With Britain’s June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the European Union (EU) fast approaching, debates about the future of the United Kingdom and Europe have gained attention across the world. Many observers worry about the potential economic and political consequences of Britain’s decision to exit – or “Brexit” – the EU. With polls showing the public split nearly 50-50 on the referendum, President Barack Obama traveled to Britain and urged British voters to stay in the EU. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, India, Russia, and Japan on the U.K. referendum.
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the British public to vote in favor of a strong and united European Union. With over $61 billion in trade deals announced during Xi’s recent visit to the United Kingdom, he hoped “Britain, as an important member of the EU, can play an even more positive and constructive role in promoting the deepening development of China-EU ties.” At risk is a deal between Beijing and London in October 2015 where China would build a nuclear energy plant at Hinkley Point, the “largest inward investment in” U.K. history.
Commentators debated whether the Brexit decision could have a negative impact on growing economic ties between the United Kingdom and China. (more…)Continue Reading →
On April 3, an international coalition of journalists released information on thousands of tax shelters created by the Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca. Global reactions to the leak of over 11 million documents, also known as the Panama Papers, have been swift with condemnations directed at individuals named as shareholders and directors of the shell companies, including politicians, business leaders, athletes, and celebrities in more than 200 countries. Among them are 12 national leaders, such as the prime ministers of Iceland, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan, the presidents of Argentina and Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia. The list also links to individuals with connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
While the use of these offshore companies to avoid taxes at home is not illegal, they remain controversial to many who consider the practice as cheating taxpayers and creating opportunities for fraud, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Several countries in Eurasia were identified as hubs for this type of financial activity or saw their political leadership included in the allegations. This Policy Alert highlights reactions in China, India, Russia, Japan, and South Korea to the emerging global shell game.
After the Panama Papers cited at least eight current and former Chinese top-ranking officials of having links to Mossack Fonseca, the Communist party ordered the country’s media outlets to censor all references to the story. Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei refused to comment on “groundless accusations” when pressed by journalists. Chinese law does not prohibit its citizens from creating overseas entities, but according to Chun Han Wong in the Wall Street Journal, party leaders are sensitive to allegations, including some directed at relatives of President Xi Jingping, that may “add fuel to perceptions of double standards in Beijing’s efforts to fight graft.”
Hong Kong was said to be home to the most active and highest number – over 2,000 – of the shell corporations set up through Mossack Fonseca. Zhang Xiaodong, named as the firm’s primary contact on the island, pushed his clients to set up offshore accounts to purchase stocks abroad due to “overseas countries’ hostility to the rising Chinese economic power.” When a media outlet did cover the leaks, its criticism was directed at foreign powers. The Global Times questioned the real motives behind the leak, which the paper said has “basic political targets,” and how the information is being spun by “the Western media” to minimize information negative to the United States and give “extra spin” to the “exposure of non-Western leaders, such as Putin.” (more…)Continue Reading →
On March 20, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Cuba since 1928. The trip marked a pivotal moment in the efforts to normalize bilateral relations that have been long characterized by mutual enmity. Obama called on Cuba to open its economy and political system while Cuban President Raúl Castro urged the U.S. Congress to lift the trade embargo. In this Policy Alert, we highlight the reactions of rising powers to the trip and steps made toward normalized relations, including commentary in China, Brazil, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea.
As two of the few remaining Communist countries in the world, China’s foreign ministry said its “continued mutually beneficial cooperation with Cuba” is not dependent on the action of third-parties such as the United States. The ministry welcomed the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States and pressed the U.S. Congress to completely lift the trade embargo. Chinese President Xi Jingping traveled to Cuba in 2014 and visited the barracks where Fidel Castro launched his revolution.
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global public health emergency in response to the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil and other Latin American countries. The WHO estimates the virus has spread to 52 countries to date and can infect up to 4 million people by year’s end. While the symptoms of the virus are moderate, it is “strongly suspected” the disease causes brain damage in newborns. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Brazil, China, India, Russia, Japan, and South Korea on the Zika outbreak.
Brazil has been the country most affected by the Zika outbreak so far. The outbreak coincides with a concurrent political and economic crisis in the country and has catapulted Brazil’s public health capacity into the global spotlight just months before Rio de Janeiro is set to host the Olympic Games. (more…)Continue Reading →
One month after conducting a nuclear test, North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket on February 7th from its Sohae Satellite Launching Station. Pyongyang claimed the launch was a peaceful earth observation satellite, but the United States, South Korea, and other powers quickly condemned it as a provocative and destabilizing ballistic missile test in violation of UN resolutions. U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice called on the “international community to stand together and demonstrate to North Korea that its reckless actions must have serious consequences.” China, however, remains unwilling to back stronger sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and prefers a return to the negotiation table. In this Policy Alert, we explore the reactions of South Korea, China, Japan, Russia, India, and Brazil to the launch and their proposals to resolve nuclear weapons and missile challenges on the Korean Peninsula.
President Park Geun-hye strongly criticized the missile launch as an “intolerable provocation,” positing the North’s missile program is “all about maintaining the regime” in Pyongyang. Park’s deputy chief of national security, Cho Tae-yong, pledged “the government will continue to put necessary pressure on North Korea so that North Korea has no other choice but to change.” South Korean intelligence agencies reportedly have evidence North Korea plans another nuclear test in the near future. (more…)Continue Reading →
On January 6, North Korea announced it conducted its forth nuclear test, claiming the successful explosion of a hydrogen bomb. As experts work to verify the claim, the international community unanimously condemned Pyongyang with the UN Security Council planning to impose further sanctions on the Kim Jung-un regime for taking an action South Korea called an “unpardonable provocation.” In a display of strength and support for allies in the region, the United States flew a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber over Seoul, which prompted North Korea to vow further tests. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from South Korea, China, Japan, India, Russia, and Brazil on the latest North Korean nuclear test.
As expected, South Korean President Park Geun-hye denounced the test as a “serious threat” to national security and warned “our military is at a state of full readiness, and if North Korea wages provocation, there will be firm punishment.” Along with resuming broadcasts of propaganda messages across the north-south border, South Korea urged the international community to work together on sanctions to inflict “bone-numbing pain” on its northern neighbor, specifically calling on China to prove Beijing is serious about improving ties with Seoul.
Newspapers in South Korea focused on how the country and the international community should response to this latest development by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). (more…)Continue Reading →
COP21, a UN climate change conference, opened last week in Paris, a city that experienced horrific terrorist attacks just weeks before. In his opening address, French President Francois Hollande noted “I can’t separate the fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming. These are two big global challenges we have to face up to.” World leaders from about 150 countries are expected to reach a new greenhouse gas reduction framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2020. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the climate change meeting.
China and the United States – the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases – laid the ground work for the Paris talks with joint commitments this past year to address climate change. President Xi Jinping was the first Chinese head of state to attend a climate summit when he outlined his country’s plans to see a peak in carbon emissions by 2030 and for its emissions intensity of GDP to decline by 60 to 65 percent. Likewise, China has promised increases in energy efficiency and a shift toward to natural gas, hydropower, wind, and solar energy. (more…)Continue Reading →
The terrorist attacks in Paris by the Islamic State (IS) last Friday killed at least 129 people, leaving France and the world in great horror and sorrow. French President Francois Hollande responded by calling the attacks “an act of war” and pleading to wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the terrorist act an “attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.” In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the Paris terrorist attacks.
Chinese officials unanimously condemned the attacks and extended their condolences to France. (more…)Continue Reading →
Earlier this month, twelve Pacific Rim countries, including the United States and Japan, reached a final agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest regional trade pact in history with its member states accounting for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. The pact also constitutes a cornerstone of President Obama’s “rebalance” toward Asia. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and India on the trade deal.
Chinese commentary urged the government to push forward with the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) while downplaying the potential impact of the TPP for China. (more…)Continue Reading →
Russian airstrikes in Syria since September 30, portrayed by the Kremlin as an attack against the Islamic State (IS), have been met with widespread criticism. The United States has accused Russiaof targeting U.S.-backed rebel groups against the Assad regime and refused to cooperate with Moscow. European foreign ministers have called on Russia to end its attacks. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Russia, China, India, and Japan on Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict.
CHINAContinue Reading →