23 February 2016   Leave a comment

China’s economic growth was fueled primarily by industrial investment.  The government is currently trying to switch the engine of growth away from such investments into an economy driven by consumer demand.  But the early emphasis on investment led to the building of many factories that are now overproducing goods as the Chinese economy begins to slow down.  This production overcapacity is straining the Chinese economy, but it is also leading the government to try to export the overproduced goods abroad.  This emphasis has led to a backlash, as producers in the importing countries believe that the Chinese are dumping goods at artificially low prices.  Many of those producers are pushing their governments to erect trade barriers with the Chinese.

One of US President Obama’s earliest campaign promises was to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The facility has been used to hold suspected terrorists without trial, without the right to counsel, without the writ of habeas corpus, and to be subjected to torture and abusive treatment.  Guantanamo is a major stain on the US’s commitment to human rights, but the US Congress has been unable and unwilling to create a process whereby the US could hold true to its values.  Apparently, President Obama is making one last push to fulfill his promise, but it is doubtful that he will succeed.

Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, has warned that China is taking “actions that are changing in my opinion the operational landscape in the South China Sea.”  Admiral Harris went on to assert: “I believe China seeks hegemony in East Asia.”  The US has only an indirect interest in the South China Sea:  it has important allies that rely upon freedom of navigation in the Sea, but the US has no direct presence in the region.  The central question for the US is how to persuade the Chinese to guarantee the freedom of navigation in the region in a manner that would be acceptable to its allies.

Satellite Image of Chinese Construction on Cuarteron Reef

A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea in this image released on February 23, 2016. REUTERS/CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe/Handout via Reuters

 

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Posted February 24, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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