Victoria Hudson

United States leader in the world economy without China, the Trump idea
Americas

United States leader in the world economy without China, the Trump idea

The United States President Donald Trump, in the middle of the electoral campaign, spoke again about China and the project to strengthen the US as the undisputed leader of the world economy. Even without Beijing, the American superpower will be able to maintain its strategic economic, commercial, and productive influence on a global level. The incumbent president, determined to win the elections in November, is focusing heavily on economic recovery. And on the rivalry with the enemy China. For this reason, for Trump, one can also speak of Washington independence from Beijing as regards trade relations.

Donald Trump again raised the idea of ​​separating the US and Chinese economies, in what is known as decoupling, in a speech on Monday 7 September. The incumbent president vision is clear, as reported by Reuters: The United States would lose money if the world two largest economies stopped doing business. Tump anti-Chinese rhetoric is now a cornerstone of his electoral campaign. The hard-line against Beijing is one of the recurring themes and a strategy absolutely to confirm for the next four years.

Trump has promised that, in the future, his administration will ban federal contracts with companies that outsource to China and hold Beijing accountable for allowing the coronavirus to spread around the world. That is his mission statement: “We will transform America into the manufacturing superpower of the world and end our dependence on China once and for all. Whether it is decoupling or massive tariffs as I have already done, we will end our dependence on China because we cannot rely on it.”

Trump’s nationalization plan also provides for the reintegration of jobs from China to the United States and the imposition of tariffs on companies that leave America to create jobs in other countries, primarily an Asian nation. Will decoupling be in the US Republican agenda? Some officials and analysts argue that the economies of the two countries are so intertwined that such a move is impracticable but, Washington will continue to pressure Beijing to bend it to its will (especially when it comes to trade rules).

The president did not fail to praise his nation’s economic progress, painting a bright future for US power. Specifically, Trump predicted a real economic rebound next year and said the US is now at the final turning point regarding the coronavirus pandemic. The enthusiasm of the election campaign has translated into a scenario of great optimism: “We are currently witnessing the most rapid recovery of the labor market from a historic economic crisis. Next will be the biggest year for the country’s economy. “

Trump spoke three days after the Department of Labor reported the creation of nearly 1.4 million jobs in August and a drop in the unemployment rate from 10.2% in July to 8.4%. The United States recovered about half of the jobs lost during the pandemic, although economists and health experts fear that a revival from COVID-19 in the fall and winter could curb those gains.

Belgrade attacks Russia, how the Balkan geopolitics is changing
Geopolitics

Belgrade attacks Russia, how the Balkan geopolitics is changing

On 7 July 2020, Serbia experienced the most turbulent political unrest since the fall of Slobodan Milošević in 2000. Protesters across the country were shocked by the government’s decision to re-impose a blockade to contain the second wave of Covid-19. Thousands of protesters took to the capital, Belgrade, and other Serbian cities such as Novi Sad, Niš, Kragujevac, and Smederovo. Protesters stormed the parliament building, and riot units and special forces of the Serbian police intervened against the demonstrators with tear gas and violence.

However, as the “War on the Rocks” blog reports, something rather unusual happened amid the riots: pro-government tabloids accused pro-Russians and right-wing anti-Europeans of organizing the protests. Since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, the Serbian government has nurtured its partnership with Russia to gain support on the Kosovo issue, build leverage with the West and win votes among pro-Russian sides of the country. Serbian electorate. Therefore, these accusations by the Serbian media and the tabloids are interesting. The government’s willingness to blame Russia for the protests demonstrates the scale of the political crisis in Serbia, and highlights, how Serbian-Russian ties are no longer what they used to be and the power that President Aleksandar Vučić has. Independent institutions no longer exist, and Vučić is ruling a deeply polarized society, where people can only channel their anger into the streets.

The editorial line of the Serbian tabloids does not mean that Belgrade will soon break ties with Moscow, but it does show that the geopolitics of the Balkans is changing. Russia can no longer count on the loyalty of the Serbian government, which is now willing to scapegoat Russia to win the favor of the West.The coalition led by Vučić and his Serbian Progressive Party is made up of former collaborators of Milošević and has been in power since 2012. Vučić and his party now dominate Serbian institutions, including the national security apparatus and the media.

When the pandemic hit Serbia, Vučić responded with a state of emergency and a strict curfew. After two months, the government ended the state of emergency, allowing citizens to return to their lives. Despite the virus, Serbia has made it possible to play football and tennis matches with a high turnout of the public and without social distances. Serbia was the first country in Europe to hold national elections after the blockade. The parliamentary elections on 21 June had low turnout as the opposition boycotted the vote. As a result, the Serbian Progressive Party won a two-thirds majority in parliament. The victory removed the control from Vučić’s power.

After the elections, a report came out according to which the Serbian government hid the Covid-19 data. Vučić, after power securing, decided to reintroduce the weekend curfew in Belgrade.This decision sparked protests with a strict and, in many cases, excessive police response.The accusation against Russia was the scapegoat for the government’s media machine. Interestingly, pro-government tabloids avoided mentioning Vladimir Putin’s name in their headlines, and Vučić denied allegations of Russian involvement. Allegations of Russian interference continued even as the protests faded. On July 23, SrpskiTelegraf reported that the deep Russian state, without Putin’s permission, was trying to overthrow Vučić. The Russian ambassador to Serbia reacted on Twitter, saying that Russia is “unpleasantly surprised and revolted by the text on the front page, which without any evidence tries to promote an incredible hype about Russia’s” Deep State.” Putin was not named directly, but the fact that the Russian ambassador reacted to a tabloid cover story shows that the Russian government recognizes that Belgrade is, at least for now, turning its back on Moscow.

Tensions on the Ladakh border between India and China increase
Asia Pacific Focus

Tensions on the Ladakh border between India and China increase

Tensions on the Ladakh border between India and China have intensified since May. The Chinese Ministry of Defense, through the voice of the head of the department Wei Fenghe, informed his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, that Beijing holds New Delhi entirely responsible for the escalation that has occurred in Ladakh in recent months:

“Border issues have had a very significant impact on relations between our countries and our armed forces recently. The causes and the real situation that led to the current tensions are clear: the Indian side is fully responsible for it.” Wei Fenghe reported earlier today. The official then reiterated that China, given the current situation, will defend its sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country at all costs.

Fenghe then announced that the two ministers wished for a peaceful resolution of the current border dispute: “The parties must scrupulously abide by the agreements reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They must insist on resolving problems through dialogue and negotiation,” Wei concluded, adding that it will now both sides have to ensure a rapid de-escalation. And that a situation of full stability can be returned as soon as possible on the Sino-Indian border.

“Border issues have had a very significant impact on relations between our countries and our armed forces recently. The causes and the real situation that led to the current tensions are clear: the Indian side is fully responsible for it.”

Wei Fenghe

In turn, Indian minister Singh stressed the importance of ensuring peace and stability on the border between the two countries and of keeping open a channel of dialogue between Beijing and New Delhi at all times. In the hours immediately preceding the joint declaration by the two defense ministers, the foreign departments of India and China also called for a rapid and peaceful resolution of the tensions.

The deterioration in relations between India and China in the Ladakh area occurred at the beginning of May, when several clashes happened between the soldiers of the two countries in the region close to Pangong Tso Lake. The parties subsequently consolidated their military presence on the effective line of control, a substitute for the unmarked border in Ladakh. A further tightening in relations took place on June 15 after a clash between the military of the two countries, in which 20 Indian soldiers died while the Chinese side did not disclose information about the victims.

In October 1962, tensions over control of the north-western part of Aksai Chin, the eastern part of Ladakh, led to the so-called Sino-Indian War, a short, but intense, conflict that killed at least 2,000 soldiers between the two sides belligerents. The outcome of the war was that China partially expanded its control over that region, but the exact border was never established or recognized by India. Since then, tensions and frictions on the uncertain border have never ceased.

With the green revolution, the mines are back in Europe
Europe

With the green revolution, the mines are back in Europe

In Europe, the mines are back. Mining in Europe, a symbol of the first industrial revolution and now largely entrusted to other areas of the planet, will be indispensable for the green change of the Old Continent’s economy. The green economy needs certain raw materials extracted just by few countries. For example, the European need for lithium, essential for electric cars, will increase by at least 18 times between now and 2030 and by 60 times by 2050. Today in few Nations, there are mines for the extraction of Lithium: Chile, Australia, Argentina, and China. In Europe, Portugal has limited reserves of the metal, which the European Union now included for the first time on its list of primary raw materials.

Lithium processing takes place today mostly in China. Even graphite, essential for batteries, is extracted for 65% in China, where they process it in very polluting plants.  Today the EU depends on China for supplies. The Commission is also launching a communication on an action plan for fundamental raw materials and a report on crucial commodities. That presents scenarios for 2030 and 2050. With the green deal, to avoid moving from dependence on foreign from hydrocarbons to foreign dependency on other raw materials, the Commission calls on the Member States to diversify their supplies of commodities.

It also stresses the importance of increase extraction capacity in the European Union. As the European Commissioner for Industry Thierry Breton says, it is fundamental to invest in processing, recycling, refining, and separation of rare earths processes to be more resilient and sustainable. To make better use of the resources available in Europe, the Commission will work with Member States to identify mining and commodity processing projects in the EU that can be operational by 2025. EU will pay particular attention to the regions where there are still mines and other areas in transition, about the skills and knowledge accumulated in the field of mining and processing of raw materials.

Increasing the processing capacity, in addition to that of extraction, is also essential to reduce dependence on abroad. Resuming mining in Europe, however, can be complicated. In Covas do Barroso, in the municipality of Boticas, in the district of Vila Real, east of Porto, in the north of Portugal, a lithium mining project has long raised protests and sees strong opposition from the local communities.

Geopolitics at the time of COVID-19
Geopolitics

Geopolitics at the time of COVID-19

New agreements, new policies, and new international horizons. The Leopards saying “everything changes so that nothing changes” perhaps this time could lose its meaning, because the States around the world, involved in the coronavirus health challenge, could field alliances and synergies never seen before. The EU-US-China triad is catalysing investments to access a vaccine, and we are increasingly moving in international fora under the banner of unity.

The chancelleries of the globe have understood that solid alliances are globally needed or the agreements already in place reinforced. You don’t go far alone. That is the case of the EU, which has planned a series of investments to make the vaccine available to all 27 member States, bypassing the national and local ambitions of its members. Too much, too much money and unsustainable investments require new approaches to the international race against Covid-19.

Compared to past epidemics, like the Hong Kong of 1969, despite the thousands of deaths, Western countries have not reacted with the same promptness. Perhaps, because of the perception of the geographical remoteness of the emergency has counted. Furthermore, Covid-19 threatens above all an elderly ruling class who leads an elderly society, and therefore, governments have felt directly called into question. But what if this epidemic hit young people?The reaction would have been quite different, perhaps less drastic. Covid-19 has set in motion a process that is unavoidable at this point. The awareness that the current state of things appears as “finished” and not “indefinite” over time has put modern society in crisis. Some question the capitalist mechanisms of our economy, others the promptness of health care, others the solidity of the world’s geopolitical hierarchy.

The certainties that came from the World Health Organization are creaking, and even the sacred monsters of top-level scientific publishers such as The Lancet have made missteps. Like in the case of chloroquine. In all this, the vaccine race is currently the only certainty, albeit within the international context, in which each power seeks to take advantage of its financial and technological capabilities to get ahead of the others.The race to the new atomic, as the tycoon Bill Gates prophesied a few years ago, is having several political repercussions. The feeling is that science, declined in the treatment against Sars-Cov-2 infection, can rise to a new ambition of power and decision making in the international institutions that matter.

Trump, in his logic of unscrupulous attack, thought that blaming China could be electorally profitable. Probably, he is ready to change course when will emerge a commercial compensation. Trump is well aware that public opinion, in general, does not look positively to China, but he has understood that Beijing appears more collaborative. In this battle for global supremacy, this head-on attack will not end up in his favor. China knows how to respond.

Just think of how many nations have received Chinese support. The electoral advantage is not guaranteed unless a series of commercial compromises that the American community will deem profitable. Among other things, with the large donations of personal protective equipment, China has expanded its influence, despite a US retreat. Beijing has made itself more available than Washington. Also, because China first of all understood how to deal with the health crisis.

Europe has ignored Italy’s request for urgent help in February, The Guardian reveals
Europe

Europe has ignored Italy’s request for urgent help in February, The Guardian reveals

At the end of February, Italy asked for urgent help to deal with the spread of the new Coronavirus but the countries of the European Union ignored the request while the virus was crossing the Continent. The British newspaper The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed today reconstructing the first stages of the pandemic in Europe and the initial lack of coordination in the response among the European institutions.

The British newspaper explains step by step how Europe has become the epicenter of the pandemic after China and denounces the shocking silence with which the EU has welcomed the Rome’s request, when the number of infections in Italy tripled every 48 hours. The Guardian writes that, on February 26, an urgent message was sent from Rome to the European Commission at the Berlaymont building in Brussels. The specifications of what Italy needed were uploaded on the EU’s Cecis system (Common Emergency Communication and Information System).

According to Brussels Commissioner for Emergency Management, Janez Lenarcic, there would have been no “lack of solidarity” at the origin of European silence before the demands of the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Lenarcic explained to the authors of the investigation that support to Italy didn’t arrive due to “lack of equipment”. “It was not only Italy that was not prepared nobody was,” the EU commissioner reiterated. The EU was unprepared from the earliest stages of what would later in March be declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The investigation also shows that Italy did not take part in a first meeting called by the European Commission for health security, on 17 January, because the officials in charge did not notice the email inviting the meeting. Among the topics discussed during the talks, there was also the management of direct flights from Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, to three European cities: London, Paris and Rome.

Some 180,000 European citizens, across the European economic area and the UK, have died from coronavirus and 1.6 million have been infected since the disease crept on to the continent in December last year courtesy of a mystery patient zero.The true number of deaths is almost certainly higher than so far recorded.

NATO and Europe try to block China buying spree
Geopolitics

NATO and Europe try to block China buying spree

“We need to do more to protect Western technology from being bought up by Chinese companies,” John Sawers, the former chief of Britain’s MI6, told Sky News last week. “I don’t think it’s an existential threat in the way the Soviet Union was in the Cold War, but nevertheless there is going to be deep rivalry over control of technology.” While Europe’s economic relations with China continue to move forward cautiously, now that economies are facing a massive downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, both NATO and EU officials are warning governments to block Beijing buying spree.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking after a videoconference of defense ministers Wednesday, noted that the geopolitical effects of the pandemic could be significant if economic difficulties made some allies more exposed for situations where critical infrastructure can be sold out. He said ministers had discussed the point that “resilience” is enshrined in Article 3 of the alliance’s founding treaty and talked about “making sure that we have resilient, critical infrastructure, industries, and that we are able to, for instance, provide critical equipment during crises.”

According to the latest report of the Netherland Institute of International Relations, Chinese investments in European seaports have increased rapidly in recent years. This process has triggered a debate in Europe on the significance of, and how to deal with, growing Chinese influence in European ports. This process is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – in particular, its maritime component, the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) – and is among the financial and geopolitical effects of China’s growing role in international affairs.

“This time around I think there’s more attention and there’s more scrutiny of China’s activities, and there are greater protection measures put into place,” Erik Brattberg, director of the Europe Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Deutsche Welle’s online magazine. “We have yet to see how successful and effective those measures will be should China seek to take advantage of an economic crisis in Europe.” He added.

At the beginning of the Chinese expansion, Western European countries believed they would not be vulnerable to Chinese influence, but they were wrong. New measures were introduced by the EU a year ago. They are part of the so-called foreign investment screening framework, aimed at safeguarding the bloc’s strategic interests. By October 2019, EU member states were due to have a process in place under which they notify each other and the European Commission if an investment offer from outside the EU could be uncertain. In light of Chinese and Russian influence operations during the pandemic, the commission has urged governments to speed up the implementation of this process.

Russiagate: New FBI documents raise doubts about Michael Flynns trial
Americas

Russiagate: New FBI documents raise doubts about Michael Flynns trial

The US federal judge for the District of Columbia, Emmet G. Sullivan, has revealed new documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that raise concerns about the handling of investigations on General Michael Flynn, former national security adviser of the President Donald Trump. Flynn was the first high-profile defendant in the “Russiagate” trial on the hypothetical collusion between the president Trump’s election campaign and Russia, which kept the current presidential administration under check for two years.

The documents released on Wednesday show details of a debate among F.B.I. officials before they interviewed Mr. Flynn at the White House and about how to address legal, investigative and political issues, as well as other inner workings of a high-level law enforcement review. The materials include a written note from Bill Priestap, then director of FBI counter-espionage, in which the agency’s agents are suggested to conduct the interrogations against General Flynn: “What should be our goal? Does admitting the truth, or pushing him to lie?”. The notes say, adding: “If we push him to admit that he violated the Logan Act, then we can pass the matter to the Justice department, and let them decide”.

The Logan Act is the law that prohibits negotiations by unauthorized US citizens with foreign governments. The document seems to describe exactly what happened with Flynn in 2017: the official admitted to having violated the Logan Act through his paid participation in some events organized by the Turkish government. Flynn has resigned from the role of adviser of President Donald Trump. He was subsequently tried and sentenced, in a high-profile affair in the context of investigations into Russia’s electoral interference in the 2016 United States presidential electoral campaign.

The notes were taken on January 24, 2017, only days after Mr. Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his discussions with Mr. Kislyak. As part of his guilty appeal, Mr. Flynn stated he knew lying to the FBI was a crime, but he has since said he was innocent. Mr. Flynn is now asking Judge Sullivan to allow him to withdraw from the guilty plea, saying he was forced into the decision. The judge, who carefully walked Mr. Flynn through the plea in 2018, has not ruled on the request.

The trial against Flynn and his sentence are considered, according to “CNN”, one of the main successes of the investigation on Russiagate by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, which lasted two years and led to the sentencing of several figures close to Trump, mostly for offenses related to the main vein of the investigation. However, Mueller’s work did not lead to the confirmation of the alleged contacts between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Mr. Trump has said he fired Mr. Flynn for lying to the vice president and the FBI, but late Wednesday, the US president took Twitter to say that the investigation against his former national security adviser was a “scam.” As for now, Flynn and his lawyers intend to reopen the file, and accuse the FBI and the US Justice department of irregularities in the investigation procedures.

Artificial intelligence to fight coronavirus
Americas

Artificial intelligence to fight coronavirus

Predictive data analysis, remote monitoring, 3D printing, chat boxes and robots can be useful to contain and reduce the contagion of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), to follow the positives at a distance, to program resources, to disinfect and help people sick in total safety. By analyzing news reports, social media platforms, and government documents, artificial intelligence (AI) can learn to detect an outbreak. Artificial intelligence company Infervision launched a coronavirus AI solution that helps front-line healthcare workers detect and monitor the disease efficiently. Imaging departments in healthcare facilities are being taxed with the increased workload created by the virus. A consortium called C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute (C3.ai DTI) has been also created in USA with a fund research for a total of almost 6 million dollars aimed at mitigating the pandemic using artificial intelligence.

The consortium is made up of academic and non-academic institutions, including the universities of Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, as well as the C3.ai and Microsoft groups. According to reports on the C3.ai DTI website, the consortium’s mission is to attract the world’s best-trained researchers in the field of artificial intelligence in a joint, coordinated and ongoing effort in this venture.

The first research call launched by the consortium, for a total of 5.8 million dollars, is entitled “Techniques based on artificial intelligence to mitigate the pandemic” and the proposals of scientists from all over the world can be sent by May 1. There are many objectives in the field for this call: from the use of artificial intelligence to develop new drugs against the virus or to convert drugs already in clinical use with other indications, from designing clinical trials to the development of models to simulate the effectiveness of prevention and making predictions for the near future. The researchers will also be able to use supercomputers and all the artificial intelligence tools.

European Council gives go-ahead to support from EU budget
Europe

European Council gives go-ahead to support from EU budget

Following a video conference with leaders of political groups in the European Parliament, President David Sassoli called an extraordinary plenary session for March 26 to approve measures to tackle COVID-19. It will be the first plenary session to use a remote voting system. “I want to express my warmth and solidarity to all those suffering and all those who have lost loved ones. I want to stress my admiration and support for all those who are on the front line fighting this pandemic”. Sassoli said, affirming that “Europe is moving. Faced with this dramatic situation, with a duty to defend lives, livelihoods, and stability for all, the European Union is acting. Of course, we had to fight against national selfishness, but now it is a clear how we are going to face this emergency”. Last night the ECB decided to make 750 billion Euros available to Parliament’s calls, to the measures of the Commission, to those of the States, to possible additional initiatives, such as mobilizing another 500 billion from the European Stability Mechanism, the so-called bailout fund. “We are talking about an intervention that, overall, is close to two trillion euros. The greatest demonstration of the power of European solidarity in a long time.

Comparable to the Marshall plan, the programme that helped us get back from the ruins of World War II”. Stressed Sassoli.
Yesterday, EU ambassadors agreed the Council’s position on two legislative proposals which will free up funds to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the urgency of the situation, both proposals were approved without amendments. The so-called Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative will make available €37 billion of Cohesion funds to member states to address the consequences of the crisis. About €8 billion of investment liquidity will be released from unspent pre-financing in 2019 for programmes under the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The measure will also provide access to €29 billion of structural funding across the EU for 2020. Expenditure on crisis response will be available as of 1 February 2020. The new measures will support SMEs to alleviate serious liquidity shortages as a result of the pandemic, as well as strengthen investment in products and services necessary to bolster the crisis response of health services. Member states will also have greater flexibility to transfer funds between programmes to help those most adversely affected. EU ambassadors also endorsed without amendment a legislative proposal to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies. The fund was initially set up to help member states and accession countries deal with the effects of natural disasters. Including public health emergencies will enable the Union to help meet people’s immediate needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to complement efforts of the countries concerned.

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