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Geopolitics

It’s About Time China Learned Critical Dialogue

Op-Ed: If China indeed wants to be a protagonist on the world stage, it can no longer ignore human rights issues. A good place to start would be the case of artist Ai Weiwei, whose recent release from jail had everything to do with Chinese Premier Wen Jia

An April 17 protest in New York City againt China's decision to detain Ai Weiwei
An April 17 protest in New York City againt China's decision to detain Ai Weiwei
Thomas Schmid

It's always good when someone who has been unjustly detained, such as Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, is released. Chinese authorities held him in an unknown place for nearly three months, at first silently and with no reasons given, then on the flimsy pretext that he was suspected of financial crimes.

But if Weiwei is now out on bail (and forbidden to leave Beijing for a year), it is not because the Chinese leadership has suddenly developed some insight or is signaling the way to a more lenient approach. In fact, the motive for Weiwei's release is so clear, and so embarrassingly stereotypical, that one hardly dares mention it: it is so that Premier Wen Jiabao's forthcoming visit to Hungary, the UK and Germany will not be cluttered up by questions and concerns about one lone and cumbersome individual. In its transparency, the move is more than merely basic; it's primitive.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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