Asia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of independence at the Red Fort in New Delhi on Aug. 15. MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images

The evening before he was sworn in as newly independent India’s first prime minister 75 years ago on Aug. 15, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the Indian nation. There was immense curiosity around the world. Nehru’s address, which quickly became known as his “tryst with destiny” speech, is remarkable for its eloquence and his awareness of the task that lay ahead for his nation. At the time, the subcontinent was still undergoing a bloody partition, during which millions of people would die and tens of millions of lives would be uprooted.

Three-quarters of a century later, under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the country’s narrative is undergoing its broadest shift since independence.…  Seguir leyendo »

As India celebrates 75 years of independence, historians will note that its successes since were not preordained. Many predicted in 1947 that India would not be able to handle liberal democracy and so would probably disintegrate. Though it has defied pessimists, it has not quite lived up to optimists’ expectations. Seduced by socialist rhetoric in its formative years, India went through decades with ideological blinkers. Its leaders made decisive reforms only in the 1990s, as an economic crisis forced action. Since then, India’s economy has grown more than 11 times in size, making it the world’s third-largest after accounting for the cost of living.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters cheered and shouted slogans after they vacated the prime minister’s house in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 14. Chamila Karunarathne/EPA, via Shutterstock

As a Sri Lankan, watching international news coverage of my country’s economic and political implosion is like showing up at your own funeral, with everybody speculating on how you died.

The Western media accuse China of luring us into a debt trap. Tucker Carlson says environmental, social and corporate governance programs killed us. Everybody blames the Rajapaksas, the corrupt political dynasty that ruled us until massive protests by angry Sri Lankans chased them out last month.

But from where I’m standing, ultimate blame lies with the Western-dominated neoliberal system that keeps developing countries in a form of debt-fueled colonization. The system is in crisis, its shaky foundations exposed by the tumbling dominoes of the Ukraine war, resulting in food and fuel scarcity, the pandemic, and looming insolvency and hunger rippling across the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 75 aniversario de la India obliga a recordar los grandes avances logrados por el país durante los últimos años, pero también los enormes peligros que acechan su frágil democracia.

Al inicio de la medianoche del 15 de agosto de 1947, hoy hace tres cuartos de siglo, comenzó formalmente la independencia de la India. Se solemnizó a la mañana siguiente, cuando el primer ministro, Jawaharlal Nehru, izó la bandera tricolor india, un acto que se celebra ininterrumpidamente desde entonces.

Al dejar atrás dos siglos de dominación británica, Mahatma Gandhi y los suyos pretendían construir un Estado democrático en el que pudieran convivir hindúes, musulmanes, sijs, cristianos y todas las demás confesiones religiosas del subcontinente.…  Seguir leyendo »

A student holds an Indian flag on Aug. 12 during rehearsals ahead of the 75th Independence Day celebrations in Bangalore. (Jagadeesh Nv/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

When the journalist Mohammed Zubair was arrested over a 4-year-old tweet that borrowed a pun from an old movie, on the charge of hurting religious sentiments, Arnab Goswami, a prime-time anchor at Republic TV, one of India’s leading news networks, was furious — but not at the assault on freedom of expression that the arrest represented. He was mad at Zubair.

On another network, Times Now (owned by India’s wealthiest newspaper group), a garish gold band proclaimed an alleged double standard of the “#Zubair Lobby Hypocrisy”. This was the same channel on which Nupur Sharma, a spokeswoman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) (since suspended), had made disparaging remarks about the prophet Muhammad, triggering an international diplomatic kerfuffle with the Arab world.…  Seguir leyendo »

To celebrate 75 years of independence, the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked people to proudly display the tricolor of the Indian flag — well, perhaps “asked” is not quite accurate.

An initiative spearheaded by Modi’s most radical nationalist minister, Amit Shah, is urging people to display flags at homes and businesses and post pictures on social media. But of course this could only lead to more polarization in Modi’s India, where blind nationalism is displacing democracy at a rapid pace: In a viral video, daily wage workers complain about being forced to buy flags to “prove” their patriotism, when they barely have enough to buy a meal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nehru y la guerra de España

El 26 de octubre de 1930, mientras cumplía condena en la prisión de Naini, el futuro presidente del Partido del Congreso y primer ministro de India, Jawaharlal Nehru, escribió una carta a su hija Indira por su cumpleaños. Esta misiva, en la que Nehru compartía con una niña de 13 años sus reflexiones sobre una India independiente, sería la primera de una serie que, a partir del 1 de enero siguiente, le haría llegar con inalterable regularidad. La correspondencia con Indira se publicaría bajo el título de Glimpses of World History una vez que Nehru quedó en libertad, componiendo un volumen que sobrepasa el millar de páginas.…  Seguir leyendo »

A flag-lowering ceremony takes place at Liberty Square on Aug. 9 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

China’s bellicose response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) historic visit to Taiwan proves the paramount necessity for the international community to be vocal about its support for Taiwan — now more than ever.

Since Pelosi’s visit, China has escalated tensions through unprecedented and disproportionate military actions, economic coercion and diplomatic sanctions. The shift is severe enough that some analysts have called it the most dangerous development in the Taiwan Strait since the 1996 missile crisis.

In Taiwan, threats from China have been a part of daily life for decades. But at this moment, we face a deeper, existential question: Can the world really afford to lose Taiwan, an integral member of the world’s liberal democratic order?…  Seguir leyendo »

A Chinese soldier watches military exercises on Aug. 5, as Taiwan's frigate Lan Yang is seen in the background. (Lin Jian/Xinhua News Agency/AP)

China’s overreaction and retaliation toward Taiwan following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit shows that the leadership in Beijing is now focusing on taking the island by force, not through peaceful reunification as it has long claimed. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strategy has moved from winning Taiwanese hearts and minds to inciting fear and loathing.

Although China seems to be finally winding down its military exercises around Taiwan, a week after Pelosi visited the democratic island, China’s drastic responses and ongoing punishments mark the beginning of new era of heightened danger. China canceled three military-to-military dialogues and suspended several bilateral cooperation programs on topics ranging from climate change to counternarcotics.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the afternoon of August 4th, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) kicked off the largest and most sophisticated military exercises it has ever conducted. Over the course of a week, the Chinese launched dozens of missiles and conducted drills near Taiwan with 100 aircraft, ten destroyers and support vessels. Submarines and aircraft-carriers also played a role. The display has made the third Taiwan Strait crisis, which occurred between 1995-96, when China conducted four rounds of tests over the course of several months, with barrages of no more than six missiles, look like child’s play.

Part of the rationale for the latest exercise was to signal Beijing’s anger over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why China’s People No Longer Look Up to America

My generation of Chinese looked up to the United States.

When I was a university student in northwestern China in the late 1990s, my friends and I tuned in to shortwave broadcasts of Voice of America, polishing our English while soaking up American and world news. We flocked to packed lecture halls whenever a visiting American professor was on campus.

It was a thrilling time. China was emerging from isolationism and poverty, and as we looked to the future we studied democracy, market economics, equality and other ideals that made America great. We couldn’t realistically adopt them all because of China’s conditions, but our lives were transformed as we recalibrated our economy on a U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

En 1950, las tropas de Mao Zedong estaban preparadas para invadir Taiwán. Era el último territorio bajo control de Chiang Kai-shek, líder nacionalista contra el que habían luchado los comunistas en la guerra civil china. Entonces, Corea del Norte, apoyada por Stalin, decidió invadir Corea del Sur. Mao tuvo que mover sus tropas desde Taiwán hasta la frontera sino-coreana. La reunificación nacional china quedó abortada. Taiwán se consolidó como el gran bastión estadounidense de la Guerra Fría desde el que se quería reconquistar China de manos del comunismo. La isla se convirtió en el punto de tensión más duradero e importante entre Pekín y Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

La visita de Nanci Pelosi a Taiwán ha recordado a la misión Dart de la NASA, cuyo objetivo es estrellar una sonda sobre el asteroide Dimorphos y comprobar si es posible desviar su órbita. Eso serviría eventualmente para cambiar la trayectoria de un objeto que se dirija hacia la Tierra.

Dimorphos no es sólo China en mi imaginario, sino el statu quo geopolítico.

Por un lado está la carrera por el puesto de primera potencia mundial entre China y Estados Unidos. Xi Jinping quiere ganar ese juego y dar un zarpazo sobre Taiwán.

El otro nivel es el económico, donde China continental abandonó hace tiempo la dogmática comunista y permitió el desarrollo de una economía de mercado.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ilustración que muestra la bandera china y la taiwanesa. Reuters

1. Rusia y China reivindican Ucrania y Taiwán como parte irrenunciable de su territorio. Miran al pasado para conquistar el futuro. Excitan el nacionalismo y los sentimientos identitarios de sus ciudadanos. Son dos claros ejemplos de populismo. Sus reivindicaciones se remontan a Catalina la grande y al emperador Qin Shi Huang. Las dos revoluciones marxistas, las de Lenin y Mao Zedong, lo cambiaron todo.

2. Rusia necesita los recursos minerales y agrícolas de Ucrania, así como su posición estratégica (por su salida al Mediterráneo). China necesita los recursos pesqueros y petrolíferos, actualmente en disputa, de las aguas que comparte con Taiwán.…  Seguir leyendo »

La nociva centralidad de Modi

El primer ministro indio Narendra Modi completó hace poco ocho años en el cargo, y con la India ya cerca del 75.º aniversario de su independencia, el formidable poder electoral de Modi lo hace parecer casi invencible. Pero su estilo político personalizado sigue siendo impulsivo e idiosincrático, y eso tiene consecuencias calamitosas para la gobernanza de la India.

Por ejemplo, frente a las interrupciones del suministro global causadas por la guerra en Ucrania, el gobierno de Modi anunció en mayo que la India iba a exportar más trigo para «alimentar al mundo», pero unos días después prohibió las exportaciones (medida que luego revirtió en parte).…  Seguir leyendo »

La visita a Taiwán de la Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes estadounidense Nancy Pelosi, que generó tantos titulares noticiosos, ha recordado al mundo cuánto le importa la isla a China. Pero también debería importarle al mundo democrático.

No es ningún secreto el que el Partido Comunista de China (PCC) tiene la firme intención de unificar Taiwán (al que ve como una provincia secesionista) con el continente. Estados Unidos reconoció formalmente a la República Popular China como el único gobierno legal de China en 1979, y desde entonces las potencias occidentales se han abstenido de reconocer a Taiwán como un país distinto.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (left) greets soccer player Son Heung-min at Seoul World Cup Stadium on June 2. South Korean Presidential Office via Getty Images

Whether you were for or against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Asia, you can’t overstate its importance. The legislator became the highest U.S. official to visit Taiwan, prompting a furious response from Beijing and adding to a U.S.-China rivalry that will shape the 21st century. Pelosi was welcomed by crowds in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. On the Malaysia leg of her whirlwind tour, she lunched with Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. In Japan, she met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

But after completing her historic visit to Taiwan, Pelosi’s flight landed at the U.S. Air Force base in Osan, South Korea—where no Korean official came to greet her.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwan, entre el águila y el dragón

El jueves al menos 11 misiles chinos cayeron en aguas al norte, sur y este de Taiwan. Cinco de ellos, según Japón, en la zona económica exclusiva (ZEE) japonesa próxima a Okinawa, donde se encuentra una de las principales bases militares estadounidenses del Pacífico. China no reconoce esa ZEE como japonesa. Con estas maniobras, que incluyen las prácticas más intensas de fuego artillero en su frontera con Taiwan, China cerró prácticamente el espacio aéreo y marítimo de seis zonas alrededor de la isla. El mando militar chino de oriente, que cubre Taiwan, anunció tras la visita dePelosi a Taipei la movilización de más de 100 aviones de combate, bombarderos y otros aparatos, y de más de 10 destructores y fragatas.…  Seguir leyendo »

A PLA plane refuels in mid-air. The Chinese have sent a record number of warplanes across the median line in the Taiwan Strait in protest at Pelosi’s visit © Eastern Theatre Command/Handout/Reuters

For two days straight, Chinese military officials have been delivering a message of triumph to the public. The exercises with which the People’s Liberation Army is punishing Taiwan for hosting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi feature “multiple firsts”, they gloated on state television.

“Our firepower covers all of Taiwan, and we can strike wherever we want”, said Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. “We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces”.

The Pelosi visit to Taipei, the first in 25 years by a Speaker of the House, was designed to demonstrate support for the country in the face of what many in the US believe to be a growing threat of a Chinese invasion.…  Seguir leyendo »

I’m Taiwanese, and I Want to Thank Nancy Pelosi

As a Taiwanese, I’m sometimes asked what it’s like living in “the most dangerous place on earth”.

That’s what The Economist labeled Taiwan last year, and not without reason. Taiwan’s people have lived for decades under Chinese rhetorical threats to absorb the island. And as our huge Communist-ruled neighbor has developed into a military power, those threats now have teeth, which China has repeatedly bared in recent years through military exercises and violations of our air space in an escalating bullying campaign.

We are bracing for more pressure now after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whirlwind visit to Taipei. China often reacts furiously when any U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »