AS THE WORLD FALLS APART, CHINA RISES
States all around the world remains in the fight against coronavirus, producing medical supplies, increasing hospital capacities, and formulating policies. China on the other hand, begins their economic rebound slowly. An official gauge of China’s manufacturing activity, the Manufacturing purchasing managers index, rises strongly from 35.7 in February to 52.0 in March. Purchasing managers index represents market conditions viewed by purchasing managers, with rating above 50 indicates expansion and below 50 indicates contraction. Yet it is important to see this not as rapid economic expansion but instead as China’s economy being resumed after more than a month of forced idleness due to Covid-19.
In the pursue of economic restoration and growth, China’s State Council offers fresh funds for banks to lend and would allow local governments issue more bonds. It would also extend subsidies and tax waivers for purchases of electric vehicles for two more years in a bid to boost auto sales. China’s ability to pursue growth however are being curbed by weakening overseas demand that might last for the following few months. Two things could be expected from the next quarters: the global economic shock, like it did to China, and China’s rise in the global stage with their economic engine slowly up and running leaving others crippled.
CHINA AND ITS HELPING HANDS
The 21st century’s global pandemic was originated from Wuhan City, China. Many protocols had been taken by their government but it’s not enough to contain the virus to remain in the mainland. China was called as the perpetrator of the viral outbreak, but China remained silent and focused on their resident. As the cases in the mainland started to dwindle, now the Chinese government shifts their focus to the other countries who have infected with the pandemic.
China, with their savvy oriental mindset, sees this condition as an opportunity to rebrand themselves after being stamped as the initiator of the viral outbreak. While the U.S. is still overwhelmed with their own cases, China directly overtakes the US position as the traditional responsible global leader. China persistently shows good deeds to show the world that they are being cooperative amid this outbreak. China sent medical experts and humanitarian aids such as two thousand rapid diagnostic tests, sent to the Philippines government and medical experts, sent to the Italian government. Besides dispatching medical expertise and other aids, China also shares their experience in treating the virus with New Delhi.
To conclude, it doesn’t provide any benefits by pointing out others to be blamed off during this global pandemic. Instead, we have to focus on the virus and its cure like China does nowadays.
THE DELAY OF TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS
The world’s biggest sporting event, was supposed to be held this July in Japan is rescheduled for July 23 – August 8, 2021. The decision is announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach with approval from the Japan rime Minister Shinzo Abe following the growing severity of the COVID 19. The concern mostly comes from situations around the world like travel bans that might prevent athletes from coming to Tokyo to compete.
When the announcement was published, the International Olympic Committee has made sure that the athletes who have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 are automatically eligible for 2021 so there will be no need for a requalification process. However, this delay creates economic disadvantages for Japan. First, Japan has already invested at least $10 billion, both for the bidding process (winning the right to host against Madrid and Istanbul) and for the Games preparation. Abe needs to make sure that the country’s investment wouldn’t go to waste. Second, delaying would mean an increase in costs, for refunding tickets and extending leases of competition venues and contracts with sponsors, official broadcasters and employees. This burden comes at a time when the world is facing economic instability and a possibility of a global recession due to corona virus pandemic.
Rich, Motoko, Matt Futterman, and Tariq Panja. “I.O.C. and Japan Agree to Postpone Tokyo Olympics.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 24, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/sports/olympics/coronavirus-summer-olympics-postponed.html.
COVID-19 OUTBREAK AND ITS IMPACT TO OIL
The shrinking demand for oil due to the Covid-19 outbreak caused oil prices to collapse, thus leading OPEC to organize a summit in Vienna on 5 March 2020 which resulted in an agreement by all 14 members to slash oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to support oil prices during the pandemic. OPEC demanded Russia, a member of OPEC+, to cut down on its oil production by another 300,000 bpd. Yet, on 6 March 2020, Russia balked and rejected the demand, thus putting an end to the Vienna deal between OPEC and non-OPEC countries, resulting in the fall of oil prices by 10%. In response to this, Saudi Arabia increased its oil output, effectively flooding global markets and pushing the global price for oil further down. Now, the world is witnessing an all-out price war between the two.
Saudi Arabia’s tit-for-tat decision appears to be made to assert its dominance in the global oil market and undermine the Russian and US shale industry – which is vulnerable to low oil prices – to preserve its leading position in the oil market. Likewise, it hurts countries that are heavily reliant on oil exports, especially in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. The price warfare is a losing game for everyone, especially Saudi Arabia that, at 65% of its budget, relies more heavily on oil revenues compared to Russia (37%), which has a more diversified economy. While Kremlin can last for many years with low oil prices, it is doubtful that Riyadh can sustain such condition for long. In times of great uncertainty, especially with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, stability should not be compromised. There is a pressing need for a restoration of dialogue between Russia and OPEC that can lead to a production deal, thus allowing the rebound of the oil market and restoring the much-needed stability.
THE SPIRIT OF INDIA: UNITY N MALERKOTLA
“Unity in diversity is India’s strength. There is simplicity in every Indian. There is unity in every corner of India. This is our strength.” – Narendra Modi
Back in December 2019, India’s parliament, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed the Citizenship Amendment Act which triggered protests across the country because it was considered as marginalizing for Muslim citizens. However, in March 2020, Indians are uniting to show resistance by protesting in a small town in Punjab named Malerkotla. With more than 140,000 people coming from all over the country, this became one of India’s largest anti-CAA demonstration event. One unique thing about this protest was that a sizeable amount of the protesters were non-Muslims, including Sikhs, Hindus, and Isais. This clearly showed that the people of India are putting aside religious differences in the name of fraternity. According to Parminder Singh, an Indian professor and one of the speakers in the rally, Indians are uniting because they are still traumatized after the Partition of India in 1947. Back then, an uproar of unprecedented violence happened and a lot of Muslim citizens were murdered. However, even back in the 1947, the small town of Malerkotla maintained their peace and religious tolerance. Therefore, it is believed that Indian people are progressively moving to improve their religious tolerance by uniting in Malerkotla, putting aside their differences to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and advocate for peace.
RUSSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT: SIGN OF THE INDIVIDUAL CULT REVIVAL?
On 10 March 2020, President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin supported a proposed constitutional amendment that might allow him to be re-elected as the Head of State of that country after his current term ends in 2024. The amendment was placed forward by Valentina Tereshkova, Russian State Duma member which is well known with her past as the first woman to have flown in space during Soviet Era in 1963. She proposed either scrapping two-term limit for presidents or resetting the clock so Putin’s four terms wouldn’t count.
Putin himself seemly disagree with the first choice given by Tereshkova. He believes that the constitution is a long-term document, so it wasn’t a good idea to scrap the term limit. But it was very surprising that he positively viewed the second choice to restart the term count when the revamped constitution enters force. He also surprisingly said: ‘There will be a time when the highest power… will not be tied to one specific person. But all of our previous history happened in this way, and of course we cannot ignore this.’
As we knew, Putin has ruled Russia for 20 years. This made him the longest-serving leader since Stalin in the Soviet Era. If the constitutional amendment allow him to become president again in 2024 till 2036, he would surpass Stalin. Of course this is so confusing. Russian Federation was founded after the collapse of the Soviet Union with the new spirit of democracy. It destroyed the culture of individual cult of the great leaders such as Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Era. If this constitution amendment pass, it would revive that culture to modern Russia.
COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
In the 8th of March 2020, the world observed the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020. The IWD itself is a day to commemorate the long road of women’s struggle around the world to achieve its rights, empowerment, and equality with men. The main theme of 2020 IWD is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”, aligned with UN Woman’s “Generation Equality” campaign to promote an equal position between men and women.
People from many countries, regardless of their country’s status as a first world nation or third world nation, commemorate IWD 2020 with various methods and ways. In many countries including Indonesia, street march was the main way to commemorates IWD 2020. In Mexico, the women commemorated it with Song Without Fear, an event of singing anti-femicide song. In Bangladesh, it was commemorated by wheelchair basketball exhibition. Unfortunately, there are still many persecutions to the women who commemorate IWD 2020, notably in Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
The commemoration of IWD is a great initiative and chance for women to join the struggle to liberate themselves from patriarchal society by raising consciousness of general about gender equality. The fact that it is commemorated by women from many countries is a good sign that the gender equality consciousness among women, regardless of their background, have been risen across the country’s border. Therefore, the commemoration of IWD will help the women to light the spirit of gender equality more brightly than before.
THE “NTH ROOM” AND ROOM FOR WOMEN’S RIGHT
Since February 2020, in South Korea, numerous women are suffering from sexual violence due to a series of Telegram chat rooms that share violent videos and illegal porn called “Nth Room.” The criminals created chat rooms, and blackmail the victim into making pornography content by themselves with gruesomely violent orders, such as: putting a pair of scissors into their vaginas, eat feces, cutting off their nipples, carving their skin with a knife, and even getting raped by assigned people. Even worse, out of 74 victims, most were underage.
Meanwhile, the costumers of these chat rooms have to pay in order to access the videos. Surprisingly, about 260.000 people have entered the chat rooms so far. Fortunately, Koreans are now demanding the police to reveal the perpetrator while 1.8 million people already signed the petitions to blue-house in order to seek for justice.
This case is not something unusual for South Korea. However, in most cases, the perpetrator are sentenced to prison for only a year. These issues only fell on dense and deaf ears of South Korean medias, as well as the international medias. It is time for us to act. We have to stop shutting our eyes and ears, and start creating a room where women’s rights can be protected since this issues can happen anytime and anywhere, including your own country.