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Some Chinese celebrities interpreted the rules to mean they had to relinquish dual citizenship and demonstrate their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party if they wanted to continue performing in China.

As Beijing cracks down on its entertainment industry, from storied stars to their fan clubs, some non-Chinese filmmakers are scaling back projects they hoped would attract audiences in what has been a lucrative market. In February 2020, Chinese authorities released "Detailed Rules for Reviewing Internet Variety Program Content." Addressing TV and internet program makers, the guidelines say they "should not inappropriately use stars from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or foreign countries."

Some Chinese celebrities interpreted the rules to mean they had to relinquish dual citizenship and demonstrate their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party if they wanted to continue performing in China. Actor and singer Nicholas Tse, who moved from Hong Kong to Vancouver, British Columbia, as a child, said last week in an interview on state-controlled China Central Television (CCTV) that he was renouncing his Canadian citizenship. Other celebrities in the Chinese market who hold dual citizenship are reportedly considering following his lead. For others in the entertainment business, the guidelines have prompted a decoupling with China, even as the film industry has been accused of pandering to the country that was the world's largest movie market in 2020, and China eyes the global film market.

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China's rise is a reality that the world will continue to grapple with for a long time to come.

In July 1971, US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger made a secret visit to China to meet top Chinese leaders. This inaugurated a new phase not just in US-China relations but in contemporary history. That visit and the subsequent US-China relationship, including the US decision to invest in China's economic rise and admit it into the World Trade Organisation, combined to firm up the foundations of China's rise as a world power.

For more than four decades, the leadership of the two countries had a secretive pact, which worked well to each other's benefit. The US helped power China's economic growth in the hope that Beijing would turn a new political leaf and adopt Western practices (e.g. democracy). China grew economically and militarily, used its financial prowess to spread its influence across continents, as four generations of Chinese leaders built their nation at the expense of the US.

Half a century after Kissinger's historic visit, the US and China are today engaged in a trade war bordering on a new Cold War. Washington is not openly talking about "de-coupling" from China, which has begun to challenge its global dominance, but it might very well be. China has already established itself as a dominant power across Eurasia.

More worryingly, China is militarily and economically threatening its neighbours, including India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

"A New Cold War: Henry Kissinger and the Rise of China" (HarperCollins), edited by Sanjaya Baru and Rahul Sharma, a collection of critical essays examines the impact, consequences and legacy of Kissinger's first, door-opening visit to China and how it has shaped world order.

It has contributions from Kanti Bajpai, Hoo Tiang Boon, Sujan Chinoy, Bill Emmott, Frric Grare, Suhasini Haidar, Quah Say Jye, Tsutomu Kikuchi, Chung Min Lee, Tanvi Madan, Kishore Mahbubani, Kalpit A. Mankikar, Rana Mitter, C. Raja Mohan, Samir Saran, Teresita Schaffer, Ayesha Siddiqa, Peter Varghese and Igor Yurgens

"Marking the 50th anniversary of the Nixon-Kissinger outreach to China, this unique collection of essays by eminent scholars and diplomats from around the world offers critical perspectives on America's contribution to China's rise and the origins of the New Cold War," says Sanjaya Baru.

Rahul Sharma says: "Kissinger's was a path-breaking visit, which changed the world forever. China's rise is a reality that the world will continue to grapple with for a long time to come. The essays in this book attempt to analyse what prompted the Americans to open the doors to China, as well as the challenges that it has created for just about every nation today."

Swati Chopra, Executive Editor, HarperCollins India, says: "There is no doubt today of the impact that one man has had on the geopolitics of the past few decades - Henry Kissinger. His contribution to the rise of China is perhaps a lesser-known aspect of this, which is what "A New Cold War" is about."

Co-founder and former President of the Public Affairs Forum of India, he also curates a foreign policy blog in his free time. Photo by Unsplash

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The history of the claim can be traced to a map published by the Kuomintang Government, based on the maps and cartographic books.

The competition over marine resources and territorial claims has led to conflict in the South China Sea and elsewhere. Chinese expansionism, its growing presence in the Philippines and jurisdictional claims over areas in the South China Sea has escalated tension in the area. In an interview with N.W. Ali, Prof Jay L. Batongbacal, Director, Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (IMLOS) at the University of the Philippines, says the current situation in the South China Sea is concerning due to the power imbalance in the region, which is shifting the axis of power for the smaller states in South East Asia and presents a potential threat to their territorial sovereignty and maritime jurisdictions.

N.W. Ali: Please explain the functional framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the prospects of UN intervention, such as by sending military personnel to the South China Sea, to maintain and protect the territorial integrity of states and avoid the bullying on part of China?

Jay L Batongbacal: UNCLOS has laid down the framework for coastal states to follow in determining their maritime zones and boundaries. According to its provisions, within 200 nautical miles from the coast, the waters form part of the Exclusive Economic Zone, while the seafloor is part of the continental shelf of the coastal state, and exclusive sovereign rights to the natural resources in those areas are reserved for those individual states. A breach of UNCLOS or a dispute arising between the coastal states does not necessarily mean that immediate military action on part of the UN will follow. However, all states are responsible for resolving their disputes by UNCLOS. UN military intervention can only be involved in case of scenarios of a potential outbreak of violence or security that threatens the region; for the UN to jump in to resolve the disputes, the situation must be really serious. For now, no country wants an armed conflict.

Ali: What is the genesis of the 9 Dash Line and why is China proclaiming features in the South China Sea as its own?

Jay: China's claim to the island chains is not new and has been there for a few decades now. The history of the claim can be traced to a map published by the Kuomintang Government, based on the maps and cartographic books published by some private firms, entitled "Map of the South Sea Islands," in 1947. The dashed lines used by China to illustrate their claimed historical right was drawn as a part of this map to illustrate the territorial extent of China. The Chinese claim at that time, though, was limited to small scattered islands in the South China Sea. The position of the Kuomintang Government about the territorial extent was adopted by the Mainland Government in China in 1952. Not having much of the background information on these, the mainland just named the islands within the dashed line, the Nansha (the Spratlys), Xisha (the Paracels), Dongsha (Pratas), and Zhongsha (an imaginary island group with no physical existence and is a misinterpretation of Macclesfield Bank and other submerged feature in the South China Sea). China has never been able to adequately justify the claim to these island groups, primarily as they never exercised sovereignty over them over an extended period and also due to the existence of non-factual and imaginary claims over fictitious islands.

Things began to get serious in 2009 when all of the countries in South East Asia implemented UNCLOS and aligned their respective claims and jurisdictions by international law. China reacted badly as they knew if UNCLOS is implemented, their expansive claim to the South China Sea will be defunct, so thereafter China embarked on a program to strengthen their presence and activity in the South China Sea, which led to more friction between China and smaller Southeast Asian States. The situation worsened when China began to interfere with activities in the exclusive economic zones of smaller States, and altercations were reported closer to the coasts of smaller states. The 2012 Scarborough Shoal incident, involving a standoff between the Philippines and China, is one of the more recent examples of the escalation, and China's attempt to exercise jurisdictional rights as far as the edge of 9 dash lines. Scarborough Shoal is the only place near its imaginary archipelago, having some features above water, and thus very precious for China to prove their claims within the 9-dash line.

Ali: How about the jurisdictional rights of China over the South China Sea?

Jay: China's jurisdictional claims before 2016 proclaimed that the areas within the 9-dash line were Chinese territory by historic title. They claimed to be the first to sail this sea and discover those islands and to administer them about controlling and harnessing them. However, the international arbitral tribunal debunked this claim of China, as no other nation has thus far accepted China's sovereignty over the South China Sea, not even in historical times.

China The dashed lines used by China to illustrate their claimed historical right was drawn as a part of this map to illustrate the territorial extent of China. Photo by Unsplash

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We've been supporting them, for sure, but they've been leading the fight.

The recent attacks by Taliban in Baghlan, Farah, Kunduz, Herat, Takhar, Helmand, Ghazni and Badakhshan provinces and the capture of Dala dam which supplies water to Kandahar town should be a curtain-raiser for those who ardently watch the story unfold in Afghanistan.

As of May 1, 139 pro-government and 44 civilians had lost their lives in just a week alone. On April 14, 2021, President Joe Biden promised to end the "Forever war" by announcing a full US pullout on September 11, 2021, largely out of symbolism to commemorate the 20th year of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). But soon after the announcement, it is becoming apparent that the US has not thought through the larger implications of this decision.

It is quite apparent that even the US army is surprised by the sudden turn of events. The confusion in the US army is compounded by the contradictory statements emerging from the US military leadership.

"It's not a foregone conclusion, in my professional military estimate, that the Taliban automatically win and Kabul falls," said General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while speaking at the Pentagon on 6 May 2021 even as Afghan Army causalities began to mount in Taliban attacks within the week. He even came out in support of the ANDSF and their capabilities announcing that "I'm a personal witness -- that the Afghan security forces can fight," Milley, who had previously served in Afghanistan, added.

"We've been supporting them, for sure, but they've been leading the fight."

That is not how a former US commander who crafted US strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus assess the situation. In an interview, he said, "I do fear that two to three years from now we are going to look back and regret the decision to withdraw the remaining 3,500 US troops," enthusing no confidence in the abilities of the ANDSF to stabilise Afghanistan post the withdrawal.

He even predicted the return of ISIS and believed, "This is not going to end the endless war in Afghanistan; it is going to end the US and the coalition involvement in that war militarily" and warned of a resurgence of Daesh.

Afghanistan The Afghan Air Force is almost entirely dependent on the US for its force sustenance and would be ineffective unless this support is assured. Photo by Unsplash

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