Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, center, holds a light during Wesaka Bucha, the most important Buddhist holy day of the year, at a temple in Bangkok last month. (The Nation/Pool Photo via AP)

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is visiting Europe this month. On Wednesday, he held talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London — to be followed by a stop in Paris on Monday to confer with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Officially, May urged Prayuth to hold “free and fair elections” and to allow political parties to function freely, but it’s clear that the two countries’ desire to boost trade took the upper hand. Let’s hope that Macron will take a tougher line. Such an intervention is urgently needed — even if Thailand’s deepening problems aren’t solely of the prime minister’s making.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees rebuild their makeshift house, in preparation for the approaching monsoon season at the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. April 28, 2018. (A.M. Ahad/AP)

On my first visit to this immense refugee settlement on Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, I crossed a bamboo bridge that refugees had built. It spanned a stream and connected an old settlement, where Rohingya refugees from previous waves of forced displacement have lived for decades, to the new one, now a sprawling city where more than 600,000 have taken shelter.

The bridge is a vital artery for the refugees here. It allows them to carry jerrycans, blankets and solar lamps from a distribution point in the old settlement to their families in the much larger new settlement. The stream becomes a river when it rains; when the refugees first arrived, the only way across was to swim until they were able to suspend several stalks of bamboo just above water level.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trump, el antiestadounidense

El encuentro entre Donald Trump y Kim Jong-un pasará a la historia como una de las páginas más siniestras del Imperio Americano. Singapur 2018, Múnich 1938: ¿cómo no comparar estas dos infamias? En Múnich, el Gobierno británico y el francés entregaron los Sudetes checos a Adolf Hitler con la esperanza, debido a su cobardía y a su incomprensión del adversario, de comprar la paz. Winston Churchill declaró entonces: «Entre la guerra y el deshonor, habéis elegido el deshonor, y tendréis la guerra». De la misma manera, Trump, aunque no lo sabe, ha sacrificado en Singapur el honor de EE.UU. y la vida del pueblo norcoreano, esclavizado por uno de los regímenes más demenciales del mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

La igualdad de género ofrece a cualquier país una importante oportunidad económica. Pretender lograr un crecimiento firme sin aprovechar todo el potencial de las mujeres es básicamente como pelear con una mano atada a la espalda.

De hecho, según una nueva investigación del McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), si las economías de Asia y el Pacífico aceleraran el progreso hacia la igualdad de género, en 2025 lograrían un aumento de 4,5 billones de dólares en su PIB colectivo anual (el equivalente a sumar una economía con el tamaño combinado de Alemania y Austria cada año). La oportunidad es especialmente grande en el caso de la India, cuyo PIB crecería nada menos que 18%.…  Seguir leyendo »

Edward Leung, center, shown in 2016, is a leading independence activist now serving a six-year prison sentence for “rioting.”CreditAnthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

More than two dozen of Hong Kong’s young pro-democracy activists have been convicted of minor offenses in recent weeks, and some have received lengthy jail terms. Most are being put away for their involvement in the so-called Fishball Revolution, a spontaneous protest that turned violent on the first night of Chinese New Year in 2016 in the popular shopping district of Mong Kok.

On Monday, Edward Leung, the charismatic former spokesman of a young party that has called for Hong Kong’s independence from mainland China, was given a six-year jail sentence for mere skirmishes with the police. He is one of the leading figures among those known here as “localists”: activists, many of them separatists, who cut their political teeth during the 2014 Umbrella Movement.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korean defectors protested in Seoul in May.CreditChung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Donald Trump is well known for liking people he thinks are tough. Not war heroes like Senator John McCain, or Gold Star parents like Khizr and Ghazala Khan, but authoritarians like Vladimir Putin of Russia, whom he’s hailed as a “strong leader,” or China’s president for life, Xi Jinping, “a good man” for whom the president has “great respect.”

Now the president has discovered a new figure of admiration.

In an interview that aired on Fox Wednesday evening, Bret Baier asked Mr. Trump about Kim Jong-un: “You sometimes call people killers. He is a killer. He’s clearly executing people,” said the Fox News anchor, all but spelling out the right answer for Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

In August 2017, the flight of 700,000 Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar produced the world’s newest refugee crisis – and one of its worst. Now stuck in miserable camps in Bangladesh, the Rohingya have little prospect of returning to their homes any time soon.

Their suffering is primarily a grave humanitarian concern and the Bangladeshi government and its foreign partners should focus their response on protecting the well-being of those displaced and assisting host communities. But the Rohingya’s plight also raises a so far unspoken question: Will they wait patiently to return in a safe and dignified manner – for now an unrealistic goal – or will the main militant organization in their midst lead them to pursue their goals with violence?…  Seguir leyendo »

After three months of palace intrigue, speculation and on-again-off-again pronouncements, the Singapore summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is finally upon us. The core question is whether this historic meeting between two idiosyncratic leaders who were just months ago exchanging taunts like “Little Rocket Man” and “dotard,” and one-upping each other’s threats of nuclear annihilation, can help find a path toward denuclearization and stability for the Korean Peninsula.

We both worked in the Obama White House but this is not a partisan matter and we are rooting wholeheartedly for this administration’s success. Nobody will benefit if the leaders walk away from the summit disappointed and frustrated, and there’s certainly some risk of that.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea meet for the first time on Sentosa Island, Singapore.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

There is a phrase in Korean: “Begun is half-done.” It means when tackling a difficult task, half of the battle is getting started.

Despite the many warts in President Trump’s unconventional diplomacy toward North Korea, we have to give him credit. Only five months ago, based on my conversations with this administration, I thought we were headed down an inexorable path toward a devastating war.

A military attack would not have ended North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Instead, it would have resulted in a war — with hundreds of thousands of deaths in Japan and South Korea, including thousands of Americans — that the United States would have won but with horrible costs.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, arriving in Singapore for a summit meeting with President Trump.CreditSingapore's Ministry of Communications and Information, via Reuters

North Korea has arrived as a nuclear power, and there is no going back. Once the reality-show theatrics of the Singapore summit meeting subside, we are left with the reality that North Korea was just recognized as a de facto nuclear weapons power.

President Trump went to the meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea to try to take the keys to Mr. Kim’s nuclear kingdom. Whatever the terms of the statement released at the end of the meeting, Mr. Kim has not committed to anything concrete. He is not surrendering North Korea’s nuclear weapons and has walked away the big winner.…  Seguir leyendo »

The document signed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un after their meeting in Singapore. Photo: Getty Images.

If success is to be defined in terms of starting a high-level negotiation process, then the summit meeting of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un was a success. But if success is defined in terms of content, then the summit has failed because it did not deliver any substance that went beyond what has been agreed previously.

President Trump did mention that North Korea will destroy a missile engine test site as a practical step – and they have already destroyed the warhead test site. But this is not necessarily an indication of long-term policy change. Neither leader made a public commitment that North Korea will halt its nuclear weapons programme – a promising indicator would have been Kim Jong-un agreeing to provide an inventory of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the roads just outside Singapore’s Capella Hotel last Friday, gardeners were replanting the flower beds and laborers were touching up road markings, shading their heads from the fierce midday heat. Two uniformed men stood by the resort’s long driveway armed with clipboards and walkie-talkies, ushering curious onlookers away. “We have a private meeting inside,” one said.

Private, but not exactly secret. On Tuesday, the sprawling complex on Sentosa, Singapore’s “pleasure island,” is preparing to host the most anticipated diplomatic meeting in recent history, as President Trump meets with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. As wild peacocks roam around the swimming pools and grand colonial buildings, the two leaders are expected to talk denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mike Pompeo, then CIA director and now US secretary of state, shakes hands with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang. Photo: The White House.

Early in US president Bill Clinton’s first term, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung reportedly asked visiting American scholars: ‘If Bill Clinton can meet with the president of South Korea, why couldn’t he meet with me?’

Toward the end of Clinton’s second term, Marshal Jo Myong Rok of the Korean People’s Army met with the president in the White House, where he pleaded with Clinton to meet with Kim Il Sung’s son Kim Jong Il: ‘I need to secure your agreement to come to Pyongyang. I really need to take back a positive answer.’

Clinton would come close but ultimately never agree to meet with a North Korean leader; neither would George W Bush or Barack Obama.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks past a television news screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) and US President Donald Trump (L) at a railway station in Seoul on May 16, 2018. - North Korea threatened on May 16, to cancel the forthcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump if Washington seeks to push Pyongyang into unilaterally giving up its nuclear arsenal. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

The last few weeks in North Korea diplomacy have been tumultuous but curiously pointless, in our modern “Trumpian disruption” way. US President Donald Trump has for months flouted established patterns of engagement with North Korea, and he clearly relishes doing so. Cable TV is filled with pro-Trump pundits praising his marginalization of “so-called experts” on the North. The analyst community is apparently to be swept aside before Trump’s bold moves and wheeler-and-dealer bravado, which will bring North Korean supremo Kim Jong-un to the table.

But it is not at all clear that this turmoil has resulted in anything other than chaos, setting off a daily rollercoaster of changes, such as the South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s sudden suggestion that he, too, might participate in the summit.…  Seguir leyendo »

NEW DELHI, INDIA AUGUST 28: Narendra Modi during the oath ceremony of New Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.(Photo by Pankaj Nangia/India Today Group/Getty Images)

The rule of law in India has been imperiled ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in 2014. Some threats, such as vigilantism by Hindu extremists, have been largely ignored by the state. Others, like the intimidation of journalists, have often featured Internet trolls encouraged by BJP leaders. The most troubling instances have come directly from the government: when it has used investigative agencies to prosecute political opponents—which, in the case of the Indian state of Bihar, enabled the BJP to join the ruling coalition—or when it has elevated people accused of violent crimes to the top rungs of leadership, such as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath.…  Seguir leyendo »

Burmese security forces stand guard during unrest at a camp for Muslim Rohingya refugees on the outskirts of the town of Sittwe in Rakhine State. (AFP)

While the United States debates reimposing targeted sanctions on top military leaders in Burma, much of the focus is on the heart-rending Rohingya crisis.

But military aggression has escalated recently against the Kachin, an ethnic minority in the north. The Kachin have suffered systemic discrimination for more than six decades. As a citizen of both Burmese and Kachin ethnicity who grew up in this conflict area, I strongly support the calls in Rep. Eliot Engel’s (D-N.Y.) bill for financial and travel sanctions against individuals directly implicated in the violence against civilians.

I want my country to be a prosperous, liberal democratic society.…  Seguir leyendo »

A poster promoting Xi Jinping's 'Chinese Dream' slogan in Beijing. Photo: Getty Images.

We look to power to be visible. We seek signs and clues about it. Xi Jinping standing surveying the vast, new naval fleet in April affirmed something many in the Pacific region suspected; this is a country that means to have impact. It was a great performance. Dressed in military gear with the grand panorama of different vessels in the water around him, his statement was simple. A great power needs a strong military, the ability to project its will, the assets to enforce its desire on the world around it.

Meanwhile, in Washington, it is clear the counterattack has started. …  Seguir leyendo »

HMS Sutherland visits Japan in April. Photo: Getty Images.

This weekend the British defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, is likely to reveal that two British naval ships have taken part in ‘freedom of navigation’ operations in the South China Sea during the past month. This will highlight a significant revival of British interest in Asian security after four years in which no Royal Navy ship visited the Asia-Pacific.

Williamson is expected to tell the international security conference in Singapore known as the ‘Shangri La Dialogue’ that HMS Albion and HMS Sutherland sailed through parts of the South China Sea to which China is attempting to restrict access. HMS Albion navigated through the Spratly Islands in early May en route from Brunei to Japan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lawmakers from India’s main opposition Congress party and the Janata Dal (Secular) protested against Karnataka governor Valubhai Vala and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Bangalore, India, this month.CreditAbhishek N.Chinnappa/Reuters

A fair and independent electoral process, an independent judiciary, a Parliament with a noisy opposition, a relatively free press and an army that has stayed away from politics have defined India since it adopted its Constitution in 1950.

India stood apart in the developing world as a country where the Constitution served as the basis for the operations of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. But it has taken just four years of the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the country to realize how fragile that achievement was, how close it has come to being subverted.…  Seguir leyendo »

The C919 aircraft, China's first modern passenger jet, is a flagship project of President Xi Jinping's ambition to build the country's domestic manufacturing capabilities. Photo: Getty Images.

Among the many issues at play in the ongoing economic and trade tensions between the US and China are questions of technological capability and innovation.

Two of the main complaints in the US Section 301 report were that American companies have been forced to transfer technology to China and been the subject of cyber espionage. The presentation of the issues in this report has been disputed, but behind it lies concern in the US that Chinese innovative and technological capability is catching up with that in the US, thanks partly to the support of state policies set out in the Made in China 2025 initiative.…  Seguir leyendo »