The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

G20 ministers abandon vow to oppose protectionism:  In a victory for President Trump Saturday, ministers at the G20 meeting in Germany have agreed to remove language from an annual statement which traditionally opposes trade protectionism.

In 2016, ministers announced opposition to “all forms” of trade barriers and it was expected the same language would be included following the 2017 meeting.  President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have long argued current U.S. trade deals encourage job loss and the movement of jobs overseas to nations with significantly lower labor costs.

In one of his first acts as president, Mr. Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has indicated he will pursue bi-lateral trade agreements over multi-lateral trade pacts.

China to build permanent structure on disputed shoal:  Plans for China to further develop artificial islands in the South China Sea will go ahead according to Sansha, the administration responsible for oversight of Chinese claims in the region.

China is said to be planning construction of up to six environmental monitoring stations on varying islands in the area, one of which will be placed on the disputed Scarborough Shoal.  The shoal lies 300 miles off the coast of the Philippines.

In violation of international law, China has moved to claim ownership of several island groups in the region, defying international court rulings and flouting claims from Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has sent warships to the region recently with the purpose of dispersing commercial fishing ships and foreign vessels from the area.

South China Sea

(courtesy UNCLOS/CIA via BBC)

Russia assimilates South Ossetic military into armed forces:  Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Kremlin officials to agree to a deal which will merge South Ossetian troops into the Russian military.

A breakaway republic formerly part of Georgia, South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in 1991 and received backing from Russia.  Hostilities between Georgia and South Ossetia broke out in 1991–’92 and in both 2004 and 2008.

In 2004 and 2008, Russia fought along side South Ossetian troops against Georgia.

Only a partially-recognized state, South Ossetia is still considered a legal possession of Georgia.

(courtesy Voice of America)

Syria fires missiles at Israeli military aircraft:  Syrian air defense fired several missiles at Israeli aircraft which violated airspace during a mission into Syrian territory early Friday.  Israel confirmed the mission, but did not specify the targets.

Lebanese media reported the purpose of the Israeli attack was targeting a weapon shipment to Hezbollah. Israeli officials have long contended weapons flow freely from Syria to Hezbollah terrorists operating in Lebanon.

Syria claimed one Israeli aircraft was hit; Israel denies damage to any Israeli Air Force aircraft.

Israel has periodically attacked targets inside Syria during the six-year Syrian Civil War, claiming it was defending itself from the conflict spilling over its borders.

Filipino leader will pursue murderous campaign against drug lords:  Dismissing concerns from the UN and rights groups, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said his nationwide anti-drug policy will continue.

Mr. Duterte has pursued an anti-drug campaign which often includes extrajudicial killings of known and suspected drug lords and criminal elements associated with the drug trade in the Philippines.

Duterte briefly halted the practice following the death of a Korean national unaffiliated with the drug trade, but signed an order resuming the operation last week.

Rights groups have criticized the program; Duterte says the drug trade is a threat to national security.


[AP] [South China Morning Post] [Reuters] [The Guardian] [New York Times]