9 April 2017   Leave a comment

The Chinese press had an interesting take on the meeting between US President Trump and Chinese President Xi.  Perhaps the most telling insight came from a photograph published by Renmin Ribao.  The photo of a slouching Mr. Trump on the couch suggests a view of him as careless, lazy, and lackadaisical.  In contrast, President Xi looks authoritative and in control.  The meeting was overshadowed by the news of the US military strike in Syria, but the Chinese refused to accept the legitimacy of the US action.  On the difficult economic differences between the two states, both sides agreed on a 100-day “cooling off” period before any concrete actions are taken on trade and currency manipulations.  The meeting was notable for its lack of progress on any substantive matters. 

The US is sending the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its entire group to the Korean Peninsula.  The move follows the air strike in Syria which has set a tone of unpredictability to President Trump’s foreign policy.  The move is also a pre-emptive move that anticipates additional missile launches from North Korea.  The timing also corresponds to some significant events in North Korea.  As the Washington Post notes:

“North Korea is expected to hold a huge military parade on April 15 to celebrate the 105th birthday of its founding president, Kim Il Sung, and to mark the 85th anniversary of the creation of the Korean People’s Army on April 25 with similar fanfare.”

We do not know if Chinese President Xi was informed of this move.  The message to the South Koreans was that the Chinese were informed, but it is hard to tell exactly what was communicated.  If the Chinese were not fully briefed then the Chinese are undoubtedly quite concerned as well.  No matter what President Trump thinks about Nixon’s “Madman Theory”, unpredictability is not a virtue in foreign policy.

USS Carl Vinson Carrier Group

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1981.  In the last two years it has experienced an extraordinary bleaching due to climate change. According to the Washington Post:

“Coral bleaching occurs when unusually warm waters provide a stress to corals that in turn trigger a mass exodus of photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae, from their cells. The corals lose color and turn white, an outward indicator that their metabolism has been upended. The stronger the bleaching and the longer it goes on, the more likely corals are to die.

“The Great Barrier Reef, the largest structure of its kind, is about 1,400 miles long. Nine hundred miles of that length have now experienced severe bleaching at some point during the past two years.”

What is happening off the coast of Australia is happening to virtually every coral reef in the world.  It is not clear that even adherence to the Paris Agreements can prevent future damage, and the possible extinction of these living organisms would be a crime against the planet.



Posted April 9, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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