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Trump-Kim summit achieved nothing when it comes to peace in the Korean peninsula, says journalist

When US President Donald Trump became the first American president to meet a leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in June 2018, it was hailed as a step forward in the peace process.

South Korean-born, American investigative journalist Suki Kim talked about her experiences in North Korea. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC South Korean-born, American investigative journalist Suki Kim talked about her experiences in North Korea. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Shortly before that meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met his southern counterpart, Moon Jae-in, in an historic summit that saw both sides briefly enter the other’s territory – the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The two also agreed to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in order to achieve lasting peace between the two nations.

Both summits, says South Korean-born, American investigative journalist Suki Kim, were a sideshow. At the October 31 club lunch Kim said that nothing had changed since the meetings, and that no steps toward denuclearisation had been made. She said rather than lay the blueprint for peace by disarmament, it was business as usual minus  the missile firing so often favoured by Kim Jong-un.

And she said for the North Korean dictator, the meetings had proven to be a great PR exercise that had in fact legitimised his regime.

“When you look at it over the past year, what has really changed?” Kim, author of The New York Times best-seller Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korean Elitesaid, adding that even the global conversation on human rights abuses in North Korea had quietened since Kim Jong-un increased his presence on the world stage.

Watch the full talk here.

Emmanuel Macron: Inside the French president’s first year

French President Emmanuel Macron has imposed a new style and rhythm in French politics, but now, in his second year as leader, he is facing tensions that could affect his standing on the global political stage.

Professor Alistair Cole gave his take on French President Emmanuel Macron's first year. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Professor Alistair Cole gave his take on French President Emmanuel Macron’s first year. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Young, dynamic, energetic, brilliant, ruthless – “and perhaps a little bit arrogant” – Macron has symbolised the end of the “old world” of French politics and turned the presidency into a powerful institution that had been losing its way under Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and to some extent, François Hollande, said Professor Alistair Cole, whose book, Emmanuel Macron and the re-making of France – will be published in March 2019.

He is someone who likes to be in control, but that control has been slipping recently, particularly in light of the widely-reported Alexandre Benalla incident. Benalla, a security official for Macron, was filmed hitting and stamping on a man at a Paris demonstration while dressed as a police officer. He has since been charged with violence, interfering in the exercise of public office and the unauthorised public display of official insignia. Cole, Professor of Politics and Dean of Internationalisation at Sciences Po Lyon, noted that Macron had hesitated in his response to the scandal, adding that the negative effects of the Benalla affair highlighted the dangers of this secretive leadership style and practice.

In the early part of his presidency, Macron came across as a straight talker, said Cole at the October 30 club lunch, due to his numerous “petit phrases and one-liners”. The most recent to make headlines was his telling unemployed French people to cross the street and find a job in a restaurant. This rhetoric has contributed to his growing image as “a rather arrogant, distant and elitist individual”.

Macron also ushered in a raft of reforms in his first year as president which cast him as a new ‘fast President’, including abolishing wealth tax and introducing a flat tax – moves that bolstered his image as the ‘President of the Rich’.

Macron has introduced a robust form of political expression based on an explicit rejection of the left and right, Cole said, and has raised France’s standing in the world.

“From the very beginning Macron has tried to measure himself up to the great and the good in politics,” said Cole, adding that he met with Tump and Putin shortly after being elected, demonstrating a very active role in foreign policy.

However, Cole said Macron is in danger of falling into the trap of Hubris – having a sense of exaggerated pride, overwhelming self-confidence and a contempt for others.

“The positive qualities of leadership – charisma, charm, persuasiveness, decisiveness and self-confidence – can in their turn produce more negative qualities of impetuosity, a refusal to listen or take advice, impulsiveness, recklessness and inattention to derail,” Cole said.

Watch the full event here.

FCC Statement on Victor Mallet’s case

The refusal by Hong Kong authorities to renew the work visa of the Financial Times Asia News Editor Victor Mallet has generated grave concerns both in Hong Kong and around the world.

The FCC has asked the Hong Kong authorities to explain this decision, which sets a disturbing precedent and undermines Hong Kong’s reputation as a jurisdiction where the rule of law applies and where freedom of speech and freedom of association are guaranteed by law.

On October 9, the Chief Executive dismissed as “speculation” the link between the visa refusal for Mr Mallet and the lunch held at the FCC in August where he hosted Andy Chan Ho-tin, co-founder of the now banned pro-independence party HKNP. However, no alternative explanation has been offered. Throughout its long history the FCC has hosted politicians, businesspeople, professionals and artists of varied political persuasions, including senior members of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments and their critics.

The importance of this visa sanction goes far beyond the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and its short or long-term future in Hong Kong; it goes far beyond the FT Hong Kong bureau losing its Asia News editor, and beyond Victor Mallet himself.

This visa decision suggests that free speech may not be permitted in certain unspecified areas. The absence of an official reason or a clear explanation makes the decision appear arbitrary and lacking any basis in Hong Kong law and creates an impossible working environment for the media.

The rule of law is an essential feature of Hong Kong’s identity and its success as an international financial and commercial centre. The FCC therefore reiterates its call for the Hong Kong government to explain its action, or, in the absence of a reasonable explanation, to reverse its decision.

The FCC remains committed to playing an important civic role in facilitating debate and exchange of ideas on a wide range of topics that concern Hong Kong, Asia and the world. We will continue to welcome speakers with a range of views, including pro-establishment figures as well as Hong Kong government and Chinese officials.

12 October 2018

Sign the petition demanding an explanation: English and Chinese

香港當局拒絕續簽金融時報亞洲新聞編輯Victor Mallet的工作簽證,引起香港以及國際的極度關切。
香港外國記者會成立多年,經常接待不同政見的政治家、 商人、 專業人士和藝術家,包括香港及內地官員以及批評他們的人士。

Petition demanding explanation for Victor Mallet visa rejection handed to Hong Kong government

A petition of more than 15,000 signatures was handed to the Hong Kong government on Monday (October 8) by a coalition of media organisations demanding an explanation as to why foreign correspondent Victor Mallet’s visa renewal application was rejected.

L-R: Chris Yeung, HKJA chairman; Chris Slaughter, FCC board of governors; Florence De Changy, FCC President;, Geoff Crowthall, FCC Press Freedom Committee; and Legislative Council member Claudia Mo. Photo: Genavieve Alexander L-R: Chris Yeung, HKJA chairman; Chris Slaughter, FCC board of governors; Florence De Changy, FCC President;, Geoff Crothall, FCC Press Freedom Committee; and Legislative Council member Claudia Mo. Photo: Genavieve Alexander

The petition, launched on Saturday by the FCC, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalism (IFJ), Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, and the Independent Commentators Association, calls on Chief Executive Carrie Lam to give a full explanation of the unprecedented move.

Among those to go to the government’s Admiralty headquarters were HKJA chairman Chris Yeung and FCC President Florence De Changy.

Photo: Genavieve Alexander Photo: Genavieve Alexander

Mallet, the Financial Times’ Asia News Editor, has been a journalist for more than 30 years and has served as the FCC Vice President since 2017.

“As such, he hosted many FCC events on a wide range of topics, including one in August with Andy Chan Ho-tin, co-founder of the Hong Kong National Party which has since been banned. This event was strongly condemned by the Chinese authorities and the Hong Kong government though it was lawful and took place in the same professional manner as all other events hosted by the FCC. The same speaker had previously spoken to other forums,” the petition says.

See the Chinese version of the petition.

Petition created demanding authorities explain visa refusal for FCC VP Victor Mallet

A petition demanding an explanation from Hong Kong authorities as to why the work visa of FCC Vice President Victor Mallet was not renewed has been created by the Alliance of Hong Kong Media.

Mallet, Asia editor for the Financial Times, was refused the visa without explanation from Hong Kong immigration.

The Alliance of Hong Kong Media said: “Refusing a visa in this case, to a bona fide journalist working for one of the world’s leading newspapers, sets a terrible precedent for Hong Kong’s reputation as a place where the rule of law applies and where freedom of speech is protected by law.”

It added: “In the absence of any reasonable explanation, we call on the authorities to rescind their decision and allow Mr Mallet to continue to work for the Financial Times in Hong Kong and serve as FCC First Vice President.”

Sign the petition here.

FCC calls on authorities to explain visa decision on club Vice President Victor Mallet

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong is deeply concerned over the decision to refuse a work visa renewal for Victor Mallet, the Financial Times’ Asia News Editor. The FCC is expecting a full explanation from the Hong Kong authorities for this extraordinary move, which is extremely rare, if not unprecedented.

Journalist, author and FCC board member Victor Mallet discussed the threats facing India's Ganges river. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Journalist, author and FCC Vice President Victor Mallet. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Mr Mallet has been a journalist for the Financial Times and Reuters for more than 30 years, and this is his second stint in Hong Kong. He first joined the FCC in 2003. He has served as the Club’s First Vice-President since 2017.

Hong Kong rightly prides itself on its reputation as a place where the rule of law applies and where freedom of speech is protected by law. The FCC has been proud to represent and champion that reputation since it moved here in 1949.

In the absence of any reasonable explanation, the FCC calls on the Hong Kong authorities to rescind their decision.

5 October, 2018

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