Tensions between China and Australia resurface
The bilateral relations between these two countries have increasingly deteriorated this year, following an Australian request for a global investigation on the origin of Covid-19. This statement was seen as the catalyst that led China to sanction Australian exports, in particular the establishment of an 80% tariff on Australian barley, and the suspension of some of the main beef imports.
As this tension was taking place, Australia suspended the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and advised against travel there this week. China anounced the previous week the creation of a new office for national security in Hong Kong, which raised concerns in countries such as the United Kingdom and, more recently, Australia.
The Australian prime-minister, Scott Morrison, stated that the new law undermines the “basic law of Hong Kong”, and its current level of autonomy from Beijing. Additionally, he emphasized the decision to grant a five year extension to around 10,000 temporary visa holders who are already in Australia, and following that, a path towards permanent residence. Lastly, he encouraged Hong Kong based companies to relocate. The Chinese embassy condemned the Australian prime-minister’s announcement on Thursday, stating that the accusations are “unfounded, hypocritical and an interference in Chinese internal affairs”.
Also this week, and taking into account the Himalayan conflict between China and India, India stated that it plans to invite Australia to take part in an annual joint naval Malabar Exercise, which up until recently would include only the united states and japan, an announcement which may further aggravate tensions between Beijing and Canberra.
25 years of the Srebrenica massacre
Last Saturday, celebrations took place in Bosnia, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, seen as the biggest atrocity on a global level since the end of the Second World War. Leaders of various countries paid homage to the victims and survivors, such as former US president Bill Clinton, the current secretary of state Mike Pompeo and the Spanish prime-minister Pedro Sanchez.
The event marks the 11th of July of 1995, when Serbian forces from Bosnia marched to Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave in Serbian territory in Bosnia-Herzegovina which was under UN protection. After capturing the city, Serbian forces killed more than 8,000 Muslims, including children, in a few days. So far, the remains of 6,900 people were found, as well as more than 80 mass graves. Bosnia had involved itself in an ethnic war, in which Serbs came into conflict with Bosniaks and Muslim Croats (1992-1995), where more than 100,000 people died.
The Bosnian Serb military general, Ratko Mladic, still acclaimed by many Serbs as a hero, was sentenced to life in prison by the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia in 2017, over the genocide in Srebrenica, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He remains, however, awaiting a decision over his appeal. Although for Bosnian Muslims the recognition of the scale of the atrocities is a necessity for lasting peace, for most Serbians the use of the word genocide remains unacceptable. The principle of “Responsibility to Protect” of the UN was developed as a means to prevent genocide, particularly on account of events in Rwanda and Bosnia, as this concept translates in practice to the duty of the international community to intervene in a state that does not protect its citizens.
- Italy has allowed for the disembarking of a ship containing 180 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean Sea.
- The number of infected with covid-19 in India reached 25 thousand, becoming the third country in the world most affected by the pandemic, overtaking Russia.
- Israel launched this week a new spy satellite which will provide high quality surveillance for its military intelligence, although Israeli public radio stated that its main function is to monitor nuclear activities of its regional neighbor, Iran.
- A report by European scientists mentions that Arctic forest fores triggered in June have released the largest amount of pollutant gas in 18 years, since records began.
- Last Tuesday, Jair Bolsonaro tested positive to covid-19, after months of minimizing the seriousness of the pandemic.
- The United States formally notified the World Health Organization that they would be withdrawing , despite remaining one of the most affected countries.
- The Washington envoy to Pyongyang stated the United States are ready to resume nuclear negotiations with North Korea, rejecting reports that he was attempting to meet with North-Korean authorities at the time of his South Korean visit.
- A former journalist and advisor to the Russian space agency chief Roscosmos was arrested in Moscow under suspicion of espionage for NATO.
- China stated this week to be willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal and to take part in trilateral meetings regarding arms control with the United States and Russia, but only if the United States are willing to level its nuclear arsenal to China’s.
- According to Oxfam, more people may die due to hunger as a result of the pandemic situation than the disease itself, considering the crisis interrupted crops, supplies and remittances in the poorest countries.
- According to a new strategic evaluation by the Pentagon, China presently represents the biggest military threat to the United States.
- Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on July 10 that the Hagia Sophia would be formally named as a Mosque, triggering strong international criticism and subsequent protests.
- Millions of Syrians will have a single border crossing in Turkey to receive aid, after several unsuccessful attempts by the UN Security Council to maintain a second passage open.