Road to nowhere:China’s Belt and Road Initiative at tipping point

Pakistan, Sri Lanka debt crises threaten Beijing’s regional influence

By Adnan Aamir, Marwaan Macan-Markar, Shaun Turton and Cissy Zhou – AUGUST 10, 2022

The drive to Pakistan’s port of Gwadar takes seven and a half hours from Karachi via the Makran coastal highway. Much of the 600-km route is deserted, with no restaurants, restrooms or even fuel stations. On a recent journey, around 200 vehicles in total could be counted during the entire drive.

Arriving in the city on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast, Chinese and Pakistani flags are ubiquitous, and Chinese-financed construction projects loom, but the city is spookily devoid of economic activity. Near the seafront, broad avenues are curiously empty of vehicles. Inside the city center, the roads are narrow, congested and covered with foul smelling drain water, with few multistory buildings aside from the Chinese-built port compound. 

It is hard to visualize Gwadar as the launch pad of a new global paradigm, but that is what Beijing would have the world believe.

Nine years ago it was plucked out of obscurity —  a backwater in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan region — and presented as China’s commercial window onto the Indian Ocean, a hub for regional integration under the Belt and Road Initiative, which was to harness the juggernaut of the Chinese economy to the goal of Asian economic development. 

The BRI is an audacious program of lending, aid and infrastructure contracts totaling over $880 billion, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

The initiative, which includes pledges to 149 countries, aims to promote Chinese-led regional integration — and sow economic dependence on Beijing.

First announced in a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as the “Silk Road,” the BRI was fleshed out in April 2015 with the announcement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), stretching from Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang. The CPEC showcased the China-Pakistan “all-weather friendship” with $46 billion in pledged funds that has since grown to $50 billion. It was to be the backbone of the now renamed Belt and Road Initiative.

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Arctic is warming nearly four times faster than the rest of the world

The Earth is approximately 1.1℃ warmer than it was at the start of the industrial revolution. That warming has not been uniform, with some regions warming at a far greater pace. One such region is the Arctic.

new study shows that the Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than the rest of the world over the past 43 years. This means the Arctic is on average around 3℃ warmer than it was in 1980.

This is alarming, because the Arctic contains sensitive and delicately balanced climate components that, if pushed too hard, will respond with global consequences.

Why is the Arctic warming so much faster?

A large part of the explanation relates to sea ice. This is a thin layer (typically one metre to five metres thick) of sea water that freezes in winter and partially melts in the summer.

The sea ice is covered in a bright layer of snow which reflects around 85% of incoming solar radiation back out to space. The opposite occurs in the open ocean. As the darkest natural surface on the planet, the ocean absorbs 90% of solar radiation.

When covered with sea ice, the Arctic Ocean acts like a large reflective blanket, reducing the absorption of solar radiation. As the sea ice melts, absorption rates increase, resulting in a positive feedback loop where the rapid pace of ocean warming further amplifies sea ice melt, contributing to even faster ocean warming.

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Why Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’ remains so controversial decades after its publication

Author Salman Rushdie is in the hospital with serious injuries after being stabbed by a man at an arts festival in New York State on Aug. 12, 2022. The following article was published on the 30th anniversary of the release of The Satanic Verses.

One of the most controversial books in recent literary history, Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses,” was published three decades ago this month and almost immediately set off angry demonstrations all over the world, some of them violent.

A year later, in 1989, Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khomeiniissued a fatwa, or religious ruling, ordering Muslims to kill the author. Born in India to a Muslim family, but by then a British citizen living in the U.K., Rushdie was forced to go into protective hiding for the greater part of a decade.

Angry demonstrators protest against the book in 1989. Robert CromaCC BY-NC-SA

What was – and still is – behind this outrage?

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The controversy

The book, “Satanic Verses,” goes to the heart of Muslim religious beliefs when Rushdie, in dream sequences, challenges and sometimes seems to mock some of its most sensitive tenets.

Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammed was visited by the angel Gibreel – Gabriel in English – who, over a 22 year period, recited God’s words to him. In turn, Muhammed repeated the words to his followers. These words were eventually written down and became the verses and chapters of the Quran.

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Công nghiệp dược Việt Nam: Vẫn đứng trên chân người khác

H.LỘC – L.ANH 11/07/2022 17:00 GMT+7

TTCT Mặc dù được đánh giá là quốc gia có tiềm năng về dược liệu, y học cổ truyền, sản xuất vắc xin và phát triển hóa dược, nhưng VN hiện vẫn phải nhập khẩu trên 90% nguyên liệu sản xuất thuốc. Đây là lý do ngành công nghiệp dược vẫn ở trong tình thế chông chênh.

 Dây chuyền sản xuất thuốc hiện đại tại Nhà máy Traphaco Hưng Yên. Ảnh: T.Trang

Theo phân loại của WHO, công nghiệp dược VN mới ở gần cấp độ 3, tức có công nghiệp dược nội địa, có sản xuất thuốc generic (thuốc sao chép) và xuất khẩu một số dược phẩm. 

Còn theo phân loại 5 mức phát triển của Tổ chức Phát triển công nghiệp Liên Hiệp Quốc (UNIDO), công nghiệp dược VN mới ở mức 3 – “công nghiệp dược nội địa sản xuất đa số thành phẩm từ nguyên liệu nhập”. 

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US State Secretary Antony J. Blinken’s Remarks to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

US Department of Staate





AUGUST 1, 2022Play Video

[TĐH: Bold and Italic are added by me]

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon.  Secretary General Guterres, President Zlauvinen – thank you – Director General Grossi:  Thank you all for your longstanding leadership on nonproliferation.

I noted that Prime Minister Kishida of Japan is here as well this morning, which sends a very powerful message.  Earlier this year, he reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to nonproliferation in a joint statement with President Biden.

And a very special thanks to the foreign ministers, the deputy foreign ministers, the teams who have traveled to New York for these meetings and to get us off to a good start.

It’s great to be with you all here in person today, especially – especially – given the critical role the NPT has played in upholding the global nonproliferation regime.

More than five decades ago, at the height of the Cold War, representatives of 18 nations drafted the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

In the years that followed, nearly every country on Earth has joined the NPT.

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