Though I had to leave Taipei and continue my trip around the island, it didn’t take long before I encountered another manifestation of the Sunflower Movement. The students of Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second-largest city in the south of the island, have organized a nightly ‘citizen’s forum’ in Kaohsiung Central Park from 7-10pm. I asked one of the organizers how long these forums will go on, to which he responded: “until it’s over.” Continue reading
Last night I set out for Tainan’s Flower Night Market but ended up attending a student protest at National Cheng Kung University instead. This protest was organized in solidarity with the group of students occupying the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s parliament) in Taipei. Continue reading
The East China Sea territorial dispute between China and Japan figured prominently in various geopolitical risk forecasts for 2014, and with good reason. Neither side shows any sign of standing down, and with every new military deployment near the contested area comes an increased risk of a small-scale military incident spiraling into war.
According to the best laid plans of several world governments, January 22nd will see the UN-brokered “Geneva II” talks attempt the near impossible task of negotiating an end to the brutal conflict in Syria, which has killed over 130,000 people so far and displaced millions. Or, alternatively, the talks might be over before they even begin, boycotted by a major party or doomed to fail by immovable and hostile negotiating positions. Either way, Geneva II’s prospects for success are presently wallowing in the gray area between ‘slim’ and ‘none.’
After years of declining output, Mexico’s energy industry looks like it will be turning a corner in 2014. Legislation was passed in December to end the monopoly long enjoyed by Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and open the industry up to much-needed foreign investment. After the energy bill is ratified by a majority of Mexico’s states (it is expected to pass without a problem), the first licenses for foreign energy companies will be issued in late 2014.
Here’s an article I wrote for the Geopoliticalmonitor that involved a fairly intense data-collecting process. It represented the first time I’ve ever needed to compose a Chinese email to a Taiwanese NGO.
I wrote a follow up to last year’s article on Qatar’s diplomatic successes during the Arab Spring. It has been published in Qatar Today, and a copy can be found here: http://issuu.com/oryxmags/docs/qt_april_2013
Or, if politics isn’t your thing, it can serve as a negative example of how not to take a headshot.
China: Enter the Xi Jinping Administration
The National People’s Congress put its final rubber stamp on a series of appointments this week, filling out the remaining unknowns of the government that will rule China for the next ten years.
Introducing the Latest Eurozone Contagion: Cyprus
The latest developments coming out of Cyprus might not seem overly dramatic: swapping the abstract, shared liability of taxpayer money for a more direct one in bank savings accounts. But in this small policy pivot lies the seed for a new and potentially ruinous fear that could spread through the peripheral European markets.
The Eternal Deja Vu of Inter-Korean Conflict
Though this behavior has some analysts scratching their heads and wondering whether there was ever a kernel of reconciliation in the Kim Jong-un administration to begin with, we shouldn’t be too surprised by what we’re witnessing. After all, we’ve seen it all before.
Post-Chavez US-Venezuelan Relations: Headed for a Thaw?
Now that the “Bolivarian Revolution” is all but discredited, and countries like Brazil have proven that it’s possible to alleviate poverty through trade and keep US influence at arm’s length, a US-Venezuelan thaw is theoretically possible. However, authorities in Washington will likely have to endure another round of vitriol and wait until the dust settles in Venezuelan domestic politics before their window of opportunity presents itself.
Japan Slips into the Asian Arms Race
Japan’s Defense Ministry has indicated that it will ask for $2.1 billion in funding from a government stimulus package, a request that comes on the heels of a $1.1 billion budget increase that was announced last year. The increase marks the first time in 10 years that the Japanese government has boosted its defense budget, and it stands as further proof of deepening tensions throughout the Asia Pacific region.
Canada and the Global Water Crisis: A GPM Interview
In this exclusive interview with the Geopoliticalmonitor, FLOW Program Manager Nancy Goucher provides an overview of the pressing water issues facing Canada and the wider world, such as aquifer depletion, farming pressures, mass migration, and climate change.
Farmland has two important attributes that set it apart from most other investments. The first is obvious: its inelastic demand. Humans need food to survive, it’s just a question of what food they eat. Second are the various political and environmental factors that continue to whittle away at an already-finite supply of global farmland: factors like climate change, urbanization, farmland degradation, and erosion. According to the WWF, one-third of the world’s arable land has been destroyed since 1960 by erosion and other types of degradation. Though we’ve heard it all before that ‘they aren’t making any more land,’ it turns out that we are also good at ruining what little we have.
The Geopolitics of Youth Unemployment
Nearly three years removed from the onset of the Great Recession, we are now faced with a global economy that has uncoupled itself from the conventional laws of cyclical economics. This impressive feat was accomplished through a combination of quantitative easing and public stimulus, coordinated by various national governments around the world. They accomplished their immediate goal of stemming the tide of global economic contraction, yet no one can be certain as to the extent of their success because of the uncharted economic territory that we find ourselves in; where contradictory economic signs emerge on a daily basis.
Red Star over Canada’s Networks: Huawei or the Highway
This Monday, a US House Intelligence Committee report was published outlining the case for banning Huawei and ZTE, two major Chinese telecoms, from network infrastructure building in the United States. The report argued that potential ties between these companies and the Chinese government represented a national security risk. If Huawei or ZTE were allowed to lay critical infrastructure in the United States, they might plant secret backdoors or data mining processes in network hardware at the behest of the Chinese government, thus creating a security risk in the event of a future conflict between the two countries.
Decoding Turkish Involvement in the Syrian Civil War
This week’s cross-border mortar attack and subsequent artillery retaliation along the Syria-Turkey border seems to harken what many analysts have been predicting for a long time: violence from the Syrian Civil War spilling its borders. The original mortar attack from the Syrian side of the border occurred on Thursday October 5th, striking the Turkish town of Akcakala and killing five Turkish citizens, including a woman and three children. Turkish armed forces then retaliated with a volley of artillery fire into the area of Syria where the mortar attack was thought to have originated.
A Tale of Three East Asian Nationalisms
Nationalism in East Asia is often portrayed as a phenomenon unto its own; something that waxes and wanes in isolation of top-down political manipulation. While there is some truth to this, for history is littered with examples of nationalist forces that spontaneously spin out of control, this oversimplification misses an important point in the East Asian context: outward displays of nationalist rage are often the direct result of domestic politics in China, South Korea, and Japan.
Canada and the Long Road to Trade Diversity
Canadian attitudes towards their geography wax and wane as sure as the tide: sometimes proximity to the world’s foremost economic and military power is a blessing, and other times a curse. Against the backdrop of these changing opinions, Canada’s economic destiny has remained firmly fused to that of its North American neighbor. But will Asia’s emergence as a new global center of gravity change all that?
Afghanistan: America’s Major Nonexistant Ally
Back in July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it official: Afghanistan is now a Major non-NATO Ally (MNNA), a classification that all but ensures that defense and development aid will continue to flow through 2014 and beyond. Is this good policy or an exhausted administration tugging on its very own geopolitical Gordian Knot?