Thursday, December 27, 2012

China As Global Mediator

When the Chinese government decided to appoint a special envoy to the Middle East a decade ago, China's concerns about the peace process there became evident. Whether China's mediation efforts contradict its longstanding principle of non-interference in internal affairs is of special interest as China becomes more deeply involved in the resolution of regional and international conflicts, indicating its emergence as a mediator. Since the Arab Spring last year, China has used its veto power several times in the United Nations Security Council and played a constructive role in the mediation of the ongoing crisis in Syria. China has contributed a peacekeeping medical team in southern Lebanon and remains one of the six parties involved in the talks on the Iranian nuclear issue. Because of the size of China's economy and its growing influence around the world, the once-isolated country has evolved as global mediator, seeking governance necessary for its own development. China was quick to urge the Syrian government and all parties concerned to halt the violence. China's former practice was to call for restraint from the parties and for peaceful resolution through dialogue-- not to take action. Mediation is now consistent with China's continuing role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which means it can no longer do nothing. This includes efforts in the Korean Peninsula and Africa, as well. China has been relatively absent from contemporary international mediation initiatives since the current republic's founding in 1949. However, it is now driven by increasing international stature, coupled with intensification of unresolved and newly emerging conflicts that threaten world security. See story -

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mediations On The Waterfront

From the west coast of Florida to the West Coast, mediations have been ordered in two brewing waterfront controversies. Here, a lawsuit threatens to delay St. Petersburg City Council's allocation $5.4 million to begin work on a new pier. Circuit Judge Amy Williams ordered the city and a citizens group to mediation to come up with ballot language in a claim against the city that seeks a public referendum on the $50 million project. Also at issue is whether to save a 40-year-old inverted pyramid sitting on the 90-year-old pier structure. The city council voted 7-1 in 2010 to demolish the Pier-- a landmark structure on the downtown waterfront since it was constructed in 1973-- after engineers determined the 1,000-plus pilings undergirding it are coming to the end of their useful life. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, both sides in the strike crippling the ports of L.A. and Long Beach have agreed to federal mediation. Workers belonging to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union went on strike last month against an employer group of shipping lines and terminal owners, causing most cargo container terminals at the nation's busiest seaport complex to shut down. The union says the employers transferred work from higher-paid union members to lower-paid employees. The employers dispute that claim, saying they offered the workers full job security and generous wage and pension increases. Mediation will surely produce sink or swim results in these disputes. See news items at and

Monday, December 3, 2012

NHL Faceoff following failed Mediation

National Hockey League owners and NHLPA member players will meet tomorrow, resuming labor talks following failed efforts by federal mediators last week. In hopes of reaching a new collective bargaining agreement and ending a player lockout, owners and players will meet alone, face- to-face, without league and union officials or mediators. Some owners attending the meeting have not previously done so which is seen as encouraging. Hockey's labor dispute has already resulted in cancelling more than a third of the NHL regular season, including the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game. It is very unlike the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to throw up its hands, saying it would be not productive to continue discussions, and that they would rather call the parties back together when they thought the time was right. Seems the parties to this one thought otherwise. We'll see if that move of self-determination ends the dispute or the season. See more in Bloomberg story at