Commentary: Putin-Kim meeting generates surprising agreement about China in South Korea

South Korea has been a center of economic and diplomatic relations for decades. That was the game under the democratic world attempt, and Seoul did it well. The United States ‘ treaty alliance serves as the foundation of South Korean security, but it has n’t been construed as a factor in how the East Asian nation’s friends and partners would be.

This perspective can be seen in South Korea’s reaction to the Ukrainian military hostility from Russia. In contrast to the cases in Europe and North America, Russia’s conflict with Ukraine is not seen by all as a menace to world democracy.

One of the guiding factors in this opinion was the desire to keep business relations with Russia. Another explanation is that this conflict is never Korea’s: Getting involved you feel like being pushed around by Americans and granting them even more authority over international relations.

Seoul has provided humanitarian aid and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, but it has not yet broken its agreement to not provide weapons during an effective martial conflict. On Thursday, South Korea said it would rethink providing arms.

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

In this view, Mr Putin’s attend reflects a missed chance, for South Korea, for North Korea, and for the wider region. Maybe Mr. Kim’s foreign entry would not have been the one from Moscow if Washington and Seoul had worked a little harder to encourage dialogue with Pyongyang.

Even though the symptoms are different, there is disappointment in Seoul over the Soviet attend to Pyongyang. Some attributed the North Korean command and its companions to be responsible. Other people view the causes as more complicated, with leaders from the United States and South Korea even being accused of adopting hostile postures that create a charged, philosophical, and Cold War-like tension.

However, anger is not the only positive thing South Korea does. The viewpoints are more flimsy, which suggests prudence when deciding Seoul’s future steps.

For better or worse, South Koreans are not on a campaign.

Erik Mobrand is Professor of Korean Research at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies. At the National University of Singapore, Hyejin Kim is the Top Lecturer of Political Science.

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US debt moving toward $50 trillion isn’t whole story - Asia Times

WASHINGTON – The most disturbing thing about forecasts that the US national debt will hit $50 trillion by 2034 is that the true figure surely will be much bigger.

The Congressional Budget Office noted that the federal debt will hit 122% of gross domestic product a decade from now, dwarfing America’s fiscal position after World War II. Funding the biggest drivers – defense, social safety net outlays and giant tax cuts unmatched by revenue increases – will only become costlier over time. Never mind if a deep recession or serious military conflict further alters this trajectory.

This slow-motion economic disaster could be sped up by political squabbling or by de-dollarization efforts among top emerging markets.

Case in point: the November 5 US election. Even if Donald Trump loses to current President Joe Biden, there’s a zero-percent chance the former US leader and his army of supporters go away quietly. The risk of a Capitol Hill insurrection 2.0 looms large. The earlier one, on Jan. 6, 2021, provoked Fitch Ratings to revoke Washington’s AAA rating. Might the next prod Moody’s Investors Service to yank away the last AAA?

Nor are Biden’s China tariffs buttressing global faith in the dollar or US Treasury securities, of which Beijing holds nearly US$700 billion. Those tariffs include a 100% tax on China-made electric vehicles.

Such moves won’t prod Detroit to make the better automobiles that consumers in Europe, Asia or even many Americans want. They won’t raise America’s innovative game. They won’t increase Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s desire to work with Washington on climate change, military-to-military communications, counternarcotics, AI-related risks or even just basic economic cooperation.

Biden has intensified Washington’s sharp mercantilist pivot since 2017. Then-President Trump slapped huge tariffs on Chinese goods and on global steel and aluminum. When Biden arrived, he left Trump’s trade war in place — and continued to add new layers of China-targeted curbs.

Now, as Trump threatens 60% tariffs on all Chinese goods, Biden is trying to out-do Trump. This trade-tax arms race is drawing retaliation threats from Xi’s government. It also has Global South countries viewing the US less and less as an adult in room when it comes to economic and geopolitical affairs.

The most obvious example of disillusionment over US fiscal excesses is the pivot away from the US dollar. The predicament is made worse by the bull market in political polarization in the halls of Washington power as the US debt hits $35 trillion.

“The current fiscal trajectory could eventually push the debt-to-GDP ratio to a point where stabilizing it would require a fiscal surplus of a size that has rarely been sustained historically,” says economist Manuel Abecasis at Goldman Sachs. “And while the conditions for a fiscal consolidation to succeed are currently in place in the US, there is little political momentum for deficit reduction.”

Abecasis adds that “the outlook for US fiscal sustainability has become more challenging over the last five years. Higher expected future interest rates in particular have substantially worsened the trajectories of the debt-to-GDP ratio and of real interest expense as a share of gross domestic product.”

Goldman’s economics team reckons that the US debt-to-GDP ratio will hit 130% by 2034 from 98% now – fully 8 percentage points higher than the CBO estimates. But could it end up being far higher than that?

In a June 18 op-ed for the Free Press news site, historian Niall Ferguson views America’s debt trajectory through a variety of financial prisms, both past and present. Most interestingly, he considers parallels between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the hubristic belief in Washington that titanically huge deficits don’t matter.

Historian Niall Ferguson. Photo: LSE

As Ferguson writes: “A chronic ‘soft budget constraint’ in the public sector, which was a key weakness of the Soviet system? I see a version of that in the US deficits forecast by the Congressional Budget Office to exceed 5% of GDP for the foreseeable future, and to rise inexorably to 8.5% by 2054. The insertion of the central government into the investment decision-making process? I see that, too, despite the hype around the Biden administration’s ‘industrial policy.’”

Economists, Ferguson explains, “keep promising us a productivity miracle from information technology, most recently artificial intelligence. But the annual average growth rate of productivity in the US non-farm business sector has been stuck at just 1.5% since 2007, only marginally better than the dismal years 1973–1980.”

At present, he says, “the US economy might be the envy of the rest of the world today, but recall how American experts overrated the Soviet economy in the 1970s and 1980s.”

As the CBO admits, the share of GDP going toward interest payments on the federal debt will increase to twice the amount Washington spends on national security by 2041. That’s partly thanks to the rising cost of the debt squeezing defense spending down from 3% GDP, now to a closer to 2.3%, 30 years from now.

“This decline,” Ferguson says, “makes no sense at a time when the threats posed by the new Chinese-led axis are manifestly growing. Even more striking to me are the political, social and cultural resemblances I detect between the US and the USSR. Gerontocratic leadership was one of the hallmarks of late Soviet leadership, personified by the senility of Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko.”

By today’s US standards, the later Soviet leaders weren’t so old, Ferguson argues. Nor was the Soviet population, by some measures, appreciably less healthy than Americans today, he says. “The recent data on American mortality are shocking,” Ferguson says.

Life expectancy, he notes, “has declined in the past decade in a way we do not see in comparable developed countries.” He cites, too, a “striking increase” in deaths “due to drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, and suicide, and a rise in various diseases associated with obesity.”

The credit rating of the globe’s biggest economy – and printer of the reserve currency – don’t normally turn on such considerations. But, as Fergison argues, America is on a dangerous financial and socioeconomic course that few saw coming just a few years ago.

“I still cling to the hope that we can avoid losing Cold War II – that the economic, demographic and social pathologies that afflict all one-party communist regimes will ultimately doom Xi’s ‘China Dream,’” Ferguson says.

But, Ferguson adds, “the higher the toll rises of deaths of despair – and the wider the gap grows between America’s [elite] and everyone else – the less confident I feel that our own homegrown pathologies will be slower-acting. Are we the Soviets? Look around you.”

In the short run, the Federal Reserve’s reluctance to cut rates is prolonging the “higher for longer” era for US yields.

“The harmful effects of higher interest rates fueling higher interest costs on a huge existing debt load are continuing, and leading to additional borrowing,” says Michael A Peterson, CEO of the Peter G Peterson Foundation. “It’s the definition of unsustainable.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is even more worried. The author of the 2007 best seller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable thinks that a US debt “spiral,” coupled with political dysfunction in Washington, is a “white swan” risk in plain sight that could cost Washington its last AAA credit rating.

“The risk is right in front of us,” Taleb says. “If you see a fragile bridge, you know it’s going to collapse at some point.” Taleb adds that “a debt spiral is like a death spiral. We need something to come in from the outside, or maybe some kind of miracle.”

Last November, Moody’s Investors Service warned it might yank away America’s only remaining top rating. That came three months after Fitch Ratings downgraded the US to AA+ as Republicans and Democrats brawled over funding the government. And 12 years after a Standard & Poor’s downgrade amid partisan bickering over the debt ceiling.

“So long as you have Congress keep extending the debt limit and doing deals because they’re afraid of the consequences of doing the right thing,” Taleb says, “you’re going to have a debt spiral.”

As US political polarization hits a fever pitch, there seems little scope for a pivot toward fiscal sobriety. As Biden runs for reelection, his Democratic Party has zero plans for debt reduction. Nor do Republicans loyal to Trump, who are telegraphing giant new tax cuts.

“This makes me kind of gloomy about the entire political system in the Western world,” Taleb explains.

Former US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin warns that fiscal challenges put the economy in a “terrible place.” Rubin tells Bloomberg that “the risks are enormous and some of them are materializing already, like higher interest rates.”

Rubin earned his fiscal bona fides in the early 1990s. Back then, as President Bill Clinton’s economic czar, Rubin struck a deal with the Fed: debt reduction in exchange for rate cuts. That led to a balanced US budget. Surpluses, too.

Now Rubin worries that the three-percentage-points surge in longer-term US yields is just the beginning. The fiscal outlook has darkened and inflation remains elevated. Rubin cautions that when markets are “out of sync with reality,” things “correct savagely.” 

Sadly, the political climate on Capitol Hill leaves little reason for hope lawmakers can head off catastrophe.

“Looking forward, we’re having to deal with both spending and taxes,” Rubin notes. But “when you get realistic about it, I think you’re going to have to” focus largely on the tax side to increase revenues.

As Rubin sees it, “there’s a lot of talk, but the talk is always divided politically between the Republicans, who refuse to raise taxes, and the Democrats, who won’t do entitlements.” His conclusion about Congress or the White House tackling the deficit is that “I wouldn’t bet on it.”

Nor is it safe to bet on the US debt only rising to $50 trillion a decade from now. As the real figure exceeds even the worst expectations, global markets could be in a world of hurt. And Washington will make it easy for Global South nations hoping to sideline the dollar.

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Rise of the far right is a 4th dimension phenomenon - Asia Times

To really understand democracy, we have to take the long view. In the 1960s, populist parties won, on average, 5.4 % of the ballot in Europe– while immediately, following the European Parliament votes on June 9, more than 20 % of the public believes them with their vote.

Not all ideologues are right-wing, and some nationalist events, like La France Insoumise and the European Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance, fall on the left of the social spectrum. But, in today’s political landscape those making an impact are proper wing populist parties, who place the state front and center, and stockade, blame and discriminate against “others” defined in racial, national, social or religious words.

In the Strasbourg parliament, members of ultra-nationalist parties like the French National Rally, Alternative for Germany ( AfD ), and the Spanish Vox have emerged as significant influence. The far right came top of the elections in France, Italy, Austria and Hungary, and subsequent in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.

Given the serious social have to slow and stop climate change, the consequences may be philosophical for both the European Union and, potentially, for mankind as a result of these parties ‘ calls for the return of sovereignty to specific states.

Activists against the AfD demonstrate down the road from an early 2024 conference hosted by the nationalist gathering in Freiienthal, a small town in Brandenburg, northeastern Germany. The evidence say: ‘ How many more Hitler films do you need?’ And: ‘ If the AfD is the answer, next how terrible was the query?’ Photo: Chris Stern / Cns

While the migrant crisis of 2015 and the financial crisis of 2008 both marked pivotal turning points for democracy in Europe, neither is totally accounts for how greatly it has rooted its foundation in the nation’s elections. But, there are structurally plausible long-term solutions that are inseparably linked to how we interact with period.

An accelerating earth

Our world is moving at a rate never before. We live in an era of exact- day delivery, of quick food and quick fashion. We read voicemails and podcasts at twice the rate that any lingering questions or lingering questions can be quickly found on our phones, avoiding any personal contact or uncertainty-related issues. Impatience has become the norm thanks to technology.

The economy is governed by instantaneous decisions made by the stock markets on Wall Street, in London, or in Shanghai. Contingency and transience rule supreme, whether in homes or at work. The idea that time is money is the norm wherever we look has accelerated our lives.

Populists take advantage of our fracturing relationship with time.

Right-wing populism profiteers from the fact that democracy is by definition slow, making it harder to respond to people’s most pressing needs. No other ideological current has acknowledged how out of step with the quick, even instantaneous pace of our societies and economies. Exploiting this disparity in the electoral market has had a significant impact.

For decades, opinion polls such as the European Values Survey have been sending worrying, yet unheeded, signals for the future of liberal democracy. Far right voters share the authoritarian tendencies most with a strong leader who does n’t have to worry about parliament and elections, and more and more people think otherwise. The younger generation’s favorable view of” strongman” leaders adds another layer of concern about the future of democracy.

What right-wing populists can say about politics is one based on haste, simplicity, and shortcuts in a world where patience is a more and more rare virtue and political systems are lagging behind.

This is exemplified by a number of obscene and impractical quick-track solutions. To stem migratory flows they speak of closing borders or “repatriating” migrants. Domestic and gender violence are, they argue, made up. In countries with peripheral nationalist movements, such as Spain, they promise to prohibit” secessionist” parties outright, a measure explicitly included in far right party Vox’s manifesto.

The late Spanish author Almudena Grandes made a clear distinction between the Far Right and modernity in her posthumous 2022 dystopian novel Todo va a mejorar ( Everything will get better ) the populist party is known as” Movimiento Ciudadano Soluciones Ya”! (” Citizens ‘ Movement, Solutions Now”! ). Grandes cited two crucial components of this ideological family as the party’s promise of quick solutions and its refusal to even refer to itself as a “party” in place of presenting itself as a political alternative.

A referendum on everything

Many far right governments hold regular national referendums, notably Hungary’s “national consultations” and similar measures in Poland when it was governed by Law and Justice. This is a measure to “popularize democracy” that populist right- wing parties include in their electoral programmes.

In Germany, many advocate for holding plebiscites according to the” Swiss model“. Marine Le Pen proposes calling an annual “great referendum” if she becomes president of France– a “revolution of proximity” that would allow the “people” to control government decisions. In Spain, Vox appeals to article 92 of the Spanish Constitution, which opens the door to holding votes on immigration, gender violence laws or the outlawing of pro- independence parties.

It is no coincidence that the issues subject to such plebiscites are always controversial or inflammatory – Hungary’s” consultations” have been criticized for asking biased, leading questions, and for not publishing their results.

Right wing populism appears to have found the key to success in our fast-paced society by abusing deliberation, a cornerstone of liberal democratic politics. Time to reflect or think seems to be nothing more than a hindrance to effective decision-making for an increasing number of voters, and this view is growing among the far right.

One of the greatest, most pressing challenges of our time is to reverse this democratic regression. Any remedy must be used to speed up political decision-making processes without detracting from the principles that underpin democracy.

The University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitate is a professor of the history of thought, social, and political movements, led by Jesus Casquete.

This article was republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Philippines accuses China of 'piracy' after coast guard boarded navy vessels in South China Sea

“BARE Arms” After visiting the injured sailor in Palawan, Brawner described the incident as” a fight with our uncovered hands” and claimed that Filipino staff had “fought again with our uncovered hands” when Chinese coast guard staff from eight arteries boarded their rigid-hulled inflatable boats. ” They took weapons andContinue Reading

China's GDP troubles point to need for bolder reform - Asia Times

Due to Asia’s largest economy’s unsteady state, China’s home crisis is once more in the news for all the wrong reasons.

One of the catalysts that helped China become a global superpower was the country’s estate boom. Xi Jinping is currently facing the most difficult problem of his ten years as Chinese president due to the cover slump.

According to data from May, Xi’s inner circle had hoped that the government’s stimulus efforts to date were n’t gaining the support they had hoped. After falling 3 % in April, new home sales decreased by roughly 4 % last month. It’s the worst work for the business in roughly 10 years. &nbsp, Property investment&nbsp, is over 10 % since the start of the time compared to the January- Does period a year ago.

This data additionally supports the property industry’s continued dominance of growth this year, according to Lynn Song, ING Bank’s chief greater China economist, adding that Beijing if “ring some alarm bells.”

The Third Plenum conference scheduled for this month is set to be illuminated by all of this in a better than ever light. This meeting takes place every five times to examine big-picture reform ideas.

The event was actually scheduled for October 2023, but it was postponed due to uncertainty in the physical economy. However, the meet is a fantastic opportunity for Xi to rekindle his reformist momentum and discuss how steps can be taken to stop the property crisis.

At the moment, says Fitch Ratings analyst Brian Coulton, “domestic desire has weakened in China as the&nbsp, property&nbsp, industry decline worsens and personal intake growth remains sluggish. However, exports have rebounded, which has helped true GDP, and governmental policy is being relaxed. Negative pressures are, nonetheless, widespread”.

An apostrophe is required for all the engines currently propelling China.

The ultra-long special sovereign bonds Beijing began selling in May have the potential to support the country’s gross domestic product of 1 trillion yuan ($ 138 billion ). The goal is to achieve China’s 5 % yearly growth target by reducing public debt and funding for equipment.

According to scholar Louise Loo at Oxford Economics, “unconvincing onshore action speed outside of the “new” companies in May suggests that the current increase in house and fiscal stimulus has not yet improved buyer and investor sentiment.”

The physical sector, however, is even more questionable, yet if mainland exports are on a break. In spite of the escalating US-China trade tensions, overseas shipments increased by 7.6 % year over year at their fastest rate in more than a year.

According to Tatiana Orlova, an economist at Oxford Economics,” We anticipate that the Chinese trade value recession will provide a valuable tailwind in the battle to bring emerging market inflation back to destination.”

Problem is, the international scene is awash in winds. In the US, the Federal Reserve’s reticence to relieve means the “higher for more” time for provides may persist indefinitely. At the same time as the Bank of Japan is considering a rate increase, Tokyo is avoiding recession once more. Europe is muddling along as Germany stagnates.

What’s urgent is a renewed effort to rebalance growth engines and incentives. Short- term stimulus is plenty needed, as evidenced by the marked downshift in mainland&nbsp, demand.

Many people anticipate Beijing to increase its efforts since April to encourage businesses and households to upgrade outdated machinery with government subsidies, with an emphasis on automobiles.

” The upcoming implementation of the trade- in replacement scheme will positively impact household and business demand, hopefully inducing demand- led inflation somewhat” ,&nbsp, says Kelvin Lam, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The main point will be however, how Xi and Premier Li Qiang’s plans to speed up structural upgrades are to be discussed.

” The Third Plenum may conclude with a pledge of comprehensive reform in areas spanning the private sector, manufacturing, innovation, social security, economic management and more”, says Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics. That may give rise to significant change, but the Party believes that it has engaged in comprehensive reform for the past ten years.

Carlos Casanova, economist at Union Bancaire Privée, adds that “while nobody can know the scope of reforms ahead of time, we expect to see changes to&nbsp, housing&nbsp, sector policies. More cities are announcing a complete end to macroprudential restrictions on investment properties. The central government has so far remained silent, suggesting a more formal pivot during the summer. Stay tuned for more”.

That “more” could include Beijing going further than it has to date to help highly indebted property developers, regardless of “moral hazard” risks.

In order to maintain growth at 5 %, Xi’s top priority in 2024 is encouraging consumers to spend more and save less. That entails boosting incomes and creating stronger social safety nets to encourage spending. It implies developing more reliable capital markets so that the typical Chinese can invest in both stocks and bonds, not just real estate.

Until now, Beijing’s extreme focus on juicing consumption time and time again is counterproductive, many economists say. It makes China vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles that necessitate urgent attention at the expense of reinvigorating the economy. And China’s heavy reliance on exports leaves the economy vulnerable to Washington ‘s&nbsp, trade- sanction antics.

Part of the strategy is accelerating and broadening China’s evolution as a high- tech powerhouse, development experts agree. And indications are, this is precisely the pivot Xi and Premier Li Qiang are making as 2025 approaches.

Xi’s” Made in&nbsp, China 2025″ vision has Beijing investing aggressively in making China the dominant power in 5G, electric vehicles, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and other dominant “future” industries. &nbsp,

Yet unless China tends to cracks in its economic foundations, boom- bust cycles will remain a challenge for Xi’s inner circle. Lau notes that a robust increase in domestic demand will require bold actions to address” the current economic malaise” in the real estate sector and rising local government debt levels.

” The&nbsp, property&nbsp, sector is a major problem”, says&nbsp, Wei He, &nbsp, economist at Gavekal Dragonomics. Policymakers announced new support measures in the middle of May, but the lack of improvement in daily sales figures suggests that they will almost certainly need to do more to restore consumer confidence.

Odds are, He says, “policymakers may opt to wait, at least for now. They are not complacent about economic growth, as the Politburo’s call in April for more support demonstrated. However, they may not feel any urgency either because real GDP growth is likely running above the full-year target of around 5 %.

To be sure,” that prospect is unwelcome to market participants”, He adds. Equity and commodity markets have slowed since late May, according to the statement from the Politburo meeting, which started in late April.

There are no obvious catalysts for a change in market sentiment until further policy support is found, he asserts, or the upcoming Third Plenum results in an unexpectedly market-friendly outcome. ” Unless the economic data worsen, policymakers may keep markets waiting”.

Follow William Pesek on X at @WilliamPesek

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China’s war with Taiwan is already underway - Asia Times

KINMEN, Taiwan– The Shun Da was kilometers off program. Authorized by China’s Maritime Safety Administration to&nbsp, excavate the seafloor&nbsp, for a new gate near Xiamen, the Taiwanese- marked vessel was rather buzzing the Chinese coast guard on Taiwan’s Dadan Island, about 16 kilometers to the southwest.

A Chinese tourist boat guide a blogger through the constrained lake and within a few hundred feet of the Shun Da’s harsh, Asheng, a deckhand, said,” It’s never supposed to be here. ” But it happens all the time“, he added.

As the People’s Liberation Army wrapped away two days of military exercises around Taiwan next month, which China’s military called a&nbsp, “dress rehearsal” &nbsp, for a complete- scale assault, the self- governing island’s leaders were focused abroad: On the margins, in the dark spaces where Beijing’s “gray zone” tactics slowly encroach on Chinese sovereignty.

One senior government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said,” It has become a regular reality that we have to deal with,” given the seriousness of the situation. ” Not just the military drills and exercises but near daily encroachment” into Taiwan’s airspace, sea lanes and even its politics.

China is advancing more aggressively, making it harder to see than kinetic tactics but no less threatening. As Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching- te – William Lai –&nbsp, seeks to maintain a delicate peace across the Taiwan Strait, China is doubling down on efforts to wage political, cognitive and maritime assaults.

Its goal? To upend the status quo without firing a shot, claim observers.

Taiwan President Lai Ching- te is in Beijing’s crosshairs. Photo: X Screengrab / Taipei News Photographer Association

” The Chinese communists ‘ pressure on Taiwan is all- encompassing, especially diplomatically”, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Lin Chia- lung&nbsp, said recently. The Chinese communists are still attempting to alter the status quo, according to wikipedia. They are creating a new normal, pressing on at every stage, trying to nibble away and annex (us )”.

One instance of that nibbling is The Shun Da’s unlicensed passage through Taiwanese-controlled waters. There are countless others.

Scholars from the Taiwanese military-affiliated Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a Taiwanese military-affiliated think tank, presented a half-dozen gray zone tactics that China frequently employs to repress Taiwan’s sovereignty during a briefing to journalists last month. These actions fall just below the threshold of a conventional conflict. These include economic coercion, critical infrastructure sabotage, harassment by drone and boat, and cyberattacks.

Beijing even wages” cognitive warfare”, disinformation campaigns meant to shape public opinion in China’s favor. Favorite topics include casting the United States as an unreliable partner to drive a wedge between Taipei and Washington, and branding Taiwan’s leaders” separatists” intent on declaring Taiwanese independence.

” We are certainly seeing an increase in gray zone activities, and we’re probably going to keep seeing more and more intrusions closer and closer to Taiwan, with a view to sending a signal that the Lai administration cannot defend Taiwan’s sovereignty”, said J Michael Cole, a Taipei- based security analyst.

” The danger in this is that the closer they get, the more traffic there is, the higher the possibility at some point of miscommunication, collision, or accidents. Then, that could cause a lot of escalation. I have no idea how China would de-escalate in that kind of a situation.

Incidents of gray zone incursions have spiked in recent months, as Chinese spy balloons, drones and civilian boats have traversed Taiwanese- controlled&nbsp, territory. Two people were killed when a Chinese fishing boat pursued by Taiwan’s coast guard capsized in February, raising tensions. China’s coast guard made an apparent retaliation by inspecting a tourist boat in Taiwan close to Kinmen a day later.

Incursions have continued in the month since President Lai’s inauguration. A Chinese man was detained last week after being caught piloting a motorboat into a harbor at the mouth of the Tamsui River, which leads to Taipei’s capital. According to military observers, these incidents are meant to put Taiwan’s defenses to the test and make the island’s response impossible.

Taiwan is a renegade province and an integral component of the People’s Republic, according to China. While Taiwan was never under PRC control, Beijing has vowed to “reunify” Taiwan, by force if necessary.

Yet a kinetic war would be costly. Bloomberg Economics estimates war over Taiwan would erase some US$ 10 trillion, roughly 10 %, from the global economy. Given the stakes, gray zone warfare may be more appealing.

Beijing could use such tactics, led by its coast guard and law enforcement, to simply quarantine Taiwan, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC-based think tank. Taiwan and its allies would have to work against blocking access to even one port, like Kaohsiung in the south.

The possibility of such scenarios has received little attention, but in the short run, a quarantine is more likely than an invasion or a military blockade, according to the report. Additionally, it would raise questions about how Taiwan and the world can effectively respond.

The best defense of China’s actions, according to Taipei’s leaders, is to increase defense spending and strengthen ties with allies. ” We need to increase our arsenal …and learn from Ukraine”, said Wang Ting- yu, a senior lawmaker for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. ” Enough is never enough. We need to]strengthen ] our indigenous capacity”.

On the frontline island of Kinmen, where the Shun Da recently sliced through Taiwan’s restricted waterways, concern over China’s moves is more muted.

A Taiwanese military outpost on Shihyu Islet, seen past anti- landing spikes along Lieyu Island in the Kinmen Islands, August 10, 2022. Image: Twitter / Screengrab

Officials here speak of cooperation with China, Kinmen sits just a few kilometers off the mainland’s coast. On day two of Beijing’s recent military exercise, Kinmen County’s deputy mayor was visiting China to discuss a cross- Strait swimming competition.

” Do I worry about a Chinese invasion? Of course I worry”, said the deputy mayor, Li Wen- Liang. However, we should n’t shut down the communication channels we’ve constructed out of fear.

Ahming, a tanned, white- bearded Taiwanese fisherman in Kinmen, was even more relaxed. He claimed that his work has been largely impacted by China’s recent activities in the gray zone.

Chinese trawlers are no longer entering Taiwan’s waters in large numbers because the Taiwanese coast guard regularly patrols the waters where he fishes, he claimed.

After a day at sea, Ahming deftly untangled his fishing net,” I do n’t think China is as bad as people think.” ” They’re always taking an inch, giving an inch. If they really want to use force, we can do nothing”.

Greg C Bruno is a journalist, editor and author of” Blessings from Beijing: Inside China’s Soft- Power War on Tibet”. He serves as the project manager for the Taiwan Reporting Project.

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Senate hopefuls reminded silence is a virtue

Senate hopefuls reminded silence is a virtue

The Election Commission (EC ) has requested candidates show up at polling stations on time and without making any personal introductions during the vote, leading to the provincial-level Senate election taking place on Sunday.

The Vayupak Convention Center at the Centara Life Government Complex Hotel on Chaeng Watthana Road in Lak Si city, which serves as a voting place for the district-level Bangkok vote, was visited by EC secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee and a group of election leaders.

According to Mr. Sawaeng, the number of successful candidates has been trimmed as the transition from city to provincial stage occurs, but the election should go smoothly.

23 candidates have been chosen for the municipal election, and Mr. Sawaeng emphasized that candidates must show up for enrollment at provincial polling stations on Sunday from 8 to 9am. Those who arrive later will forfeit their ability to run.

” Only one second later is not allowed. Every member may manage their vacation time, he said, to avoid traffic jam.

He added that it is against the individuals ‘ guidelines to make an introduction to other individuals at polling stations.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration ( BMA )’s deputy city clerk, Wantanee Watana, stated that although interviews are not permitted, reporters and the public can observe the election process via CCTV.

She added that provincial election agencies may offer features like wheelchair ramps, rails, and vehicle lifts to make it simple for candidates who are running for the Senate election to gain access to the building.

According to Dr. Wantanee, the electoral locations for these individuals should be on a building’s earth floor.

According to the 2017 law, the fresh Senate to achieve the coup- appointed chamber may include 200 members selected from 20 expert groups, with 10 seats available for each group. They wo n’t be formally elected by the electorate.

Individuals choose between themselves from their own group and other professional organizations at the district, provincial, and national levels through a three-phase process led by the Election Commission (EC ).

At the city levels, there was an intra-group election in which five candidates with the most votes each group took the lead in an inter-group election.

In the cross- group ballot, the three individuals with the highest number of votes were shortlisted per party, or 60 across 20 organizations.

The chosen candidates then go through a similar operation at the provincial levels, but this time during the inter-group poll, just the two candidates with the most votes in each group advance to the last, national stage, where the top 10 senators from each of the 20 groups are chosen.

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Inflation is cooling but not fast enough for the Fed - Asia Times

It was a triple whammy for economic data lovers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its most recent inflation figures on June 12, 2024, day. The announcement was fairly good, showing that prices rose 3.3 % in the year to May 2024– less than some economists had expected.

The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady as forecasters had anticipated and released an updated set of financial projections as the conference came to a close, a few hours later.

What does it all mean? Economicist Christopher Decker was asked to explain by The Conversation US.

What are the main conclusions drawn from the most recent inflation review?

The May prices price– as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI- U – was down a little from April, but not by much. Generally, this implies that not much changed on the prices before, and it’s been like this for a while today.

This is n’t a bad thing, though. I prefer to view inflation in the long run: it has actually stabilized around 3.3 %. In fact, we’ve been around 3 % to 3.7 % for 12 months now. So we also have income and job growth as well as stable price rise, even if it is higher than the Fed’s target level of 2 %. The state of the economy is still powerful.

In terms of the details, power prices are down compared with previous month– but electricity prices tend to be dangerous, but that might be a speck in the data, not a true trend. The labour markets are also constrained. In May, average weekly earnings increased by 4.1 % over the same period last year, indicating that businesses must pay higher wages to attract and keep new hires.

In May, prices- adjusted profits increased 0.5 % from April to May of this year. Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the British gross domestic product, will likely increase as income outpace inflation. Payments increased by 272, 000 in May, away from 165, 000 and 310, 000 in April and March, both.

In brief, this statement, along with other new information reports, continues to show a very robust and stable economy.

Why has inflation stayed above the Federal Reserve’s 2 % goal for so long?

Accommodation costs and prices are the main causes of the inflation’s continued upwards of 2 %. Higher construction and maintenance fees, as well as a strong demand from people who are priced out of ownership, are driving rental prices upwards. House prices and mortgage rates remain high, making household purchases difficult, especially for primary- day homebuyers.

The Fed maintained interest rates today and indicated it may probably cut rates once more in 2024. However, politicians were considering three price cuts this year just three months ago. What changed?

The Fed is quite data- driven, and when the information changes, the Fed changes program.

Since March 2022, the Fed has raised costs more than ten days. This was done in an effort to halt economic expansion and thus halt prices. I believe that many policymakers believed that may cause the inflation rate to fall more quickly than it did. Instead, employment growth remained stronger than expected.

In many ways, the labour market is also working through Covid- related problems. Some workers slowly reentered the workplace. Thus, production was enhance to meet demand for goods and services. This meant that even with significantly higher inflation, there was room for the economy to grow.

Additionally, the U.S. experienced offer problems unlike anyone in recent memory. We’re likely also dealing with a few remaining effects around, as well. Higher prices helped, however, decrease prices down by not 2 % as a result.

Presently, time will tell if we are at a fresh standard. The Fed clearly does n’t think so. It’s still holding fast to 2 % prices. We might see some higher wage rises than pre-Covid costs if the labour market does seem to be returning to where it is right now. As businesses try to maintain profit profits while covering higher labour costs, this could lead to significantly higher inflation rates.

Why do so many Americans have mixed feelings about the market if inflation is steady and wages have increased?

People tend to compare the prices they paid years ago, in my opinion, because they do n’t care so much about month-to-month inflation as much. For example, the average cost of a few eggs is about US$ 2.70 now, whereas before Covid it was$ 1.46 or so. People remember that and feeling ripped off because they forgot that egg were$ 4.82 in the beginning of 2023 and have generally decreased since.

What do you anticipate happening throughout the year?

Even if the Fed’s 2 % inflation target is left out, the current macroeconomic data does n’t really suggest that we need to change interest rates. Economic growth is n’t slowing dramatically, so cutting rates is n’t necessary. And inflation is n’t accelerating, so increasing rates is n’t justified.

Holding prices continuous is currently the most prudent course of action for some potential homebuyers, as difficult as that may be.

What do you anticipate happening over the long term?

I was checking out the most recent “dot plot” from the Fed, which shows where each of the voting officials anticipates standard interest rates to end in 2024, 2025, and 2026.

The majority of officials believe that the federal funds rate, which is currently at 5.3 %, will stay at this level for the remainder of the year before dropping a little above 4 % in 2025. Most then believe it will accomplish 3.25 % or so by 2026. So they are betting on the need for price reductions in 2025 and 2026.

For me, this makes feeling, without a doubt, in 2025. Both the market and the employment industry are showing signs of sluggishness. Anticipate any moves toward price cuts to be continuous, though. A gradual lowering of the Fed’s policy is a good bet as long as there are n’t any significant increases in the key job and inflation data.

Christopher Decker is Professor of Economics, University of Nebraska Omaha

This content was republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original post.

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