Political realists have little concerns for morality as it is manifested in politics. However human suffering from mass killings of wars and massacres can be, for realists, they are only perceivable as concrete actions to advance certain political interests. Even the very idea of appealing to outsiders' sympathies toward those suffering incredible pains can be productive if propaganda featuring those episodes of suffering can help generate a sense of unity and motivate people into action (or inaction). Realists who think this way must be watching with great interest what is unfolding among Muslims living Myanmar.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Friday, August 25, 2017
at 3:19 AM
In recent years, Chinese official policy toward Muslim citizens has firmly shifted to one of active assimilation. In Xinjiang, Muslim public servants have been told to forego fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, headscarves and long beards have been banned, and Mandarin is gradually becoming the only language of instruction in schools populated by Muslim minorities. Who gets to go on the Hajj, not to mention long-term studies and residence in the wider Muslim world, is being strictly controlled by selective granting of passports and other travel documents.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
at 10:13 AM
A couple of weeks ago, the Economist published a headline article calling for greater openness to immigrants. True to its name, the magazine argued that a person with desirable skills is dozens of times more productive in the (rich) immigrant destination country than s/he would ever be in the (poor) home country. The increase in productivity makes sense in a multitude of ways: the dramatic increase in living standards for the immigrant, overall economic productivity for the immigrant host country, and the corresponding increase in tax revenues that come from the economy having a higher productivity.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
at 10:56 AM
In the recent years, business news outlets and analyses websites have been keen to present the rapidly increases Chinese debt pile as one of the biggest risks facing the global economy today. The numbers are certainly scary. The debt levels, less than 80% of the GDP less than a decade ago, recently surpassed 300% on official estimates. The numbers would be much higher if grassroots level "shadow banking" of informal community loans are accounted for. Given the size of the Chinese economy, the amount China owes as a collective is definitely not a small number.
Monday, August 7, 2017
at 10:36 AM
In previous posts, this blog has noted how mutual ignorance has continued to plague the relationship between China and India, the past and future superpowers of Asia (and the world), and how the ignorance ensure that bilateral relationships, especially at the grassroots level, remain highly underdeveloped and susceptible to mutual suspicions. Unfortunately, the recent (re-)flaring up of the Doklam border issue has only further entrenched the mutual suspicions, threatening to take the relationship a step back and wipe out positive results from nascent efforts at cooperation through the BRICS framework.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
at 5:00 PM
Whether democracy is universally applicable is perhaps the political, ethical, and philosophical question of the past decades. From the confidence of democracy as the logical "end of human history" in the immediate aftermath of Soviet collapse, to the failure of newly installed democratic structures to bring prosperity and peace to post-dictatorship Iraq and Afghanistan, democracy has only divided opinions in its implementation despite the fact that no credible alternative has emerged in the recent years to challenge its moral authority in the eyes of liberal internationalists.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
at 5:14 PM
From his candidate days, Donald Trump promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US and save the Midwest Rust Belt. For that Trump, the past few days finally brought a major victory that he can publicize. Foxconn, the manufacturing contractor for Apple (and main other electronics brands) announced the biggest single investment by a foreign company ever in the US, launching a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin that will bring tens of thousands of jobs to the middle of that Rust Belt. Major news outlets did not shy away from putting on their front pages pictures of smiling Trump next to Foxconn boss Terry Gou.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
at 2:02 PM
For anyone who spends significant time in China, getting a working VPN is almost part of the common routine. With the authorities blocking many foreign websites that foreigners love and have came to rely on, VPN is a necessity for many to go about their daily business on the Chinese Internet. For these people, the recent news that Apple China has decided to pull all VPNs from its China App Store, no doubt due to government pressures, should be a sign of worry. Making VPNs less accessible to the general public should foretell a further tightening of Internet censorship in a country that is already known for it.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
at 2:11 PM
Not a month goes by now without news about the latest progress in North Korean development of weaponry that can pose realistic threats on the US and other countries. Whether it be missile testing, nuclear weapons testing, or a combination of both, Kim Jong-un has made sure that the world has not forgotten about him and his growing ability to strike the mortal American enemies with weapons of mass destruction. All previous efforts to reverse the developments, whether they are economic sanctions or diplomatic talks, have largely come to nothing.
Friday, July 21, 2017
at 8:26 AM
A few days ago, Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo passed away in China, after lack of in-game treatment for cancer that developed unchecked during years of house arrest. The fact that Liu was gravely ill was not unannounced by the CCP (and thus not known to the international community) until treatment would have been too late. In supposedly compromising moves at the last minute, the CCP invited foreign doctors to go to China to help with treatment of Liu, an act that was seen as more symbolic than practical.
Sunday, July 2, 2017
at 1:11 PM
As North Korea steps up nuclear testing in the recent years, the fears of nuclear materials proliferating beyond the control of state-level actors have reemerged. Not since the mid-2000s, when al-Qaeda sought to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan (primarily via its nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan) has the worry of nuclear proliferation been so realistic, probable, and risky. The situation in North Korea calls for redoubled efforts to ensure that all the incentives align to prevent spread of nuclear materials.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
at 2:17 PM
The UN can become prominent only when it is willing to step above national interests. To do so, it must aggressively push for compromises that align with interests of all sides in any particular conflict. Only with such initiative-taking can the UN not succumb to one-sidedness when conveying international legitimacy. In other words, its task is not to offer moral high ground to any particular side, but to establish objective forums to discuss how conflicts can be halted in a positive-sum fashion.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
at 11:30 AM
The recent years have seen renewed prospects of regional violence. Just in Africa, internal repression of Eritrea, disorder in Burundi, and tense standoff between Muslim and Christians in Central African Republic, to name a few, continue to disrupt the normal livelihoods of millions. One point of commonality among these conflicts has been an acute lack of international intervention to prevent escalation. The lack of international interest has been most visible in these conflicts’ lack of appearance in global headlines, where international conflicts of choice have largely been those in the Middle East.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
at 1:15 PM
Some months ago, this blog argued that a distinct lack of optimism among Africans is a root cause for governments not putting in the effort to develop their respective countries. However, in the process, that post never clearly defined exactly what is the root cause of that lack of optimism, aside from making vague statements about historical circumstances that both the African peoples and leaders not emotionally tied to their particular countries, thereby precluding any conscious efforts for development in the long-term. This post seeks to make clear what that "historical circumstance" really is.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
at 2:03 PM
For first time in perhaps months, I sat down to read a newspaper. For all its conservative leanings, the local paper in San Diego tries its best to look well-balanced, providing views from across the political spectrum on its op-ed pages. Big bold titles with completely diverging opinions line side by side on the same page, giving the audience scanning through the content an ability to look at every view possible at one-go. Even if a certain reader does not have any particular affinity toward a particular piece, s/he is bound to look at it somewhat simply because it sits next to another piece that s/he would agree with.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
at 7:17 AM
In one day, there was two polar opposite news coming out of Asia on the issue of gay marriage. One is the de facto legalization of same-sex marriages in Taiwan's highest court, making the island the first place in Asia to expliciting state that homosexual marriages are as legal as the heterosexual kind. The other is the public caning of a man caught for gay sex in conservative Aceh province in Indonesia. The young man is humiliated in front of thousands of spectators, and Western media outlets and general public wasted no time criticizing the act as immoral and barbaric, much to the chagrin of the Islamic local population.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
at 5:15 AM
Turn to any non-entertainment TV programs in China these days, and most inevitably touch on a common theme: that of the “One Belt One Road” initiative. Endless interviews with experts and common people across countries that will benefit from the initiative, coupled with news stories and detailed analyses of the latest projects coming online, give a strong indication that the government, and the government-owned media sources, wants the initiative to be the defining economic and political movement of the country and the wider region in the next decades.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
at 9:30 AM
A hundred days into Donald Trump's presidency, it is almost comical to see how his foreign policy has deviated from what people thought it would be when he was first elected. People thought was going to make amends with Putin, only to see him profess that Russo-American relations has "reached an all-time low." They thought he would pressure hard on China for unfair trade practices, only to see him profess his "good friendship" with Xi while refusing to label the country a currency manipulator. They thought he would take America out of foreign entanglements, only to see military presence increased in Syria and Korea.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
at 5:13 AM
To anyone outside the highest echelons of North Korean political hierarchy, the Hermit Kingdom's state-directed intentions remain completely opaque. Any provocative moves emerging from the country almost often come as unpredicted and surprising, giving major media outlets all that much more to work with when they think about breaking news headlines. In the past years, that usually meant the next missile or nuke testing that raise the blood pressures of the Japanese and South Koreans. But apparently the North Koreans have other initiatives up the sleeve that change up the pattern a bit.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
at 4:11 AM
It is rather perplexing that so many countries around the world is mourning the death of Fidel Castro. Yes, it is indeed true that he looms large as a political personality, with an oversized role on the frontline of Cold War-era, pan-Latin American, and even global anti-Americanism disproportionate to the small size of the island country he governed. But that oversized role cannot compensate for the dismal conditions of modern-day Cuba, a country mired in economic crises despite strong performance on the social welfare, healthcare, and educational fronts.