China – Next Economic Superpower?

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Picture retrieved from: http://endoftheamericandream.com/

“Money rules the world” – This assumption is reflecting the world’s most fundamental structure but at the same time representing the most important component of the international system: the economy – to be concrete, capitalism.

Overgeneralizing – the economy of a nation-state means more prestige and, conforming to the UN, more responsability.

According to historical facts – since the creation and independence of the United States of America – the U.S. has always been a type of ‘policeman’ for the International Community because of it’s huge economy, and therefore being able to establish a modern and strong military army. But according to data retrieved from the World Bank, the U.S. will not longer enjoy its economical leading position anymore by the end of 2014.

China has become the world’s largest goods trading nation in the last years, to take an example in 2013 China’s total merchandise trade was $1,986 Billion larger than in 2007. China increased the exports by $992 Billion and the imports by $994 Billion. If we compare this data with the U.S. goods traded that increased $741 Billion, the EU $1,024 Billion and Japan only $214 Billion, we can see that China alone will increasingly produce more goods than these three developed countries together.

One of the popular claims about China that usually appears in the media is that this fast growth of their economy is slow in terms of the raise of consumption and standards of living, but this affirmation is not true at all. The professor of the London School of Economics Danny Quah noted that: In the last 3 decades, China alone has lifted more people out of extreme poverty than the rest of the world combined. Indeed, China’s ($1/day) poverty reduction of $627 Million from 1981 to 2005 exceeds the total global economy’s decline in its extremely poor from $1.9 Billion to $1.4 Billion over the same period.

On the other side, China’s structure is based on Communism but also having a capitalist economic policy. These strict policies that both the public and private sectors must obey are being regulated by the state, which controls the prices of goods and services. Thus, the dominant role of the state is being affected by certain restructuring reforms that produce large layoffs in a country without unemployment benefits. Under the state’s occultism it is difficult to assess the depth of this corporate restructuring. Without this public sector reform, financial reform is difficult, which gives priority to huge bank deposits – consequences are a very high savings rate and restrictions on capital outflows – whose destination are public companies regardless of their viability.

Economic transformation is not easy and China is facing inflation as well as social conflicts such as huge unemployment, due to its fast growing population. Currently the most important task is to find a promising solution to economic stagnation before China can become the world’s new economic superpower of the 21th Century.

China’s economic growth seems to be relatively new, although it was predicted since the empowerment of the Communist Party. It does not matter at all how many good or bad consequences this evolution will bring with it, –

as Napoleon said, “let China sleep, for when she awakes, she will shake the world”.

Some people think this will bring a positiv feeling in the international economy, and others think it will be awful or even totaly destructive. Which of these assumptions are true?
Future events will show.

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Picture retrieved from: http://leewoodgate.blogspot.it/

Saudi Arabia: The expression of international interests

Saudi Arabia is an independent state located in the Middle East, north of Yemen, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. It has a population of 26,534,504 and its oil based industry has ensured a $740.5 billion GDP in 2012. Politically, it is organized as a constitutional monarchy under King Abdullah. The Saudi legal system is based on Islamic (sharia) law and it includes Egyptian and French elements.

In the international news, Saudi Arabia makes headlines with its multi-billion dollar oil industry, international investments in other countries and its constant human rights abuses. Only this Tuesday, Saudi Arabia executed five Yemenis under sharia law despite international pressure for reform in the legal system. The UN condemned these executions under the assumption that “they violate international standards because the bodies were left in public” as an example of the severity of the law in this country. This serves as a realistic reminder of the speed at which changes take place in a highly conservative and religious society.

Women are still treated as minors and they are not allowed to travel, study or work without permission from their male guardians. The King did announce that they will enjoy the right to vote in the 2015 municipal elections however, the harsh restrictions continue to cause international debate over whether or not the government will uphold its promise to reform the country. Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest and torture. Also, authorities leave very little space for public criticism of officials or government policies in the wake of the pro-democracy Arab Spring movements. The Saudi Ministry of Culture adopted policies of heavy censorship regarding printed press and broadcasted media.

This brings into focus the nature of the political class of Saudi Arabia considering the rather hypocritical attitude adopted with regards to Human Rights. The Saudi government openly condemned the H.R. violations in Syria despite its own obvious problems, having arrested a woman for driving.

 

Courtesy of Mario, A. (Setyoufreenews.com)

 

The reason for this controversial Saudi attitude can be found in the economic and political relationships that it developed over time. At the end of the Second World War US President Franklin D. Roosevelt extended American protection to Saudi Arabia, saying “the defense of Saudi Arabia is a vital interest for the defense of the United States of America”. Having such an influential ally in the international arena has its benefits, the U.S. being highly supportive with the Saudi regime. Japan is another important ally of Saudi Arabia and their joint statement related to the H.R. violations in Syria proves that both parties’ national interests are intertwined.  These interests revolve around the Saudi oil industry as Saudi Arabia exports a very large quantity of crude oil to the U.S, Europe, Japan and many other countries.

This brings into question the strength of the American resolve to stand against oppressive, non-democratic regimes which it has condemned since before the beginning of the Cold War. An interest based resolve of the American political class would imply that the rhetoric against non-democratic regimes can be brought into question.

China can be the solution for the EU crisis?

The political relationship between Europe and China is in no way trouble free. However, in these particularly hard times, Europe needs capital more than ever. China has this money to invest in European developed countries and finance their huge amount of national sovereign debt. The Old Continent welcomes financial aid, which is understandable, but why is it so important for China to save Europe? And how can this Asian country do so, with a per capita GDP of $4,000, loan money to Europe, whose per capita is higher than $30,000?

China’s “Go Out” policy is not new, it has started in 1990s. This evolving strategy’s aim is to target advanced market, where the Chinese capital can profit remarkably and in a more sophisticated way. In the 1970s China’s trade with the European Economic Community was a mere $2.5 billion a year. Now with the 27-member EU it reaches totals $480 billion a year. After China joined to the World Trade Organization (WTO) ten years ago, the country has increased its imports dramatically. The European Union has become China’s top trading partner and what is more important, that EU is its primary source of technology and investment.

Europe is in crises but at the same time it is still dominant in the world’s economy. It has only seven percent of the world’s population but in spite of this, it produces the twenty percent of the world’s gross domestic product.  In China’s eyes Europe is not only its top exporter, but it remains one of the strongest, most wealthy and best integrated region in the world. The high-quality human resources, the advanced science and technology, and the capacity to reform and innovate are all attractive attributes for the Chinese government. That’s why purchasing European bonds, contributing resources to the IMF, and increasing imports and expanding investment in Europe to support job creation and growth are in China’s interest as well.

China has paid attention to the European Union issues and had several important negotiations with the European counter partners in the past months. In April the Chinese Premier Minister Wen Jiabao announced that his country intendeds to increase bilateral trade with Germany, the strongest European economy and its biggest business partner in the region, to 213 billion euros by 2015. This economic step can be a confirmation of the Chinese government announcement regarding to the European crisis, which was revealed last year:

“An economically stable and prosperous Europe is in the interest of China and the world.”

At the same time many European politicians do not want to make a closer co-operation with China. There is the threat that if China plays a stronger role in the European economy and policy, it can lead to other financial problems. Due to the increasing amount of the foreign direct investments the national independence and security can decrease as well.

Not only the EU, but the United Stated has trade agreements and a dependent relationship with China. The U.S. trade deficit with China has been increased significantly over the years. This March, the U.S. trade deficit reached to the widest imbalance in more than three years after imports grew faster than exports. It was caused by the rising oil prices, the stronger demand for foreign-made cars, computers and food products. Exports to Europe have fallen as well because of the debt crises. China gave about a trillion dollar loan to the United States by exporting goods to the country.

By: Crystal Blankenbaker, Irina Czakó and  Ksenia Solovyova

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/12/15/390095/united-nations-human-rights-commissioner-calls-for-end-to-all-persecution-of-lgbt-people/ http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/30/414165/un-secretary-general-defends-lgbt-rights-in-africa/?mobile=nc http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/fighting-discrimination/uganda/?gclid=CMXervH3z68CFQHcfAod9R45HA http://vibeghana.com/2012/04/24/gambia-says-no-to-aid-money-tied-to-gay-rights/

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/12/15/390095/united-nations-human-rights-commissioner-calls-for-end-to-all-persecution-of-lgbt-people/ http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/30/414165/un-secretary-general-defends-lgbt-rights-in-africa/?mobile=nc http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/fighting-discrimination/uganda/?gclid=CMXervH3z68CFQHcfAod9R45HA http://vibeghana.com/2012/04/24/gambia-says-no-to-aid-money-tied-to-gay-rights/

The feelings that one has for another cannot be questioned, can it?

The question of homosexuality is one that has been on the minds of all for generations and the last couple of years has seen the western world embrace it to a certain degree. Even though in most countries their union may not be recognized as a marriage but a civil partnership, it has become a common phenomenon that is not scrutinized as much. This can also be attributed to the degree to which the world had become so secular.

With Africa always behind in comparison to the Western World and being such a religious continent the theme of homosexuality is not only seen as a sin, however this sinful act has now been manifest from a spiritual level of being condemned to hell to being criminalized. In Uganda the law explicitly states that engaging in homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender (LGBT ) will result in an individual facing a lifetime of imprisonment. Such individuals also face ‘correctional rape’ and may be killed by members of society as a form of punishment. Individuals who kill as a form of punishment are also not prosecuted because they are doing the will of God or serving justice.

Numerous people in Africa forge bearded relationships to conceal their real sexual orientation, hence numerous women get married to men that they do not love, with both parties knowingly aware that one or both of them are attracted to the opposite sex. They do this a sign of respect to their families; fear of disownment, death and also for religious reasons (which they are going against).

In the case of African women, most of them are usually introduced into the whole system of lesbianism, they are not necessary attracted to women; they just enjoy having intercourse with women. In the case of such women who are introduced to the system they feel neglected by their husbands or partners who are usually busy with other commitments and as a result of this their friend(s) may introduce them to lesbianism. There is no question that some women do fall in love with other women. However some also become lesbians to avoid becoming pregnant, or for the sheer fact that women understand them better.

The men usually are aware of the fact that they are attracted to other men during their teenage years, but live in denial. Most men go to the grave with the secret due to their confusion or engage in the act if they are certain about it. However those who have the opportunity to travel to the Western World come to understand their feelings with the help of others, whereas due to the advancement a lot of media coverage focuses both on homo and heterosexual themes explored with the numerous characters that are used.

The theme of religion and the socialization factor are very important components in regards to how Homosexuality is viewed in Africa, and because it goes against the norm, such individuals are discriminated against and treated as second class citizens. This has been addressed by the UN General Secretary, Ki- Moon who stresses on the importance of confronting this form of discrimination in Africa. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of gay rights to be viewed as human rights all over the world. There have been threats to also remove aid  by the West from such regions if gay rights are not observed and individuals are discriminated against.

Although the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner called for an end to the prosecution of LGBT individuals, how far will this message be absorbed and be incorporated into the cultural values of African people to ensure that such individuals feel free to love, live without fear of being judged. The freedom of choice applies to all; hence it is one’s choice what their sexual orientation should be and not necessarily society’s.

Space For You

Less than one and a half months before the Russian Federation held its presidential election and Vladimir Putin won more than 64 percent of the votes. The popularity of the current prime minister well indicates that the Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov obtained only 17.19 percent and the independent candidate Mikhail Prokhorov came in third with 7.82 percent of the votes. Putin’s return was never in doubt, who previously promised to increase defense spending and modernize Russia’s military. Therefore Moscow is planning to spend about $775 billion by 2022 for new and more professional armaments. He said the military investments are response to the U.S. missile defense shield.

The differences between two countries over this issue is not new; it began under the Bush administration. According to the previous U.S. government, the shield in Poland and Czech Republic was intended to provide protection from the potential missile threat posed by countries like Iran. In spite of this reasons Russia considered the plan a threat to its nuclear forces and national sovereignty and decided to develop an anti-missile system near the Polish border. President Obama later withdrew the plan of the shield system. The next sign of the warming in relations was in 2010, when Russia and the United States signed off the new nuclear arms treaty, which replaced the expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.  Although the difference remains between Moscow and Washington over U.S. plans for a missile defense shield; there are signs that Russia has a greater willingness to apply pressure on Iran due to the country’s nuclear program.

Now the issue is the lime light again. Two weeks ago the world leaders met in Seoul for an international nuclear security summit to discuss how to secure the world’s nuclear material and prevent nuclear terrorism. In South Korea the top officials from fifty-four countries vowed to continue the nuclear disarmament, but support the peaceful uses of the nuclear energy. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also attended and met during the summit. The two leaders had a private conversion while their microphones were still on, which recorded their talk.  Obama ultimately asked for more space on the issue of the planned defense shield.

 Source: RIA Novosti

The recorded remarks according to ABC News is as follows:

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama told the outgoing Russian President

“Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you,” Mr. Medvedev replied “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility,” said the US President

“I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” responded Medvedev

After the talk was slipped out, Republicans didn’t waste time to criticize Barack Obama. The Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney even called Russia the number one “geopolitical foe” of the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who saved the U. S. President and pointed out that Russia has been an ally in solving the current international problems.

Medvedev responded similarly: “I recommend that all US presidential candidates…do at least two things: that they use their head and consult their reason when they formulate their positions, and that they check the time – it is now 2012, not the mid-1970s.”

By  Crystal Blankenbaker, Irina Czakó, Ksenia Solovyova

The UN Security Council is composed by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China. Something which is remarkable, is that a country like Germany, a country that has overpassed powers such as the United Kingdom and France, with a better and faster growth than any other of these permanent members, is not a member of the Security Council. Of course there is a historical reason for this. The United Nations was founded by the ones who had won World War II.

Since the end of the Cold War the reformation of the Security Council has been a hot topic in the United Nations. But until now nothing really changed, because the permanent members have a veto against every amendment of the United Nations Charter. So if there really want to reform the Security Council every permanent member must agree with the adaption. This of course is not likely to happen in the near future, we think.

But if we had carte blanche we would like to redistribute and reorganize the world powers. Because the contemporary power division in the Security Council is outdated.

We think that the Security Council should include more members from other geographic areas, because there are some continents, that are underrepresented like Africa and Asia. They represent more than 50 % of the members, but only China is a permanent member. At the contrary you can say that Europe has to many permanent members. They are represented by 3 members and only represent 33% of the total members. A lot of new powers are knocking on the door of the Security Council.

You have different groups who have their own propositions. You have the group of 4: Germany, Brazil, Japan and India also the Coffee Club: Italy, Spain, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Pakistan and South Korea and the small five: Suisse, Singapore, Jordania, Liechtenstein and Costa Rica.  

The G4 wants the addition of 6 permanents seats in the Security Council, without the power of veto, which would go to Germany, Japan, India and Brazil plus two other unspecified African countries. They also asked for 4 more non-permanent seats. This is a proposition that we can support.

We have to be a bit realistic. The five members would not give up their contemporary, privileged status. So we think that the 6 new permanent members not immediately have a veto, but a sort of a semi veto. Maybe this can evolve in the future to a full veto. We also propose a sort of a rotation system for those new members. Every five year there must be an evaluation of the 6 new members. And if those 6 members don’t have that much power anymore they must be replaced by the new powers. So that the Security Council gets a more vital character and  will be up to date every five years.

Resolution 1970/73

In February 2011 to resolutions were adopted by the Security Council, res. 1970 and 1973. This was the consequence of the military actions of Khadafy against his own citizens.

France, UK, the USA and Germany proposed the resolution 1970. This resolution condemned the use of violence against the Libyan people who participated in the Libyan uprising. Kaddafi was also found guilty ofbombing places in Tripoli where protesters were standing ground. This cruel act led to the first resolution.

The second resolution was more expected then the first one. France, the UK and Lebanon proposed this resolution, with Sarkozy leading them. He has to do something right? Resolution 1973 stated that the UN demanded an immediate ceasefire and that by any means this could be enforced, such as military intervention. This act was adopted on the 17th of March 2011. The Security Council also wanted to enable a Non-fly zone above Libya.

The 15 members approved the first resolution. The second resolution was a close call, with 5 member states abstaining. The implementation of the second resolution started on the 19th of March when French Jets bombed the city of Tripoli.

The death of Osama Bin Laden

“Osama bin Laden is dead”, the president of the USA, Obama announced May, 1st in a video. After 10 years of hunting, a team of CIA officers and Navy SEALs killed bin Laden in a firefight. The news has been spread very soon all over the world. Newspapers, the internet and television programs are exploding with news, articles and criticism. But how do the different countries perceive and evaluate the situation?

It looks like while the rest of the world is discussing topics of the truth of his death, the USA does not have any doubts about it. Instead they are dealing with other topics, such as the miscalculation of a sea burial, which is an unacceptable procedure for the Muslim world and the consequences of his death. The fear of upcoming terrorist attacks is a current topic.

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