By Victor Schultz
BALLS: 2018 Check-in
It’s March, the month where we can all begin to see physical evidence that Aomori is not locked in a perma-winter reminiscent of the last ice age. It’s also a good time to check how some current events have been playing out in 2018. At the end of 2017, three of the main concerns for watchers of world affairs were the provocative actions of North Korea, the turmoil of the American administration, and the rise of China as an even more influential global power.
Escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula have for the moment ceased to escalate. Instead, the ‘charm offensive’ of North Korea during the Winter Olympics seems to have breathed a bit of life back into the deadlock between the two nations. Allies of the South, such as Japan and the USA, continue to urge caution in going forward with any future negotiations.
Despite this, the North and the USA are currently attempting to set up talks between their respective leaders. This would be an unprecedented event, and the fiery rhetoric both leaders are known for has caused concern that such talks could do more harm than good. An additional complication to the planning…
Rex Tillerson is dismissed from his post as Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, Tillerson was the main figure of the USA’s foreign policy.
He will be leaving his post on March 31st, with the meeting between Trump and Kim to be held sometime in April. Not an ideal time for a shake-up in management. Equally concerning is that this firing by President Trump continues a worrying trend: the American President seems unable to keep a stable staff. His first year alone saw over a third of Tier One staff replaced. (Tier One staff are those who work closely with the president and directly influence policy and administration) This is an unprecedented number of firings. Compare this to the last administration, which saw under a tenth of its staff replaced. Providing a bit of contrast…
Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to be able to serve as President-for-Life. The current limit on how long a president can serve for in China has been scrapped.
This move, while never broadcast overtly, was prepared for by the ruling party for some time now. Just last year, in October, Xi did not nominate a successor as was traditional to do at the Party meeting. The Chinese media seems to have downplayed this constitutional change beforehand, with only a few brief mentions in reports of amendments to be discussed. With Xi reigning indefinitely, it is likely that China will become even more centralized, allowing greater stability for those in power and allowing more freedom for their leader to act on a global level with less risk of dissent from within.
Overall, the global status quo seems to have shifted only slightly, with most wobbles continuing unresolved. For now most annalists seem content to wait to see how current events shake out before making any more predictions.