Commentaries : Bayang-Bayang Ancaman Senjata Nuklir 76 tahun setelah Pengeboman Hiroshima dan Nagasaki

Dilansir dari studi yang dilaksanakan oleh Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), terhitung awal tahun 2021, ada sekitar 13.080 senjata nuklir di dunia. Jumlah ini merupakan akumulasi dari kepemilikan senjata nuklir oleh 9 negara, baik negara yang memiliki senjata nuklir secara sah (nuclear weapons states), yakni kelima negara anggota tetap Dewan Keamanan (DK) PBB, maupun yang tidak sah (states with nuclear weapons) seperti India, Pakistan, Israel dan Korea Utara. Walaupun jumlah ini merupakan sebuah penurunan dari awal tahun 2020, terdapat peningkatan jumlah senjata nuklir yang saat ini dikerahkan dengan kekuatan operasional dari 3.720 hingga 3.825 (Global Nuclear Arsenals Grow as States Continue to Modernize, 2021). Sekitar 2.000 diantaranya yang merupakan milik Rusia atau Amerika Serikat masih disiagakan dan dapat setiap saat digunakan. Jumlah yang tidak sedikit ini merupakan sebuah peringatan bahwa ancaman senjata nuklir masih membayang-bayangi dunia, 76 tahun setelah pengeboman Hiroshima dan Nagasaki. 

Pengembangan yang dilakukan oleh negara-negara pemilik senjata nuklir juga dapat dilihat dari penambahan arsenal dan peningkatan kualitas senjata nuklir mereka. Tiongkok baru-baru ini dilaporkan telah secara berangsur meningkatkan ukuran dan mendiversifikasikan komposisi arsenal nuklir mereka (China, 2021). Hal ini menambah kekhawatiran akan stabilitas dan keamanan internasional. Selain itu, mengacu Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy yang dirilis pada bulan Maret 2021, Inggris melaporkan bahwa mereka memutuskan untuk meningkatkan jumlah persediaan hulu ledak nuklir sebanyak 260. Inggris menyatakan keputusan ini dilakukan karena kekhawatiran atas meningkatnya ancaman kontemporer, khususnya persaingan global dan proliferasi teknologi baru. Langkah yang dilakukan Inggris merupakan kemunduran dari janji Inggris pada tahun 2010 untuk mengurangi persediaan menjadi di bawah 180 pada pertengahan 2020. 

Ketegangan geopolitik yang muncul antara negara-negara pemilik senjata nuklir juga dapat berperan pada meningkatnya ancaman senjata nuklir. Sebagai contoh, hubungan bilateral Amerika Serikat dan Rusia yang bersitegang, membuat kedua kepala negara tidak ragu untuk menggunakan senjata nuklir mereka apabila kepentingannya terganggu. Walaupun pada Juni 2021 ini Presiden Putin dan Presiden Biden telah setuju bahwa “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought (perang nuklir tidak dapat dimenangkan dan oleh karena itu tidak boleh sampai dilakukan),” setahun lalu ketegangan kedua negara memunculkan narasi bahwa penggunaan senjata nuklir sangat memungkinkan. Mengamati kejadian ini, CEO NTI Ernest J. Moniz dan mantan senator Sam Nunn berpendapat bahwa “Not since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis has the risk of a U.S-Russian confrontation involving the use of nuclear weapons been as high as it is today (konfrontasi antara AS dan Rusia berkaitan dengan senjata nuklir tidak pernah setinggi hari ini sejak krisis misil Kuba pada tahun 1962).” 

Kekhawatiran terhadap ancaman senjata nuklir juga didorong oleh kurangnya transparansi beberapa negara pemilik senjata nuklir. SIPRI memaparkan bahwa ketersediaan informasi tentang status persenjataan nuklir yang dapat dipercaya antara negara-negara pemilik senjata nuklir bervariasi. AS dan Inggris telah mengeluarkan cukup banyak informasi mengenai kemampuan nuklir mereka masing-masing. Sama seperti AS dan Inggris, Prancis juga melaporkan beberapa informasi penting mereka. Rusia menolak untuk membagi informasi persenjataan nuklir mereka secara terbuka, walaupun ada indikasi bahwa Rusia mengabarkan beberapa informasi ini kepada AS. Studi SIPRI juga menunjukkan bahwa Tiongkok lebih terbuka dalam melaporkan kekuatan persenjataan nuklir mereka dibandingkan beberapa tahun lalu, meskipun tidak diimbangi dengan informasi mengenai rencana pengembangannya di masa depan yang masih sangat sedikit. India dan Pakistan telah membuat pernyataan tentang uji coba rudal mereka, namun informasi tentang status atau ukuran persenjataan nuklir yang dimiliki tetap dirahasiakan. Sama seperti India dan Pakistan, Korea Utara juga mengakui uji coba rudal dan senjata nuklir telah dilaksanakan, namun tidak memberikan informasi mengenai kapasitas senjata nuklir mereka. Sesuai dengan kebijakan lamanya, Israel hingga saat ini tidak mengomentari persenjataan nuklir mereka. Kurangnya transparansi dari negara-negara pemilik senjata nuklir dan tidak terprediksinya ketegangan geopolitik yang mungkin muncul, berperan terhadap meningkatnya rasa takut akan munculnya perang nuklir lain. 

Peristiwa Hiroshima dan Nagasaki yang menewaskan sekitar 129.000 hingga 226.000 orang yang kebanyakan adalah warga sipil merupakan pengingat betapa destruktif dan berbahayanya perang nuklir. Harapan para warga sipil bergantung pada rasionalitas kepala negara untuk terus mengingat dampak dari perang nuklir dan menahan diri untuk menggunakan senjata nuklir yang dimiliki sebagai senjata perang. Akan tetapi kekhawatiran muncul di tahun 2018 silam ketika Donald Trump yang saat itu masih menjabat sebagai presiden AS, tidak ragu melontarkan ancaman untuk menyerang negara lain dengan senjata nuklirnya. Trump menanggapi pernyataan pemimpin Korea Utara –Kim Jong Un – bahwa “[the] Nuclear Button is always on my table (Tombol Nuklir selalu berada di atas meja saya), dengan cuitan “…I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful than his, and my Button works! (Saya juga memiliki Tombol Nuklir, yang lebih besar dan lebih kuat dari miliknya, dan Tombol saya bekerja).” Tidak ragunya kepala negara dalam melontarkan ancaman untuk menggunakan Tombol Nuklir mereka dan memulai perang nuklir di abad ke 21, terus mengingatkan bahwa selama senjata nuklir masih ada dan terus dikembangkan maka dunia masih berada dibawah ancaman perang nuklir.

Studi survei yang dilaksanakan oleh International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) terhadap lebih dari 16.000 generasi milenial (responden berumur antara 20-35) di 16 negara yang dibagi menjadi negara yang mengalami perang atau konflik dan negara yang tidak, menunjukkan bahwa kekhawatiran akan pecahnya perang nuklir masih membayangi generasi milenial. Menurut hasil studi yang bertajuk Millennials on War, 54% responden meyakini bahwa senjata nuklir masih akan digunakan sebagai alat perang dalam 10 tahun ke depan. Mayoritas responden (84%) menunjukkan oposisi mereka terhadap penggunaan senjata nuklir dalam keadaan apapun. Sekitar 64% responden setuju bahwa negara-negara pemilik senjata nuklir harus mengeliminasi senjata nuklir mereka, dan 59% responden setuju bahwa negara yang tidak memiliki senjata nuklir tidak perlu memilikinya. 

Referensi

Biden and Putin agree: “Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” (2021). DW. https://www.dw.com/en/biden-and-putin-agree-nuclear-war-cannot-be-won-and-must-never-be-fought/a-57921072

China. (2021). NTI. https://www.nti.org/learn/countries/china/

Global Britain in a competitive age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. (2021). HM Government. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/969402/The_Integrated_Review_of_Security__Defence__Development_and_Foreign_Policy.pdf

Global nuclear arsenals grow as states continue to modernize. (2021). Stockholm International Peace Research. https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2021/global-nuclear-arsenals-grow-states-continue-modernize-new-sipri-yearbook-out-now

Løvold, M. (2020). Lessons from the ICRC’s Millennials on War Survey for Communication and Advocacy on Nuclear Weapons. Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, 3(2), 410–417. https://doi.org/10.1080/25751654.2020.1859216

Millennials on War. (2020). International Committee of the Red Cross.

Moniz, E. J., & Nunn, S. (2019). The Return of Doomsday: The New Nuclear Arms Race -and How Washington and Moscow Can Stop It. Foreign Affairs. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/2019-08-06/return-doomsday

SIPRI Yearbook 2019. (2019). https://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2019/06

Trump to Kim: My nuclear button is “bigger and more powerful.” (2018). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42549687

United Kingdom. (2021). NTI. https://www.nti.org/learn/countries/united-kingdom/


Penulis : Nabilah Nur Abiyanti

Commentaries : Belajar dari Tragedi Kemanusiaan Hiroshima dan Nagasaki

Senjata nuklir adalah senjata pemusnah massal yang memiliki dampak paling dahsyat dibandingkan dengan senjata-senjata pemusnah massal yang lain. Senjata ini memiliki daya ledak yang sangat besar dan memberikan dampak yang sangat menghancurkan serta mematikan bagi umat manusia dan lingkungan sekitar. Seperti akibat dari ledakan bom nuklir di Hiroshima dan Nagasaki yang dapat meluluh-lantakan sebuah kota, menghancurkan bangunan, merusak lingkungan sekitar, serta menimbulkan korban jiwa dan luka-luka. Dampak senjata nuklir bahkan dapat terus memberikan pengaruh jangka panjang kepada umat manusia maupun lingkungan alam di area tersebut. Ironisnya senjata nuklir adalah satu-satunya senjata pemusnah massal dan tidak manusiawi yang memiliki status legal sampai diadopsinya Perjanjian Pelarangan Senjata Nuklir (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, TPNW) tahun 2017.

Sepanjang sejarah, senjata nuklir baru digunakan dalam pertempuran antara kekuatan Sekutu melawan kekuatan Poros pada Perang Dunia Kedua. Pada pagi hari, di tanggal 6 Agustus 1945, pesawat Enola Gay yang diterbangkan oleh pilot bernama Paul W. Tibbets melintasi kota Hiroshima dan menjatuhkan sebuah bom atom ke pusat kota industri yang padat penduduk tersebut. Hasilnya adalah kehancuran yang masif. Mengutip dari ICAN, bom atom yang dijatuhkan tersebut memiliki daya ledak setara dengan 15.000 ton TNT, menyebabkan 140.000 penduduk meninggal di akhir tahun 1945, dan 70 persen bangunan rata dengan tanah. Sementara data dari Pemerintah Kota Hiroshima menyebutkan sebanyak 320.000 warga terdampak, di antaranya 118.000 warga meninggal pada hari itu juga. Pada waktu itu, penduduk Hiroshima berjumlah sekitar 350.000 jiwa. 

Tiga hari kemudian, pasukan Amerika Serikat kembali menjatuhkan bom atom yang bernama “Fat Boy” ke kota Nagasaki yang berjarak 410 kilometer dari kota Hiroshima dan mengakibatkan sekitar 74.000 warga sipil meninggal dunia serta menghancurkan berbagai bangunan dan infrastruktur kota. Berbagai sumber melaporkan bahwa hanya dalam hitungan detik, sebuah ledakan bom atom dapat menyebabkan terbentuknya awan menyerupai kubah jamur setinggi 13 kilometer menjulang ke udara kota Hiroshima dan Nagasaki. Sesudahnya, gelombang panas menyapu kota menyebabkan kebakaran dan diikuti hujan abu yang mengguyur seluruh kota.

Seorang saksi bernama Tsutomu Yamaguchi ingat betul betapa mengerikan kejadian di hari itu. Mengutip dari dw.com, pagi itu Yamaguchi dalam perjalanan ke tempat kerja, tiba-tiba dia melihat sambaran kilat yang sangat menyilaukan dan kemudian terdengar ledakan yang sangat dahsyat. Ia mengalami luka bakar yang parah dan menyaksikan situasi di sekitarnya yang sangat kacau. Gedung perkantoran, rumah, jembatan dan bangunan lainnya hancur berantakan, membuat kota industri Hiroshima hampir rata tanah dan korban dengan luka bakar yang mengerikan bergelimpangan. Pengalaman serupa juga disampaikan oleh para hibakusha, sebutan bagi para korban selamat yang terdampak efek bom atom Hiroshima dan Nagasaki, diantaranya Matsushima Keijiro, Ogura Keiko, Takahashi Akihiro, dan beberapa lainnya. 

Yamaguchi merupakan seorang hibakusha yang unik, karena mengalami dua kali peristiwa pengeboman dua kota di negeri Sakura itu. Tidak menyangka akan adanya petaka serupa, mengutip dari Deutsche Welle (DW), Yamaguchi memutuskan kembali ke kampung halaman di Nagasaki pada tanggal 8 Agustus 1945 dimana keesokan harinya pasukan Amerika Serikat kembali menjatuhkan bom atom di kota kelahirannya. Lagi, dia mengalami secara langsung kejadian mengerikan dalam sejarah hidupnya, bahkan dalam sejarah umat manusia di seluruh dunia. 

Tidak selesai di hari itu saja, ledakan bom di Hiroshima dan Nagasaki juga menyisakan berbagai penderitaan bagi hibakusha untuk jangka waktu yang lama. Paparan radiasi yang disebarkan menimbulkan penyakit-penyakit seperti kanker, leukimia, kerusakan organ, risiko keguguran tinggi, dan dampak psikologis berkepanjangan yang harus ditanggung oleh para penyintas. Dampak radiasi internal dari nuklir ini juga menjadi indikator yang diakui oleh Kementerian Kesehatan Jepang untuk menjadi basis pemberian kompensasi kepada para penyintas. Selain itu, para hibakusha juga harus mengalami diskriminasi sosial seumur hidupnya akibat stigma sebagai pembawa gen cacat dan penyakit. Selama berpuluh tahun, para hibakusha kesulitan untuk mencari pasangan dan diterima di lingkungan pekerjaan layaknya warga Jepang biasa.

Laporan dari Economic Stabilization Board di tahun 1949 juga menunjukkan kerugian ekonomi yang cukup fantastis akibat peristiwa tersebut. Kerugian yang ditimbulkan oleh kerusakan bangunan, infrastruktur, jalan, dan fasilitas komunikasi di Hiroshima dan Nagasaki mencapai total $17.682.000 (kurs 1947: 1 dolar AS/50 yen). Besaran ini belum termasuk biaya rehabilitasi kota, bantuan sosial bagi korban, dan pemulihan lingkungan. Dampak yang ditimbulkan terhadap lingkungan tidaklah main-main. Radiasi dari bom atom menyebabkan pencemaran bagi lahan dan hasil pertanian, perikanan, dan air bersih yang menjadi konsumsi sehari-hari tidak hanya oleh warga Hiroshima dan Nagasaki, tapi juga mencakup wilayah-wilayah lain di sekitarnya. Radiasi ini menempel selama bertahun-tahun lamanya, menyebabkan kelangkaan sumber pangan lokal yang layak dikonsumsi.

Untuk mengenang sekaligus selalu mengingatkan masyarakat Jepang dan juga masyarakat global, maka pemerintah Jepang mendirikan 2 buah museum. Jika anda mengunjungi kota Hiroshima, Jepang, maka anda akan menemukan Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, di mana terdapat sebuah monumen peringatan peristiwa peledakan bom atom yang terjadi di kota tersebut 76 tahun yang lalu. Terdapat satu bangunan bernama Gembaku Dome, satu-satunya gedung yang masih tersisa hingga hari ini, menjadi saksi biru peristiwa memilukan di kota industri yang cukup maju di Jepang pada masanya. Sedangkan di kota Nagasaki didirikan Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Kedua Museum ini menyimpan sisa-sisa reruntuhan, foto, dan dokumen penting lainnya yang menghadirkan realita di masa kelam itu.

Belajar dari peristiwa di dua kota bersejarah di Jepang, penggunaan senjata nuklir di masa mendatang sama sekali tidak dapat dibenarkan secara moral dan kemanusiaan. Dampak yang ditimbulkannya tidak dapat memenuhi dua prinsip utama dari Hukum Humaniter Internasional, yaitu prinsip pembedaan dan prinsip proporsionalitas. Saat senjata nuklir diledakkan, maka akibat dari ledakan itu tidak dapat membedakan siapa atau apa objek yang akan terkena dampaknya, apakah dia pihak dan objek militer atau sipil. Peristiwa Hiroshima dan Nagasaki menunjukkan bahwa 90 persen korban adalah penduduk sipil yang seharusnya merupakan pihak-pihak yang wajib dilindungi dalam situasi apapun, bahkan dalam situasi perang. Begitupun, ledakan bom nuklir tersebut tidak dapat memilih hanya akan menyasar target militer, karena terbukti sebagian besar gedung dan infrastruktur sipil rusak dan hancur akibat pengeboman tersebut.

Penggunaan senjata nuklir di dua kota ini juga memberi pelajaran berharga bagaimana penggunaannya telah memberikan dampak yang tidak proporsional untuk mencapai tujuan militer yang sah. Dampak pengeboman tersebut telah menyebabkan kesakitan yang luar biasa dan tidak perlu, telah menghilangkan korban nyawa yang sangat masif, dan korban harta benda yang tak ternilai. Dampaknya pun tidak hanya dirasakan pada saat itu, tetapi terus berlanjut hingga puluhan tahun setelahnya. 

Lebih dari tujuh dasawarsa sejak bom atom dijatuhkan di Hiroshima dan Nagasaki, derita kemanusiaan yang ditimbulkannya masih dirasakan dan mengusik rasa kemanusiaan kita. Tetapi, kesadaran untuk menghapuskan ancaman kemanusiaan tersebut dari muka bumi ternyata masih jauh dari harapan. Umat manusia masih hidup dalam bayang-bayang ancaman kepunahan dengan hampir 15.000 bom nuklir yang ada di dunia ini. Hadirnya Traktat Pelarangan Senjata Nuklir pada tahun 2017 memberi secercah harapan bahwa dunia yang bebas dari bayang-bayang senjata nuklir bukan sebuah ilusi, sekalipun untuk mencapainya bukan perjalanan yang pendek dan mudah.

Peristiwa Hiroshima dan Nagasaki memberi peringatan kepada kita untuk jangan pernah mengulang petaka kemanusiaan ini. Penting untuk meresapi secara mendalam, satu pesan penting yang tertulis di dekat Bel Perdamaian di Museum Hiroshima, ”We dedicate this bell as a symbol of Hiroshima Aspiration. Let all nuclear arms and wars be gone, and the nations live in true peace!” Pesan ini semestinya menyadarkan kita akan urgensi pelarangan senjata dan perang nuklir agar umat manusia dapat hidup dalam perdamaian yang hakiki.

Referensi

Bugnion, Francois. (1995). “Remembering Hiroshima. International Review of the Red Cross, No. 306. https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/resources/documents/article/other/57jmge.htm

Higan-No-Kai, Hiroshima. (1964). Hiroshima Peace Bell. https://travel.gaijinpot.com/hiroshima-peace-bell/

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings. (2021). ICAN. https://www.icanw.org/hiroshima_and_nagasaki_bombings

Hiroshima’s Path to Reconstruction. (2015). Hiroshima Prefecture and The City of Hiroshima.

Kisah Tsutomu Yamaguchi Selamat dari Bom Atom Hiroshima dan Nagasaki. (2020).

https://www.dw.com/id/tsutomu-yamaguchi-selamat-dari-bom-hiroshima-dan-nagasaki/a-54463122

Naono, Akino (2019). “The Origins of ‘Hibakusha’ as a Scientific and Political Classification of the Survivor”. Japanese Studies 39(3): 333-352.

Rothman, L. (2017). After the Bomb: Survivors of the Atomic Blast in Hiroshima and Nagasaki Share Their Stories. TIME. https://time.com/after-the-bomb/

Solomon, F. & Marston, R.  (1986). The Medical Implications of Nuclear War. National Academy of Sciences. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/940.html


Penulis : Ririn Tri Nurhayati

Commentaries : Jalan Terjal Menuju Dunia Bebas Senjata Nuklir

Bencana yang diakibatkan oleh ledakan bom atom yang dijatuhkan di Hiroshima dan Nagasaki pada tanggal 6 dan 9 Agustus untuk menghentikan perang di Pasifik adalah sebuah tragedi besar dalam sejarah umat manusia. Korban jiwa, skala kerusakan serta dampak yang ditimbulkan oleh ledakan senjata nuklir tersebut seolah membangunkan masyarakat internasional dari mimpi buruk dan mendorong tekad untuk memusnahkan senjata tersebut. Seruan untuk menghapuskan sepenuhnya senjata nuklir serta untuk mendirikan sebuah badan untuk menangani senjata nuklir menjadi resolusi pertama yang dikeluarkan oleh Majelis Umum PBB setelah lembaga dunia tersebut didirikan.

Tetapi, tekad untuk menyelamatkan umat manusia dari kehancuran ternyata tidak cukup kuat untuk membebaskan dunia dari senjata nuklir. Terbukti, resolusi PBB untuk menghapuskan senjata nuklir tidak menghalangi negara-negara besar untuk mengembangkan senjata nuklir mereka. Tiga tahun setelah resolusi PBB dikeluarkan, Uni Soviet melakukan uji coba senjata nuklirnya di  Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan dan menjadi negara kedua yang memiliki senjata nuklir. Inggris menyusul Uni Soviet dengan melakukan uji coba senjata nuklir di Australia pada tahun 1952, diikuti oleh Perancis di Pasifik Selatan tahun 1960 dan Cina di Provinsi Sinkiang pada tahun 1962. Praktis kelima negara anggota tetap Dewan Keamanan PBB identik dengan negara-negara yang memiliki senjata nuklir.

Kekhawatiran akan munculnya persaingan dalam pengembangan senjata nuklir mendorong munculnya upaya-upaya untuk membatasi uji coba senjata nuklir seperti Perjanjian Antartika 1959 yang melarang uji coba nuklir maupun penimbunan limbah radioaktif di Antartika maupun Perjanjian Uji Coba Nuklir Parsial 1963 yang melarang uji coba nuklir di atmosfer, luar angkasa dan di bawah air. Sementara itu, berbagai protes terhadap pengembangan senjata nuklir mulai bermunculan. Di tengah-tengah meningkatnya persaingan Timur-Barat, sekelompok ilmuwan ternama yang dipelopori oleh Albert Einstein dan Bertrand Russell mengeluarkan manifesto yang mengingatkan akan bahaya perang nuklir dan mendesak semua negara untuk menyelesaikan perselisihan secara damai. Demonstrasi-demonstrasi menentang senjata nuklir juga berlangsung di berbagai negara. Pada tahun 1958 terbentuk Kampanye untuk Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament dengan simbol CND, yang sekarang dikenal sebagai simbol perdamaian.

Upaya internasional untuk mencegah penyebaran senjata nuklir dengan visi untuk akhirnya menghapuskannya muncul dalam bentuk Perjanjian Non Proliferasi Nuklir atau NPT (Treaty on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation) tahun 1968. Perjanjian ini ditopang oleh 3 pilar yakni non proliferasi, perlucutan senjata, dan penggunaan energi nuklir untuk tujuan-tujuan damai. Melalui NPT, negara-negara yang hingga tahun 1968 belum melakukan uji coba senjata nuklir, dilarang mengembangkan atau memiliki senjata nuklir, sementara kelima negara yang telah melakukannya, berhak memiliki senjata nuklir meski tetap harus menunjukkan itikad untuk menghapuskannya. 

Sebagai sebuah rezim nuklir internasional, NPT relatif efektif untuk mencegah pengembangan atau kepemilikan senjata nuklir oleh lebih banyak negara, meskipun gagal menghalangi negara-negara tertentu seperti Israel, India, Pakistan dan Korea Utara. Sebagian negara-negara ini tidak menandatangani NPT. Disamping itu,  negara-negara pemilik senjata nuklir juga tidak pernah menunjukkan komitmen atau itikad baiknya untuk secara bertahap mengurangi dan akhirnya menghapuskan senjata nuklir dari doktrin pertahanan mereka. Berbagai negosiasi perlucutan senjata yang dilakukan cenderung lebih dimaksudkan untuk menjamin keseimbangan kepemilikan senjata nuklir daripada mengurangi, apalagi menghapuskannya.

Konsekuensinya, sampai saat ini, hampir 15 ribu hulu ledak nuklir masih mengancam dan membayangi masa depan umat manusia, lebih dari 75 tahun sejak masyarakat internasional bertekad untuk menghapuskannya. Bahkan terdapat kecenderungan ancaman senjata nuklir semakin riil dan tidak lagi merupakan kemustahilan (lihat tulisan-tulisan berikutnya).

Diadopsinya Perjanjian Internasional Pelarangan Senjata Nuklir (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons) yang dikenal dengan TPNW pada tahun 2017 menjadi harapan baru bagi umat manusia untuk hidup tanpa dibayangi ancaman senjata nuklir. TPNW bukan terminal terakhir dari upaya untuk mencapai dunia bebas dari senjata nuklir. Sebaliknya, TPNW merupakan awal dari perjalanan yang mungkin masih akan sangat panjang bagi terwujudnya dunia bebas senjata nuklir. Tetapi perjalanan harus dimulai. Bisa jadi, kita tidak akan menikmati dunia yang kita angankan itu, tetapi tidak berlebihan rasanya untuk berharap agar anak cucu kita yang akan hidup lebih damai bebas dari bayang-bayang ancaman senjata nuklir.

 

Referensi

 

Dowling, S. (2017). The monster atomic bomb that was too big to use. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20170816-the-monster-atomic-bomb-that-was-too-big-to-use

 

From misplaced emblem in London to iconic – the UN General Assembly across 70 years. (2016). United Nations. https://news.un.org/en/story/2016/01/519682-feature-misplaced-emblem-london-iconic-hall-un-general-assembly-across-70-years

 

People’s history of CND – demonstrators in Trafalgar Square in 1959. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. https://cnduk.org/peoples-history-of-cnd-demonstrators-in-trafalgar-square-1959/

 

SIPRI Yearbook 2021. (2021). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. https://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2021


Writer : Muhadi Sugiono

It’s Time to Rethink Jakarta’s Water Governance

As if the COVID-19 crisis is not enough, Jakarta is now also facing another flood catastrophe. Most recently, flooding affected around 200 neighborhood units (RT) and forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Indonesia is currently facing a series of disasters including floods, landslides, whirlwinds and extreme droughts in some parts of the country. According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the number of disasters has nearly tripled in the past five years from around 1,664 in 2015 to 3,023 in 2020.

Of course the usual culprit of these disasters is climate change, which according to Prof. Edvin Aldrian of the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) is caused by environmental changes and degradation within and without the country.

While it is not untrue, there is more than meets the eye: it is the failure of urban water planning and governance which has contributed to Jakarta’s persistent flooding. Overlooking the root causes will not only undermine the deeper issue, but also shift the attention to quick and temporary technological fixes that only exacerbate the environmental catastrophe.

The flooding in Jakarta this year was timely as Vox, a US media outlet, published a video report on Jakarta’s environmental crisis, which has caused the city to sink as fast as 25 centimeters annually. The report associates this crisis with Dutch-inherited segregated water infrastructure, massive groundwater exploitation and rapid urban development leading to a proliferation of concrete that prevents rainwater from replenishing water lost from the city’s aquifer layers.

These issues, however, cannot be solved with simple technological fixes. Rather they require a rearrangement of water governance that has proven to have failed to provide equal and sustainable access to the city’s population.

This failure is evident in three aspects: the exclusion of the urban poor from the governance process, the blurry lines between rights and responsibilities of the stakeholders, and the elite-centric decision-making process.

In an effort to do so, we can start by rethinking our water governance approach that currently focuses on the centralized water infrastructure to also incorporate a variety of everyday water practices. These have been chosen by people either because they are excluded from the network or because their access is limited due to the weak water pressure, or the unreliable and low-quality supply of the available network.

The reality of water governance in Jakarta is not reflected in the networked infrastructure that only covers 65 percent of the population with the majority of customers coming from middle to lower income households. Considering service unreliability that is not consistent with constant tariff increases, even those who are connected also fulfill their water needs either from groundwater, rainwater harvesting or bottled water.

According to the report from Amrta Institute, more than 60 percent of the city’s water needs are fulfilled by groundwater, which serves nearly two-thirds of the city’s water consumption, or around 630 million cubic metre out of 1 billion m3/year.

Unfortunately, the discussion on Jakarta’s water governance has been biased toward the centralized infrastructure, which is problematic for three main reasons. First, it reinforces a legacy of the colonial government water development planning, which is socially and geographically fragmented. This has inherently prevented the urban poor, especially those who live in informal settlements, from both accessing the piped water infrastructure and participating in the governance process.

Second, centralized piped water infrastructure is often used as a justification for private sector participation due the government’s lack of capacity to fund capital costs. However, as evident in Jakarta, neither public nor private operators have successfully ensured adequate and sustainable water service provision for the population, even those who adhere to pro-poor initiatives.

Lastly, the focus on centralized infrastructure promotes the development of big-infrastructural projects as a band-aid for the environmental catastrophe while neglecting the underlying issue of water governance failure. For example, the construction of a USD$40 billion giant sea wall to prevent seawater from overflowing into the already sinking city does not address the underlying problems and often comes at a cost of forced eviction of many informal settlements which burdens the already excluded urban poor.

Thus, there is a need to look beyond the networked water infrastructure by considering everyday water practices in which people interact within and outside the centralized infrastructure. Such practices include buying water from neighbors, collecting water from public stand-pipes, purchasing from pushcart vendors and extracting groundwater from shallow or deep wells.

Looking at these everyday practices will allow us to unveil the different manifestations of water inequalities in terms of distribution, recognition and participation. For example, research by Kooy and Furlong in 2018 found that over-abstraction of groundwater in rich neighborhoods has led to salinization of shallow groundwater and land-subsidence in poor neighborhoods, exposing the urban poor to higher risk of flooding and poorer water quality.

Equally important, paying attention to everyday water practices will not only allow us to understand the different manifestations of urban water inequality but also enable us to capture local knowledge and practices that have been filling the gap left by the centralized water infrastructure. This will counter the disempowering image of the urban poor as a passive recipient or victim of Jakarta’s unequal water governance.

This article does not seek to diminish the importance of centralized piped water infrastructure or the urgency for people to be connected to a piped water source, instead it seeks to highlight the need to look beyond the centralized network in order to develop a more holistic understanding of Jakarta’s water governance.

Hopefully, this will lead to the creation of an inclusive and sustainable urban water governance that allows for more equitable access to water, increasing recognition and larger space for participation especially for marginalized communities including the poor in informal settlements, women, migrants and the disabled.

 

This article has been published by the Jakarta Post and can also be accessed via the following link: https://www.thejakartapost.com/paper/2021/02/26/its-time-to-rethink-jakartas-water-governance.html


Writer : Marwa

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

The Striking Generational Divide, Explained

Generational “finger-pointing” is not a novel concept and has existed for centuries within multitude of generations, each blaming the other for issues and ideas neither generation wants to take accountability for.  Both Gen Y (people born between the years 1980-1994) and Gen Z (people born between the years 1995-2010) have formed an alliance to push back on the older generations, specifically the Baby Boomers. A clash of ideas and a point of difference of views on society has struck tension between generations, preventing a progressive society from fully forming.

The younger generation is racially diverse, environmentally and socially conscious, and have a clear vision for how they want their future to unfold (Valencia-Garcia 2020). However, it is apparent that the ideas of the younger generations contrast sharply with older generations, who tend to reject policy reforms or ideas presented by the youth. A difference in “expectations of the future, ethics and politics” (Birnstengel 2019) has formed a generational split and prevents society from progressing entirely. The generational divide is not only based on family morals and ethics but is also an accumulation of different people living fundamentally different lives and experiencing different circumstances in general. Technology and politics are two key factors that have continually evolved through generations and have influenced generation’s perspective on society deeply (Birnstengel 2019).

Today, the debate on generationalism is centered around how a nation should look and exactly what kinds of people should be a part of that nation. Millennials and Gen Z have been defined by the rise of the internet and identity politics. They grew up with the internet, but also remember a life in analogue (Frey 2020). They have experienced economic crises and watched the War on Terror unfold, and as a result are concerned for their futures due to the large influence capitalist and traditionalist institutions still have on society (Valencia-Garcia 2020). Older generations are wanting to protect these outdated institutions that uphold their own old-fashioned values in order to push their agendas on the nation. Pew Research centre research found that the upcoming younger generation was the most ethically and racially diverse generation to date, fundamentally driving their progressive attitudes (Birnstengel 2019).

A distinct issue that has caused great generational divide is the climate crisis. Younger people across the world have grown up with more exposure to the effects of climate change than the older generations (Cohen 2019). Thus, young adults in current day are of higher concern about climate change as they understand the implications better and are more educated on the topic. The attitudes of younger generations and their beliefs has pushed an agenda to resolve the climate crisis dramatically, creating very real social change that is being reflected in policy changes around the world (Cohen 2019). Although the impacts of climate change are ever present and should be dealt with immediately, the push for policy change around the environment is a reflection of the youth’s priorities for society. Along with climate change, issues such as racial justice and social inclusivity are other examples of younger generations pushing important issues.

Older generations accuse younger generations of naivety and younger generations don’t understand their parochialism. Potentially, a middle ground could be met where older generations feel their needs are being fulfilled while society continues to progress as a whole. However, generational gaps will continue to arise if unity is not formed or perceptions do not alter to accommodate for one another

 

REFERENCES:

Birnstengel, G 2019, Boomer Blaming, Finger Pointing and The Generational Divide, Forbes, retrieved February 2 2021

Cohen, S 2019, The Age Gap in Environmental Politics, Earth Institute, Columbia University, retrieved February 2 2021

Frey, W 2020, The 2020s can end America’s generational divide in politics, Brookings, retrieved February 2 2021

Valencia-Garcia, L 2020, Understanding Today’s Generational Divide, Fair Observer, retrieved February 2 2021


Writer : Emily Camilleri

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

Military Coup 2021 and the Stalemate of Democratization Process in Myanmar

The dream of becoming a fully democratic country is perhaps still a long way off for people in Myanmar. A coup or a seizure of power by the military has occurred, marking a sign of stalemate in the democratization process in Myanmar for the last decade. On February 1st, 2021, local news outlets and various international media reported that Aung San Suu Kyi as the state counselor and Myanmar’s de facto leader had been detained by the Myanmar military (Regan, Olarn, and Westcott, 2021). Not only Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, the leader of the government, and several other government officials have also been detained. In addition, the military also declared a state of emergency and took over power for at least the next year (DW, 2021).

 The military claims that the arrests are related to an alleged fraud in November 2020 election. In the election, The National League for Democracy, a political party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won a significant victory by obtaining 396 out of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of Parliament. This victory is certainly a threat in itself, at least in terms military’s guaranteed 25% parliamentary seats (Shine OO, 2021).  Although currently the conflict is still limited to the elite level, the impact of this struggle for power has begun to  spread towards citizen of Myanmar with the broadcast disruptions of the Myanmar National TV station and Myanmar National Radio. It was also reported that there was internet network disruption in the capital Yangon on Tuesday morning with network connections dropping by 75 percent (DW, 2021).

The democratic crisis that occurred in Myanmar received strong reactions from various international actors. The United States threatened to take action and ensure that Myanmar’s military would get consequences if they did not comply with democratic principles. UN Secretary General Antonio Gutieress also criticized the incident, saying that it was a serious blow for Myanmar democracy. Various criticisms have also come from international humanitarian organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that have been calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and denounced access to communications and internet networks (Al Jazeera, 2021).

Myanmar’s Pseudo Democratization Process

This recent event is certainly a major stumbling block for the struggle towards democracy in Myanmar. Optimism for the creation of a democratic civilian government must now be confronted with the existence of the military which has again shown its influence in Myanmar’s political struggle of power. Whereas, after the political reforms carried out by President U Thein Sein which was marked by changing the mode of government from a total military junta to a hybrid civil-military administration in 2011, optimism for the new face of democracy in Myanmar was getting bigger, both domestically and internationally. With various concessions granted in 2011 including commitment to democratic elections and loosening media control, political spaces that have been controlled by the military were becoming an open contestation for civilians to take part in politics. The peak was in 2015 when the National League of Democracy won the election with a significant number of votes. As a result, the NLD effectively took state legislative power from the military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and officially granted the reins of executive power to civilians (Ko, 2018).

Although it appears that there has been a marked development in the democratic process after the election of civilian leaders through democratic elections in 2015, the reality is that the democratic process in Myanmar is far from being successful and completed. It even tends to appear as pseudo democratization. The point of pseudo-democratization here is that although on the surface there was a power transition from military to civilian, there has never been any attempt to reduce military power either in any level of the government. In the 2008 constitution, which is still in effect today, for example, the military is automatically guaranteed to get 25 percent of seats in the Myanmar parliament. The same constitution also states that every legislative decision must get at least 75 percent of the members of the Myanmar parliament. With the automatic allotment of 25 percent of seats for the military, it means that all forms of Myanmar legislative decisions must be approved by the Military faction in parliament to fulfil the minimum requirement of 75 percent, and the Military has the opportunity to veto all decisions discussed in the legislative process (Miclat, 2020). Moreover, the 2008 constitution also gives the Military control to key ministries such as the ministry of defense, the ministry of border affairs, and the ministry of home affairs (Turner, 2011). In addition, the military still has a strong influence on Myanmar’s bureaucracy where 90 percent of public officials and 80 percent of ambassadors are ex-military personnel, so that a more democratic political climate will be difficult to create (Ko, 2018).

To further understand the democratization process in Myanmar, we must also look at the history of the political reforms that took place in 2011. Although during that period President Thein Sein received a lot of praise from international community for his decision to encourage political liberalization that has reduced repression and created avenues for civil participation in the institutions, the main motive of the reforms is still being debated. As summarized by Bunte and Dosch (2015), political scientists see that political reform carried out by Myanmar was a “survival strategy of the quasi-military government” to overcome the danger of factionalism and to increase regime durability by creating power-sharing institutions. Several other political scientists said that this strategy was a military effort to increase Myanmar’s legitimacy in the international world as well as to improve Myanmar’s worrying socio-political conditions with international sanctions and the post-Cyclone Nargis recovery conditions that ravaged the country in 2008 (Bunte and Dosch, 2015).

By looking from the history of the democratization process in Myanmar especially related to the 2011 event, we can conclude that in fact this political reform is the result of generosity from the previous military government, therefore it is very likely that one day the military government will take back the “gift” if something does not go according to their expectations. Moreover, the bureaucratic climate in fact, which is still controlled by many military elements, will certainly make it easier for the military to mobilize its strength to take over power in the future. In contrast to other countries, for example, such as Indonesia, which demilitarized post-reform political elements in 1998 by eliminating military dual function, efforts to reduce military influence in Myanmar politics were minimal, as evidenced by the persistence of the tight military control on the aspects of Myanmar’s political life both in the legislative sector with a 25 percent military quota in parliament, as well as the quota of three important ministries in the executive sphere, namely the Ministry of Defense which has authority over Myanmar Armed Forces, Ministry of Border Affairs which controls border affairs of the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs which is in charge of administrative affairs and control of the police, narrows the space for civil society in political affairs in the country so that their resistance to political crises such as a coup became very vulnerable (Prameswaran, 2020).

From this event we can see that this military coup is an attempt by the Myanmar military to take back what they consider to be their right – full power and influence in all aspects of the life of the Myanmar people – as well as preventing the possibility of developing an external power that can rival their existence. The NLD’s landslide victory in the Myanmar elections, as well as the decline in the votes obtained by the USDP as the party backed by the military (The Irrawady, 2020), certainly is a big enough blow to the military’s existence so that they must take certain steps to maintain their power by carrying out a forced takeover of power and alleging that election fraud has occurred.

For Myanmar’s civil society, they do not have much choice but to wait for the situation to subside and hope that political stability in their country can be quickly upheld. The absence of Aung San Suu Kyi and several other civilian political figures who were detained by the military would have been a major blow to the struggle of civil society because so far they have relied on Aung San Suu Kyi as a political mouthpiece for the majority of Myanmar civil society. The strong control in every aspect of society as well as the fear of persecution, intimidation, and the silencing of freedom of speech which was marked by the shutdown of television, radio and internet broadcasts in Myanmar became an obstacle to civil society’s resistance efforts to the political crisis that was happening on their homeland.

What Myanmar Coup 2021 means for the international community?

With the limited number of actions that civil society groups can take in Myanmar, there are currently great hopes placed on the international community to be able to take certain steps to save the democratic process in that country. Criticism has already been made, but of course this will not be enough without being accompanied by firm steps that will put great pressure on the existence of military forces in Myanmar.

The biggest challenge faced by the United States as a country that has been committed to promoting and ensuring the smooth running of the democratization process around the world. Moreover, this event is the first challenge for the new government under President Joe Biden who was appointed at the beginning of the year. After the resignation of Donald Trump, who tends to have an inward looking policy, the United States is currently required to show its hegemony as a leading country, especially in the democratization process which has been their commitment. But of course these steps will not be that easy. In Myanmar’s affairs, America must face China, which has a big interest in the country, especially in the economic sector related to oil and natural gas. In contrast to the United States, which immediately gave a strong reaction, China prefers to be more careful in responding to this case while calling on the warring parties to resolve the political crisis with a peaceful manner (Wintour, 2021).

ASEAN as a regional organization and the countries that are members of it, especially Brunei Darussalam, which has just been entrusted with the ASEAN Chairmanship starting January 1, 2021 also faced the challenge of being able to help resolve this political crisis. Even though there is the principle of non-interference that must be upheld, however, ASEAN countries must be able to play an active role in efforts to prevent potential conflicts. For example, ASEAN as an organization as well as certain ASEAN countries must be able to encourage and facilitate peaceful discussions between conflicting parties if needed. In this case ASEAN is required to be able to create a just, democratic, harmonious and gender-sensitive environment in accordance with the principles of democracy, good governance and the rule of law in accordance with ASEAN Vision 2025. But this will not be an easy thing for ASEAN. In fact, shortly after the event there were various reactions from its member countries. Brunei as chairman of ASEAN, followed by various countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore through an official statement, has raised their concern and urged that this issue can be resolved peacefully in accordance with applicable legal principles. Even so, several countries including Cambodia and Thailand chose not to comment further and considered that this matter was an internal Myanmar affair and they considered that they had no right to interfere either in the ASEAN framework or in the bilateral framework. It will be difficult for ASEAN to think of a multilateral framework that can help resolve this crisis if its members are not in one voice in responding to this issue.

Historically, pressure from the international community has proven to be able to push for policy reforms that are considered de facto starting the democratization process in Myanmar in 2011. In the current  situation, when the people of Myanmar are again facing a political crisis caused by the excessive display of political power from the military, the role of the international community in giving pressure to the military action in Myanmar will be crucial in ensuring the political stability and the sustainability of the democratization process in Myanmar.

 

References

 

Al Jazeera. (2021). ‘Serious Blow to Democracy’: World Condemns Myanmar Military Coup. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/1/world-reacts-to-military-coup-in-myanmar

Bünte, M., & Dosch, J. (2015). Myanmar: Political Reforms and the Recalibration of External Relations. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 34(2), 3-19.

Channel News Asia. (2021). ASEAN Chair Brunei Calls for ‘Dialogue, Reconciliation and Return to Normalcy’ in Myanmar. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/myanmar-asean-aung-san-suu-kyi-military-coup-14087150

Deutsche Welle. (2021). Myanmar Coup: Aung San Suu Kyi Detained as Military Seizes Power. Retrieved from https://www.dw.com/en/myanmar-coup-aung-san-suu-kyi-detained-as-military-seizes-power/a-56400678

Helen Regan, Kocha Olarn, & Westcott, B. (2021). Myanmar’s Military Seizes Power in Coup after Detaining Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Ruling Party Politicians. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/31/world/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi-detained-intl/index.html

Irrawaddy, T. (2020). Myanmar’s 2020 General Election Results in Numbers. Election 2020. Retrieved from https://www.irrawaddy.com/elections/myanmars-2020-general-election-results-numbers.html?fbclid=IwAR0uo7ZdreRaaGyiJ-nnXdvJqbhgYcD-pTOcT0KKGqTQerFoBHiNHwFOexk

Ko, A. K. (2018). Democratisation in Myanmar: Glue or Gloss? Retrieved from https://www.kas.de/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=3d07eb88-d4f1-de81-40d1-032ec67a3cb8&groupId=288143

Miclat, G. (2020). Challenges to Democracy and Hopes for Peace and Justice in Myanmar. The Debate. Retrieved from https://thediplomat.com/2020/12/challenges-to-democracy-and-hopes-for-peace-and-justice-in-myanmar/

Oo, A. S. (2021). Myanmar Military Denies Coup Threats over Vote Fraud Claims. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/article/constitutions-myanmar-elections-asia-min-aung-hlaing-1d8af462424d818f96e88dc6ed115dc1

Parameswaran, P. (2020). What Will Myanmar’s New Home Minister Mean for the Country’s Security and Politics? ASEAN Beat. Retrieved from https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/what-will-myanmars-new-home-minister-mean-for-the-countrys-security-and-politics/

Turnell, S. (2012). Myanmar in 2011: Confounding Expectations. Asian Survey, 52(1), 157-164.

Wintour, P. (2021). Myanmar Coup: US and China Divided in Response to Army Takeover. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/01/myanmar-coup-us-and-china-divided-in-response-to-army-takeover-aung-san-suu-kyi


Writer : Muhammad Indrawan Jatmika

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

RCEP: Peril or Impetus for a Greater ASEAN Regionalism?

Against the backdrop of global pandemic, ASEAN successfully held its 37th summit from 12-15 November 2020. During the four days course of the conference, ASEAN members mainly discussed multilateral cooperation to recover from pandemic and the tension that was escalating in the region, notably in the South China Sea months prior to the conference. In the midst of rising tension, ASEAN reaches a historic milestone with the signing of Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement/RCEP. The trade agreement unites ten ASEAN member states, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia under the same flagship—countries that previously cooperated under ASEAN +6 excluding India.

The trade pact that comprises of 15 countries across Asia-Pacific and covers almost a third of the world population is regarded as the world’s biggest trade agreement, next after the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and European Union. Other than the sheer number of the countries participating in this agreement, the mega-regional agreement also demonstrates the feats of bridging three East Asian countries—China, Japan, and South Korea that are traditionally reluctant to engage under the same economic framework—with its counterparts in Western Pacific. The agreement is expected to progressively cut down the already low tariff among member countries and incentivize investment flow when it finally comes into effect (Lee, 2020). Vietnam, a country that has been profoundly affected by rivalry between the United States and China in the region, is optimistic about the cooperation.

Final negotiation of RCEP coincides with two important momenta that highly affect the region: economic recession prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing power transition in the United States after the presidential election. Despite its feat on uniting Asia-Pacific under the same trading platform, many actors view RCEP in a skeptical way, including India that was originally involved in the deal’s formulation but withdrew during the negotiation last year. India’s approach also reflects the growing animosity towards China, especially after the border clash in Himalaya early in May. Some commentators view that RCEP signals a growing Chinese dominance over Asia-Pacific, including ASEAN that has long become a battle ground between great powers. Reuter and Wall Street Journal, for instance, labelled the RCEP as the ‘China-backed trade deal’ that will eventually pose a threat to ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific countries (Pearson, 2020; Emont & Gale, 2020).

Reflection of China’s Growing Influence?

The making of RCEP has undergone a lengthy debate for eight years since it was first introduced in 2012. Prior to RCEP, several ASEAN member states and Asia-Pacific countries have been cooperating under several trade agreements; one is the Trans-Pacific Partnership/TPP that was led by the US in 2016. TPP was the emanation of Barack Obama’s strategic pivot to Asia. TPP originally became the biggest trade deal in the region by covering almost 40% of the world’s economy and—as the name suggests—bridging countries across the Pacific Ocean, from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia (Gong, 2020, p. 40).  However, under the presidency of Donald Trump, the US withdrew from the agreement, arguing that the deal will ultimately lead to decline of US manufacture and lower wages for domestic workers. As a consequence, US withdrawal left the vacuum in the Asia-Pacific that was later seized by its rival (Gong, 2020, p. 45). In later remarks, China hailed RCEP as a win for its side. “The signing of the RCEP is not only a monumental achievement in East Asian regional cooperation, but more important, a victory of multilateralism and free trade,” said China Premier Li Keqiang.

Compared to TPP and its evolution, Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), RCEP is less rigorous. It puts a lower standard on policy harmonization. RCEP also doesn’t mention certain standards over labor rights or environmental protections that were covered in CPTPP. Different standards, however, are understandable since RCEP tries to bridge diverse economies, starting from the highly developed countries like Japan and Australia to developing economies like Cambodia and Laos in Southeast Asia. Moreover, the huge economic gap between countries in RCEP make some commentators believe that it will give harm to some countries in ASEAN. Big margin in economic capability will make the developed industries like China and Japan reap the most from this agreement and consequently make the economic gap within ASEAN countries exacerbated. “Who, actually, are gaining benefit from this project” is the focal point over the current debate. The RCEP and trans-Pacific Deal “together will offset global losses from the U.S.-China trade war, although not for China and the United States,” stated Petri & Plummer (2020).

Previously, China already had a number of bilateral trade agreements with members of RCEP, including ASEAN countries. However, RCEP marks a historic moment when, for the first time, the world’s second largest economy signed up in a regional multilateral trade pact. It’s without mentioning China’s geopolitics opponent—Japan, South Korea, and Australia—also included in this agreement. Despite its less rigorous standard, the sheer size of RCEP is showing its significance over Asia-Pacific political constellation. Rather than economic cooperation in itself, RCEP symbolizes a bigger geopolitics and diplomatic triumph over the region. Kishore Mahbubani, former Singapore minister of foreign affairs also pointed out during one of the Global Town Hall (GTH) panels, “RCEP is the sign of China’s victory.” Being excluded in the process, RCEP delivers a strong message to the United States that Southeast Asia and other Asian countries are growing more solid on defining their own relations. As former U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler noted in his commentary,

 “RCEP is another reminder that our Asian trading partners have developed a confidence about working together without the United States (Cutler, 2020).”

Ushering the ASEAN Centrality

ASEAN countries have long been polarized when it comes to defining their approach towards China. While China is currently the biggest trading partner in the region, each country shows various degrees of cooperation or hostility toward the country. Laos, Cambodia, and other Mekong Basin countries are highly dependent, whereas countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, and including Indonesia are facing opposition both from domestic forces and policy makers. RCEP demonstrates that ASEAN countries can reach the consensus on formulating economic partnership with a partner that traditionally cooperates by using bilateral channels, including with Australia, New Zealand, and other East Asian countries that are linked under ASEAN+6 platform. RCEP can further push ASEAN regionalism, primarily on how it develops the existing ties with the additional ASEAN+6 economic cooperation.

Moreover, the signing of RCEP also asserts ASEAN’s position on defining countries relations in Asia-Pacific. Contrary to the previously mentioned opinion, some analysts argue that RCEP is a win for ASEAN’s middle power diplomacy. Given the diverse members of the mega-trade pact, neither China nor Japan as a traditional trade leader will become the architect of this agreement when it finally comes into effect. Rivalry between great powers that also pose a danger in the security aspect of the region will necessitate a different approach to bring RCEP further. Speaking in GWT, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, also stated that through RCEP, “China firmly supports the ASEAN centrality.”  ASEAN’s neutrality—emanated in last year’s ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific—in this context, will ultimately take a greater role in shaping RCEP when it comes into effect. Thus, the label “China-led agreement” is inaccurate. It was previously shown in 2012 when a stalemate over negotiation was resolved by ASEAN. Instead of being led by China, as many commentators suggest, RCEP exhibits a triumph for ASEAN. As Petri and Plummer (2020b) pointed out in Brookings,

“Without such ‘ASEAN centrality,’ RCEP might never have been launched.”  

Apart from recovering from the post-pandemic economic downturn, RCEP also expected to offset the harms caused by the years-long trade war between the United States and China. Especially for ASEAN countries that have long been affected by the rivalry, including Vietnam that hosted the ASEAN summit this year. In short, despite its less rigorous standards, RCEP can further incentivize the global value chain within the region. ASEAN, in particular, is projected to gain $19 billion annually by 2030 through this agreement (Petri & Plummer, 2020a)

Due to its volume and modesty compared to the previous trade pact, RCEP will take years before it finally comes into effect. It can also face a challenge upon the ratification in each member country, especially in the country with growing anti-China or anti-international sentiment. Malaysia, for instance, cancelled two of Belt and Road Initiatives projects after Mahathir Muhammad won the election on 2018. Regardless of its impact, RCEP will ultimately cement the position of ASEAN in a greater Asia-Pacific dynamic. The overall process and finalization of this agreement signify the message that ASEAN cannot be seen narrowly as the battle ground between the so-called ‘two great powers.’ Instead, RCEP denotes ASEAN’s rising primacy in defining their own region.

 

REFERENCES

Brookings. (2020, November 16). RCEP: A new trade agreement that will shape global economics and politics. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/11/16/rcep-a-new-trade-agreement-that-will-shape-global-economics-and-politics/

Cutler, W. (2020, November 15). RCEP Agreement: Another Wake-up Call for the United States on Trade. https://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/rcep-agreement-another-wake-call-united-states-trade

Emont, J., & Gale, A. (2020, November 13). Asia-Pacific Countries Push to Sign China-Backed Trade Megadeal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/asia-pacific-countries-push-to-sign-china-backed-megadeal-11605265208

Gong, X. (2020). China’s Economic Statecraft. Security Challenges, 16(3), pp. 39-46.

Lee, Y. N. (2020, November 15). ‘A coup for China’: Analysts react to the world’s largest trade deal that excludes the U.S. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/16/rcep-15-asia-pacific-countries-including-china-sign-worlds-largest-trade-deal.html

Pearson, J. (2020, November 11). Asian leaders to sign China-backed trade deal amid U.S. election uncertainty. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-asean-summit/asian-leaders-to-sign-china-backed-trade-deal-amid-u-s-election-uncertainty-idUSKBN27R0QJ

Petri, A. P., & Plummer, M. G. (2020, June). East Asia decouples from the United States: Trade war, COVID-19, and East Asia’s new trade blocs. https://www.piie.com/publications/working-papers/east-asia-decouples-united-states-trade-war-covid-19-and-east-asias-new


Writer : Arrizal A. Jaknanihan

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

The Diminishing Reputability of Police in the United States, Explained.

A body invented to protect the masses has become an enemy to the very people whom they serve. The relationship between the US police and its citizens is a complicated matter which in recent years has become more prevalent in international discussions. Reoccurring instances of unnecessary contact and misuse of power from law enforcement have caught the attention of the US citizens and all those watching on around the world. A lack of accountability has created general mistrust, and it is clear that if reform does not occur to resolve the systemic issues that have arisen within the core of the police, the interrelation of law enforcement and the people of the United States will deteriorate further, and rapidly.

The unconventional dynamic between the citizens of the United States and its police force can be dated back to the establishment of police in America, and the responsibilities policemen were given at the time. Fundamentally, policing in Colonial America was established to keep communities in order. As society progressed, police duties grew. Eventually, as evident in modern day, police have been empowered to protect their own power and privilege most commonly in situations that allow them to exert social control over minority groups. A large aspect of tension between the police force and US citizens is the indisputable documentation of racially targeting people of colour. Slave patrols, during the colonial era, were forms of police who were responsible for punishing slaves who tried to free themselves (Romero 2020). Historically, police have had duties that inexplicitly target certain groups and have been authorised to use force with those who are not equal to them – including people of colour, low-income communities and minority groups. These factors are able to give context for the current behaviour of police officers in the United States today.

A very significant period of time that heightened tension between police and the people of the US was the aggressive response from police during the Black Lives Matter protests. After the death of George Floyd, a peaceful, wrongly accused man of colour who was pinned beneath police officers so forcefully he was unable to continue breathing, the world united to protest against police brutality specifically towards people of colour. Internationally, it was recognised that police in the United States are ignorant to the concept of equality. Research from Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found that 93 per cent of the 7,750 Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful. However, images of violent protests were what made media headlines, with the then-president Donald Trump referring to the protesters as “thugs” (Cineas 2021). Over 427 arrests were made at the peak of the protests, despite the high number of protests being conducted in peace.

In comparison, law enforcement failed to keep white-supremacist rioters at Capitol Hill under control, through blatant complicity.  The lack of both physical presence and hostility at the Capitol riot that was so clearly present at the Black Lives Matter protests has reinforced anger within the American people. Such rioters smashed windows and scaled walls, however only 69 people were arrested (North 2021). Videos taken during the riot display officers “holding hands of extremists, escorting them down steps, holding the doors of the Capitol open for them and taking selfies with them” (Cineas 2021). The clear contrast of events and reactions from the police can be seen as a combination of ignorance and racial bias. It is evident that although police were aware of the extent of the event due to it being posted on social media, they chose to support the notion of white entitlement and as a result encouraged dangerous extremists to express their opinions in the most violent way possible without serious consequence.

The path forward is complex. However, in order to mend the relationship between law enforcement and the citizens reforms must be introduced (Jabali, 2020). Firstly, systemic issues within police training and recruitment must be addressed. Police should be reminded what their role in society is, and how violent riots should prompt a different reaction to non-violent protests. Implicit-bias training should be mandated in police academy, to attempt eradicating the clear racial prejudice towards minority groups. Although it is not simple to convince everyone to think the same way, if the police force project and openly support this view then the future generation of law enforcement will carry on this important, egalitarianist mindset.

REFERENCES:

Cineas, F (2021), Whiteness is at the core of the insurrection. Retrieved 13 January, from https://www.vox.com/2021/1/8/22221078/us-capitol-trump-riot-insurrection

Romero, D (2020), Reimaging the role of Police. Retrieved 13 January, from https://www.aclu.org/news/criminal-law-reform/reimagining-the-role-of-police/

North, A (2021), Police Bias explains the Capitol Riot. Retrieved 13 January, from https://www.vox.com/22224765/capitol-riot-dc-police-officers

Jabali, M (2020), If you’re surprised by how the police are acting, you don’t understand US history. Retrieved 13 January, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/05/police-us-history-reform-violence-oppression


Writer : Emily Camilleri

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

The Capitol Riot: a New Normal for US Democracy?

The political situation in the United States has earned another spotlight after a mass riot that occurred in the capital city of Washington DC. Thousands of people stormed the Capitol Building of the United States, which was the venue for the US Congress meeting, which would certify Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In that incident, supporters of Donald Trump tried to stop the meeting, triggering clashes with authorities. It was reported that the mob succeeded occupying the Capitol Building, causing the congress meeting to be declared a recess and its members were evacuated (Koob, 2021). There were about five casualties and 50 people were arrested (Ortiz, Bacon, Yancey- Bragg and Culver, 2021). After the incident, Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency for 15 days with the possibility of extending the status if things were not deemed to be improving.

What happened was certainly a surprise to people of the United States and the international community. The United States, which has been regarded as a pilot in implementing democracy, had illustrated what should not be carried out in a democratic process. This criticism certainly come with reasons. For world leaders, this is certainly an alarm that the US was shaken by this event. The attack on democracy in the US could also mean an attack on democracy all around the world. If this kind of riot could happen in an established democratic country like the US, this could also happen in other parts of the world. (Bennhold & Myers, 2021). From this incident, a big question arises, will this kind of condition become a new normal for the implementation of democracy in the US?

Trump Political Communication Strategy and the Cause of the Riots

To understand the context of the political turmoil that occurred, we can track the history back to the 2016 elections when Donald Trump ran for president of the United States. In his campaign, Donald Trump relied on his Post-Truth style of communication to garner sympathy from his supporters. With the help of right-wing media and social media that personally launched their versions of truth narratives. The concept of post truth itself is not new to the world of politics. Oxford Dictionaries explains that Post-Truth is a state in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.  Moreover, from recent studies of scholars it is concluded that the post-truth world emerged as a result of societal mega-trends such as: a decline in social capital, growing economic inequality, increased polarization, declining trust in science, and an increasingly fractionated media landscape (Lewandowsky, Elker, and Cook, 2017). Trump polarized the masses and divides the public through the information channels he has, both social media and right-wing mass media, which had so far fully supported the formation of good public opinion on  Trump.

Trump played this post-truth concept actively not only during his campaign period in 2016 , but also during his tenure as president. Over the past four years, Trump had fed his supporters with the narratives they want to hear, even though the truth of these narratives had been either questioned or proven wrong. Data from the Washington Post states that during his presidency, Trump issued an average of fifty false narratives every day (Kesser, Rizo, and Kelly, 2020). Unfortunately, the concept of post-truth political communication was still being implemented until the 2020 election when Trump was defeated in a political contest against Biden. On this occasion, Trump narrated that there was fraud that made him lost his vote in the election process while at the same time refusing to recognize Biden’s victory. For the past two months Trump had misinformed his supporters that his defeat was unfair.

The group of Trump supporters that felt the result was unfair carried out a riot in the Capitol as an expression of their dissatisfaction with the legal system they consider unfair. Armed with their embraced beliefs, they believed their values should apply in that country. According to Paige in his article titled Political Orientation and Riot Participation (2017), riot actors are mostly found in community groups with high level of information on political issues, but have low trust on government or authority. This explanation illustrates what happened in the riot. A group of people who feel they have a lot of information about political realities (even though those were questionable informations) showed dissatisfaction towards the government and feelt more competent to carry out political process than the authority.

A New Normal for US Democracy?

The biggest question is whether this kind of incident will become the new normal for political process in the US? Riots themselves are not something new in the US. Since the beginning of US history, riots and violent political actions have been rhetorically symbolize acts of patriotism that support freedom and independence (Jackson, 2020). This also applies to riots related to general elections. Riots have happened a lot, especially before the second world war. However, this is the first time an unrest has occurred at the national level, especially with regard to issues with presidential elections, which is a symbol of democratic supremacy in the US.

Trump as the most responsible figure for this riot may not last much longer. Currently, Trump no longer has the institutional backing or legitimacy supporting him. Even his own party has now turned to condemn him after the riot in Washington DC. Republican figures such as Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina criticized Trump’s campaign promoting a conspiracy theory that sparked unrest. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton also urged Trump to immediately admit defeat and stop spreading fake news (Dennis and Dillard, 2021). Therefore, Trump’s existence as an individual is no longer a cause for concern in the future.

Something noteworthy is the legitimacy of the socio-political conditions left by Trump. America is now divided into several political spectrum. The society is polarized based on their values and beliefs. It is dangerous that a lot of people prefer to cling to the truth they want to believe instead of the facts. As long as these differences have not been harmonized, and the community continues to cling to their respective beliefs by ignoring facts and common sense, it is not impossible that they will continue to raise their voices in various ways including riots. Moreover, if later authority failed to give deterrence, people who perpetrated the riot would repeat their actions in the future. On the other hand, those who oppose this incident would lose their trust in the government if they considered them to have failed enforcing the law and create security stability for the citizens. The public is also responsible to prevent figures like Trump, who carry out the post-truth concept and have a “go big or go home” mentality, from being given the stage to carry out their actions. Society should learn a lesson that such person is a threat for democracy

 The US’ condition as it is today will be a big homework for President-elect Joe Biden, who will carry out the mandate for the next four years. Biden must be able to become president for every community. The elected president must be able to embrace people trapped in the post-truth illusion created by Trump. Activities that tend to alienate Trump supporters as well as people with different political views will backfire on Biden and his administration as the group will have stronger legitimacy to launch future unrest under the pretext of political discrimination from the government in power. For this reason, Biden must convince everyone that the essence of democracy must be carried out in peace and  dignity for all the people of the US. If this process is successful, the attack on the Capitol will only end up as a special case in the history of US democracy. On the other hand, if Biden fails to embrace and improve the condition, it is not impossible that this kind of protest will become a new normal in US democracy.

 

References

Bennhold, K., & Myers, S. (2021). America’s Friends and Foes Express Horror as Capitol Attack ‘Shakes the World’. Retrieved 8 January 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/world/europe/trump-capitol-2020-election-mob.html

Dennis, S., & Dillard, J. (2021). Republicans Recoil From Trump as Violence Proves Too Much. Retrieved 8 January 2021, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-07/capitol-violence-marks-opening-for-gop-to-distance-from-trump

Jackson, K. (2020). The Double Standard of the American Riot. Retrieved 8 January 2021, from https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/06/riots-are-american-way-george-floyd-protests/612466/

Kessler, G., Rizzo, S., & Kelly, M. (2020). Trump is averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims a day. Retrieved 8 January 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/22/president-trump-is-averaging-more-than-50-false-or-misleading-claims-day/

Koob, S. (2021). What we know so far about the storming of the US Capitol. Retrieved 8 January 2021, from https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/us-protests-what-we-know-so-far-about-the-storming-of-the-capitol-20210107-p56sa1.html

Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U., & Cook, J. (2017). Beyond Misinformation: Understanding and Coping with the “Post-Truth” Era. Journal Of Applied Research In Memory And Cognition6(4), 353-369. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2017.07.008

Ortiz, Bacon, Yancey- Bragg, & Culver. (2021). DC riots live updates: Capitol Police officer dies from injuries; FBI offers $50K reward for pipe bomb suspect info. Retrieved 8 January 2021, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/01/07/washington-dc-capitol-trump-riots-day-after-live-updates/6577841002/

Paige, J. (1971). Political Orientation and Riot Participation. American Sociological Review36(5), 810. doi: 10.2307/2093668


Writer : Muhammad Indrawan Jatmika

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

National Security Bill and the New Phase for “Mainlandization” of Hong Kong: Is it the Beginning of the End?

As the pandemic is beginning to decline, people of Hong Kong pour onto the street once again to protest encroachment to the city’s autonomy. By 28 May 2020, over 360 protesters were being arrested for their protest against Hong Kong’s national security bill that recently won overwhelming 2.878-1 votes from the National People’s Congress (NPC). Though the draft hasn’t yet legislated by the Standing Committee of NPC—highest legislative body from the People’s Republic—the draconian law presents imminent setback for Hong Kong’s hard-fought democracy. The proposed bill could penalize wide ranging activities, spanning from act of subversion, activity that involves foreign power, and ‘terrorist’ action that can endanger state’s security. In sum, national security bill will provide legal basis to criminalize protest against embreachment of Hong Kong’s democracy, vested by “one country-two system” principle (Bradhser, 2020). Moreover, national security bill also open the new phase of Beijing’s ‘mainlandization’ effort that bypass Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Office and even Legislative Council (LegCo) which appears to be failed in carrying such mission months earlier, before the pandemic begin to engulf both China and the city. As China declares triumphant over the months-long pandemic, mainland government begin to tighten its grip once again to secure its ‘territorial integrity.’ Addressing the issue of Hong Kong’s autonomy is becoming the matter of urgency, as the present situation indicates culmination on both China’s intrusion and pro-democracy resistance.

Mainland-Leaning Government and Long Quest for Autonomy

Though the subsequent clash came after anti-Extradition Law protest in early June 2019, greater causes of this protest can be traced back to 2014 Umbrella Movement and even earlier to 2003 anti-subversion law. After becoming separate entity from mainland China for over 150 years, Hong Kong is vested with higher degree of autonomy that guarantee city’s political, economic, and judicial system remain unchanged for 50 years since its handover from British colony on 1997. However, Hong Kong Basic Law that become materialization of ‘one country, two system’ never actually took place ever since Margaret Thatcher and Premier Zhao Ziyang signed Sino-British Joint Declaration back in 1984. Article 45, for instance, ensure universal suffrage—voting rights for all Hong Kong citizens—to elect their own government. Notwithstanding the law, after its handover to China only 35 from 70 seats from Hong Kong’s LegCo are directly voted by citizens. The rest are indirectly selected through the functional constituency, representing interest group that mainly belong to pro-Beijing faction (Lum, 2020). Effort to preserve city’s autonomy, as it enshrined by the Basic Law, became exacerbated after 2014 legislation necessitated Hong Kong Chief Executive’s candidate to be pre-approved by Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—effectively put the city’s highest executive office under strong Beijing influence (Lum, 2020).

Posed by structural problem from the city’s mainland-leaning government, safeguarding Hong Kong’s autonomy rest only on the shoulders of its people and—to limited degree—foreign pressure. Especially, from the United States and United Kingdom that is deemed to bear responsibility on preserving former crown colony’s autonomy until 2047 (Kilcoyne, 2020). Recently on 28 May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Hong Kong is no longer maintains ‘higher degree of autonomy’ over mainland China. The consequence is then US can possibly uplift preferential treatment to Hong Kong—status that has long sustain the city’s status as central trade hub and ‘middleman’ between US and China, especially after the onset of Trade War (Gunia, 2020). UK, alongside with Australia, New Zealand, and Canada signed a joint-statement to condemn the act of “curtailing the Hong Kong people’s liberties.” UK in particular, threatened to change the status of British National Overseas passport that will ease the path of Hong Kong people to obtain UK’s citizenship—defection in the eye of Beijing (Bradhser, 2020). Despite of the threat or any ‘naming and shaming’ from international community, question arise whether will it really help the cause of Hong Kong protest?

Will Foreign Pressure Enough?

Despite of condemnations it has undergone, China shows resilience on consolidating its power during the last few years. After Xi Jinping assumed the office of president and general secretary of CCP in 2016, China conspicuously became more assertive than ever before and gradually begin to abandon the notion to “Hide your capacities and bide your time,” back during the reformation era under Deng Xiaoping. After declaring the vision of “Great Rejuvenation of Chinese Nation” China appears willing to stain its international reputation in exchange for expanding influence and consolidating power upon the country’s periphery (Magnus, 2018, p. 204). Recent showdown in South China Sea, escalating pressure to isolate Taiwan, and ongoing mass detention in Xinjiang Province exemplified China’s resolve to secure its territorial integrity. Ultimately, integrating Hong Kong under mainland control is an integral part to achieve the so-called “China Dream.” Most notably, after Xi Jinping successfully consolidate his power when the 13th NPC decided to remove China’s presidential term limit—condition that theoretically allow him to become president for life and consequently push the “Great Rejuvenation” agenda.

Whether foreign pressures will be effective to halt the ‘mainlandization,’ certain thing is today’s China is unlike China back in 1997. Rapid economic growth that converges with higher CCP’s legitimacy during the last 23 years finally resulted in, undoubtedly, superpower in the eastern hemisphere. With its current status, China won’t face the same consequences as it did back then during Tiananmen Massacre in 1989—grave human rights violation that subsequently doomed yet-to-be-powerful China with tight sanctions. China’s audacity to detain millions Uyghurs in Xinjiang despite of international condemnations indicate that China is more than willing when it comes to ‘territorial integrity,’ that includes integrating Hong Kong into mainland’s realm (Huang, 2017, p. 239). With that being said, foreign response should reconsider whether their action will hinder China to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy or will it just lower Hong Kong’s leverage vis a vis China? US’s plan to uplift Hong Kong’s preferential treatment will not only ineffective to stop China from tightening its grip, but can also make the city to lose its economic privilege that 7.4 million Hongkongers rely on during the process (Gunia, 2020).

Is it the End for Bastion of Liberty?

Series of anti-mainland protest in Hong Kong present similar feature with other anti-imperial movements in the heart of mainland China. Most notably, the 1919 May Fourth Movement when nation-wide protest took place against the remains of Qing Dynasty and colonial power that, at that time, still retain huge concessions of the empire (Wasserstrom, 2019, p. 342). May Fourth and various movement that become resemblance of the current Hong Kong protest present similar feature when people took to the street as the government is no longer remain accountable to protect its own people. The current condition of pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong—where the government is structurally leaning towards Beijing and foreign countries can only give limited pressure to halt ‘mainlandization’ attempt—makes the people put Hong Kong’s fate to nothing else but their protest on the street.

While public gathering is still limited by health protocol, the government seemingly took the chance by legislating National Security Bill alongside with National Anthem Bill that will criminalize people who disrespect China’s national anthem. The case when government gain momentum to legislate controversial bill—that supposedly ignite mass protest before the pandemic—also not limited in China. Similarly, other case like Hungary which end legal recognition of LGBT people, India that legislate domicile law on Kashmir, and including Indonesia that recently pass the notorious mining law (UU Minerba) all took place when people access to carry protests are severely restricted. The pandemic gives disproportionate effect, not only to the general populace, but also to pro-democracy protest with their movements are being circumscribed. The pandemic also enables authoritarian order to take place by using public health and maintaining security as justification (Roth, 2020).

Sino-British Joint Declaration stipulates Hong Kong’s autonomy to remain intact until the city is fully transferred under mainland authority in 2047. Recent push on ‘mainlandization,’ however, shows that Beijing is seemingly not eager to wait for 50 years while it capable to do it more early. Albeit many believe that the future of Hong Kong’s status as “bastion of liberty” is seemingly ill-fated, Hongkongers still remain relentless on defending their hard-fought freedom, especially the youth that constitutes majority of this movement. By 2047, most Hong Kong citizen will be the people that carry protest nowadays. Quoting Joshua Wong in Tan (2020), “Time is running out in Hong Kong … (that is almost turning from) ‘one country, two systems’ to ‘one country, one system’ and (this) seems to be the beginning of the end.”  Pertaining to either Basic Law or Sino-British Declaration, Hong Kong will ultimately become the integral part of China by 2047. The face of Hong Kong after that transfer, however, fully depends on today’s resistance.

 

 

REFERENCES

Bradsher. Keith. (2020, May 28). China Approves Plan to Rein In Hong Kong, Defying Worldwide

Outcry. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/28/world/asia/china-hong-kong-crackdown.html.

Gunia, Amy. (2020, May 29). The U.S. Might Revoke Hong Kong’s ‘Special Status.’ Here’s What

That Means for Business in the Global Financial Hub. Time. https://time.com/5842158/hong-kong-autonomy-trade-business-china-us/

Huang, Jing. (2017). “Xi Jinping’s Taiwan Policy: Boxing Taiwan In with the One-China

Framework.” in Dittmer, Lowell (Ed). Taiwan and China. University of California Press. pp. 239-247

Kilcoyne, Matt. (2020, May 27). Our failure to help the people of Hong Kong shames us all.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/27/failure-help-people-hong-kong-shames-us/

Lum, Alvin. (2020, April 6). Hong Kong’s opposition targets Legislative Council seats it has not

won in over 20 years for majority bid. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3078524/hong-kongs-opposition-targets-legislative-council-seats-it

Magnus, George. (2018). Why Xi’s China Is in Jeopadry?. Yale University Press.

Roth, Kenneth. (2020, April 3). How Authoritarians Are Exploiting the COVID-19 Crisis to Grab

Power. Human Right Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/04/how-authoritarians-are-exploiting-covid-19-crisis-grab-power

Tan, Huleng. (2020, May 27). Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong says Beijing’s bill is about

boosting Communist regime, not national security. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/27/joshua-wong-beijing-bill-is-about-boosting-communist-regime-not-security.html

Wasserstrom, Jeffrey. (2019). “Hong Kong Now, Shanghai Then.” in Ma, Ngok & Cheng, Edmund

  1. (Eds). The Umbrella Movement: Civil Resistance and Contentious Space in Hong Kong. Amsterdam University Press.

Writer : Arrizal Anugerah J.

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti