Author: Tom Plate


The Brexit outcome was a complete surprise only to those well insulated in the corridors of power and the economic and political elite. And our summer of discontent is anything but played out yet. Great Britain has voted (52-48%) to disengage from the European Union, and while the U.S. had not yet voted to disengage from reality by voting for Donald Trump, it will have this option in the fall. For an excellent overview of the turmoil in Europe, see ‘Why the Far Right is on the Rise” in the current edition of Le Monde Diplomatique ( There are implications for Asia as well, aside from questions of the economic fallout from the British rebuff to the EU. The famous regional organization ASEAN might shatter under all the economic and political pressure being applied by Beijing. After all, Cambodia and Laos are already well stuffed in its back pocket, and Thailand’s junta seems to have decided it needs China more than it needs anyone else. Regional institutions work well when their benefits are obvious to all. NATO had few persuasive critics during the Cold Way when the Soviet Union’s threat loomed large. But when the reason for their creation seems less pressing, even as the burdens on members and their people seem to increase, a breaking point can arise. The recent psychodrama over the Greece bailout by the EU...

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TOM PLATE WRITES: Stumped by Trump? Horrified by Hillary? Apprehensive about America? As a therapeutic aid, dear distinguished reader, this column proposes to examine – and even appreciate – a totally different style of public leadership: the low-key. Yes, that kind. Remember the old days? Remember Hu Jintao, the predecessor to China’s current maximum leader Xi Jinping? The uber-quiet Hu was widely assessed as so low-key as to not even require a key chain. But maybe second thoughts are in order about this whole business of political peacocks the strut their stuff even if they don’t have any. Let’s...

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TOM PLATE WRITES – These are times that try one’s pro-American soul. To succeed Barack Obama as president, the fight looks to have come down to a duel between know-nothing and a know-it-all – between a candidate who has never held any political office, and one who has held only high office and, further, is destined to be nominated in July for the highest. Beijing as well as Tokyo must be asking themselves whether they look for a horse in this race. They don’t get to vote in the U.S. election, but they get to suffer (or flourish) from...

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LMU: ‘Strongly Committed to the Ideals of the UN’ – UNSG Ban Ki-moon

The following are remarks from the Honorable Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nationa, upon receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles 06 April 2016 “Thank you so much for your warm welcome. It is a pleasure to be here at Loyola Marymount University. I would like to express my great appreciation for this honorary degree. I know you are recognizing not just me, but also the United Nations. Thank you for this vote of support for our efforts to advance peace, development and human rights across the world. I thank my good friend Professor Tom Plate for his kind introduction. My connection with LMU starts with him. Our friendship goes back decades. He was a long-time journalist, specializing in East Asia. I was a senior official in the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and eventually became Foreign Minister. Professor Plate and I came to know each other, and talked often about Asian affairs. When I became Secretary-General, our talks turned to global issues. It was early in my tenure that he told me about Loyola Marymount University — a wonderful community, he said, that is strongly committed to the ideals of the United Nations. “You must visit”, he said. Since there is nothing I like as much as spending time with young people, here I am! You may recall that...

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TOM PLATE WRITES – The irrefutable fact of current geopolitics is that Chinese-U.S. concordance offers the greatest potential transnational force for good (or evil) on this planet. When Beijing and Washington can get together — and then can get it together — the effect can be stunning. So for this week, at least, shelve your pessimistic instinct and imagine that the better Sino-U.S. relationship managed to surface. Our story involves the two most powerful members of the UN Security Council working with the UN secretary general in New York. Start with last week, on the notable occasion of the sweeping and promising Paris climate control protocol – a necessary first step in meeting the daunting global-overheating challenge. Not only did 175-plus nations put pen to the protocol’s papyrus, but also – and more to the point – the Beijing and Washington stood at the head of the political march for United Nations Framework Convention of the Climate Change (UNFCCC), which came together in Paris on in December. These two titanic economies throw down on us 40% of all global greenhouse admissions, for which both Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama should be ashamed. In a sense, thankfully, they are, and so when they signaled their Paris Accord signing intent, they raised the UN-driven effort from the dead after the unsettling climate-control negotiation collapse in Copenhagen in 2009. It is...

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Weekly Graphic Opinion

Tom Plate says one must believe that the treatment of the Causeway Bay booksellers is an idiotic misstep on Beijing’s part, rather than a change of heart on a cherished principle. read more...

Editorial cartoon by Craig Stephens

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ASIA MEDIA INTERNATIONAL is a student-driven publication of Loyola Marymount University's Asia Media Center - a vital part of LMU's Department of Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS)

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