Posts Tagged

china

On November 17th, 2019, Iran cut out access to the internet. This meant that the Iranian government could repress protests over increased gas prices without making much news. Reportedly, 180 people were killed in the process, yet people were mostly unable to share information about the repressive acts of the government. This is only one recent case of hundreds of governmental internet blackouts that have been performed in 2019. At present, countries are facing very little consequences for shutting down their citizens’ access to the internet. In a world where the internet is playing an increasingly important role both in daily life and political contestation, very little is being done to safeguard access to the internet. What is needed is a serious shift in …

As protests in Hong Kong have become more violent, have the demographics of the protesters changed? Political scientists have argued that a shift toward more violent protest action can alienate moderate protesters. Moderates, in this definition, are those who may share common cause with radicals (or those who embrace violent tactics) but reject those tactics. Once alienated, such moderate protesters tend to withdraw their support from a movement and may refrain from participating in protest action in the future. Hong Kong’s protests seem to have defied this trend. My surveys of protest participants find that the demographic profile of protesters has remained relatively constant even as violence has escalated in the demonstrations. Certain types of protesters who might be expected …

The India-Pakistan conflict is one of the most enduring rivalries of the post-World War era. The two nuclear states have fought four wars, and smaller-scale skirmishes are common occurrences. Since the nuclearization of the two countries in 1998, the nuclear stalemate has been one of the most important facet of this ongoing rivalry. Apart from Kashmir, over which three wars have been fought, constant cross-border terrorist attacks in India have severely limited and disrupted initiatives to defuse the situation. Recently, tensions have flared up because of the decision by the Indian government to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir special status within the Indian republic. This move has infuriated Pakistan, vowing to …

As the world’s economic and geopolitical centre of gravity shifts eastwards, a scramble for Southeast Asia is underway as the great powers seek to expand and defend their influence in this dynamic region. This renewed great power competition demands that members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) revise their approaches and rethink their relations to one another and others. Southeast Asia is a crucial node in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while the ‘Quad’ of Japan, India, Australia and the US have announced the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” initiative to balance Beijing’s growing influence. New powers have also begun to make their presence felt in Southeast Asia: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has proclaimed a “New Southern …

Without question, the much-debated, mammoth Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is a brainchild of China’s President Xi Jinping. Without question, Xi Jinping has further centralised his powers and, in the process, China has turned more authoritarian. Yet, understanding this gigantic infrastructure investment initiative simply as a top-down project, directed by an almighty leadership in Beijing, is more than questionable. The BRI is open, plural and ever-changing, and, to a large degree what interpreters, Chinese or otherwise, public or private, make of it. Following the pragmatic attitude which has characterised China’s leadership since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in the 1980s (‘crossing the river by feeling the stones’), Xi Jinping inaugurated the BRI when a great deal of Chinese overseas investments was already …

The iconic statue of the first American postmaster general Benjamin Franklin greets visitors to the Old Post Office Pavilion in the heart of the US capital: Washington, DC. The edifice is now home to the luxurious and controversial Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue at the mid-point between the US Capitol Building and the White House. The hotel webpage invites guests to “share tea” in the Benjamin Bar to discuss “social and economic affairs” as it was the “‘established custom’” in colonial America. It further states that “we agree with Franklin” and delight to “serve tea from China.” The page indicates that Franklin had stated “‘at least a million Americans drink tea twice a day,’” Yet, he was “unable to …

Competition is a natural by-product of major powers navigating an anarchic world. Small states face a dilemma, when caught in the middle between two rivaling major powers. Sri Lanka in particular, has captured international attention as a key battleground between Beijing and New Delhi in their tussle for influence in South Asia. Whilst some scholars argue that the island is a personification of China’s ‘debt trap diplomacy,’ others contend that China’s influence should not be exaggerated, as Chinese lending amounts to less than 15% of Sri Lanka’s total external debt.  Concerns over Sri Lanka’s sovereignty have been rife following the US $ 1.12 billion debt-to-equity swap of the Hambantota Port Agreement and the proposed lease of the Mattala International Airport …

In 2013, Xi Jinping announced the idea of building a ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ across Eurasia. A few months later, he proposed a ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road.’ Five years on, these two projects have been merged in what is arguably the most ambitious economic and diplomatic enterprise of the 21st century: the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt One Road (OBOR). BRI involves over 80 countries across three continents and along six economic “corridors”, plus an additional route to the Arctic. It encompasses 900 infrastructure and development projects with a combined cost of US$900 billion. The Belt and Road Initiative includes projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the trans-Eurasian railways network, Ethiopia’s Eastern Industrial Zone …