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Posts Tagged ‘Dictatorships’

Must-Reads from Around the World: March 20, 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 20, 2012

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaking during a Ramadan Iftar banquet in honor of Muslim clergymen, in Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2011. (Photo: SANA / EPA)

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD SPEAKING DURING A RAMADAN IFTAR BANQUET IN HONOR OF MUSLIM CLERGYMEN, IN DAMASCUS, SYRIA, 24 AUGUST 2011. (PHOTO: SANA / EPA)

More Syria Leaks – Al Jazeera reveals details from confidential Syrian intelligence and security documents handed over by one of the government’s most trusted officials who recently fled to Turkey. The trove shows President Bashar Assad’s strategy to suppress anti-government protests, including orders to stop protesters from getting into Damascus and detailed security plans for crushing protests in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as warnings about countries trying to influence Syrian diplomats to defect and indications the government spied on last year’s Arab League monitoring mission in Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Chinese Peace Prize Names This Year’s Winner. Ummm, Vladimir Putin?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 15, 2011

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Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks while chairing a meeting with activists of the All-Russian People's Front in Moscow on October 26, 2011. (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AFP / Getty Images)

Guess who is this year’s messenger of peace? Why it’s Vladimir Putin. In September, an obscure Chinese cultural organization revealed the finalists for the second annual Confucius Peace Prize, an award that suddenly popped out of nowhere last year after imprisoned Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. The first Confucius Peace Prize, which was ridiculed as a clumsy attempt to divert attention from the fact that the world’s most famous peace prize had just gone to a jailed Chinese dissident, went to Lien Chan, a veteran Taiwan politician. Taiwan’s former Vice President didn’t even know he had won, and in a very curious ceremony a couple days later, a confused-looking little girl picked up the award in his stead.

But it was only after this year’s finalists were announced that the Confucius Peace Prize got really wacky. First the Chinese Ministry of Culture said that, ahem, it had nothing to do with the award, even though the organizers—including a poet named Qiao Damo, who nominated himself as one of the 2010 finalists—implied it did. The ministry went on to disband the cultural organization that was sponsoring the prize. Some people assumed that meant the wannabe Nobel would quietly fade away.

Cue up another group of Chinese academics, including one of the former judges of the original prize, who said that they were setting up the Confucian World Peace Prize—with Ministry of Culture approval. Yes, that would be the same prize name, with the addition of the word “world.” The Confucian World Peace Prize would hold its award ceremony on December 9, its organizers said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Russia’s Putin Visits Beijing: Friendly Neighbors or Strategic Competitors?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 11, 2011

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Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (C) and China's Premier Wen Jiabao (L) inspect an honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 11, 2011 (Photo: Takuro Yabe / POOL / AFP)

Regular readers of stories from China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency know that relations between China and nearly every country whose leader visits Beijing merit a positive appraisal. “Malawi treasures its friendship with China and is grateful for China’s selfless support for Malawi’s national development,” gushed one Xinhua article last year, while another on Oct. 11 noted that “China and Namibia have become ‘all-weather’ friends.” Today, as Russia’s Vladimir Putin began a two-day trip to China accompanied by a 160-member delegation, a Xinhua op-ed piece proclaimed: “China-Russia cooperation conducive to a more balanced world.” The Chinese media group splashed “rarely-seen photos” of Putin and his family members of its website homepage, along with a link to a close-up of the Russian leader captioned: “Cute or cool, another face of Russian Prime Minister Putin.”

As evidence of this “more balanced world,” Xinhua pointed to China and Russia’s joint rejection of a U.N. draft resolution on Syria that would have condemned Damascus for its deadly crackdown on protestors. Xinhua also opined that “as key members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and leading emerging nations, China and Russia have played an important role in shaping a multipolar world and fostering democratization of international order.” The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a grouping of China, Russia and Central Asian nations that presents an alternate security alliance to NATO. Closer Russian-Chinese ties could provide a counterbalance to relations with the West.

Ahead of Putin’s China visit, some $7 billion in trade deals were discussed, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. (China is now Russia’s top trading partner, and trade will likely surpass $70 billion this year.) Further economic cooperation is expected to be finalized during Putin’s China stop—the Russian Prime Minister’s first trip abroad since he announced a controversial leadership plan in which he would try to reclaim the more important title of President next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vladimir Putin: A Candidate for China’s Version of the Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 19, 2011

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Last year, a day before the imprisoned Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia in

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a regional conference of his United Russia party in Cherepovets, Russia, September 5, 2011. (Photo: Alexei Nikolsky / RIA / Reuters)

Norway, a group of Chinese scholars with ties to the Chinese Culture Ministry announced the victor in the inaugural Confucius Peace Prize. According to the 100,000-yuan (around $16,130 at today’s exchange rate) award’s curious announcement, the Chinese award was created because “China is a symbol of peace…it owns the absolute power to uphold peace…Norway is only a small country with scarce land area and population…it must be in the minority…concerning the conception of freedom and democracy.” Subtle the Confucius Prize was not.

Last year’s winner, Taiwan’s former Vice President Lien Chan, who bettered relations between mainland China and his home island, failed to show up at the Beijing award ceremony. In fact, he had no idea he had won until the press contacted him the day before. To avoid embarrassment, the prize was handed to a solemn little girl who was officially dubbed an “angel of peace.” China-watchers might have been excused for thinking this crude attempt to promote an alternative peace prize would quietly wither. Read the rest of this entry »

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