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Showing posts from June 24, 2018

Mapping the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s Environmental Impacts

June 29, 2018|By Eunji Oh Photo credit: ADB Photo | Nikita Makarenko, Flickr The  China-Pakistan Economic Corridor   (CPEC) includes projects ranging from western China to the southern tip of Pakistan. Energy projects account for more than  60 percent  of CPEC’s roughly $62 billion in investment. Of these projects, about 70 percent of their planned energy capacity will be generated by coal-fired power plants. The rest is hydro (20 percent), solar (7 percent), and wind (3 percent). Pakistan’s energy needs are great, and its government aims to increase access to electricity from  67 to 90 percent  of the population by 2025. However, decisions about increased energy output also need to be carefully weighed against potential environmental risks, including potential impacts on local protected species. Below, a geographic analysis suggests that CPEC power plants have the potential to greatly increase access to electricity for Pakistan’s population, but they could also pose serious risks t

Silk Road Headlines

https://www.clingendael.org/ 27 June 2018 Source: Louis Vest/flickr  This week's Silk Road news brings both geopolitics and geo-economics together, in a world that is undergoing complicated changes. Asia Times article  [Trump holds the clock on North Korea while Putin plans his moves] paints the geopolitical picture hinging on the North Korean issue. Kim Jong Un has a surprise two-day visit to China, signifying that China cannot be discounted in the North Korean issue. "Kim is indeed acting shrewdly by anchoring his dealings with Trump on his pivotal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping." Nor can one ignore the role of Russia in this situation. President Putin recently held a phone conversation with Xi Jinping. They discussed the North Korean situation in the backdrop of both countries experiencing increasing tensions with the US. Russia is arguing for the lifting of North Korean sanctions. President Moon of South Korea visited Russia last week as well, pr

IRAQ’S AL-HASHD AL-SHA'ABI: FOUR KEY INSIGHTS

 Clingendael POLICY BRIEFS 28 JUN 2018 - 16:30  DOWNLOAD PUBLICATION  (PDF)   POWER IN PERSPECTIVE: FOUR KEY INSIGHTS INTO IRAQ’S AL-HASHD AL-SHA’ABI Al-Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Forces) is an umbrella term for approximately 50 Iraqi armed groups of varying capabilities and interests. This  policy brief  explores the power base, relationships and attitudes of seven Hashd groups towards the Iraqi government between January and September 2017 to understand the effect they may have on the nature of the Iraqi state in the near future. It identifies and develops four key insights:   The Hashd are highly heterogeneous and need to be analysed as individual groups to develop strategies for their peaceful incorporation into the Iraqi security landscape. The Hashd groups’ sources of power – coercive/security, socio-religious, economic/financial and political – are connected, but not in equal measure. This means that only limited positive and negative power multiplier effec

No “Global Britain” after Brexit

SWP-BERLIN.ORG Leaving the EU Weakens UK Foreign and Security Policy, Closer Ties Remain in Germany’s Interest SWP Comment 2018/C 24, June 2018, 8 Pages Under the leitmotif of “Global Britain”, the British government is painting Brexit as a unique opportunity to rethink its foreign and security policy: stronger, more influential, more global. The heart of the concept is a global outlook and bilateral agreements to compensate the loss of EU ties. In fact, however, the looming reality of Brexit appears to be weakening the United Kingdom diplomatically and spotlighting the constraints that individual nation states face. Confronted with rising transatlantic tensions and a resurgent China and Russia, the EU has no interest in having a weakened and insecure neighbour right across the Channel. But neither will the EU offer the UK special access to its foreign and security policy as a third country. In parallel to the Brexit negotiations, Germany should therefore keep channels open by inten

No “Global Britain” after Brexit

SWP-BERLIN.ORG Leaving the EU Weakens UK Foreign and Security Policy, Closer Ties Remain in Germany’s Interest SWP Comment 2018/C 24, June 2018, 8 Pages Under the leitmotif of “Global Britain”, the British government is painting Brexit as a unique opportunity to rethink its foreign and security policy: stronger, more influential, more global. The heart of the concept is a global outlook and bilateral agreements to compensate the loss of EU ties. In fact, however, the looming reality of Brexit appears to be weakening the United Kingdom diplomatically and spotlighting the constraints that individual nation states face. Confronted with rising transatlantic tensions and a resurgent China and Russia, the EU has no interest in having a weakened and insecure neighbour right across the Channel. But neither will the EU offer the UK special access to its foreign and security policy as a third country. In parallel to the Brexit negotiations, Germany should therefore keep channels open by inten

India must explore new strategies to counter Pakistan's hostility, and do it without firing a single bullet

India Smarak Swain & Pradeep Singh GautamJun 27, 2018 13:13:2  India and Pakistan have been in a state of covert and overt aggression against each other since their partition in 1947. There have been sporadic efforts at peace, but Pakistan remains ideologically and irreconcilably hostile to India's growth and prosperity. With conventional war no longer an option between the nuclear-armed rivals, India needs to explore more effective methods of neutralising this threat. In his classic treatise  The Art of War , Sun Tzu had argued that the perfect strategy would be to subdue the enemy without fighting. Novel strategies need to be explored to make the cost of Pakistan's unrelenting hostility literally unaffordable. In a recent report on the state of Pakistan's economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) questioned its macroeconomic stability. Surging imports have led to a widening current account deficit and a significant decline in international reserves despite hi

EUISS Yearbook of European Security 2018

26 June 2018 By Daniel Fiott ,  Jakob Bund The EUISS Yearbook of European Security (YES) 2018 is the Institute’s annual publication compiling key information and data related to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in 2017. YES 2018 opens with a preface by Federica Mogherini, High Representative for the Union’s Foreign and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP). While the HR/VP recognises that ‘the very idea of a rules-based international order is questioned’, the EU ‘has emerged as a reliable force for diplomacy, dialogue and multilateralism’. YES 2018 provides an account of the EU’s engagement with the world through evidence-based, data-rich chapters that are designed to inform policymakers and officials, experts and academics and think tank representatives about the progress made by the EU and the challenges it faced in 2017. All of the familiar features of the YES are present in this ed

How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port

New York Times A cargo ship navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, near Hambantota, Sri Lanka, in May.ADAM DEAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES By  Maria Abi-Habib June 25, 2018 HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka — Every time Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, turned to his Chinese allies for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project, the answer was yes. Yes, though feasibility studies said the port wouldn’t work. Yes, though other frequent lenders like India had refused. Yes, though Sri Lanka’s debt was ballooning rapidly under Mr. Rajapaksa. Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port drew only 34 ships in 2012. And then the port became China’s. Mr. Rajapaksa was voted out of office in

CHINA: POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS

: SupChina.com Pentagon chief in Beijing with open mind Mattis to become first Pentagon chief to visit China since 2014  / Bloomberg (paywall) “Jim Mattis was set to arrive Tuesday in Beijing on the first China visit by a U.S. defense secretary in four years, as the Trump administration moves to push back against the country’s growing economic and military influence.” Amid tensions, Mattis arrives in China to ‘have a conversation’  / NYT (paywall) “I want to understand how they see the strategic relationship developing,” Mr. Mattis told reporters that day before the first stop of his trip, in Alaska. “And so I want to go in, right now, without basically poisoning the well at this point, as if my mind’s already made up.” Mattis arrives in China; NKorea to be key topic of meetings  / AP “The North Korean negotiations are expected to be a primary discussion during Mattis' meetings in China. Beijing is considered a key influencer on Pyongyang and Chinese President Xi Jinping sai

Three Common Misconceptions About China

Kuora: Three Common Misconceptions About China How many are you guilty of? KAISER KUO JUNE 25, 2018 This week’s column comes from one of Kaiser’s answers   originally posted to Quora on December 27, 2017 : What are the most common misconceptions about Chinese history among Westerners? I’m not sure how “common” these misconceptions are, as I’m pretty sure the knowledge of China’s history among 90 percent of “Westerners” doesn’t even rise to the level where there’d be misconceptions such as the ones I’ll haphazardly list below. But among reasonably educated Europeans and Americans I’ve chatted with — even those with some exposure to Chinese history — I do encounter these ideas with some frequency: 1. That China’s imperial past is a long series of sequential dynasties.  This idea is completely understandable, because often this is how it’s taught. There were these three pre-imperial dynasties called Xia (shrouded in myth), then Shang, then Zhou; then after Zhou broke apart there w

The global Mandarin robocall scam

SupChina.com “Mandarin robocalls are flooding U.S. cities”  says the South China Morning Post , in the latest report of a global scam that targets PRC citizens abroad. The basic setup seems to be the same in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand: robocalls targeting Chinese speakers claim to be from Chinese consulates and says there is an urgent message or some kind of trouble. People who fall victim to the con end up handing over their bank details. See also: Scam calls target Chinese-Vancouverites, demanding personal details and money  (Canada) Been getting voicemails in Mandarin left on your phone? Here’s what to do (Australia) , Scammers impersonate the Chinese Consulate  (U.S.) Been receiving phone calls from a stranger speaking Mandarin? It's a scam: here's what to do  (New Zealand) —Jeremy Goldkorn

Yan Xuetong and Xi Jinping on China’s place in the world

Yan Xuetong and Xi Jinping on China’s place in the world If you want to read one thing about China today, this is it:  Yan Xuetong on the bipolar state of our world . It’s a translation by the David Bandurski of an interview with Yan Xuetong 阎学通, director of the Institute for International Relations at Tsinghua University and perhaps China’s most respected thinker on foreign policy. You should read the whole thing, but if you only have a minute, here’s the ADHD version: The international system of the post world war period  remains “hegemonic” and has not yet fundamentally changed. However, Western liberalism  (西方自由主义 xīfāng zìyóu zhǔyì) is no longer leading international norms, and we are moving to a state where international norms are no longer respected. Power will be redistributed around the world instead of focused in the West. Protectionism  and economic sanctions will be the primary means of competition among major powers, as nuclear weapons will continue to successfully dete

Karachi’s Jewish community

KARACHI: Not many people know that a number of Karachi’s landmark buildings were designed by a Jewish architect Moses Somake (1875-1947). While he was born in Lahore, he lived most of his life in Karachi before migrating to England a few months before the Partition of India. Reading a paper at Karachi conference here on Saturday, Gul Hasan Kalmatti, traced the history of Karachi’s Jewish community and recalled their contribution in making Karachi a vibrant metropolis. “It’s funny how [the other speakers] have mentioned Kalhoros and Jatois,” said Kalmatti, referring to tribes who still exist today. “But today I am speaking of the Yahudis [Jews]. The Kalmattis are still here but the Jews are not.” He revealed that historic buildings like Mules Mansion in Keamari, BVS Parsi High School and the Karachi Goan Association Hall in Saddar, Khaliqdina Hall on Bunder Road, Jaffer Faddoo Dispensary in Kharadar, Edward House on Victoria road and the famous Flagstaff House were all designed by

REIMAGINING EXCHANGE: THE LOCAL IMPACT OF CULTURAL EXCHANGES

Jun 25, 2018 by Jian (Jay) Wang ,  Erik Nisbet From the earliest days of statecraft, cultural exchanges informed foreign publics of the world beyond their borders. To this day, they remain of enduring importance as a means of promoting peace and mutual understanding while supporting foreign policy objectives. Most major nations have devoted substantial resources and dedicated considerable effort to developing state-sponsored cultural exchange programs coupled with programs created by non-governmental organizations and interest. Typically, these programs select and sponsor international visitors for short-term stays in the host country, providing opportunities for them to interact with individuals and organizations in the host community. Even though “mutual understanding” is often stated as a program goal, the overwhelming emphasis is on shaping international participants’ perception and attitude toward the host nation. In turn, program impact, and its conception, reflects this o