This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
- Kenya’s huge ivory burning event may endanger elephants further
- China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations
Kenya’s huge ivory burning event may endanger elephants further
Pyres of ivory burn in Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Saturday (AP)
Kenya set fire on Saturday to 105 metric tons of ivory in 11 separate pyres, the tusks of nearly 7,000 elephants. This is 5% of the world’s entire stock of ivory. In addition, 1.5 tons of rhino horns were set on fire. Ivory does not readily burn, but the fires are kept going by pumping a combination of kerosene and diesel into the pyres. The fires are expected to burn for several days.
Kenya’s entire stock of ivory is being burned. The ivory was mostly collected from poachers and smugglers who had been responsible for killing thousands of elephants to obtain the ivory.
The spectacular ivory-burning show was accompanied by speeches full of wishful thinking by politicians. Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta said the following before lighting the first pile:
Kenya is poor, but Kenya is a rich country with a heritage given to us by God and we intend to protect it.
I have been told we are making a fundamental mistake in burning this ivory because we are poor. For us as Kenyans, Ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants. …
Let’s do all we can to ensure our elephants are protected. Kenya’s natural heritage can’t be sold for money. With effective control over the movement of ivory, our elephants will be safe.
In case you are wondering how burning 105 tons of ivory is going to protect Kenya’s elephants, it is because burning the ivory “sends a message” to poachers and smugglers that what they are doing is wrong and must be stopped.
This is now the fourth such burning that Kenya has held since 1989, but the poaching has only been increasing. In the 1970s, Africa had about 1.2 million elephants, but now has 400,000 to 450,000.
According to one report I heard, smugglers are not selling off their stocks of ivory. Instead, they are obtaining as much ivory as they can and storing it away, since it will only become more valuable as the number of elephants dwindles. It is not clear to me that these smugglers will stop what they are doing because of some “message” delivered by the burning.
In the excerpt above, Kenyatta said that he has been told that “we are making a fundamental mistake in burning this ivory.” He is referring what many analysts are saying, that by burning off 5% of the marginal supply of the world’s ivory, the price of ivory is going to skyrocket, with the result that many more elephants will be killed. In fact, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and other countries with large government stocks of ivory are holding on to it in the expectation of selling it at a much higher price.
Many people are saying that instead of burning the ivory, Kenya should have sold it off and given the money to the people whose villages have been attacked by wild elephants as compensation. This would have increased the supply of legal ivory in the world, and would have reduced the price of ivory, thus making poaching much less lucrative. The Star (Kenya) and National Geographic
China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations
Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida met with China’s Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Saturday, with the intention of easing the enormous hostility between the two countries. The news reports were ambiguous about the outcome, but they seem to suggest that the meeting was pretty hostile.
One news report used an interesting phrase, “taking history as a mirror,” that I have not heard before:
Li said China is willing, in the spirit of taking the history as a mirror and looking into the future, to make joint efforts with Japan to strengthen political mutual trust and promote bilateral relations back to the track of normal development.
According to China’s Foreign Ministry, China made four demands of Japan to improve relations between the two countries:
1. In the political area, the Japanese side should stick fast to the four political documents including the China-Japan Joint Statement, face up to and reflect upon the history and follow the one-China policy to the letter. No ambiguity or vacillation is allowed when it comes to this important political foundation of the bilateral ties.
The four documents refer to the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998, and the joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually-beneficial relations in a comprehensive way signed in 2008.
China is still angry that Japan invaded China prior to and during World War II, using Chinese girls as “comfort women” for the soldiers, and committing the “Nanjing massacre” on December 13, 1937. The Chinese are critical of Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe for recently sending a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Shrine, which honors Japan’s war-dead, also enshrines 14 former Japanese leaders who were responsible Japan’s attack on China.
Further, China is demanding that Japan recognize Taiwan as Chinese territory, not a self-governing nation, as Japan sometimes suggests.
2. In terms of its outlook on China, the Japanese side should translate into concrete actions its consensus with China, that is, the two countries are each other’s cooperative partners rather than threats. It should have a more positive and healthy attitude toward the growth of China, and stop spreading or echoing all kinds of “China threat” or “China economic recession” theories.
China is building a huge offensive military arsenal, preparing to launch war against, Japan, its neighbors in the South China Sea, and the United States. But if anyone asks China what they are doing, China accuses them of being warmongers and making threats. Point #2 demands that Japan stop complaining about China’s massive military buildup and preparations for war.
3. In terms of economic exchange, the Japanese side should establish the concept of win-win cooperation, discard the outdated idea that one side cannot do without the other side, or one side depends more on the other side than the other way around. Instead, it should enhance equal-footed and pragmatic cooperation with China in different fields based on mutual benefit.
This is an economic threat. In 2012, China declared economic war on Japan by terminating shipments of rare earth minerals, needed for manufacturing of many of Japan’s electronic products. Also, Chinese protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership in China, looted and ransacked Japanese department stores and supermarkets in several Chinese cities. China’s National Tourism Administration ordered travel companies to cancel tours to Japan. ( “18-Sep-12 World View — China declares economic war on Japan, and sends 1,000 boat flotilla”)
So when China talks about “win-win,” it is a veiled threat that Japan must do as its told, or there may be another economic war.
4. In terms of regional and international affairs, the two sides should respect each other’s legitimate interests and concerns, and have essential communication and coordination in a timely fashion. The Japanese side should cast aside the confrontation mentality and work with China to maintain peace, stability and prosperity of the region.
China’s message is this: “We want stability and peace. If you do exactly as you’re ordered, then we’ll have stability and peace. But if you don’t do as you’re ordered, then we’ll kill you, and get stability and peace that way.”
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, elephants, ivory, Japan, Fumio Kishida, China, Li Keqiang, Nanjing massacre, Taiwan
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