17 November 2018   Leave a comment

US Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping both gave speeches critical of the other’s policies at the  Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Papua New Guinea.  The language used in the speeches was harsh and direct and not coated in traditional diplomatic language.  Bloomberg gives a good window into the tenor of the speeches:

“Xi received applause Saturday when he told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea that implementing tariffs and breaking up supply chains was ‘short-sighted’ and ‘doomed to failure.’ He called for a stronger World Trade Organization and defended his signature Belt-and-Road Initiative, saying it’s ‘not a trap as some people have labeled it.’”

“Speaking moments later, Pence told delegates the U.S. offers countries in the region ‘a better option’ for economic and diplomatic relations than Beijing’s heavy-handed approach. He warned against taking Chinese loans, saying the U.S. ‘doesn’t drown our partners in a sea of debt’ nor offer ‘a constricting belt or a one-way road.’”

Pence also was quite explicit about the US position on the South China Sea: “The South China Sea doesn’t belong to any one nation, and you can be sure: The United States will continue to sail and fly wherever international law allows and our national interests demand.”

US Presidents have attended these meetings since they began in 2013, but President Trump chose not to go.  His absence was conspicuous given that all other heads of state were at the meeting.

 

There were large protests at over 2,000 locations in France over the hike in diesel fuel prices caused by higher taxes designed to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.  People wearing yellow vests blocked roundabouts and on-and-off ramps to motorways and hundreds were injured, including one person killed.  The popularity of French President Macron has taken a real hit because of the taxes:  “Anger over the high fuel prices has resulted in Macron’s popularity taking a hit over the recent months – from 39 percent in July to 21 percent in October.”  But the anger toward Macron runs deeper than simply the hike in taxes.  According to France24:

“But analysts say the movement now represents more widespread frustration over stagnant spending power under Macron, a former investment banker who promised economic revival and to restore people’s trust in government.

“The protests also reflect longstanding anger among many in rural and small-town France who say the government in Paris doesn’t understand the challenges facing the vast majority of the French.

“‘Macron is the president of the rich and not the poor. He needs to think about the poor as well,’ said Andre, a 38-year-old with no driver’s license who nonetheless joined a blockade in Dole, eastern France.”

The European Union has now three wounded leaders:  Macron, May, and Merkel.

Yellow Vest Protest

 

A new research study has analyzed how adherence to the voluntary commitments made by various countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (known as Nationally Determined Contributions) would affect the climate.  Unfortunately, it found that the voluntary commitments would fall far short of the goal of limiting temperature increases to 2°C:  “When taken as benchmark by other countries, the NDCs of India, the EU, the USA and China lead to 2.6 °C, 3.2 °C, 4 °C and over 5.1 °C warmings, respectively.”  There is a very revealing map which shows how far each country in the world has gone toward meeting the goal.  The study could be a sharp impetus for countries to ratchet up their contributions, but that outcome remains to be seen.

Posted November 17, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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