27 May 2018   Leave a comment

Italian President Sergio Mattarella vetoed the choice of Paolo Savona for an important Economic Ministry position and the Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte promptly ended his attempt to form a coalition government of the 5 Star Movement, a populist party, and the League, a right wing party.  The decision turned the process of forming a government into complete turmoil and it is unclear how a government can now be formed.  It is likely that a short-term technocratic government can be created, but the parties involved will not support that alternative for very long.  Conte wanted a strong voice to remain in the euro currency in order to calm the financial markets and Savona was an ardent opponent of the euro.  Given the collapse of the talks, it is probable that financial markets will punish Italy tomorrow by demanding very high yields on Italian bonds, a move that the Italian economy could not support with higher taxes or lower government spending, both of which are opposed by the two parties forming the coalition.  The European Union will be greatly strained by the turmoil in Italy, which also holds out the possibility of spreading to Spain.

 

The US has sent two naval vessels into the South China Sea to challenge the Chinese military activities in the region.  According to The Guardian:

“The US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors. The US vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands, one of the officials said.”

The US claims to be conducting “freedom of navigation” voyages under international law which does not recognize artificially created islands such as Woody Island as sovereign territory.  The Chinese claim that the South China Sea has historically always been part of Chinese territory.   According to Xinhua:

“Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a statement released on Sunday night that the U.S. warships trespassed into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands on Sunday without permission of the Chinese government, and the Chinese navy identified the U.S. warships, warned and expelled them.

“The Xisha Islands are China’s inherent territory, Lu said, noting that in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Chinese government promulgated the baseline of the territorial sea off the Xisha Islands in 1996.”

The Xisha Islands are also known as the the Paracel Islands in Western countries and Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese.

 

The Chinese Military Base on Woody Island in the South China Sea

Many of the artificial territories are now bristling with weapons like this one called Woody Island

Posted May 27, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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