Tuesday, June 18, 2019

China shoots itself in the foot with divide and rule tactics in Asean

Photo: Reuters

By Tang Siew Mun

Following the Asean-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Tuesday, Malaysia issued a statement on escalating tensions in the S China Sea which was taken back hours later. 

17 June, 2016

Relations between the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) and China suffered yet another blow during the Special Asean-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that ended in Kunming, China, on Tuesday.

From Asean’s standpoint, the meeting was intended to help repair its fraying relationship with China due to developments in the South China Sea. In fact, the proposal for the meeting was initially met with scepticism within Asean for fear that China will use the meeting as a public relations exercise to serve Beijing’s ends. This concern turned out not to be unfounded as China attempted to have the Asean foreign ministers endorse a 10-point consensus in Kunming.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Hong Kong’s extradition bill will only drive businesses to Singapore and elsewhere

By Richard Harris

14 June, 2019

I am just coming up to 50 years in Hong Kong. I saw through 1997, and there’s a pretty good probability that I will see through 2047. That makes me a very connected observer of my city.

Last Sunday, a million people surged onto the pavements like the floods of a June rainstorm. In 1997, there was an air of hope and confidence in the special administrative region, thanks to the Basic Law.

It allowed Hong Kong to have many years of relatively independent development, interspersed with some increasingly frequent cack-handed interventions. Hong Kong’s troublesome insistence on defending its 155-year-old way of doing things has clearly irritated Beijing.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?

Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change.

09 June, 2019

NEW YORK — The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under.

Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction.

To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times. Something that seemed like pure escape and adventure has become double-edged, harmful, the epitome of selfish consumption.

Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change. One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

And yet we fly more and more.

US-China trade war: here are Beijing’s options – and not one looks any good

by Tom Holland

Hit by a hike in US tariffs China could: respond with equal tariffs (impossible); dump US Treasury bonds (ineffective and impractical); let the yuan weaken (expensive)
Or it could give in to Trump and lose face (for Xi, unthinkable)

21 May, 2019

From the volume of bellicose rhetoric in China’s state media, you might think Beijing is digging in for a bloody fight to the finish in its trade conflict with the United States.
But after the US administration this month jacked up import tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 per cent, and threatened equal tariffs on another US$340 billion, the Chinese government faces a problem.

The policy responses it is considering are all either impossible, impractical, ineffective or expensive. This leaves Beijing in an unenviable position.

The usual trade-war response to the imposition of tariffs is to impose countervailing tariffs of your own, inflicting enough pain on your antagonist to bring him back to the negotiating table.

But that’s impossible in the US-China dispute. Yes, last week the Chinese government slapped 25 per cent tariffs on US$60 billion of imports from the US. But that just highlights Beijing’s problem.

Last year, the US imported US$540 billion of stuff from China, whereas China bought just US$155 billion from the US (or maybe as much as US$180 billion, if you include all the US goods shipped to Hong Kong).

So, if the US imposes 25 per cent tariffs on everything it buys from China, and China retaliates by doing the same, its retaliation will be ineffective in comparison.

Spend money on what makes you and others truly happy

By Richard Hartung

Assistant Professor Peter Caprariello of Stony Brook University in the US found that spending money on socially shared experiences brings more happiness than spending money on experiences people do alone or on buying material possessions.

08 June, 2019

Millennials are often criticised for spending too much on frills, from fancy coffee to new mobile phones.

In reality, millennials are more careful than many people think, even though there is still a tendency for them to follow the crowd.

What’s important is spending wisely on experiences that bring long-lasting enjoyment.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Japan’s recluses already faced stigma. Then came 2 shocking acts of violence

Experts worry that a new wave of fearmongering will leave the recluses known as hikikomori even more vilified and painted falsely as prone to heinous crimes.

08 June, 2019

TOKYO — After the stabbing of 17 schoolgirls and two adultsat a bus stop near Tokyo last week, a shocked public has been grasping for answers as to what could possibly have driven someone to commit such a horrific act.

Investigators and the news media have zeroed in on the fact that the attacker, who killed himself after the assault, which left two dead, lived as an extreme recluse — or “hikikomori,” as the condition is known in Japan.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Thirsty Singapore taps into innovation to secure its water future

Singapore is the fifth most likely country in the world to face extremely high water stress by 2040, according to the US-based World Resources Institute.

07 June, 2019

SINGAPORE — Every day after his morning run, Mr Adam Reutens-Tan washes under a half-full camping shower hooked on the ceiling of his bathroom.

The modified shower, which uses just four litres of water, is one of several ways the Reutens-Tan family conserve water as part of a countrywide push to cut Singapore's daily consumption by 8 per cent by 2030.

The nation currently uses 141 litres per person each day — about enough for two typical eight-minute US showers, according to Harvard University statistics.

Singapore, a steamy, low-lying island city-state, is the fifth most likely country in the world to face extremely high water stress by 2040, according to the US-based World Resources Institute.