For the second year in a row, the world is spending a little less on the military. Asia, however, has failed to get the memo. The region is spending more at a time when many others are spending less.
After a year of futile diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the South China Sea disputes, the Philippines has risked permanent estrangement with China by pressing ahead with an unprecedented arbitration case before a United Nations court at The Hague, while ironing out a new security pact with the U.S.
To pivot, according to the venerable Oxford English Dictionary, means “to turn as on a pivot.” Which takes us to the noun, which seems more appropriate for describing the Obama administration’s Pacific policy: “That on which anything turns; a cardinal or central point.”
Last year, the Philippines brought a complaint against China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal. It was a master stroke by the Philippine government.
Thubten Wangchen, a Tibetan Buddhist monk with Spanish nationality, has become a thorn in Spain-China relations since Spanish High Court judge Ismael Moreno sought international arrest orders for top Chinese leaders last month following a petition by the monk.
Dissatisfied with the Philippines’ response to the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, which led to the death of eight Hong Kong residents and injuries to seven others, authorities took the unprecedented decision late January to impose travel restrictions against Filipino officials. The restrictions took effect Feb. 5.
Watchdog groups here are warning that a deal has been struck that would see Chinese investors fund a massive, contentious dam on the Congo River, the first phase of a project that could eventually be the largest hydroelectric project in the world.
On the 100th
anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Europe is at peace. There are no major border disputes. The countries form a unified economic bloc instead of a patchwork of jostling alliances.
With the 2014 deadline for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in sight, analysts here are urging Washington policymakers to drop the term ‘Af-Pak’ and recognise the importance of Pakistan beyond its implications for Afghanistan.
In a move that promises to further raise geopolitical tensions in the region, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a high-profile visit to the Yasukuni Shrine associated with 14 Class-A war criminals and dedicated to 2.5 million soldiers from the Japanese Imperial era.
There are conflicts old and new crying for solution and reconciliation, not violence, with reasonable, realistic ways out.
Controversy and confusion have marked Kenya’s transition from analogue to digital television in keeping with the 2015 International Telecommunication Union deadline when all analogue signal transmission will cease.
The Year of the Snake has been full of unpleasant surprises for Chinese living in Kyrgyzstan. Against a backdrop of rising economic nationalism and weak law enforcement, Chinese migrants complain they’re being targeted for robberies and extortion, especially by law-enforcement officers who are supposed to protect them.
If U.S. President Barack Obama conceived his foreign policy prospects for 2014 as a popular child’s board game, the snakes he will have to jump over significantly outnumber the ladders that can propel him to success.
At this time of hope for what the new year may bring, it would be useful to look at the legacy we carry with us from the year we leave behind. It was a year full of events - wars, rising social inequality, unchecked finance, the decline of political institutions, and the erosion of global governance.