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Showing posts from September 16, 2018

One world, two internets

CNBC  reports : “Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and executive chairman of Alphabet, predicts that within the next decade there will be two distinct internets: one led by the U.S. and the other by China.” This is a strange type of prediction: There are already two distinct internets: one led by the U.S. and the other by China. The vast majority of globally popular websites and online services are not easily accessible in China, while a huge proportion of China’s online population hardly ever ventures beyond the walled garden of WeChat. As China develops its own standards in different fields, it will continue to create an alternative digital world. Today, for example, the BBC  asks : “China has ambitions for its rapidly expanding Beidou satellite navigation system to serve the whole world, not just Asia, but will it really be able to rival the well-established — and US-owned — GPS system?” The answer seems to be “maybe,” with caveats such as this: "It's one thing to get

EVENT: AI Superpowers

Kai-Fu Lee In the 1990s, as the dotcom era began to unfold, artificial intelligence (AI) expert and developer  Kai-Fu Lee  was busy at Apple streamlining many of the company’s early R&D projects. Those initial days, or the era of development, as Dr. Lee has since come describe it, were dominated by American technological innovation. Corporations like Apple and Microsoft paved the way for Silicon Valley companies to become global leaders. However, as Dr. Lee details in a new book,  AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order , we have moved to the era of AI implementation, and Silicon Valley is no longer the center of gravity it once was. While American tech giants remain formidable players, the most prominent companies in areas of speech synthesis, computer vision, and machine translation are all Chinese. Moreover, Chinese consumers are significantly more comfortable than their American counterparts in embracing the growing role of AI in their daily lives. Fo

Fundamentals Of Modern Chinese Imperialism And Colonisation Of Africa: Focus On FOCAC NEWS REPORTS OPINION #NIGERIADECIDES POLITICS BUSINESS SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT LIFESTYLE EDUCATION VIDEOS PHOTOS DOCUMENTS By Austin Aneke During the time of slavery and colonialism we had phrases like- “humanisation of Africa; taming the barbarians, and/or extending civilisation to the dark Continent”. However, modern societies are no more receptive to these ones. BY AUSTIN ANEKESEP 17, 2018 Austin Aneke The FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) 2018 meeting in Beijing has now ended. According to the signed action plan 2019-2021, the summit confirmed that China and Africa will implement eight initiatives bordering on “industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people to people exchange, and peace and security”. Historically, similar phrases were applied during all stages of

HOW THE SYRIAN REGIME CONTROLS REFUGEE RETURN: FOUR TOOLS 17 SEP 2018 - 17:00  DOWNLOAD PUBLICATION  (PDF) Syrian society is more socially, politically and geographically fragmented than ever before. None of the social problems that caused the 2011 protests have been resolved. Nevertheless, during recent months the Syrian regime has been trying to foster the image that Syria is entering a post-war phase in which a unified and stable Syria can flourish under President Bashar al-Assad. The fact that more than half of the country’s pre-war population is living in exile and has no part in this new social contract of sorts is conveniently omitted from the image presented of this ‘new’ Syria. These refugees will likely continue to live in precarious conditions, with few prospects for safe and voluntary return.  In this  policy brief  authors  Samar Batrawi and  Ana Uzelac  identify four tools the Syrian regime has at its disposal to control the return o

CHINA’S RISING GLOBAL INVOLVEMENT: A GEOPOLITICAL SECURITY RISK? 17 SEP 2018 - 22:45   China’s increasing involvement on the global political stage has not gone unnoticed. The economic superpower is gaining influence, and not just in its direct neighbourhood, but across the globe. By providing loans for infrastructural projects, China gains access to essential resources and binds foreign nations in political ties. Additionally, China is making major military moves, especially in strengthening the capacity of its air force and its marine. So how should we view this rise of China from a security perspective? What are the implications of China’s growing sphere of influence? The answer to these questions and others will be discussed during Clingendael’s  Training Course on International Security . Want to know more about China on the world stage? Join our Course International Security China’s increased presence can be easily seen in Asia and Africa, but al


18 SEP 2018 - 12:54  DOWNLOAD PUBLICATION  (PDF) BACK TO OVERVIEW Europe’s conventional arms control architecture requires a thorough makeover. Today’s arms control and confidence-building arrangements are based on two legally binding pillars: the Conventional Armed Forces Europe (CFE) Treaty of 1990 and the Open Skies Treaty of 1992. The Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs), originally adopted in 1990 and most recently updated in 2011, is politically binding and aims to increase the transparency of military postures and activities in Europe. Today, these arrangements are either blocked or in dire need of modernization. Political initiatives are required to start a new East-West détente and to avoid the steady escalation of bloc-to-bloc conflict and the hardening of positions. These initiatives should clarify what sort of regulatory framework and institutional venue will work best to modernize arms control, what the scope should be in terms of terr

LONGREAD: the silicon Silk Road

21 Sep 2018 arhan Faruqui Group Executive International, ANZ Just over two thousand years ago, a Chinese government representative headed west, exploring unknown lands, building alliances and finding new markets for trade. That official, Zhāng Qiān, is credited with charting the legendary  route  known today as the Silk Road. He laid the foundations for a  trading network that profoundly influenced the history of the world.  "Trade, finance and logistics have shaped China as much as philosophers, warriors and emperors.” Not long after Zhāng Qiān’s seminal  journey , China introduced the world to paper. We well know the profound impact of paper on the capture and transmission of knowledge across civilisations but it was also an invention that had a profound influence on the evolution of the global trade-finance-logistics ecosystem. Inventions and trade went hand-in-hand in ancient China. During the Song dynasty, for example, two developments transformed China into a mercant

The Tehran Summit and Iran’s Regional Ambitions

By Dr. Doron Itzchakov September 20, 2018 Russia-Turkey-Iran Trilateral Summit in Tehran, September 7, 2018, photo via Office of the President of the Russian Federation BESA Center Perspectives No. 954, September 20, 2018 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  The recent Russian-Turkish-Iranian summit in Tehran underscored the Islamic Republic’s determination to take an active and central part in the future reconstruction of Syria so as to promote a range of civilian and security interests that are bound to work to Israel’s detriment. On September 7, the presidents of Russia, Turkey, and Iran met in Tehran in an attempt to reach understandings regarding Syria’s future in general, and the imminent offensive in the Idlib district – the last bastion of anti-Assad regime rebels – in particular. Despite the outward  display of unity  and the shared desire to exclude Washington from the decision-making process on Syria’s future so as to make the Syrian agenda their exclusive domain, the differences betw

Battle with Fate: Russia, Geography, and the Historical Cycle

By Emil Avdaliani September 20, 2018 Putin image by Victoria Borodinova via Pixabay BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 953, September 20, 2018 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:   Russia under Putin falls neatly into the Russian historical cycle. When the old state is in decline, chaos ensues, and a new, powerful leader emerges to rebuild Russia. There are plenty of comparisons from Russian history that echo Putin’s rise and success – but there are crucial differences, too, which help explain his inability to transform Russia into a truly global power. Historical comparisons, when made judiciously, can help analyze current political realities. Russian history contains cycles that recur over centuries. The cycle runs this way: Russia sinks into chaos, rises from that chaos, returns as a regional and sometimes even global power, aspires to consolidate its gains through strongman rule and the addition of neighboring territories, and then collapses. Then the cycle begins anew. One of the constant

Is China’s infrastructure boom past its peak? A sharp slowdown in investment this year points to a more subdued future  Print edition | China Sep 20th 2018| NANTONG CHINA does not do infrastructure by half measures. It has the world’s longest networks of motorway and high-speed rail (which Hong Kong joins on September 23rd, see  article ). It has the tallest bridge as well as the longest. It is building nearly ten airports a year, more than any other country. It has the most powerful hydroelectric dam, the biggest wind farm and as much coal power as the rest of the world combined. But the infrastructure boom has lost steam this year. After expanding at a double-digit pace for much of the past three decades, investment in it has slowed sharply. Since May spending on projects ranging from railways to power plants has fallen compared with a year earlier, the longest weak patch on record. Get our daily newsletter Upgrade your inbox and get

September 24 escalation forebodes a long and bloody conflict — trade war, day 77 September 24 escalation forebodes a long and bloody conflict — trade war, day 77 We’ve been calling it a trade war for a while. “Day 1,” by our counting, was marked by the first tit-for-tat round of tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods  on July 6 . The amount of goods tariffed then ratched up again  on August 23 , to $50 billion on each side. But now that we are  four days away from the amount of tariffed goods more than tripling , with taxes to be imposed on nearly half of all traded goods between the U.S. and China, the Economist is  saying , “America and China are in a  proper  trade war” (emphasis added). The Economist shares the bleak outlook  of many other English-language media outlets, and notes that the Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China coincides with the U.S. undercutting the World Trade Organization by “blocking the appointment of judges to the body’s court of appeals.” Starting in October, “only three will be left — the minimum needed

Upcoming China events — London, Shanghai, Beijing, and D.C. These are worth your time if you’re in the right place: The China Defense and Security Conference,  the  Jamestown Foundation’s annual China security nerd-fest , takes place October 11, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C. China Town Hall,  an event on October 9  organized by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations , will feature a national webinar with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, paired with many dozens of local events through the U.S. and beyond. “ 34  years among the birds of China: New species and new threats” is the title of a talk by Swedish ornithologist and professor Per Alstrom  on September 29 at the Bookworm in Beijing . “ The Scribblers Mafia:  Radical ideologues in Mao’s coalition,”  a seminar with Professor Victor Shih , on September 25 at SOAS, London. Fine art photography:  Shanghai is taking “center stage in China's burgeoning photography scene,”  says CNN , reviewing  Photofairs Shanghai  

Pakistan raises treatment of Uyghurs with China The Nation, a respected Pakistani newspaper, has  this noteworthy report : Pakistan has demanded China to soften restrictions on Chinese Muslims living in Xinjiang province. Federal Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri while meeting Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said that strict regulations and laws fuel extremism and in order to curb intolerance and promote religious harmony China should deal with patience. The minister proposed that Pakistani religious scholars can visit the troubled region and can play their role in ending extremist ideology and promote moderate thinking. The Chinese ambassador promised that his government will soon facilitate Pakistani delegation of religious scholars to visit Xinjiang province. The article also notes that earlier this year, the  Gilgit-Baltistan  Legislative Assembly “through a unanimous resolution urged the federal government to take urgent steps for the release of over 50 Chinese wives of Gilgit-Baltistan men detained in Xinjiang.”

And then they came for the tech research executives TechNode  reports  that the “disappearance of high-level officers at China’s leading research, statistics, and consulting group iResearch is causing a stir on Chinese social media.” Company president  Henry Yang (Yang Weiqing 杨伟庆) and Chief Technical Officer Jason Hao (Hao Xincheng 郝欣诚) are apparently incommunicado. iResearch responded  to the social media rumors with an announcement that “some managing officers” are “assisting investigation performed by some relevant departments” but that the company is operating normally. A possible reason  for the disappearance of the executives cited by TechNode — “recent concerns about fabricating market data, especially in TV ratings.” I would add that many tech firms use iResearch data in their pitch materials to attract investment, and in their prospectuses and IPO filings. I imagine there’s a lot government investigators could potentially ask Yang and Hao about. A final point: Like the  disappearance of actress Fan Bingbing  范

Shortage of Humanitarian Funding Threatens the Welfare and Food Security of Thousands of Vulnerable Displaced Iraqis and Syrian Refugees

Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States Washington, DC Shortage of Humanitarian Funding Threatens the Welfare and Food Security of Thousands of Vulnerable Displaced Iraqis and Syrian Refugees Statement from the KRG's Joint Crisis Coordination Centre 18 September 2018 The Syrian civil war since 2011, the invasion of ISIS in 2014 and Iraqi military operations have forced millions of people to flee their homes and seek safety in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Currently, the Kurdistan Region hosts approximately 245,000 Syrian refugees and 1.2 million Iraqi internally displaced people. Despite the declaration of victory over ISIS in 2017, insecurity and hardship continues to compel civilians to seek safety in camps established in the Kurdistan Region. New displacements have outnumbered the voluntary return of IDP families. During the first eight months of 2018 alone, the KRI has received over 15,000 IDPs from Ninewa and other provinces. These new di

The Foreign-Policy Tools of Small Powers: Strategic Hedging in the Persian Gulf Volume XXII Spring Number 1    Yoel Guzansky Mr. Guzansky, of the School of Political Sciences, Haifa University, and the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Tel Aviv University, is the co-editor of  One Year of the Arab Spring: Regional and International Implications  (INSS Publication 2012) and author of  The Arab Gulf States and Reform in the Middle East: Between Iran and the "Arab Spring"  (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2015). This article analyzes the foreign-policy tools that Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman use in dealing with Iran. It argues that a policy of strategic hedging reduces the danger of conflict with Iran in the short term, while preserving contingency plans that address the severity of the threat and the uncertainty of the relationship in the long term. We could have expected that, because of their sense of threat, the small Gulf st