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Weekend catch-up: UN climate negotiations, Abe's WWII speech, Indonesian trade protectionism, Taiwan's Navy and more

Weekend catch-up: UN climate negotiations, Abe's WWII speech, Indonesian trade protectionism, Taiwan's Navy and more
Published 22 Aug 2015   Follow @BrendanTN_

The Interpreter's attention moved around this week, from analysis on the future of Taiwan's navy to a piece on the social media strategies of Iraqi militias in combating the ISIS narrative. Seb Henbest from Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote an informative in-depth article on why UN climate negotiations are a continuing necessity, even as the renewable energy sector flourishes:

The combination of strong growth in the demand for electricity, abundant low-cost local sources of fossil fuels and a dearth of pollution and emission controls in energy-hungry developing economies will bring a significant amount of new carbon-intensive coal and gas generation into play. In India, emissions from coal-fired power alone may well increase 40% by 2040. In Southeast Asia, emissions could climb 48%, and in Turkey they may rise 28%.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's World War II commemorative speech continued to make news this week, with official reactions from China and South Korea. Christopher Pokarier compared the speech to the Murayama Statement:

Did Abe go beyond the Murayama statement in some way? Length-wise, certainly. And was this to strengthen or diminish its forthright expression of atonement? Abe incorporated a stylised historical sketch of Japan's road to war and the aftermath that probably makes his statement rather less useful as an official expression of core principles than the concise Murayama document.

Marie-Alice McLean-Dreyfus looked at how Chinese media reacted to the speech:

Chinese media coverage of Abe's speech largely accused Abe of not going far enough and of lacking sincerity. One has to wonder what kind of apology would have been acceptable to China. The built-in vagueness of the accusation of insincerity means that regardless of what is actually said, it can always be viewed as not good enough. As an article in Global Times pointed out prior to the speech, even if Abe had apologised, he could still have continued to deny Japan's history of aggression and thus 'betray' his apology. 

Following the release of the Lowy Institute Analysis paper Trade Protectionism in Indonesia, Matthew Busch from the University of Melbourne wrote: [fold]

As we have seen with this brief journey through important 'bad' moments in Indonesia's economic history, economic policymaking has always been politicised and contested. Bad times do not always make good policy. Instead, bad politics – in the form of deep changes or threats to the prevailing political power structure – provides a temporary opening for economic reform. Reform was often supplanted once a new power structure took hold and elites politically secure again.

Stephen Grenville also weighed in:

Perhaps the greatest difference was that Soeharto trusted the technocrats and turned to them whenever the going was tough. Jokowi, the former businessman, seems to have confidence that running an economy is just like running a scaled-up business. There are many examples in the wider world where successful businesspeople believe that their skills are readily transferable to the economy as a whole. But skills in running a business are not readily transferrable to the overall economy. A key macro-economic insight distinguishes the business mindset from that of the economist : 'in the macro-economy, everything is connected to everything else'.

Japan restarted its first nuclear reactor after the mass shut-down following Fukushima. John Carlson wrote an update on Japan's nuclear program:

Japan has made up the loss of nuclear power generation by increased use of fossil fuels, mainly coal and liquefied natural gas. Increased energy imports have resulted in higher electricity prices and a record trade deficit. CO2 emissions from the electricity sector have increased by some 40%. For the 2013 Warsaw Climate Change Conference, Japan announced it had to revise its CO2 emission target for 2020 from a 25% reduction relative to 1990 to a 3.1% increase.

James Goldrick on the future of Taiwan's navy:

The Navy believes that Taiwan's high quality steel manufacturing and its commercial expertise with high pressure cylinders, underwater equipment and propulsion machinery give it the basis for the production of small submarines in the range of 1400 to 1800 tons. Eight are planned. The Taiwanese Navy is not entirely in the wilderness in relation to some of the associated elements of submarine technology and is likely to seek US support for weaponry and for sensors and systems such as optronic masts. It already has Sub-Harpoon missiles; deliveries of the first of 32 began in 2013 and should be complete by 2016.

Who are the possible suspects in the Bangkok bombing? Elliot Brennan:

While Malay separatists are obvious suspects, the similarities of this attack to previous attacks attributed to Red Shirts cannot be dismissed. Police reports indicate that the device was a pipe bomb packed with 3kg of explosive and wrapped in a cloth. In February, two small pipe bombs exploded near Siam Paragon (close to yesterday's explosion), injuring two people. Those were blamed on Red Shirt protesters unhappy with the junta.  Red Shirt and anti-government protesters have previously shown their willingness to launch deadly attacks. During protests last year, M79 grenades were launched indiscriminately into camps populated by opposing protesters, and earlier this year a grenade was thrown at the Criminal Court.

Julian Snelder, back from a summer of wargaming, wrote on Hegemon, a game that simulates a South China Sea scenario:

If China plays a long game with diplomatic initiative, it can win without fighting. Regional nations respect, depend on and fear China, and they are inclined to bandwagon with it. China towers over them in actual power so it can afford to be magnanimous. Over many years consistent Chinese reassurance could work. In that case the US would end up a 'present but irrelevant' Asian outsider.

Myanmar's parliamentry Speaker, Shwe Mann, was 'purged' from his political party. Rhys Thompson takes a look at what it means for the country's upcoming presidential election:

For the foreseeable future, Shwe Mann has few options. He could become a lame duck speaker and quietly serve out his time as an MP, he could lobby for NLD support, or he could try to challenge his party and, in turn, the Tatmadaw. Whatever he decides, Shwe Mann will need to carefully calculate the risks. Aggravating powerful groups further could prove detrimental to his and his family's extensive interests and businesses in Myanmar.

A great piece from Alexander Harper on the Iraqi 'Rambo':

The timing and presentation of Abu Azrael in the media appears to have been a calculated reaction to ISIS's Shakir Wahiyib, or 'The Desert Lion', a notorious figure who featured in a number of execution videos in early 2014, and who was then one of the few visible 'faces' of ISIS. Abu Azrael sums up the aim of the online media effort in combating ISIS propaganda, stating in a recent interview: 'they are only here to kill and destroy, and they film all of it, so what we do is the same, we film ourselves defending the Iraqi people.'

New Nonresident Fellow Lydia Khalil on the fracturing of Syria:

The Syrian conflict is so confounding and disruptive because it's not just a product of levers and forces internal to Syria. It's also not just a problem of how to deal with ISIS. Rather, Syria has become the lightening rod for all of the ills of the region. It has become the place of convergence for regional and international rivalries, religious apocalyptic visions, the lack of human security, demographic challenges, the inevitable social and political effects of decades of authoritarianism and the lack of broad-based legitimacy of political elites, social and religious movements.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user United Nations Photo.

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