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Showing posts from March 31, 2019

Italy’s BRI pact will be measured by domestic politics

OXFORD ANALYTICA Italy’s BRI pact will be measured by domestic politics Monday, April 1, 2019 Italy is the first G7 country officially to endorse China's BRI, but its cooperation faces various obstacles On March 23, Italy became the first G7 country officially to endorse China’s global infrastructure and connectivity project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, Italy’s populist government is itself divided on engagement with the BRI; the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) views it as a timely opportunity to boost Italy’s struggling economy and deliver populist fiscal policies, while the far-right League is concerned lest it lead to Chinese ‘colonisation’ of some of Italy’s ports. Ultimately, the extent of the engagement will be determined by: voter concerns; the longevity of the current government; and which party holds the balance of power over coming years. What next At the EU-China summit on April 9, EU leaders will ask China to open its market to Europea

Chinese Pressure Tactics

Chinese Pressure Tactics By Dr. James M. Dorsey April 3, 2019 Xi Jinping, photo via Office of the President of Russia BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,131, April 3, 2019 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:   Recent  Chinese pressure on Myanmar to approve a controversial dam project  and  the arrest in Kazakhstan of a human rights activist  suggest that China, in a seemingly tone-deaf pursuit of its interests, is forcing governments to choose between heeding increasingly anti-Chinese public sentiment and pleasing Beijing to ensure continued political and economic support. Apparent Chinese disregard of public opinion, whether as a matter of policy or because of haphazard insensitivity, is compounded by the powering of anti-Chinese sentiment in several countries as a result of commercial terms of China-funded Belt and Road projects that favor the use of Chinese rather than local labor and materials. The Chinese approach risks that anti-Chinese sentiment, meshed with social and economic discont

South China Sea: Filipino officials dial up the rhetoric

Agence France-Presse  reports : The Philippines on Thursday April 4 branded as "illegal" the recent presence of hundreds of Chinese ships near a disputed island in the South China Sea — a rare public rebuke of Beijing by Manila, which has backed off their once tense territorial standoff… Pag-asa, also called Thitu island, is held by the Philippines, but in the first three months of the year at least 275 Chinese fishing and coast guard vessels were sighted in the area, the Philippines military said. "The presence of Chinese vessels near and around Pag-asa (island) ... is illegal," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement. "Such actions are a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty.” Even Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte — who  on April 2 said China was a “friend” despite the tensions in the South China Sea —  told China on April 4  to stay away from Pag-asa: “I will not plead or beg, but I am just telling you that lay off the P

Eight months in, how is Balochistan faring?

From economic revival to managing the insurgency, here's a progress report of the province's coalition. Malik Siraj Akbar Updated about 9 hours ago In 2018, Balochistan witnessed political earthquakes on at least three different fronts. All these tumultuous changes emanated from different sources and targeted specific goals. All these political rebellions in near-unison identified a common enemy: Islamabad. The first upheaval came months before the general elections of July 2018 when several members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and former allies of ex-prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, decided to close Balochistan’s doors to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Weary of what they described as Balochistan’s endless exploitation by the two mainstream national parties and persistent manipulation of the province’s natural resources and political vulnerabilities, this group of traditionally pro-establishment  politicians formed  the

Pakistan’s GDP growth to fall behind Nepal, Maldives this year: UN

Pakistan’s GDP growth to fall behind Nepal, Maldives this year: UN AMIN AHMED ISLAMABAD: The annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2019 titled ‘Ambitions beyond Growth’, released by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on Thursday, forecast Pakistan’s GDP to remain lowest in the region at 4.2 per cent in 2019 and 4pc in 2020 compared to Bangladesh’s 7.3pc, India 7.5pc, Maldives and Nepal 6.5pc each in 2019. The  survey  revealed that overall economic conditions in the region are stable with the projected 5-5.1 per cent GDP growth in 2019 and 2020 respectively. However, export-oriented sectors face headwinds from weaker demand in Europe and possibly in US, and looming uncertainty over ongoing US-China trade war. Read: Pakistan's GDP growth expected to slow down to 3.9pc: ADB report Pakistan’s economy is experiencing severe balance of payment difficulties amid large fiscal and current account deficits and mounti

Pakistan’s brave posture on Balakot belies growing insecurity

Rawalpindi’s brave public posture, however, belies its growing insecurity and inability to rein its fast slipping reputation. By ET CONTRIBUTORS | Apr 05, 2019 A cropped version of a satellite image shows a close-up of a madrasa near Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, March 4, 2019. Picture taken March 4, 2019. Mandatory credit: Planet Labs Inc./Handout via REUTERS By Prasad Nallapati Pakistan continues to be on high `military alert’ although the Balakot episode receded to background and India deeply engrossed in a long, grueling election campaigning for the world’s largest democratic undertaking. ADVERTISEMENT The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is reveling in showcasing its “muscular” policy toward Pakistan while the opposition, equally vehemently, questioning some of its unsubstantiated claims. -Mohammed (JeM) camps at Balakot heights in what it said a `preventive anti-terrorist operation’. The JeM had earlier claimed responsibility for killing over 40 India

Note on Tweet by Tarek Fatah

Anonymous Expert Note on Tweet by Tarek Fatah Coming from people like Tarek Fatah this would be instantly set aside as usual (Hindu) right wing propaganda. Carefully collected hard evidence would be needed for the national (i.e., English) and international media to take note of such things. Indian English media cannot verify this on its own. They are welcome in the Valley only if they go to search for victims of counter-insurgency, but not if they go to ascertain growing extremism etc. Indeed, the real and enduring success of militancy has been the introduction of an information chasm and consequent control over the narrative through selective release of information to the outside world and control over the information disseminated within Kashmir. On a day when both a police constable and a civilian protester died, a leading English language newspaper published from Srinagar described the constable more or less as a mor

Always Blame the West! - And Six Other Disinformation Trends

4 April 2019 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* Always Blame the West! - And Six Other Disinformation Trends This week, the pro-Kremlin disinformation machine churned out enough material for us to register about 50 cases, which we've divided them into seven categories showing how certain narrative templates are used and reused for different stories and adapted to different audiences. These categories range from the usual – “The West did it!” and “It wasn’t us!” – to the outrageous “I can’t believe I’m reading this”, which contains lies so blatant that even the most hard-boiled disinformation aficionado might need to take a seat.  The Elites vs. the Losers The narratives in this category seek to instil an inferiority complex in the reader, both on a  personal  and  national level , and to drum up opposition to the political establishment. One case for example suggests that voting in the European Parliament elections simply gives a few politicians the opportunity for a cushy life in Brussels,

Perils of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative

Perils of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative G Parthasarathy   | Updated on April 03, 2019  Published on April 03, 2019 Using ‘aid’ as leverage, China is slowly exploiting developing nations and establishing its dominance in the Indian Ocean One of the most remarkable developments in recent decades has been the rise of China, spearheaded since 1978, by the visionary leadership and economic reforms of Deng Xiao Ping. China registered the highest rate of economic growth in history, growing at an average rate of 9.5 per cent annually, for over three decades. This followed the earlier rise of Japan between 1950-1989, with an average annual rate of growth rate of 6.7 per cent. Deng transformed a country crippled by centralised planning and state control of industries, into a more decentralised economy, with increasing involvement of private initiative. This era saw market reforms leading to a surge in exports, with China emerging as the largest exporter in the world. China’s private s

What robots can't do

AXIOS FUTURE Steve Levine NYU, 1945. Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty   As powerful as artificial intelligence can be, its abilities are extremely narrow: An AI that beats a chess grandmaster can't recognize a face or drive a car. And a robot that carries out flawless eye surgery can't do so unless positioned precisely first. Erica writes:  It turns out that humans have   a similar failing —  put them in front of a problem they've never solved, and they often come up short. But in the future of work, when automation assumes responsibility for up to half or more of current jobs, such ability will be a huge human advantage — and possibly necessary. What's happening : U.S. colleges, preparing students for future jobs that might not yet even exist —  and to beat the robots — are starting to nudge them out of the familiar rhythm of class and teach them how to tackle unfamiliar problems. "That is the skill of the future," says David Hollander, a pro

NEW CPD PERSPECTIVES: THE EU'S PUBLIC DIPLOMACY Apr 2, 2019 The latest issue of➡  CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy   is an article by Bianca Baumler, senior consultant on public diplomacy, foreign affairs and communications for the European Union (EU). "EU Public Diplomacy: Adapting to an Ever-Changing World" provides an insider's view of how the EU approaches shaping hearts and minds. “EU diplomats often find themselves in the position of having to provide basic facts about the EU before being able to engage on the level of policy," writes Baumler. "Powerful country-specific images such as Italian design, Swedish feminism, Dutch bikes or Estonian digital governance work against the development of a unified global EU image. ... Common global messages are key to a coherent public diplomacy." Baumler describes progress through the relatively new EU Global Strategy, several case studies, how to measure results, and several recommendations for strengthening the EU's public

Onshore balancing: The threat to Oman's neutrality Commentary Camille Lons  @@CamilleLons  03rd April, 2019 B.F. Gliddiard  (cropped) -  CC BY 2.0 Oman's decision to grant the US Navy access to strategically important ports reflects intensifying global rivalry between the US and China. Europe can work to keep Oman a neutral mediator. Last week, the United States and Oman signed an agreement that allows the US Navy to call at the strategically important Omani ports of Duqm and Salalah. The deal will provide the US with greater flexibility to conduct maritime operations should there be an escalation in its confrontation with Iran. But the agreement also reflects the intensifying global rivalry between the US and China. Beijing’s growing influence is complicating alliances and rivalries across the Gulf, threatening to break Washington’s long-standing dominance in the region. The US move into Oman is partly driven by a desire to monitor China’s activities in the region and to limit Chinese commercial and logistical expan


01 APR 2019 - 13:49  DOWNLOAD PUBLICATION  (PDF)   BACK TO OVERVIEW Pro-regime militias have played a key role in military offensives and local security enforcement during the Syrian civil war. They proved crucial tools in ensuring the survival of the regime of President Assad and shaped the course of the war. Today, the regime and its allies are seeking to bring their ‘war on terrorism’ against remaining rebel forces to a conclusion. In parallel, the future role of pro-regime militias in Syria’s political order has become contested between the Syrian regime and its main international backers – Iran and Russia. This has left Western European policy makers uncertain about the true nature of the political and military forces that will run the Syrian state. Israel watches the situation closely as it takes an understandable interest in the future political order of its neighbour. This policy brief identifies the most important interests of Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime in respec