onsdag 1. februar 2023

Torbjørn Færøvik: India minnes Mahatma Gandhi 75 år etter at han ble drept

Paris 27. januar 1973. Under en blek morgensol stanset en lang rekke svarte limousiner foran det elegante Hotel Majestic på Rue Laperouse. Ut av bilene strømmet et stort antall dresskledde menn som straks samlet seg rundt et bord i hotellets ballsal. En time senere var Vietnam-krigen offisielt over.

”USA vil stanse alle sine militære handlinger mot territoriet til Den demokratiske republikken Vietnam”, sto det i avtalen de signerte. USA ville trekke alle sine soldater ut og overlate landet til vietnameserne. Samtidig lovet regjeringene i Nord- og Sør-Vietnam å legge ned våpnene og slutte fred.

Samme dag fløy avtaleteksten, kjent som Paris-avtalen, over verden. Jubel brøt ut i mange land, ikke minst i USA, hvor folk flest var grundig lei av krigen. Unge amerikanske menn som hadde gruet seg til å dra til Vietnam for å slåss, gråt av glede. Nyheten var også en påminnelse om hvor meningsløs krigen hadde vært. Blodbadet hadde pågått i årevis. På slagmarken lå mer enn tre millioner døde og sårede, og 58.000 amerikanske soldater hadde vendt hjem i kiste.

US and India to boost defense and technology cooperation as China threat grows

The United States and India are taking steps to strengthen their defense partnership, officials said Tuesday, the latest sign of cooperation between the two countries in the face of an increasingly assertive China. The plans emerged following two days of meetings in Washington between government and business officials from the two countries and include greater collaboration on military-related industries and operational coordination in the Indo-Pacific.

Key among them are cooperation on developing jet engines and military munitions technology, according to a White House fact sheet. Specifically, it said the US government would look to expedite a review of an application by US manufacturer General Electric to build jet engines in India for use on indigenous Indian aircraft. Operationally, the US and Indian militaries would look to build up maritime security and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the fact sheet said.

US Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval that “building alliances and partnerships are a top priority” for the Pentagon, in what she said was “the region’s increasingly contested strategic environment,” according to a Defense Department statement.

Chinese province ends ban on unmarried people having children

A Chinese province of more than 80 million people will lift restrictions on unmarried people having children and remove caps on the number of babies as part of a national drive to increase the country’s birth rate. Sichuan’s health commission announced on Monday it would allow all people to register births with the provincial government from 15 February. It will also remove limits on the number of birth registrations for any parent.

Until now, the commission had allowed only married couples who wanted to have up to two children to register with local authorities. In a government notice, Sichuan authorities said the measures “shift the focus of childbearing registration to childbearing desire and childbearing results”. The measures will be in place for five years. National reproduction policies do not explicitly ban unmarried women from having children but proof of marriage is often required for parents to access free services including prenatal healthcare, a mother’s salary during maternity leave, and job protection.

Those who seek to register a birth outside of marriage often face heavy fines in order to get the child a hukou – China’s crucial household registration that gives the child access to education and social services.

China winds back online study ban after students left scrambling to get to Australia

The Chinese government has wound back its snap ban on recognising online degrees obtained from foreign institutions after tens of thousands of students were left scrambling for flights. The ban, announced on Saturday, required all Chinese students enrolled to study online with overseas providers to be on campus for semester one – due to start in a matter of weeks in Australia. At the time of the announcement there were about 50,000 Chinese nationals with student visas for Australia but remained offshore, 8,000 of whom had visas due to expire by 30 June.

How US Marines are being reshaped for China threat

The US military commitment to the Pacific was underlined in a White House meeting between the leaders of the US and Japan. But behind the scenes, this renewed focus on Asia has sparked a fierce debate within one of its most fabled military forces, writes defence analyst Jonathan Marcus. A bitter family row has erupted in one of the US military's most hallowed institutions, the US Marine Corps.

A host of its former senior commanders are lining up to attack the current leadership over plans for its reinvention. At issue is a plan to adapt the service for a potential conflict against China - a plan dubbed Force Design 2030. Almost from its inception this plan has been under attack with a cohort of retired generals taking the unusual approach of going to the press to air their frustrations. Retired senior officers have been meeting regularly; speaking at seminars and think tanks; and devising their own alternative to a plan which they see as a disaster for the Marine Corps' future.

How Indians crack one of the world's toughest exams

For close to three years, Gamini Singla stayed away from friends, did not go on a vacation and avoided family meetings and celebrations. She stopped bingeing on takeaways, going to the cinema and stepped away from social media. Instead, at her family home near the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, she woke up at the crack of dawn, pored over text books and studied for up to 10 hours a day. She crammed, did mock tests, watched YouTube videos of achievers and read newspapers and self-help books. Her parents and brother became her only companions. "Loneliness will be your companion. This loneliness allows you to grow," Ms Singla says.

She was preparing for the country's civil service exams, one of the toughest tests in the world. Rivalled possibly only by gaokao, China's national college-entrance exam, India's Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams funnel young men and women every year into the country's vast civil service.

søndag 29. januar 2023

Lakes on Tibetan Plateau Freezing Late, Melting Early: Study

The lakes on the world’s highest plateau showed a trend of delayed freezing and melting that took place earlier than usual over the four decades up until 2017, a new study found, underscoring the impact of climate change on some of the planet’s most vulnerable regions.

Around four-fifths of the 132 lakes monitored on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau saw the length of time they were covered by ice shortened by a certain period ranging from a few days to over 50 days between 1978 and 2017, according to the study published Friday. It was published in Scientific Data, Nature’s open access scientific journal, by researchers from the state-backed China Academy of Sciences.

Known as Asia’s “water tower,” the Tibetan Plateau is home to many glaciers and lakes. It is the source of 10 major rivers in Asia, providing water supply to almost 2 billion people.

How Climate Whiplash Is Upending Life in Rural China

This summer, Jiangxi province suffered a record-breaking drought and high temperatures. People in Jiangxi, especially farmers, suffered severe losses throughout the summer, when there was almost no rainfall. Dried-up rice fields, cotton fields, and fish ponds could be seen almost everywhere across the province. From an aerial view, we saw that China’s largest freshwater lake — Poyang Lake — turned into a cracked landscape, with only small muddy pools of water visible.

Experts warn that with global warming already underway, extreme events like these are likely to become a new normal. In October of 2022, reporters from Sixth Tone and our sister publication The Paper paid a visit to Jiangxi, interviewed people making a living on the banks of Poyang Lake, and documented the historical drought and how it was affecting people’s lives.


China’s Spring Festival 2023 in Numbers

Packed movie theaters. Crowded tourist sites. Congested transportation. This year’s Lunar New Year has seen a surge of people and activities across sectors, as millions of people welcomed the Year of the Rabbit without being preoccupied too much about COVID-19. This was the first time in three years that many traveled home for their annual family reunion or took restriction-free leisurely trips.

Sixth Tone lists notable statistics that suggest how businesses are gradually recovering this holiday season after China eased most of its pandemic control measures last month.

Is it Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year? Depends who you ask

Last week, K-pop singer Danielle Marsh asked her online fans what they were doing for Chinese New Year. A profuse apology followed two days later, in which she promised to “try to be more careful” and acknowledged the “hurt” she had caused. Her crime? The “Chinese” that preceded “New Year.”

A longstanding debate over the usage of “Chinese New Year” versus “Lunar New Year” has reignited in recent weeks as people around the world celebrated the holiday, with brands and celebrities coming under fire for using either phrase. Advocates of “Lunar New Year” point out that the holiday is celebrated by various countries, each with their own specific rituals, foods, histories and nuances – which are flattened and erased by an erroneous reference to “Chinese New Year.”

Marsh pointed to this in her apology, saying her original wording had been “inappropriate” given the holiday’s regional diversity. A number of organizations, including the Associated Press Stylebook used by many newsrooms, recommend using Lunar New Year instead of Chinese New Year.


‘It was all for nothing’: Chinese count cost of Xi’s snap decision to let Covid rip

When Sunny thinks back to March last year, she laughs ruefully at the ordeal. The 19-year-old Shanghai student spent that month locked in her dormitory, unable to shop for essentials or wash clothes, even banned from showering for two weeks over Covid fears. In April, the entire city locked down. It was the beginning of the chaos of 2022, as local Chinese authorities desperately tried to follow President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid decree while facing the most virulent strain of the virus yet: Omicron. “Everyone was panicking, no one was ready,” she tells the Observer.

By the end of the year, zero-Covid was gone. Sunny says she felt instantly “relieved” that lockdowns were over but her feelings soon turned to anger as it became clear China’s government had opened up the country, knowing it wasn’t ready. “I felt it was all for nothing,” Sunny says.

lørdag 28. januar 2023

Torbjørn Færøvik: Femti år siden Paris-avtalen om Vietnam

Paris 27. januar 1973. Under en blek morgensol stanset en lang rekke svarte limousiner foran det elegante Hotel Majestic på Rue Laperouse. Ut av bilene strømmet et stort antall dresskledde menn som straks samlet seg rundt et bord i hotellets ballsal. En time senere var Vietnam-krigen offisielt over.

”USA vil stanse alle sine militære handlinger mot territoriet til Den demokratiske republikken Vietnam”, sto det i avtalen de signerte. USA ville trekke alle sine soldater ut og overlate landet til vietnameserne. Samtidig lovet regjeringene i Nord- og Sør-Vietnam å legge ned våpnene og slutte fred.

Samme dag fløy avtaleteksten, kjent som Paris-avtalen, over verden. Jubel brøt ut i mange land, ikke minst i USA, hvor folk flest var grundig lei av krigen. Unge amerikanske menn som hadde gruet seg for å dra til Vietnam for å slåss, gråt av glede. Nyheten var også en påminnelse om hvor meningsløs krigen hadde vært. Blodbadet hadde pågått i årevis. På slagmarken lå mer enn tre millioner døde og sårede, og 58.000 amerikanske soldater hadde vendt hjem i kiste.

WOMEN BALK AT CHINESE GOVERNMENT PLANS TO RAISE BIRTH RATE


Last week, the Chinese government announced that the country’s population had declined for the first time in decades, setting off a cacophony of alarm bells among those concerned about China’s demographic destiny. Chinese women, by contrast, have largely ignored the hoopla. As demonstrated in numerous commentaries over traditional and social media this week, women have little interest in participating in the state’s latest pro-natalist project.

“[I]n terms of China’s population governance,” explained Yun Zhou, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Sociology, “women’s bodies and women’s reproductive labor in different ways are being utilized or co-opted as the ways in which to achieve […] the state’s demographic, political or economic growth.” But many women have had enough. Some are explicitly linking their aversion to childbearing with their poor treatment by society and the government, which Yuan Yang at The Financial Times described as a women-led “birth strike”.

UYGHURS CHALLENGE THE WORLD’S SELECTIVE MEMORIES OF GENOCIDE ON HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

January 27 is designated by the U.N. as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, to commemorate the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide. The world’s resolve to prevent such crimes against humanity from happening again appears to have fallen short in the case of Xinjiang, argued Uyghur activists this month. Concentration camps continue to operate and the Chinese state continues to subject the region’s ethnic minorities to grave human rights abuses, both inside and outside of the camps, while attempting to obfuscate the reality to foreign observers. During this time of remembrance, Uyghurs challenge the international community to confront the true meaning of “Never Again.”

New testimonies reveal the dire state of affairs in Xinjiang. Earlier this month, Kazakh activist and former journalist Zhanargul Zhumatai sent a plea for help from her home in Urumqi. Previously detained in a concentration camp for two years and 23 days, allegedly for having Instagram and Facebook on her phone, she now receives almost daily calls from local authorities. Christoph Giesen and Katharina Graça Peters from Der Spiegel shared her story this week and highlighted the persistent harassment she has faced since her release

In Beijing's backyard, U.S. demonstrates its military might

Over a few hours under grey skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Nimitz, in a demonstration of U.S. military power in some of the world's most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs like "Fozzie Bear", "Pig Sweat" and "Bongoo" emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago.

The group's commander, Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, said the tour was part of a U.S. commitment to uphold freedom of passage in the waters and airspace of a region vital to global trade. "We are going to sail, fly and operate wherever international norms and rules allow. We're going to do that safely and we're going to be resolute about that," Sweeney told Reuters on Friday.

"It's really just about sailing and operating obviously with our allies and partners in the area and assuring them of free and open commerce and trade in the Indo-Pacific."

Holiday trips within China surge after lifting of COVID curbs

Lunar New Year holiday trips inside China surged 74% from last year after authorities scrapped COVID-19 curbs that had stifled travel for three years, media reported on Saturday. The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year in China, when huge numbers of people working in prosperous coastal cities head to their hometowns and villages for family reunions.

But for three years people were told not to travel during the holiday, with those who insisted facing the risk of snap lockdowns, multiple COVID tests, quarantine and even admonishment by their work units.

The Atlantic Council: China and the New Globalization


The unitary globalized economy no longer exists. Driven in significant part by security considerations, a new and more diverse globalization is both required and being built. The transition is ongoing, and its final form is yet to be determined. 

Many of the causal factors for this very significant change revolve around China and the consequent responses to its actions by the United States, other democracies of the transatlantic alliance, and the advanced democratic economies of the Indo-Pacific. There are other important factors generating this new globalization including the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war both on energy markets and on trade and investment with Russia generally, as well as the global requirements for mitigating and adapting to climate change. However, China has been a critical element in what might be described as the “maximum trade-centered globalization,” which has dominated trade and investment policy in the three decades since the end of the Cold War.

This issue brief describes the still-developing new globalization focusing on the issues surrounding China. A fundamental challenge that China presents arises because its actions have generated significant security and economic challenges, yet it nonetheless is a massive trade and investment partner for the “advanced democratic economies”, which for purposes of this analysis include the Group of Seven (G7) countries, plus Australia, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and the European Union. Adapting to a new globalization requires establishing a strategic approach that resolves the inherent contradictions between those conflicting considerations.

Book Review: Frank Dikötter - China After Mao

China’s rise to superpower status between 1976, when Mao Zedong died, to the first two decades of the 21st century derived from economic, political, and geopolitical factors, not least of which was the illusion among Western statesmen and businessmen that economic development in China would lead to political reform. One of the great merits of Frank Dikotter’s new book China After Mao is that it dispels the once widely accepted view that the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) post-Mao had sacrificed their belief in Marxism at the altar of economic growth and prosperity.

Dikotter, who has written seminal books on Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, shows in China After Mao that the CCP, even as it allied with the United States against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, was planning to reverse what it called a “century of humiliation” at the hands of Western powers by eventually replacing the United States as the world’s preeminent power.