All-seeing, but benign?
The interview in the May edition of Asian Affairs, in which Editor Duncan Bartlett discussed the parallels between the Communist Party of China and religion (‘The Party as God’) raised some interesting questions.
Different strands of Christian theology have emphasised different aspects of God. From a Calvinist perspective, God is the all-powerful leader of a global command economy. Every action is predetermined. Goals are clear and do not change.
However, not all Christians share that outlook. Personally, I believe in a God incarnate, present in every individual. Perhaps the goals of His divine plan are rather more vague than in the strict Calvanist interpretation. And it can feel frustrating to be told that the Kingdom of God is always close but never quite with us yet.
We still face the question with regard to China as to whether surveillance, backed by a powerful computing network, serves as an effective way to run a country. I appreciate that a surveillance state which is all-knowing could be regarded as similar to an all-seeing God. But fundamentally, I see God as forgiving and encouraging. Are these characteristics which China’s leaders share?
Fukushima’s far-reaching effects
I am writing in response to the article about Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea (‘Fukushima’s Grim Return’, June 2021). It is important to note that South Korea is a country which is surrounded on three sides by the sea and our fishing industry is central to our culture. Our marine fishermen have made a great effort to respect nature by preserving the stocks of fish in the waters. Any pollution threatens a delicate balance. Do we really believe that Japan can ‘clean’ radioactive water? How do we know the long-term effects? When Fukushima contaminated water is discharged, people will avoid seafood and fishermen will lose their jobs.
Busan, South Korea
Strength in unity
In his article about the Quad security pact (‘Four Warning’, June 2021), Amit Agnihotri reflects on the chances of the group expanding, or even the creation of an Asian NATO. Because of its traditional non aligned stance, India has not wanted this to become a NATO-like group. However, Indian politicians including Mr Modi are now vocal champions of the Quad. India is the only member of the Quad that borders China, has been invaded by China and has an active land border dispute with China. I see great value in connecting with like-minded countries which share democratic values in protecting India from totalitarian China.
Filling the void
There was much food for thought in the excellent article on Afghanistan by Yvonne Gill in your June issue (‘Reversal of Fortune’).
It is horrifying to think that, as the US forces withdraw, there are ‘guarantees’ from the Taliban that militants will abstain from terrorist attacks against the US and its allies, their assets, etc, but precious little on how political order will be restored and the rights of the Afghan people, particularly women, protected. The US has a duty to use whatever influence it still has in the region to seek assurances on these crucial points.
Maybe it should look to the ‘shining example’ – as highlighted by Ms Gill in her sidebar piece – of India, which is focusing its efforts on development and aid, including infrastructure (re)building, to fill the void left by the departing troops.