On Monday, the Russian parliament offered an unqualified example of hypocrisy with a vote in favor of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia.
Both houses of parliament called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the two breakaway regions as sovereign nations — with not a single lawmaker dissenting. (Medvedev responded yesterday by doing just that.)
Parliamentarians basked in the opportunity to stand on the side of virtue, repeatedly comparing Georgia’s government to Nazi Germany. Lawmakers were also quick to point to the fact that South Ossetia and Abkhazia already met the requirements of statehood.
But the impassioned support of Russian parliamentarians was a bit much to swallow. More than anything, it highlighted the selective reasoning of major international powers such as Moscow and Washington in their approach to the various sovereignty disputes around the globe, including Taiwan’s status.
While there is no doubt that these disputes have substantial differences, one unifying characteristic is that de facto yet unrecognized states find their fates in the hands not of their own people, but of world powers who hold the key to the UN. This small circle of governments is not making decisions based on the best interests of those involved in the conflict, but rather on their own strategic concerns.
Few countries are more familiar with this problem than Taiwan, a former UN member that has watched its number of allies dwindle as China’s clout has grown.
In the case of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it is telling that until recently, Russia showed little interest in backing their arguments for self-rule. While both regions declared formal independence in the early 1990s, Russia’s stance on the matter only began to change earlier this year, indicating that its support was in fact a response to geopolitical factors in the region, as well as its own strategic interests. In March — just two months after Georgia held a referendum on whether to seek NATO membership — Moscow said it would recognize the governments of these two territories if Georgia joined the organization.
Meanwhile, as Moscow feigned concern about ethnic oppression in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, fresh violence in Chechnya over the weekend was a reminder of the unresolved tensions in its own backyard.
It was these enduring problems at home that made Russia’s staunch opposition to Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February so predictable. By now stepping out in favor of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, however, Moscow is departing from the basis of its argument in other disputes.
South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity was eager to help Russia justify the illogical. In a speech to lawmakers, Kokoity said that South Ossetia and Abkhazia had more compelling reasons for independence than Kosovo.
Russian parliamentarians were quick to agree. But had they been pressed to clarify Moscow’s opposition to Taiwanese independence in the same breath, achieving any semblance of consistency would have been impossible. That Taiwan is also de facto independent and fulfills the requirements of statehood is undeniable.
In this context, Moscow’s condemnation of Georgian aggression and its pious philosophizing on the rights of these enclaves came across as little more than cant.
A stark contrast in narratives about China’s future is emerging inside and outside of China. This is partly a function of the dramatic constriction in the flow of people and ideas into and out of China, owing to China’s COVID-19 quarantine requirements. There also are fewer foreign journalists in China to help the outside world make sense of developments. Those foreign journalists and diplomats who are in China often are limited in where they can travel and who they can meet. There also is tighter technological control over information inside China than at any point since the dawn of the
Almost as soon as the plane carrying a US delegation led by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi took off from Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) on Thursday, Beijing announced four days of live-fire military drills around Taiwan. China unilaterally cordoned off six maritime exclusion zones around Taiwan proper to simulate a blockade of the nation, fired 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles and conducted coordinated maneuvers using naval vessels and aircraft. Although the drills were originally to end on Sunday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theater Command issued a statement through Chinese state media that the exercises would continue,
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week represented a milestone in Taiwan-US relations, but also pricked the bubble of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) big lie that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. During a speech delivered at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Wednesday, Pelosi said: “Forty-two years ago, America made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan,” referring to the US’ Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. On the eve of her visit to Taiwan, Pelosi published an article in the Washington Post in which she stated that “America must stand by Taiwan.” With China
In the article “Who’s afraid of TikTok? The world’s most exciting app is also its most mistrusted,” published on July 7, The Economist warned that the Chinese ownership of TikTok — a popular short-form video-sharing social media platform that has swept the world and is taking over the market shares of other social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram — is a serious concern. Headquartered in China, whose government is addicted to surveillance and propaganda, the bigger problem with TikTok is the opportunity it provides the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to access users’ private information and manipulate what the