GROWING WARMTH AMONG ASEAN NATIONS FOR CHINA
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit this year was warmer toward China. There was no criticism over its aggressive moves in the disputed maritime territory like the summit witnessed in recent years.
In fact, China won approval from Southeast Asian leaders this weekend. The summit ended in Manila with a statement noting “the improving cooperation between Asean and China” in the South China Sea.
The leaders also welcomed “progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea” by the middle of this year, and recognized “the long-term benefits” of peace, stability and sustainable development in the region. They did not even mention lasts year’s ruling by an international court that rejected China’s claims to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea in a case filed by the Philippines.
ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NORTH KOREA
Despite decades of sanctions and international isolation, the economy in North Korea is showing surprising signs of life. Experts say the nascent market forces are beginning to reshape North Korea, complicating Western efforts to isolate its leader.
This means it will be easier for it to withstand the onslaught of tougher sanctions that the U.S. is considering. Estimates of annual growth range from 1 percent to 5 percent, although the country is predominantly poor. A growing class of merchants and entrepreneurs is thriving, the capital is seeing a construction boom, and there are more cars than ever before. At least 40 percent of the population in North Korea is now engaged in some form of private enterprise.
But will the economic changes and opening up of information channels weaken the government’s iron-like grip on society?
POLITICAL ACTIVITY UP, BUT NO IMMEDIATE THREAT FOR NAWAZ SHARIF
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may have escaped the wrath of the court on Panama Papers, but his political troubles may just be beginning. However, he is lucky because his opponents are not in a strong position to mount a credible challenge.
Opponents Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan are calling for Sharif to exit, but neither of them really believe an early election is actually on the cards.
“Five years can be a lifetime in politics, but it’s too short to make folk forget the horrors of government by Zardari,” writes Cyril Almeida in Dawn.
Khan, who is the master of drawing attention to himself, did exactly that — with his dramatic declaration that he was offered bribe in return for silence on Panama Papers.
Nawaz isn’t going to resign anytime soon. In fact, he is busy pumping more megawatts into the system to quell any unrest from power-starved voters.
TRUMP HAS TAUGHT LIBERALS TO HATE
In just 100 days, Donald Trump has emboldened Liberals like never before. He has taught them to hate. Liberals are now discovering what conservatives have known all along, says a New York Times columnist. Negative energy is a powerful force.
They are now experiencing the near-apocalyptic revulsion that conservatives have often felt toward Democratic presidents. They are channelling the sort of all-encompassing outrage that has long fuelled grass-roots conservatism.
Suddenly, left-of-centre people get what it is like to have a president who is the living negation of all they value, a president who makes them ashamed before their children and terrified for their future.
So far, the lesson of this presidency is that when it comes to building political power, love does not, in fact, trump hate.
HOW TO ENGAGE WITH TRUMP – WORLD LEADERS’ DILEMMA
Donald Trump poses serious foreign policy dilemma for some world leaders. People outside the U.S. hate Trump. Will they punish their leaders for working with him, asked The Washington Post.
Leaders have to please the thin-skinned, Twitter-happy Trump but also their own publics, who largely detest him. Foreign leaders fear that working with him may be political poison back home.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto reached out but Trump is not relenting on the border wall.
British Prime Minister met Trump and complimented him on his “stunning election victory,” and invited him for a state visit to the United Kingdom. Then Trump signed his travel ban, and May had to call it “divisive and wrong.” A petition to withdraw the invitation began.
But as his wings get clipped at home, Trump looks less menacing abroad. Leaders can take comfort.
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Picture Courtesy: Twitter @ASEAN