Stories about China

Escape Plan 2: Hades – the only escape you should be planning is one out of the theatre

When Escape Plan came out in 2013 nobody really expected it to be good. And it wasn’t. But it did enough with its premise to create a relatively fun prison break movie. And with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone starring opposite of each other, the film succeeded at being what it was; a dumb but enjoyable B movie that doubled as the long-awaited big-screen team-up of two of the biggest movie stars of the 80’s and 90’s. It was about cashing in on the nostalgia that these stars brought. And the studio duly cashed-in. But nothing about the film could have pointed ...

Read Full Post

Annihilating Raqqa while allowing thousands of IS terrorists to escape – who was the US trying to kill?

Amnesty International released an explosive report last week, which described the US-led coalition’s disproportionate and indiscriminate war in Raqqa as the US-led “war of annihilation”. The report confirmed what some people have suspected for a while but few have dared to even talk about. Namely, that the United States and its allies have completely destroyed a Syrian city, and left almost nothing but death and destruction in their wake.   In coming to its conclusion, Amnesty researchers visited 42 coalition air strike sites across the city and interviewed 112 civilian residents who had survived the ordeal. The results of their investigation ...

Read Full Post

Is China making Pakistan a client-state with its ‘debt-book diplomacy’?

In Pakistan, China is the most active and positive economic force. So much so that continued cooperation between the two countries is supported by virtually all sides of this otherwise deeply divided country. Everyone from the Taliban to the secularist military leaders view Chinese investment as a boon to the country, the main source of job creation, and, in all truth, the most promising source of kickbacks for themselves. It certainly is the case that the infrastructure projects part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative are the most significant economic development stimulus in the economically underdeveloped country, and the ...

Read Full Post

Gwadar: From ghost town to gold rush town

From the sky, Gwadar looks like a dust bowl as the ATR aircraft, which regularly flies along the Makran coast from Karachi, circles in for landing. The new airport, currently being designed, will be the largest in Pakistan once it is completed, but for now one has to settle for the old airport. Its VIP section is used often as ministers, senators and even the prime minister and the army chief regularly visit this once sleepy fishing port. They have all proclaimed Gwadar to be the jewel of the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The drive from the airport along the newly ...

Read Full Post

Is Trump pulling out of the Iran deal a blessing in disguise for Pakistan?

US President Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal – also known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – did not surprise many. However, the way in which this announcement was made was more dramatic than expected; especially how Trump simply announced the date of the decision in a tweet, creating suspense and leaving behind an air of doubt. I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00pm. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018 The Iran Deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, ...

Read Full Post

The reality check that brought Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping together

India-China relations have continued to be plagued by mistrust, ever since the 1962 Sino-Indian border war. India was caught unaware by the surprise attack, especially when it had espoused the Chinese cause at the international forum. Then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, even went to the extent of supporting China’s membership of the United Nations Security Council at India’s expense, since it is believed to have been offered a permanent seat as well by the US and the Soviet Union. The war came as a severe jolt to Nehru, who had always believed in strong India-China relations. Consequently, the ...

Read Full Post

Will Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un finally take their thumbs off the nuclear button?

Much of the world is still coming to grips with the news that US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong Un. Fortune described the news as being “nothing short of a miracle”, which aptly describes how the rest of us, who do not want a nuclear holocaust, feel. That being said, it must be asked, what is behind Trump’s intention of meeting with Kim, and why now, at this particular juncture in history? It wasn’t too long ago that reports were emerging that the US was secretly considering a direct military strike on North ...

Read Full Post

Has the United Nations outlived its utility?

The United Nations (UN) was formed in 1945 in the wake of World War II, and aimed to bring together all nations of the world at a single table to avoid another world war. Though the organisation was a successor to the League of Nations (LoN), it was formed not only to act as a mediator between member countries, but also to promote harmony amongst them. In addition, it would promote social development and justice across the globe, and take action if a consensus was reached and approved by the all-powerful Security Council (SC). However, as it nears 75 years, debate ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan and Russia: From Cold War foes to budding allies?

It is no secret that Pak-US ties are experiencing a downward spiral. However, there is some good coming out of this mistrust between both countries. The ongoing tensions have motivated Pakistan to reach out to regional stakeholders other than China for potential partnerships, and one such partner being actively pursued by Islamabad is its former Afghan-jihad foe, Russia. Who would have thought that after almost three decades of Soviet disintegration and Pakistan’s active role in the former’s defeat in Afghanistan, both countries’ foreign ministers would be warmly embracing each other in Moscow? Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif – who recently concluded a three-day visit to Russia and signed a number of ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan’s inclusion on the FATF watchlist is no mere symbolic gesture

After much anticipation, speculation and confusion, we now know that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has put Pakistan on a terrorism financing watchlist. Well, sort of. FATF decided to “grey list” Pakistan, but the designation won’t formally take effect until June – hence why FATF didn’t mention Pakistan in a report it issued last week. Admittedly, the FATF’s deliberations are opaque and its procedures byzantine. But this much is true – Pakistan is on its way to the watchlist. Pakistani financial journalist Khurram Husain, who understands FATF well, put it to me this way: FATF has passed a motion to grey list Pakistan. ...

Read Full Post