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The Diplomatic Disaster of Trump’s Relations with China

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By Amy Callaghan

The relationship between the US and China is one of the most significant relationships of the 21st century. China’s role as an international power and its place as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council means that it is a vital and powerful ally to the US internationally.

US concerns about the rising power of China in East Asia, and Chinese concerns about the tendency of the US to interfere and impede on affairs which China considered purely domestic, have been the main reason for tensions between the two countries in the past.

Since the end of the Cold War, a delicate diplomacy has emerged between China and the US, hinging on a core set of values and established rules of interaction between the two. Both countries are incredibly reliant on each other both from an international diplomacy point of view as well as in terms of economics and trade, and this is why the election of Donald Trump as president of the US has caused such concerns over the future of the US-Chinese relationship.

One of the most crucial aspects of the relationship is adherence to the ‘One China’ policy. Put into simple terms, the ‘One China’ policy means that the US only recognises the People’s Republic of China, governed in Beijing, rather than the Republic of China, governed from Taipei in Taiwan.

In the past, issues between the US and China which have nearly led to open conflict have centred on perceived breaking of this principle – for example, the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis nearly resulted in use of military force by the US and China against each other. This crisis was caused by a state visit from the newly elected president of Taiwan to the US, which appeared to China to be a direct threat to the One-China principle. From this perspective, then, it is clear why then president-elect Trump’s phone call to the president of Taiwan in December 2016 caused tensions between the US and China, with experts from the White House rushing to assure the Chinese government in Beijing that the US intended to adhere to the One-China policy.

Evan Medeiros, the Asia director at the White House national security council, told the Financial Times: “The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action of historic proportions. Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative. With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for US-China relations.”

Diplomatic blunders such as these are why the presidency of Donald Trump could throw established international relationships into chaos.

Domestically, of course, Trump’s presidency has been anything but peaceful and stable – he has demonstrated a distinct lack of understanding of the judicial system among other things, as well as enacting essentially unconstitutional policies such as the Muslim ban. However, it will be these international diplomatic blunders which cause Trump – and the US as a whole – the greatest issues in maintaining their status as a power with unrivalled global influence. In recent days, Trump has committed to maintaining the One-China policy in a phone call to Xi Jinping, the president of China, yet the fear and uncertainty about Trump’s intentions caused by his initial blunder and stance on the issue is now a part of the Chinese perspective on the US for the foreseeable future.

It is unclear, as with so many issues arising from Trump’s presidency, how this situation will play out over the next four years. Maintaining a stable and cooperative relationship with China was one of the priorities of the Obama administration, as its importance as an ally of the US was given the value and significance it deserved.

However, with his customary tough talk and his ambitions to ‘Make America Great Again’, Trump could completely throw off the balance of the international stage, and nothing is a clearer indicator of this than his interactions with China up to this point. Threatening the stability of America’s relationship with China would have disastrous repercussions globally, from an economic perspective as well as a threat to keeping the peace between the two countries.

Content Notes 101

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By Yas Necati

Whilst reading through our site or others, you might have come across some posts that are marked at the beginning with something called a content note. In case you’re wondering what that is and why we use it, here’s a quick guide.

What is a content note?

A content note is usually placed at the beginning of a piece. It’s

put there to inform you about topics or themes that might come up in that piece, so that you can be aware of them before you start reading. For example, if a piece is called “10 best cat videos ever” you might put a content note: “cats”.

The example above is pretty obvious, and pretty silly, but whilst I’ve used cats as an example to illustrate what a content note is in its simplest form, content notes are mostly used more seriously and shouldn’t be taken as a joke.

Content notes come about as a way of letting people know of any potentially triggering or hard to read themes that might come up in a piece. If I were to put a content note on this piece, it would read: “Content note: discussion of content notes, trigger warnings and reference to themes/topics that might be triggering or upsetting”.

To give you a bit more of an idea, here are just a few examples of things that content notes are commonly used for. Someone might put a content note if a piece discusses racism or transphobia, or if a piece references war or sexual violence. Content notes should be used if the entire piece could be upsetting or triggering, for example if it is a piece about cuts to welfare and the effects the cuts are having on marginalised communities. Additionally, content notes should also be used if something triggering or upsetting is mentioned at any point in the piece, even if the piece as a whole doesn’t focus on this topic. For example, somebody might write a piece about kickass female characters in comics. At some point in this piece there might be a few lines about the main character being catcalled on the street. A trigger warning for a mention of sexual violence/catcalling should be put at the beginning of the piece, so that a reader knows that this topic is mentioned at some point.

Content notes can be used to prefix all sorts of different media – not just writing. For example, a content note might be used before a video, podcast, poem, piece of artwork, or any other form of content. However, for the simplicity of this explanation, I will refer to written pieces as I explain further.

Why use content notes?

Content notes are commonly used so that people can know of anything that might trigger or upset them before reading a piece. This gives someone the choice to carry on reading or to choose not to read the piece. If they decide to carry on reading, they are prepared for what is ahead and they won’t be surprised or caught off guard by something that could be difficult for them to read.

To give an example, somebody who is mentally ill might be reading an article about their favourite band online. At some point in this article there might be a quote referring to the lead singer as being “mental”. This might be a really difficult word for the person who’s experiencing mental illness to read, particularly if they have experienced discrimination in the past. The media, family members and bullies might have used this word in a hurtful way towards that person, and therefore reading it could trigger memories and feelings that the person could find hard to cope with, all just by reading a piece about a band they like. If this piece had been prefixed with a content note such as “mental health slurs”, this could have been avoided.

There has been a lot of talk in the media and popular culture recently about content notes being “too politically correct”. At Powered By Girl and SPARK we choose to use content notes because we feel that it’s important to look after our readers. We want to give you the choice to opt out of reading things that might be painful if you don’t want to. We also want you to read difficult things only if you choose to do so – not by accident.

Why “content notes”, not “trigger warnings”?

At Powered By Girl and SPARK we use content notes to prefix our pieces. You might have come across something called a trigger warning which is still widely used on many sites.

A trigger warning is very similar to a content note: it is designed to prefix a piece and highlight anything in that piece that might be triggering. For example, a piece that mentions police violence might have a trigger warning: “police brutality”.

We used to use trigger warnings for our pieces, but we’ve moved to using content notes because we think the language makes more sense. “Trigger warnings” imply that anything that could be triggering is mentioned at the start, but the truth is that we don’t know what might be triggering for people, and every person has different triggers. To give an example, someone might be triggered by the song “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac because it’s a song that their abusive ex frequently listened to, so it reminds them of their ex and the abuse that they survived. This trigger is unique to this person, and they probably don’t share the same trigger with many other people. The point here being – as an author of an article or blog it is impossible to know what people’s triggers will be, and to put a trigger warning for everything that could trigger anyone – because that could be literally any word or phrase in the entire piece.

The reason we use content notes is because whilst they don’t solve this problem, they don’t imply that we have covered all the triggers that could come up for anyone. We try to use content notes for things that are common triggers, like discussion of violence, slurs, hatred and discrimination. This way we can warn people of general topics that might be triggering or upsetting.

The flaws of content notes

The above is obviously an example of a flaw – even with content notes we can’t prevent people from being triggered or hurt because we don’t know every individual’s triggers. By using content notes, we hope to lessen the amount that this happens. There are a few other problems with content notes.

The first is that the word used to describe the content note could be a triggering word in itself. For example, if a piece discusses rape it would be prefixed with a content note: “rape”. However, reading this word as a content note could be triggering enough – the person might not choose to continue reading the piece, but they may have already been triggered. In this example, the content note appears to be counter-productive. However, although the word rape alone might still be triggering, reading the piece could have potentially been worse for the survivor as there might be more detail than just the word itself. Either way this isn’t ideal, but at least with a content note the reader is left with a choice to not read on and be surprised by discussion of rape in more detail.

Content notes can sometimes be used in the wrong way. For example, someone might write an article full of ableist slurs – words like “stupid” and “mad” – and prefix it with a content note: “ableist slurs”. This doesn’t make it okay to use this kind of language! The only time slurs should be used is if they’re being criticised, or if they have been reclaimed: words such as “queer” and “crazy”. A content note should only ever be used to highlight that there will be discussions about something problematic or triggering. If it is used as an excuse to use slurs/hurtful language/discriminate or excuse violence, then it’s not being used right.

I hope this gives a brief overview of what content notes are and why we use them. If there are any content notes you think we should be using and aren’t already, please email  me on yasthatannoyingfeminist@aol.co.uk to let us know.

Abbatoir Floor

Author:
Photo by Kaylen Forsyth

A poem by Kaylen Forsyth

Content note: Violent and sexist language, gender based violence and harassment

my name changes from BABY to HONEY,
NEARLY DRUNK ENOUGH, DARLING to BITCH.

i always thought i’d love the first boy to talk in poetry,
but i craved metaphors of moonlight, not war-talk and violence:
BANG, SCREW, NAIL, DESTROY.
“i like this song, do you?”
“i prefer the original,”
and you’d think i’d said something funny;
i guess it’s hard for him to grasp-

i have an opinion, i exist outside of this room,
i exist as a person- when i’m not just a nail
to be banged, to be screwed.
i guess it’s hard for him to grasp- but do you know what’s harder?

watching a girl even younger than myself
with a man twice her age on the abattoir floor.
she’s probably the girl of his dreams
or close to it-
the youngest he won’t be sent down for,
and he grabs at her throat like he’d tear at a steak;
he decides if she’s raw,
if she’s burnt,
if she’s bloody.
“keep your eyes off those boys,
you dirty, little slut!”

he has reigns on her conversations,
her body, her beauty.
and when i check on her later
she’s smiling so wide,
calls the finger-shaped bruises on her neck pretty pearls-
“why should I be afraid? it was just like a movie.”

One week after the Women’s March: what now?

Author:
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It’s been 1 week since the Women’s March where millions of people stood against Trump, and perhaps more importantly stood in solidarity with each other against what Trump stands for. One week on, we reflect on some of our experiences of the march, and some of our hopes for the future…
Awakening to the news that the women’s march was the largest protest in U.S history made me speechless. Awakening to the news that an estimated 2.9 million marched in the country surprised me. As someone who avoided the inauguration because I believe that this country was in a hopeless state, I found myself in an unexpected state of optimism. Seeing so many committed to women’s rights was uplifting. Moving forward, I hope that women of all identities will not only continue to fight for the rights of women, but also fight women from minority races, the LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, and more. I hope that a stronger and larger coalition of women forms in years to come. I hope that more female politicians specifically those in the white house and females in positions of power push an agenda that protects the rights of women in collaboration with the millions of citizens who want the rights of women protected.

– Maram Elnagheeb

Last week I marched in a loving community of 500,000 people, which now seems like a drop in the bucket of over 4 million people worldwide. We marched not just in opposition to the inauguration of a President, but in protest of the unequal treatment of women worldwide who are standing up to say, “We have had enough.” It was one of the single greatest moments of my life because for the first time I know I’m not alone. There are millions of women and we are fighting together regardless of race, gender, sexuality, citizenship status,and physical or mental ability status. When you cut one of us, we all bleed and we are refusing to bleed anymore. We sent a clear message to political leaders across the world, we are here, we are loud, we are energized and we will not go away. The war on women has gone on for far too long, we are prepared to stand up until we are all equal. Stand up and rise we will.

– Christiana Paradis, Washington DC march

The Women’s March was the biggest I’ve been on in my life, and I’ve been on a lot of marches. From the sheer scale of things it’s obvious that Trump’s presidency has really upset and terrified a lot of people, even over here in the UK. I think it’s important that we don’t stop with the march – that we continue to show solidarity with women and oppressed groups worldwide, now and in the future. Marching is great – but what now? It’s important we take action to support others, and keep resisting.

– Yas Necati, London March

Let’s keep standing with Standing Rock

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By Stephanie Wang

Undoubtedly, a Trump presidency threatens the legacy of President Obama by reverting the policy moves he’s made the past eight years.  His decision to build the Dakota Access Pipeline is devastating, and as an environmentalist and an activist, I cannot reconcile the idea of building the pipeline when it will only set forth a precedent of placing money above lives, culture, and the environment.

Building the Dakota Access Pipeline will have terribly negative impacts on the Sioux population living in the region, posing both an environmental and cultural threat to the Sioux Indians. The Dakota Access Pipeline will destroy sacred sites that have existed for hundreds of years and destroy ancient burial grounds, which is a direct violation of federal law. In addition, the pipeline could potentially contaminate the water supply of the Sioux Indians – an oil spill at the Missouri River would befall an economic and cultural catastrophe upon the Sioux population, permanently contaminating the Missouri River, a major water source for those living in the area. Without question, the Dakota Access Pipeline poses both an environmental and cultural threat to the Sioux Indians and completing the pipeline will signify that oil and the energy is more important than human lives– what will be the cost of such “progress” that the Trump administration is determined to greenlight?

Naturally, the construction of the pipeline has been extremely contentious, with thousands protesting near the Standing Rock area. These protests have lead to hundreds of arrests and the use of force and other violent tactics to disperse the protesters. On largely peaceful protests, police have used attack dogs, water cannons in freezing temperatures, and explosive teargas grenades, injuring hundreds. Freedom of assembly is a basic right in the United States, and yet, it’s something that’s being infringed upon in Standing Rock.

The company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, calls the decision to build the pipeline, “a purely political action” but when there are humans lives at risk, it cannot be purely political. When we are reduced to simply making decisions for the bottom line, at what cost will it come at? How many lives will be sacrificed and how can we possibly justify it? Once the Dakota Access Pipeline is built, what will stop the Trump administration from building more, disrupting and endangering more communities? What will stop the Trump administration from entirely disregarding our civil rights in the name of economic “progress”? That’s why we can’t stop protesting against the pipeline being built.
Now, more than ever, we need to show our support and solidarity for the Sioux Indians and the protesters in Standing Rock. It can be as simple as reblogging, sharing, or retweeting an article on #NoDAPL, signing a petition, or attending a #NoDAPL protest in your city. You can also get involved by writing to government officials and oil companies urging them to reverse the decision or by donating money to the Standing Rock Sioux for legal, sanitary, and emergency purposes. Every action counts and every action will help ensure that the Obama administration’s actions and the protests of the Sioux people to stop the building of the pipeline were not in vain.

For more ways to get involved, check this link out.

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