Standing up to the giant: Analyzing Vietnam's efforts in the South China Sea

Vietnam has been challenging Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, or East Sea (Biển Đông) as Vietnam prefers to call it, for decades. Vietnam has officially laid claims on the Paracel Islands and parts of the Spratlys. Unlike most of its neighbours, however, Vietnam has been much more vocal about its displeasure of Chinese maritime actions. The Vietnamese government has repeatedly called China’s claims in the South China Sea baseless and its actions illegal. As tensions rise, where do we go from here?

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Gabriela Bernal
The Philippines: Inching Ever Closer to Dictatorship?

Since coming to power in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines has experienced a bloody war on drugs that has left over 5,000 people dead; the targeting of political opponents; crackdown on free media; martial law in the southern island of Mindanao; and attempts to rewrite the constitution. Duterte’s government has been moderately kept in check by the opposition-controlled Senate until now. However, the May 22 final midterm election results show that the President’s allies have won all 12 of the seats in the 24-member Senate that were up for election. With the Senate now under his control, checks and balances on the presidency will be severely weakened. With little opposition to block his desired legislative agenda, Duterte now has a clear path forward to implement his most desired policies.

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Gabriela Bernal
A visit to Gwangju’s May 18 Memorial Park

The date is August 5, 2018; it’s my birthday. I wanted to do something special, something different. I had been in Korea throughout the summer and had already visited the typical tourist destinations. I wanted to visit locations that hold specific historical significance in the country. So, I thought to myself, what Korean historical topic have I previously studied and and would like to explore further? After giving it some thought, I came up with the Gwangju Uprising. Thus, I decided to spend my birthday in Gwangju to learn more about a topic I had long been fascinated with; South Korea’s democracy movement.

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Gabriela Bernal
Mr. Moon the Mediator: Can South Korea still mediate between the United States and North Korea?

South Korea’s ability to act as a mediator between the United States and North Korea has come under intense scrutiny ever since the Hanoi Summit fell apart. The Moon Administration is scrambling to try and get both sides back to the negotiating table as soon as possible. However, this has proven a difficult task. Neither side is showing much flexibility on their incompatible demands.The United States will not budge on  complete denuclearization and North Korea wants partial sanctions relief. As such, can South Korea do anything to break the impasse or is it better off taking a step back?

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Gabriela Bernal
Kim Jong-un Strengthens Personality Cult

As Kim becomes increasingly involved in diplomatic initiatives with foreign countries, the North Korean Supreme Leader knows he must walk a fine line between exhibiting strength abroad while remaining firmly in control at home. This is arguably why he chose to make such a move at this time.

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Gabriela Bernal