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Is China's Economic Power a Paper Tiger? | The National Interest

The people complaining about U.S. decline in the face of China’s rise under President Obama have been replaced by new people complaining about the same thing under President Trump. The debate over policy in the two administrations plainly matters, but it should not obscure basic facts. The most important of these facts is that, in terms of total economic resources, China is not in America’s league and may not even be catching up.

‘Uncle Trump’ Finds Fans in China - The New York Times

They refer to him as “Uncle Trump,” “Grand Commander” and “Donald the Strong.” After Mr. Trump’s visit to the Forbidden City on Wednesday with President Xi Jinping, one fan wrote on social media, “Long live Emperor Trump!” Mr. Trump’s Chinese fans praise his irrepressible style, his skill as an entertainer and his willingness to say what he thinks. Many also like the fact that he seems less inhibited than previous American presidents about recognizing China as a superpower and as an equal on the global stage.

Was Trump aiming at North Korea's Rocket Man or his friend next door? | US news | The Guardian

But was the North Korean dictator Trump’s true target, or was it really the man next door? Some experts suspect Trump’s incendiary ultimatum was in fact directed at Chinese president Xi Jinping, whose assistance he is seeking in the crusade against what he dubbed Kim’s “depraved regime”. Bonnie Glaser, director of the China power project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said: “The way Trump speaks about North Korea … suggests he believes that if he is very, very tough that he can somehow persuade other countries to do more against North Korea: that he can bully them into doing more.”

Was Trump aiming at North Korea's Rocket Man or his friend next door? | US news | The Guardian

t Kim Jong-un and the twisted and reckless “band of criminals” he said surrounded him. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” the US president warned during his bellicose debut at the UN general assembly. Donald Trump threatens to 'totally destroy' North Korea in UN speech Read more But was the North Korean dictator Trump’s true target, or was it really the man next door? Some experts suspect Trump’s incendiary ultimatum was in fact directed at Chinese president Xi Jinping, whose assistance he is seeking in the crusade against what he dubbed Kim’s “depraved regime”.

Donald Trump considering military parade for Fourth of July | US news | The Guardian

The president, who has recruited three current and retired generals for his senior leadership team, also noted that the US spends $700bn on the military. Washington already holds quite a few parades, including some with military participation that are held on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. But those patriotic processions typically involve marching bands and uniformed elements, not the grand display of military hardware that Trump envisions.

Inside Assad's prisons: Horrors facing female inmates in Syrian jails revealed | The Independent

Carla del Ponte, a distinguished international war crimes prosecutor, resigned from her position on the UN’s investigative panel into human rights abuses in the civil war earlier this month because she was so frustrated with its inability to hold criminals to account. “I give up. The states in the [UN] Security Council don’t want justice,” she told media when it emerged she had quit. The Security Council, she said, should have appointed a court similar to those for the Rwanda and Yugoslavian conflicts – a decision vetoed by permanent member Russia, which is a key backer of the Assad government.  While the investigative panel has compiled thousands of interviews and other documentation of possible war crimes committed by all sides in Syria, the work was pointless without a tribunal, she added.

U.S.-China Relations: A Game of Strategic Reassurance | Foreign Affairs

More importantly, for the future of U.S.-China relations, the Kissinger formula of strategic reassurance is the way out of Graham Allison’s Thucydides Trap, which suggests that the relationship between a rising power and an incumbent power is fraught with uncertainty, distrust, and fear. China, as the rising power, has to convince the United States, the incumbent power, that it is not a threat to U.S. security and is not out to undermine U.S. core interests. Similarly, the United States has to convince China that Chinese core interests will not be harmed. However, given the uncertainty, distrust, and fear that underlie U.S.-China relations, both countries may be unable to make and keep credible commitments to each other.

Trump Eyes China Sanctions While Seeking Its Help on North Korea - The New York Times

“The Chinese operate from the conviction that China remains and will always be the No. 1 strategic threat to the U.S., so the issue of North Korea will be used against China — through sanctions, provocations and everything else,” she said. China was also annoyed, Ms. Sun said, that the United States refuses to discuss a “grand bargain” or “end game” on the future of the Korean Peninsula. Of most interest to China, she said, is the future disposition of American forces in South Korea, now standing at 28,500 troops. The phone conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi will be followed by a visit from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who is expected in Beijing on Monday. General Dunford will also visit South Korea and Japan.
One major reason why China’s soft power strategy is not currently working is that Beijing simply has spent the last decade exerting significant hard power, particularly in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, its near neighborhood. And, its growing willingness to wield coercive strategic and economic power has made its soft power a more difficult sell, even when Beijing is lavishing funds on One Belt, One Road and cultural, media, and educational projects overseas. Thus, while people in the region recognize China’s growing hard power, Beijing’s soft power is a really tough sell.
Qatar adopted its second, more aggressive strategy in 2011 with the Arab Spring uprisings, which it heavily supported. For Qatar, this was a historic opportunity to break Saudi Arabia’s regional dominance (most Arab autocrats were Saudi-aligned) by becoming a regional peer. Each time a power vacuum opened somewhere, both Qatar and Saudi Arabia would rush to fill it first. Sometimes this meant backing competing political factions, as in Tunisia. But elsewhere, the rivalry became violent, as in Libya, where Qatar and Saudi Arabia supported opposite sides in what became a civil war. In Egypt, Qatar backed the Muslim Brotherhood, which triumphed in a 2012 presidential election. When Egypt’s military deposed the president in a 2013 coup, Saudi Arabia and its allies offered the military government a $12 billion aid package.

Merkel, After Discordant G-7 Meeting, Is Looking Past Trump - The New York Times

Clearly disappointed with European leaders’ inability to persuade Mr. Trump to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Ms. Merkel said on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as reliable as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.” Her strong comments were a further indication that Mr. Trump’s trip did not go down well with influential European leaders and that it seems, at least from the Continent’s perspective, to have increased trans-Atlantic strains rather than diminish them. Ms. Merkel did not mention Mr. Trump by name, and she also spoke of Britain’s decision to quit the European Union, a move seen as weakening trans-Atlantic ties and leaving the Continent more exposed. […]Speaking on the campaign trail after contentious summit meetings in Belgium and Italy, Ms. Merkel said: “The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over.”

NATO - Opinion: Questions and answers at the joint press conference by Chairman of the Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, by Supreme Allied Commander Europe - General Curtis M. Scaparrotti and by Supreme Allied Commander Transformation - General Denis Mercier, 17-May.-2017

General Petr Pavel (Chairman, NATO Military Committee): Let me start by saying that we do not understand terrorism only as Daesh. Terrorism is obviously much broader and countering terrorism is not just about defeating Daesh. And even defeating Daesh, we can distinguish between, let’s say, physical defeat of the elements but it doesn’t say anything about defeating the ideology. So this will be a long lasting fight that will not end by taking Mosul and Raqqa. I think this fight will go on a much broader front, both military but also economic, social, political, religious and it will be a long time activity.

Tactical voting to beat the Tories: does the maths equal a coalition? | Science | The Guardian

At present, the Tories look set to win about 392 seats with Labour crashing to the Hagueish total of 170. A perfectly-executed Lab/Lib pact could reduce that to about 361, handing 25 seats to Labour and 6 to the Lib Dems. If all progressive voters were directed by an all-seeing omnipotent god-being to perfectly optimize their vote then the Tories would land in the 330s. That would still leave them over 100 ahead of Labour (on 217) and be enough to form a majority. In summary: even if a progressive coalition made any sort of political sense in a reality where Tim Farron and Nicola Sturgeon would have to prop up a guy who can’t even claim a majority of his own MPs; it would require a polling error unlike anything we’ve ever seen combined with literally an act of God for it to work.

Trump Reversals Hint at Wall Street Wing’s Sway in White House - The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump made three startling economic policy reversals on Wednesday, stepping away from pledges he made as a candidate and even policies he supported only days ago. The shifts confounded many of Mr. Trump’s supporters and suggested that the moderate financiers he brought from Wall Street are eclipsing the White House populist wing led by Stephen K. Bannon, the political strategist who is increasingly being sidelined by the president. In a series of interviews, Mr. Trump said he no longer wanted to label China a currency manipulator — a week after telling The Financial Times that the Chinese were the “world champions” of currency manipulation. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the president said he no longer wanted to eliminate the Export-Import Bank. And he said that he might consider reappointing Janet Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve when her term ends next year.
WASHINGTON — President Trump made three startling economic policy reversals on Wednesday, stepping away from pledges he made as a candidate and even policies he supported only days ago. The shifts confounded many of Mr. Trump’s supporters and suggested that the moderate financiers he brought from Wall Street are eclipsing the White House populist wing led by Stephen K. Bannon, the political strategist who is increasingly being sidelined by the president. In a series of interviews, Mr. Trump said he no longer wanted to label China a currency manipulator — a week after telling The Financial Times that the Chinese were the “world champions” of currency manipulation. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the president said he no longer wanted to eliminate the Export-Import Bank. And he said that he might consider reappointing Janet Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve when her term ends next year. Continue reading the main story The Trump White House Stories about President Trump’s administration. Court Approved Wiretap on Trump Campaign Aide Over Russia Ties APR 12 To Detain More Immigrants, Trump Administration to Speed Border Hiring APR 12 After Campaign Exit, Manafort Borrowed From Businesses With Trump Ties APR 12 Trump Says He Didn’t Know Bannon Until Campaign, but They Met in 2011 APR 12 U.S. Takes Sharper Tone on Russia’s Role in Syria APR 12 See More » RECENT COMMENTS c harris 22 minutes ago Trump throws white middle class voters under the bus. Bannon's usefulness to Trump is wearing thin. Health Care Industry implores Trump to... Quandry 1 hour ago Trump took a page from Elmer Gantry. He has always been full of hot air. A lot of hot air, but no substance beyond one sentence. A working... Purity of 3 hours ago I know several middle class people who ultimately voted for Trump because "Clinton was just a pawn of Goldman Sachs." Ironic. SEE ALL COMMENTS WRITE A COMMENT Yet before the election, he regularly denounced China and said that Ms. Yellen should be “ashamed” of herself because of what he said was her political bias. Mr. Trump’s latest pronouncements suggest he is moving toward a more mainstream economic approach, although on other issues that he discussed on Wednesday, like a tax overhaul and health care, his policy and strategy appeared muddled.

U.S. Takes Sharper Tone on Russia’s Role in Syria - The New York Times

In Washington, Moscow and New York, the Trump administration publicly chastised Mr. Putin but privately worked to hash out increasingly bitter differences with him. At the same time, Mr. Trump embraced NATO — a military alliance he had previously derided as obsolete — as an effective and vital force for peace and security in a region where Russia has been an aggressive actor. During his presidential campaign, and in his early days in office, Mr. Trump’s approach to foreign policy included speaking warmly of Mr. Putin and the prospects of a United States alliance with Russia. He had also questioned the usefulness of NATO, and the concept of an alliance for common defense to counterbalance Moscow’s belligerence. In an interview that aired on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Putin was partly to blame for the conflict in Syria and denounced him for backing President Bashar al-Assad, whom he called an “animal.” Later at the White House, Mr. Trump said that Russia had likely known in advance of the Syrian government’s plan to unleash a nerve agent against its own people, and asserted that the United States’ relations with Moscow were at an “all-time low.”

Trump Is a Chinese Agent - The New York Times

he big story everyone is chasing is whether President Trump is a Russian stooge. Wrong. That’s all a smoke screen. Trump is actually a Chinese agent. He is clearly out to make China great again. Just look at the facts. Trump took office promising to fix our trade imbalance with China, and what’s the first thing he did? He threw away a U.S.-designed free-trade deal with 11 other Pacific nations — a pact whose members make up 40 percent of global G.D.P. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was based largely on U.S. economic interests, benefiting our fastest-growing technologies and agribusinesses, and had more labor, environmental and human rights standards than any trade agreement ever. And it excluded China. It was our baby, shaping the future of trade in Asia. Imagine if Trump were negotiating with China now as not only the U.S. president but also as head of a 12-nation trading bloc based on our values and interests. That’s called l-e-v-e-r-a-g-e, and Trump just threw it away … because he promised to in the campaign — without, I’d bet, ever reading TPP. What a chump! I can still hear the clinking of champagne glasses in Beijing. Continue reading the main story Thomas L. Friedman Foreign affairs, globalization and technology. Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria? APR 12 President Trump’s Real-World Syria Lesson APR 5 Calling On a Few Good Men MAR 22 Donald, Have I Got a Deal for You MAR 15 Peanut Butter on the Trump Team’s Chins MAR 7 See More » Now more Asian nations are falling in line with China’s regional trading association — the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — which has no serious environmental, intellectual property, human trafficking or labor standards like TPP. A Peterson Institute study said TPP would “increase annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion” by 2030, without changing total U.S. employment levels. Goodbye to that.

Is Free Speech Good for Muslims? - The New York Times

Most Muslims watching this debate would probably sympathize with Mr. Rose, thinking he was defending them. Mr. Rose, however, was merely defending a liberal principle: freedom for all. It was the very principle that led him to publish the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad — cartoons seen by many Muslims, including me, as offensive. This is just one of many manifestations of a paradox Muslims, especially those of us living in the West, face in the modern world: They are threatened by Islamophobic forces against which they need the protections offered by liberalism — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, nondiscrimination. But the same liberalism also brings them realities that most of them find un-Islamic — irreverence toward religion, tolerance of L.G.B.T. people, permissive attitudes on sex. They can’t easily decide, therefore, whether liberalism is good or bad for Muslims. Continue reading the main story Mustafa Akyol Religion and politics in Turkey. What Jesus Can Teach Today’s Muslims FEB 13 Why It’s Not Wrong to Wish Muslims Merry Christmas DEC 23 Turkey’s Populists See an Unlikely Ally NOV 16 The Plot Against America or the Plot by America? OCT 28 The Problem With the Islamic Apocalypse OCT 3 See More » The same paradox can also be seen in the debates over female dress. When illiberal secularists in the West interfere regarding the outfits of conservative Muslim women — with bans on the burqa, the “burkini” or even just the head scarf — the defense is found within liberalism: Women have the right to “dress as they please.” This, of course, is a perfectly legitimate argument in a free society.

An Abdication on Human Rights - The New York Times

Across the world, American diplomats champion, and sometimes fund, nongovernment organizations that fight for human rights, often in authoritarian countries. Despotic leaders often go to great lengths to malign these groups and blunt their influence by limiting their ability to be seen and heard. Last Tuesday, the Trump administration borrowed from the despot playbook by boycotting hearings in Washington before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Participants heard from critics of the administration’s executive orders on immigration policy. Another session dealt with the plight of Japanese immigrants in Latin America who were forcibly taken to an American internment camp during World War II. A third featured experts who raised concerns about challenges to people seeking asylum in the United States.

Nikki Haley Calls United Nations Human Rights Council ‘So Corrupt’ - The New York Times

UNITED NATIONS — The American envoy to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, described the United States on Wednesday as the “moral conscience” of the world, and she dismissed the United Nations Human Rights Council as “so corrupt” without offering evidence. Ms. Haley said the United States would never close its doors to foreigners who flee persecution, even as she defended the Trump administration’s travel ban, which closed the door to refugees from six war-torn, mainly Muslim nations. She insisted that American taxpayers should get value for the money they contribute to the United Nations. She said nothing about whether the United States would help head off a potential humanitarian disaster from famine that the United Nations has warned is looming over 20 million people abroad. Ms. Haley’s remarks, made at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York early Wednesday morning, were her first as ambassador to an audience of foreign policy experts. She called it “an intimidating crowd.” Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE Delicate but Critical Dance for New U.N. Leader and New U.S. Envoy MARCH 16, 2017 UNITED NATIONS MEMO World’s Diplomats, Seeking a Bridge to Trump, Look to Haley FEB. 12, 2017 Nikki Haley’s Path: From Daughter of Immigrants to Trump’s Pick for U.N. NOV. 23, 2016 She briefly channeled her boss, President Trump, by describing the United Nations as “basically a club” that needed to be disrupted. “The fact is, a wave is building throughout the world,” Ms. Haley said. “It’s a wave of populism that is challenging institutions like the United Nations, and shaking them to their foundations.”

AP Investigation: 5 Things to Know About UN Sex Abuse - The New York Times

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Here are key findings on AP's investigation into in the U.N.'s peacekeeping crisis: 1. The AP reviewed 12 years of UN data on sexual misconduct and exploitation, and found an estimated 2,000 allegations against peacekeepers and personnel — signaling the crisis is much larger than previously known. 2. More than 300 of the allegations involved children, AP found, but only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time. 3. A U.N. investigation report from 2007 obtained by AP shows that 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers sexually exploited and abused at least nine Haitian children. No one was jailed, and Sri Lanka kept participating in U.N. missions in Haiti and elsewhere. 4. Sri Lanka refuses to specify what happened in the investigations into the soldiers who were disciplined for the child sex ring in Haiti and why so few were punished given that the U.N. internal report cited 134 soldiers. 5. In the latest U.N. annual report, Sri Lanka is cited for its "best practices" involving a paternity payment made recently to a Haitian woman. It took Sri Lanka nearly a decade to make the payment.

China Bets on Sensitive U.S. Start-Ups, Worrying the Pentagon - The New York Times

Chinese firms have become significant investors in American start-ups working on cutting-edge technologies with potential military applications. The start-ups include companies that make rocket engines for spacecraft, sensors for autonomous navy ships, and printers that make flexible screens that could be used in fighter-plane cockpits. Many of the Chinese firms are owned by state-owned companies or have connections to Chinese leaders. The deals are ringing alarm bells in Washington. According to a new white paper commissioned by the Department of Defense, Beijing is encouraging Chinese companies with close government ties to invest in American start-ups specializing in critical technologies like artificial intelligence and robots to advance China’s military capacity as well as its economy.

Why Brexit Is Best for Britain: The Left-Wing Case - The New York Times

Although Lexiteers have little patience for the national nihilism of “Davos Man,” the globalist elite, we are no xenophobes. We voted Leave because we believe it is essential to preserve the two things we value most: a democratic political system and a social-democratic society. We fear that the European Union’s authoritarian project of neoliberal integration is a breeding ground for the far right. By sealing off so much policy, including the imposition of long-term austerity measures and mass immigration, from the democratic process, the union has broken the contract between mainstream national politicians and their voters. This has opened the door to right-wing populists who claim to represent “the people,” already angry at austerity, against the immigrant. It was the free-market economist Friedrich Hayek, the intellectual architect of neoliberalism, who called in 1939 for “interstate federalism” in Europe to prevent voters from using democracy to interfere with the operation of the free market. Simply put, as Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission (the union’s executive body), did: “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

E.P.A. Chief Doubts Consensus View of Climate Change - The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said on Thursday that carbon dioxide was not a primary contributor to global warming, a statement at odds with the established scientific consensus on climate change. Asked his views on the role of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas produced by burning fossil fuels, in increasing global warming, Mr. Pruitt said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” “But we don’t know that yet,” he added. “We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.” Mr. Pruitt’s statement contradicts decades of research and analysis by international scientific institutions and federal agencies, including the E.P.A. His remarks on Thursday, which were more categorical than similar testimony before the Senate, may also put him in conflict with laws and regulations that the E.P.A. is charged with enforcing. Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE E.P.A. Head Stacks Agency With Climate Change Skeptics MARCH 7, 2017 RECENT COMMENTS Contractor March 10, 2017 When those selected to lead decide to lie, it is time to terminate them. go back to Russia with your friends. Patrick Sorensen March 10, 2017 What should we expect from a lifetime fossil fuel industry bootlicker? RHR March 10, 2017 "The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit since late 19th century". That is about 2 degrees F in 100... SEE ALL COMMENTS His statements appear to signal that the Trump administration intends not only to roll back President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, but also to wage a vigorous attack on their underlying legal and scientific basis. A report in 2013 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of about 2,000 international scientists that reviews and summarizes climate science, found it to be “extremely likely” that more than half the global warming that occurred from 1951 to 2010 was a consequence of human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Climate Change May Be Intensifying China’s Smog Crisis - The New York Times

But new research suggests another factor may be hindering China’s efforts to take control of its devastating smog crisis: climate change. Changing weather patterns linked to rising global temperatures have resulted in a dearth of wind across northern China, according to several recent studies, exacerbating a wave of severe pollution that has been blamed for millions of premature deaths. Wind usually helps blow away smog, but changes in weather patterns in recent decades have left many of China’s most populous cities poorly ventilated, scientists say. The findings, some of the first to link climate change to smog, may escalate pressure on Chinese leaders to move more swiftly to shutter steel factories and coal-fired power plants amid rising public anger over smog caused by soot and gases like sulfur dioxide. The research could also push China to assume an even more forceful role in international efforts to curb climate change by reducing carbon emissions, at a time when the United States, under President Trump, appears to be backing away from the issue.

A history of chemical weapons in Syria - Yahoo

The horror of the gas attacks during World War I led to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which banned the use of chemical and biological weapons in war. The OPCW was formed in 1997 to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty against the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons and their precursors. Any chemical used for warfare is deemed a chemical weapon by the convention. All states who have signed the treaty have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying any of their stockpiles of chemical weapons, as well as any facilities that produce them. As of March 2016, 192 states have signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Israel has signed, but not ratified the treaty, while Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan have neither signed nor ratified the agreement, according to a fact sheet from the OPCW. Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 and submitted to inspections and removal of what it said were stores of chemical weapons in 2014, though opposition groups maintained they had not given a full account. The OPCW says that nearly 95 percent of the world’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons have been destroyed under their verification.