“It’s a heartbreaking job, but you get used to the pain”.

 

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I interviewed Kimiko Kuramotto, she has been a volunteer for ACNUR for almost 12 years and now recently, almost three years ago, she’s been promoted to Profile Programme Officer, although she still does some volunteer work. Kimiko Kuramotto is from Tianjin, China. She moved to Spain 15 years ago when she was only 21 years old. ACNUR offered her a volunteer job due to her nationality and her fluency in Spanish, English, Chinese, Japanese and American Sign Language. Her first volunteer work was in Kabul, Afghanistan.

She had to help out an internally displaced camp in Kabul during the Afghanistan war between the USA and Afghanistan. She described it as: –

“The most empowering yet saddening experience I’ve ever had, I couldn’t believe the amount of violence I witnessed, not from soldiers, not from war criminals, but from these internally displaced people, men would hit their wives, children would get abused from their parents, some guy slapped me just because he felt like it! horrible, absolutely horrible.”

She helped out for almost three years until ACNUR assigned her to refugee camp, it was located in Tindouf, Algeria. There were people from all kinds of nationalities, including a Chinese family that was being tortured by the Chinese government because they thought they were terrorists and working undercover for Japan. ACNUR sent them to Tindouf. They didn’t send them to the other refugee camps located in Spain, Greece, Germany and many other countries in Europe because the family didn’t want to. She described this experience as: –

“One of the best experiences I’ll never forget, people were so nice, I played with the children, I even taught them some sign-language, I would talk to the seniors and listen to all of their stories. I would talk to everyone actually. I spent 2 Christmases there and we had a big feast. Wonderful.”

From 2011 to 2013, she had been helping a refugee camp in Kiribati, located in Asia-Pacific. She didn’t talk much about it. She said that it was so saddening that she had to leave a few months before, she said she could wait to get out of that “emotionally draining hell”.

I asked her if she likes being a volunteer, she replied:-

“It’s a nice job, but it has its pros and its cons. But between you and me, it’s a heartbreaking job, but you get used to the pain.”

Lastly, I asked her personal opinion on how we can help out these refugees around the world, including the ones from Asia-Pacific, she deeply exhaled, and explained: –

“People really don’t care about refugees, the donations and volunteers are becoming even smaller, people turn their back on them. I can assure you if they were in their situation, then they would want people to donate and help out. People are becoming cold-hearted and even more selfish. Donations and volunteering even for 2 weeks are extremely helpful. Anything counts.”

She then explained to me how with her new position in ACNUR, she still can help out refugees around the world, especially in Asia-Pacific. She works in the area of Asia-Pacific in which she assists in the planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting of protection and assistance programming for refugees, internally displaced and stateless people in the Asia-Pacific region.

She was incredibly nice and even though I realized that some questions brought her back some bad memories as well as good memories, she never hesitated to give me a nice, complete answer. I definitely enjoyed my interview with her.

Kimiko, thank you! I hope to see you in a near future.

 

Written by Nannie Nino.

 

 

 

Interview with D. Manuel María Lejarreta Lobo, current Secretary General of the Institution Consejo España-EE.UU.

MR. LEJARRETA

(Source: Transdoc )

Last May 22th I had the honour of interviewing Mr. Lejarreta, the current Secretary General of the Institution Consejo España-EE.UU. I began the interview asking about President Trump and the events that have influenced his election, as well as, commenting if the presidency might be too big for him.

Mr. Lejarreta answered saying that there are two main factors that could explain his victory. The first one is that many people from deep rural America have not benefited from the latest US governments and globalization has hurt them. They have wanted to give a mandate of disruptive power with a new president from a non-traditional political class who has a different mentality.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton was a worn out candidate. “A lady who was already very damaged by the establishment” he said. Trump was a hope for those Americans who felt abandoned.

Other factors, like the rise of nationalism, as it is currently happening in Europe with Brexit or the fear of terrorist attacks, have determined his victory. One third of the crimes committed in the United States are by illegal immigrants, a very negative figure against immigration. A speech against immigration or in favour of highly controlled immigration is always welcomed by voters. Trump has exaggerated a lot on the terrorist issue. For Lejarreta, Trump’s messages are simple, populist and very basic, convincing large masses to vote him. Many of his promises made Trump win many followers.

On the question of whether Trump is prepared to be president, the secretary arguments that his profile is effectively not the most suitable to lead the United States seen so far, but the important part is the result.

Mr Manuel gave me an example in the economic area. The American stock market is increasing and the US economy goes quite well which means there is some confidence in Trump’s economic factors. Also many companies have reacted well in his protectionist proposals.

In addition, although the United States has a presidential system in which the president commands, there are some state control devices to help moderate. In that sense, although the work of the president is very important, not all foreign and domestic politics of the country are directed by him. In principle at the intellectual level, he has enough potential. We have to see his personal impulses and his way of leading companies. Being president is something very difficult but Mr Lejarreta puts his trust in Trump and in the possibility that he could be a successful president.

Then, we talked about some of Trump’s promises. We touched on the theme of his desire for the country to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Mr. Lejarreta remarked that Trump is a protectionist and prefers bilateral agreements than multilaterals. He prefers negotiating directly with a country, face to face. The secretary added that we used to have multilateralism with Obama and, under his point of view, he prefers this system.

Regarding the US’ influence in the Asia-Pacific region, Mr Lejarreta completely agrees that the United States will not lose power in the area, because in his opinion, the Asia-Pacific region is the most important region for the United States and will continue to be.

He explained that the US has plans to make his fleet more present and has begun to establish trade agreements with Japan and South Korea. Consequently, he was sure that leaving the TPP will not entail a withdrawal from the area.

Of course, for China, it is very helpful that the agreement does not enter into force because apart from commercial, it also implied a regional political agreement of the countries and the less presence of the United States in the area, the more benefits China.

Once we talked about Trump’s relations with Asia, we started talking about relations with Europe, as well as talking about the relationship with Spain.

As with Asia, Mr. Lejarreta stated that relations with Europe would follow the same bilateral system. Trump does not want to negotiate with the European Union, but with countries separately.

Perhaps, Trump is not interested in negotiating with the EU, but the secretary thinks that Trump knows the transatlantic relationship is fundamental. He do not think it will even lower the level of relations in the military, security, defence … it may be a major change in the way of negotiating bilateral agreements, but it is difficult because the EU made a compromise in a community agreement and it will not be easy to negotiate separately.

Focusing on Spain, Mr. Lejarreta remarked that we are bound to be the little one and have good relations with the big one. Spain have to get along with the American government and its president, whoever.

Obviously, for Spain it would have been much easier with Hillary Clinton as President. First, because she has come to Spain many times, and secondly because her vice president, Tim Kaine, who is a friend of Spain, precisely presides over the forum Spain- U.S.A. of which the foundation Consejo España-EE.UU. is part. Spain has had to start from scratch with the new republican administration.

Spain is a good partner for the States. In terms of security, the bases of Rota and Morón are essential for security in the Mediterranean and as a platform for deployment in Africa and the Middle East, therefore we have very important elements that make the United States interested to get along with Spain.

As with all other countries, Mr. Lejarreta summarised that Spain cannot accept everything because we have our principles and we are part of the EU. But he thinks the relations do not have to be bad, much less, and of course our government will strive to get along. Only time could show the future actions of Trump and its movements in the international order.

                                                                                                       Laura Cañibano Ponce de León

Taiwan’s supreme court acknowledges same-sex marriage: why it’s a good thing

 

On Wednesday, May 24, the Taiwan Justice Department made the decision to give the ruling In favor of marriage between people of the same sex. This is a bit unusual because as we all know, Asian countries are often characterized by their very restrictive laws regarding the freedom of their population, their very conservative mindset and their discrimination among the LBGTQ community. This was a great move, because it not only means a change of laws, but also a change of mindset.

According to an article of opendemocracy.net, it states that in Asia there are still threats and abuse of power, Contributors have said that while these threats are even far worse in authoritarian regimes, it’s been proven that several countries in Asia such as China lack of freedom of expression. Although, it is being shown that the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen is not like the rest of Asia’s leaders, she is proving that she cares for the freedom of Taiwan’s population.

Not only is this decision affecting only Taiwan in a positive way, but there are also some countries part of Asia that are being affected by this and want to follow into Taiwan’s footsteps, for example Thailand and Cambodia. It is also a big surprise because most of Asia has a very conservative mindset, for example, countries such as China and South Korea.

This decision will also prevent deaths and sexual abuse among the LGBTQ community because according to an article of the huffingtonpost.com, stories have shown that kids and teenagers in the southeast of Asia (for example, Singapore) have been kicked out of their homes after telling their parents about their homosexuality, “corrective” rape has occurred to thousands of teenage girls and boys and sadly is still occurring. Below there is a list of countries and how these countries punish homosexual people.

Taiwan has become Asia’s pioneer, showing a true evolution in its politics, culture and traditions, even giving the possibility to its people of enforcing their rights of who to choose and love in marriage, whether it’s an heterosexual or homosexual relationship. Every human-being has the right to search for happiness, and if that happiness is same-sex marriage, then so be it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview

Xiaomei Huáng is a Chinese origin journalist graduated in journalism and holder of a master’s degree in communication of organizations to which I decided to interview for this work because it cost me a lot to find someone appropriate.

+ Why did you decide to study in Spain?

  • At first I tried to access to a very good Chinese university but could not because of the vast amount of competition there. The problem there is that in a thousand requests are accepted twenty or less.
  • That’s the reason why I came here.

+ What helped with the paperwork in Spain?

  • I came with the help of anagency dedicated to helping Chinese students to come to Spain to study.
  • They solve problems as requesting an university and when you get to Spain they locates you a language center, a student’s residence and arrange your papers.

+ Why do you think there are so many Chinese people studying a master’s degree in Spain?

  • Because it is very easy to apply for the master here, they do not have manyneeds and if you come from a bad Chinese university you can do it likewise.

It is easier to access than in China.

+ Do you know other ways to come from to Spain from China to study?

  • For example bystudent exchange or for a doctorate.

+ Why did you choose to study journalism?

  • I chose it overcoat to improve the Spanish.
  • I did the communication of organizations master’s degree because when I was in the career I realized that this was the area that I liked the most.
  • I also think that today it is easier to get a job with a master’s degree than only with an university’s degree.

+ What do you do when you finish studying here?

  • I want to go back to China and work in a multinational company.

+ Does Studying in Spain increases your chances of finding work?

  • Honestly I’m not sure but I think at least I can work in a company with different

+ What would you advise a Chinese student coming to Spain?

  • Is a very a good experience and the only bad thing is that youhave to come back to China.

 

In conclusion I like to say this cost me a lot becouse I couldn’t find any appropiate person for the interview and the person I have found couldn’t answer me more questions. I would have liked to make a more interesting and a bigger interview but this is the best I could find.

 

Interview realized by Carlos Diez Fortes

An approach towards the diplomatic world

On 12th of November, I had the pleasure to get to know and interview a very important member of South Korea diplomatic system whose name is Sung Hee. She is well known for being the second diplomat of South Korea assigned in Madrid, Spain.

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                                                                                    A talk with the Advinsory Council of National Unification and the Consular Assistance

One of the most important and unforgettable phrases that she claimed during the interview was “the greatest virtue of a diplomat is for the country’s sake”. She has been active in the world of  diplomacy for almost 10 years.

As we were starting our interview, she began answering me with an affable humour, she said that South Korea has emerged as one of the major middle powers in the world. Moreover,  our country is also in the process of entering the club of the most developed countries, wishing that South Korea will have a very active role in the international community as a medium-sized power to coordinate its interests.

Sung Hee: “The greatest virtue of a diplomat is the love for the country’s sake”

In addition, I would like to add that in the case of Spain, since we established a diplomatic relationship between these two States, both have expanded on the exchanges and cooperation as traditional allies in diverse areas such as policy, economy and culture.

“It is noteworthy that our countries [Spain and South Korea] are similar in terms of population, to its economic scale, to the experience of having suffered a fratricidal civil war and to have achieved economic growth and democratisation in very little time. For this reason, we can say that in the future there is a large potential for progress in the bilateral relations between Korea and Spain.”says Hee.

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Talking about climate change, she insisted that despite South Korea was not obligated to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, South Korea  under the approval of its government has voluntarily announced its plan for the reduction of these gases.

“It is a problem that we need to resolve all together” she said with a serious face.

Regarding this, she mentioned that they have a global institute of green growth, as well as, an Intergovernmental organisation called “Green Climate Fund” which is located in the new Songdo district of Incheon in which it accepts to contribute not only economically but also with its political will to reduce the greenhouse gases.

Having changed the subject with a bit of tension, she responded me that South Korea has gone through many difficult situations with huge tensions. Its aim is to seek, prolongate, maintain the peace, apart from trying the reunification Korea.

“ For example, we have separated families in the North and the South, one of the priorities of our government is to maintain regular meetings between these families from the humanitarian point of view. Furthermore, we want to maintain the homogeneity between the both sides. With that in mind, we can reunite the two states, as well as, we are trying to strengthen the unity among the citizens of north and south.” says Hee.

Suddenly, Sung Hee suggested to continue our interview walking through the Embassy. As we were walking, I was too thrilled to visit for the first time in an embassy, and she started showing us the main place that she used to work.

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South Korea´s embassy in Madrid, Spain

“This is the place where I work on expediting some documents, certificates or sending new passports or even accidental events” says Hee

“Apart from those jobs, I also contributed doing drafts on speeches that Park Hee-Kwon, better known as the ambassador of South Korea in Spain, uses for his special events and activities” says proudly.

“Some of our readers, who are very interesting in Korean music or dramas, better known as “Korean wave” want to ask to our pretty and friendly ambassador how far is going to reach this popularity.”

“Well, who knows what is going to happen in the future, however, we are sure that nowadays especially K-pop is increasingly becoming more popular among different nationalities” says cheerfully.

I would like to continue saying that this positively affects to our public image and it is easier to get them to know our culture. Nevertheless, some people might think that the government is involved in improving the public image but it is not true, the ones who are immersed on this, being well known as the biggest private companies in South Korea such as S.M. Entertainment, Starship Entertainment, Woolim Entertainment or YG Entertainment.

 

Written by Anna Wu Yang

Student of International Relations at UEM

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It is strongly possible that the newly elected Democratic party will change the lives of Myanmar people?

It is doubtful whether the newly elected NLD party is as democratic as it claims.

The Myanmar’s national elections for almost two decades have been internationally criticized for being fraudulent and the lack of transparency. For example, in 2010 The National League for Democracy (NLD), Myanmar’s main opposition party, boycotted the elections. This allowed the regime-backed up party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to win almost 80% of the contested seats.

However, the election held in 2012 met a higher standard of credibility. The NLD participated that year and won 43 out of the 44 seats it contested. And among the victors was Aung San Suu Kyi, founder of the NLD and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

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Source: Gokunming

In the most recent election thought, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in Myanmar after the general elections on 8 November. This year’s election has been referred to as ‘’the first truly free general election” in 25 years. Meaning that this was the first time the votes were conducted without “manipulating” the votes. Nonetheless, such statement is controversial as no one has the actual information about how many votes exactly the NLD party received.

Observers said that the election was reasonably fair but when the voter lists started to be published there seemed to have some inadequacies. That is, names of already deceased people appeared in the list. Furthermore, and in some violent areas voting was not taken place at all. Meanwhile, people in some rural areas were not allowed to vote and also Muslim Rohingyas in a largely Buddhist country have been considered stateless, non-persons ineligible to vote.

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Source: BBC

Furthermore, not all the seats of the parliament of Myanmar are up for grabs. The military-drafted constitution guarantees that 25% of the seats will be taken up by unelected military representatives and will be given the veto power if any changes will be presented in the constitution.  This draft has been named as the “disciplined democracy” by the Senior General, Min Aung Hlaing.

The first immediate question that comes into mind: How much power do Myanmar’s armed forces yield?

Let’s not forget though that the military force has been in charge since the 1962 and makes it doubtful whether they are willing to cede. If this turns out to be the case, then the NLD seems to be holding much less power than it may look from the distance. The fact that the Government does not have a complete power over the selected ministers in the Defense and the Home Affairs and Boarder Affairs cabinets is a huge flaw.

And while the NLD has such objectives in mind as to create more equal financial distributions between citizens, to end the war the wars that sapped Myanmar since the independence with the United Kingdom and to improve the infrastructure within the country. It is still questionable whether all these goals will be met.

Such conclusion comes to mind for two apparent reasons that have been mentioned above; either because of the military-drafted constitution, or because the Democratic Party is not all they seem to be. Nonetheless, the judgement of the possible outcomes should be withheld for now. But one thing is for sure, the Myanmar citizen lives are about to change id the NLD is successful and turns out to be as democratic as they declare.

China’s one-child policy has come to an end but it is debatable whether it will reshape the demographics

During the last week China has made a big decision by abolishing one of the most controversial law in China called “One child policy”.

China has decided on 29 of October to end-up with the one child policy Xinhua news agencies reported. It is well known to everyone that China has had a one-child policy since the 1980’s. Such regulation was forced upon the citizens in order to control the growth of the population below 1.2 billion and in order to abolish famine.

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Source: Architect T@work China

Data from the United Nations shows that population growth, has gone from about 15 per 1,000 people in 1980 to below 5.5 per 1,000 people todayFurthermore, the one-child policy is that it has led to a substantial gender imbalance in China. UN data reveals that there are currently 106 males for every 100 females in China – above the world total for the same measure (102) and well above nearly every other country in the world

While, to some extent, the communist parties decision to enforce such laws did make sense at the time, it did not change the fact that it restricted their fundamental rights to make their own decision. Furthermore, there were few cases reported where the women, in the most obvious way were tortured. For example, a 23-year old woman was forced to make abortion while being 7 months pregnant. While the involved parties were punished for their crime, it did not make the actual issue to disappear. That is, that such policy is extremely outdated, goes beyond the human rights and generates issues regarding the demographics of China.

In reality, the fertility rate has gone so low that the government of China has decided to abandon the one-child policy because it has affected the China’s economic growth to the point it has become immobile.

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However, even if the couples now are allowed to have two children, it seems unlikely there will be ‘’baby-boom’’ simply because it is expensive to raise a child in China. The reasoning behind this is that the cost of the maintenance of one child is more expensive than 35 years ago, as well as, the currency. If the currency is compared with the one 5 years ago, it can be seen that  the yuan currency is worth less in euros. For example, 100 yuan was worth 10 euros but now it is worth only 6.5€.

Another reason is the fact that nowadays families don’t have enough time to raise children. As Mrs Xia who works for US firm GE Healthcare stated :

 “We would need to spend a lot of time on another baby, and I don’t think I have this kind of patience anymore“.

The society in general is more fixed on their quality of life and the fact that the cities are overcrowded and polluted does have an impact on making the decision.