The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, believed to have been conducted by Israel, was a clear and obvious attempt to thwart a nuclear deal between the Biden administration and Iran.

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Image from: Business Insider

Background

In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany). Under the agreement, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. The accord covered uranium enrichment, the handling of plutonium and the prevention of the secret development of nuclear weapons, all in return for the lifting of economic sanctions that had cost the country more than $160bn (£118bn) in oil revenue from 2012 to 2016 alone (1). …


In recent decades, China has been expanding its global influence through the establishment of international institutions, designed to expand revisionist ideals throughout the world.

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Image from: Fabius Maximus Website

Institutionalism: A political belief that membership to institutions aids in global peace efforts, as members become increasingly interconnected and are able communicate more effectively. Often associated with neoliberal international relations theory.

Just as the US is able to exercise global influence through its dominance of the Bretton Woods institutions (The World Bank and the IMF), China has been assembling a parallel system of international organisations through which it aims to wield global influence. I have dubbed these organisations Alternative International Institutions (AIIs). …


Throughout the past decade China has been using debt-trap diplomacy as a way of exerting influence on countries around the world.

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Image from: ABC NEWS

Debt-trap diplomacy: A creditor country intentionally extends excessive credit to a debtor country, thereby inducing the debtor into a debt trap.

China’s deep pockets


Despite being the second wealthiest country in the world, China remains comfortably authoritarian — How?

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Image from: Bharat Shakti

Democracy: a political system with that allows citizens to express their political preferences, has constraints on the power of the executive, and provides a guarantee of civil liberties.

The word Democracy comes from the Greek words dēmos “people” and krátos “power”: “the people hold power.”

According to Classic Economic Modernisation Theory, as a society develops economically, the values of people within that society gradually change from being focused on survival, to being more focused around self-expression. People need no longer focus on providing basic necessities and enter a period of post-materialism that champions concepts such as freedom and individualism. …


As China continues to expand its influence in South East Asia, can ASEAN hold them off?

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Image from: CNN Philippines

The origins of ASEAN

On 8 August 1967, the Foreign Ministers of five South East Asian nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) came together to sign a document that would initiate the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Throughout the 20th century, the organisation would expand to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (1).

Originally, the organisation was formed in response to growing regional concerns about the Vietnam war and the growing influence of Communism, with ASEAN’s founding members believing in strength in numbers. The organisation has focused on maintaining peace in the region and expanding cooperation for mutual growth. Overall, it has been rather successful in its mission. The region hasn’t seen a major conflict since the Vietnam war and is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. …


“No friends but the mountains”

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Image from: The Jerusalem Post

In order to understand the plight of the Kurdish people, we must first understand the distinction between a nation and a state. A nation is a cultural concept, defined as a collection of people bound together by shared values, traditions, language, religion, history and sometimes race, often occupying the same geographical area. A state, on the other hand, is a political entity with a political association having supreme jurisdiction over a defined territory. This territory often encompasses at least one nation. …


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Image from Business Insider

Hegemony: leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others.

Behind Asia, Africa is the fastest growing region in the world. Its 1.1 billion population is expected to double between now and 2050, with its economy predicted to be well on its way to $5 trillion (1). It is easy to see then why China is so interested in developing tighter links between Asia and Africa.

China’s interest in the region, though, is not born of a malevolent desire for African economic growth. Rather, China views Africa as a massive and relatively untapped source of fuel and raw materials that would help to drive its economy. In 2018 China was the world’s largest consumer of energy for the 8th year running (2), and has likely continued to be. It is worth noting that China’s consumption is so high because it is such a populace country. When assessing fuel consumption per capita China comes in at around the same level as the UK and Italy and less than the US (3). Regardless of this fact, due to China’s massive consumption, combined with the fact that China itself possesses few natural oil deposits, means that it is constantly looking for sources abroad. Its approach to oil extraction in Africa has been criticised as exploitative however, offering African states loans in capital it desperately needs, to be repaid in oil with interest. …


How China tightening its grip on Hong Kong has further alienated Taiwan.

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For over a century, from 1842–1949, China existed as a fractured nation, with some areas controlled by foreign imperial powers and others by local warlords. Despite unifying the Chinese mainland in the mid 20th Century, China’s ruling party, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), holds the view that China is still a fractured nation, considering Taiwan to be a fundamental part of China. Historically, Taiwan has been considered part of China. However, when the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government lost the civil war against the communists in 1949, they took the Chinese fleet and gold reserves and fled, establishing an autonomous state in Taiwan. …


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Imperialism: The policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or other means.

In 1898 the United States joined Spain’s overseas colonies in the Pacific and the Caribbean in their fight for independence. Once Spain had been defeated however, the US, a country that has seemingly always championed freedom, liberty and self determination decided against extending these rights to the newly freed territories. Instead the US turned against the rebels they had been fighting alongside, annexing the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam, while setting up a puppet regime in the Philippines. This act, a clear violation of the unalienable rights written into the US Declaration of Independence, those of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, would go on to start a 3 year long war in which hundreds of thousands of Filipinos would die. …


A modern illusion.

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We’re all familiar with the idea that human beings are naturally social creatures, a trait visible in our nearest biological ancestors; apes. Provided of course you subscribe to the theory of evolution, which I just so happen to do. We tend to congregate in groups, form social units and social networks in order to satisfy our need for interaction. When this need is not fulfilled it can have disastrous consequences for individuals, with isolation and loneliness being a major catalyst for depression.

However, in today’s modern, globalised world, isolation may appear to be a thing of the past; we have access to millions or even billions of people at the touch of a button thanks to worldwide internet and smartphones. In reality however, social media and social interaction through things such as smartphones can be, in fact, detrimental to humanity’s need for social interaction and can actually contribute to feelings of isolation and thus, depression in individuals. …

About

Arthur Quayle

Political writer with a focus on East Asia. Asian and International Studies (MA) student at the University of Nottingham. I also write for Evolv Ideas.

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