Isabel Hilton

Este archivo solo abarca los artículos del autor incorporados a este sitio a partir del 1 de noviembre de 2006. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Pieces of paper have a poor reputation among political realists, and history is littered with the torn-up fragments of solemn treaties. Seventeen years after a tearful Chris Patten, the last colonial governor of Hong Kong, sailed away on the royal yacht Britannia in July 1997, two pieces of paper are in contention, and they're sparking an increasingly bitter confrontation over the right of Hong Kong's people to choose their own government.

More than 700,000 people voted for that right last week in an unofficial referendum organised by Occupy Central, a pro-democracy movement founded in 2013. And on 1 July tens of thousands took to the streets in Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy rally in more than a decade.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a video blog from Dharamsala in northern India, where last week 500 Tibetans gathered to discuss the future of the struggle, two members of the radical Students for a Free Tibet explained their position. It was perfectly possible, they said, to hold the Dalai Lama in deep respect while disagreeing with his policy. The spiritual leader's "middle way", they argued, had failed. History showed there was nothing to be gained by moderation in the face of Chinese intransigence.

The meeting closed with a strong condemnation of Chinese policies and a reaffirmation of the exiles' faith in the Dalai Lama. But the frustration of younger Tibetans, most of whom have never set foot in the land their parents and grandparents fled nearly 50 years ago, is increasingly evident.…  Seguir leyendo »

Federico Borrell García, a young Republican militiaman in the Spanish civil war, died, it now seems certain, on September 5 1936, shot by Francoist rebels on a hillside in Cerro Muriano near Cordoba.

His death might have gone unremarked, except that the image of that moment was celebrated for 40 years as one of the most famous war photographs of the 20th century. It was not Borrell's name that was famous - his identity was established only relatively recently - but that of Robert Capa, whose reputation was made by the photograph. Then, in 1975, came the suggestion that Capa had faked the picture.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lavish parties tend to leave a hangover as the problems of daily life, put aside for the celebrations, come crowding back. China's Olympic party is not likely to prove an exception. The full legacy of the extraordinary events of 2008 in the People's Republic of China will take many years to emerge, but in the short term, a number of pressing problems are clear.

The Olympics, with its political project of displaying China's power as much to its own population as to the rest of the world, has been the prime focus of domestic propaganda for several years, rallying people behind the nationalist theme with the promise to situate China as a restored power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beijing made many promises to secure the 2008 Olympics - hostages to fortune, as it turned out, as the date approached. Some greater press and political freedoms, for instance, have clearly not been honoured: as Amnesty International pointed out yesterday, there has been more, not less, repression as the games approach. But other promises that may remain unfulfilled do not reflect bad faith so much as the scale of the task. When the world's most polluted country promised a green Olympics, it was a commitment of truly daunting ambition. If the city falls short, it won't be for want of trying.…  Seguir leyendo »

No deal is ever perfect. The deals that were done in Latin America - the price of returning to constitutional rule after the military dictatorships that ravaged the sub-continent in the 70s and 80s - varied in detail but had one thing in common: they sacrificed the claims of justice for the victims in favour of a sometimes queasy political normalisation.

But if the politics made sense, the detail did not: tens of thousands of families were left to live with their trauma unresolved, with no answer to anguished questions about the fate of children, parents or friends. They were arrangements designed as political sticking plaster, under which private injuries continued to fester.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is never any shortage of public relations advisers willing to take on unpromising clients, especially those with deep pockets. Reports that the Chinese government has called for bids from foreign PR companies indicate that Beijing, at some level, understands that its own attempts to mould world opinion have tanked. But if the exercise is to have any success, the client does, occasionally, need to take the advice. It would not be an easy account to manage.

On the day that the Olympic torch - or, as Beijing calls it, "the sacred flame" - went into hiding in a San Francisco warehouse, Beijing's second in command in Tibet, Qiangba Puncog, held a press conference.…  Seguir leyendo »

A week after Colombia's dramatic incursion into neighbouring Ecuador killed the veteran Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) commander Raul Reyes, the region has endured days of noisy brinkmanship, dramatic troop movements and accusations of genocide traded between presidents. After several days of posturing and low credibility, the scorecard of winners and losers in this sudden crisis is becoming clearer.

First, despite the response from Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez - including the noisy despatch of 9,000 soldiers to the Venezuelan-Colombian border - war between Venezuela and Colombia, let alone between Ecuador and Colombia, is the least likely outcome. To have a war requires somebody to want one.…  Seguir leyendo »

The battle to find the funds

Easy. They must sustain a two-pronged approach: mitigation and adaptation. The only suitable response is a binding international framework to curb greenhouse gas emissions beyond the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012. We have to take steps to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities to the impact of climate change. To achieve the global development agenda, we must integrate environmental policies with social and economic policies. It will take huge resources to fund the adaptation to the actual impact of climate change on communities around the world. Funding must be a part of any serious solution to the climate change predicament we face.…  Seguir leyendo »

When, in the early 1990s, Liu Jie signed a contract with a state farm in China's Heilongjiang province to take over a dairy business, it must have seemed as though she was behaving exactly as China's Communist leaders wished. Private initiative, revitalising moribund state entities, was to be a motor of China's spectacular rise.The dairy business thrived, thanks to the hard work of Liu and her family: so much so that in 1997 the state farm broke her contract and seized it back. For the past 10 years, Liu has been fighting through the courts and peacefully petitioning the government. She has been kidnapped, repeatedly arrested and beaten up by the police, and still she has received no compensation.…  Seguir leyendo »

There have been many miscalculations by Burma's military regime in recent days. Leaving aside the long-term reduction of one of Asia's richer countries to penury, the decision to quintuple fuel prices in August was as gross an error of judgment as the subsequent handling of the protests it provoked. If an unloved regime is to maintain itself through repression, it needs to stamp out protest quickly. Having failed to do that, the regime now faces the full-blooded participation of the last, relatively untouched, organised sector in the country outside the military itself - the Buddhist church, which has thrown its great moral weight behind a determined effort to bring military rule in Burma to an end.…  Seguir leyendo »

The last month in China has seen a range of reactions to the rescue of several hundred slaves, including children, from Chinese brickyards. In the cities there was shock; in the villages, where the victims came from, people knew that kidnapping is neither a new nor an isolated phenomenon. In the government, there was embarrassment: the existence of slavery cast something of a shadow over the party's current promise of a "harmonious society".

There was another, more unexpected result: the Southern Metropolis Weekly published an interview with the writer Wu Si, who argued cogently that both local tyranny and slavery had a long history in China, and that neither would be eliminated without democracy and the rule of law.…  Seguir leyendo »

There was one place where China's assumption of the title of the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases came as no surprise: Beijing has anticipated and planned for this moment. Until earlier this year climate change was hardly mentioned in the Chinese media. Now the government is encouraging newspapers, radio and television to report on the subject, beginning the long process of educating the population - which increasingly defines itself by what it owns - to understand the long-term consequences of a level of consumption they have only recently been able to enjoy. At government level, a series of briefings by climate-change experts for the leadership, and a policy effort that involved 17 ministries, produced China's first national climate-change plan this month.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is little to cheer a US president on a visit to Latin America these days. Where it once enforced its will on the region the US now looks increasingly out of touch. The presidents of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile were not elected as friends of the US, and China has quietly filled the economic gap left by seven years of US distraction and neglect.

President Bush's plan for a Free Trade Area of the Americas has faltered; electorates blame free market liberalism for years of stagnation, and high oil prices help Venezuela's Hugo Chávez bid for Fidel Castro's crown as figurehead of the Latin left.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fumin county, a hitherto obscure district in southwest China, became the object of international mockery last week when news reached the outside world that the bare slopes of Laoshou mountain had been painted green, to the bewilderment of the villagers and at a cost of about £30,000.Reports were divided about who was responsible. Many blamed local bureaucracy, others a Mr Du, a businessman who had made some of his money from the quarrying that had wrecked the mountain's beauty. He had done it to mitigate the negative feng shui affecting his business, though the idea that negative feng shui could be changed with a few hundred litres of paint must cast a few doubts on the claim that it promotes harmony with nature.…  Seguir leyendo »