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The ambition of China and its democratization issue

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Historical events are always astonishingly similar. In the early Korean War, China ruled by the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) frequently publicly warned the U.S. not to go beyond the 38th  parallel north to invade North Korea or China would send troops into North Korea in reaction. The U.S. arrogantly turned a blind eye to these admonitions. The outcome was that shortly after the U.S. military invaded, China resolutely honored its promise, with tens of thousands of troops rushing into the country. In the end, the war culminated with no winner.

Now, the same situation occurs again and with the U.S.’s disregard of China’s aspiration for world hegemony and the result would be more severe by far if the kind of disregard didn’t stop.

A historical narrative of China’s ambition

As early as in the mid and late 50s and early 60s, founder and supreme leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Mao Zedong constantly and openly suggested that China catch up with or outstrip the U.S. by 50 to 60, 20 to 30, or as-such years. To that end, he even launched the disastrous Great Leap Forward campaign to mushroom China’s agricultural and industrial productivity.

Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, according to documents and records, never put up such direct proposals. But this doesn’t mean that he didn’t have analogous ideas or ambition. In 1987, Deng said that by the middle of the 21st century, China would be able to reach the economic levels of developed countries, but then lowered the target to levels of medium-developed countries. Deng also held firm to the principle that sovereignty is over human rights and time after time propounded setting up a new international political and economic order against hegemonism. However, it was his reform and opening-up policy that, until recently, brought China’s economy average annual double-digit growth for over 30 years.

Deng’s substitute, Jiang Zemin, in addition to reaffirming the new international political and economic order, first officially presented two other notions: Two Centenary Goals and The Revival of the Chinese Nation. In the face of these  perceptions, Jiang and leaders of five other nations first created a regional geopolitical international institution in China’s territory, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), to safeguard the peace and stability of Central Asian regions and to fight cross-border crimes.

Jiang’s replacement, Hu Jintao, in large measure, just echoed Jiang and Deng’s same expressions, especially Jiang’s two thoughts. Yet, it was in Hu’s times that China began to eclipse Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. And it was in this time that China and four other nations, Russia, India, Brazil, and South Africa, formed the BRICS bloc, a new international economic body and potential rival to the Group of 7(G7). Concurrently, it was in Hu’s times that the idea of being on a level with the U.S. overtly came up again. Hu’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, at a welcoming banquet hosted by then Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that China took 50 years to run as well as medium-developed countries, needing about 100 years to be on a par with the U.S.

Incumbent President Xi Jinping, Hu’s surrogate, seems to be both a partisan of all the apprehensions above and an unwavering practitioner of them. Since taking office as China’s president, not only has Xi proponed to build a new style of great power relationships with the U.S., but he has stressed the belief that Asia is Asians’ Asia and a new Asian security notion: that Asian affairs should be handled by Asian countries themselves. Moreover, to manifest his regnal signature, he has integrated Jiang’s two notions into one, namely his China dream to resurrect the Chinese nation. Specifically, he demanded that China be a medium-developed nation by the centenary of the establishment of the CCP in 1921 and realize the splendid resuscitation of the Chinese nation by the centenary of the foundation of the PRC in 1949.

To Xi, achieving the China dream or the great revival of the Chinese nation is in fact just an euphemism for being the world’s first power; soon after Xi took over as General Secretary of the CCP, the state-controlled prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) issued a report showing that by 2049, the centenary of the foundation of the PRC, China would completely outstrip the U.S. . The diversion is that the same institution published a dissimilar report back in Hu’s time and two years after Wen’s speech, saying that China would be ahead of developed nations by 2100 in economic modernization and then be the equivalent to the U.S. around in 2110 in this aspect.

To actualize this dream, Xi has constituted the National Security Commission, a counterpart to the U.S. National Security Council (NSC), to manage overall national security affairs. And by order of Xi, China has also single-handedly created the Silk Road Fund, a state-owned financial institution, to subsidize the construction of infrastructure in countries along the Silk Road and the 21 Century Maritime Silk Road (One Belt And One Road), two modern versions of a pair of trade passages in China’s ancient times, to again link China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, North Africa, and Europe. More noteworthy, a regional international financial organization advanced by Xi to put up and be led by China, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), though still in the making, has drawn in more than 50 countries, even including many western nations, for instance, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy and so on. For the CCP’s China, this is indubitably an enormous victory, at least on the surface, and seems to have dwarfed in gambits another kindred institution in building by the BRICS nations, the New Development Bank (NDB).

At the same time, China under Xi is intensifying its territorial claims as well: In the East China Sea, to more effectively handle disputes with Japan over the Diaoyu islands, or the Senkaku islands, China has erected its own Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and has required that all aircraft furnish self-identification information and flight plans when flying across its ADIZ, a rule clearly against international aero-custom. In the South China Sea, besides placing oil rigs in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in 2014 sparking oil-rig crises, China has been reinforcing its construction and reclamation in contested waters, for instance, Gaven Reef, Johnson Reef, and the Fiery Cross Reef; and now all three reefs have become a sizeable man-made island, with the first having had an addition of a 114,000-square-meter land, the second, a submerged feature previously, having turned to a 100.000-square-meter island, and the third having enlarged to over 11 times its original size.

The U.S., as part of the Asia-Pacific region, has repeatedly called for a multilateral agreement on South China Sea issues and suggested that China work under such an agreement to solve territorial disputes that could further inflame tensions with countries in the sea, especially the Philippines and Vietnam. But such a proposal has bluntly been refused by China for the reason that the sea originally belongs to it or that what is within its nine-dash-line, including virtually the whole South China Sea, is just part of China’s territory. This is visibly a challenge to the current international political order built on international law as its AIIB and NDB have called into question the present international economic order founded on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Today’s China isn’t already China in the past: with an average annual double-figure economic growth for more than 30 years and a status as the world’s second largest economy or the world’s largest one according to IMF’s purchasing power parity calculation as well as an annual double-figure growth in military spending for the last decade and a place as the world’s second largest nation in military spending, China has come to believe that it has the capability to change the existing world order at its discretion or that at least it should be included as one of the makers of world order. For China, this is just a result of a long-term strategic pursuit of all the five-generation leaders of the CCP from Mao and also a vivid embodiment of the diplomatic strategy guidelines from Deng to develop yourself and bide your time.

U.S. integration policy on China

For the U.S., this is a gnawing moment: it has to face up to the fact that the rise of the China resulted from its own blunders or ignorance and overlook. Surely, in large part, there wouldn’t be the chance for China to burgeon and present-day China’s that aggressive and assertive behaviors without the U.S.’s integration policy. The kind of chance has been called“strategic window opportunity” in China, a strategic development luck in the tranquil circumstances.

It seems that while the U.S. has contrived integration policy with the aim of eventually converting China into a liberal democracy and a responsible stakeholder by inviting it to join the liberal international system orchestrated by the West and helping it to bolster the economy, it has underestimated the CCP’s stamina and resolve against liberalization and democratization and overlooked the catastrophic failure of the Tiananmen Democracy Movement.

As early as 1989, then leader of the CCP Deng accentuated more then once that China needed to adhere to the socialist path and proletarian dictatorship, steadfastly resisting capitalist liberalization. Shortly thereafter he attested by action in the year how serious his words were, with masses of troops being deployed there and hundreds of people being killed while the democratic remonstrance erupted in and around Tiananmen Square. Never has democratic protest or demonstration come to the nation since then with the continuous tight control of the Chinese government; even if data show that the nation’s mass incidents had risen from ten thousand in 1993 to about 0.14 million in 2011 and was always in a continual and steady augmentation, none of them has been of democracy and freedom.

On the other hand, the U.S. could have missed China’s peculiar authoritarian cultural tradition while creating such a policy: the tradition itself would make any such policy seem to have an overly slim prospect of success. In over two thousand years from 221 BC to date of Chinese history, there have been solely two types of political systems: totalitarianism with socialism and communism as its main ideological characteristics and absolutism featuring Confucianism, a philosophy highlighting hierarchical relationships, observance, and compliance, as its primary ideological attribute. And the two kinds of ideologies are imposed on people as the two sorts of political systems are and at the expense of the freedoms of thought and speech. This wreaks havoc on the nation’s brainpower so badly that until the terminations of two Opium Wars, Chinese people didn’t still know what science, democracy, equality, and freedom are.

China’s this kind of authoritarian tradition with ideology has never broken. Before Mao, as a single official ideological thought, Confucianism had almost never received any pungent challenges. But when Mao, as a communist revolutionary, took on power, he launched all-out attack on it and then threw away it for his own thought and Marxism and Leninism as topmost ideological theories for the nation and from then to date, the three isms have always been part of the CCP and the nation’s fundamental ideology, irreplaceable.

Be that as it may, there are signs that, as a part of the China dream and a method of governance, Confucianism is coming back to the heart of the country’s cultural activity. Current president Xi has many times effectuated confidence in China’s traditional culture and presented himself as an ardent fan of it, oftentimes citing creeds from Confucian classics on many public occasions. More important is that the past Confucianism has been edited into schoolbooks again for present students from elementary to high school. This is a departure from Mao’s thought and for modern Chinese people, this is also the reappearance of an old specter.

The U.S. strategy intention is sowing the seeds of democratic revolution or reform in China in the economic way. But U.S decision-makers and their think tanks seem to forget that to make these seeds grow healthily, there needs to be suitable cultural soil. China isn’t such a soil: its heritage and civilization are nurseries for authoritarianism. So the secret to turn China into a liberal democracy isn’t by economic activities but by teaching and disseminating democratic and liberal thoughts to alter its tradition. Leaders of the CCP need to ameliorate the nation’s economy to consolidate their rule whereas the U.S.’s such policy just plays into their hands. Accordingly, integration policy, when being applied to a country like China, could produce a setback.

China’s developmental direction and course

In Deng’s age, as Deng himself said, China was still in a developmental state of feeling stones to wade across the river, namely a condition of lacking a crystalline national development strategy. China of the day is no longer in such a state; its leaders have expressly known how and where the country should be led.

In the next half of the 19th century, owing to humiliating defeat in the First and Second Opium Wars against western powers Britain and France, rulers of the Qing dynasty afterward mounted a reform campaign for rendering the nation prosperous and powerful to learn and introduce western sciences and technology, especially military technology. The reform campaign also first set up and develop western-style military and civilian industries and schools in China, but it failed to touch at all the ruling base of the dynasty, namely its absolutism with Confucianism. This was an immense emasculation: After the reform drive lasted 35 years, China lost the Sino-Japanese War; about 17 years after this, the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty in Chinese history, came to an end with people’s revolution for democracy.

Now, the CCP is following the same lines to run the nation: focusing on economy and trade, sciences and technology and military strength; refusing demorcratic reform bluntly and clamping down on freedom of thought and speech continuously; and renewing its totalitarianism with Confucianism again. Markedly, Xi is rebuilding an old empire and building it into a sphinx monster, a hybrid of part westernization, part socialization, and part revivalism. No one can know for sure whether or not such a China will be a huge threat to the whole world, but it certainly will be a fearsome foe to the liberal world. Oddly, it is some countries of the world that have been giving the state a leg-up.

The serial report by Reuters, “Breakout: Inside China’s military buildup”, has lucidly revealed how western countries, especially Britain, France, and Germany, have bypassed arms sanctions to help China to construct a bigger, more sophisticated weapon system. According to the report, it is inconceivable how China’s advanced military equipment, like stealth fighters and navigation satellites, would be possible without cutting-edge and precise gadgets, components, and apparatus from these nations.

Same true, the West is the cardinal exporter of knowledge to China. Data from the Institute of International Education show that in the 2013/2014 academic year, China sent over 0.27 million students to the U.S. for study and was the leading sender of students to the country for the fifth year in a row. At once, data from the Ministry of Education of the PRC indicate that in 2014, around 0.46 million Chinese students in total were studying abroad. Therefore, on count, during the time, some 60% of these students were receiving education in the U.S. Moreover, 82% of the Chinese students studying abroad in 2013 were being instructed in western nations and from 1978, the first year China started reform and opening-up policy, to 2014, over 3.5 million Chinese students were learning overseas and over half of them have returned to China now. These numbers show how crucially China rests on foreign knowledge and there is reason to believe that in the predictable future, western nations will still the central exporter of knowledge to China if they themselves don’t change policy.

China’s deadliest shortcoming is short of vital scientific and technological innovation capacity while it is bent on being the first power in the world; the kind of ability is the common stamp of all world powers in modern history. This puts the country at an acuter disadvantage in the struggle for the standing of the world’s first power than other powers in history, for instance, Germany and Japan. Yet, this is a prerequisite bitter pill it has to swallow: this is the inescapable adverse effect of its own everlasting ideological tradition strangling freedom of thought. As to its traditional ideology, Confucianism, it is still a question whether or not it itself would be welcome if it weren’t imposed on Chinese people.

Yet, to make the catchphrase “the splendid resuscitation of the Chinese nation” or “the China dream” more credible, China has also rewritten its history depending on some disputable researchs, for instance ones by British scientific historian Joseph Needham and French economic historian Paul Bairoch. In the new historical story, China is represented as a nation that was not only the world’s most powerful nation but the world’s most advanced state in science and technology in the course of a long time ago; for example, in 2014, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said that China had led the world in the past for over 100 years in response to Obama’s remark that the U.S. would continue to shepherd the world for 100 years and in 2015, Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology vice-minister Wang Zhigang, in an interview, gave a speech saying that China had been ahead of the world in scientific and technological creation as early as in the late Ming dynasty and the early Qing dynasty.

The CCP’s target is very explicit: just effectuating China into a world’s number one power of Confucian tradition through western sciences and technology. In the predictable future, no visible strength can hamper it from fulfilling the target except western countries change existing policy. At home, the CCP even has no discernible oppositional force yet. And the failure of the last two ruling classes in Chinese history, the Qing dynasty and the Nationalist Party, is closely connected with the foreign invasion and occupation of China; today’s China isn’t in such a case. By calculation, the average life expectancy of a dynasty in the nine dynasties uniting China from the Qin to Qing dynasties is some 170 years. Hence, there is reason to believe that the liberal world will still be facing an authoritarian China for about 104 years if relevant policy doesn’t shift.

Sino-U.S. struggle

While China has vicious defects in scientific and technological creation, the U.S. doesn’t have overwhelming advantage in the Sino-U.S.struggle, specially in disposing of problems on China. The South China Sea issue is just a paradigm. In international relationships, no evidence illustrates that a developing or underdeveloped country heavily banking on other countries’sciences and technology and abundantly using simulated technological apparatus must not be able to beat at their own game a developed nation like Japan or the U.S.. China’s own history has well shown that this is possible: in the Korean War, an extremely underdeveloped China tested the U.S. and its allies’ strength and will and in the end, won a tie. The Vietnam War afterward has further proven that the potential is true, in which a badly impoverished Socialist Republic of Vietnam successfully defeated and expelled the U.S. military from its domain.

So, China has the reason to believe that it has potence to withstand, even overcome the U.S. in the future conflict; particularly when it encounters a U.S. that has been tired of and tried its damnedest to stay away from war, the kind of case is more likely to transpire. This is the reason why China would turn down the U.S.’s peaceful suggestion on the South China Sea issue and it also hints that the U.S. has no means but by concession, blockades, democratization, or war to stop China from annexing the whole South China Sea.

The U.S.’s weakness lies in it always putting its back into avoiding conflicts between major powers. This makes many international issues, for instance, the North Korea nuclear and missle issue and the Iran nuclear program issue, unable to be solved in an effective way. In the North Korea issue, on account of China’s backing for North Korea, U.S. sanctions against North Korea to hinder it from developing nukes and ballistic missiles are almost feeble. In the Iran issue, as Iran itself is a major economy in Asia, U.S, economic sanctions against it to force it into giving up its nuclear program has slight impact too. The U.S., as the present world’s sole superpower, when not able or willing to deal with international disputes on its strength all the way, looks like a paper tiger, or at least not so purportedly muscular on the surface.

At heart, the Chinese nation is an ethnic group admiring and pursuing power and influence; in Chinese history, the transitions of all dynasties and ruling classes were completed by force. So, in Chinese history, force was the source of the legality of everything, including power. This is an invariant Chinese tradition. Most of western scholars make a mistake in construing the Chinese power legitimacy source issue. They often think that Chinese rulers need to unravel what the legitimacy of their power comes from. In fact, in China, this is a false issue: in here, the law of the jungle is just the real origin of power and thus the main source of law. Therefore, according to tradition, the CCP doesn’t need to bear witness to the legality of its power as long as it has strength to seize power and keep the power. So, what it needs to do is how to manage the country well in its own way and at its own discretion; law, for it, is only a tool able to be used for its rule.

In Chinese history, corruption and poverty were two indiscerptible root causes of the collapses of all dynasties and ruling classes. In Mao’s age, very destitute as China was, it had little or no corruption; therefore, no revolution or uprising arose at the time. Rampant as corruption is in current China, present China is by far more affluent than then China; thus, it is very difficult for revolution or rebellion to come up in the time, if not impossible. So, in a sense, U.S.’s that kind of integration policy of wishful thinking is actually the momentous cause of present-day China not having democratic revolution or movements. And in another sense, a sense of international relationships, the U.S., over its such policy, also puts itself in a situation in which it is helping its rival to surpass itself. This is exactly the opposite of its post-Cold War number one defense strategy objective, to prevent the emergence of a rival superpower

By war is the critical, most efficacious, but most detrimental way to convert the old situation or order and originate the new situation or order at a nation’s or some nations’ discretion. Two Opium Wars decisively put an end to the closure of China lasting nearly 2000 years; World War Ⅱdirectly leads to much part of today’s international order. The Cold War isn’t a real war but only a rivalry between two superpowers the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. So, though its end vitally changes the old international order, the “war” doesn’t beget the new order at the U.S.’s discretion.

In international relationships, not a nation would launch or fight a war for the causes of democracy and freedom of another country. Thus, it is foreseeable that the U.S. won’t stage a war for China’s these causes. Yet, in the U.S.’s own national interests, it needs to prepare itself for a military conflict with future China. The kind of conflict becomes more likely specially over current China’s unrestrained ambition for regional and global hegemony. Nevertheless the U.S. has chances to shun the likely armed contest. With the same view of values and respect for human rights and the rule of law, democracies are more willing to solve contention and strife between or among them over peaceful approaches and never war has broken out between two democracies. So, if China is able to be transmuted into a liberal democracy, this will be a best way to avoid the China-U.S. war and in the U.S.’s permanent national interests. Thus, the kind of way deserves the U.S. trying with the most possible effort.

In the Sino-U.S. relationship, the U.S. should try its best to show the muscle matching its status as the present world’s single superpower and exercise it if need be but not always and excessively underline dialogue and contact. U.S.-China human rights dialogue has been held 18 times , but the result is that many western mainstream media’s websites that had been able to be visited in China, for instance, The New York Times’ and The Wall Street Journal’s, now have been already blocked.

A piece of advice 

To settle the Chinese democratization issue, the U.S. should first plant the seeds of democracy and freedom in Chinese’s minds. This is a thing that is right off able to embark on in the U.S.’s own home: since every year sees hundreds of thousands of Chinese students studying in the U.S., the students are just the very objects of cultivation. The U.S. should teach the students some subjects on democracy politics, democracy history, and/or democracy philosophy but not impart only some science and technology to them and if possible, such education should be compulsory. Occasion is very simple: these subjects are generally prohibited in China. Hence, the students will have little or no opportunity to learn or know the subjects before coming to the U.S. and thus will have little or no fortune to choose by their own knowledge of democracy whether to study the subjects or not further and whether to join democratic movements or not.

The kind of the lack of room flowing from the control of the nation can be made up for farthest and most effectively only by state action; for instance, in the Qin dynasty in China, Confucianism was ever atrociously forbidden and squelched by emperors to near disappearance, but in the Han dynasty therewith, it became emperors’ focus of attention and was recognized as a state belief at last. Since then until the Qing dynasty, with the continuous upholding of rulers, Confucianism was always in an universal popularity.

Resultingly, the students, if there isn’t an obligatory educational system requiring them to learn and know the subjects, will still be in innocence with democracy, largely as in the ages before the First Opium War, Chinese intelligentsia knew only Confucius, Lao Tzu, or some other Chinese thinkers of those days but not Plato, Kant, or any other western scholar or thinker of those times. Therefore, even just for its own national interests, the U.S. should help China with its democratization issue.

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East Asia

How Beijing’s Disinformation Campaign threatens International Security in the Post-Truth Era

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China Beijing

Ever wonder how disinformation[1] could have shaped the next information warfare in the post-truth era? With the continuous advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and our overwhelming reliance on social media, the potential ramifications provoked by state-sponsored disinformation campaign could be disastrous. Indeed, given its relative low cost, low barriers with easy access to basically anywhere that allow free flow of information, disinformation serves as a perfect strategy in the new era of hybrid warfare.

Indeed, western countries have been noticing an alarming surge in political polarization with a pattern of declining public trust for mainstream media[2], implying the increasing susceptibility of the public to fake news. While this kind of information warfare is likely to dominant future warfare as technological advancement continue to upsurge, the liberal democratic structure of the western societies that enables freedom of speech provides fertile ground for adversaries, especially dictated regime to exploit. This article focused primely on China, its ideology, and reasons to deploy disinformation as part of its grand strategy, as well as the tactics Beijing would likely to use in the upcoming information warfare.

Hybrid Tactics as the Grand Strategy—and Disinformation

First announced by the Central Military Commission (CMC) in 2003, the “Three Warfare”—which included the coordinated use of strategic psychological operations, overt and covert media manipulation, as well as legal warfare designed to manipulate strategies, defense policies, and perceptions of target audiences abroad[3]-— acted as political guidelines and mutually reinforcing strategies for the People’s Liberal Army (PLA). While the Three Warfare primely aims at exploiting the adversary’s weaknesses to disrupt their opposition to PRC’s agendas[4], Chinese hybrid warfare has much more potential destruction with the integration of other hybrid tactics such as clandestine diplomacy and irregular warfare.

As a matter of fact, the nature of liberal society and democratic structure makes it difficult to resist hybrid warfare—western nations’ domestic politics could be readily usurped by Beijing’s use of disinformation and geo-economic influence, since the system are “protected by the very same liberal values that these hybrid means are designed to subvert”[5]. Hybrid warfare thus constitute the best strategy for Beijing to weaken opponents’ counterbalancing potential. Free media, for instance, which represents a basic value of liberal democracy, provided sufficient room for hybrid interference. Whilst freedom of speech allows free flow of information, free press is susceptible to fake news and propaganda conducted by coordinated disinformation campaigns, which conceivably result in a delegitimization of the media’s credibility, as well as an internal division among different target audience[6]. In addition, the echo chamber and filter bubbles effect constituted by the news feed algorithm further reinforce information consumption pattern[7] and thus further generates political polarization and potential social turmoil such as the United States capital attack on Jan 6th, 2021. The nature of fake news, indeed, has constituted its easy deployment with great effectiveness.

The Ultimate Nightmare—Deep Fakes for Disinformation campaign 

Constructed by machine learning techniques, deep fakes—images, videos and sound records that mimics one’s speech or action, of which that person had never did or said in reality—are backed by a specific type of deep learning method named as the Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), where two self-supervised algorithms automatically “learn” from each other. In such method, one algorithm (the generator) produces a synthetic image of a person whereas the other algorithm (the discriminator) reviews the level of authenticity of that image and provides feedback to the former. Generator takes “advises” from discriminator and thus being able to improve every time it creates new image. After thousands and thousands of training cycles, GAN’s algorithms would be either skillful in producing synthetic images or differentiate images’ authenticity. Due to the constant evolvement of AI and its technological sophistication, deep fakes are hence extremely hyper-realistic and difficult to be detected by human eyes[8][9]. Therefore, when deployed as a form of disinformation, deep fakes could bring disastrous implications from democracies to international security.

In relations to Beijing’s strategy, the use of deep fakes could be deployed from the fabrication of public figures and ordinary citizens.

First, deep fakes that aim at politicians, celebrities, and key opinion leaders (KOL) will have an agenda of defamation and/or shaping public opinion. Take the presidential election in 2020 as an example. Both Trump and Biden were being accused of having sexual misconduct during their election campaign. What if, there is a deep fake video portraying such criminal behaviors released the night before election? How would this have reshaped public opinion on their suitability of candidacy? Given the difficulty to debunk fake news in real time, one could only speculate the extent of damage caused to his/her reputation and the country’s democratic system.

Internationally speaking, deep fakes does not only have the potential to damage diplomatic relations but also generating intra and inter-state warfare. What if, a deep fake video illustrating U.S. president stating that America’s nuclear umbrella will no longer shelter her allies? Or Washington is planning on withdrawal of NATO, that collective defense is just a political discourse? How devastated will it be to the alliance relations and U.S. government’s credibility? Such reputation loss is often irreversible, regardless of the authenticity of the news being verified afterwards or not. 

In addition, AI-generated people could be used as “witnesses” to create the illusion of “truth” for disinformation. In fact, certain private companies are already offering disinformation as services, including automated and human-curated accounts, as well as trolling and other AI services[10]. These campaigns are often deployed for a certain political actor, according to an Oxford study in 2020[11].

Moreover, other forms of AI system including Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT)[12] which can generate text that synthesize human writings, could bring fake news and information warfare to the next level, especially when it comes to complexed international politics[13]. Together with the use of hyper-realistic deep fakes, fake accounts, personal statements, and opinion pieces would appear to be authentic—further blurring the line between truth and post-truth, meanwhile, undermining confidence in traditional media and state’s authority.

Perceptibly, the integrated use of private companies’ and state-sponsored disinformation—for instance, the 50-cent army, a notorious internet trolls employed by the CCP, which is responsible for about 450 million fake posts and comments every year[14] masquerading themselves as ordinary citizens in attempt to sway public opinion in favor of Beijing[15]—would be heavily deployed as part of the disinformation campaign/ strategy in the next information warfare.

Tailored-made disinformation

The second characteristics of China’s present (and future) disinformation would be tailored-made to certain target groups, especially its diaspora Chinese community. Overseas Chinese’ tendency to “stick to themselves and form distinct diaspora communities within their settling countries”[16] had paved way for Beijing to exert its surveillance, control, and manipulation on its people, regardless of their physical geographical location. And the spread of disinformation could be effortlessly accomplished through these significant features.

For instance, The Foreign Influence Registry Act (Bill C-282) introduced by Canada’s former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu was being deviously altered as fake news that are deliberately personalized for the Chinese audience. By portraying the Chinese community as the targeted groups and “victims” of the bill, these disinformation campaigns attempt to generate a perception that the introduction of the bill is correspond to racial discrimination against the community; thereby drawing an equal sign (albeit casual assumption) between the foreign influence registry act and the suppression of pro-China opinion, as well as control and surveillance on organizations and individuals[17] in the overseas Chinese community. Such rhetoric is indeed a discourse of danger and insecurity regardless of its truthfulness (the Chinese race being discriminated, free speech, business, and cultural exchange opportunity on the line)—it helps construct the “Chinese identity” by composing binary opposition of “us versus them”—thus provoking a certain degree of pro-Chinese sentiment and nationalism, especially for those who have always been in a more pro-Beijing stance. 

Moreover, dissemination of fake news through via the use of social media like WeChat, WhatsApp[18], increases the sense of familiarity which consequently surge one’s susceptibility to disinformation[19]. Such propagation would be difficult to debunk given the fact that it is spread through community channels and end-to-end encryption communication apps.

Perceivably, China will be utilizing disinformation campaign by tailoring to certain target groups. Chinese diaspora community would inevitably be one of them as Beijing seeks to mobilize them in operation of actions that is in favor of the central authorities. The other likeliness would be agitators and organizations that have the potential to provoke political unrest. The latter is particularly alarming—especially if (when) deep fakes are tailored to spark radical actions of certain target group, which includes but not limited to far-right groups and extremists—the consequences could be riots and social turmoil, and if not impossible, a civil war.

If you want peace, prepare for war[20]

The nature of disinformation makes it easy to be deployed with great effectiveness but at a relatively low cost. Whilst social media algorithm facilitates echo chambers and filter bubbles which conveniently trap users in reinforced information consumption patterns, the psychology of disinformation often puts people in vulnerable position as mere repeated exposure would be able to surge one’s susceptibility to fake news.

Nevertheless, the world has been witnessing more frequent and intensified disinformation campaign. State-sponsored yet covert disinformation campaign could even take advantages of its clandestine nature to deny responsibility while causing chaos in the other side of the planet by generating political polarization and thus social tear.

Certainly, merely a riot or even a  civil war would not bring the U.S. down. But the time bought via such disinformation campaign and social turmoil could be. What if, such chaos is generated in times of China’s pre-emptive strike to the island? The use of fake news is only a part of Beijing’s hybrid warfare, of which included much more complexed strategies such as the integration of a satellite assault to blackout BMD system in space warfare, and other use of unorthodox methods like Chinese Maritime Militia[21] (“little blue man”) in East and South China Sea.

These situations, although hypothetical, are not impossible. Yet these potential dangers have already been undermining public’s confidence in traditional media and state’s authority, let alone when being seriously tailored and deployed in wartime. As Taiwan’s president Tsai has noted, “Taiwan does not seek military confrontation……But if its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do what never it takes to defend itself.”[22] Akin to Taipei’s situation, like-minded democracies that hope for peace and stability must align and prepare for this information warfare as it is fundamentally threatening our liberal democratic society, as well as international security.

After all, from a realist perspective—if you want peace, prepare for war.


[1] Disinformation, as a form of fake news, is regarded as “false, incomplete, or misleading information that is passed, fed, or confirmed to a target individual, group, or country”. For details, see Shultz, R. H. and Godson, R. (2018). Dezinformatsiya: Active Measures in Soviet Strategy, Washington, D.C.: Pergamon-Brassey, 1984, p.41. and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2018, p.7; Theohary, 2018, p.5.

[2] Greifeneder, R., Jaffé, M., Newman, E. and Schwarz, N., 2021. The Psychology of Fake News. New York: Routledge.

[3] Raska, M. (2015). ‘China and the “Three Warfares”’. The Diplomat. Available at https://thediplomat.com/2015/12/hybrid-warfare-with-chinese-characteristics-2/

[4] Miracola, S. (2018). ‘Chinese Hybrid Warfare’, Italian Institute for International Political Studies.  [online] Available at: https://www.ispionline.it/en/pubblicazione/chinese-hybrid-warfare-21853 [Accessed 30 Apr. 2019].

[5] Wigell, M. (2019). Hybrid interference as a wedge strategy: a theory of external interference in liberal democracy. International Affairs, 95(2), pp.255-275.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Greifeneder, R., Jaffé, M., Newman, E. and Schwarz, N., 2021. The Psychology of Fake News. New York: Routledge.

[8] Chesney, R. and Citron, D. (2019). ‘Deep Fakes: A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security’. California Law Review, Vol. 107, pp.1753-1819.

[9] Rossler, A. et al. (2019) “2019 Ieee/cvf International Conference on Computer Vision (iccv),” in Faceforensics : Learning to Detect Manipulated Facial Images. IEEE, pp. 1–11. doi: 10.1109/ICCV.2019.00009.

[10] Hsu, K., Sangvikar, D. Zhang, Z. and Navarrete, C. (2020). ‘Lucifer: New Cryptojacking and DDos Hybrid malware Exploiting high and critical vulnerabilities to infect windows devices.’ Palo Alto Networks: Unit 42. 24 June 2020.

[11] Wallace, A. (2020). “Major Data Breaches in 2019.” Toronto Sun. Available at https://torontosun.com/news/world/major-data-breaches-in-2019

[12] GPT is an artificial intelligence system built by OpenAI, an AI research organization based in California.

[13] Kreps, S. and McCain, M. (2019). ‘Not Your Father’s Bots—AI Is Making Fake News Look Real’. Foreign Affairs.

[14] The number is going up every year according to study.

[15] Farrell, H. (2016). ‘The Chinese Government fakes nearly 450 million social media comments a year. This is why.’ Washington Post. Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/05/19/the-chinese-government-fakes-nearly-450-million-social-media-comments-a-year-this-is-why/

[16] Forsby, A. (2011). ‘The Non-Western Challenger? The Rise of Sino-Centric China’. Danish Institute For International Studies Report.

[17] Today Commercial News. (2021). ‘Please spread the message: Conservative MP Kenny Chiu proposed <The Foreign Influence Registry Act> to suppress the Chinese community’. Available at https://todaycommercialnews.com/canada/49207# (〈請廣傳! 保守黨國會議員趙錦榮提「外國勢力註冊」法案打壓華人社區〉,加拿大商報,2021年09月09日)

[18] Bramham, D. (2021). ‘Daphne Bramham: Conservatives face ugly barrage over party’s China policy’. Vancouver Sun. Available at https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/daphne-bramham-conservatives-face-ugly-barrage-over-partys-china-policy

[19] Greifeneder, R., Jaffé, M., Newman, E. and Schwarz, N., 2021. The Psychology of Fake News. New York: Routledge.

[20] Old Latin saying “Si vis pacem, para bellum” (If you want peace, prepare for war)

[21] Informal navy constituted by the Chinese “citizens”.

[22] Tsai, I. W. (2021).’ Taiwan and the Fight for Democracy—A force for Good in the Changing International Order’. Foreign Affairs. Available at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/taiwan/2021-10-05/taiwan-and-fight-democracy

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East Asia

U.S.-China Rivalry: Emergence of a New “Cold War”?

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Chinese President Xi Jinping met with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning (Beijing time), the first face-to-face meeting virtually since Biden took office. (Photo: Xinhua)

On November 16, 2021, A virtual conference was held between USA’s President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping addressing all the issues related to security, human rights and mainly over the issues of Taiwan. The result of the summit, which started respectfully soon turned into accusations and threats.

The tensions between US and China seem to increase in the past following years. Whether the issue is related to human rights, trade, security, etc., very rarely do they develop a consensus otherwise mostly they result in disagreements. However, some disagreements such as that over the future of Taiwan have escalated to a point where there is a risk of direct military confrontation. From China’s perspective, Taiwan is destined to be theirs using force if necessary. While on the other hand, the USA is prepared and determined to push China back who is using all means i.e., military, economic, and diplomatic blackmail to force Taiwan into submission. Hence, even though both sides refuse to budge and maintain the status quo, both countries are seen to participate in the summit at the same time to put each other on notice.

At the summit held, China’s President Xi Jinping warned the US to stop interference on the Taiwan issue, as it is a matter of Intra-China affairs, and if not stopped the USA will only “get burned”. USA’s President Joe Biden in response prompted their position and defended Taiwan against China’s aggression in the past and warned them of serious consequences If China continued its status on Taiwan’s issue. The disagreement over Taiwan is a sign of a great future conflict of the dominance over Asia and eventually, the whole world. One can also compare their whole picture with that cold war between the US and Soviet Union. Even though, there is a huge difference between the two eras, like USSR’s intention was clearly to become a global power while China as many times stated that they have no such intentions.

However, of seen deeply, there are some similarities where one can find similarities between USSR and China. For example, China emerging as a global power militarily and economically, against the USA which has enjoyed its supremacy after the end of the cold war is and along with Biden framing the conflict between the US and China-based on ideology i.e., a clash between autocracy and democracy and both sides willingness to result to military use if necessary.

China’s Rise and USA’s Decline

China in the last 45 years has exceeded greatly economically, militarily, etc., and can be termed as a global superpower, resulting in US-China rivalry as the US has continued to enjoy its supremacy even though it has declined over the past years. China’s growing economy when compared to USSR was the point why the Soviets collapsed. China in the past 50 years expanded at a greater rate as is also assumed to surpass the US by 2030 further increasing the USA’s concerns.  China is also seen to have advanced developments in naval, conventional, space, nuclear realms, etc.

Starting with when China emerged in 1949 as an independent state. It suffered greatly in the early years due to foreign interventions, turmoil, disintegration, famines, etc. while the USA at that time was the global superpower owning 40 to 50 percent of the world’s economy. After that China’s position became apparent in international politics with China in 2001 joining World Trade Organization (WTO), Belt Road Initiative in 2013, etc. further ensured China’s geopolitical expansion and its geostrategic enlargement. With China’s surprising growth, USA’s power has continued to unravel in the post-cold war era. Beginning with the USA’s debacles of its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, the 2008 financial crisis, and the disastrous Trump presidency. All this indicated the decreasing power of the US and the rise of other states like China threatening the global supremacy of the US.

With all the rising tensions especially over the issue of Taiwan both the powerful states are still trying to put in their effort to cool down the tensions. As told by US President Biden in the United Nations that he did not want to have a new “cold war” with China and has tried to cool down the rising tensions with Beijing. He told the United Nations last month that he did not want to see a new “Cold War” with China, and both must tread carefully to avoid any aggressive military confrontation in Asia and beyond. Similarly, China is also seeking to avoid using any unnecessary means and threats that could escalate into a larger confrontation. Both the states fully knowing that the world’s survival and wellbeing depends on the two powerful nuclear states.

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East Asia

China: The need to look to the past in order to enter the 21st century

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The Communist Party of China (CPC) has always attached great importance to the synthesis of historical experience. As early as the Yanan period in 1945, Mao Zedong pointed out: “If we do not clarify the Party’s history and the path the Party has taken in history, we will not be able to do any better”.

While entering the new era of reform and opening to the market, Deng Xiaoping said: “Successful experience in history is a valuable asset, but also wrong experience and the experience of failure are a valuable asset. Policies can thus be formulated to unify the whole Party’s thought and achieve a new unity”.

In 1981, the Sixth Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee adopted the “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of our Party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China”.

Seventy-six years have elapsed since the drafting of Mao Zedong’s first historical Resolution and forty years since the drafting of the second historical Resolution. Standing on a new point, looking back to the past and looking forward to the future fully summarises the Party’s major achievements and experience in the past century, especially the major achievements of the past 40 years of reform.

The Party Central Committee believes that the important and historic juncture of the centenary of the Party’s founding – when the Party and the people achieve the first goal of the centenary and build a moderately prosperous society – means that it is making great strides towards reaching the second goal of the centenary, i.e. building a modern socialist power.

At an important historical juncture, a comprehensive synthesis of the Party’s major achievements and historical experience in a century of struggle is of great importance for promoting the further unification of the Party’s thought –  unification of will and unified action – thus uniting and leading the people of all ethnic groups across the country to achieve new victories of the Socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. Far reaching practical and historical significance.

The Party Central Committee believes that the Party’s centennial struggle has been fruitful: over a long period of time, a wide range of issues have been addressed and many more are to be studied. In accordance with the needs to summarize history, as well as grasp the meaning of laws, strengthen confidence and advance forward into the future, it is necessary to summarize the Party’s history, as well as its achievements in uniting and leading the Chinese people. In particular, it is necessary to study the centuries of revolution, construction and reform in depth.

Combining the basic principles with the specific reality of China and its excellent traditional culture, the country has continuously advanced in the sinicization of Marxism, thus deepening the understanding and mastery of the innovative theory in a new era.

The centuries-long history of the Party’s centralized and unified authority and leadership has profoundly understood the distinctive features and political advantages of the Marxist Party itself, thus strengthening political power, in a rejuvenation of both Party’s executives and the Chinese nation.

The coexistence of harmony and persistence ensures that the Party always becomes the core of a strong and young leadership in the historical process of adhesion to and development of Socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. The courage and strength to set successive goals and move vigorously towards the future.

The Party Central Committee believes that, in summing up the main achievements and historical experience of the centuries of struggle, it is necessary to adhere to the methodology of dialectical and historical materialism, and consider the Party’s history from a specific, objective, comprehensive and evolutionary viewpoint, not confusing and even less repeating the mistakes that led other Marxist parties to disappear or – even worse – to turn into servants of two masters like Harlequin: first the Kremlin and then the White House.

The Chinese believe it is necessary to accurately grasp the main theme and traditional nature of their Party’s historical development, such as how to properly deal with the mistakes and turning points experienced, learning from success and learning from defeat, and constantly pave the way for the achievement of new goals.

They therefore deem necessary to strengthen ideological guidance and theoretical analysis, as well as clarify the vague and one-sided understandings of some major historical issues, and correct themselves as best as they can.

From the founding of the Party until the beginning of reforms, the major issues of right and wrong – and the related fundamental statements and conclusions – have been fundamentally and successfully applied up to now.

In general, although there have been some problems, after the reform and opening, the progressive direction has been correct and the results have attracted the attention of the world public in many States.

From the 3rd to the 6th Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee, the results and experience of the new course of reforms and opening, as well as the drive towards Socialist modernisation, were systematically summarised. On the occasion of the 20th and 30th anniversaries of the 3rd Plenary Session, the Party Central Committee drew up summary theses. They highlighted the focus of the new era of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and helped guide and further strengthen Chinese people’s confidence in the Party: focusing on what it is doing and entering a new path with a more vigorous attitude.

The evaluation of major events, significant meetings and prominent figures in Chinese history are sources of experience, teaching and learning. At important meetings, the Party’s history was summed up and discussed, reflecting on and understanding every decision of the Central Committee in a century of its history.  

In March 2021, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee decided that the 6th Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee should focus on researching and comprehensively summarizing the major achievements and historical experience in the Party’s century of struggle, and established a study group to draft the documents.

The Party recalls its aims and original mission, as well as the strong will and determination to keep it vital. It fully embodies the profound understanding of historical development and has always promoted the initiatives and responsibilities of its mission for the cause and development of its country.

All the country’s regions and departments are aware that in the past hundred years the Party united and led the people to continue their struggle in its various historical periods of revolution, construction and reform – to the point that, looking from the outside at what China used to be a long time ago, today we can see a miracle in both the development of the country and that of world socialism and human society.

The Party has completely reversed the historical process of the Chinese nation since the days when it regarded it as a drug exporting country and hunting ground for imperialists, colonialists and capitalists, and has vividly written a magnificent national and ideological chapter on the development of Marxism.

During this long march, the Chinese Party and people have gained an extremely rich and valuable historical experience, and these are the points worthy of a systematic synthesis.

In keeping with the Central Committee’s request, the drafting committee has diligently studied the Party’s important historical documents; fully assimilated opinions and suggestions from all regions and departments of the country; investigated major issues, and diligently drafted resolutions.

On September 6, 2021, in accordance with the decision of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, the draft resolution was submitted for evaluation within the Party, including the opinions of some senior members, whose views are highly representative.

It is agreed that the most distinctive feature of the draft resolution is the search for the truth of facts and respect for history. This reflects the Party’s original mission over a century of struggle and fully conforms to historical facts.

The discussion of the draft resolution and the assessment of the main events must be in line with the Party’s historical documents and the existing narratives and conclusions must be linked.

The draft resolution will surely appear as the political manifesto of Chinese Communists in the new era, so as to keep in mind their original mission and to adhere to and develop Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

In the process of soliciting opinions, various regions and departments have made suggestions. The drafting committee has gradually analysed those opinions one by one so as to draw as much as possible from them. After repeated research and deliberations, 547 amendments and revisions have been made to the draft resolution, fully reflecting the views of each region and department.

In addition to the preamble and concluding remarks, the draft resolution consists of seven parts.

The first part explains that the main tasks facing the Party in this period are to oppose imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism, to fight for national independence and liberation, and to create basic social conditions for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It analyses the historical background from which the Party emerged. It summarises the great achievements of the Party that led the people in the revolutionary struggle starting from 1921, marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China to the present time. It highlights Mao’s thought as a key achievement in advancing the great project of national redemption: from a feudal autocracy for thousands of years to a people’s democracy currently at the top of the world. The time when the Chinese nation was slaughtered and victimized by the European and Atlantic powers is over forever, thus creating a new era.

The second part makes it clear that the main task facing the Party in this period is to complete the transition from the new economic system to Socialism, which is a fundamental political prerequisite for the Chinese nation. After the founding of New China, the people have overcome a series of tough challenges, strengthened the new production system and created a new situation in foreign affairs and international politics. A great leap forward has been made from a poor, populous and “oriental” country to a society quite different from the one left by wars and ideological, political and strategic clashes with the imperial-colonialist powers, at first, and later with the Soviet Union and the United States of America. The Chinese Party and people can solemnly declare, with their heads held high, that only through a courageous and tenacious struggle is it possible not only to destroy an old world, but first of all to build a new one. Furthermore, all this has been done by providing bold and innovative interpretations of Marxism in view of developing Socialism and China.

The third part concerns the implementation of reform, market opening and modernisation. It is made clear that the main task facing the Party during this period is to continue to explore the correct path to liberate and develop the social productive forces; to lift people out of poverty, to become wealthy as soon as possible and to provide new vigorous institutional guarantees for the achievement of these goals. The achievements that are attracting world attention are the following: responding cautiously to a series of risky tests concerning the general situation after the great reforms, in favour of the stability of the country; promoting the great cause of reunification of the Motherland and maintaining and promoting world peace.

The fourth part regards the analysis of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is a new historical orientation for China’s development, as it summarises the theoretical innovations of the 18th Congress. Governing the Party itself in a comprehensive and self-disciplined manner; continuing to build the country economically; deepening reforms and openings in a comprehensive manner, as well as political construction, comprehensive rule of law, cultural leadership, social leadership, respect for the environment, defence and military organisation to safeguard national security. This also means adhering to the system of “one country and two systems”. The areas of study will also include diplomatic work, focusing on original ideas, transformative practices, and historical progress and achievements over the past nine years, to provide a more comprehensive system guarantee, a more solid material foundation and a more active spiritual force.

The fifth part deals with the historical significance of the CPC’s centuries of struggle through the basis of a comprehensive review and summary of the many decades of its political activity and liberation of the country, which have radically changed the future and destiny of the Chinese people. All this has undoubtedly demonstrated the strong vitality of Marxism in China, and has profoundly influenced the process of world history through the three logics: the historical logic, the theoretical logic and the practical logic of struggle.

The sixth part deals with the historical experience of the Chinese Communist Party over a century of life. It summarises the historical experiences with a fundamental and long-term guiding significance, namely adherence to the theoretical innovation of ideology, to national independence, and to the world needs, when they call for an end to hegemonism by those who claim the right to lead the planet without being called upon by the people. These historical experiences are an organic, systematically complete and interconnected whole, which reveals the fundamental guarantee for the continued success of China’s domestic and foreign policies. They reveal the source of China’s strength and the fundamental reason why the Party has always taken the initiative in history, without desiring fathers or protectors, i.e. maintaining its advanced autonomous nature. Historical experiences are gems accumulated through long-term practice. They are the spiritual wealth created by the Party and the Chinese people – hence they must be cherished, as well as last for a long time and be continuously enriched.

The seventh part focuses on the Chinese Communist Party in the New Era. It dwells on the entry into the second centenary, for which the whole Party must work hard to achieve the goal set, with the perseverance of clinging to its country and not letting go, and for which the Party’s basic theories must be adhered to. The basic policy line and strategy of fostering high quality development and committing to the promotion of the prosperity of the people, the country and the multimillennial beauty of China. The Party must always maintain flesh and blood contact with the people and safeguard and develop the fundamental interests of China’s people and ethnic groups. For Party leaders, the principle to keep in mind, is “be born in trouble and die in happiness”. It means always having a long-term vision, being prepared for danger in times of peace and continuing to promote the new great project of national construction.

The Party urges us not to forget the sufferings of the past, so as to be worthy of today’s mission, which leads to the great dreams of the future. For the CPC, it is essential to learn from history, create and shape the future, work hard and move forward with courage. It must continue to make unremitting efforts to enter the second centenary.

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