Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

10 August 2022

Tanker Trouble: Why China Can't Project Global Firepower

Kris Osborn

When it comes to a quick assessment of Chinese air power, one might wonder if the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has enough fifth-generation fighter jets to achieve air superiority in support of an amphibious attack on Taiwan. In addition, China may not have enough aerial refuelers to project air power across continents or even sustain long-dwell fighter jet attack campaigns over Taiwan, given that J-20s would need to launch from land.

Perhaps recognizing this potential deficit and the absence of carrier-launched J-31, the Chinese Air Force is quickly moving to expand its fleet of air-to-air refueling aircraft. This may also be an effort to close a visible tanker deficit with the United States and fully project global air power.

According to Global Firepower, the United States operates as many as 625 tanker aircraft, whereas China is listed as only having three. This lack of tankers would limit or even imperil any Chinese effort to launch a large-scale cross-continental air campaign.

China’s Low-Growth Zero-COVID Policy Signals Transition Away From Reform Period

Sara Hsu

If it wasn’t clear before COVID-19 hit, it is now apparent that Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, does not prize economic growth above social and political factors. In fact, growth appears to be further down on China’s agenda than it has been in several decades. We can conclude this since China is still following a zero-COVID policy despite the reduction of COVID-related restrictions in the West.

To some extent, this makes sense, as China remains vulnerable; 38 percent of its population above 60 has not been fully vaccinated, and Chinese inactivated vaccines have been shown to be less effective than mRNA vaccines developed in the West. Scientists have strongly encouraged China to use alternative vaccines. Still, COVID-19 has taken a toll on China’s economic growth, with no end in sight. This underscores China’s transition away from a nation trying to keep up with its East Asian neighbors and Western counterparts into a more inward-looking, less market-oriented society.

China’s slowing growth due to COVID-19 lockdown policies has been well recorded in the media. In recent months, as major cities were placed on lockdown, China’s economy faced stark declines in GDP growth, declining by 2.6 percent in the second quarter of this year. This represented the slowest growth since the pandemic began. Production declined and logistics firms faced challenges in carrying out daily activities. In fact, one Hong Kong-based economist estimated that lockdowns cost China 3.1 percent of GDP per month, assuming the highest GDP contributing cities are under quarantine.

8 August 2022

Stop Stock Piling, Start Developing

Stephanie Halcrow

COVID-19 highlighted the importance of a robust and resilient supply chain. Suddenly, Americans were personally aware of the impact of supply chains interruptions in everyday items like toilet paper. The importance of the supply chain for strategic and critical materials is not as well appreciated. Even less appreciated is our country’s dependence on foreign sources for these strategic and critical materials in everyday items like cell phones, vehicles, and even microchips. Imagine a scenario where cell phones and vehicles were as scare as toilet paper was in 2020.

This is not a new problem. In 1939, Congress determined certain strategic and critical materials in the United States were deficient for common defense. Congress directed not only the acquisition of stocks but also encouraged the development of mines to decrease the “dangerous and costly dependence” on foreign nations. Congress gave responsibility for the acquisition of stocks to the Secretary of War (now the Secretary of Defense) and the responsibility of the “development, mining, preparation, treatment, and utilization of ores” to the Secretary of the Interior. Over time, Title 50 was amended placing responsibility of these efforts with the President who was charged with making “scientific, technologic, and economic investigations concerning the development, mining, preparation, treatment, and utilization” for new domestic sources of supply. Even with this elevation of responsibility, the United States is more reliant on foreign sources of strategic and critical materials than it was 83 years ago.

The 9 books that completely changed the way I see the world

I read a lot — last year I read 53 books, and I’m hoping to clear 50 again this year.

If you love learning, then in my opinion, books are the way to go. That’s because you get a wide variety of perspectives — unlike podcasts and YouTube channels, where you’re generally gonna get the same viewpoints over and over again.

But books are pretty hit-or-miss. Some of the books I read are useless. Most books I read, I learn a little bit from.

And every now and then, I read something so profound that it changes the way I see the world.

These are 9 of the books I’ve read in the past few years that have completely shaken up my worldview. They’ve forced me to fundamentally rethink something I previously believed, or they exposed me to a new idea that shaped the way I think about the world.

7 August 2022

Squeezed Global Spare Oil Capacity Limits OPEC+ Output Hike

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, has agreed to a further 100,000 barrels per day oil production hike from September as it warned of a lack of spare capacity for any greater increases.

The alliance, which includes Russia, held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss output levels amid calls from the US to ramp up production to cool the international oil market.

The increase will mean the 23-nation group, which includes Russia, will raise output by 748,000 bpd from next month.

In a statement after the meeting, OPEC+ warned that a lack of investment into the upstream sector will impact the availability of adequate supply “to meet growing demand beyond 2023 from non-participating non-OPEC oil-producing countries, some OPEC Member Countries and participating non-OPEC oil-producing countries.”

6 August 2022

Biosecurity Is National Security


BOSTON – If a cyberattack upended the global economy, effectively shut down major cities like New York, and put millions of lives at risk, governments and institutions worldwide would undoubtedly respond by investing heavily in defensive capabilities. They would beef up their cybersecurity, install new safeguards, and collect data and intelligence on future threats – just as many already do in response to acts of cyber warfare.

When it comes to the equally disruptive COVID-19 pandemic, however, the response has been far less decisive. As new variants ravage the health and economic security of the world’s population, biosecurity measures – the early warning and monitoring technologies meant to prevent the spread of infectious diseases – are still not as layered, pervasive, or formidable as the cybersecurity systems we use to contain and mitigate the activities of computer hackers.

5 August 2022

‘One miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation’: The U.N. chief issues a grim warning, citing war.

Farnaz Fassihi and Michael Levenson

The secretary general of the United Nations warned on Monday that humanity was “just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” citing the war in Ukraine among the conflicts driving the risk to a level not seen since the height of the Cold War.

“All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening,” the official, António Guterres, said. “And when crises — with nuclear undertones — are festering from the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Mr. Guterres was speaking at the opening session of a conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York about upholding and securing the 50-year-old global Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, meant to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, aiming for eventual disarmament.

4 August 2022

Interview – Chris Blattman

Chris Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at The University of Chicago’s Pearson Institute and Harris School of Public Policy, where he co-leads the Development Economics Center and directs the Obama Foundation Scholars program. His work on violence, crime, and poverty has been widely covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Slate, Vox, and NPR. He is an economist and political scientist who studies violence, crime, and underdevelopment. His most recent book is Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace. It draws on decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions to lay out the root causes and remedies for war, showing that violence is not the norm; that there are only five reasons why conflict wins over compromise; and how peacemakers turn the tides through tinkering, not transformation.

Where do you see the most exciting research/debates in your field?

The thing that excites me about the study of conflict is that people are moving away from running the same theory-less regressions of “does climate cause conflict” or “does poverty cause conflict,” but now they’re trying to think deeply about what does cause conflict; why normal peaceful bargaining breaks down. They’re trying to design experiments and other kinds of studies that actually test our theories and tell us whether our theories are right. The best work in Economics on conflict is the work that is merging with Political Science and vice-versa.

3 August 2022

Slowdown in China ripples through corporate earnings

Hope King

Why it matters: China is not only the largest consumer market in the world, but it also remains a key component of global supply chains.But the Fed has warned that the country's current troubles — housing market upheaval, regulation and continued COVID-related lockdowns — would spread.

Driving the news: Chinese leaders held their quarterly economic meeting on Thursday and "all but acknowledged" that their annual GDP growth target would not be met, the WSJ reports.Meanwhile, several multinational brands and conglomerates reporting earnings from the second quarter have all cited weakness from the Chinese market as a challenge they've either been hindered by or have to overcome.

Details: Apple, which derives close to 20% from the "greater China region" (which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong) reported a 1% decline in revenue from the area from the same period last year, which was better than feared.Earlier in the week, Adidas cut its financial forecast for the year because it had previously assumed there wouldn't be any more "major" COVID-related lockdowns in China.

Hunger Is a Weapon of War. Food Can Help Prevent It.

Ertharin Cousin

The Biden administration’s recent reversal of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen is a welcome departure from a foreign-policy agenda that yielded little but suffering—and a reliable market for U.S.-made weapons. But President Joe Biden’s move shouldn’t be hailed as a panacea for the Yemeni people, who have endured immeasurable suffering over the past six years. Rather, resolving the world’s worst humanitarian crisis will require a larger paradigm shift in foreign policy.

The reason Yemen’s humanitarian situation is so acute is because its people are starving. Data from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) reveals that 16.2 million of the country’s 30 million people need food aid. According to the U.N., nearly half of all Yemeni children under the age of 5 suffer from stunted growth because of malnutrition, with some 400,000 children now in danger of dying from severe acute malnutrition—an increase of 22 percent over 2020.

Hunger has generally been confronted as a humanitarian issue. And rightly so. But it must also be treated as an essential element of military or foreign policy. This means that Biden’s new approach to Yemen must not only focus on arms sales and high-level negotiations but also on helping civilians to meet their basic needs. Doing so is not just morally right but strategically smart: Addressing hunger helps people build the resilience they need to resist militancy and migration pressures and recover from conflict.

2 August 2022

The Great Rewiring: How Global Supply Chains Are Reacting to Today’s Geopolitics

Sujai Shivakumar, Gregory Arcuri and Charles Wessner

Global supply chains, particularly in technologies of strategic value, are undergoing a remarkable reevaluation as geopolitical events and trends weigh on the minds of decisionmakers across government and industry. The rise of an aggressive and revisionist China, a devastating global pandemic, the disruptive churn of technological advancement, and—most recently—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are prompting a dramatic rethinking of the value of lean, globally distributed supply chains. Efficiency is now being recast in terms of reliable and resilient supply chains that are better adapted to emerging geopolitical uncertainties rather than purely on the basis of lowest cost. Given its globalized operations, the semiconductor industry is at the forefront of these challenges. How it responds may well set the tone and pace for economic cooperation and globalization in the twenty-first century.
End of the “Washington Consensus”

To many, the end of the Cold War heralded the triumph of open societies and democratic institutions, allowing for efficiencies that could be realized from the globalization of production. The potential for this globalization was secured through a commitment to common international governance structures and a shared recognition among policymakers in the United States, Europe, East Asia, Latin America and elsewhere on the value of a general liberalization of global trade and the relaxation of state control over national economies. The so-called Washington Consensus emerged as the byword for a new age where economic efficiency and specialization were paramount and supply chains that spanned previously intractable geopolitical fault lines were now searching for lower costs in wage and other inputs across the globe.

1 August 2022

Does Anyone Still Understand the ‘Security Dilemma’?

Stephen M. Walt

The “security dilemma” is a central concept in the academic study of international politics and foreign policy. First coined by John Herz in 1950 and subsequently analyzed in detail by such scholars as Robert Jervis, Charles Glaser, and others, the security dilemma describes how the actions that one state takes to make itself more secure—building armaments, putting military forces on alert, forming new alliances—tend to make other states less secure and lead them to respond in kind. The result is a tightening spiral of hostility that leaves neither side better off than before.

If you’ve taken a basic international relations class in college and didn’t learn about this concept, you may want to contact your registrar and ask for a refund. Yet given its simplicity and its importance, I’m frequently struck by how often the people charged with handling foreign and national security policy seem to be unaware of it—not just in the United States, but in lots of other countries too.

30 July 2022

Everything You Need to Know About Monkeypox

OVER17,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide since April 2022, the majority in Europe and North America, where the disease hasn’t traditionally had a foothold. This makes the current outbreak by far the largest to take place in areas where the disease isn’t endemic, and the spread is still ongoing.

Because of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This is the WHO’s highest state of alarm, and signals that the disease poses a serious threat, has the potential to spread to countries that aren’t yet affected, and needs international coordination in order to be controlled.

But while cases have been rising and symptoms can be painful, the risk of monkeypox to the general population is low. If you think you have the virus—or have come into contact with someone with it—stay calm. You probably won’t need any treatment, but you should do what you can to avoid spreading the virus further.

28 July 2022

Autonomous Weapons Systems: UN Expert Talks Facing Failure

The first of two GGE meetings on AWS planned for 2022 was held in March in Geneva. Russia used the forum to justify its illegal invasion of Ukraine, which nu­merous states including Germany sharply condemn. When the Russian delegation made its closing remarks many of the delegates demonstratively left the room.

The same geopolitical tensions that cul­minated in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine have already caused the de facto failure of the Geneva talks, even if the group will meet again for five days in July. Without Russian buy-in there can be no regulation of AWS through the GGE, which makes its decisions by consensus. All 125 high con­tract­ing parties to the Convention on Cer­tain Conventional Weapons are entitled to participate in the GGE, while signatory states such as Egypt also have the right to speak. In reality, only about eighty states actually attend.

The Global Food Crisis Shouldn’t Have Come As a Surprise

Christopher B. Barrett

The world’s agricultural and food systems face a perfect storm. Overlapping crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wars in Ukraine and elsewhere, supply chain bottlenecks for both inputs like fertilizer and outputs like wheat, and natural disasters induced by climate change have together caused what the United Nations has called “the greatest cost-of-living crisis in a generation.” World leaders cannot afford to ignore this unfolding catastrophe: rapidly increasing food prices not only cause widespread human suffering but also threaten to destabilize the political and social order. Already, along with skyrocketing energy costs, surging food prices have helped bring about the collapse of the Sri Lankan government.

But storms are increasingly predictable, and severe damage from them is therefore increasingly preventable. This is true of the current food crisis as well as extreme weather events. Political and business leaders have for too long ignored key fissures such as insufficient safety net coverage and lags in agricultural and policy innovations that leave agri-food systems—and the billions of people whose lives or livelihoods depend on them—vulnerable to the effects of other calamities. If the global response to the current food emergency likewise neglects these critical points, it may inadvertently exacerbate underlying problems, worsen and prolong unnecessary human suffering, and accelerate the arrival of the next perfect storm. Conversely, serious efforts to address not only the current crisis but also the long-standing issues that have helped cause it could move the world toward healthier, more equitable, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems. World leaders and international organizations have a chance to make food emergencies and widespread acute hunger problems of the past; they must not let this crisis go to waste.

24 July 2022

Why Vietnam Should be Worried About Laos’ Economic Crisis

Khang Vu

Laos is facing one of its worst economic crises in many years. Last month, inflation hit a 22-year high of 23.6 percent, according to official reports. Consequently, the price of fuel, gas, and gold has increased by 107.1 percent, 69.4 percent, and 68.7 percent, respectively, compared to June 2021’s price. Long lines at gas stations are no longer rare occurrences, which has, in turn, hurt the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The value of the local currency, the kip, has fallen from 9,300 to the U.S. dollar in September 2021 to around 15,000 today. With only $1.2 billion in foreign reserves, Laos is on the brink of sovereign bankruptcy, as the state cannot meet its debt obligations, which require it to pay $1.3 billion per year until 2025. Of Laos’ $14.5 billion in foreign debt, about half is owed to China to fund projects including the newly inaugurated $5.9 billion China-Laos railway connecting Vientiane to the Chinese border.

Against the backdrop of the crisis, Vietnam and Laos this month celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations (1962-2022) and the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (1977-2022). The leaders of both countries affirmed their “special relationship,” that Vietnam and Laos are not just neighbors but are “brothers and comrades” engaged in the joint task of national and socialist construction. Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party described Vietnam-Laos ties as “invaluable” and “one of a kind” in world history. Lao Vice President Bounthong Chitmany asserted that Vientiane is determined to cultivate the “comprehensive unity of the great Vietnam-Laos relationship.”

China Won Over Southeast Asia During the Pandemic

Dominique Fraser and Richard Maude

On January 13, 2021, Indonesian President Joko Widodo sat, sleeves rolled up, receiving his first dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, proudly displaying the packaging to a live TV audience. Chinese vaccines arrived in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia at a moment of great need: medically, socially, and economically. They came at a moment when the region’s leaders needed to demonstrate they had a plan for the gathering crisis. And China delivered.

The Pandemic: China’s Opportunity

The global pandemic, which began when the virus causing COVID-19 spread beyond China’s borders, could have been a disaster for Beijing’s influence with regional governments. But China found opportunity in adversity. It acted to meet the region’s needs through broad diplomatic and material support, looking outward while the U.S. and its allies were mostly looking inward. China’s ability to respond early, to craft a resonant message, to maintain trade flows, and to show up in person created favorable impressions that have persisted even as the U.S. and others catch up.

23 July 2022

The World Needs a Digital Lifeline


WASHINGTON, DC – In periods of crisis, digital technologies provide a lifeline that keeps people, communities, and businesses functioning. From the COVID-19 pandemic to violent conflicts and natural disasters, being connected has allowed us to continue working, learning, and communicating.

How policymakers have responded to these emergencies has played a large part. In particular, as new paper by the World Bank Group’s Development Committee shows, more agile regulation has accelerated digitalization and unleashed innovation. In today’s global context of several overlapping crises, this needs to become the norm. Secure and resilient internet infrastructure is a fundamental necessity.

The planet is on fire — but 2022 won’t crack the grim top 5 list of warmest years on record

Dave Levitan

Trains slowing to a crawl for fear of buckling railroad tracks. Wildfires licking the sides of a highway. Airport runways melting.

Reports of all sorts of heat-related calamities sweated forth from the U.K. this week, as the country saw its all-time highest temperature record fall multiple times over the course of a scorching Tuesday. Elsewhere in Europe, the heat wave fueled wildfires in France, Spain, Portugal and Greece, while in Asia, China expected temperatures in the triple digits across a number of provinces. In the U.S., parts of the Plains hit 115 degrees and more than 100 million people were under heat advisories.

It may feel like the planet has reached a new and more extreme pinnacle of disaster, but from a pure numbers standpoint, this isn’t even a top five apocalypse.

22 July 2022

China’s ‘Zero COVID’ Policy Is Hurting Its Semiconductor Dreams

Zhenze Huang and Xiuqun Sun

Notwithstanding the alleviation of Shanghai’s rigid lockdown in early June, the market was obsessed with gloomy prognostications about the city and even the prospects for China’s national economy, especially the supply chain of major industrial sectors, such as integrated circuits (IC). In recent years, the Chinese government has been more ambitious than ever to revitalize its IC industry through the “nationwide system” in response to the fierce tech competition with the United States. Yet, there is no doubt that Beijing’s adherence to pursuing a “zero-tolerance” attitude toward local outbreaks has also heavily hit the development of high-end industries.

In the face of two urgent priorities, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will need to make a strategic choice.

The “Nationwide System” and China-U.S. Tech Competition