Friday, February 28, 2020

China Cancels Plans for Two Nuclear-Powered Super Aircraft Carriers

Too expensive? Seems so.

by Sebastien Roblin

Dec 7 2019

The National Interest

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy takes many of its cues from the U.S. Navy as it develops its carrier aviation branch. It is seeking similar flat-deck carriers to its U.S. counterpart, and has developed airborne early warning planes andelectronic attack jets comparable to American E-2D Hawkeyes and EA-18 Growlers.

But that tendency may have backfired for once. That’s because the U.S. Navy has been beset by major cost overruns and delays in deploying its new generation Gerald Ford-class supercarriers due to persistent flaws in their catapults, arresting gear, radars and weapons elevators. You can read more about these many problems in an earlier article.

Similar problems apparently are affecting China’s carrier program. On November 28, Minnie Chan of the South China Morning Post reported that Beijing was scrapping plans for a fifth and sixth nuclear-powered carrier, once it finished construction of two new steam-powered vessels.

The reason? “Technical challenges and high costs,” including issues particularly linked to development of the latter two vessel’s electromagnetic launch systems—the same system bedeviling the U.S. Navy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Commentary: COVID-19 may be a mild illness for most people

But it is too early to conclude on the death rate and infectivity of COVID-19 as its transmission is still unpredictable, say Professor Paul Ananth Tambyah and Dr Jyoti Somani.

By Paul Tambyah

By Jyoti Somani

26 Feb 2020

SINGAPORE: The novel coronavirus, which the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) now calls SARS-CoV-2 as of Feb 11, causes the disease COVID-19. The World Health Organization announced the name of this new disease on the same day.

The virus SARS-CoV-2 is from the same family as SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

Malaysia's Mahathir moots grand coalition of fierce foes, but Umno and PAS decline

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad proposed the idea of a grand coalition to leaders of the major political parties he met.
Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad proposed the idea of a grand coalition to 
leaders of the major political parties he met. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has sought to lead an ambitious grand coalition across the political divide a day after his shock resignation as premier and the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

The Straits Times understands that Dr Mahathir proposed the idea to Malaysia’s main political leaders on Tuesday morning (Feb 25), before the King began a process of interviewing individual MPs over whether they supported the 94-year-old statesman, who has been named by most parties as their choice to lead the country.

“The idea is to step away from extreme race and religious politics and to try politics of national unity,” a source familiar with the talks told ST.

But the plan has already taken a blow, as the two largest Malay Muslim parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) have set a condition that it cannot include PH component Democratic Action Party (DAP), which they accuse of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

“If the unity government includes DAP, we are unanimous in that we will not join the government,” Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa said on Tuesday evening.

He was speaking at a press conference held by Umno, PAS, the Malaysian Chinese Association, Malaysian Indian Congress, and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS).

Malaysia's political machinations: What happens next?

25 February, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's government has collapsed after the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, which followed a failed bid by rivals to form a new coalition aimed at stopping leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim from succeeding him.

Dr Mahathir, 94, the world's oldest leader, has been appointed interim leader while intense political jockeying is underway to form a new government.

Here are some details about the political crisis and what could happen next:


The ruling "Pact of Hope" coalition, an uneasy alliance cobbled together to unseat a corrupt government at 2018 polls, had long been riven by bitter infighting over who would succeed Dr Mahathir.

Mr Anwar, a former opposition icon previously jailed for years on questionable charges, had been named as leader-in-waiting, but a rival faction in his own party was pushing a different candidate, Mr Azmin Ali.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Mahathir resigns as Malaysia's Prime Minister

Malay Mail

24 February, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR ― Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned as Malaysia’s prime minister on Monday (Feb 24), local media reported, after two days of intense speculation that he would lead his political party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), to exit the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition and form a new government with new coalition partners.

In a brief two-line statement on Monday afternoon, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Dr Mahathir sent his resignation letter to Malaysia’s King at 1pm.

Dr Mahathir, 94, has been prime minister of Malaysia twice in the nation's history.

This will be the second time he has quit the post. With this resignation, Dr Mahathir will have the distinction of being both Malaysia's longest-serving and shortest-serving prime minister.

Mahathir's new coalition ousts Anwar from Malaysia PM race

Leader has support of lawmakers to stay on until 2023

By P PREM KUMAR, Nikkei staff writer

February 24, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR -- Some 130 Malaysian lawmakers, mostly from the opposition parties, have declared their support for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to complete his five-year term, denying Anwar Ibrahim his chance at becoming prime minister.

Malaysians were shocked on Sunday afternoon to learn of talks of a new political coalition with the opposition parties, with Mahathir's Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu) rumored to be leaving the remaining partners in the Alliance of Hope, including the Anwar-led People's Justice Party -- two days after the 94-year-old Mahathir said his retirement date is up to him.

Leaders of opposition parties United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and Anwar deputy-turned-critic Azmin Ali met with Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin on Sunday evening to submit their statutory declaration to Mahathir. Azmin is also expected to exit the party together with a dozen lawmakers who want Mahathir to stay in power.

New coalition replacing Pakatan Harapan to be announced, says Malaysian assemblyman

According to state constituency assemblyman Chong Fat Full, a new coalition will replace the current Pakatan Harapan.

Malay Mail

23 February, 2020

PETALING JAYA — An assemblyman from Malaysia's People's Justice Party (PKR) aligned to the party’s deputy president Azmin Ali said a new coalition would likely be announced on Sunday (Feb 23).

According to Chong Fat Full, a state constituency assemblyman under the federal Johor parliamentary constituency, this new coalition will replace the current Pakatan Harapan (PH)

“This is not the first time discussions took place regarding the new coalition. It has been discussed for quite some time.

“The new coalition will be named Perikatan Nasional, and would include several leaders from DAP, Amanah (Parti Amanah Negara), GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak), Umno and PAS,” said Mr Chong when met by reporters at the Sheraton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur before entering a meeting with several other PKR members aligned to Azmin.

New Malaysian government likely with sufficient seats, says party source

A political realignment involving the formation of a new government is expected to take place soon following the support of more than adequate Parliamentary seats garnered by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

via New Straits Times

23 February, 2020

PETALING JAYA — A political realignment involving the formation of a new government is expected to take place soon following the support of more than adequate Parliamentary seats garnered by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

It is learnt that the number of seats said to be backing the Prime Minister now stands at 130.

Sources informed the New Straits Times that the 130 figure was reached through a collective agreement involving five political parties comprising Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), UMNO, PKR splinter faction, PAS and Amanah.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Commentary: In Hong Kong, the COVID-19 outbreak sent shockwaves but could reinvigorate protests

All eyes remain on the Hong Kong government, as frustration over Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s management risks opening another front in the Hong Kong protests, says Doris Lam.

By Doris Lam

21 Feb 2020

HONG KONG: It is almost ironic to think that face masks, an item banned in Hong Kong just a few months ago has become the most sought-after item in the city.

In a sea of masked faces, people who remain bare-faced stands out like a sore thumb.

After Hong Kong’s first COVID-19 death earlier this month on Feb 4, citizens went into full panic mode, clearing out all masks, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and alcohol sprays from supermarkets and drugstores, hoping to regain some sense of safety inside the city.

Hong Kong has seen more than 60 cases, with a few in critical condition.

These days, shopping malls, public transport and indoor spaces are emptied and avoided as much as possible.

Schools reopened on Monday (Feb 17) after being closed since the Chinese New Year holiday, but saw many international students flocking home before that, worried that their countries would issue a travel ban.

Facebook expat groups are filled with people discussing whether they should flee the city with their children until things get better.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia

Its financial markets may be even more dangerous than its wildlife markets.

By Walter Russell Mead

Feb. 3, 2020

A Chinese woman wears a protective mask in Beijing, Feb. 3.Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The mighty Chinese juggernaut has been humbled this week, apparently by a species-hopping bat virus. While Chinese authorities struggle to control the epidemic and restart their economy, a world that has grown accustomed to contemplating China’s inexorable rise was reminded that nothing, not even Beijing’s power, can be taken for granted.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Commentary: How much damage will COVID-19 inflict on China’s economy?

The key factor in assessing the economic impact of the coronavirus will not be the outbreak's range or severity, but rather its duration, says an observer.
By Zhang Jun

15 Feb 2020 

SHANGHAI: Just five days before the Chinese New Year, the authorities in Beijing finally declared the coronavirus epidemic that originated in Wuhan to be a major public health emergency.

Because Wuhan’s municipal government had initially withheld information and failed to control the virus effectively, about 5 million residents and temporary workers left the city for the Lunar New Year holidays before the city was officially closed off on Jan 23.

As a result, the virus spread rapidly throughout China and beyond, leading to the current high-profile international health emergency.

Unsurprisingly, China’s economy is slowing down. The services sector, which includes retail, tourism, hotels, and transportation, and accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP, is suffering severely.

Disruption in this sector will in turn affect manufacturing. And growing international concern at the continued spread of the virus might further strain trade and limit the movement of people.

But the key question is whether we believe it will last longer.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

By 2050, 90 countries will have an ageing population. Here’s why such demographic figures matter

By Joseph Chamie

12 February, 2020

Governments, businesses and investors find regular demographic reviews of the world population to be useful as considerable variations exist across regions – rich and poor, young and old, good health care or not, secure climates or not – that create enormous push-pull forces behind increased international migration flows.

An understanding of world population levels, trends and projections constitutes an essential ingredient in strategic planning, policy development and programme implementation for addressing global challenges and emerging issues.

The world population now stands at 7.8 billion inhabitants, having reached the 7 billion milestone in 2011.

Demographers expect the 8 billion milestone in 2023, with global population projected to reach 9 billion by 2037 and 10 billion by 2056. This growth is slightly faster than projections from just a few years ago.

Airbus unveils 'blended wing body' plane design after secret flight tests

A view of models of Airbus' MAVERIC and E-Fan X aircraft at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore. Photo: Reuters

11 February, 2020

SINGAPORE - Airbus on Tuesday unveiled a curvaceous aircraft design that blends wing and body, designed to slash carbon emissions by some 20%.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Commentary: Novel coronavirus outbreak weighs heavily on global economy

The novel coronavirus is testing the robustness of global supply chains, says the Financial Times’ Chris Giles.
By Chris Giles

10 Feb 2020

LONDON: Two weeks after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan, carmakers began to halt production lines on every continent as they ran short of a specialised paint pigment that allowed their cars to glisten.

It was manufactured in just one factory near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Companies in complex manufacturing industries vowed never to be so geographically exposed again.

But a week after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency, the robustness of global supply chains is once more being tested.

Fiat Chrysler warned this week that one of its European plants could be forced to halt production within a fortnight and Chinese copper traders have delayed imports of the commodity from Chile to Nigeria, highlighting how the economic consequences of the outbreak are extending worldwide.

The Coronavirus and Xi Jinping’s Worldview

Feb 8, 2020 

Kevin Rudd
No matter how bad the coronavirus epidemic gets, the crisis will not change how China is governed under President Xi Jinping. Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has strengthened the Communist Party's hold on power and developed a comprehensive national agenda from which all else – including domestic crisis management – must follow.

MUNICH – The coronavirus crisis represents the single biggest challenge for Xi Jinping since he became general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012. Individuals and families across China are living in fear. Multiple Chinese provinces are under virtual lockdown. The virus has brought significant parts of the economy to a grinding halt, as firms instruct their employees to work from home. Politically, the blame game bounces between local authorities in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and the central government in Beijing, with both sides mindful of the eternal principle of Chinese politics: When disaster strikes, someone must be seen to pay the price.