The World in July 6-12 2020

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.

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