EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 27/11/2019

Foreign Policy – Colum Lynch / China bids to lead world agency protecting intellectual property

  • China has its sight on leading the global organization that is supposed to protect intellectual property, and which sets international standards for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Earlier this month, Beijing nominated a candidate to head the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, signaling its desire to more actively shape the international system for defining intellectual property rights.
  • Ironically, one reason for Beijing’s move is that China is now producing a great deal of IP of its own. For years, China had shown little interest in carving out a leadership role at WIPO. But it has been quietly deepening its relationship with the agency.
  • The prospect of a Chinese leader at the organization has rattled some U.S. policymakers, who feel that WIPO’s current Australian leader has already been too accommodating to Chinese interests, such as setting up a Chinese branch office in Beijing in 2014.
  • A victory for the Chinese with their WIPO ambitions would place a Chinese national at the head of five of the U.N.’s fifteen specialized agencies. No other country has more than one national in a leadership position in a specialized U.N. agency. The USA is still hoping that China can be convinced to withdraw from the race, if they receive assurances that they can maintain their influence at WIPO for years to come.

Financial Times – Martin Wolf / Unsettling precedents for today’s world

  • History is the most powerful guide to understand the present, and since the biggest current geopolitical event, by far, is the burgeoning friction between the US and China, it is illuminating to look back to similar events in the past. The most recent one is the Cold War, a great power conflict between the chief victors of the Second World War, as well as an ideological conflict over the nature of modernity.  
  • Further back, we reach the interwar period, a time of civil strife, populism, nationalism, communism, fascism and national socialism. The 1930s are an abiding lesson in the possibility of democratic collapse once elites fail. Finally, going even further, we reach the decisive 1870-1914, where a Thucydidean war between the UK and Germany occurred.  Meanwhile, US industrial output went from 15 to 32 per cent of the world’s, while China fell into irrelevance.
  • Today’s era is a mixture of all three of these, marked by a conflict of political systems and ideology between two superpowers, as in the Cold War, by a post-financial crisis decline of confidence in democratic politics and market economics as well as by the rise of populism, nationalism and authoritarianism, as in the 1930s, and, most significantly, by a dramatic shift in relative economic power, with the rise of China, as with the US before 1914.

Al-monitor – Hamidreza Aziz / How Iran’s protests could impact foreign policy

  • The Iranian’s decision on November 15 to triple gasoline prices sparked protests across the country. Although the Iranian government has managed to contain the protests, discussions over various aspects of the recent events are still ongoing.
  • Taking into account international reactions toward the protests, Iran’s relations with the West seem to be the most important area to be affected by the recent events. In the administration of US President Donald Trump, the protests were seen as a proof that Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy against the Islamic Republic is working. Meanwhile, the EU issued a statement calling on the Iranian government to “exercise maximum restraint in handling the protests.”
  • American support for the protests has just reinvigorated the Islamic Republic’s official narrative that the real goal that the United States pursues through maximum pressure is not to bring Iran to the negotiating table but to cause “regime change.” Moreover, the protests could have implications for Iran’s regional policy as well. The Iranian conservatives see in the current situation a golden opportunity to put the burden of the economic problems on Rouhani and try to gradually sideline the moderate camp.

EURACTIV – Sam Morgan / EU battery hopes ready to take off

  • Serious challenges in the energy and transport sectors could be solved, or at least mitigated, by a step-change in storage capabilities, supported by EU funding. However, wind turbines and emission-free mobility all rely heavily on the ability to store power and deploy it efficiently. As the old saying goes, the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow, so any power generated when they do needs to be captured. 
  • Despite advancements since they were first developed in the 1970s and rolled out en masse in the early 1990s, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries still suffer from diverse problems. There are limits to how much energy they can store, concerns over the supply chains that provide the raw materials and, in some cases, safety fears that come hand-in-hand with regular intensive use. Different projects funded under the European Research Council aim to address those issues.  
  • EU officials will be hoping that advancements in the battery sector will continue and increase in pace, as estimates show that the annual value of the global market could swell to €250 billion. That is why the European Commission has doubled down on the European Battery Alliance, an industry platform meant to get all players on the same page in order to compete with Asia, which currently dominates the market.
  • EURACTIV – Jorge Valero / EU climate investment falls behind China and the US

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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