy. Add to it the vast energy reserves Russia has that serves as Europe’s lifeline.

China is the world’s second largest economy and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world and is in a position to dictate trade terms with global power centres even if it derided for its one party autocratic system and poor human rights. In terms of purchasing power parity, China is already the world’s largest economy and is a growing military power with increasing clout in space, air, navy and on ground.

Britain, once the reigning colonial superpower of the world with economic and military might, has reduced to being just a small country with no influence to affect the geopolitical matters. Yes, but it remains a symbolic superpower of values that define the existing free democratic world order – free men, free markets and a freer world. And the country is still an economic superpower. Its GDP at 2.29 Trillion USD was at par with India’s GDP of 2.3 Trillion USD in 2016.

TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE IS SETTING THINGS IN MOTION

China has a production model back home that is antithesis of the values that the US and major economies of the free democratic world cherish and promote but nothing stops them or the big transnational corporations from engaging with China. China has absolute protectionism and labour laws heavily tilted in the favour of businesses.

With the new US President Donald Trump’s inward looking and protectionist views that aim to seclude the US economy in domestic shackles, the Asian economic giant is trying to take a global leadership position with Xi Jinping already saying that China is ready to fill the void created by the US.

The US under Donald Trump has effectively dumped the biggest global trade deal proposed, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including 12 Pacific rim countries that already regulate the world’s 40% economic output. China would sure be happy to milk the opportunity that many including Barack Obama, the former US President, tried hard to grab and now believe that going away from it will be suicidal for America’s global dominance.

Trump’s next target is NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and no one knows what comes next. No one knows where he will stop in the name of preventing jobs and businesses from going out of the US and paying back to the countries who he believes have sucked the US wealth. Signs don’t look good. He is threatening businesses with counterproductive measures.

Military and nuclear confrontation with China already looks on the table. Trump has ratcheted up nuclear and military expansion rhetoric quoting Russia and China but while he has always been soft on Putin, hoping for ‘good deals with Russia’, he has never given such indications for Xi Jinping or China. Trump believes that ‘One China’ policy can be negotiated while China considers it blasphemous. Trump calls the Taiwanese leader breaking decades old US tradition and says it is not a big deal. The South China Sea dispute where it’s defiance is directly pitted against the whole world community is another in the series.

Russia is a big military power and big economy of its region of influence in Europe and Asia with an autocratic president in Vladimir Putin who believes in the unbridled run of power, military expansionism and has increasingly displayed a tendency to interfere in the theatres of conflicts like he is doing in Syria. And as Putin is sitting comfortably at home, crushing all the dissent, if he goes about pursuing his global designs, it will be a development that was just about to happen. The erstwhile USSR was one pole of the once bipolar world and Putin has not forgotten that.

And Trump, it looks like, is giving him a chance. He has indicated that he will lift sanctions imposed on Russia after Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The US, so far, led in Syria peace talks but now, it is being led by Russia and Turkey with the latest round of talks between Syrian rebels and government representatives in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital. And experts believe this may be the beginning of the process that can effectively see the US dominance, first in the Middle East and then elsewhere, diminished to a great scale, thanks to the Trump’s policies that aim to make America an island nation, away from geopolitical tumults and thus stakes, away from the values that the US has globally promoted so far, democracy, free markets and human rights.

Britain is also picking signals from Donald Trump, emboldened by his anti-EU tirade. Trump says ‘Brexit will be a great development for the UK’.

Many in Britain fought hard and championed to create the world’s largest economy as a single trading block and single, border-free zone of countries in the form of the European Union (EU) – inspiring the world to create such free zones for men or economies to flow freely. But that is not the case anymore. Britain is leaving the EU, after a bitter referendum, or Brexit, that divided the country. Brexit will make US the world’s largest economic region again. Britain’s new leader Theresa May has said that the legal process for Brexit has already begun and she is looking forward to meet the staunch EU critic and therefore her big admirer Donald Trump this Friday to negotiate trade deals, like she has done with other countries including India. Trump has also predicted, in his inimitable style, that more countries will follow Britain in leaving the EU.

So, the next few months are going to be very volatile and challenging for the existing world order and geopolitical equations. RUBRIC have set things in motion. What happens only future can tell but the flow of geopolitics is going to be dependent on the movements of these four nations and their leaders.

©SantoshChaubey

RUBRICHUS WITH PUMAXIT: BLOCK THAT IS GOING TO SHAPE GEOPOLITICS

Geopolitics is always shaped by few global powers, especially the US so far, even if it has been an increasingly multi-polar world.

But with the recent developments that have revolved around inward looking protectionist and autocratic powers taking central position not just at their homes but in the overall flow of geopolitics, the world order is increasingly going to be shaped by a block of four countries – RUBRICHUS (Russia-Britain-China-US) with their leaders – PUMAXIT (Vladimir Putin-Theresa May-Xi Jinping-Donald Trump).

The US still wields enormous military power. Russia and China are big military powers in their region.

The US is also the world’s largest economy and will remain so with its clout to greatly affect the trade blocks and negotiations.

But then autocratic China is also there with its economic might and a production model back home that is antithesis of the values that the US and major economies of the free democratic world promote.

There is absolute protectionism and labour laws heavily tilted in the favour of businesses. And with that model, China has become the world’s second largest economy. Further, with the new US President Donald Trump’s inward looking and protectionist views that aim to seclude the US economy in domestic shackles, the Asian economic giant is trying to take a global leadership position with its president Xi Jinping saying that China is ready to fill the space vacated by the US.

The US under Donald Trump has effectively dumped the biggest global trade dead proposed – Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with a potential to regulate 40% of the world’s trade. Trump’s next target is NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) and no one knows what comes next. No one knows where he will stop in the name of preventing jobs and businesses going out of the US. But signs are not good. He is threatening businesses with counterproductive measures

Russia is a big military power and big economy of its region of influence in Europe and Asia with an autocratic president in Vladimir Putin who believes in the unbridled run of power, military expansionism and has increasingly displayed a tendency to interfere in the theatres of conflicts like it is doing in Syria. And as Putin is sitting comfortably at home, crushing all the dissent, if he goes about pursuing his global designs, it will be a development that was about to happen. The erstwhile USSR was one pole of the once bipolar world and Putin has not forgotten that.

Britain, once the reigning colonial superpower of the world with economic and military might, has reduced to being just a small country with no influence to affect the geopolitical matters. Yes, but it remains a symbolic superpower of values that define the existing free democratic world order – free men, free markets and a freer world.

Many in Britain fought hard and championed to create the world’s largest economy and single, border-free zone of countries in the European Union (EU) – inspiring the world to create such free zones for men and economies to flow freely. But that is not the case anymore. Britain, under its new leader Theresa May, in a bitterly fought referendum that divided the country, has said that it will exit from the EU and the legal process has already begun.

What happens to RUBRICHUS and PUMAXIT, only future can tell but the flow of geopolitics is going to be dependent on their movements.

©SantoshChaubey

EXECUTED MAN PROVEN INNOCENT AFTER 21 YEARS: JUDICIARY’S TRIUMPH OR CHINESE PROPAGANDA?

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is a bit modified.

In China’s Hebei province, a man convicted and executed for rape and murder of a woman in 1995 has been found innocent 21 years after his sentence was upheld.

China’s Supreme People’s Court has found that evidence in the case was never sufficient and gross miscarriage of justice was done in sending the man, Nie Shubin, to the gallows. The verdict by the apex court of China is being seen as historical in China as its state run media is vigorously reporting about it.

IRONICAL OR HISTORICAL?

A man was arrested in 2005 in rape and murder cases of some women and during the interrogation, he revealed that the crime for which Nie Shubin was executed was in fact committed by him. That man was also executed in 2007.

That means Nie Shubin’s innocence was proven way back in 2005 and as China’s apex court decided to review the Nie Shubin’s verdict in the light of the 2005 revelation only, who will account for the unacceptable delay of 11 years since 2005? Nie’s mother Zhang Huanzhi and his family has been campaigning hard since then.

What about closure for the family after it lost its son at the young age of 21? What about that mother who broke in China’s Supreme People’s Court when the verdict was read out?

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN CHINA

Global Times, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) writes, “It is an implementation of rule of law and a demonstration of social progress and judicial justice, showing that China attaches great importance to human rights.”

‘China attaches great importance to human rights’ – but incarcerates the voices of dissent. Its most notable contemporary example is Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Peace Nobel Laureate who is still in jail as he has called for political reforms and an end to single party rule in China.

When we see the world view about independence and transparency of the judicial system in China, this verdict that is being much touted by the Chinese state machinery, looks ironical.

The report on judicial independence in China from the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China says, “China’s judiciary continues to be subject to a variety of internal and external controls that significantly limit its ability to engage in independent decisionmaking.”

Another report in Huffington Post analyzing judicial independence in China says, “In China, law is a mechanism for the exercise and safeguard of the Party’s power and legitimacy.”

China will dismiss them as the US propaganda but what should we say when voices from China’s judiciary oppose any reform measure based on the universal norms of human rights.

According to a report in The Guardian last year “China’s top court urged officials from the ruling Communist party to shun western-style judicial independence and reject “erroneous western thought”. Bizarre!

The Huffington Post report says that former President of the Supreme People’s Court, Xiao Yang, had said in 2007 that “the power of the courts to adjudicate independently doesn’t mean at all independence from the Party (CPC). It is the opposite, the embodiment of a high degree of responsibility vis-à-vis Party undertakings.”

China’s judiciary is not seen as independent and it wants to maintain the status quo it seems. The world view about the China’s judiciary is that it is subservient to the interests of the state and has been heavily compromised.

WHAT ABOUT THEN CASES LIKE NIE SHUBIN?

China, the world’s second largest economy and the most populous nation, is a closed country run by an autocratic party which never shares the information that can show it in some negative light, even if it is the basic need of a just society. It only highlights a matter when it serves its vast propaganda machinery.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has been declared only the third ‘core leader’ Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, has emerged as the strongest political leader in China’s recent history. And he is on an image enhancement exercise with his ruthless anti-corruption purge that many say is targeted at purging voices critical of him. Allowing a judiciary that is independent enough to look pro people may be another extension of his outreach tools.

Much like Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade which has seen many high profile purges well publicized or this case as it also follows up a decision taken by the Communist Party of China during its Fourth Plenary Session in October 2014 to ‘set a new blueprint for rule of law’, as another Global Times report on Nie Shubin’s case says.

Immediately after the October 2014 Plenary, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court took cognizance of Shubin’s case in December 2014 and assigned it to a provincial higher court, started its own retrial in June 2016 and came up with the verdict by December 2016.

Chinese courts boast a conviction rate of almost 100% and though China refuses to provide data, it is believed that its judicial system executes maximum number of people in the world. Corruption runs deep in China and then there is also the pressure from authorities to provide impressive data that looks clean on paper – a practice that results in forced confessions, almost non-existent defence in criminal trials and unjust verdicts like this in China’s criminal justice system.

In jurisprudence, it said that no innocent should ever suffer even if 10 guilty persons walk away. It will be interesting to know how the Chinese judicial system interprets this.

©SantoshChaubey