I don’t see how the pope can not talk about the Rohingya and name them by name [without] appearing to condone the Myanmar government’s position.
I’m disappointed [by the Pope’s] tepid [speech in Myanmar]. When even the leader of the Catholic Church doesn’t speak out, it really shows the desperate situation [the Rohingya] are in.
The Vatican has little by way of carrots and sticks that can help [persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar]. That said, the pope’s visit can help to raise awareness about the Rohingya community, which may then lead to indirect pressure on governments to do more about the situation there.
Pope Francis needs to be firm on all fronts. While the violence [in Myanmar] cannot stop without the cooperation of security forces, [Aung San] Suu Kyi should not be given a free pass either.
[Trump’s APEC speech in Vietnam was the] latest nail his administration has driven into the multilateral trading system, which countries regard as instrumental to the region’s growth and development.
Asia has for decades been insecure about US commitment to the region. But this insecurity takes place in a very different context today. China is stronger and more assertive than before. It will be important for President Trump to demonstrate personal commitment to a region worried about alliances and partnerships coming undone at whim and fancy.
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On April 12, 2017, Lynn Kuok spoke about differing international interpretations of the concept of ‘freedom of navigation’ at the Centre for International Law at the National University of Singapore
Lynn Kuok appeared on a panel hosted by Harvard University’s Asia Center to discuss what to expect from the Trump administration’s Asia policies.
Countries continue to simultaneously balance and hedge … the fact of the matter is that trust in the region has been severely undermined by China’s assertiveness in recent years, and this will take a long time to restore. [A Trump administration’s] weak or ineffectual defence of interests and principles [in the South China Sea would lead to a gradual erosion of international law, which would be in] no country’s interests.
If Trump withdraws the United States from the [Trans-Pacific Partnership], as he has promised to do, and undermines long term alliances and partnerships, then this paves the way for countries like China to take up the mantle of global leadership.
Beijing’s intimations that it is prepared to open the door to (provisional arrangements) is promising. However, trust in China is very low and Beijing will have to demonstrate the sincerity of its intentions fairly quickly.
Whatever the personal sympathies or biases of individual members of the government, the government as a whole understands that Myanmar’s development is contingent upon stability, which in turn cannot be achieved with the blight of religious violence hanging over the country.
Progress will take time—in the case of fostering appreciation between groups, possibly decades. Yet, if you look at the tremendous strides Myanmar has made just in the last five years or so, including ushering in the first democratically elected government since 1962, it shows the country is serious about change.
[I]n recent years, Taiwan has hedged its support for the line [as a claim to all the waters within it] and emphasized that its claims were based on land features in the South China Sea.
No country that disrespects international law can truly be a great power in the 21st century.
As China grows in strength as a maritime power, Beijing might realize that the country’s interests are best protected by upholding rather than undermining the [U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea].
What the armed forces appear to be against is a democracy that runs counter to what it perceives as the country’s national interests [in Myanmar]. Preserving the armed forces’ continued influence in Parliament would be one such interest.
Taiwan has taken small but significant steps toward clarifying that its claims are from land and in accordance with UNCLOS and international law. It has also adopted a more conciliatory position by advocating that the spirit of the East China Sea Peace Initiative, which calls on parties to shelve disputes and promote joint exploration and development in the disputed East China Sea, be applied in the South China Sea as well. It should continue promoting President Ma Ying-jeou’s plan for the East China Sea in the South China Sea. This should encourage other parties to support Taiwan’s inclusion in negotiations and cooperative activities relating to the South China Sea.
Taiwan’s participation in negotiations aimed at resolving territorial disputes in the South China Sea will be beneficial for the parties concerned.
Students [protesting in Myanmar] object to the National Education Law vesting too much control over education in the central government’s hands through the creation of a government-controlled National Education Commission and Higher Education Cooperation Committee, which have wide-ranging powers.
The issue of education and educational reform is a particularly thorny one given Myanmar’s history. Students have been responsible for leading many of the country’s main protests, such as in 1988, 1996 and 1998. Students were also involved in the monk-led Saffron Revolution of 2007. For 10 out of the 12 years between 1988 and 2000, Yangon’s universities were closed.
The excessive use of force by the police [against student protesters], at best, indicates poor training and, at worst, suggests a possible return to the heavy handed approach of Myanmar’s not-so-distant past.
The Myanmar government must condemn the excessive use of force [by police] and take firm action against those responsible. It will also have to meet students’ broader concerns. A failure to properly handle these protests risks them snowballing into broader ones concerning the government’s ability and willingness to bring about positive and lasting change.
The [Myanmar] government has already picked most of the low-hanging fruit [of democratic reform] and difficult structural reforms remain.