Start Of Dealing With Thorny Issues In US-Sino Relations

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet US President Donald Trump for the first time Issues. On April 6 and 7 at the latter’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. On the agenda are a number of contentious issues that the two leaders are unlikely to resolve.

Trump has already noted that the meeting is going to be very difficult. The first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders will likely not be ideal for reaching. Consensus on issues such as trade. The North Korean nuclear crisis and the one-China policy.

Human Rights And One China Issues

Traditionally, the United States has paid much attention to human rights in China. Such as its treatment of political dissidents and the arrest of civil rights lawyers. But Trump does not appear to put an emphasis on democracy and human rights in American foreign policy.

During the recent visit to the US by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Trump said their two countries didn’t agree on a few things, but he did not raise human rights. As US president, Barack Obama had not invited Sisi to the White House based on human rights. Concerns and even froze foreign aid to Egypt for two years after the previous president was overthrown in mid-2013.

The same may apply to China if Trump has a consistent policy. China, on the other hand, is likely to seek continuing American recognition of the one-China policy. Given Trump accepted a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen soon after his inauguration and before he had spoken to Xi.

In February, the two sides put out statements about their agreement on the policy but the US announcement noted that it had agreed to this at China’s request. Even though the US reaffirmed its commitment to the policy ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to China in March, China can be expected to make sure that Trump understands the importance of the policy and that it’s not up for negotiation.

Trade Issues

Another point of contention from Trump’s viewpoint is the American trade deficit with China and whether China has manipulated the exchange rate of its currency.

During his election campaign, Trump highlighted the US trade deficit with China as problematic, going so far as to say China was raping the American economy. And the US Trade Representative’s Office recently published a report criticizing China’s over-production of alluminium and steel.

It’s important to note that Trump had expressed similar discontent with Japan. And that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe brought an economic package to Mar-a-Lago in February that promised more Japanese investment in the United States, which seemed to smooth over the issue.

China is unlikely to follow the same tactics to please Trump. Right before Xi’s departure, China’s Global Times, which is regarded as a mouthpiece of Beijing, commented that Sino-American trade should only be guided according to market incentives. And it said that the United States should make its cutting-edge technologies available to China so that it could solve the American trade deficit.

North Korea Issues

The North Korean nuclear crisis is also likely be high on the agenda. Ahead of the meeting, Trump told the Financial Times that the United States would work on its own if China was not willing to further pressure North Korea to give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

He did not explain whether he meant a military pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang. And when North Korea launched a test missile just a day ahead of the summit, the US said it had no further comment about the reclusive dictatorship.

China has repeatedly explain its leverage over North Korea has been exaggerate. And Beijing wants to see the de nuclear of Korean Peninsula so that the United States, South Korea and Japan have no excuse to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. It fears that the missile defense shield, which is already being deploy, could detect the launch of Chinese missiles and allow Washington to intercept these.

Unlike his father, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has never visited China. Without this relationship and the recent deaths of North Korean allies. It’s difficult to assess what kind of influence China has over the North Korean leadership.

China has tightened sanctions on North Korea and put some investments there on hold. But the questions that remain are whether China can afford a failed state on. Its border and whether that will happen if China pushes too hard on Pyongyang.

A flood of North Korean refugees or a potential American presence in North Korea are both nightmare scenarios for Beijing.

Sorting Through

Some of the above issues have been discuss before between Beijing and Washington. But Trump clearly has his own preferences, which Xi and Chinese diplomats are likely to know little about.

As this is the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and Xi, and the former is still likely working. On his foreign policies, concrete agreements between them are unlikely.

On March 19, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi commented that the US-China summit was a platform to communicate. And build trust as well as to put Sino-American relations back on the right track. It seems that Beijing regards the meeting as a warm-up exercise between the two leaders.

Bilateral trade and the North Korean nuclear crisis are likely to be the focus of the summit. While human rights and climate change may not be discuss extensively.

In regard to the latter issue, the two powers appear to be moving in diametrically opposed directions. The Trump administration has indicated that it will likely withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. While China’s pollution problems are making it take the issue seriously.

Trump’s lack of interest in human rights, multilateral trade and global. Environmental issues has significant implications for great power relations in future. It may mean that the Unite States may no longer regarded as a world leader. Leaving room for China to fill the power vacuum.

The US-China summit is not just a bilateral matter. Countries around the word are closely watching the interaction between a retreating great power and an emerging one.

Responsible Green Finance Investors Make A Real Social Impact

At the beginning of 2017, France announced the launch of its green bonds scheme. A green bond is like a conventional bond, but one issued specifically to fund an environmental project.

The amount, not yet officially revealed, could be count in billions of euros, thus constituting the first green sovereign borrowing scheme on this scale in the world. Poland launched its own green bonds scheme in late 2016, worth approximately €750 million

This is still considered to be a niche market, but its development potential is enormous and has soar over the last three years, especially since the signing of Paris Agreement on climate change.

How Do Green Bonds Work?

Green bonds work in the same way as conventional bond issues. Those financial tools are a form of loan made by private or public corporations, governments and institutions. Under various conditions and interest rates, they provide the borrower with external funds to finance long-term and diverse investments.

Green bonds concern sovereign (state), private and international business markets. They represent approximately US$ 170 billion, or slightly less than 1% of the total international bond market.

Unlike regular bonds, green bonds are managed directly by the company’s general management rather than by the accounts management office, because of the potential impact they have on the company’s reputation and image.

Amounts Raise Towards Specific Activities Green

With green bonds, it is possible to direct the amounts raised towards specific activities, assess a project’s environmental risk, track funding from the central treasury department a report audited by a third party must allow cash flows to be monitored in the issuer’s statement, and ensure frequent reports on the use of the funds. Green bonds provide a vehicle for measuring the environmental performance of an investment project: the financing of a wind farm, setting up of renewable energy sites, green infrastructure, and so on.

There are many advantages for investors. They will know the precise project in which their savings are invested I know what I’m funding and will therefore be in a position to judge the quality of the issuer through the various assessments of the green bond’s environmental risk and the issuer in general.

The advantage for investors lies primarily in the communication and legitimacy process, given the fact that the context puts some pressure on companies to meet investors impact request. They can thus prove the sustainability of their process up to the stage of funding, by linking their words and their actions.

This also ensures that a more direct dialogue between investors and issuers can be initiate than through equity funding, which does not allow investment projects to identify consistently.

What Is The Real Impact On The Environment?

But the question of measuring environmental impact remains. How can the environmental benefits of an investment project be assess? Does the solution lie in the standard application of a measuring tool or in the ad hoc measuring of each project, given that each project is fund differently?

Each green bond is different and the environmental impact will therefore most probably measure by expectations for the project, its execution and results.

The effort required to set up a green bond often results in the issuer requesting additional remuneration from the investor in order to compensate for the cost of this effort. Pricing is complex, therefore, given that investors are not always prepare to pay more for a project that could have been fund by a conventional bond.

This can create an imbalance between supply and demand, but as is the case with responsible equity investment, green investors in the bond market are often prepared to pay more: price is not their priority.

A Niche Market That Could Grow Green

The climate talks in Marrakesh last year allowed African countries to take a closer interest. In the issue of green bonds. Morocco, for example launched green bonds in November 2016 through several banks and public. Companies for a total amount in the region of nearly €150 million.

The Capital Markets Authority has said that the launch of the first Kenyan green bond will be realize in 2017. Other African countries such as Nigeria, the biggest economy in West Africa, are also preparing their own green bond launch. Nigeria expects a bond issue of €63 million for the funding of green projects. For the first quarter of 2017 and a second issue for the end of the year.

Although European countries are always consider to be leaders in the private business market of green bonds issues. The interest and appetite for the development of renewable energy and sustainable economies is growing fast on the African continent. As it is in many Asian countries including India, Japan, South Korea and especially China.

Taking Bonds To The Next Level Green

At present, as is the case with responsible investment, the green bonds market is concentrate. In the hands of institutional investors and asset management companies. The majority of green bonds are issue by the Chinese market. Which accounts for almost half of the outstanding amounts issued in 2016.

As the Chinese market reserve for local investors, this does not allow a real expansion of the market. According to Novel ethic, some green bonds are also too small to allow certain large funds to subscribe to them.

Taxation can also pose problems for investors. American green bonds will not be attractive for European investors from a tax point of view. As their taxation is advantageous only for investors based in the United States.

Does the bond market allow investors to make a greater impact through their investments? The requirements promoted by the green bond principles for transparency. Reporting, cash flow traceability and measuring the environmental impact clearly make this possible.

Low Carbon Strategies

But the market should cover broader themes than low carbon strategies and move towards the funding of water management. Deforestation and the conservation of land and ecosystems.

The bubble created by the Paris Agreement should not suck the life out of the green bonds debate. Even if it has the virtue of having initiated the debate. As these practices have now developed beyond the 2016 COP22.

The green bond model should also be extend beyond the environment, to social issues. Social inclusion through housing and employment, health issues, community and humanitarian projects. Will the social impact bonds market allow social issues to be fund with traceability, reporting and impact measurement?

To achieve this, it will have to distance itself from the controversy over the state’s withdrawal from the social sphere. In favor of private companies, and also from the debate over the financial of social issues.

Myanmar Rohingya Issue Is A Regional Refugee Crisis

In June 2012, communal riots between Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists first erupted in the state of Rakhine. After the subsequent government crackdown and persecution of the area’s Rohingya, state-sponsored violence induced forced displacements of this Muslim minority.

What followed has become what we know today as Myanmar’s Rohingya issue. Nearly five years later, this issue is now a full-blown humanitarian crisis and it’s time for the Association of South-East Asian nations (ASEAN) to present a regional response.

By the end of October 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had registered some 55,000 Rohingyas in Malaysia, most of whom had fled by boat. Some 33,000 Rohingyas are living in refugee camps in Kutupalong and Nayapara in Bangladesh, while another 300,000 to 500,000 unregistered refugees are estimate to have settle elsewhere in the country. Rohingya refugees have also been temporarily situate in Thailand, Indonesia and India.

Thousands of others have kept roaming and, in 2014 and 2015, they spent up to a month in overcrowded ships on the seas off the coast of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

This massive refugee crisis has raised security concerns in the ASEAN region and drawn global attention partly because so many Rohingyas are falling victim to organised human trafficking rings.

The Rohingya issue has thus become a local problem with regional consequences. Resolving this problem in the long term will require local solutions, but, in the meantime, preventing further Rohingya subjugation should be a major human rights concern for ASEAN member states and the international community.

Local Problem, Regional Consequences Crisis

Refugee management in the ASEAN region is always contentious because refugees are seen as non-traditional security threats, and many countries lack effective refugee protection instruments and mechanisms. Apart from the Philippines, Timor Leste and Cambodia, no other ASEAN members have signed the Geneva Convention of Refugees and its protocols.

In Myanmar, even the term Rohingya is highly contest. To the government, they are illegal Bangladeshi migrants, prohibited from acquiring Myanmar citizenship or nationality under the 1882 Burma Citizenship Law. Even though the Rohingyas have been living in Myanmar since before it became independent from the British.

The Rohingyas are minority Muslim groups in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Of the country’s total population of 51 million, only about 1.2 million are Rohingyas. But in the country’s northern Rakhine state, where most Rohingyas live in townships, they are more numerous than Buddhists.

Violence at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces has begun to radicalize some sectors of this population. And there are reportedly emerging links between the Rohingya insurgent group (the HaY) and extremist outfits in the Middle East. This should be a concern for all ASEAN countries. However, emerging radical should not be use as an explanation to justify state-sponsor violence and undermined peaceful solutions to the humanitarian crisis.

Dilemma Of Local Solutions Crisis

Local solutions to Myanmar’s Rohingya issue can come in different forms. First and foremost, state-sponsored violence must end, accompanied by respect for human rights. For starters, aid agencies should be allowed to get aid to the Rohingyas (aid agencies access to northern Rakhine state has long been deny).

Inclusive dialogue and the promotion of mutual respect and cooperation would also help address the problem. But lasting solutions to the problem will be impossible without addressing prevailing structural violence

Because the Rohingyas are not officially considered as citizens, they are deprived of basic services such as public health, education and jobs. Only policy reforms that review and recognise the citizenship of the Rohingyas and provide them with social justice will resolve this sociopolitical problem in the long term.

Investigate The Violence Crisis

That seems unlikely to happen any time soon. In December 2016, Myanmar’s government appointed a commission to investigate the violence that erupted in Rakhine state in October 2016. The commission evidently found no evidence of genocide and religious persecution of the Rohingyas there, in sharp contrast with other reports.

Support from the Burmese military will also be a key. Ever since the country’s recent democratic transition, the military holds great power in the country, with 25% of the seats in the national and state parliaments reserved for unelected military representatives. The three most powerful ministries Defense, Home Affairs and Border Affairs can only be headed by serving military officers, according to the 2008 constitution.

This means the role and influence of the military in resolving the Rohingya crisis is decisive. But, for now at least, Burmese security forces. Which are directly involved in containing the political violence in the Rakhine state. Seem to prefer using force over a political solution. This strategy reflects the collective failure of hardline security policies for resolving the crisis.

How ASEAN Can Help

The ASEAN region, of which Myanmar has been a member since 1997, is interconnect. By common ethnic and religious identities, culture, economic exchanges and migration. This means that any form of humanitarian crisis and extremism growing in one country is a regional security threat.

But regional support for Myanmar’s refugee crisis will require the country to change its attitude and be ready to engage. With ASEAN partners on an issue that the government has until now considered an internal matter.

It will also require a change in perspective in other ASEAN members. Many of which see the issue as largely a national security issue, rather than a regional problem. If the Rohingyas plight is not recognize as a humanitarian crisis resulting from state-sponsored violence and social injustice. ASEAN members cannot approach the Myanmar government to address the rights violations it has waged against the Rohingyas.

Though the ASEAN Charter underscores respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. And non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. The grouping has recently started to work on regional humanitarian issues, security promotion, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy.

ASEAN nations could help the situation in Myanmar by stepping in with preventive diplomacy action taken to prevent disputes. Conflicts and violence to address a problem that has both local and regional consequences. But member countries take a conservative approach because non-intervention is a guiding principle of the 1976 ASEAN charter. And ASEAN members remain divide on whether the Rohiningya issue should be approach from a preventative diplomacy standpoint.

Malaysia And Indonesia

Some ASEAN countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia have started. Breaking from the principle of non-interference to comment on the Rohingya issue. Malaysia initially took a reactive approach, criticizing the crackdown on the Rohingya. Though it now professes willingness to work with ASEAN members to coordinate aid in Rakhine state.

Indonesia, an ASEAN member which hosts the largest Muslim population in the world, has taken a more constructive approach. It has offered to act as a bridge between Myanmar and ASEAN. Only a limited number of member states are willing to support Myanmar. And efforts are still largely fragment, uncoordinated and led by individual countries rather than by the ASEAN community.

The region can scarcely afford this tentative approach. To avoid a worsening refugee crisis, ASEAN members must move forward with preventive diplomacy. And push the Myanmar government to stop political violence in Rakhine state while emphasize local. Solutions such as legal and structural reforms that might finally allow the Rohingya to call Myanmar home.

The ASEAN proposal to create a Rohingya state is a positive first step forward. But given how the crisis has unfolded and the lack of action. It remains to be seen whether there will enough political will in the region for adequate follow through.