US urges India-China ties

The United States says it is willing to help India and China improve their relations and welcomes a greater involvement by New Delhi in East Asia, AFP reports . "We support an improvement in dialogue between India and China, and we would seek to take steps to facilitate that as we move forward," Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia said. "Ultimately, we think that India's role in the Asian-Pacific region stands to be one of the most important new developments over the course of the next decade." The Obama administration focused attention from the start of its term...

Political dignity and self-determination

“What young people want is political dignity. Democracy may enhance that. But political dignity also encompasses ethnic or national self-determination, religious self-definition, and human and social rights. All of this now takes place in a wired world where the youth are acutely aware of economic, racial, and social inequities.” - Zbigniew Brzezinski, US national security advisor in President Jimmy Carter’s administration. See Newsweek's interview here about the ongoing crisis in Egypt.

The ‘nation’ today

“ Nationhood is not an abstract phenomenon . It is a work continuously in the making; a work that requires effort and dedication, vision and leadership; most importantly, it requires the collective free will of the people . “Today’ world is different from the 19th century … where force could be used, at will, to unify a vast land or impose a cultural or linguistic identity upon a diverse group of peoples.” “ To forge a free nation today you need the assent of all. No identity can be unduly imposed anymore . - Mohamed El Mokhtar Sidi Haiba, Palestinian political analyst. See his article on the...

Why is China helping Europe with its crisis?

Underlining the interconnectedness of the world’s economy, China is actively moving to support European efforts to contain a sovereign debt crisis and accelerate a recovery there. In the past several weeks China has pledged to buy billions of bonds from (i.e. lend to) troubled economies like Spain and Greece. Billions more in trade deals are in the offing. Why? China is heavily dependent on buoyant European and US markets for its own future economic success. Today bilateral trade between China and Europe has surged to $100m a day - up from $100 a year less than a decade ago, the New York Times reports . In short, ‘ In embracing Europe, China helps itself ’, as analyst Liz Alderman explains. As Ken Wattret, chief euro-zone economist at BNP Paribas puts it, “If you’re an export-driven economy like China, and the EU and the euro zone are your key export markets, it’s in your interest to stabilise the financial and economic situation [there].” There are also immediate reasons for China’s actions.

South Sudan: near total support for independence

Preliminary official results from South Sudan’s independence referendum show that more than 99 percent of voters in the plebiscite want secession. The Economist reports that, despite reports of discrepancies between voting numbers and registration lists in 60 counties (over half of the states in the South), the vote has been praised by observers: “ there is little doubt that the process is indeed representative of the will of the Southern Sudanese people .” Minor hiccups aside, the nearly four million people who voted in the referendum will now almost certainly see their wishes realized, the...

EU leads in falling for empty talk on human rights

“ Exclusive reliance on quiet dialogue and cooperation [with abusive states] becomes a charade designed more to appease critics of complacency than to secure change. … A key offender has been the European Union. “Defending human rights is rarely convenient. But if [Western] governments want to pursue other interests instead, they should have the courage to admit it, instead of hiding behind meaningless dialogues and fruitless quests for cooperation .” - Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. See his op-ed in the New York Times here . See veteran Tamil journalist J. S...

State-of-the-art US avionics to China in 50 year deal

Here’s something for pundits of US-China military rivalry to think about: The US giant General Electric, one of the aviation industry’s biggest suppliers of jet engines and airplane technology, is to share its most sophisticated airplane electronics with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). State-owned AVIC also supplies China's military with aircraft and weapons systems. Avionics are the electronic and computer systems that control an airplane and determine its capabilities. The Chinese government insists Western companies operating there should be “willing to share technology and know-how.” However, the G.E.-AVIC avionics joint venture, analysts say, appears to be the deepest relationship yet and involves sharing the most confidential technology . See reports by the New York Times (NYT) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The deal will help China's manufacturers eventually compete with the US aircraft industry, which is one of America's strongest manufacturing sectors, as well as the European one.

How prosecutors select war crimes suspects

“Over the years you see an increase in ‘important’ defendants, indicted for more serious crimes: the higher you climb up the power hierarchy, the more serious the crimes in the indictments are .” - Dr. Frederiek de Vlaming, who has studied the careers of three international prosecutors of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. (See the interview by Thijs Bouwknegt of Radio Netherlands Worldwide here )

Breaking up is good to do

“Southern Sudan is just the beginning. The world may soon have 300 independent, sovereign nations ... and that's just fine.” “It is less likely that [states that are internally diffuse and often intentionally unevenly developed] will gather the competence, capacity, and will to become equitable modern states than that they will continue to inspire resistance to the legacies of centralized misrule .” “ The way to create a peaceful and borderless world is, ironically, by allowing ever more nations to define themselves and their borders .” - Parag Khanna is a senior research fellow at the New...

'A supremely pragmatic actor'

It has become routine in much analysis of international affairs to position China as an opponent of the West (i.e. not just a competitor), and as prioritizing state sovereignty and non-interference in a state’s internal affairs above other international principles. The one is also often suggested as the explanation for the other. However, China’s changing role in Sudan over the past two decades demonstrates that neither can be taken as a given. See our analysis feature here .