Stories about China

“I will be selling chai on Mars soon!”

Chinese authorities, on Friday, sent a letter to the UNOOSA (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs), condemning the unashamedly cheerful celebration by the Indian authorities on the success of the recent Indian Mars mission ‘Mangalyaan’. It accused the country of ‘highly inappropriate’ interference in its outer space affairs. The letter from the Beijing foreign affairs committee said that, under its ‘eight planet chain’ convention, China has the exclusive rights to any space territory that was charted by its ancient astronomers. This is not the first time the emerging Asian superpower has asserted its growing authority on disputed territories. It has previously ...

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Why US is leading the war against ISIS

One of the ironies of geopolitics today is that, after spending the last decades complaining about US interference or the various interventions in the Middle East, everyone is now waiting for the US to lead in the conflict against ISIS. In ISIS we have a phenomenon that, for once, is uniting in a common cause every other state in the region, whether Sunni, Shia or secular. We also have regional players that, in principle, should be able to lead from the front on this issue, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, even Iran – if it comes to it. A coalition of ...

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Civil disobedience in Hong Kong: A lesson for Imran Khan

Hong Kong has recently seen a wave of peaceful protests organised by pro-democracy activists. These protests have been countered by the pro-Beijing rally, which demonstrated how divided the city is over this issue. In order to understand how this protest came about, one needs to step back and assess Hong Kong’s history with China. One country, two systems Hong Kong was a former British colony that was handed over to China in 1997. Since then, China has governed Hong Kong under the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, where Hong Kong – defined as a Special Administrative Region of China – is given a ...

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In reality Mr Khan, no you Khan’t

There was once a man who didn’t believe in empty rhetoric but followed through with his promises. He won Pakistan the World Cup, made Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust and established a university in Mianwali. The youth idealised him, the elderly praised him, and the people adored him. And while he showed that change is achieved by the tangible, he never followed through with that in his politics. I wish he had. He was selling a dream that many Pakistanis yearned for. A Pakistan free of corruption and nepotism, where the common man would have equal opportunities, where he would have freedom ...

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Ineffective management floods Pakistan… again

The recent floods that have wreaked havoc in various parts of the country should come as no surprise due to the increasing frequency of unpredictable weather patterns and Pakistan’s inability to deal with them. We remain fixated on issues of national security and domestic politics, and climate change and the resulting water crisis remain Pakistan’s most threatening issue. The floods of previous years and the drought in Thar (a few months ago) testify to the growing unpredictability of the weather and ineffective management of the government. Despite efforts to develop the service sector, we remain predominantly an agrarian economy; therefore, the effect of climate change ...

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Talia, my Israeli friend

By the time two hundred people had been killed in Gaza, I had shared an array of articles and videos through my Facebook on the crisis at hand. I was not alone: every second Muslim was running their own CNN – minus those cute pet stories that came before each headline claiming the death of five more Palestinian kids (alongside that of a broken window in Israel). Every now and then, I would be the silent spectator of a post that supported Israel’s struggle to keep itself safe from rocket fire, “May God save us from these evil fanatics; their end is surely near!” It was Talia, ...

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Why did Modi cancel talks with Pakistan?

This question has always been there right from the beginning: will Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk the talk? Will his huge electoral mandate be able to transform a Hindu sectarian leader into a national statesman? Will the early promises of out-of-the-box thinking usher in a new era of development in the Pakistan-India relationship? The rhetoric never matches with reality. Words don’t match actions. Oratory is not a substitute for a vision. Modi has all the germs to be a great sectarian leader. He has proved time and again that he lacks the gene to be a leader that suits India’s mood ...

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Has China really put a ban on fasting?

Over the last few days, my Facebook timeline (that has incidentally become a conduit of current affairs knowledge for a lot of people these days) has been filled with people posting news about the ban on fasting in China. Consequently, a lot of my friends are asking me if this is really true, and if I am barred from fasting as well. These questions need to be appropriately answered. What is the ban really about? To set the record straight, this ban on fasting is not a blanket ban for all Muslims across China. In fact, there hasn’t been any official ...

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Will we ever see a nuke-free world?

Despite numerous calls and rhetoric to move towards global nuclear disarmament, no significant progress has been achieved to this day. Instead, all these efforts have met with a tragic end. The recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report has shown a very dismal picture with regards to this. All nine nuclear states are currently in possession of 16,300 nuclear weapons, which includes 4000 operational ones. P5 countries, which include the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, are upgrading their nuclear arsenal and spending a hefty amount on the development of new weaponry systems. Though, we have seen a ...

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‘Metronomics’ in Lahore: We may be heading for an ‘F’

What brings economic progress to a country? Social scientists have argued for good institutions, trade-suited geographical placement, favourable climatic conditions, cultural homogeneity among a country’s peoples, and – lo and behold – even their superior genetic makeup. Yet, no sociologist has suggested relegating the laws of economics to history’s waste bin. Endowments of nature (such as those listed above) are important indeed, but their apt utilisation (good economics) is much more important. Fiscally speaking, any new project a public official decides to pursue needs a thorough pre-evaluation by experts. Economists have tools to compare a given project’s usefulness to other potential ones. ...

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