Asia

Rohingya refugees watch ICJ proceedings at a restaurant in a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh in December. Photo: Getty Images.

The decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Myanmar should take all measures available to prevent acts of genocide against the persecuted Rohingya minority is truly ground-breaking. The case shows how small states can play an important role in upholding international law and holding other states accountable.

The Gambia, acting with the support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, skilfully used Article IX of the Genocide Convention, which allows for a state party to the convention to pursue cases against another state party where it is felt there has been a dispute regarding the ‘interpretation, application or fulfilment’ of the convention.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les manifestations qui ont récemment éclaté en Inde sont d’une telle ampleur qu’on les a comparées au « mouvement pour l’indépendance nationale » du début du XXe siècle. Toutefois, si la contestation est aussi massive aujourd’hui, c’est parce qu’elle est portée par des protestataires issus des castes inférieures, dont l’oppression avait été occultée par le mouvement pour l’indépendance. Mais les manifestations ne peuvent pas définir en soi un horizon, sinon le devoir de « protéger la Constitution ». Or, ces troubles s’expliquent en partie par la Constitution de l’Inde elle-même.

Les protestations portent sur deux mesures juridiques adoptées par le gouvernement nationaliste hindou au pouvoir : le Registre national des citoyens (RNC), un processus bureaucratique servant à identifier les « citoyens légaux », et la nouvelle loi sur la citoyenneté (le Citizenship Amendment Act, CAA), qui définit implicitement ceux qui, parmi les « réfugiés », peuvent être considérés comme « légaux ».…  Seguir leyendo »

Face masks were ubiquitous at the Hankou railway station in Wuhan, China, which is at the center of a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 17 people.Credit...Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images

On Sunday, a friend of mine in China wrote an ominous, two-word post on WeChat: “Broke out.” He meant that a mysterious surge in cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, a city in central China, was, in fact, an outbreak of something more serious.

The first case of the Wuhan virus was detected on Dec. 12. Until last Thursday, only 45 cases, with two deaths, all in Wuhan, had been reported, and no health care workers were said to have been infected. The virus was mild, we were told then, with no evidence of human-to-human transmission; all confirmed cases seemed to originate from a food market where live animals are sold.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando uno se entera de que tiene una enfermedad peligrosa, debe poder confiar en su médico. Cuando poblaciones enteras enfrentan una peligrosa crisis de salud pública, necesitan poder confiar en su gobierno. La última prueba para esta confianza es el brote de un coronavirus desconocido que surgió en Wuhan, China.

Los coronavirus son virus respiratorios que pueden provocar enfermedades que van desde resfriados leves hasta una neumonía potencialmente mortal. Al igual que otros virus, no responden a los antibióticos. Esta cepa, llamada 2019-nCoV, es demasiado nueva para poder tener cualquier información útil sobre su mortalidad. Se ha reportado que otros dos coronavirus, el síndrome respiratorio agudo severo (SARS), y el síndrome respiratorio del Medio Oriente (MERS), matan alrededor de 15% y 35% de personas infectadas, respectivamente.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kashmiri students use the internet at a tourist reception centre in Srinagar, after internet facilities were suspended across the region in December 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

Asia’s political class learnt many lessons on digital governance in 2019, not all of them positive.

The prolonged protests in Hong Kong and India, led by disaffected young citizenry and enabled by social media tools, powerfully demonstrated how things could spiral out of control when the virtual and the real streets come together.

Not surprisingly, governments across the region are taking a step back. Instead of placing the citizen at the heart of digital public policy – with privacy, trust, security and inclusion as drivers of digital governance – Asian governments are focusing instead on surveillance and command and control, which contradicts the spirit of a decentralized Internet and undermines citizen’s rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beijing’s Central Business District in January. The Chinese government is asserting more control over the private sector.Credit...Wang Zhao/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A decade ago, after the 2008 global financial crisis, China seemed to save its economy by decoupling it from the rest of the world’s with a massive domestic investment program. Today, it is progress on the trade war with the United States, or the recoupling of China’s economy with those of other countries, that is seen as the way for it to regain momentum.

But to think in these terms is to miss the main point: The trade war has merely compounded an economic slowdown in China that is substantially of the country’s own making.

The deceleration is serious. In 2018, China’s gross domestic product grew by about 6.5…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi took the stand at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague to rebut allegations that her country’s systematic persecution of its Rohingya population amounts to genocide. Aung San Suu Kyi, once lionized for her stand against an oppressive military dictatorship, strenuously denied the charges — despite reams of evidence and the presence of nearly 1 million Rohingyas in refugee camps in Bangladesh. They ended up there after fleeing a so-called counterterrorism campaign by the Myanmar military in 2017 that left uncounted thousands dead.

The ICJ has announced that it will issue a preliminary judgment in the case on Jan.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the totalitarians’ talent for invective and the Leninist faith that “history” has a Marxist mind of its own, a Beijing-run “news” agency dismissed Taiwan’s presidential election results as “a temporary fluke” and “bubbles left behind by the tides of history.” Actually, this election, just 48 days after Hong Kong’s resounding repudiation of Beijing in November voting, is another boulder in a growing avalanche of evidence, from the islands of Hong Kong and Taiwan to Central Europe, that China need not be accommodated.

The landslide reelection of President Tsai Ing-wen happened despite Beijing’s strenuously expressed objections, economic pressures (e.g., refusing visas to tourists wanting to visit Taiwan, where tourism produces more than 4 percent of gross domestic product), military intimidation (last year, Beijing’s fighter jets crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait for the first time in two decades), and surreptitious but flagrant electoral interference.…  Seguir leyendo »

Willie Siau/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images Police in riot gear rounding up suspected protesters, Hong Kong, January 5, 2020

Because the Chinese government depends on repression to stay in power, it sees the defense of human rights as threatening. But to prevent global criticism of its tightening domestic crackdown, Beijing is increasingly undermining the international system for protecting human rights, putting everyone in greater jeopardy.

To maintain its grasp on power at home, the Chinese Communist Party has constructed an Orwellian high-tech surveillance state and a sophisticated Internet censorship system to monitor and suppress public criticism. Now, China has begun to use its growing economic and diplomatic clout to extend that censorship abroad, silencing critics and carrying out the most intense attack on the global system for enforcing human rights seen since its emergence in the mid-twentieth century.…  Seguir leyendo »

Attendees watch a screen where election results are projected during a Democratic Progressive Party rally with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on Saturday. (Betsy Joles/Bloomberg)

On Saturday, the citizens of Taiwan enthusiastically exercised their democratic rights, voting for their president, vice president and national legislators. Tsai Ing-wen was reelected as president for the next four years. The Democratic Progressive Party remains the majority party in the parliament. Taiwan has been choosing its national leaders through free and direct elections since 1996.

Many countries around the world will soon send congratulations to the island republic for its successful elections. Taiwan’s giant neighbor, China, is on the outside looking in. This is not only because Beijing claims that Taiwan is a part of China, having never recognized the legitimacy of elections on the island.…  Seguir leyendo »

A supporter of Han Kuo-yu, a candidate for president, watching election returns on Saturday. Mr. Han, who favors close ties to China, lost his bid to unseat the incumbent, Tsai Ing-wen.Credit...Ritchie B Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Populism was supposed to be the winning formula. With the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (D.P.P.) steadily campaigning on growing anxiety over threats to Taiwan’s national identity, the Kuomintang, a party that favors close ties to China, risked being consigned to playing permanent opposition. Populism seemed to offer it a way out.

It was populist promises, after all, that had helped Han Kuo-yu, of the Kuomintang, triumph in local elections in late 2018.

Yet the same playbook failed him and his party miserably in the general elections this weekend. Not only was Mr. Han unable to woo new voters; he couldn’t even hold on to many traditional Kuomintang sympathizers.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Han Kuo-yu, a presidential candidate who favors close ties with China, during a campaign rally in Taipei. Credit...Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

Can China extend its control over Taiwan as it has over Hong Kong? Beijing certainly wants to, judging by its many and varied efforts to influence the course of Taiwan’s politics, but the people of Taiwan won’t let it, apparently. Taiwan’s presidential election on Saturday, which essentially pits the incumbent Tsai Ing-wen (who has stood up to China) against Han Kuo-yu (who promotes close ties with the mainland), is also a proxy contest about Taiwan’s identity.

The recent assertion of the people of Taiwan’s sense of being Taiwanese has been spectacular. Liao Mei, an economist at National Sun Yat-sen University, and I analyzed unpublished data from surveys conducted in March and April 2019 by my colleagues at the China Impact Studies group at Academia Sinica, and according to those, more than 73 percent of respondents did not want Taiwan to “unify with the mainland China even if it arrives at the same level of economic and political development as Taiwan.”…  Seguir leyendo »

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and her running mate William Lai Ching-Te, second from left, at a rally in Taoyuan on Wednesday.Credit...Tyrone Siu/Reuters

This Saturday, voters in Taiwan will choose their next president and the national Legislature. Tsai Ing-wen, the incumbent president who is detested by the Chinese government because of her tough — if, until recently, low-key — anti-China stance, has chosen as her running mate William Lai Ching-Te, who openly promotes independence for Taiwan. That was a risky move, and it may well help her chances.

Ms. Tsai’s popularity rating was languishing in the midteens as recently as last summer, but all recent polls place her safely ahead of her main opponent, the pro-China, populist maverick Han Kuo-yu.

A third candidate, the veteran — and stale — politician James Soong Chu-yu, is largely irrelevant.…  Seguir leyendo »

India witnessed one of the most melancholy moments in its recent past when the eminent historian Ramachandra Guha was dragged away by the Bengaluru police during the anti Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

His apparent offense? Participating in the right of dissent that is the holy grail of any constitutional democracy. Guha and others have rightfully taken a stand against the Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by the upper and lower houses of India’s Parliament, which is vague and unconstitutional because it makes fast-tracked citizenship dependent on one’s religion.

Watching Ramachandra Guha being taken away reminded me of his riveting exposition on why India is the most fascinating country in the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

En noviembre señalé que desde la crisis financiera de hace una década, China ha permitido que el crecimiento anual de su PIB cayese gradualmente desde cerca de un 10% a alrededor de un 6%. Planteé que, si bien era adecuado un declive, ya es tiempo de manejar la desaceleración con medidas expansionistas en lo monetario y fiscal. Inesperadamente, mi opinión encendió un acalorado debate entre influyentes economistas chinos.

Muchos han rechazado mi propuesta con una larga lista de justificaciones. Para comenzar, argumentan, China ya ha usado medidas de este tipo para estimular el crecimiento, con éxito limitado. Y hay pocas razones para creer que esta vez sería diferente, ya que la economía china ha llegado a una “nueva normalidad” de crecimiento más lento, debido a factores estructurales de largo plazo como el envejecimiento de la población.…  Seguir leyendo »

Qué le pasó a la India

Es una pregunta que últimamente oigo cada vez más. La prensa internacional habla de represión en Cachemira, chauvinismo hinduista en alza, protestas generalizadas contra nuevas leyes, ataques a mujeres, etcétera. La India que antes el mundo elogiaba (la democracia liberal de libre mercado que más rápido crecía en el mundo) hoy parece estar cediendo paso a una autocracia violenta, intolerante, iliberal.

Lo que cuenta la prensa es verdad, y la imagen que traza no es bonita. Pero los que desean lo mejor para la India no deben perder las esperanzas en el país. La oposición democrática está dando pelea, sostenida por el apoyo de jóvenes que protestan en forma espontánea (no a instancias de ningún partido político) contra los excesos del gobierno del Partido Popular Indio (Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP) encabezado por el primer ministro Narendra Modi.…  Seguir leyendo »

En 2019, trois mesures du gouvernement nationaliste hindou ont brisé, pour une grande partie du peuple indien, la confiance en leur statut de citoyens : l’instauration du National Register of Citizens (NRC) ou «registre national des citoyens» ; de la Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) ou «loi amendement de citoyenneté» ; et la construction de vastes camps de détention.

Le NRC est une procédure de vérification des documents – les critères auxquels ces pièces doivent satisfaire n’ont pas été communiqués par l’Etat – afin de trier et d’identifier les citoyens de plein droit.

La CAA définit quels «réfugiés» sont éligibles à la citoyenneté.…  Seguir leyendo »

Biplov Bhuyan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images A protester against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act being detained outside a government office for the state of Assam, New Delhi, India, December 23, 2019

Assam, India—In this northeastern state of India, a plague of documents is afflicting nervous citizens. Home to around 30 million people, Assam is a kind of cartographic anomaly wedged between India’s neighbors China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The oppressions of bureaucratic record-keeping owe much to the country’s former colonial government, but today the malignant paperwork serves a different ideology, that of saffron-hued Hindu nationalism.

The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has forced all residents of Assam to prove they are citizens, or face incarceration, deportation, or drastic marginalization. It is here in Assam that the BJP’s process of legal harassment of Muslim Indians began—harassment that has set off a wave of protests nationwide, in which dozens have died, thousands have been jailed, and mobs have attacked minority communities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trabajadores de una fábrica en la provincia de Anhui, en China, cosen pancartas para la campaña de reelección de Donald Trump.Credit...Aly Song/Reuters

¿Cuándo comenzó la Segunda Guerra Fría? Los historiadores del futuro dirán que fue en 2019.

Algunos insistirán en que la nueva Guerra Fría ya había comenzado —con Rusia— en 2014, cuando Moscú envió sus tropas a Ucrania. Pero el deterioro de las relaciones ruso-estadounidenses palidece en comparación con el ascenso del antagonismo chino- estadounidense que se ha desarrollado en los últimos años. Y aunque Estados Unidos y China probablemente pueden evitar una guerra “caliente”, una segunda Guerra Fría todavía es una posibilidad desalentadora.

Algunos académicos pedantes tal vez digan que la nueva Guerra Fría comenzó con la elección de Donald Trump en noviembre de 2016 o en enero de 2018, con su imposición inicial de aranceles a lavadoras y paneles solares importados, muchos de los cuales se fabrican en China.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Taïwan, à la veille d’un double scrutin présidentiel et législatif au suffrage universel à un tour, les sondages prédisent une réélection confortable de la présidente sortante, Tsai Ing-wen. Sa formation, le Parti démocrate progressiste (DPP en anglais), s’oppose à toute forme d’unification avec la Chine, sans pour autant chercher à proclamer l’indépendance de l’île, afin de préserver l’indépendance de fait de ses 23,5 millions d’habitants. Dès lors, Pékin n’a pas ménagé ses efforts pour entraver son premier mandat – en suspendant tout dialogue avec Taipei, en restreignant de 22 à 15 le nombre déjà étique des alliés diplomatiques de Taïwan, en accroissant ses manœuvres militaires dans le détroit de Formose –, comme pour favoriser le retour au pouvoir de la principale formation rivale, le Parti nationaliste (Kuomintang, KMT), qui demeure attaché à une unification à long terme.…  Seguir leyendo »