Saturday, June 16, 2018

Human Rights Driven Economic Regulation Through Supply Chains--Thoughts on the Civil Society Letter to the G20 Employment Working Group



OECD Watch has circulated this Press Release:
Civil society organizations call on G20 to protect human rights in global supply chains Jun 13, 2018

As G20 employment and education ministers meet today in Geneva, OECD Watch and civil society organizations around the globe are calling on the G20 to implement key policy recommendations in relation to responsible business conduct in global supply chains.

In a letter to the G20 Employment Working Group, OECD Watch and allies lay out concrete policy recommendations for promoting and protecting human rights in global supply chains. The recommendations include actively promoting the OECD Guidelines and OECD due diligence guidance, strengthening and reforming the NCP system, and making human rights due diligence and supply chain disclosure mandatory.

 The Letter and my brief comments follow:


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Cuban Sugar in the Shadow of the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack: Speculating About 5th Generation Warfare From the Perspective of Managing Institutional Weaknesses

(Sugarcane Pix credit here)

Fifth Generation warfare tends to be boring and complex. That is its greatest value in an information soaked world with large spikes in mass interest but little long term interest (except by specialists).  Violent conflict tends to be flashy. Cyber attacks tend to be the 21st century's answer to the more expensive military exercises (it was no for nothing that Mr. Trump might have found it relative easy to at least temporarily concede expensive war games off the North Korean coast to feed news outlets when alternative shows of strength are both more cost effective and less vulnerable to the vagaries of mass politics). As war shifts its focus from lavish theatre pieces of violence to inter-institutional battles  (for which short sharp acts of violence are sometimes worth the effort) it is useful to consider whether and to what extent these changes appear now in the relationships among states. This is not to say that old fashioned conflict is now obsolete, or that global actors have lost their taste for it.  Far form that.  It merely suggests that new theaters and modes of engagement may be assuming a more interesting role as states seek to sort out the most effective way  of warring in globalization. 

Sonic devices (used offensively or inadvertently as part of advanced surveillance strategies) have come into their own as part of 5th generation warfare gadgetry (The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack Goes Global--From Cuba to China in the Emerging "Big State" Era of Global Trade and Relations).

At least that is one theory.

This post briefly considers how this variation in conflict might be evidenced in the current state of U.S.-Cuban interaction. 

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack--Just When Attention Turned to China, Reports of More Injury in Cuba


The issue of injury to American nationals, mostly members of the diplomatic staff of the United States continues to make news.  Originally confined for the most part to U.S. (and other) nationals in Cuba (see, e.g. here), it recently emerged as a significant issue in China (see, e.g., here).  One would have thought that attention would now turn decisively from Cuba to China.

But that has not been the case.  Two more U.S: nationals  have been repatriated complaining of "sonic symptoms."  (Two more US workers including a diplomat are pulled from Cuba and are being tested for possible brain injuries following reports of strange sounds).  "Cuba said it sent investigators to the home who found no potential source of a sound and were not granted access to the official." (Ibid.).

As a side note, on 13 June 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that"purposefully using a LRAD [long‐range acoustic device] in a manner capable of causing serious injury to move non‐violent protesters to the sidewalks violates the Fourteenth Amendment under clearly established law." Edrei v. Maguire, No. 17-2065 (2018) (discussed here and more in a future post).

The latest report follows. The issues get more interesting--in law and policy.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Picture and Communique: Agit Prop at the G7


The picture was taken by Jesco Denzel, a German government photographer, and released by Steffen Seibert, spokesman for the chancellor, Angela Merkel (Merkel's G7 photo says everything about Trump's diplomacy – or does it?).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared a photo on her official Instagram account Saturday from the Group of Seven (G-7) summit, surrounded by other world leaders… and in mid-stare-down with President Trump. The photo’s caption describes it as a “spontaneous meeting between two working sessions,” but a subtext of the post was picked up by many who read between the lines. “Angela Merkel’s office has released this photo taken today at the G7, which tells you a lot about how things went,” one tweet reads. (Trump and Angela Merkel’s Stare-Down: Photo From G-7 Sets Internet on Fire)

Lots of people liked the picture. "While Trump has already left the G-7 Saturday morning, the picture in still burning up the internet, officially becoming a Twitter Moment Saturday." (Ibid).  The numbers are impressive, at least by my own modest standards. One can see a low estimate of the numbers from the Instagram post below, as well.

 (Credit Instagram)


OK, I admit I liked the picture too, but for its irony.

"The release of the picture caused animated commentary around the world about body language and what it might say about relations between the US and its allies in the Trump era." (Merkel's G7 photo says everything about Trump's diplomacy – or does it?). Indeed, there is more than one way to "read" the picture. This post considers this picture not just for the way it was meant to be read by those who posted it and their allies. The consideration will be grounded in pictures--the images with which this marvelous Instagram document can be read with or against.  It also suggests that however inadvertently, the picture suggests another reading and one in which those who posted it do not necessarily come out well.


Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack Goes Global--From Cuba to China in the Emerging "Big State" Era of Global Trade and Relations

(Pix credit here)

The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attacks has now gone global.  What started as a matter on the periphery of American interest--euphemistically called (and mocked) as attacks of sonic weaponry on American diplomatic personnel (and others) and contributing to the cooling of U.S.-Cuban rapprochement.  I have been following those events swirling around U.S.-Cuba relations and writing about their more general implications since the stories became public in the summer of 2016 (for those essays see here). 

But now the template that was the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack has moved to center stage. Now refined and expanded, it has been added to the "New Era" toolkits for state-to-state relations, toolkits that evidence the considerable movement away from the courtesies and expectations--from the legalities--of the now ended historical Post WWII Settlement Era (1945-2008) and the new "Big State" era of global trade and relations emerges. 
 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in China who reported "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" suggesting a mild brain injury has medical indications that are "very similar" and "entirely consistent" to those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana. (Pompeo says China incident 'entirely consistent' with Cuba 'sonic attacks')
And now its power to affect major decisions--and box in the most significant global national players--must be added to a growing toolkit of tactics (see, e.g., here (ZTE)) that China and the U.S. are each deploying as they aggressively seek to position themselves for final status negotiations on the manner in which they will divide the world between them in matters of global trade and finance (and influence) (see, generally here: Economic Globalization Ascendant and the Crisis of the State: Four Perspective on the Emerging Ideology of the State in the New Global Order. pp. 154-158).  

This post considers the way the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack template has been refined in its application in the much more complex interplay between the U.S. and China for the reordering of their relations. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Flora Sapio: Four Short Reflections on Jiang Shigong’s Essay on “Philosophy and History” Interpreting the “Xi Jinping Era” through Xi’s Report to the Nineteenth National Congress of the CCP’ [ 哲学与历史 —从党的十九大报告解读“习近平时代” 强世功 ]


In January 2018 Professor Jiang published an article, "哲学与历史—从党的十九大报告解读“习近平时代 [‘Philosophy and History: Interpreting the “Xi Jinping Era” through Xi’s Report to the Nineteenth National Congress of the CCP’] in the Guangzhou journal Open Times (开放时代) in January 2018.  The essay was meant to capture the meaning and develop the underlying theory that now constitutes "New Era" thought and its implications for Chinese political philosophy, the development of Chinese Marxist Leninist Theory, and its consequences for governance in China. Now that important work has been translated into English (Jiang Shigong: ‘Philosophy and History: Interpreting the “Xi Jinping Era” through Xi’s Report to the Nineteenth National Congress of the CCP’ The China Story (Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW) at the Australian National University ) (11 May 2018) (Translation by David Ownby. Notes by Timothy Cheek and David Ownby) Permalink HERE).

Professor Jiang's essay is worthy of deep study and consideration. 


In this post Flora Sapio provides her own Four Short Reflections on Jiang Shigong’s Essay on “Philosophy and History.”


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Ruminations 78: Reflections on the 74th Anniversary of D-Day; Memory, Remembrance and Recollection


(Photo credits USA Today, HERE)

D-Day is the name given to the day of the commencement of Operation Overlord, the Allied assault on the German coastal positions in Normandy as an initial action for the reconquest of France (its liberation from German occupation enhanced through the complicity of French collaborators) and eventually for the invasion of Germany to the ends of destroying its government and thus ending the war that began for the Western powers on September 1, 1939 with the German invasion of Poland (though war had begun much earlier in Asia).
According to the U.S. military, “D-Day” was an Army designation used to indicate the start date for specific field operations. In this case, the “D” in D-Day doesn’t actually stand for anything—it’s merely an alliterative placeholder used to designate a particular day on the calendar. The military also employed the term “H-Hour” to refer to the time on D-Day when the action would begin. (Why was it called D-Day?)
The commemorations have been changing character as the millions of individuals who lived through this important historical era of the United States pass into history.  However, the memory of the horrors, the planning failures, and the costs in lives that secured an Allied victory in Europe, survive in the field notes taken at the time and preserved as a reminder of the costs of glory (S.L.A. Marshall, First Wave at Omaha Beach, The Atlantic 1960). And they have come to dominate the stories that are preserved in our movies--not the heroic tide of history marching in the form of abstract concepts like states made flesh, but in the sacrifice of individuals banding together to perform small acts of courage and sacrifice, sometimes with full knowledge of the absurdity of the situation in which such courage and sacrifice was demanded (e.g., here, and here).

In memory of that sacrifice and those memories, and to honor the grand victories overseen by the few leaders of the many but made possible by the many sacrifices of those who consented to be led, this post briefly considers the way that history and memory figure into our relation to D-Day, and how that that relation between history and memory, what occurred and what is remembered continues to play a crucial role not in the shaping of history but in the curating of present through the management of the living memory of historical epochs.  


The Affair of the Cuban Sonic Weapons Attack From a Cuban to A global Investigation Prodded on by the State of U.S. China Relations



The Affair of the Cuban Sonic Weapons Attacks  appear to have been consigned to the dust bin of media interest and governmental action. The inaction by the U.S. government appeared particularly telling.  In that respect the last event of note took place  on January 9, 2018, when Senator Marco Rubio chaired a meeting of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues entitled "Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Response and Oversight" (discussed HERE). During the public portion of those hearings, Senator Rubio chided the State Department and its then leadership for failing to constitute an Accountability Review Board (ARB).  He was informed that such a board was constituted but only on December 11, 2017 and that notice thereof was sent somehow to the Senate by the Secretary of State's office. Senator Rubio remained skeptical (HERE). 

He was right to be skeptical. Since then, the only interesting progress in the Affair has been among academics who continue to study the possibility of such an attack (see, here and here). Yet the State Department has done its duty.  It has been reported that the ARB constituted in December 2016 "is expected to issue its recommendations to Pompeo by the end of this week, a State Department official has told CNN, after which he will have 90 days to relay his plans to Congress." (Secretary of State Pompeo Creates Task Force in Response to ‘Unexplained Health Incidents’ Affecting U.S. Diplomats CNN Wire Service, June 5, 2018).

But a change geo-politics has given the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack a new and potentially more profound life. The reasons for the change have little to do with Cuba--it may have everything to do with China and the increasingly intense negotiations to reshape the structures of U.S.-China relations. It seems that the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack has now moved from its backwater early stages in Cuba to the center of the negotiations between Chin and the U.S. respecting the state of their relations for the next generation.  In this high stakes game the addition of sonic weapons attacks raises the stakes and the risks as both powers deploy all their weapons to ensure advantage in the comprehensive negotiations that are taking place substantially out of the limelight.  More thoughts of the Chinese perspective HERE; .The Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack Goes Global--From Cuba to China in the Emerging "Big State" Era of Global Trade and Relations.

As a consequence, in addition to the specific focus on Cuba through the investigations of the ARB, the Secretary of State has now announced the creation of a task force to to respond to “unexplained health incidents” affecting US diplomats and their family member--not just in Cuba but elsewhere as well. (US sets up task force on diplomats sick in Cuba, China) It seems that sonic weaponry (at least as a metaphor for whatever the major powers are now fooling with in terms of offensive gadgetry) has gone global.  At the very least it may become a potent element in the tool kit of bilateral negotiations in furtherance of the America First Initiative. The success of these uses will depend on the ability of the parties to manage (or control) the scope and quantity) of media responses and their effects on moving mass opinion.

The text of the CNN Wire reporting follows. 

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Reflections on Jiang Shigong on ‘Philosophy and History: Interpreting the “Xi Jinping Era” through Xi’s Report to the Nineteenth National Congress of the CCP’ [ 哲学与历史 —从党的十九大报告解读“习近平时代” 强世功 ]



The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party ought to be the focus of substantial study in the West.  It's announcement of a "New Era" was not just an ideological flourish.  Rather, it was a  quite transparent effort to explain, in some detail, a substantial evolution in the CPC's Basic Line, in its development of the political theory on which it is based and on the implementation of the political economy of China. These changes have been reflected in law as well--especially important elements of which included the amendments of the Chinese CPC and State constitutions.  But those are the tip of an iceberg of changes--not just in legislation, but in the form, practice, manner, and object of Chinese governance (for the work of our group  touching on some of these issues see The Vanguard Acts: A Focus on China at the Dawn of its “New Era”; The Vanguard Leads: An Initial Consideration of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress).

They are also reflected in the current thinking among a part of the elite intellectual classes in China. "A senior Communist Party theorist has given a rare lecture in Hong Kong in which he told more than 100 local delegates and advisers to the national legislature that the party had survived almost 70 years ruling China because it learned from its mistakes and moved with the times." (Kimmy Chung, "How has China’s Communist Party kept power? 100 Hong Kong political bigwigs get rare lecture from senior theorist: Qu Qingshan, deputy head of the party’s history and literature research institute, delivers 2½-hour talk to local NPC delegates, as Beijing seeks to assert its influence in Hong Kong," South China Morning Post (23 May 2018)).
Two anonymous sources said Qu analysed how the party had managed to stay in power when communists in Russia failed and the former Soviet Union collapsed. “One problem with the Soviet communist party was its lack of new ideologies and theories after Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. But the Chinese Communist Party has built up its own ideologies according to the changing times and social situation,” a source quoted Qu as saying. Each Chinese leader had formulated his own theories in response to the needs of each generation, Qu said, from Deng Xiaoping Theory, Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents and Hu Jintao’s scientific concept of development, to Xi Jinping Thought laying out “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era”. (Ibid.)
Indeed, some of the most influential Chinese theorists have begun to build analysis around the great leaps in policy and theory produced during the 19th CPC Congress.  Most prominent among then may be Jiang Shigong 强世功, an internationally prominent theorist and scholar resident at Peking University Law School.  His work on constitutional law is well known, though controversial both inside and outside China.  Whatever one's views, it is clear that he, more than most, has his finger on the pulse of the current moment in history, and a better understanding than many, of the nature and trajectory of changes in China.

In January 2018 Professor Jiang published an article, "哲学与历史—从党的十九大报告解读“习近平时代[‘Philosophy and History: Interpreting the “Xi Jinping Era” through Xi’s Report to the Nineteenth National Congress of the CCP’] in the Guangzhou journal Open Times (开放时代) in January 2018.  The essay was meant to capture the meaning and develop the underlying theory that now constitutes "New Era" thought and its implications for Chinese political philosophy, the development of Chinese Marxist Leninist Theory, and its consequences for governance in China. Now that important work has been translated into English (Jiang Shigong: ‘Philosophy and History: Interpreting the “Xi Jinping Era” through Xi’s Report to the Nineteenth National Congress of the CCP’ The China Story (Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW) at the Australian National University ) (11 May 2018) (Translation by David Ownby. Notes by Timothy Cheek and David Ownby) Permalink HERE).

This post includes my brief Reflections on Jiang Shigong's excellent essay (drawn from the English language translation cited above). It also includes the essay (original 中文 and English translation). All follows below. The essay may be downloaded HERE. Flora Sapio's thoughts may be found HERE.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Announcing Roundtable: Human Rights and the Business of Social Media (City University of Hong Kong, 25 June 2018)


Roundtable on
Human Rights and the Business of Social Media

Date and time: Monday, 25 June 2018 (9:30am – 12:30pm)
Venue: P5401, 5/F, Yeung Kin Man Academic Building, City University of HK

The Human Rights Law and Policy Forum (HRLF) of the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong will organise a Roundtable on “Human Rights and the Business of Social Media” on 25 June 2018. The discussion leaders include

A limited number of spaces are available on a first come first serve basis. For registration, please send an email to: human.rights@um.cityu.edu.hk.
 
 More information follows.