Statesmanship is back! China and Saudi Arabia

Comments can be made here.

José d’Acosta, a Jesuit, was a missionary in Peru and Mexico in the second half of the 16th century. His contact with the Aztec culture was the cause of his profound disarray. “What is the meaning of the abominable cruelty taking place every day in front of me?”, he wondered. One day, his enlightenment took place:”God, he said to himself, staged such a theater so that we could imagine what a world without him would be”.

Similarly, Mr. Donald Trump was given to us to prove the horror of a nation leader lacking all statesmanship. On the contrary, China for the past five years, and Saudi Arabia for a few hours now, show us the return of statesmanship at the head of the nation. Corruption causes a disruption to the functioning of human institutions and it is good practice to start their recovery by eradicating it.

Someone in the shade whispers to us:”These are but autocrats strengthening their power. Let’s give them a hard time! »

What’s the answer? José d’Acosta knew it no doubt:”Vade retro Satanas! »

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China’s 19th Communist Party Congress during my journey in China, by Michel Saloff-Coste

Guest post. Also on his own blog.

China’s 19th Communist Party Congress ended Tuesday, marking the start of a new era led by President Xi Jinping that was catalyzed, in part, by President Donald Trump, Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, told The New York Times. Trump’s “negative attitude toward liberal world trade and climate change” encouraged Xi to take the reins of world leadership, Shi said.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency published a “news analysis” on Sunday underscoring Xi’s assertion that “China has taken a driver’s seat in international cooperation on climate change ” and, using Xi’s words, “become an ‘important participant, contributor and torchbearer’ in the global effort toward [an] ecological civilization.” The piece quotes Avery Goldstein, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania as saying, “China, sticking with this path, makes it more likely that eventually even the United States will come back to the consensus on climate change.”

As if to prove Xi’s intention to benevolently guide the world to climate security, China’s National Satellite Meteorological Center announced Tuesday that it would offer weather data from two satellites free of charge to anyone, anywhere in the world. “These two satellites represent the latest in scientific and technological innovation in China and the contribution China has made to meteorological disaster prevention and mitigation globally, as well as climate change response…,” Yang Jun, the center’s director general was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

China also intends to lead the world in manufacturing “environmental protection equipment,” the China Daily reported on Thursday. The country’s output of products to monitor, treat and prevent air, water and soil pollution doubled since 2011 to $93 billion in 2016, heading toward a goal of $150 billion by 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said.

While it won’t be easy, China will meet its air quality goals by 2035, environment protection minister Li Ganjie told reporters on the sidelines of the Communist Party Congress. “We are fully aware of the problems we are facing,” Li said. “Coal accounts for a high proportion of the overall energy mix. We have too many commodities transported by trucks. Some companies avoid emission control measures. Some local governments are not enforcing measures from the central government.” However, Li insisted, “by 2035 there will be a fundamental improvement in the environment, and [President Xi’s stated] goal of building a ‘beautiful China’ will basically be attained.” He gave the congress a more dire assessment. “Only 84 cities out of 338 meet environmental targets, and pollution is worsening in the worst-polluted places,” he said, according to Reuters. “Structurally, heavy industry still makes up far too large a proportion of output. There is also an overly heavy reliance on the burning of coal and on road transportation. Some enterprises don’t have a law-abiding attitude, and there is widespread flouting of legislation.”

China eliminated 2,802 coal “enterprises” during the past five years, with another 1,000 coal “mines” slated for closure this year, Xinhua reported on Wednesday, citing data from the China National Coal Association. “Measures to fight pollution don’t have a big impact on economic growth,” Zhang Yong, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, had said on Saturday. “Measures to treat pollution have a positive impact on economic development in the long term.” But some parts of the country are struggling to replace coal with equally lucrative economic endeavors, The New York Times reported. “So far, the central government has been really good about making promises and commitments but then passing the buck onto local governments,” said Bruce Dickson, a professor at The George Washington University.

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Catalan leaders in court facing crimes of more than 30 years in prison, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post. Open to comments here.

Disloyalty or Dissent?

Political dissent is still evidently constitutionally defined as disloyalty in some instances in Spain. Is this a sound basis for the rule of law in a democracy? Discuss with reference to the Spanish constitution of 1978 and the founding principles of the European Union.

Continue reading Catalan leaders in court facing crimes of more than 30 years in prison, by Duncan Sutherland

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The Chinese Exception

(Published in French on October 18th 2017 in Le Monde as Qu’est-ce qui met les Chinois de si bonne humeur ? and in L’Écho as L’exception chinoise)

It is hard to imagine that there would be today a people somewhere approving without any soul-searching the policy pursued by its government or the economic circumstances of the nation. We are thus stunned to hear that since 2010 over 80% of the Chinese people express the view that they are satisfied with the direction taken by their country. And here is not a statement more or less tinged with government propaganda as it shows in investigations carried out by the American think tank Pew Research Centre.

Continue reading The Chinese Exception

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The Best Laid Schemes (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

As may be readily gathered from the cartoon on the front page of today’s issue of The New European, which is what Brexiteers refer to as a Remoaning rag, the notion of halting the Brexit process appears to be gaining traction, at least among the chattering classes. How realistic might this prospect be, particularly in view of the fact that the talk in Blighty is actually overwhelmingly of softening Brexit rather than abandoning it?

Continue reading The Best Laid Schemes (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

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The Best Laid Schemes (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Improbable though it may now seem, the supreme leader of the British was only recently reckoned by many of her (mostly southern) subjects to be a political magician who might well contrive to deliver what was conceived of in the heart of darkest England as a successful hard Brexit and thereby miraculously bring about the dawning of a new age of wondrous economic opportunity in a fondly imagined land of broad sunlit uplands, from the majestic summits of which the British would contemplate the impending ruin of the European empire from the oppressive bonds of which they had sagely managed to escape.

Continue reading The Best Laid Schemes (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

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Where There’s a Will (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already declared that she is determined that there will be a further Scottish independence referendum and at a time chosen by the Scottish Parliament. Continue reading Where There’s a Will (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

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Where There’s a Will (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Improbable though it may seem, it happens that Guy Verhofstadt, who is lead Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, envisaged immediately after the UK EU referendum result that Scotland would be able to hold an independence referendum before Brexit took effect (such as the Scottish First Minister is proposing) so that that country might apply to remain within the EU if that was what its population wanted. Continue reading Where There’s a Will (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

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Back to the Drawing Board, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

On Sunday evening, when it had been fairly confidently expected that UK Prime Minister Theresa May would be invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon on Tuesday, thus initiating negotiations for the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union yesterday, news suddenly began to trickle in to the effect that there was to be a press conference at the official residence of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday, when an important announcement would be made.

Continue reading Back to the Drawing Board, by Duncan Sutherland

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Honest Abe foresaw dishonest Donald! by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post. Abraham Lincoln warned us : the day will come when Trump arises. Let’s be ready to denounce him.

Dear Paul,

It is noteworthy that the Trump executive order signed on January 27th, apparently discriminating against foreign nationals on religious grounds, seems to violate the US constitution (and thus undermine the rule of law)!

Continue reading Honest Abe foresaw dishonest Donald! by Duncan Sutherland

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Chilcot Report – Rats in a sack, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Paul,

On the subject of the video of Robin Cook’s resignation speech in 2003 which you show beside your regular Friday video, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated seeing that again. A model resignation speech, listened to intently by Jeremy Corbyn, as the video shows. At the time when the speech was delivered Mr Corbyn was, as is well known, one of those back-benchers who were very much involved in opposing the proposed invasion of Iraq.

Continue reading Chilcot Report – Rats in a sack, by Duncan Sutherland

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Another Blot on the Escutcheon, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Paul,

I thought you might find it interesting to take a look at Nicola Sturgeon’s Twitter page following the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, “the UK’s most shameful foreign-policy action in years”, as the leader of the Scottish National Party’s group of MPs, Angus Robertson, has just said in the House of Commons.

Continue reading Another Blot on the Escutcheon, by Duncan Sutherland

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How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

In the weeks and days leading up to the referendum on UK membership of the European Union a message was being transmitted loudly and clearly from Germany and indeed elsewhere: if the UK decides to leave the EU, it will be shooting itself in the foot. This was not some modern-day equivalent of a broadcast by Lord Haw Haw, peddling some big lie. It was informed opinion. Very few people in England seem to have been listening, however. What they were hearing instead was the Leave campaign wittering on about “independence day”, which would be June 23rd if a majority of the UK voting public expressed support then for withdrawal from the EU.

Continue reading How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot, by Duncan Sutherland

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“Confusion Now Hath Made His Masterpiece”, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Paul,

I’m rather fond of Shakespeare myself, not least Macbeth. With reference to your post on Boris Johnson and the tragi-comic events which are unfolding in England on a daily basis, I think it is as well to bear in mind that intense existential national debates are now under way on both sides of the Anglo-Scottish border. Continue reading “Confusion Now Hath Made His Masterpiece”, by Duncan Sutherland

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Ah, the endless complexities of English identity!, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post. As a comment upon Le temps qu’il fait le 30 juin 2016.

Ah, the endless complexities of English identity as defined by place and social rank but especially social rank in its relationship to forms of language, which function not only as communication, of course, but as mechanisms for defining and identifying who belongs to which class and merits the privileges thereof and who does not.

Continue reading Ah, the endless complexities of English identity!, by Duncan Sutherland

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Scotland – “A Terrible Beauty Is Born”, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Since Sunday morning, when the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, answered a question on a BBC Scotland television programme known as Politics Scotland concerning a House of Lords advice note which had been circulated on the subject of legislative consent in relation to legislation giving effect to Brexit which would have to be submitted to the Scottish Parliament, her answer has been picked up and spread around Europe by distinguished media organizations from ARD in Germany to La Stampa in Italy (not forgetting VilaWeb in Catalonia).

Continue reading Scotland – “A Terrible Beauty Is Born”, by Duncan Sutherland

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Scotland and Brexit, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Mr. Jorion,

Having read what has appeared in your blog so far about the complexities of the decision taken by the people of England on Thursday (but not by the people of Scotland), I wonder if you are yet aware of a complexity which has just been raised in Scotland today.

Continue reading Scotland and Brexit, by Duncan Sutherland

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The Troika: Why not take its destiny in our own hands?

This is an English translation of my column Troïka : Il va peut-être falloir s’en occuper nous-mêmes ! of February 27 2015. Thanks to Ioana-Noemy Toma for her kind help !

Jean-Daniel Magnin sends me a newspaper clipping that tells about the actress Emma Thompson stating she will not pay income tax – which she’s in the habit of doing, so long as all those who don’t pay it – and are in the habit of not doing so, remain out of jail. This is civil disobedience for you: a way of taking matters into your own hands, should the government or governments fail to do so. Food for thought here!

Zebu wrote something on the Arte documentary about the Troika and a very good thing he did. Right now I’m watching that same film, and believe me there is a lot of stuff in there. Many things which, if true, should send many of these Troika people (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) straight away into jail.

Instead of for instance pestering Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as French justice has recently been doing, about peccadilloes, it might be a very good thing to hear what he may have to say about a statement made there by one of the talking heads (Philippe Legrain, a former adviser of Manuel Barroso at the European Commission) that he deliberately pushed the head of the Greek people under water in order to release 20 billion euros for the French banks, to make this the dowry of the French presidency’s prospective candidate that he was at the time.

Is this true or untrue? God knows it might not even be true! How would you know? Well, actually, as a matter of fact we would precisely like to know what Mr. Strauss-Kahn thinks of the assertions of an insider such as M. Legrain. This is why the idea of a public opinion tribunal to judge the heads of the Troika may not be a bad idea after all – you know, just as the Russell-Sartre Tribunal on war crimes in Vietnam.

Mind you, the corpses are much less conspicuous with the Troika; but with millions, as in Greece, having lost access to health insurance, people are likely to croak out of sight.

Just as Emma Thompson is saying: let’s have the scoundrels indicted! That they are our leaders is a lame excuse for not doing so.

What’s your feeling, you people here, the readers of PJ’s Blog, about such an idea as a “Russell tribunal” for dragging to the court of public opinion the Troika crowd, those I affectionately call “priests of a ferocious creed”?

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« Stewardship of Finance » Chair, VUB, lectures resume on Monday September 29 at 4 p.m.

Paul Jorion, Ph.D., holder of the “Stewardship of Finance” Chair at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, will resume his lecturing on Monday September 29 at 4 p.m.

The course is taking place every Monday afternoon at that time in lecture hall D0.03 of building D (central building) of the university, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels. The course is held in English and it is open to the public.

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