Saturday, July 16, 2016

Foreign Digest: South China Sea, Venezuela and Egypt

Arbitrator Rules Against China over the South China Sea
An international tribunal arbitrating the territorial dispute over the South China Sea in a case brought by the Philippines has ruled against China’s claims to nearly the entire area.  The Chinese Communist government does not accept the jurisdiction of the panel.  China has become increasingly assertive in staking claim to the islands, reefs and banks rich in energy and fish.  It has reclaimed land from the sea to increase the size of the islands it claims in order to militarize them, despite claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei to various parts of the disputed territory.  A major portion of global trade passes through the South China Sea.  The United States has been maintaining freedom of navigation exercises there.

Venezuela’s Crisis Becomes More Acute
Venezuela continues in crisis under its socialist dictatorship, with increasingly severe economic distress, in addition to energy shortages, corruption and crime.  As feared, the dictatorship has sidelined the Congress, even though the opposition won a supermajority there, and continues to repress the people.

Human Rights Violations in Egypt
            Egypt’s secular government opposes Islamism, and thus is a reliable ally of the United States against terrorism, and is a peaceful ally to its neighbor, Israel.  However, the Egyptian government is becoming increasingly authoritarian, highlighted by a recent report by a human rights organization that torture is common in police custody.  One such suspected case, involving that of an Italian student who was tortured to death, has embarrassed Egypt and caused a row with Italy.  The Egyptian government should come fully clean about the case—no matter how close to the President it rises.  Cracking down on Islamists is good, but it is necessary at the same time to respect human rights, press freedom and the independence of the judiciary and to tolerate dissidents or Egypt risks another revolution like the one in 2011 that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, with another possible takeover by the Islamists.

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