Tuesday Thoughts

China Ends Silence On Anniversary Of Cultural Revolution
If you were reading the Chinese press, you would not know that Monday was the 50th anniversary of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Silence was how they marked the day. However, a day later readers were urged to consign the decade of turmoil to the history books.

“History has shown that the Cultural Revolution was utterly wrong, in both theory and practice,” argued the People’s Daily article, which was headlined “Learning lessons from history in order to better move forward,” according to The Guardian newspaper.

On May 16, 1966, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution by ousting several top party officials. The commentary asserted that the Communist Party’s 1981 condemnation of the Cultural Revolution, was “unshakably scientific and authoritative,” and urged Chinese people to rally around President Xi Jinping’s policies.

Some interpret the silence as a cause for concern, while others see comparisons between China today and under Mao as a distinction without a difference.

The atmosphere of oppression during Cultural Revolution and today are separated by a matter of degrees.

“But if one defines the Cultural Revolution by its strict one-party rule, total control of the media, thought control, religious oppression, and suppression of dissent, then today differs only in degree. Xi has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward political opposition and grassroots rights defense movements. Since Xi assumed power in late 2012, hundreds, if not thousands, of human rights defenders have been imprisoned. Civil society organizations like the pro-constitutionalism New Citizens’ Movement have been suppressed, and more than 300 human rights lawyers have been detained or intimidated,” Teng Biao writes in Foreign Policy.

To Compete Globally, Students Need Diverse Learning Experience Christa Ovenell, a college director and principal of Fraser International College, makes her case that luring more international students to Canadian universities is an important step in preparing students to compete in a globalized world. While some students can enhance their knowledge of international affairs by travelling or studying abroad, Ovenell says for most that is a cost-prohibitive option. Therefore, she asserts, making classrooms in colleges is critical.

“Universities are driven by the mission to educate and prepare students for the future, so it is therefore imperative that we create classrooms that are more reflective of today’s competitive and globalized work environment. The millennial generation has grown up in a time like no other — where technology is opening our borders at an ever-quickening pace. These students are beginning to demand and deserve a more diverse university experience,” she writes in a recent op-ed.

Just as millennials are craving a more international learning experience, employers also are seeking potential hires with a broader understanding of global issues.

“Even more important, two out of three hiring managers say Canada is at risk of being left behind dynamic global economies like China, India and Brazil unless young Canadians learn to think more globally. This is driving student demand — the overwhelming majority of 18- to 25-year-olds polled believed that employers’ interest in international experience made exposure to other cultures more appealing and urgent,” Overnell adds.

Trade Is Critical Component Of Strong National Security Effort
As divisive as the presidential campaign has been, one of the issues which has united individuals with divergent ideological bents has been opposition to trade deals, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Countering the argument made by socialist Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, Robert Zoellick, a former World Bank president, U.S. trade representative and deputy secretary of state, asserts that trade deals are a necessary component of a strong foreign policy.

“In [Asia Pacific region], economics, trade and investment are the coins of the diplomatic realm. TPP recognizes both America’s concrete economic interests in Asia and demonstrates U.S. steadfastness. If the U.S. abandons TPP, our Asian allies and partners will perceive America as yielding to China, and they will accommodate accordingly,” he cautions.

Trade always has been important to strengthening America’s position globally, says Zoellick.

“America’s Founding Fathers, and every generation since, recognized that economic strength at home is vital for U.S. security. In the 19th century, the U.S. became a Pacific power. The 20th century demonstrated that conflicts in East Asia can threaten the U.S., but also that U.S. security can underpin Asia’s prosperity. The U.S. now needs to create an economic and security network in the Asia-Pacific for the 21st century,” he concludes.

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