Week in Review

17 August 2018

President Xi Jinping.

President Xi Jinping.


CONSOLIDATED POWER LEAVES BLAME ON ONE PERSON. The trade war between the United States and China is starting to show signs of disruption in China. The yuan has dropped nine percent against the U.S. dollar and there are potential mass layoffs approaching. Censoring has also increased to prevent outrage from spreading across the internet. While the Chinese claim they can outlast the U.S. by squashing dissent and altering trade avenues, President Xi Jinping is under increasing pressure. Since he has consolidated power, he has had to take more responsibility for both China’s fortunes and failures.

IS NIGERIA’S DEMOCRACY UNDER THREAT? Nigeria has been under attack by the Islamist group Boko Haram and its smaller branches for nearly a decade, but recently they have made the northeast nearly uninhabitable. Perhaps more threatening, twice in recent weeks the state security agency have denied lawmakers from entering the National Assembly. Fortunately, the vice president fired the head of the agency and shut down particular squads. Still, with continuing turmoil and the national elections soon approaching, upheaval and corruption cannot be ruled out.

TIME FOR A CLEANUP. South Africa’s new president, Mr. Ramaphosa, has pledged to rid his party and administration of the corruption that has his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, imposed. He has already improved the state of South Africa’s independent justice system, but the corruption closest to him will be the most difficult to clean up. In order to fully implement his reforms, he will need to gain support from high level officials that are also involved in corruption. He certainly has enthusiasm for it though, putting out a statement, calling for “speed and urgency” in appointing a new head prosecutor.  

SOUTH AMERICA’S REFUGEE CRISIS. When refugees are mentioned, most think of the Middle East and North Africa, but President Maduro’s policies and authoritarianism is pushing South America to be the next hotspot for refugees. Colombia already has nearly one million refugees, so many, that other refugees are moving on to Ecuador, which now has 550 000, and more are likely going to continue to Peru and Chile. The issue is posed to become worse and as was seen in MENA, a crisis could break out.

AN INCENTIVE TO DENUCLEARIZE. Since the June Summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, there has been essentially no meaningful movement towards the pledged denuclearization. This has not stopped President Moon of South Korea to draft a expansive proposal for North Korea if it begins to denuclearize. Among the highlights of the proposal are a linked railway between the two states and increased economic integration. Both sides have already done field studies for the railway. Yet, Moon cannot allow significant economic integration until North Korea moves towards denuclearization or he will contradict U.S. policy.

IRELAND CONTINUES TO BE AFFECTED BY BREXIT PLANNERS. New questions have been raised about the transportation networks between Ireland and continental Europe. Once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, Ireland’s land transportation via ferry to Britain and Channel Tunnel to France could be threatened. An alternative route is shipping to France which takes longer and is twice as expensive. Borders with Ireland continue to be the U.K.’s biggest obstacle. If left unresolved, the U.K. could leave without a deal and that would make both Ireland and the U.K. worse off.

SHOCK FOR A CHEMICAL GIANT. A court case between Dewayne Johnson and Monsanto, the producer of Roundup, a weedkiller that Johnson claims gave him cancer. Surprisingly, Johnson won and Monsanto’s shares fell by 11%. Yet, the science is still shaky. There is correlation between farming and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but no causal link. By the end of the process, the decision could be overturned by an appeals court, since apparent “junk science” was used to persuade the jury.