18 Jan 2020: The Hindu Editorial Analysis
1) On trade deal between US and China: Quiet, for now
- The phase one trade deal U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He signed on Wednesday is but a temporary truce that leaves the key issues of the trade dispute unresolved.
- The pact that Mr. Trump has touted as a step toward creating a fairer and reciprocal partnership still leaves intact nearly three-fourths of punitive tariffs slapped on China since the onset of the trade rift in 2017.
- Even so, the limited terms the two largest economies agreed upon sets the political stage for further bilateral negotiations and to stem a further deterioration in the global growth scenario.
- China is to buy $200-billion in goods and services in the coming two years - purchases in 2017, were valued at some $187-billion. The proposed increase in exports is believed to be unprecedented in U.S. trade history and caused speculation on the impact these steep targets could have on China’s other trading partners.
- Agricultural exports form the smallest proportion of the latest offers relative to manufactured goods and services. This has been an important area of concern for the American farming sector ever since China imposed retaliatory tariffs on soyabean imports from the U.S. But Beijing has promised to open its markets in dairy products, poultry, fish and allied sectors.
- Whereas China has given assurances to remove barriers for American banking, insurance and other financial services, Washington would be more wary of guarantees on IP protection and alleged forced technology transfers. the last two have been among the more contentious aspects of the trade dispute, as seen in the attacks on Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei.
- Separately, Washington has invoked provisions on threats to its national security to punish adversaries, an exceptional measure in the international trading arena. Crucially, the timing of the package enables Mr. Trump to claim some success in narrowing the trade deficit with China ahead of his November re-election bid.
- Mr. Trump has said that negotiations on a phase two agreement would begin immediately and even hinted that he could travel to Beijing. However, questions over government control of China’s state-owned firms and industrial subsidies - at the core the bilateral dispute - are not expected to be resolved until after the 2020 U.S. Presidential elections.
- In parallel is the agreement to revive an erstwhile Obama-era mechanism for economic dialogue that was abandoned under the Trump administration. The step signals hope just as Washington’s decision this week to withdraw the tag of a currency manipulator upon Beijing, accusing it of artificially devaluing the renminbi to gain competitive advantage.
- The new forum could set the tone to address sensitive issues that have dogged Beijing’s relations with the U.S. and its allies after China joined the WTO. The trade deal between the U.S. and China allows President Trump to claim some success.
2) On CDS Bipin Rawat's comments: Fighting radicalisation
- Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat has a curious habit of saying things that raise the hackles of those who are concerned about military propriety and also officers in uniform speaking about civilian matters.
- Addressing a panel on countering terrorism at the Raisina dialogue organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation at New Delhi, he argued that there has been a significant increase in radicalisation among young people in Kashmir - “girls and boys as young as 10-12”, included.
- He suggested that youth should be “isolated from radicalisation in a gradual way” and to be “taken out separately and possibly taken into some deradicalisation camps”. He also revealed that such camps existed in the country.
- There is no doubt that radicalisation must be countered at all levels, whether in Kashmir or elsewhere. But the government should reveal the nature of these camps that the CDS claims are functioning as they raise questions about their legal status and the identity of the youth there.
- In the last few years, there has been a rise in protests and violence in the Kashmir Valley, besides disaffection that has peaked following the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its conversion into a Union Territory.
- This is unlike a decade ago, when terrorism and violence had reduced drastically when compared to the 1990s, and there was a spurt in participation in democratic processes, besides a gradual diminishing of the Valley’s radical voice.
- Today, however, with political representatives, this includes those from among the mainstream polity, either facing curbs or under detention, the ground has become fertile for the revival of radicalism, which has been expressed either as a shrill form of separatism or invoked as extremist Islamist ideology.
- However, while deradicalisation is certainly an imperative, Gen. Rawat’s solution is way off the mark. Segregation of youth and individuals from family and community - many could be juveniles - is a recipe for further alienation and public revulsion and also plainly illegal.
- It is not the job of the Army or security forces to undertake what is a mandate for the agencies of the civilian State. Deradicalisation is best achieved through effective teaching and incorporation of civic studies in the school curriculum for children who are getting radicalised due to the prevailing circumstances in the Valley.
- Besides this, there has to be an administrative outreach to the citizenry not to give in to radical demands and the rhetoric of extremists. More importantly, the reversal of repressive conditions such as limited Net access and the detention of political representatives is a must.
- Deradicalisation of Kashmir’s Islamist youth is essential, but not through segregation camps. Winning Kashmiri hearts and minds is a long battle; short-sighted and illiberal measures from an authoritarian playbook could prove counter-productive.