Asia

In 2016, when nearly everyone in China thought that Hillary Clinton would win the White House, one group in particular was confident of a Donald Trump victory. Back when most goods flowed from China, merchants in the trading hub of Yiwu received four times more orders for Trump than for Clinton merchandise.

This year, just as popular opinion in China is sure that Trump will lose in November, the merchants of Yiwu are back in the spotlight. They report that Trump is beating Joe Biden in orders, but as at least one writer points out, 2020 is not 2016. The trade war means that Americans now order their Trump and Biden stickers and signs from all over the world, making Yiwu a less reliable barometer than last time around.…  Seguir leyendo »

En noviembre de 2017, Donald Trump visitó Pekin y el presidente chino Xi Jinping le acompañó en la Ciudad Prohibida. Ante la habitual referencia a la condición milenaria de China, Trump le objetó: “Pero la civilización egipcia fue más antigua”. La respuesta de Xi zanjó el debate: la china es la única civilización hoy sobreviviente después de 5.000 años.

La afirmación de Xi Jinping subraya un hecho capital: la continuidad que caracteriza a la trayectoria histórica de China ha superado incluso los momentos críticos en que pareció desplomarse, como la conquista mongol y la revolución comunista de Mao Zedong. La permanencia de las formas de pensamiento fue el indicador más claro: Mao se vanaglorió de haber eliminado a cientos de sabios confucianos, eso sí en competencia con el primer emperador, y la acusación de confuciano fue utilizada en las condenas de sus rivales Liu Shaoqi y Deng Xiaoping, el de los gatos cazadores.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Indian model posing with Tanishq jewelry in 2012. Last week the popular Indian jewelry brand withdrew an ad featuring an interfaith Hindu and Muslim family after a right-wing backlash on social media. (Bikas Das/AP)

Hate is suffocating every aspect of life in India. No space seems safe.

Early morning on Oct. 18, a neighbor alerted me to a WhatsApp message distributed by our building’s security guard celebrating the killer of Mahatma Gandhi and urging people to take up the gun to protect the idea of Hindu sovereignty. These types of messages are popular with Hindu nationalists and right-wing supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. When I posted it on my social media, many unabashedly supported the hate and threat in the message.

And when the iconic jewelry brand Tanishq recently ran an ad showcasing an interfaith marriage, the resulting Hindu right-wing backlash on social media forced the company to pull the commercial.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu/Getty Images Actors from the People’s Art Theater of Wuhan performing in a drama about medical staff fighting Covid-19 in Wuhan, September 2020

On January 31 I received a knock at the door of my Beijing apartment. It was the manager of lease renewals clutching a stack of flyers.

“Mr. Zhang, you’re feeling well?” she asked, using my Chinese surname.

“No fever yet.”

She laughed—foreigners and their comments.

“I know you don’t have the illness, but we want everyone to be safe. Here.” She handed me two copies of the flyer, one in Chinese and the other in English.

They were written by the Beijing municipal government and offered practical tips on how to protect oneself from the coronavirus. It had been eight days since the city of Wuhan had gone into full lockdown and seven since Beijing and other cities across China had declared a public health emergency.…  Seguir leyendo »

What a difference five years can make. In 2015, many of my fellow Rohingya people cheered as the party of the famed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory in Myanmar’s first democratic elections of the 21st century, bringing an end to decades of outright military rule. Euphoria reigned. We hoped not only for a new beginning for the country, but also for an end to the oppression against us.

Today, as Myanmar gears up for another general election on Nov. 8, the situation is starkly different. Three years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi, now the country’s de facto head of state, stood by as military leaders launched a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign that killed thousands of Rohingya and drove more than 700,000 across the border into Bangladesh, where they now languish in immense refugee camps.…  Seguir leyendo »

China aseguró recientemente que la línea media del Estrecho de Taiwán, reconocida oficiosamente por ambas partes desde hace décadas para prevenir conflictos con la isla de Formosa, es una quimera; en paralelo, tras la reciente visita a Taipéi del funcionario de mayor rango del Departamento de Estado de EE UU en cuatro décadas, el Ejército Popular de Liberación publicitaba un vídeo simulando un ataque a lo que parece ser la base aérea Andersen en Guam. Por su parte, la líder taiwanesa Tsai Ing-wen aseguraba desde la base aérea de Magong, en Penghu, que las importantes grietas surgidas en el statu quo consolidado tras el fin de la larga guerra civil china elevan a ámbar el semáforo de la estabilidad en la región.…  Seguir leyendo »

People protest during a rally on the central square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Wednesday, October 7, 2020.

Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s only democratic country, remains mired in political turmoil a week after allegations of electoral interference triggered violent protests.

As condemnation grew after last Sunday’s contested parliamentary election, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov announced he was ready to resign after an interim government was formed. The latest voters’ discontent led to the takeover of the President’s main office building and the resignation of the Cabinet causing a leadership void that rival political parties and factions are vying to fill.

Leadership competitions aren’t new in Kyrgyzstan, a country of 6 million wedged between Russia and China. This is the third time the country’s citizens have forced their president to flee from office amid allegations of voting violations and corruption.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hang Ma Street in Hanoi, last month. Credit Linh Pham/Getty Images

Within days of China’s announcing the first case of Covid-19, Vietnam was mobilizing to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Using mass texts, TV ads, billboards, posters and loudspeakers, the government exhorted the nation’s 100 million citizens to identify carriers and trace contacts, contacts of contacts, even contacts of contacts of contacts. Rapid isolation of outbreaks has kept Vietnam’s death rate among the four lowest in the world — well under one death per million people.

Containing the pandemic allowed Vietnam to quickly reopen businesses, and it is now expected to be the world’s fastest growing economy this year. While many nations are suffering enormous economic contractions and running to the International Monetary Fund for financial rescues, Vietnam is growing at a 3 percent annual pace.…  Seguir leyendo »

En la reciente Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, el presidente chino Xi Jinping declaró que su país se esforzará por alcanzar en el año 2060 la neutralidad de carbono. Fue un anuncio potencialmente muy trascendental y merece que se le preste mayor atención, sobretodo en la Unión Europea.

China produce casi el 30 por ciento de las emisiones mundiales de dióxido de carbono procedentes de los combustibles fósiles: aproximadamente el doble de las emisiones de Estados Unidos y el triple de las de la Unión Europea. Además, es probable que las emisiones de China sigan aumentando, Xi sólo prometió que las emisiones alcanzarían su punto máximo en el año 2030, en tanto que la UE ya tiene planes de reducirlas en 30 puntos porcentuales adicionales.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 9 de julio, el bloguero uzbeko Miraziz Bazarov publicó en Facebook una carta abierta al Fondo Monetario Internacional y el Banco Asiático de Desarrollo (ADB), donde destacaba la probabilidad de que el gobierno estuviera usando los fondos de asistencia para la COVID-19 de manera indebida. Se demostró que la acusación de Bazarov estaba justificada, pero pagó un precio por ella: el Servicio de Seguridad Estatal (SGB) lo llamó para interrogarlo.

Bazarov se dirigió al FMI y el ADB porque ellos —junto con el Banco Mundial— otorgaron casi mil millones de dólares en créditos para la batalla de Uzbekistán contra la COVID-19; pero Uzbekistán tiene una larga historia de corrupción, se ubica en el puesto 153 entre 180 países en el ranking del Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción de Transparencia Internacional, principalmente porque su funcionarios usaron con frecuencia sus puestos para enriquecerse y silenciar a sus críticos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators from various political parties participate in a rally at the central Ala-Too square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Friday. Mass protests against the results of the 2020 Kyrgyz parliamentary election have been held in Kyrgyzstan since protesters seized the parliament buildings and presidential offices Monday. (Igor Kovalenko/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Last Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan sparked protests after election results showed that only pro-government parties secured seats in government. By day, citizens continue to protest in cities across the country; by night, civilian defense groups mobilized to protect the capital from looting.

Here is what has happened. Election Day saw numerous reports of irregularities, including vote-buying schemes and busloads of people shipped in to vote at strategic locations where they had been fraudulently registered.

Thousands gathered in the capital, Bishkek, to protest irregularities and voice discontent with the results. When government security forces tried to control the crowds with pepper spray and rubber bullets, these demonstrations spiraled out of control.…  Seguir leyendo »

El sistema financiero internacional moderno nació de la devastación de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y desde entonces, ha sido afectado por varias debacles históricas, de las que la más reciente fue la crisis financiera global de 2008.

Hoy la pandemia de COVID‑19 somete al sistema financiero global a otra dura prueba. Y el desafío inédito que enfrenta el grupo ASEAN+3, integrado por los diez países miembros de la Asociación de Naciones del Sudeste Asiático (Brunéi Darussalam, Camboya, las Filipinas, Indonesia, Laos, Malasia, Myanmar, Singapur, Tailandia y Vietnam) más China, Corea y Japón, resalta aún más la importancia de la cooperación financiera regional.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators shout slogans and hold placards on Monday during a protest in New Delhi over the alleged gang rape and killing of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh state, India. (EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

A rape and murder case in a village in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has shaken India. In a country in which 87 rapes are reported every day on average, this incident has exposed how every institution in India — the police, the media and the politicians — has failed women.

At the capital’s Safdarjung Hospital, where I first met the victim’s family, her younger brother Sandeep told me: “We have struggled alone. My sister had just gone to fetch fodder for the cattle at home. We found her lying in a pool of blood with no clothes on.”

She fought valiantly to live.…  Seguir leyendo »

Narendra Modi is trying to stifle Amnesty in India. Photograph: Sanjay Baid/EPA

Speaking truth to power has ever been a fraught and dangerous occupation, as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was recently reminded after he narrowly survived a poisoning plot he says was directed from the Kremlin.

Uncounted Kurdish activists languish in jail for challenging Turkey’s modern-day sultan. In Iran, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is punished mercilessly for championing women’s causes. In Zimbabwe, Catholic clergy who condemn abuses by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime are accused of treason.

When China jailed Ren Zhiqiang, a noted communist party critic who ridiculed emperor-president Xi Jinping as a “clown”, much of the world shrugged. What else to expect from an authoritarian dictatorship sustained by gulags and mass surveillance

But when supposed democracies behave in similar fashion, alarm bells ring.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walks past the Amnesty International India headquarters in Bangalore in 2019. (Aijaz Rahi/AP)

On Tuesday, Amnesty International, one of the most respected human rights nonprofits in the world, announced that it was halting its operations in India after the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi froze the organization’s bank accounts. The closing is another shameful blow to civil society, human rights and free speech in India.

“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental,” said Avinash Kumar, the executive director of Amnesty International India. “The constant harassment by government agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate, is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi police and the government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in Delhi riots and Jammu and Kashmir.“…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong is China, like it or not

No amount of outcry, condemnation or sanctions over the Chinese government’s purported encroachment in Hong Kong’s affairs will alter the fact that Hong Kong is part of China and that its destiny is intertwined with the mainland’s.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of crises after the eruption of protests last year over a proposed bill (long since withdrawn) that would have allowed the extradition of some suspects in criminal cases to mainland China.

Hong Kongers who wanted the city promptly to return to peace thought the authorities’ handling of the situation, which dragged on for months and grew more and more violent, was incompetent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Decodificando la estrategia de circulación dual de China

En mayo, la conducción central de China proclamó que “desarrollaría plenamente las ventajas del mercado extremadamente grande del país y el potencial de la demanda doméstica para establecer un nuevo patrón de desarrollo que contemple la circulación dual doméstica e internacional que se complementan entre sí”. La “circulación dual” ha sido objeto de un intenso debate dentro y fuera de China desde entonces.

¿El anuncio señala un cambio fundamental en el paradigma de crecimiento o la estrategia de desarrollo de China? ¿Por qué se introdujo este nuevo concepto y qué cambios conllevará en materia de políticas?

Para responder estas preguntas, deberíamos analizar brevemente el proceso de “reforma y apertura” de China desde que comenzó a fines de los años 1970.…  Seguir leyendo »

Emissions rise from cooling towers at a coal-fired power station in Tongling, China. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News)

China’s President Xi Jinping announced new climate targets during his Sept. 22 address to the U.N. General Assembly, including the nation’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

China’s international climate leadership seems to be in direct conflict with Beijing’s continued promotion of fossil fuel projects at home and abroad, however — so why did Xi make this announcement? Here’s what you need to know about its political and scientific implications.

The timing of China’s announcement is strategic

It’s a big year for the 2015 Paris agreement — by year-end 2020, countries are supposed to submit their second round of “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs), as well as their long-term strategies.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman passes a tarp emblazoned with a Chinese flag on a street in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 13. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Last week, a small Chinese company made headlines when independent researchers revealed that it has been collecting information on prominent individuals around the world — 2.4 million of them.

American researcher Christopher Balding and his colleague Robert Potter discovered the database and were able to recover 10 percent of it. The database was created by Zhenhua Data Information Technology, a firm based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

At first glance, the company’s activities might not appear especially unusual. Many companies around the world scrape data from the Web to build databases for clients.

Yet what makes the Zhenhua collection effort striking is its extraordinary scale, which encompasses every country and territory in the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Chinese government is forcing Tibetans to give up herding and farming to become wage laborers, cutting them off from ancient traditions and sacred landscapes. And that’s just the point.Credit...Purbu Zhaxi/Xinhua, via Getty Images

Before Xinjiang, there was Tibet. Repressive policies tested there between 2012 and 2016 were then applied to the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in northwestern China: entire cities covered in surveillance cameras, ubiquitous neighborhood police stations, residents made to report on another other.

Now that process also works the other way around. Xinjiang’s coercive labor program — which includes mandatory training for farmers and herders in centralized vocational facilities and their reassignment to state-assigned jobs, some far away — is being applied to Tibet. (Not the internment camps, though.)

Call this a feedback loop of forcible assimilation. It certainly is evidence of the scale of Beijing’s ruthless campaign to suppress cultural and ethnic differences — and not just in Tibet and Xinjiang.…  Seguir leyendo »