1 July 2017   Leave a comment

Jonathan Cook has written a follow-up essay on the story by Seymour Hersh that there was no Syrian government chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4.  Cook notes that no media outlets in the US have picked up Hersh’s story and that the only responses have been a warning from the Trump Administration that the Syrians were ramping up another chemical attack and a re-release of the information provided by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  It seems likely that Hersh’s story will die out without any refutation, and will be consigned to future historians to corroborate.  Such was the case of the infamous attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin in the Vietnam War.  US President Johnson claimed that the North Vietnamese had attacked US naval vessels and used the incident to justify a major expansion of the war.  It was only much later that doubts were raised about the authenticity of the narrative.

Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese central government.  China ceded Hong Kong in 1841 as a consequence of the British victory in the First Opium War (1839-1842).  It has not been an easy 20 years.  The handover involved a promise by the Chinese government to uphold certain personal freedoms not enjoyed by Chinese citizens on the mainland.  The agreement was described as “one country, two systems” but over the years the central government in Beijing has tried to exercise greater control over the city.  At times there has been sporadic resistance, notably in 2014 in what was called the “Umbrella Movement” as people in Hong Kong tried to preserve the right to choose their own candidates for the city council.  At the anniversary celebration in 2017, President Xi made it very clear that the Communist Party was in control.  The China Times, which represents the official view of the Chinese government, made it very clear to the world that it would brook no outside interference in Hong Kong affairs.

The British steamship, Nemesis, in the First Opium War

There are suggestions that US President Trump is thinking about imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, using an old law justifying such tariffs on national security grounds.  The reports come just as President Trump is preparing to go to the G-20 meeting where issues concerning the global economy are going to be discussed.  The threat of tariffs would anger US trading partners, particularly China and its European allies, and may even trigger off retaliatory action which might lead to a trade war.  This issue should be watched carefully.

Posted July 1, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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