The Xuelong 2 icebreaker is christened in Shanghai on 10 September. Photo via Getty Images.

As polar ice melts, the Arctic will become increasingly important for its untapped oil, gas and minerals as they become more accessible, as well for its shipping routes, which will become increasingly cost efficient for cargo as parts of the routes become ice-free for extended periods.

A number of countries, including Russia and China, are also exploring the possibilities around overflights, commercial fishing, the laying of submarine cables and pipelines, and scientific research.

Earlier this month, China announced the launch of its first domestically built conventionally-powered polar icebreaker, Xuelong 2, or Snow Dragon 2. Like its (foreign-built) predecessor,Snow Dragon, this vessel’s purpose is framed as scientific research into polar ice coverage, environmental conditions, and biological resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

Theresa May in Japan in August 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s invitation to Britain to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in his Financial Times interview of 8 October, has been welcomed by Brexit supporters as demonstrating the potential for a ‘Global Britain’ trade policy after the UK has left the EU next year. And Abe’s encouraging the UK along these lines reflects the British government’s insistence on Britain’s ‘global potential’.

Britain would, he says, be ‘welcomed with open arms’.

How realistic or desirable a prospect is this? British and Japanese politicians have invested much effort over decades in building a close political and economic partnership between the two countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

El futuro de España en China

Una Tercera de ABC, publicada el 9 de marzo de este año por el entonces embajador de España en la República Popular China Alberto Carnero Fernández, nos advertía de un acontecimiento llamado a influir decisivamente en el futuro de nuestra lengua en aquel gran país.

A principios de 2018 el Gobierno chino aprobó un nuevo diseño de la enseñanza secundaria y del bachillerato en el que se contempla la inclusión de otras tres lenguas extranjeras en la oferta del currículo educativo además de las tres ya existentes, el inglés, el japonés y el ruso. Se trata ahora del español, el francés y el alemán.…  Seguir leyendo »

La inclemente ola de calor que asoló el planeta este verano fue un pegajoso recordatorio de que, a medida que las temperaturas globales aumenten, los que están en los márgenes de la sociedad (los enfermos, los ancianos y los pobres) sufrirán de manera desproporcionada. Y en ningún lugar será este sufrimiento más intenso que en la India.

La pobreza atrapa a más gente en India que en cualquier otro país. Con cerca de 270 millones de indios por debajo de la línea de la pobreza definida por el Banco Mundial como de $1,90 al día, nunca ha sido fácil escapar de estas condiciones de vida.…  Seguir leyendo »

A juzgar por los desagradables intercambios entre los ministros de exteriores indio y pakistaní en la reciente Asamblea General de las Naciones, la ya deteriorada relación bilateral ha llegado a un nuevo mínimo.

Los antecedentes inmediatos a la sesión de la ONU ya eran malos. Menos de 24 horas tras acordar una reunión bilateral de ministros de exteriores por fuera de la Asamblea General, India la canceló citando el asesinato de tres policías indios en su frontera común y la emisión de Pakistán de un sello que homenajeaba a un terrorista cachemir abatido.

Pero tales incidentes fronterizos (tanto los asesinatos como las represalias) no son nuevos; de hecho, este año ya han ocurrido varios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Depuis sa fondation en 1949, la République populaire de Chine a cherché à renforcer son contrôle sur les régions périphériques et historiquement non-chinoises, telles que le Tibet, et le cas moins médiatisé du Turkestan oriental.

Au cours des dernières décennies, pour asseoir son autorité, le régime chinois n’a pas hésité à recourir à divers moyens économiques, politiques, mais aussi à la force et à l’encouragement à l’installation – voire à l’envoi direct et programmé – de populations han (chinois ethniques) dans ces périphéries pour mieux les arrimer à son territoire national.

Dans ces régions qui possèdent langues, cultures et organisations sociales et politiques propres, le mécontentement vis-à-vis des politiques imposées par l’Etat chinois et le questionnement de la légitimité de son autorité se manifestent continuellement jusqu’à aujourd’hui.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will China Hack the U.S. Midterms

President Trump recently accused the Chinese of interfering in American politics ahead of the midterm elections. “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade,” he said, addressing the United Nations Security Council. He provided no evidence, and appeared to be complaining mostly about retaliatory tariffs by the Chinese government, which may hurt constituencies that support him, and an advertorial touting U.S.-China trade in an Iowa newspaper.

In a speech to the Hudson Institute on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence doubled down on the accusation, arguing that China “has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.” Neither the president nor the vice president charged China with stealing and releasing politically sensitive emails or manipulating social media, as the Russian government appears to have done to sway the 2016 presidential election.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Taiwan, same-sex marriage advocates count signatures for their proposed ballot measure on marriage equality. September 4, 2018. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Compared to the established democracies of the West, Taiwan’s is still in its infancy. It did not become a full democracy until 1992, and it only held its first direct presidential election in 1996. And yet, Taiwan’s young democracy has made rapid progress, through social movements, representative politics, the judicial process and now, through direct democracy. In the beginning of this year, it rolled out one of the most citizen-friendly systems for ballot initiatives and referendums, giving its citizens more say than ever in the country’s future.

Taiwan’s road to direct democracy was not an easy one, and it entailed some hard-won lessons.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman going through the process of finger scanning for the Unique Identification (UID) database system, also known as Aadhaar, at a registration centre in New Delhi, India, last January.CreditCreditSaumya Khandelwal/Reuters

India’s Supreme Court has placed strict limits on Aadhaar, the government’s sweeping biometrics-based national identity program, but questions about the imposition of technological solutions and privacy remain.

In a major ruling on Sept. 26, a bench of five Supreme Court justices — three of whom wrote the majority judgment — upheld the constitutional legitimacy of the Aadhaar program and ruled that the government could use it to deliver welfare to beneficiaries and collect income tax. But the court struck down provisions that allowed corporations to demand citizen identification numbers for a range of services.

Aadhaar started as a voluntary program, meant only to refine the delivery of public services and curb corruption.…  Seguir leyendo »

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, center, and Kyaw Soe Oo gesture as they prepare to leave the Insein township court in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sept. 3. They were both sentenced to seven years in prison after they were found guilty of violating a state-secrets act while working on a story. (Lynn Bo Bo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Two journalists in Myanmar have been imprisoned for nearly a year for after exposing the massacre of Rohingya Muslims. But this isn’t just a story about press freedom. It also underscores some of the greatest challenges facing the relationship between governments and the people they govern.

“We’re seeing more and more laws that criminalize speech and increasingly zealous prosecution under those laws in many countries,” human rights lawyer Amal Clooney told me last week in New York. “Governments who are not well-meaning will do whatever they can get away with. So the question is: Is there a proper international response? Do they have something to fear?…  Seguir leyendo »

It was a close call for the USS Decatur this week, when a Chinese naval vessel came within yards of the guided-missile destroyer. The Decatur, shown on Oct. 21, 2016, was passing the Spratly Islands, a chain claimed by China. The Pentagon told the Agence France-Presse news agency Sunday that the Decatur “conducted a freedom of navigation operation,” sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/U.S. Navy/AFP)

U.S. and Chinese warships played a dangerous game of chicken in the South China Sea this week, adding to the rising tensions over trade issues and allegations of Chinese meddling in U.S. elections. U.S.-China relations appear to be on shaky ground — but how will these tensions play out?

For political scientists, a big question in recent years is whether China will remain a firm partner in the “liberal international order” or become a “revisionist power,” one that will overturn existing institutions in pursuit of its global agenda. Many scholars believe that China’s membership in key security, economic and political institutions will limit its ambitions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace cinco años, los líderes de China decidieron apostar por la gobernanza estatal moderna como una prioridad de sus reformas. Su objetivo es mejorar la capacidad del estado de adaptarse al inmenso tamaño y la creciente complejidad de la economía china, además de mitigar los riesgos. No será fácil lograrlo.

Para comprender por qué y lo que será necesario para tener éxito, piénsese en cómo ha funcionado la gobernanza china en las últimas décadas. En general, para gobernar el país se requiere una combinación de centralización política y descentralización económica. En particular, el espectacular aumento de su ingreso nacional se ha debido a un delicado equilibrio entre la concentración del poder político en el liderazgo central y la delegación de la gestión económica a las autoridades locales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last year, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said: “Our job at Facebook is to help people make the greatest positive impact while mitigating areas where technology and social media can contribute to divisiveness and isolation.”

As a Vietnamese musical artist who grew up in a totalitarian society, I can attest to the positive impact Facebook can make. In the past, there was nowhere the Vietnamese people could go to express ourselves freely. Government control extended to every aspect of our social life. The advent of social media changed that. It provided a space where we could speak our minds, access uncensored information and organize peaceful protests.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jack Ma at the World Economic Forum meeting in Tianjin, China, this month.CreditCreditChina Network/Reuters

Earlier this month, Jack Ma announced that he was stepping down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the world’s largest e-commerce company. His decision caught many by surprise. At an economic forum in Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin reportedly asked him, “You are still so young. Why are you retiring?”

Maybe Mr. Ma, 54, knows something that Mr. Putin does not. Two of the three forces, globalization and marketization, that have propelled Alibaba to its current $500 billion valuation are dissipating. The third force, technology, is mired in the trade war between China and the United States, and its prospects in China are now uncertain.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Pakistani military in Karachi this month commemorating its second war with India in 1965. Both sides claimed victory.CreditCreditAsif Hassan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Four years ago when India elected the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) to power, Pakistan’s iconic feminist poet and peace activist Fahmida Riaz recited a poem of despair, comparing new India to old Pakistan:

Turns out you were just like us,

Where were you hiding all this time, brother?

In Pakistan, Ms. Riaz is not only considered a hopeless peacenik but also a bit of an India lover. She has reason to be. In the 1980s, like many writers and activists, Ms. Riaz was made to leave Pakistan by the then military regime. While others took refuge in Western countries, Ms.…  Seguir leyendo »

What China Can Teach the U.S. About Artificial Intelligence

Every technology goes through an age of discovery and an age of implementation. During the age of discovery, the critical work takes place in research laboratories, where scientists make the breakthroughs that move the field forward. During the age of implementation, the technology reaches a point of practical utility and begins spilling out of the lab and into the world.

Over the past decade, I’ve watched firsthand as the field of artificial intelligence has transitioned from one phase to the other. The 1980s and 1990s were a period of discovery in A.I., one that I participated in through my research on speech recognition at Carnegie Mellon University and Apple.…  Seguir leyendo »

Casi todos dicen que el modelo económico de Japón ha implosionado. Desde 1991, el crecimiento promedio ha sido apenas un 0,9%, contra el 4,5% de las dos décadas previas. La lentitud del crecimiento, combinada con grandes déficits fiscales y una inflación cercana a cero, llevó la deuda pública del 50% al 236% del PIB.

La “Abenomics” (el conglomerado de reformas iniciado por el primer ministro Shinzo Abe cuando llegó al poder hace seis años) prometía subir la inflación al 2%. Pero cinco años de tipos de interés nulos y una flexibilización cuantitativa a gran escala no lo consiguieron. Una tasa de fertilidad de 1,4 y la casi total ausencia de inmigración implican la posibilidad de que la fuerza laboral de Japón se reduzca un 28% en los próximos 50 años, lo que hará insostenible la provisión de atención médica a los ancianos y aumentará enormemente el déficit fiscal, que ya anda por el 4% del PIB.…  Seguir leyendo »

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea during the third Inter-Korean summit meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea.CreditCreditPool photo by Pyongyang Press Corps

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea returned from Pyongyang this week bearing fresh messages of good will from Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader: promises to permanently dismantle a test site and a missile-launch pad and to shutter a major nuclear facility. The pledges — “subject to final negotiations,” as President Trump artfully put it — have already been criticized as half-steps, if not traps. There still is no road map or timeline for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

But the prevailing preoccupation with defense issues obscures a truly notable feature of Mr. Moon’s visit: the group of business leaders he brought along, including from Samsung and South Korea’s other major conglomerates.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Shenzhen skyline seen from Kwu Tong in Hong Kong. Photo: Getty Images.

On 23 September the first high-speed trains will depart a gleaming new station in Hong Kong for cities across the rest of China. Later in the year a new bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai (on the western bank of the Pearl River) is due to open to traffic. These expensive and somewhat controversial projects mark the latest infrastructure links between Hong Kong and its hinterland.

They come at a time when growing attention is being paid to the Greater Bay Area, a Chinese government plan to develop further a massive urban cluster in southern China, including Hong Kong, Macao and the nine most developed cities in the adjacent Guangdong province.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los rohingya y la jurisdicción universal

Naciones Unidas ha calificado de crimen de genocidio los actos atroces cometidos contra la etnia musulmana rohingya en Myanmar (antigua Birmania) perpetrados contra decenas de miles de sus miembros por su propio Gobierno, en el que Aung San Suu Kyi, premio Nobel de la Paz y otrora heroína por la libertad de su país, actúa como consejera de Estado, pero mira hacia otro lado, sin darse por aludida como parte supuestamente responsable. Estos hechos son un ejemplo de la barbarie que no por lejana geográficamente puede dejar de remover las conciencias ante la impunidad de la que han gozado hasta ahora sus perpetradores.…  Seguir leyendo »