22 January 2019

Why the world should be watching India's fast-growing cities

Sangeeta Prasad

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) predicts that future increases in the world’s urban population will be concentrated in just a few countries. India, China and Nigeria are together expected to account for 35% of the projected growth in the world’s urban population until 2050; of these three, the absolute growth in urban population is projected to be the highest in India. In terms of sheer numbers, the largest urban transformation of the 21st century is thus happening in India, and the Indian real estate and infrastructure industry is a key contributor to this growth.

India’s real estate sector is expected to contribute 13% to the country’s GDP by 2025 and reach a market size of $1 trillion by 2030. However, the environmental footprint of the Indian real estate industry is also mounting. Buildings in India account for 40% energy use, 30% raw material use, 20% water use and 20% land use; they also generate 30% of solid waste and 20% of water effluents. The sector is responsible for 24% of India’s annual CO2 emissions, contributing to global warming and poor air quality. It is therefore critical that India adopts a holistic and sustainable approach to real estate development.

Imran Khan’s Govt Sees ‘No Role’ For India In Afghanistan


Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said Thursday that India has no role in Afghanistan adding that Islamabad played a key role in arranging direct talks between the US and the Taliban to find a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict.

Speaking at the weekly briefing, Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan always maintained that the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace process.

“In pursuance of that (policy), we have facilitated direct talks between the US and the Taliban,” he said.

He said Pakistan is convinced that an intra-Afghan dialogue will lead to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Satellite images show China is building underground facility 50 km from India border


The new facility near Ngari is the Chinese PLA’s second in Tibet, and stands just about 60 km away from the Indian Army’s forward posts at Demchok in Ladakh.

New Delhi: The People’s Liberation Army has constructed an underground facility (UGF) barely 50 km from the India-China border, and just 60 km from the Indian forward posts at Demchok in Ladakh.

Afghanistan’s Forgotten Half


Many diplomats privately concede that women’s rights are not a high priority in peace talks with the Taliban. But a peace agreement without some guarantees for half the Afghan population is not worth having, and a deal that is not partly negotiated by women is much less likely to hold.

WASHINGTON, DC – When Zalmay Khalilzad was appointed as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation in September 2018, an end to America’s longest war seemed finally to be in sight. Now, following President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement in late December that the United States will withdraw 7,000 of its troops from the country, the pressure on Khalilzad to secure a deal with the Taliban by spring has increased dramatically. Many now fear that Trump wants to leave Afghanistan regardless of the consequences, least of all for the country’s women.

Forget the Trade War. China Is Already in Crisis

Michael Schuman

Once again, the world’s investors are turning their worried gaze toward China. And for good reason. Economic growth in the third quarter sank to 6.5 percent, the slowest pace since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009. Car purchases fell last year for the first time in more than two decades. Apple Inc.’s warning in early January that iPhone sales in China were sagging alerted the world to how a slowing Middle Kingdom would drag down global growth and corporate profits. But the locals figured that out a while ago. Even after a recent uptick, the stock market in Shanghai has still plunged by more than a quarter from its 2018 high. The outlook isn’t any rosier. Tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. imposed by President Donald Trump are starting to pinch the country’s factories. A steep and unexpected plunge in imports in December signaled just how sharply the economy is decelerating. That’s led Beijing to turn the volume down on its bravado and negotiate with Washington to defuse the conflict.

The U.S. Will Never Get What It Really Wants In A Trade Deal With China

by Shah Gilani

Besides the U.S. and China saber-rattling over control of the South China Sea (see last week's article), the reason the U.S. will never get what it really wants in a trade deal is because Chinese "trade" is how China plays its foreign policy game.

And they're very dirty players.

What the U.S. needs to get out of a trade deal is for China to stop playing dirty, which it will never do.

Here's what the Chinese have done using "trade," how corrupt they really are, what the U.S. has already lost, and why any announced trade deal will only ever be fake news...
Real Fake News

China Is Losing The Trade War In Nearly Every Way

Kenneth Rapoza

China is still the world’s No. 2 economy and is still the monster of emerging markets, but regardless of those bonafides, Xi Jinping’s country is losing the trade war in nearly every way imaginable.

The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada last month for breaking U.S. sanctions law, followed by the firing of Huawei sales executive Wang Weijing in Poland last week shows China can be a bad actor, exactly as Washington believes. The Poland story centers around spying allegations, where Wang allegedly sought trade secrets from the government. Huawei’s latest bad headlines show how China tech companies may have risen to prominence by copying foreign technologies in joint venture deals or through white-collar criminal actions such as intellectual property theft and corporate espionage. Huawei is one of China’s most important, private tech firms. It rivals Cisco Systems worldwide.

The Belt and Road Initiative Is a Corruption Bonanza

By Will Doig

When former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was ousted from office in May 2018, it’s possible that no one was more dismayed than officials in Beijing.

After all, Najib had granted China extraordinary access to Malaysia. Across the country, huge China-backed infrastructure projects were being planned or breaking ground. But as China’s presence in Malaysia swelled, a scandal was engulfing the prime minister’s office. Najib was accused of massive corruption linked to the development fund known as 1MDB. As the election neared, his opponent, Mahathir Mohamad, alleged that some of the Chinese money pouring into Malaysia was being used to refill the fund’s graft-depleted coffers.

Now, Malaysia’s anti-corruption commission is investigating those claims. And last week, an explosive Wall Street Journal reportexposed the most damning evidence yet: minutes from a series of meetings at which Malaysian officials suggested to their Chinese counterparts that China finance infrastructure projects in Malaysia at inflated costs. The implication was that the extra cash could be used to settle 1MDB’s debts. According to the report, Najib, who has denied any part in corruption, was well aware of the meetings.

Army’s long-awaited Iraq war study finds Iran was the only winner in a conflict that holds many lessons for future wars

By: Todd South 

A two-volume Army study of the Iraq war is a deep examination of the mistakes and success of the war effort that also takes aim at critics who would slough off the conflict as they shift to near-peer threats.

The study, commissioned by former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in 2013 and continued under current chief Gen. Mark Milley, was delayed for release since 2016, when it was completed. Some said it was due to concerns over airing “dirty laundry” about decisions made by some leaders during the conflict.

The 1,300-page, two volume history, complete with more than 1,000 declassified documents, spans the 2003 invasion through the U.S. withdrawal, the rise of ISIS, and the influence of Syria and Iran.

“At the time of this project’s completion in 2018, an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor,” authors wrote in the concluding chapter.

Time for a Modest Deal: How to Get U.S.-North Korean Talks Moving Forward


What’s new? 2017’s war of words between the U.S. and North Korea is a fading memory. In its place has come a period of calm, particularly after the leader-level summit in June. But substantive negotiations have foundered, and the parties’ current holding pattern cannot be sustained forever.

Why does it matter? The lack of progress means that U.S.-North Korean relations could easily turn ugly once more – perhaps reawakening the spectre of war on the Korean peninsula. Hardliners on both sides (and in South Korea, too) are poised to exploit opportunities to derail talks altogether.

What should be done? Negotiators should aim for small, concrete achievements that serve the main parties’ long-term interests: for Washington, progress toward verifiable closure of the Yongbyon nuclear facility; for Pyongyang, a commitment to develop an end-of-war declaration; and for both Koreas, a reopening of the Kaesong industrial complex.

Trump is making the mess in Syria even messier

Amanda Sloat

Although there is little worth salvaging in the United States’ flawed approach to the conflict in Syria, the Trump administration should stop making the situation worse. Inadequate policy coordination, incoherent presidential tweets, and discordant remarks by senior advisors have created confusion across the Middle East. And the disorderly withdrawal of U.S. troops, which President Donald Trump has already put in motion, will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Turkey—a NATO ally with legitimate security concerns—and Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters who spilled blood for the United States and deserve fair treatment.

This tension has long been at the heart of U.S. military activity in Syria. Former President Barack Obama long resisted calls to directly intervene in the Syrian civil war but sought an expeditious way to defeat the Islamic State. When the United States launched an air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria in September 2014, it deployed special operators to assist local forces on the ground. They found a faction of Syrian Kurds—the YPG—to be effective fighters and began developing their capabilities. The problem: They are affiliated with Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey and the United States designate as a terrorist group. Although the United States argues that the YPG has not received the same designation, government officials and congressional leaders acknowledge the ties. Gen. Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said he told the YPG to rebrand given Turkish concerns—which led to the creation of the Syrian Democratic Forces: an umbrella group composed of YPG and a small number of Syrian Arab fighters. The Trump administration continued this approach.

Russia’s Conventional Weapons Are Deadlier Than Its Nukes

By Rowan Allport

The INF Treaty is widely seen as one of the crowning achievements of arms control, banning the possession by two of the world’s leading powers of an entire class of nuclear weapons system. As such, the Trump administration’s declaration late last year that it might withdraw from the treaty has stoked fears of a new nuclear arms race.

The United States alleges that Russia is violating the agreement by fielding the 9M729 cruise missile from land-based launchers and says Moscow must return to compliance by early February or Washington will begin the formal six-month withdrawal process.

Stepping away from the treaty could be harmful for the United States. Moscow has little need for an additional nuclear capability. However, it would stand to benefit greatly from being able to openly deploy new ground-launched conventional missiles—a process for which withdrawal from the INF Treaty could open the door.

Dwindling Brexit Options: What’s the Path Ahead?

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government narrowly survived a no-confidence motion on Wednesday (325 votes against the motion, 306 for it), a day after the House of Commons voted 432-202 to reject her revised Brexit plan. May has begun talks with political parties ahead of another Brexit vote coming up Jan. 29 and continues to reject the idea of a second referendum. She also does not want the U.K. to remain in the EU Customs Union because that would preclude it from pursuing independent trade deals with other countries.

The uncertainty has rattled investors, and the British pound lost ground after Tuesday’s vote. Investors in the U.S. and elsewhere are worried about a no-deal Brexit, which means the U.K. would crash out of the EU after March 29, the date May has set for the beginning of the exit process. Many firms have moved out of London, or are planning to, and have relocated to Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands.

Emerging EU Policies Take a Harder Look at Chinese Investments

By: Ashley Feng, Sagatom Saha

Like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), foreign direct investment (FDI) from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) now has a much broader reach than Beijing’s own backyard. It is well-known that Washington is actively working toward mitigating U.S. vulnerabilities to PRC investments in strategic sectors, and those that contain critical technologies and infrastructure. However, Europe, a region that also offers access to high technology desired by the PRC, is also taking a harder look at its own potential investment vulnerabilities. This process is leading to increasing debates and increasing regulation, both of which could impact the future course of Chinese investment in Europe.

While overall PRC foreign investment fell in 2017, investments in Europe were more resilient, increasing to 25 percent of the PRC’s global investment as compared to 20 percent in the previous year. PRC investment in Europe doubled in 2016 to $40 billion as compared to the previous year (Economist, October 4 2018). This figure dipped in 2017, but still remained robust at an estimated $33.7 billion (Merics and Rhodium Group, May 2018). Of the PRC’s top twenty foreign investment destinations in 2017, five were EU member states (PRC Ministry of Commerce, October 2018).

The World Still Needs NATO

By Ursula von der Leyen

BERLIN — In April, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will celebrate its 70th birthday. Founded in the earliest years of the Cold War, it is just as relevant today, when many feel that the international order is shaken again. In fact, if NATO did not exist, those in favor of a free world would have to invent it.

While NATO’s key purpose remains to guarantee the security of its members, it has never been a purely military alliance. It is a political alliance as well, based on the common aspirations of its members who, as the NATO Treaty says, “are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of its peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”

Apple’s Troubles in China Predict Problems for Other U.S. Firms

In a letter to Apple investors on January 2, Apple CEO Tim Cook warned that the company’s revenues for the fourth quarter would be lower than expected. He blamed the shortfall on the “magnitude of the economic deceleration particularly in Greater China.” But China’s slowing economy and a burgeoning trade war with the U.S. are not the only factors responsible for Apple’s troubles in China, writes Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions Kartik Hosanagar in this opinion piece. A slew of Chinese rivals has gradually eroded the iPhone’s once dominant market share in the country, he notes.

Hosanagar joined Jyoti Thottam, business and economics editor in the Opinion section of The New York Times, on the K@W radio show on Sirius XMto discuss Apple’s problems and what they reveal about the prospects of other U.S. companies that depend significantly on China for revenues. “Most of Apple’s troubles in China are related to factors other than the trade war,” he said. According to Thottam, “The consumer sentiment part of the equation is interesting and a little complicated. Apple was a little slow to adapt.” (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

Latest on US-China trade dispute

Jeffrey Sachs

Generals fight the last war, and Washington’s economic war on China is straight from America’s tactics against the Soviet Union and its skirmishes with Japan in the 1980s. Yet China is neither the Soviet Union nor Japan. The US’s aggressive trade actionstowards Beijing, unless suspended in the near future, will damage the world economy and America itself.

The overriding aim of US policymakers is American economic and military primacy. Though China remains far poorer than the US (roughly one-third the gross domestic product per capita at international prices), it has pulled ahead of the US in total GDPwhen measured at international prices and is converging or ahead on technologies such as 5G. A notable upcoming test will be China’s ability to compete with Boeing and Airbus in the market for civilian aircraft during the 2020s. My own bet is it will be able to compete.


YOU ONLY USE 10 percent of your brain. Eating carrots improves your eyesight. Vitamin C cures the common cold. Crime in the United States is at an all-time high.

None of those things are true.

But the facts don't actually matter: People repeat them so often that you believe them. Welcome to the “illusory truth effect,” a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this particular cognitive bias—which perhaps you have become more familiar with lately.

President Trump is a "great businessman," he says over and over again. Some evidence suggests that might not be true. Or look at just this week, when the president signed three executive orders designed to stop what he describes—over and over again—as high levels of violence against law enforcement in America. Sounds important, right? But such crimes are at their lowest rates in decades, as are most violent crimes in the US. Not exactly, as the president would have it, "American carnage."

Is the US overreacting to the China threat? Yes, but Beijing’s iron grip isn’t helping, says leading Harvard professor

William Kirby warns Beijing’s increasing ideological grip could backfire by encouraging US hardliners and hampering educational development

White House isn’t speaking to the ‘smartest people’ when forming policy towards China, he tells seminar in Chinese capital

William Kirby, professor of China Studies at Harvard University, warned that Donald Trump’s administration was not consulting “the smartest people” about China, which may increase the risk of policy missteps.

Kirby was speaking at a seminar in Beijing on Friday, where he also said that education would be the key to whether China could replace the US as the world’s leading power.

As World Powers Fail to Work Together, Global Risks Grow More Dangerous


There is an unfortunate reality to our current geopolitical landscape. The world faces the threat of three primary hazards: one immediate, one long-term and one latent. Yet as these risks manifest, cooperation among stakeholders is being overtaken by antagonism. In many ways, the same polarization exists at the global level just as it does at the societal level in the United States and across Europe, where there is the perception that cooperation is a threat to, rather than an avenue toward, prosperity.

In the immediate term, geo-economic fault lines have grown between allies and non-allies alike: trade disputes among powers escalated last year, and political divisions across the Atlantic are testing Europe’s market union. According to the World Economic Forum’s latest survey of 916 experts, policymakers and industry leaders, 91% of respondents believe the risk of economic frictions will increase in 2019 among major powers.

Are we sleepwalking into a new global crisis?

Could the world be sleepwalking into a crisis? Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening. Geopolitical and geo-economic tensions have risen among the world’s major powers and now represent the most urgent global risks, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019.

Nine out of 10 respondents to our annual Global Risks Perception Survey said they expected the risk of both economic and political confrontations between major powers to increase this year. A similar proportion expects further erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements.

Time to Regulate Social Media Influencers?

By Simon Owens

In August, the YouTube beauty vlogger Marlena Stell uploaded a nine-minute video titled “My truth regarding the beauty community” to her channel, which currently has 1.4 million subscribers. Though she refuses to name names (“I don’t want, by any means, for this to be part of any of the drama,” she says), the video is an attempt to shed light on the rapacious greed within the beauty influencer community.

“There are thousands of beauty influencers that want to make a name for themselves,” Stell says at one point. “They want to share their love of makeup. They want to do something they’re passionate about and support their livelihood by doing something they love. Some, unfortunately, are doing it because they want to be ‘famous.’ They want to have a nice paycheck. They want to go on trips. They want to have the fame and not share the love within the beauty industry.”

Why Social Media Is the New Weapon in Modern Warfare

If the first wars were fought with sticks and stones, modern warfare is a high-tech battlefield where social media has emerged as a surprising — and effective — weapon. From Russian hacking to influence the American election to online recruitment for terror groups such as ISIS, an array of players are using false news and bogus accounts to stoke fear, incite violence and manipulate outcomes.

Authors Peter W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking describe this as “likewar,” a term that plays on the Facebook “like” feature. In their new book, LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media, they explain how these platforms have become persuasive tools of propaganda. The recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on Sirius XM to discuss their work.

Bettering Threat Intelligence And Cyber Security A New Role For Blockchain?

Darryn Pollock

Blockchains are epitomised by security and safety when it comes to storing data on its distributed ledger; they use a trustless model to be utterly trustworthy. On this principle of protection, it would make sense to start applying blockchains to a new and emerging movement in cybersecurity.

It has become more apparent ,and more evident, that new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, as well as blockchain can benefit from teaming up with one another to solve their shortcomings. Threat Intelligence is another such emerging area of technological advancement that can also lean on blockchain to aid its application and betterment.

Successful Lunar Landing Demonstrates Continuing PRC Advancements in Space

By: John Dotson

China’s Lunar Probe Explores New Territory on the Moon’s Surface

On January 3rd, PRC officials announced a successful landing by the Chang’E-4 probe (嫦娥四号探测器) in the Van Karman Crater near the lunar south pole. [1]The mission was noteworthy for being the first time that any lunar probe had successfully landed on the far side (or “dark side”) of the moon’s surface. [2] Chinese state media hailed the landing as both a scientific milestone and a “great achievement for the motherland” (Xinhua, January 4). NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine joined other international voices in praising this latest achievement for the PRC space program, stating: “Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment!” (Twitter, January 2)

The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

John Naughton

We’re living through the most profound transformation in our information environment since Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of printing in circa 1439. And the problem with living through a revolution is that it’s impossible to take the long view of what’s happening. Hindsight is the only exact science in this business, and in that long run we’re all dead. Printing shaped and transformed societies over the next four centuries, but nobody in Mainz (Gutenberg’s home town) in, say, 1495 could have known that his technology would (among other things): fuel the Reformation and undermine the authority of the mighty Catholic church; enable the rise of what we now recognise as modern science; create unheard-of professions and industries; change the shape of our brains; and even recalibrate our conceptions of childhood. And yet printing did all this and more.

The Week in Tech: How Google and Facebook Spawned Surveillance Capitalism

By Natasha Singer

Each week, technology reporters and columnists from The New York Times review the week’s news, offering analysis and maybe a joke or two about the most important developments in the tech industry. Want this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up here.

Greetings, I’m Natasha Singer, your resident privacy reporter. And I’m writing to you from wintry New York City as the government shutdown increases financial pressure on federal workers and the tech elites jet off to Davos, Switzerland, to hobnob at the World Economic Forum.

For the last few years, the forum has been heralding the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” That’s the idea that today’s digital innovationsare generating entire new industries — in much the way electricity enabled the mass production of the Model T Ford in the early 20th century.

But a provocative new book, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” by Shoshana Zuboff, a professor emerita at the Harvard Business School, offers a more sobering counternarrative.

Military trends and predictions: 2020

Doug Livermore

Doug Livermore is an Army National Guard Special Forces Soldier, Contracted Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and National Capital Region Ambassador for the Green Beret Foundation. 

Increased focus on great power competition 

The most prominent shift in US defence strategies in the last two decades is captured within the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). The 2018 NDS directs a shift away from the counterterrorism focus of the “Global War on Terror” and back toward “great power competition”. Specifically, the new strategy focuses on China, Russia, and to a lesser extent, Iran and North Korea.

"The strategies of our adversaries will focus on methodologies and technologies with which most Americans are not closely familiar"



THE THREAT OF a nuclear missile strike on United States soil has felt more tangible over the past few years, thanks to North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile testing and oscillating relationships between the two countries. Against that backdrop, President Donald Trump announced plans on Thursday for the next generation of missile defense on land, sea—and in space.

The Missile Defense Review describes creating capabilities to stop an array of long-range missiles, including those that are hypersonic, or travel faster than the speed of sound. The assessment also discusses more radical ideas, like capabilities that could neutralize a missile anywhere in the world during its initial ascent, space-based tracking and interception technologies, and even high-energy lasers mounted on "airborne platforms."

Aircraft Carriers, Stealth Bombers and Nuclear Weapons: How China's Military Is Rising

by Sebastien Roblin

On January 12, 2019, the Defense Intelligence Agency released an annual reporthighlighting the radical reorganization of China’s People’s Liberation Army to become faster-responding, more flexible and more lethal than ever before.

The PLA was formed in 1927 as a Communist revolutionary force to oppose the Nationalist Kuomintang government and (later) invading Japanese forces . Unlike Western militaries, the PLA remains loyal to the Chinese Communist Party, not a theoretical independent Chinese state. A cadre of political officers (commissars or zhengwei) still operate at every level of the command structure to ensure loyalty and manage personnel.

Even after securing the mainland in 1949 and sprouting Navy and Air Force branches, the PLA adhered to a defensive “People’s War Strategy” which assumed that technologically superior foreign invaders (the United States or Soviet Union) would need to be lured deep into Chinese territory to be worn down by guerilla warfare and superior numbers.