Saturday, June 15, 2019

Structural Coupling Among Leadership-Center Based Networked Trading Groups in the "New Era"--The OMFIF Report, Global Public Investor 2019


(Source OMFIF interactive databank)



This post continues the Coalition for Peace and Ethics Working Group on Empire examination of the question of paths to empire performed through the choices being made by stakeholders as they adjust their operations to the emerging new era of global trade and production organized around leadership cores [领导核心] of states and undertaken by corresponding leadership cores of enterprises within demarcated market groups.

The focus this time is on the changing to projections of public power into private markets (on this theme generally in the context of sovereign investing, see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, and here). In the face of the emerging decoupling of a singular global markets into "leadership center" networks (discussed here) sovereign investing appears to be acquiring a new character.  Where once it was focused on projections of public power into private markets and in that way to couple projections of  national interests (and in some cases regimes of public law and policy) through private, market regulatory mechanisms (e.g., here), sovereign investing appears to be moving toward a mediating role among decoupled "leadership center" networks of states. In this sense, it is useful to begin to consider the growing importance of sovereign investing as a form of structural coupling among competitive leadership network systems. 

To that end we consider the role of sovereign investing in the new global economic order. For that purpose the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) Report: Global Public Investor 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

CPE Working Group on Empire: Anticipating Empire and Reorganizing Multinational Enterprises--the View From the Economic Sector



(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2019 (Fringes of Hong Kong Harbor))


This post continues the Coalition for Peace and Ethics Working Group on Empire examination of the question of paths to empire performed through the choices being made by the U.S. and Chinese leadership cores [领导核心] within the theater of the U.S.-China bilateral trade negotiations.  

The Working Group on Empire (WGE) of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics looks to study and theorize the construction of systems of management and control of human activities, that is of empire in the 21st century. In a series of essays that will be made available form time to time (CPE EmpireSeries), WGE considers the re-construction of Empire that has shed its old glosses (which elites everywhere have been taught to conflate with the form and thus to amalgamate a normative judgment about technique with an evaluation of the form of empire) in the context of the now heated contest for the control of the structures of global economic trade within which these new forms of empire might be developed (first described in Economic Globalization Ascendant: Four Perspectives on the Emerging Ideology of the State in the New Global Order). What will emerge is something quite distinct--a form of organization and management of institutions and individuals within a "leadership center" network that will be quite distinct from what preceded it. WGE is composed of members of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics of whom Flora Sapio, Larry Catá Backer, and James Korman have taken a leading role; its work product is collaborative. 

Here we briefly consider what may be evidence of the way in which economic actors within critical production chains are reacting to (and hedging against) the disengagement of the United States and China  from their respective economies and they each approach distinctive paths to empire within multinational and multi-enterprise networks of production. The ramifications for corporate law--and especially the legal organization of economic production across national territories,  will pose significant challenges for lawyers and compliance managers. What is clear, though, is that the new era is arriving (Ruminations 86: An Elegy on the 75th Anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy).


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ruminations 86: An Elegy on the 75th Anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy




 



How does one mark the passing of an age? To mark is to acknowledge; it affirms  a difference that might be incomprehensible but for the way in which the signs that mark the collective self reflection of a society are understood. To pass is to suggest a transition or movement from one state of things to another that can be recognized by reference to some set of collective judgements grounded in collective premises about the meaning of events and conditions.  An age suggests a period of time joined together by a collective consensus about the meaning of things and the ordering of relations; an age is the expression of the way on which a self reflexive community sees itself and the world around it, and how it sets itself apart from and in relation to tat world.

But to mark the passing of a age requires that those marking that passage stand outside that age. That "apartness" might itself be marked  by the passage of time, or a change to the place from which such judgment can be made. On this 75th Anniversary of the start of the Allied invasion of Europe to defeat the Axis Powers (and ultimately to bring about the birth of a new age, it is worth thinking, if only for a moment about the passing of time--and in this case about the passing of an age that is itself marked by the celebrations designed to affirm the birth of that age.  This post , then, is an elegy for the celebrations of the coming of the new age of globalization that itself now marks the passga eof the age the birth of which it is meant to celebrate.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

CPE Working Group on Empire--Part 3; The U.S. Trade Representative Response to the Chinese State Council White Paper and the Sino-Russian Statement [中华人民共和国和俄罗斯联邦关于发展 新时代全面战略协作伙伴关系的联合声明]


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2019)



This post is the third of a series of three posts in which the CPE WGE examine the question of paths to empire performed through the choices being made by the U.S. and Chinese leadership cores [领导核心] within the theater of the U.S.-China bilateral trade negations.  

Part 1 focused on the meaning embedded in the text itself on a paragraph by paragraph basis, suggesting macro and micro strategies, challenges and opportunities in the emerging Chinese positions on global trade and its role in such systems. To that end it critically examined China's State Council [国务院White Paper, entitled China's Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations ; <关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场>; 原中国语言版本. The White Paper was distributed by the State Council Information Office on Sunday 2 June.  Part 2 drew broader insights that suggest the contours and trajectories of China's geo-political strategies in general, and their application to its management of the relationship with the United States more specifically.

This Part 3 includes the official response of the U.S. Trade Representative was short and dismissive. It relied substantially on the United States issued a 200-page report in March 2018 (Findings of the Investigation into China's Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (22 March 2018) documenting how China had engaged in a pattern of repeated commitments that were then ignored. It was posted on the Trade Representative's web site and follows below, with brief comments interlineated in red after an introduction. In a sense, then, the U.S. took the position that the Chinese State Council White Paper was the response to its March 22, 2018  Findings of the Investigation into China's Acts, Policies, and Practices. The Chinese-Russian counter-thrust, in the form of the Development of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation Joint Statement of the New Era Comprehensive Strategic Collaboration Partnership [中华人民共和国和俄罗斯联邦关于发展 新时代全面战略协作伙伴关系的联合声明]
is also reproduced below. 

UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights Newsletter No. 2-2019




The UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky has just distributed his Newsletter No. 2-2019. Some interesting materials and thoughts. Noteworthy is his  call for contributions for the Independent Expert's forthcoming thematic report to the Human Rights Council on private debt and human rights. The Call  is still open until 31 July 2019. Any submission from interested governments, civil society organizations, academic, experts, businesses, and other stakeholders would be most welcome. More details on the call for contributions are available at this link.

The Newsletter follows.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

CPE Working Group on Empire: Part 2--A Critical Reading of China's State Council [国务院] White Paper "China's Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations" [关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场]

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2019)


This post is the second and last of a two part series in which the CPE WGE examines the question of paths to empire performed through the choices being made by the U.S. and Chinese leadership cores [领导核心] within the theater of the U.S.-China bilateral trade negations.  To that end it critically examines China's State Council [国务院White Paper, entitled China's Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations ; <关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场>; 原中国语言版本. The White Paper was distributed by the State Council Information Office on Sunday 2 June.  

For this Part 2, The CPE Working Group on Empire take a broader view.  While Part 1 focused on the meaning embedded in the text itself on a paragraph by paragraph basis, Part 2 draws broader insights that suggest the contours and trajectories of China's geo-political strategies in general, and their application to its management of the relationship with the United States more specifically. In the process it suggests the dangers of the current hyper focus on the bilateral trade negotiations that tend to obscure the much greater objectives at stake.

Part 1 and the Introduction to this critical reading of the State Council White Paper may be accessed here.

The State Council White Paper may be accessed HERE (English) (中文版).

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

On the Front Lines of the U.S. Pivot Toward the Caribbean: The U.S. Announces Further Restrictions on Travel to Cuba as Part of its Comprehensive Caribbean Strategy


I had earlier suggested that over the course of the last year, and perhaps led by a team operating through the office of the U.S: Vice President Pence, the United States has substantially and quite coherently reshaped its Caribbean (and eventually will reshape its Latin American) policies and strategies (discussed in The Pivot Toward the Caribbean: Announcement of Permission to Sue Anyone Using American Property Confiscated by Cuba and the Larger Trump Administration Strategy Coordinating Policy Against Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela).  Despite the overall theme of bilateralism that is the Basic Foreign Policy Line of the current Administration, the U.S. has now begun to apply a coordinated and regional approach to the Caribbean and Latin America.   With origins in the National Security Strategy (discussed here: Ruminations 76: From Global to Fortress America; Thoughts on "National Security Strategy of the United States" (4 Dec 2017)), the United States has begun coordinating action against identified key competitors and enemies by targeting their flanks (referenced in the Statement of the Secretary of Commerce in his press release reproduced below).

One of the great consequences of this tilt, of this pivot toward the Caribbean, is that a policy initiative that appears directed against country A may actually be directed toward country B, or to the region as a whole or some of its parts (e.g., CARICOM).  This has become especially apparent in the way in which the United States has been coordinating policy initiatives respecting Cuba and Venezuela, both identified as enemies--whose interests are aggressively adverse to those of the United, and both targeted for efforts to permit mass movements to overthrow their political and economic models (as well as their current leadership core). 

Today, 4 June 2019, the Trump Administration announced a further policy initiative designed to advance its objectives in the Caribbean. It announced the imposition of "heavy new restrictions on travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, including a ban on cruises, in a bid to further pressure the Communistisland over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro." ( Trump administration bans cruises to Cuba in clampdown on U.S. travel). 

My brief reflections, some initial reporting, links to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR)[FEDERAL REGISTER Vol. 84; No. 108 pp. 25992-25993], and relevant official statements from the Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce follow. 

CPE Working Group on Empire: Part I--A Critical Reading of China's State Council [国务院] White Paper "China's Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations" [关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场]


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2019)

Every great state has several paths among which it can choose, each consist with its governing ideology and culture. One might imagine, for example, that over the last several centuries in Russia, those paths tilted it east toward the Stepppe cultures and Mongolia, or the south toward Central Asian Islam and the Ottoman Turks, or west toward (northern) Europe and the Prussians.  The results are quite distinct Rissia's now constantly in tension with each other and manifested in shifting strategies for identifying, valuing, and interacting with the non-Russian world (including the non-Russian world within Russia).

For the Americans the choice is quite different, between socio-racial hierarchies and isolation within a continent sized nation, or toward the embrace of the ideal of the United States as the embodiment of the world and all of its cultures, in both cases providing a basis for global leadership.  In the 20th and 21st centuries these tilts produced both the Washington Consensus and contemporary economic globalization and variations of America First, both under the leadership of the United States as the global vanguard nation. 

Ironically, China's paths appear along lines similar to those facing the United States, though of course with Chinese characteristics. On the one hand, Chinese paths point inward toward a self referencing and self contained unit that deals with the rest of the world through carefully controlled entry and exit points and from which it develops paths toward relations of use to it. The current manifestation (and variation) of this path is the Belt and Road Initiative, perhaps. The other cluster of paths point outward toward a more robust integration in the world in which though relations are hierarchical, they tend to be open and interactions are deeply integrated.  The "Go Out" Policy and the process of Reform and Opening Up (at least practiced for a generation) might point in this direction. 

For both China and the United States, then, their respective vanguard "leadership core" [领导核心] have sought to manage the choice of paths grounded in a calculation of the respective interests of each state (within a global system in which isolation is no longer an object) and constrained by their respective governing ideologies. The choice on both sides had been stable until the time of the current "leadership core" [领导核心].  Over the past several years both have sought to rethink the parameters of what had been a dynamic but relatively stable relationship as each embraced the idea that they both operated at the moment of the start of a great "new era" [新时代].  This New Era [新时代] was to be manifested in the most important sector of national engagement--its economic model within globalization. 

It ought to come as no surprise (at least in retrospect), that the flash point for choosing the new path in the "new era" [新时代] would find expression at the core of the framing relations that drives global economic activity--the China-US economic and trade negotiations. It is here that both states have been playing out the process (mostly internal and opaque except to the leadership and their servants) of choosing their respective paths consistent with their ideologies which in turn will define not just their bilateral relations, but also the way in which both states approach the world in the context of a globalization that cannot be avoided.  China, especially, appears to face a choice.  Having spent the greater part of the time it had embraced the "Reform and Opening Up" period deeply integrating its economy with that of the world--a choice accelerated with China's Accession to the WTO and its more robust engagement in the institutions of then dominant global economic principles--China appears now to be considering the value of a new path. That path would be grounded on the disentangling of its generalized connection with an unstructured environment of production and substituting in its stead a much more focused and directed set of streams of activity over which it will preside.  To that end, the principal task is to disentangle the Chinese and U.S. economies.  And the trade negotiations provide the perfect cover for the development, articulation and implementation of that choice (formally connected to the receding system but effectively substituting another). In that respect, of course, the Chinese are also providing substantial (and critically necessary) support to the leadership core of the United States who, within the structures of their own governing ideology have also faced this choice and appear as well willing  to follow suit.

The Working Group on Empire (WGE) of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics looks to study and theorize the construction of systems of management and control of human activities, that is of empire in the 21st century. In a series of essays that will be made available form time to time (CPE EmpireSeries) WGE considers the re-construction of Empire shorn of its old glosses (which elites everywhere have been taught to conflate with the form and thus to amalgamate a normative judgment about technique with an evaluation of the form of empire) in the context of the now heated contest for the control of the structures of global economic trade within which these new forms of empire might be developed. WGE is composed of members of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics of whom Flora Sapio, Larry Catá Backer, and James Korman have taken a leading role; its work product is collaborative.

This post is the first of a series of two posts in which the CPE WGE examine the question of paths to empire performed through the choices being made by the U.S. and Chinese leadership cores [领导核心] within the theater of the U.S.-China bilateral trade negations.  To that end it critically examines China's State Council [国务院White Paper, entitled China's Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations ; <关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场>; 原中国语言版本. The White Paper was distributed by the State Council Information Office on Sunday 2 June.  

For this Part I the critical analysis is embedded in the English text of the White Paper Annotation in RED (original in black).  The original Chinese version <关于中美经贸磋商的中方立场> then follows--原中国语言版本如下印刷. Part 2 may be accessed HERE.


Sunday, June 02, 2019

Joel Slawotsky: On "China's Long March"





Joel Slawotsky, of the Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, and the Law and Business Schools of the College of Management, Rishon LeZion, Israel has guest blogged for "Law at the End of the Day" on issues relating to globalization, international law and relations, and corporate liability under international law. He has served as Guest Editor of the Sovereign Wealth Fund special issue of Qatar University International Review of Law (IRL) (2015).

He has very kindly produced a marvelously insightful essay: China's Long March. The title is meant to allude both to the famous "long March" of the Chinese Communists in the 1930s, as much as recent reporting on the way in which some have written about a "Long March" strategy that appears to the core of Chinese strategic choices in its engagement with the United States (e.g., The new Long March -- Xi's 15-year battle plan with the US), a connection that Xi Jinping has himself deployed in his for-public-consumption-globally statements (China Faces New ‘Long March’ as Trade War Intensifies, Xi Jinping Says). Professor Slawotsky concludes that "developments described above point to an ascendant China and corroborate China’s status as a potent and effective hegemonic rival. Furthermore, U.S. allies perhaps sensing a transformation underway seem to be hedging their bets or at least unwilling to openly embrace the U.S. open confrontation with China. Therefore, the risks over the longer-term of U.S. allies aligning with China cannot be discounted. U.S. allies’ self-interested embrace of China, should it gain critical mass, would constitute a transformative geo-strategic shift imperiling the hegemonic status of the United States."

To read more essays, see e.g., "Rethinking Financial Crimes and Violations of International Law", Jan. 9, 2013; "Corporate Liability Under The Alien Tort Statute: The Latest Twist" April 26, 2014) and on issues of multilateral trade and finance (Joel Slawotsky Reports From Chinese University of Hong Kong: Asia FDI Forum II--China's Three-Prong Investment Strategy: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Tracks; Joel Slawotsky--Essay "On the potential shift from the present-day architects to new architects on the definition of international law" (March 16, 2017); Joel Slawotsky: "Principled Realism: Thoughts on the New National Security Strategy" (Jan- 11. 2018); Joel Slawotsky: "The Longer-Term Ramifications of China’s BRI Jurisprudence".

The Essay follows below.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

From Markets as Governance to Governance Through Markets--Considering President Trump's "Statement Regarding Emergency Measures to Address the Border Crisis" and the Mexican Response, All With Chinese Characteristics



By now it is well known that President Donal Trump has announced an intention to impose a series of increasing tariffs on Mexican goods if Mexico does not demonstrate to his satisfaction immediate progress in efforts to stem the flow of migrants through Mexico. Less well known among American audiences but equally important has been the response of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has both objected to the policy and its punitive intent and also sought to find common ground for advancing both nation's interests. This appeared in Mexican social media and then widely reported. For news coverage see, here, here, here, and here. At the same time, the Chinese state announced the roll out of a new blacklist policy against economic actors and individuals deemed unfriendly or unhelpful to China and its business interests. This was undertaken, in part, in response to the actions of the United States which had recently announced a blacklist of Huawei, and China ceased purchasing American soybeans (and threatened the supply of rare earths) as part of its ongoing dispute with China about the terms of their bilateral trade.

Both President Trump's Statement explaining the imposition of tariffs, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's response letter (Spanish original with my English translation) follows, along with brief reflections. Those reflections suggest the way that profound changes are already occurring in the normative structures of economic globalization.  Principally it suggests the way in which global economic stakeholders are increasingly retreating from private market driven governance to state to state mechanisms.  But these are not a reactionary move toward pre-1945 models.  It is too late for that. Instead there is a Chinese model that suggests the contours of the new intertwining of economics and politics in the role of states within and through production chains.  These new models of  state action arise within environments of free movement of goods and capital in which markets and production across borders define the extent of effective state projections of power.  These will define  the new forms of synergies between private sector driven governance (in which the state itself may be an actor) at the micro-level delegated to markets and compliance responsibilities of entities, while at the same time strengthening the role of the state (the the largest governmentalized non-state enterprises) in driving macro-economic decision making through their economic instrumentalities (whether public or private in organization).

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Event Announcement--Cuba's Economic Model: Continuity Versus Change--CUNY Bildner Center 3 June 2019

(Pix Credit HERE)

I have been focusing on Cuba's economic model in recent work.  My book, Cuba’s Caribbean Marxism: Essays on Ideology, Government, Society, and Economy in the Post Fidel Castro Era (Little Sir Press, 2018). I suggested the critical importance of ideology to the construction and evolution of the Cuban political-economic model. More recently I have suggested the way that ideological premises help shape the Cuban political economic model, constrain the possibilities of itys modification, and shape the way that Cuba approaches even the most critical implementation policies--in this case reintegration into global production orders (Remarks: "The Fundamental Contradiction of Cuban Socialism in the “New Era”: Economic Reintegration Preserving the Revolutionary Moment").

Prominent academics have also been advancing knowledge in this area in important ways. Among them are Carmelo Mesa Lago who has been at the forefront of study of the Cuban economy and its many transformations as it has sought to implement an economic model that changes at the margins with implementation "experiments" and approaches that have varied widely over the course of the last half century. His work has been influential on both sides of the Straits of Florida and continues to drive debate in the field.
And Mario González Corso,  who is is an associate professor at the department of economics and business at Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he also serves as director of the Masters in Science in Business Program, and who has done important work on the Cuban tourism sector.

CUNY's Bildner Center has brought these two outstanding academics together for a program touching on these important issues. The title of the program, "Cuba's Economic Model: Continuity Versus Change," considers the effects on the ground of Cuban efforts to navigate between its ideologies and the realities it faces in the current era. 

Information about the program follows.



Sunday, May 26, 2019

Remarks: "The Fundamental Contradiction of Cuban Socialism in the “New Era”: Economic Reintegration Preserving the Revolutionary Moment" Delivered at the Latin American Studies Association Annual Conference for the Panel on Cuba in Comparative Perspective



I was delighted to have been asked to deliver remarks as part of the panel organized by Silvia Pedraza (University of Michigan) for a panel on Cuba in Comparative Analysis organized by the Association for the Study of the Cuba Economy for the Latin American Studies Association Annual Meeting held in Boston, MA 27 May 2019.

The text of my remarks,  The Fundamental Contradiction of Cuban Socialism in the “New Era”: Economic Reintegration Preserving the Revolutionary Moment, along with the associated PowerPoint Slides, follows.It may be downloaded (CPE Working Paper 5/1 (May 2019) from the Coalition for Peace & Ethics Website HERE.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

How Much is Your Body Shape Data Worth? AI and the Business of Data Harvesting to Understand Body Shape Diversity


In a prior post (OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence and Some Brief Reflections) I offered some brief reflections on the continuing move toward the management of Artificial Intelligence (AI) now broadly construed to mean the production chain for regulation that starts with data harvesting, proceeds through values based analytics and consequence based algorithms, and makes it possible for a machine to make a decision on the basis of that process.

I noted that the obsession with the leading role of the state left open a large void within which the private economic powers might be able to develop their own codes of ethics and operating premises with respect to the entire production chain of data driven governance ("The Algorithmic Governance Contract and the (Internal) law of Production Chains"). More importantly, perhaps, and especially within the governance fields of large transnational economic institutions, the focus on values based AI left largely untouched the connection between these values as AI as property. And not just AI as property--but the value as property of the key value enhancing elements of the AI production chain--data, proprietary forms of analytics; proprietary formulations of algorithms, and the AI decision making machine (hardware and software plus coding) itself. 
Crucially, data collection and analysis also provides firms with feedback mechanisms that allow them to iteratively hone their extraction processes. By constantly surveilling us, for example, Amazon gets better at recommending us products, Facebook at monopolizing our attention, and Google at analyzing our preferences, desires, and fears. Sam Adler-Bell and Michelle Miller, “The Datafication of Employment” The Century Foundation (12-2018)
All of this is now quite clearly on display in a recent report that Amazon has now figured out the value of a very specific data set--a 3-D data scan of their bodies.  In return for a $25 gift certificate, "Participants who set up a 30-minute appointment will be asked to take a survey and agree to have 3D scans, photos and videos taken of them." (Amazon is giving away $25 gift cards to anyone who agrees to let the firm 3D scan their entire body, Daily Mail 24 May 2019). Here one encounters not the face of emerging markets in data extraction, but rather in the economics of data harvesting in which data providers stand in the same position as those at the very bottom of global production. Here one encounters the part of AI that focuses on property and with respect to which the pieties of ethical stewardship appear to have little to say in their principles. 

But interesting as well is the connection between the AI production chain, here, nicely exposed at its data sources, and the regulatory potential of data extraction of this sort. Here one sees one way in which enterprises may interpret the values based stewardship of data in AI systems, but in a peculiar way. The key value here is diversity--that is to get a better sense of the diversity of human body shapes. The use of the word "diversity," now heavily values based and politically (as well as socially) sensitive. It is too early to tell but one ought to be wary of a data harvestor's facility in using invocation of popular values as a cover for exploitative extraction behaviors the full extent of which remains unclear. And, indeed, data can be used by Amazon, of course, to enhance its own business model.  But it can be sold--once processed, both as raw data and as analytic packages to others --including the state--for everything from eugenics programs (health and welfare programs, etc), to insurance and actuary enterprises, to businesses that dress consumers.  In Amazon's case, the possibility of synergy--using the data to help another Amazon product that uses AI to manage people's choices in the purchase of consumer goods. And that is only in the short term.

The Daily Mail Article (including video) follows. For other reports see here, here, here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence and Some Brief Reflections





The OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence were adopted on 22 May 2019 by OECD member countries upon approval of the OECD Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence. The OECD AI Principles are the first such principles signed up to by governments. The OECD's website announcing adoption expressed the hope that the "OECD AI Principles set standards for AI that are practical and flexible enough to stand the test of time in a rapidly evolving field. They complement existing OECD standards in areas such as privacy, digital security risk management and responsible business conduct." 

It consists of five normative principles (what the OECD terms "values based") grounded in the sustainability enhancing notion of responsible stewardship that has gotten much traction in the business context among influence leaders in recent years (e.g., here).  They include
1--AI should benefit people and the planet by driving inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being.
2--AI systems should be designed in a way that respects the rule of law, human rights, democratic values and diversity, and they should include appropriate safeguards – for example, enabling human intervention where necessary – to ensure a fair and just society.
3--There should be transparency and responsible disclosure around AI systems to ensure that people understand AI-based outcomes and can challenge them.
4--AI systems must function in a robust, secure and safe way throughout their life cycles and potential risks should be continually assessed and managed.
5--Organisations and individuals developing, deploying or operating AI systems should be held accountable for their proper functioning in line with the above principles.
These five principles are then directed to the state, as is the habit of the OECD regulatory form.  That direction is summarized in five recommended actions that states can take:
1--Facilitate public and private investment in research & development to spur innovation in trustworthy AI.
2--Foster accessible AI ecosystems with digital infrastructure and technologies and mechanisms to share data and knowledge.
3--Ensure a policy environment that will open the way to deployment of trustworthy AI systems.
4--Empower people with the skills for AI and support workers for a fair transition.
5--Co-operate across borders and sectors to progress on responsible stewardship of trustworthy AI.

The OECD Principles of Artificial Intelligence, along with brief reflections, follow. 



Thursday, May 23, 2019

十三届全国人大常委会贯彻落实《中共中央关于建立国务院向全国人大常委会报告国有资产管理情况制度的意见》五年规划(2018-2022) [The Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress implements the Five-Year Plan of the Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Establishing the State Council's Report on the Management of State-Owned Assets to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (2018-2022)]]




While the American ruling classes (at least in the form of their electoral representatives and those who influence their choices and behaviors) continue to engage in entertainment for the masses (currently here, here, here, and here), the Chinese appear to be accelerating their efforts to rebuild their institutional structures for the New Era and to operationalize the policy choices they are making. Among the most important of these are those that enhance the important new era policy of strong divergence from Western methods, principles and operating methods in economic and political policy.

That project appears to continue to advance in the form of the 十三届全国人大常委会贯彻落实《中共中央关于建立国务院向全国人大常委会报告国有资产管理情况制度的意见》五年规划(2018-2022) [The Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress implements the Five-Year Plan of the Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Establishing the State Council's Report on the Management of State-Owned Assets to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (2018-2022)]].

The implementation of the "opinions" is particularly interesting in the context of the US-China trade dispute, which itself is part of the larger Chinese strategy to remake global trade through the Belt and Road Initiative and its associated projects of yuan internationalization and control of raw material supply chains for its domestic production (that itself a crucial element of the development of productive forces at the heart of Chinese domestic policy since the 1980s).  A central element of these strategies, and one that serves as a singular source of friction between the American conception of global trade regimes and those of the Chinese, are state owned enterprises.  And no just the old Euro style (or worse the Soviet style SOEs), but rather the construction of aggregation of capital that can serve as the projections of state policy turned outward.

These "new era" enterprises are only now assuming a recognizable form, and one that continues the movement of the merger of politics and economics in the furtherance of global trade. To control the SOE is to control a large chunk of the apparatus through which the Chinese State will project its power outward. And it might challenge the control of the  State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) (cf., here). More importantly, as the document suggests, such control will also provide a means  controlling SOEs through the control of the data driven analytics through which they are to be managed.  That is a prize with respect to which many organs of the state apparatus will likely spend much time contemplating. In this context the role of the administrative apparatus, and especially the National People's Congress, will determine the collectives that will play a vital role in translating policy and the CPC line to an operational strategy. While the politics of that division of authority is lurking in the background, it is only noted here. Analysis to follow in due course.

The document appears below in the original 中文 and with a very rough English translation. It requires a little bit of work to navigate through the formal language and discursive tropes common to this sort of writing, but it is worth the effort.



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

《中国共产党党员教育管理工作条例》"Regulations on the Education and Management of Party Members of the Communist Party of China"



(Pix © Larry Catá Backer; Pottery Figures, Northern Wei Dynasty 386-534 AD unearthed Xi'an 1953>; Beijing National Museum)

On 21 May 2019, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has issued the "Regulations on the Education and Management of Party Members of the Communist Party of China" 中国共产党党员教育管理工作条例》.  "The "Regulations" are guided by Xi Jinping's new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, guided by the party's constitution, summed up the absorption of practical and innovative achievements, and regulate the content, methods, procedures, etc. of party members' education management, which is the basic of the education management of party members in the new era. follow." (《条例》以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导,以党章为根本遵循,总结吸收实践创新成果,对党员教育管理的内容、方式、程序等作出规范,是新时代党员教育管理工作的基本遵循。)

The Regulations provide a window on new thinking respecting the perfection of cadre formation and oversight and is well worth the read. Of particular note for foreign universities is Article 24, which provides:

对因私出国并在国外长期定居的党员,出国学习研究超过5年仍未返回的党员,一般予以停止党籍。停止党籍的决定由保留其组织关系的党组织按照有关规定作出。[For party members who have gone abroad for a long time and have settled abroad for a long time, party members who have studied abroad for more than five years have not stopped returning their party membership. The decision to stop the party membership is made by the party organization that retains its organizational relationship in accordance with relevant regulations.]

It will be interesting to see how these new regulations are meshed both with Social Credit systems and with the disciplinary protocols of the Supervision Law.  Also interesting is the emphasis on "new era" thinking. Though details are to be found elsewhere, it is clear that the focus is away from the normative verities of the past era of reform and opening up in favor of something new, much of which can be seen in the emergence of new policy applications especially in the last two years. The New Era is more clearly now taking normative form and its operationalization within the process of constructing and managing cadre educaiton and working styles stands at the center of the endeavor.

The regulations follow (中文) below with crude English translation.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Norwegian Ethics Information Committee Seeks Input on Methods to Improve Respect For Human Rights Through Supply Chain Transparency Mechanisms





This from Caroline D Ditlev-Simonsen, Professor BI Norwegian Business School:
Can a law requiring openness about supply chains improve human rights performance? If so, what should such a law contain? The Norwegian Ethics Information Committee<https://nettsteder.regjeringen.no/etikkinformasjonsutvalget/norwegian-ethics-information-committee/> would like to receive input from international experts about how to improve respect for human rights through mechanisms that promote transparency in supply chains. Please submit your thoughts to etikkinfo@bfd.dep.noetikkinfo@bfd.dep.no by May 31th.

The study promises to be interesting.  And more importantly, it suggests that the Norwegian state is interested in figuring out a perhaps novel approach to projecting its political power (and its values) through its apex enterprises and down their global production chains. To the extent that such an effort might align with Norwegian efforts undertaken through its SWF, the Pension Find Global, the effort might be quite influential (see, e.g., Sovereign Investing and Markets-Based Transnational Rule of Law Building: The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund in Global Markets).

More information from the Norwegian Ethics Information Committee (including its mandate) follows.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Palestras e minicursos do II Seminário Internacional em Direitos Humanos e Sociedade & IV Jornada de Produção Científica em Direitos Fundamentais e Estado , com o tema: Direitos Humanos, Estado Democrático de Direito e Direitos Sociais [Call for Participation: "II International Seminar on Human Rights and Society & IV Conference on Scientific Production in Fundamental Rights and the State" with the Theme "Human Rights, the Democratic State, and Social Rights" (Santa Caterina Brazil 19-20 Sept. 2019)]





I am delighted to pass along information about an exciting program being offered by my colleague Yduan de Oliveira May. He has helped organize a program at the Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense of prsentaitons and mini courses around the theme Direitos Humanos, Estado Democrático de Direito e Direitos Sociais [Human Rights, the Dmeocratic State, and Social Rights].

From their website:

Sejam todas e todos muito bem-vindos(as)! O II Seminário Internacional em Direitos Humanos e Sociedade & IV Jornada de Produção Científica em Direitos Fundamentais e Estado, será realizado nos dias 19 e 20 de setembro de 2019, na Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense, em Criciúma/SC, sendo organizado pelo Programa de Pós-graduação em Direito – Mestrado. A temática deste ano será "Direitos Humanos, Estado Democrático de Direito e Direitos Sociais". ¡O evento contará com minicursos, apresentações orais de trabalhos, além de palestras com conferencistas renomados ligados à temática do evento. Explore o nosso site e saiba mais! Contamos com a sua presença! [Welcome All! The II International Seminar on Human Rights and Society and IV Conference on Scientific Production in Fundamental Rights and State, will be held on September 19 and 20, 2019, at the Extremo Sul Catarinense University, in Criciúma / SC, organized by the Program of Postgraduate in Law - Master. This year's theme will be "Human Rights, Democratic State of Law and Social Rights". The event will have minicourses, oral presentations of works, as well as lectures with renowned speakers related to the theme of the event. Explore our website and learn more! We look forward to your presence!].
Participation information follows below in Portuguese and English.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Now Available: Audio Recording of the Minorities in International Law Interest Group (MILIG) Session at the ASIL 2019 Annual Meeting--“Diverse Perspectives on the Impact of Colonialism in International Law ”

https://soundcloud.com/americansocietyofinternationallaw/diverse-perspectives-on-the?in=americansocietyofinternationallaw/sets/2019-asil-annual-meeting


I am happy to report that the audio recording of the Minorities in International Law Interest Group (MILIG)  session at the ASIL 2019 Annual Meeting  is now available.  Our session was entitled “Diverse Perspectives on the Impact of Colonialism in International Law. ” The Session audio may be accessed HERE.
Panel overview: This session, which will be conducted in the form of a panel, will explore diverse perspectives on the impact and effect of colonialism, and the norms created thereunder, in modern international law. Our first speaker will explore theoretical approaches to the interrelationships between colonialism and international law norms. Other speakers will explore the effect of colonial norms on the development of the modern western notion of the rule of law; the colonial experience and its effect on disputes involving sovereignty (Chagos Archipelago dispute); the colonial experience and the development of commercial law in Africa; and the effect of the colonial experience on Latin American perceptions of development and international law.


More about the Session HERE.

PPTs of my presentation HERE.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Just Published: "Next Generation Law: Data-Driven Governance and Accountability Based Regulatory Systems in the West, and Social Credit Regimes in China," Law &: Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 28(1):123-172 (2018)



I am delighted to announce the publication of  "Next Generation Law: Data-Driven Governance and Accountability Based Regulatory Systems in the West, and Social Credit Regimes in China," Law &: Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 28(1): 123-172 (2018).
In the contemporary world, compliance systems and policing are quickly replacing law and the traditional methods of enforcement (either organic or positive law) as the framework through which collectives (the state, the corporation, and religion, to name the most well-known actors) govern. It shifts the function of law from methods of command and obedience to systems of compliance and incentive. Most of the elements of social credit have already been developed in the West. But the unification of the various elements,and their seamless operation would be a great innovation. For Chinese theory, that innovation would complement the move toward transformation in politics, economics, and social organization announced in the CPC 19th Congress in the course of the Report delivered by Xi Jinping. As a system still very much in development social credit and ratings systems encounters a number of technical challenges.(Ibid., pp. 171).

The Abstract and Introduction follow below. The pre-publication draft can be accessed here.  PPTs of a recent presentation of the article HERE. Looking forward to further conversation. 

From the Front Lines of the Battlefields of Legal Development at the American Law Institute (ALI): Letter From 23 State Attorneys General Urging Rejection of the Proposed Restatement of Consumer Contracts





The American Law Institute, over the course of its long history, has always served as an important site for the disciplining of law in the United States in two broad senses. First ALI has sought to bring order and accessibility to the increasingly large and complex body of judicial decisions in common law regimes.  But it has also been instrumental in seeking to bring order to the increasingly important role of courts as the source of statutory interpretation (and operationalization through litigation). These efforts at meaningfulness have in turn contributed to "progress" in American law (understood beyond its ideological overtones as providing a comprehensive resource of general consensus for judges and others seeking to understand and apply the law).

Much of the work of the ALI is technical and quite respectful of the role of the courts (and of the legislatures in driving law).  They bring clarity and order, and they sometimes suggest the consequences of trajectories in legal development.  That they are well positioned for this role is without question.  Its members are among the most elite users and producers of the object of the ALI's attentions--leading judges, lawyers and academics are as responsible for the development of law (and the meaningfulness of statutes) who collectively drive the law in the course of undertaking their respective roles

That driving is sometimes as innocuous as gathering up all of the strands of interpretation and approaches providing judges, lawyers and lawmakers with much material that can be persuasive. And the ALI Restatements have tended to be quite persuasive for judges, lawyers and law makers over the years. But the ALI sometimes drives law as well. It has done so in a variety of its projects throughout its history. Sometimes the ALI takes principled stances with respect to elements of law that is viewed as obsolete or in need of change. Among the most famous early examples was the fight about sex crimes in the 1950s (see, e.g., Exposing the Perversions of Toleration: The Decriminalization of Private Sexual Conduct, the Model Penal Code, and the Oxymoron of Liberal Toleration). That stance has taken a more sustained controversial stance in recent years as some of its reporters at times appear to use their "restatement" projects as a means of stamping the law with their vision of the good, the just, and the "ought to be." That has been evident in the years long battle over the revision of certain definitions and application of a criminal law of sexual assault, a process that has become acrimonious at times (here, here, here, here, here, here).

This year controversy of this sort has come to a corner of the ALI which does not see this sort of controversy very often--the field of contracts, and more specifically the Restatement of Consumer Contracts. (criticized by Gregory Klaas in a 2019 article here) More specifically, 23 State Attorneys General have circulated a letter on the eve of the annual meeting of the ALI urging all members of the American Law Institute to reject the proposed Restatement of Consumer Contracts, to be voted on during the American Law Institute’s annual meeting on May 21, 2019 (Please click this link).

This post includes that letter.  It is worth reading not only for the arguments it makes about choices in the interpretation of an emerging field, but also for what it says about the power of reporters in the service of a vision of the law that is yet to be. The implications for the development of the law and for the way in which law becomes accessible to those for whose benefit it has been developed is also worth considering.

UPDATE 20 May 2019:  Please click this link to read an updated version of the letter which now includes 24 State Attorneys General.


Monday, May 13, 2019

CPE Working Group on Empire: A Critical Gloss on Xi Jinping, <齐心开创共建“一带一路”美好未来> ["Working Together to Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation"] In the Shadow of the U.S.-China Trade Talks




王之涣 《登鹳雀楼
白日依山尽,
黄河入海流。
欲穷千里目,
更上一层楼。
On The Stork Tower
By Wang Zhihuan
The sun beyond the mountains glows;
The Yellow River seawards flows.
You can enjoy a grander sight,
By climbing to a greater height.

WGE is examining the proceedings at the 2nd BRI Conference recently concluded in Beijing.  More specifically WGE is considering the utility of Xi Jinping's remarks at that event as a source for an understanding of the Chinese conceptualization of its global trade regimes, and specifically the principles and objectives and shape and drive it. The analysis is relevant to a consideration of the role of Chinese -US bilateral trade talks, by putting them in a broader and more appropriate context (see, here, here, here, and here). 

This post includes WGE's critical reading of the key remarks that are at the center of this phase of the analysis: Xi Jinping's 齐心开创共建“一带一路”美好未来; ["Working Together to Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation"] (English and Chinese versions below). 


CPE Working Group on Empire: A Brief Introduction to Xi Jinping's Speech <齐心开创共建“一带一路”美好未来> ["Working Together to Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation"]-- U.S.-China Trade Talks, Encircling the US, and the BRI

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer; Dado, Le Cycliste (1955, Centre Pompidou))

The Working Group on Empire (WGE) of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics looks to  to study and theorize the construction of systems of management and control of human activities, that is of empire in the 21st century. In this series of posts we consider the re-construction of Empire shorn of its old glosses (which elites everywhere have been taught to conflate with the form and thus to amalgamate a normative judgment about technique with an evaluation of the form of empire) in the context of the now heated contest for the control of the structures of global economic trade within which these new forms of empire might be developed. 

The specific focus is on the construction of new global trade regimes.  In that context, WGE has been considering the bilateral trade talks between the United States and China in the larger context of Chinese (and American) ambitions to drive the structures and directions of global trade in ways that put them at the center (or in the Chinese English language vernacular--as the core) of dependent amalgamations of actors around which trade regimes may be built and directed (see here).

To that end WGE is examining the proceedings at the 2nd BRI Conference recently concluded in Beijing.  More specifically WGE is considering the utility of Xi Jinping's remarks at that event as a source for an understanding of the Chinese conceptualization of its global trade regimes, and specifically the principles and objectives and shape and drive it.


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2019)


This post introduces the reader to the key remarks that are at the center of this phase of the analysis: Xi Jinping's 齐心开创共建“一带一路”美好未来; ["Working Together to Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation"] (English and Chinese versions below), along with WGE's Introduction. This introduction does not present an in-depth analysis of Xi Jinping’s Speech at the Second Belt and Road Forum (that is coming in the next post), but a gloss about what the speech might point at in the broader context of the USA’s reaction to the One Belt One Road. The speech may be read and analyzed on at least three different levels, but that kind of analysis would have the short-coming to further isolate discussion of the BRI from the real-world contexts where the Belt and Road already exists. Empire may be theorized in the academia, but its construction takes place in the real world.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

CPE Working Group on Empire: U.S.-China Trade Talks, Encircling the United States, and the Belt and Road Initiative—Looking to a Critical Gloss on Xi Jinping’s Speeches to the BRI Conference

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2019)


The Working Group on Empire of the Coalition for Peace and Ethics looks to  to study and theorize the construction of systems of management and control of human activities, that is of empire in the 21st century. A caveat: Do not mistake analysis for criticism.  That one calls these projects imperial is not meant to suggest that all of the negative baggage of imperialism ought to be imported into the conversation. One goes back here to much older notions of empire that focuses on the organization and management of human activity among autonomous but dependent communities and the allocation of authority, responsibility and rights among them.


A recent series of events—taken as substantially unconnected by the Western Press and those in intellectual and policy circles who ought to know better (but can’t help but be victims of their own self-reflexive ideological vision-constraints)—appear to point to an interesting turn in the re-construction of empire (without the baggage of its mostly European past).

1. Mr. Mueller releases his report on Mr. Trump

2. The Chinese and U.S. negotiating teams reach consensus on a number of key points

3. China holds its 2nd BRI Conference at which Xi Jinping features prominently

4. Trade talks back down with a consensus view that this was caused by a backtracking by China of earlier concessions

5. Mr. Trump imposes the first of a likely series of escalating tariffs

6. The Chinese respond by invoking 19th century unequal treaty tropes and declaring that there is no compromise on principle (their principles anyway, the Americans are free to compromise their own as they like) (e.g.,中国不会屈服于任何极限施压(钟声)) or that there was no breakdown, just the necessary meanderings of talks.

The events tied together suggest some relationship among a number of factors that those who influence Chinese negotiations appear to have adopted. First, of course, that serious negotiations were not possible while the President remained under a cloud (from the Chinese perspective that the opposing faction in US politics might have toppled Mr. Trump in the legal-political manner of American political culture). Second, negotiations continue to go slowly; indeed they have meandered in ways that make the slow pace of the earlier Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations seem fast. There might be a need to consider whether the negotiating tactics are similar to those of the Japanese in Washington in 1940-41—that is they are effectuated to buy time for the implementation of an more important strategic objective. That more important strategic objective in this case might well be the Belt and Road Initiative itself. As a side note (because these appear necessary today)--the analogy to the Japanese negotiations was not meant to suggest the inevitability of war (a completely pathetic use of analogy in these circumstances), but rather to note the strategic parallels in the use of a specific technique--of negotiation along path A to cover a more important strategic maneuver along path A.



This post briefly sketches the context in which it might be useful to frame these issues for analysis. It speaks to the role of BRI as a key strategic element of a well thought out objective to reshape the rules of global trade, and eventually to isolate and contain the U.S. and its own economic area. In posts that follow, the Working Group on Empire will consider the extent to which a critical review of Xi Jinping’s addresses to the BRI conference in Beijing might better reveal Chinese the current state of thinking on these points.