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Geopolitics

Modi Is Wrong: Russia's War Also Creates Real Risks For India

By shrugging aside Russia’s aggression, India has shown indifference to fears that China could follow Russia’s example.

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — India is wrong to dismiss Russia’s war in Ukraine as Europe’s problem. The illegality and destructiveness of the invasion, and consequential food and energy crises, have global ramifications.

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This explains why 143 out of the 193 member-states of the UN General Assembly voted against recognizing Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions after holding sham referenda there. Ninety-three voted in favor of expelling Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

India has abstained from every vote in the UN condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The reason? Moscow is India’s top arms supplier and some 70% of India’s military platforms are of Russian origin.

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As COVID Explodes, An Inside Look At China's Gray Market Of Generic Drugs

COVID infections have skyrocketed since China eased restrictions as public health policy has not been able to keep up. Unable to find medications, many have turned to generic drugs of questionable safety. It's the culmination of a longstanding problem.

BEIJING — When her grandfather joined the millions of infected Chinese, Chen quickly decided to buy COVID-19 drugs to limit the effects of the virus. She woke up early to shop on Jingdong, one of China’s biggest online shopping websites, but failed in snatching the limited daily stocks made available.

Fearing COVID's effect on her grandfather, who suffers from dementia, she contacted an independent drug agent and bought a box of generic pharmaceuticals.

With China having suddenly ended its zero-COVID policy, infections have peaked. According to the latest estimates by Airfinity, a British medical information and analysis company, severe COVID outbreaks happened over Chinese New Year with 62 million infections forecast for the second half of January.

In a press conference held by China's State Council on Jan. 11, COVID-19 pills were mentioned as part of the new epidemic control mechanisms. In late 2021, Pfizer developed Paxlovid, the world's first potent COVID drug, with one 100 mg white ritonavir and two 150 mg light pink nirmatrelvir tablets taken every 12 hours. China imported the first batch of Paxlovid for clinical use in March 2022 and included it in the ninth edition of the treatment protocol.

But the first 21,200 boxes of Paxlovid were dispersed to only eight provinces, and no further information is available on where the drug ended up and how much it was used.

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"Collateral Benefit": Could Putin's Launching A Failed War Make The World Better?

Consider the inverse of "collateral damage." Envision Russia's defeat and the triumph of a democratic coalition offers reflection on the most weighty sense of costs and benefits.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The concept of collateral damage has developed in the course of so-called "asymmetrical” wars, fought between opponents considered unequal.

The U.S. drone which targeted rebel fighters in Afghanistan, and annihilated an entire family gathered for a wedding, appears to be the perfect example of collateral damage: a doubtful military gain, and a certain political cost. One might also consider the American bombing of Normandy towns around June 6, 1944 as collateral damage.

But is it possible to reverse the expression, and speak of "collateral benefits"? When applied to an armed conflict, the expression may seem shocking.

No one benefits from a war, which leaves in its trace a trail of dead, wounded and displaced people, destroyed cities or children brutally torn from their parents.

And yet the notion of "collateral benefits" is particularly applicable to the war that has been raging in Ukraine for almost a year.

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This Happened—January 23: The First COVID Lockdown

On this day three years ago, the Chinese government imposed a lockdown in Wuhan in what marked the unofficial beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Geopolitics
Petro Shevchenko

Limits Of Convenience: Why Russia-China Cooperation Won't Last

Moscow and Beijing may seem like strategic partners, but it's revealing itself clearly as a marriage of convenience. And ultimately they are naturally competitors, wary if the other grows stronger.

-Analysis-

Long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping were growing closer. China’s goal? To revamp the current world order, significantly weaken the West and its leaders, and to become the world-dominating figurehead over and above the United States.

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Russia’s war in Ukraine has become an essential element of this plan to destabilize the global situation.

When the West began imposing stringent sanctions on Russia, China instead chose to economically support Putin and left its markets open to accept raw materials from Russia. But don’t think this means China is Putin’s lapdog. Quite the contrary: Beijing has never helped Moscow to its own detriment, not wishing to fall under the punitive measures of the US and Europe.

At the same time, the Russian-Chinese alliance stirred dissatisfaction amongst the elite in both Beijing and Moscow. China was not expecting Russia’s plans to occupy Ukraine in a matter of days to fail and as a result, China’s aim to destabilize the West alongside its Russian partner failed.

Add to this the various alliances in the West emerging against Beijing and fears for China’s economy on home turf is beginning to grow.

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Geopolitics
Zhenming Wang

A Perfect Storm Of China-Taiwan Hostility: Will It Snap In 2023?

The past year has added new elements into the showdown across the Taiwan Strait, from Nancy Pelosi's visit to the war in Ukraine to Xi jinping's power grab. Now we may be reaching a tipping point that could lead to a military showdown, even if the question of when is still wide open.

-Analysis-

TAIPEI — To predict what might happen in the Taiwan Strait in 2023, one needs to bear in mind the profound influence of three significant geopolitical events in 2022: the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. member of Congress Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan — followed by China's retaliatory military exercise — and, finally, Xi Jinping’s historic third term as president.

The common belief is that Xi Jinping aims to unify Taiwan in his next 10 years (or more) of rule.

These three developments have both advantages and disadvantages for Taiwan. Chinese optimism that Taiwan could be taken over in a matter of days has been brought down to earth as the world watches the Russian army continue to lose ground in Ukraine — suggesting China may have to rethink plans to attack Taiwan.

While China will not easily abandon its plans to take Taiwan by force, the outcome of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will certainly force China to be better prepared — meaning that unless something very serious happens, China will not start a war soon. After all, many key weapons of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are not yet in service, and it will take years to build a cohesive military force.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also had a negative impact on Taiwan. The U.S. supplied a large amount of arms and ammunition to Ukraine, resulting in the delayed delivery of equipment previously purchased by Taiwan. This seriously undermines Taiwan's plans to strengthen its national defense and deter China.

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Geopolitics
Pierre Haski

China v. India: A New Twist In Asia's "Billion Club" Rivalry

The news that China's population has shrunk for the first time in 60 years, comes as India appears to be outperforming its giant neighbor on a number of fronts. But this reversal of fortune still has too many variables to predict the demise of one or the rise of the other.

-Analysis-

PARIS — China and India have at least one notable feature in common: the Asian giants are the only two countries in the world with a population above one billion. Yet Beijing announced this week that China has registered its first decline in number of inhabitants after 60 years of continuous expansion. This comes as India’s population continues to grow — on the path to overtake China as the world's most populous country.

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Geopolitics
Lucie Robequain

The Taiwan Paradox: Preparing For War And Ready To Do Business With China

Large segments of Taiwan seem underprepared or indifferent when it comes to the possibility of Chinese invasion. But some are actively preparing, using Ukraine as a role model.

TAIPEI — Hsu has just completed the required four months of military service in Taichung, central Taiwan. He had spread the training over the course of the past four years, training for one month every year. “Many guys go there during the summer. It’s like a summer camp: we go to a shooting range, we make friends,” he explains.

Yet these words seem somehow strange, incongruous, as his country is threatened by one of the most powerful armies in the world. “There is a kind of collective denial toward the Chinese threat. Many still think that the possibility of an invasion, in the short or medium term, remains very unlikely,” says Raymond Sung, a political expert based in Taipei.

In Taiwanese companies too, people remain overly confident. "What’s the point of worrying? Taiwanese are working on the technologies of the future! Thinking about war would just distract them," argues Miin Chyou Wu, head of Macronix, a company that makes memory cards.

Though relatively rare, some companies are even expanding in China. That’s the case with Delta, a Taiwanese flagship that produces equipment essential to a green energy transition (including charging stations and solar panels). Based in the outskirts of Taipei, not far from the Keelung River, Delta recently bought new land last May in Chongqing, southwest China. Their goal is now to expand their electric generator factories.

“We’re not very worried: we know that we won’t be the ones who will solve the conflict with Beijing," says Alessandro Sossa-Izzi, the head of Delta’s communication team. "But our grandchildren’s grandchildren will."

Of course, the Taiwanese government is more concerned.

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Geopolitics
Pierre Haski

The Rush For Africa Is Getting Crowded — Who Will Be Shut Out?

African countries have shown through the Ukrainian war that their support should not be taken for granted. Chinese, Americans, Europeans and others are competing for influence on a continent that has become a global prize.

-Analysis-

PARIS — There was a time when the great powers of the world would compete against each other to conquer vast territories of the African continent. Today, they are instead vying to seduce, convince, and sometimes buy the support of countries that have never been so eagerly courted.

The 55 African States carry real value (no matter the criterion — be it economic, political, security, demographic) that leaves no one indifferent. Within two decades, China has become the lead partner of the continent, supplanting the former colonial powers; Russia is regaining its areas of influence from the old Soviet days, spearheaded by the Wagner paramilitary group; the Americans are back too; Turkey, India, Japan, and Brazil also have a dog in the fight.

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Ideas
Pierre Haski

China's COVID Coverup Is The Perfect Script For One-Party Rule

That it fools nobody is essential to the plot. That people are dying turns it into tragedy.

-Analysis-

Rarely has the gap between official information and reality been so wide. Every night at 8 p.m., China's newscast opens with a long montage devoted to the daily activities of the country's leaders, by order of importance: Xi Jinping at an economic meeting, Xi Jinping publishing a new book ... Then, after 20 minutes or so, some images about COVID, just in passing, and mainly to highlight that the Party line is the right one.

Among the Chinese population, it is exactly the opposite. COVID dominates conversations: the race for drugs, saturated hospitals with beds set up outside, endless waits at crematoriums working non-stop. And death, with the number of pandemic casualties unknown since the government has changed the definition of what constitutes a COVID victim.

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Coronavirus
Nike Heinen

Why China's COVID Coverup Raises The Risk That New Variants Will Spread

No one knows the true number of coronavirus infections in China, but it could be up to 4 million a day. Experts fear that new variants could emerge undetected that may prove dangerous for the rest of the world. Time is ticking.

Ravindra Gupta, an internationally recognized coronavirus expert from Cambridge, UK, is worried by what he can't see.

“We are unfortunately blind to what is happening there right now.” The what and the there Gupta is referring to is the rapid spread of COVID-19 in China. In his lab, Gupta researches how viruses develop under certain conditions. In order to better understand how new coronavirus variants evolve, he incorporates new mutations into so-called pseudo-viruses, then analyzes what these changes mean from a medical perspective.

In this way, he was able to predict that the dangerous Delta variant that first appeared in India in 2021 would spread across the world so quickly.

And now? “The Chinese government is not only preventing us from knowing the transmission pattern and death rate of the outbreak there.," Gupta says. "We are also not receiving any representative data about the variants in circulation.”

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Ideas
Édouard Tétreau

Strange And Cruel As It Sounds, 2022 Was A Year Of Hope

Many lives have been lost, rights trampled and dreams crushed. But through the haze, the world took the right turn on many fronts this past year, from Ukraine to Iran to China. Trying to take stock amid the suffering.

The starting premise is a bit daring: to associate 2022 with good news seems naïve at best.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused the death, rape and torture of thousands of people.

In China, the iron-fisted 69-year-old Communist leader Xi Jinping strengthened his control over the Chinese population and looks set to stay in power for life. Meanwhile, in Iran, clerics continue to brutally suppress women’s protests for equal rights; in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to invade Greece.

Of course, it’s hard to speak of a “triumph” of Western democracies, many of which are stuck in sluggish, inconclusive elections: a French executive that lacks a clear majority, Liz Truss in the UK and the probably transient Giorgia Meloni in Italy. And yet...

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