Vis-à-vis the Boao Forum 2018 article, please can I add one point regarding the Sino-US trade dispute. This could adversely affect more parties across Asia than just China and Japan, as your writer mentions. Several other nations in Asia, such as South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, make parts for the goods that China exports to the US, so they would all suffer in a trade war.
Flaw in the system
The voice of reason and compassion rings loud and clear from Mr Chris Doyle in his article ‘Cycle of suffering continues’ (Asian Affairs, May 2018) when he says ‘the international community has failed Syria like no other country’. I wonder if the Syrian people can ever forgive us for what is being allowed to happen in their country: random bombings of civilians, torture and disappearances of political dissenters, chemical weapons attacks, and much more.
President Bashar al-Assad is a callous leader, but the UN Security Council is no better. It seems to be incapable or unwilling to look at the big picture. Its five permanent members, China, Russia, America, Britain and France, have a veto that gives them a lot of power to protect their own vested interests in conflict zones. Remember how France turned a blind eye to the genocide in Rwanda in the mid-90s because it had interests there, and America committed a blatant act of aggression against Iraq in 2003(resulting in more than a million Iraqi deaths and worse), all for its own ends. So what hope is there that in Syria, Assad’s ally Russia will ever let him and his regime be held to account?
Mr Doyle is correct when writing that the UN-led process aimed at a resolution ‘requires genuine support’ from the US and Russia. But I fear a whole system that places states’ interests above the interests of people does not bode well for the future of Syria, however much a few humanitarians and the Syrian people wish it.
Lucas de Vries
A tale of two empires
Good review by Ashis Ray on Kartar Lalvani’s book The Making of India: The Untold Story of British Enterprise, which I myself have read and enjoyed. It’s about time we (left-wing) Brits stopped these knee-jerk reactions towards anything that relates to our colonial past, as if it must be, by definition, bad. True, Lalvani does not perhaps take as thoroughly a balanced view of the Raj as Ashis Ray suggests –he hardly touches on the opium trade, for example, or the disproportionate British retaliation to the Indian Mutiny– but it’s madness to refuse to see that there were real and enduring benefits for India that ensued from British rule, simply because it’s not the fashionable view. Impartial thinking never goes out of fashion. We need more of it.
I cannot really agree with Humphrey Hawksley’s assertion that the Commonwealth is a ‘considerable asset’; like so many people, I am not very clear on what its real purpose is, especially since it cannot sanction members states, or enforce their commitment to human rights. That said, it is innocuous enough and there does not seem any real reason to dispense with it.
Selly Oak, Birmingham