Asia

Mi niñez arribó tarde. Nací en una familia empobrecida en una cantera en Rajastán y aprendí a romper rocas antes de poder deletrear mi nombre. Mis padres habían caído en la servidumbre por deudas, y yo lo iba a ser en cuanto pudiera utilizar un martillo. Nos pagaban poco y apenas podíamos permitirnos comer. Mis más tempranos recuerdos son ser el esclavo de otra persona: mi aliento era mío, pero no mi cuerpo y espíritu.

Esa era la tragedia que mi familia, y generaciones de nuestros ancestros, se vio obligada a pasar. Milagrosamente pude escapar. La mayoría de los trabajadores por deudas nunca lo logran en India.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dentro de diez o veinte años surgirá del centro de China un destacado escritor, al estilo de Alexander Solzhenitsyn, que contará al mundo lo que fue el gulag uigur. Si hablamos de su precedente soviético, parece que solo la literatura y quizá el cine (pienso en la película de Coppola sobre la guerra de Vietnam, Apocalypse Now) logran dar cuenta del horror de los campamentos y espolear la conciencia occidental. Sin embargo, no es precisamente información exacta sobre el gulag uigur lo que nos falta en este momento; de igual manera, en la década de 1950, por medio de los testimonios y las fotografías, podíamos saberlo todo sobre el gulag soviético, mientras que la novela de Solzhenitsyn sobre el tema, Archipiélago Gulag, no nos llegó hasta 1973.…  Seguir leyendo »

El gran muro de igualdad de la India

El año pasado se marcó un hito en cuanto a las relaciones de género. El movimiento #MeToo sacudió a las élites dominantes alrededor de todo el mundo, obligando incluso a que hombres poderosos enfrenten el escrutinio público por su comportamiento respecto a las mujeres. Pero, a pesar de una reacción negativa patriarcal, el movimiento no muestra señales de estarse aminorando: el 1 de enero, en Kerala, Estado de la India, una cifra estimada de cinco millones de mujeres formaron una cadena humana – o “muro de las mujeres” – que se extendió a lo largo de 400 millas del Estado, con el propósito de demostrar su compromiso con la lucha por la igualdad de género.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Myanmar court has rejected the appeal of two Reuters journalists jailed for exposing crimes committed by the country’s military against the Rohingya. No better proof could be needed of the extent to which authoritarianism has once again returned to Myanmar. This anti-democratic resurgence has an unlikely source: the Nobel Peace Prize laureate once reflexively referred to as a democracy “icon.”

It is increasingly apparent that the Myanmar military and its leader share with the de facto President Aung San Suu Kyi a similar vision for the future of the country. It is an age-old vision of domination by a nationalist Buddhist elite, who have difficulty accommodating any form of dissent, and demonstrate very little regard for the aspirations of the other ethnic groups with whom they should be negotiating an end to decades of armed conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

In just 10 years after the start of India’s life as an independent republic, its scheduled castes and tribes — historically persecuted communities — would no longer need the affirmative action policy of reserving seats for them in India’s parliament and legislative bodies.

Or so hoped Bhimrao Ambedkar, the country’s first law minister, whose unsparing indictment of entrenched social hierarchies and personal battle against caste-based untouchability made him a messiah for India’s Dalits.

Seventy years on, not just has political reservation of seats not been phased out — quotas have been reduced to the worst sort of competitive populism. The constant expansion of the affirmative action policy to a wider and wider base has diluted the historicity of the prejudice that Indian Dalits and Adivasis have faced.…  Seguir leyendo »

Myanmar law enforcement authorities seized illegal drugs worth 187 million USD marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking during a ceremony in Yangon on June 26, 2018. YE AUNG THU/AFP

What’s new? Shan State has long been a centre of conflict and illicit drug production – initially heroin, then methamphetamine tablets. Good infrastructure, proximity to precursor supplies from China and safe haven provided by pro-government militias and in rebel-held enclaves have also made it a major global source of high purity crystal meth.

Why does it matter? Drug production and profits are now so vast that they dwarf the formal sector of Shan State and are at the centre of its political economy. This greatly complicates efforts to resolve the area’s ethnic conflicts and undermines the prospects for better governance and inclusive economic growth in the state.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hasta las ballenas se han visto afectadas por el Presidente estadounidense Donald Trump. Este año Japón se retirará de la Comisión Ballenera Internacional y reanudará la caza de ballenas con fines comerciales. El gobierno conservador del Primer Ministro Shinzo Abe plantea que comer carne de ballena es parte importante de la cultura japonesa, a pesar de que la cantidad de japoneses que lo hacen es ínfima en comparación con hace medio siglo. La salida de la CBI significará que los balleneros japoneses solo podrán pescarlas en aguas costeras de Japón, donde la cantidad de estos cetáceos es relativamente escasa.

La verdad es que la decisión fue un regalo para unos pocos políticos de áreas donde todavía se practica la caza de ballenas y para los nacionalistas que se sienten heridos por el hecho de que los extranjeros de organizaciones internacionales digan a Japón lo que puede y lo que no puede hacer.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a world struggling with resurgent authoritarianism, Malaysia is a bright spot. In May, the former opposition, led by Mahathir Mohamad, unseated the political bloc that has essentially ruled the country since independence. To do so, Mahathir’s coalition had to overcome widespread gerrymandering, a history of electoral fraud and a repressive preelection climate. The victory surprised observers — including me.

Yet Malaysia’s government is now in danger of frittering away the momentum of its democratic triumph. Malaysian leaders must act rapidly before the country’s more anti-democratic forces reemerge, the opposition fights itself, and the power and popular legitimacy from winning an election fade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Policemen stand guard near the state secretariat anticipating protests following reports of two women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple, one of the world’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, last week.CreditCreditR S Iyer/Associated Press

Every year, for 41 days in November and December, millions of barefoot pilgrims dressed in black and carrying bundles of offerings on their heads trek through the deep forest along the Pampa River and up the Sabari hills in the southern state of Kerala. At one of the summits is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu god Ayyappan, who, in his avatar as a prince, is often said to have defeated a terrifying demoness at this very spot.

The pilgrimage to the Sabarimala shrine, believed to be centuries old, has strict rules. Devotees are expected to observe 41 days of ritual austerities beforehand, trimming neither hair nor nails, and forgoing meat, alcohol and sex.…  Seguir leyendo »

C’est une première : la Commission européenne a enclenché le 17 décembre 2018 la procédure de règlement des différends prévue au chapitre Commerce et développement durable (CDD) de l’Accord de libre-échange (ALE) entre l’Union européenne (UE) et la Corée du Sud, un chapitre dont la fonction est notamment d’assurer la protection des droits des travailleurs. Bruxelles reproche en effet à Séoul de ne pas respecter ses engagements en la matière, et la procédure permettra de faire le point sur cette question de droit. Surtout, le traitement de ce contentieux permettra de juger de l’efficacité des mécanismes prévus au sein des chapitres CDD pour protéger les travailleurs, et ce à la veille de possibles négociations entre l’UE-27 et le Royaume-Uni sur le futur de leurs relations commerciales.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Apple Store in Beijing, where the company’s sales figures have slumped. Photograph: Wu Hong/EPA

Our mental geography is bounded by what has gone before. What has happened in the recently remembered past is most likely to continue. Inflection points, when trends decisively change, are more infrequent than the many instances when things go on as they have done.

Two of today’s trends seem unstoppable. China’s astounding growth will continue, so the story runs, underwriting its arrival as the second economic superpower. To get a share in that China action, underpinning the entire growth of Asia, is one of the prime economic arguments for Brexit. Abandon sclerotic Europe, embrace the prosperity of Asia – even if it is a world of semi-democracy at best, authoritarian government at worst.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema

Se ha fortalecido el vínculo estratégico entre Rusia y China en el orden internacional post-unipolar aunque hay una creciente competitividad entre los dos países en Asia Central y Oriente Próximo.

Resumen

Desde la ruptura de la cooperación entre Rusia y Occidente a raíz de la crisis de Ucrania, el vínculo estratégico entre Rusia y China se ha fortalecido. Una alianza entre Rusia y China a nivel global puede influir decisivamente en la configuración de un nuevo orden internacional, por lo que es importante definir los intereses comunes que fortalecen su vínculo estratégico, así como los conflictos de intereses en diferentes regiones del mundo que debilitan su cooperación.…  Seguir leyendo »

People watch Xi Jinping's opening speech at a gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up. Photo: Getty Images.

On 18 December, President Xi Jinping summoned a grand gathering for the 40th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s landmark reform and opening up, attended by the most important Communist Party cadres, entrepreneurs and Olympic champions, to reveal China’s next steps in its reform agenda for the coming decades.

The event took place after a tumultuous 2018, where China found itself fighting an economic slowdown coupled with an unexpected and enduring trade war with Beijing’s most important economic and strategic partner – the United States. Those two difficulties are intrinsically intertwined.

Xi’s one-and-a-half-hour speech offered little in the way of concrete solutions to these two imminent challenges, but he conveyed two clear messages.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester at a rally in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in support of ethnic Uighur Muslims in China. Uighurs in China are being forced into “re-education” camps for indoctrination.CreditCreditEuropean Pressphoto Agency, via Shutterstock

One of the darkest episodes of the 20th century was the gulag — the Soviet system of forced labor camps where dissidents were imprisoned in terrible conditions, often to perish. The camps were established by Lenin, expanded by Stalin and finally exposed to the world by the great Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, with his 1973 masterpiece, “The Gulag Archipelago.”

“Thin strands of human lives stretch from island to island of Archipelago,” he wrote, and “it is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold, and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides.”

Today, Russia’s gulags are long gone, as is the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that operated them.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump with President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing last year.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

In the United States, support for a cooperative relationship with China is evaporating fast. I increasingly hear frustration from business leaders about structural trade issues. The military is concerned about aggressive geopolitical moves by Beijing. And prominent voices in both political parties are striking an increasingly confrontational tone. Legitimate concerns have led to a vicious cycle, with each negative development further poisoning an already shallow well of good will.

The cycle has to be reversed. In the United States, the business community, policy analysts and the media should create a climate that encourages elected officials to pursue a constructive relationship. The same is true in China, albeit in a different political system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Es posible que los secretos se cuenten entre los recursos más valiosos que pueden poseer los gobiernos: el caballo de Troya, el código Enigma, el Proyecto Manhattan y los ataques por sorpresa, como los de Pearl Harbor, la Guerra de los Seis Días y la Guerra de Yom Kippur, son solo unos pocos de los ejemplos mejor conocidos. No obstante, en algunos casos es difícil cuadrar el interés nacional con el deseo de los gobiernos de mantener ciertas cosas en secreto –e incluso puede que esto constituya una de las amenazas más peligrosas para ese interés–. La amenaza es aún más grave cuando el secretismo obedece a intereses poco nobles por parte de un gobierno extranjero empeñado en conseguir lo que quiere.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina flashes the victory symbol after casting her vote in Dhaka on December 30, 2018.

On December 30, Bangladesh’s government was reelected in a landslide. According to the country’s Election Commission, the Awami League (AL)-led ruling coalition won an astounding 288 out of the 300 parliamentary seats up for grabs. The political opposition has understandably alleged massive rigging, rejected the results, and called for new elections.

The disputed election outcome could plunge Bangladeshi politics, already poisoned by bitter and often violently expressed partisanship, into a new and dangerous era.

The opposition has every reason to be furious. For several years, the AL has engaged in a systematic campaign to undercut the opposition, if not dismantle it altogether.…  Seguir leyendo »

Election posters on a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Wednesday. After being in power for a decade, the Awami League faces serious anti-incumbent feelings.CreditMunir Uz Zaman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Elections in Bangladesh are never tame. There were boycotts during the last parliamentary election in 2014, and voting-day violence killed some 20 people. The one before that, in December 2008, was notable for having taken place at all: Originally scheduled for January 2007, it was postponed after a military-backed coup and street battles that shut down the country.

This year again, in the lead-up to the next parliamentary election on Sunday, violent skirmishes have broken out between supporters of the two main camps, the incumbent Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (B.N.P.). Fatalities remain lower so far than in the past, but the stakes of this race are no less high: At bottom, this election is a contest between two forms of authoritarianism — only one is more dangerous than the other.…  Seguir leyendo »

This woman in a refugee camp in Bangladesh is among those raped and impregnated by soldiers. After she gave birth to a son, her husband blamed her for the rape and abandoned her.CreditCreditWong Maye-E/Associated Press

No one knows how many Rohingya became pregnant as a result of rape by the Myanmar military. No one knows how many babies were born to survivors of sexual violence living among the 750,000 Rohingya in camps in Bangladesh.

The systematic sexual violence against the Rohingya reminded many in Bangladesh of their own painful history: During Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971, the Pakistani military and local collaborators killed about 300,000 civilians and raped and tortured as many as 400,000 women and girls.

After the fighting ended in late 1971, reports abounded of rape survivors who, shunned by their own communities, had killed themselves or their newborn babies, or died from attempts to self-induce an abortion.…  Seguir leyendo »

India’s Newest War for Independence

Celine Minj was born in 1933 in a village in the forests of central India. She nearly starved as an infant — as a girl, she was considered a burden — and she fought to persuade her family to send her to school. She carried rocks on construction sites to help pay tuition. In 1947, as India became free from British rule, the 14-year-old Celine ran away from home, traveling hundreds of miles by train, and ended up on the doorstep of a new missionary hospital. She started as a cleaner, studied nursing and, by the time I met her in January, had retired after a long career as a nurse for India’s state-run oil company.…  Seguir leyendo »