EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 28/11/2019

Financial Times – Tom Mitchell / Hong Kong act complicates world’s most important relationship

  • Donald  Trump’s decision to sign the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law will further complicate the world’s most important bilateral diplomatic relationship. Under the act, the US secretary of state will be required to make a determination every year as to whether the “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees Hong Kong’s independent legal system and civil liberties is intact.
  • The decision would enrage and probably provoke a concrete response from Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose administration insists that it continues to honour one country, two systems and is hypersensitive to any suggestions to the contrary.
  • Throughout  the 1990s, in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the Bush and Clinton administrations renewed China’s “most-favoured nation” trade status every year. Moreover, President Clinton gave China “permanent” MFN status in 2000 and paved the way for its entry into the WTO a year later. For now, the pattern will hold. Trump administration officials have made it clear to their Chinese counterparts that the president could not veto a piece of legislation that sailed through Congress with veto-proof majorities.
  • South China Morning Post – Zhang Shidong / China and Hong Kong stocks decline after Trump signs Hong Kong bill supporting protesters

EURACTIV – Frédéric Simon / New EU chief flags climate policy as Europe’s ‘new growth strategy’

  • Ursula von der Leyen cited climate policy as the most pressing issue facing her new executive team, which was officially ratified by a vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday. EU lawmakers confirmed von der Leyen along with her new team of 26 Commissioners, with 461 voting in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions.
  • The climate crisis featured at the top of her address to MEPs. “We don’t have a moment to waste any more on fighting climate change,” von der Leyen told the assembly shortly before the vote in a speech delivered in English, French and German.
  • Von der Leyen’s second in command, Frans Timmermans, is expected to outline the Commission’s new environmental priorities in a European Green Deal, expected on 11 December. The centrepiece of the European Green Deal will be a climate law that von der Leyen said will be tabled within the first 100 days of the new Commission taking office. And the ambition has already been spelled out: the bill will contain a legal requirement for Europe to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • POLITICO – David M. Herszenhorn / Von der Leyen to kick off term with trip to UN climate conference
  • Project Syndicate – Werner Hoyer / The power of green public finance

The Washington Post – Richard Spencer / Richard Spencer: I was fired as Navy secretary. Here’s what I’ve learned because of it.

  • The  case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was charged with multiple war crimes before being convicted of a single lesser charge earlier this year, was troubling enough before things became even more troubling over the past few weeks.
  • Earlier this year, Gallagher was formally charged with more than a dozen criminal acts, including premeditated murder. He was tried in a military court and acquitted in July of all charges, except one count of posing with the body of a dead ISIS fighter. The jury sentenced him to four months. President Trump involved himself in the case almost from the start. The president’s involvement was shocking, as well as a reminder that the president has little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a set of rules and practices.
  • The rest is history. We must now move on and learn from what has transpired. The public should know that we have extensive screening procedures in place to assess the health and well-being of our forces. But we must keep fine-tuning those procedures to prevent a case such as this one from happening again.

The Guardian – Branko Milanović / The ‘crisis of capitalism’ is not the one Europeans think it is

  • The facts show that capitalism is not in a crisis, despite the avalanche of recent books and articles that defend it. It is stronger than ever, both in terms of its geographical coverage and expansion to areas (such as leisure time, or social media) where it has created entirely new markets and commodified things that were never historically objects of transaction. Moreover, nonexistent markets have been created, like the huge market for personal data, rental markets for own cars and homes.
  • The social  importance of these new markets is that by placing a price on things that previously had none, they transform mere goods into commodities with an exchange value. Commodification goes together with the gig economy. In a gig economy we are both suppliers and purchasers of services that used not to be monetised. This expansion of capitalism potentially opens up questions about the role, and even survival, of the family.
  • So if capitalism has spread so much in all directions, why do we speak of its crisis? Because we focus on the malaise of the western middle classes and the rise of populism. But the dissatisfaction with globalised capitalism is not universal. The western malaise is the product of uneven distribution of the gains from globalisation.

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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