Category Archives: Asia

Battle of the Ages to Stop Eurasian Integration

The Raging Twenties started with a bang with the targeted assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani.

Yet a bigger bang awaits us throughout the decade: the myriad declinations of the New Great Game in Eurasia, which pits the US against Russia, China and Iran, the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.

Every game-changing act in geopolitics and geoeconomics in the coming decade will have to be analyzed in connection to this epic clash.

The Deep State and crucial sectors of the US ruling class are absolutely terrified that China is already outpacing the “indispensable nation” economically and that Russia has outpaced it militarily. The Pentagon officially designates the three Eurasian nodes as “threats.”

Hybrid War techniques carrying inbuilt 24/7 demonization will proliferate with the aim of containing China’s “threat,” Russian “aggression” and Iran’s “sponsorship of terrorism.” The myth of the “free market” will continue to drown under the imposition of a barrage of illegal sanctions, euphemistically defined as new trade “rules.”

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Posted by on January 17, 2020 in Asia


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Why Modi’s Thugs Attacked My University

On January 5, masked men and women stormed the New Delhi campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where I am a professor, and attacked the students and faculty they found there with sticks, iron rods, and scythes. The university administration, security guards, and local police not only failed to protect the innocent victims of this rampage, which included vandalism and trespassing, in addition to the violence; they watched and were complicit in the assault. This is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India.

JNU is a highly respected institution. But with India’s leadership promoting an aggressive form of Hindu nationalism – including by enacting the blatantly unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which has rendered millions of Muslim Indians stateless – the university has come to represent the enemy: the liberalism and tolerance that is supposed to underpin Indian democracy.

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Posted by on January 14, 2020 in Asia



Turn up the heat on climate change deniers

The new year has started with obvious signs that global warming is not an invention of scientists, as some politicians claim. Devastating bush fires in Australia, destructive floods in Jakarta and a heatwave in Norway that has people sunbathing rather than skiing are proof of climatic conditions having been shaken up.
Yet the doubters have not changed their views, putting their nations’ economies and industries ahead of international efforts to keep temperatures from rising. They need to change their ways or the disastrous consequences of their poor judgment will be ever-more evident.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, like United States President Donald Trump, is a climate change sceptic. He refuses to accept that the fires that have claimed at least two dozen lives and destroyed nearly 2,000 homes in southeastern states are the result of exceptionally hot and dry conditions brought about by global warming.

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Posted by on January 11, 2020 in Asia, Europe, European Union, Oceania


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In the Footsteps of Xuanzang in Kyrgyzstan

At the start of the Tang dynasty, in the early 7th century, a young wandering monk embarked on a 16-year-long voyage from the imperial capital Chang’an (today’s Xian) to India to collect Buddhist manuscripts. At the time Chang’an was six times bigger than Rome at its height, with a population of over one million the epicenter of Asian civilization.

History ended up converting Xuanzang into a legend and a national hero in China, although in the West he would never reach Marco Polo levels of popularity.

Xuanzang had embarked on a quest that still resonates today. He wanted to know whether all men or just an enlightened few could attain Buddhahood. There was only one way to find out: ride all the way to India and bring back Sanskrit texts to China, especially from the Yogacara school of Buddhism, which professed that the outside world did not exist: it was merely a projection of one’s consciousness.

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Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Asia



Has Narendra Modi Finally Gone Too Far?

The street protests now sweeping India appear to be validating one of the oldest and most trusted maxims of politics: sooner or later, authoritarians will go too far. The authoritarian in this case is Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister. Since his reëlection victory, last May, Modi has mounted an aggressive campaign targeting the country’s Muslim minority, which numbers two hundred million.

In August, Modi’s government revoked the autonomy of Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state, and detained thousands of its young men. That same month, the government created a citizenship registry in the northeastern state of Assam, a move that could render millions of Muslims stateless. In each case, Modi met little resistance.

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Posted by on December 19, 2019 in Asia



Southeast Asia leaps ahead in high-tech financial services

Bank customers in Asia are swapping their wallets for smartphones, using apps for everything from buying groceries to sending money home from abroad to investing.

Need a loan? Forget filling out paperwork and waiting in line for a bank teller. Now you can apply for credit on your phone and receive an answer almost immediately, thanks to screening that uses artificial intelligence. Financial services are increasingly available anytime, anywhere.

Emerging economies, where many people still do not have access to banking services, are “leapfrogging” the traditional style of retail banking and jumping straight to digitized financial services. For a growing number of people, a visit to a brick-and-mortar bank seems old fashioned.

“I put 70% of my salary into my electronic money account,” said Bayu Wicaksono, a 23-year-old engineer living in Jakarta. Most of the things he buys he pays for with e-money from Ovo using his smartphone.

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Posted by on December 16, 2019 in Asia, Economy, Uncategorized


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Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India

On August 11th, two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent soldiers in to pacify the Indian state of Kashmir, a reporter appeared on the news channel Republic TV, riding a motor scooter through the city of Srinagar. She was there to assure viewers that, whatever else they might be hearing, the situation was remarkably calm. “You can see banks here and commercial complexes,” the reporter, Sweta Srivastava, said, as she wound her way past local landmarks. “The situation makes you feel good, because the situation is returning to normal, and the locals are ready to live their lives normally again.” She conducted no interviews; there was no one on the streets to talk to.

Other coverage on Republic TV showed people dancing ecstatically, along with the words “Jubilant Indians celebrate Modi’s Kashmir masterstroke.” A week earlier, Modi’s government had announced that it was suspending Article 370 of the constitution, which grants autonomy to Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. The provision, written to help preserve the state’s religious and ethnic identity, largely prohibits members of India’s Hindu majority from settling there. Modi, who rose to power trailed by allegations of encouraging anti-Muslim bigotry, said that the decision would help Kashmiris, by spurring development and discouraging a long-standing guerrilla insurgency. To insure a smooth reception, Modi had flooded Kashmir with troops and detained hundreds of prominent Muslims—a move that Republic TV described by saying that “the leaders who would have created trouble” had been placed in “government guesthouses.”

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Posted by on December 13, 2019 in Asia, Reportages



The climate crisis has sparked a Siberian mammoth tusk gold rush

Glancing into the 50-metre-deep hole the two tusk hunters smiled. Together, they heaved out a caramel-coloured mammoth tusk from the soil where it had been frozen for at least 10,000 years. Their dog, too, seemed to be interested in the find. “Because it’s been locked in the ice for that long it still smelled of the meat, it still smelled of the animal,” says Amos Chapple, who spent three weeks photographing mammoth tusk hunters at work in the Siberian region of Yakutia.

The tusk hunters cleaned their find with dry grass and quickly wrapped it in cling film to keep it moist and preserve valuable weight that would push up its price when it came to selling it. Then the precious cargo, along with two other tusks, went on a winding five hour speedboat journey down a river in northeastern Siberia. The 65kg relic was later sold for $34,000 (£26,800) to a Chinese dealer waiting in the tusk hunters’ village, earning them a total of around $100,000 (£77,000) in just eight days. Everything they left behind – mammoth skulls and bones – was consumed by the elements.

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Posted by on December 13, 2019 in Asia, Europe, Reportages


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The Rape of India’s Soul

Injustice, discrimination, and violence are hardly unheard of in India. But today, they are being normalized, enabled, and even encouraged by the state, which is promoting an aggressive form of Hindu nationalism that looks increasingly like mob rule. India’s diversity and complex civilizational legacy are now under assault, and it is shaking the very foundations of Indian democracy.

In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir – India’s only Muslim-majority territory – of its special status, which had granted it considerable autonomy, and split it into two “union territories” over which the central government now wields more direct control.

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Posted by on December 13, 2019 in Asia



Trials & Tribulations of Central Asia

Crossing Tajikistan from west to northeast Dushanbe to the Tajik-Kyrgyz border and then Kyrgyzstan from south to north all the way to Bishkek via Osh, is one of the most extraordinary road trips on earth. Not only is this prime Ancient Silk Road territory but now it is being propelled as a significant stretch of the 21st century New Silk Roads.

In addition to its cultural, historical and anthropological pull, this road trip also lays bare some of the key issues related to the development of Central Asia. It was particularly enlightening to hit the road as previously, at the 5th Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, I had had the pleasure of moderating a panel titled”Central Asia at the Intersection of Global Interests: Pros and Cons of Being a Heartland.”

The Heartland in the 21st century could not but be a major draw. Any serious analyst knows that Central Asia is the privileged corridor for both Europe and Asia at the heart of the New Silk Roads, as the Chinese-led BRI converges with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).–Tribulations-of-C-by-Pepe-Escobar-Central-Asia_Trials-191205-129.html

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Posted by on December 13, 2019 in Asia


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