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North Korea, the United States and the Singapore Summit Agreement

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There are many essential points of the US-North Korean talks which have been treated, albeit briefly, in the Singapore Summit between Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald J. Trump.

It was certainly not a mere photo-opportunity but, inevitably, it was not an already fully-fledged agreement between the two parties.

With specific reference to denuclearization, nothing new under the sun, but something very important and new from the political viewpoint, also compared to the opposing rhetoric of the USA and North Korea. Symbols matter in foreign policy and, as far as we know, Trump and Kim Jong-Un liked each other – rational, brutal and frank as they both are.

Nevertheless, North Korea’s decision-makers have long considered their realistic plans for their country’s military nuclear exit.

In fact, five years ago Kim Jong-Un decided to implement his by ungjin policy line, i.e. the parallel development of North Korea’s nuclear military system and of the civilian economy since he had above all verified that, at the time, it was the only way to make the USA sit at the negotiating table.

For Kim Jong-Un, the United States was the key to success: he knew the costs and relevance of a long-standing and effective relationship with China and the Russian Federation, but he wanted the Third Factor to make North Korea partially autonomous.

Without upsetting old balances, but manoeuvring them with the traditional rationality of its ruling class.

At the time, Kim Jong-Un’s other considerations referred to the strong, ongoing and evident US military pressure and to the particular weakness of North Korea, which was in a phase of political and strategic transition between two elites.

The beginning of the naïve and dangerous US project was   Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011, which led to a clear South Korean and US military pressure for a naïve and unlikely regime change that obviously did not take place.

Later, however, in June 2013 the National Military Commission, led by Kim Jong-Un, stated it was ready to start a stable denuclearization process.

At that time a renewal of the Six Party Talks would have been possible also for North Korea, but it wanted above all a bilateral negotiation with the United States.

According to the “policy line” decided by Kim Jong-Un at the time, the USA, for its part, had not to set initial and preliminary conditions.

Nevertheless, the USA certainly had every interest in being the new power broker of the agreement with North Korea, the only breaking point of a strategic continuity which would have been very convenient for the United States.

It should be recalled that in February 2012there was the failure of Barack Obama’s proposal for the cessation of nuclear and missile tests and the subsequent sending of a North Korean satellite into the space.

Coincidentally, in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping established a special confidential diplomatic channel with North Korea, but the tension with the USA mounted and certainly not for the Chinese move.

But what is, ultimately, the give and take for denuclearization, according to Kim Jong-Un’s policy lines which have actually been implemented by the curt, but significant Singapore Summit Agreement?

First and foremost, the cessation of the US hostile policy, that is the political, economic and military tension against North Korea.

Furthermore, North Korea wants the full and official recognition of sovereignty on its territory, as well as the replacement of the 1953 ceasefire with a peace treaty, and finally the end of all economic sanctions against it.

All these aspects are already included -also between the lines – in the Singapore Agreement.

Hence if the traditional tension between North and South  Korea ends, the whole region of the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, starting from the Mediterranean up to the US military bases in the Pacific, becomes – for the USA – a strategic continuum capable of stabilizing the central Asian terrestrial axis.

This could weaken China on its maritime border in the South and would also reassure the Russian Federation in a small sea which, however, is essential for Russia from a military viewpoint.

At economic level, the most analytical models to assess the possible integration of both Koreas currently point to a necessary increase of at least 50of North Korea’s GDP and also of the average income of its citizens – given the increase in the total productivity of economic factors and the accounting of North Korea’s general balance considering eight primary factors.

Within a North-South Korean integration project, there would be above all an increase in medium-level light and manufacturing productions, especially in the North, while there would be global economic room also for mining products in North Korea alone.

The traditional cost model studied for unification regards the capital investment to reach a 60% per capita GDP in North Korea compared to South Korea’s – a limit that is thought to be capable of avoiding mass domestic migration.

Currently the most careful and recent calculations make us estimate the total cost of reunification at approximately 1,800 US billion dollars.

A 23% share would come from North Korea’s full integration into the world market, starting from the current productive specializations of this country.

A further 14.5% share of the total reunification cost would come from the share of international aid to which North Korea would ultimately have access.

Finally, an additional 12.3% share would come from the integration between North Korean companies and South Korean similar ones.

The rest would come from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), in which also Russian and Chinese companies should participate.

However, a fully affordable and feasible additional “remainder” could come from North Korea’s new commercial treaties with the EU, Japan and obviously China and the Russian Federation. This can be done soon and well.

Trade between North Korea and Russia has long been worth slightly less than 100 million US dollars a year.

Currently it is over 78 million US dollars but, in this new political phase, certainly strategic, scientific and military exchanges are still essential for both Russia and North Korea.

Today, for example, there is also the railway crossing between the Russian Federation, in Vladivostok, and the North Korean port of Razon.

Furthermore, part of the Internet networks reaching the North Korean territory comes from the “nodes” of the Russian network on its borders.

Moreover, Russia still supports – on its own – the link between North Korea and the World Bank and it also wants to innovate the North Korean railway system -which is a great business – in addition to pressing for the creation of a pipeline that will make Russian energy products reach both the North and the South of the Korean peninsula.

Finally, negotiations are underway for the exchange of Russian electricity with North Korean minerals.

This is the strategic and economic core of the issue: if, in the future, the agreement between Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong-Un does not concern an economic and strategic arrangement also with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, most of the agreement signed in Singapore will remain dead letter.

Not to mention the at least 40,000 North Korean workers still operating in the Russian Federation.

As well as the Russian oil, which currently comes to North Korea through the traders present on the markets, right in Singapore.

Hence the failure of the very recent Singapore Agreement is a severe danger to be averted both for the United States and for the silent and weak EU, as well as for Russia and China, and obviously also for North Korea itself.

Hence if the USA wants to focus on its new strategic balances between Africa, Latin America and Western Asia, it must loosen – at least partially –  the grip on an old and now obsolete Cold War scenario, i.e. the Korean confrontation in which General MacArthur threatened the use of nuclear weapons against the People’s Republic of China, which supported North Korea’s expansion to the South.

As Mao Zedong would have said, many fires lit to confuse the US adversary and tie it to a defensive logic without future – as was also the case with the Vietnam War, a war of attrition that became for the USA the seal closing the whole Far East to the US interests.

Mao, an excellent military strategist, was right.

Today, however, it is time to well-evaluate all the possible options, both for the United States and for the weak European Union.

The latter could do much, if only it knew how to do it.

Moreover, we must always think about China.

China still accounts for 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade, but President Xi Jinping’s policy regarding the UN sanctions against North Korea has come to the point of no return, as demonstrated by the unfriendly note issued by the North Korean news agency in May 2017.

Hence what does China want from North Korea and will continue to want after the Singapore Agreement?

This is above all a two-party game with Russia. Hence, if China accepts sanctions on North Korea, it wants Russia to support North Korea financially.

Conversely, if North Korea becomes one of China’s efficient client States, at reduced costs, everything will be fine for President Xi Jinping.

Furthermore, it will be even better if North Korea becomes a quiet, but credible border for South Korea and its US forces stationed on the territory.

This will also be a decisive issue into which the Singapore negotiation will penetrate.

Another factor in the Chinese strategic considerations is the increasing cost for external attackers in threatening the North Korean soil.

China does not want a North Korea devoid of strategic threats, but wants them to be considered in the US equation.

The aim is to avoid the military overload of South Korea, which is also a key economic partner for China.

Currently the “de-escalation” of North Korea’s nuclear potential is more a result of Chinese policies than of Western pressures.

Hence China does not want North Korea’s warlike and aggressive positions and, not surprisingly, in mid-November 2017, it sent Sung Tao from the CPC Department for International Relations to curb Kim Jong-Un’s multilateral tension with the USA and the UN Security Council and hence adhere to the Chinese policy line for the very survival of the North Korean regime.

Just not to forget the essential strategic issue, the Communist Party of China has no interest in putting an end to North Korea’s nuclear position.

As stated in a CPC confidential document drafted in 2017, China has instead the primary strategic interest of using North Korea’s nuclear potential to prevent “chaos and war” throughout the peninsula and anyway support North Korea’s denuclearization, thus finally placing the whole nuclear system of the region under the IAEA’s protection.

China needs an inexpensive and even less troublesome shield to protect itself from US attacks by the entire Korean peninsula.

This could also be the US policy line in further future negotiations with Kim Jong-Un.

Hence China does not want North Korea’s military destabilization – God forbid – but it does not even want the nuclear arsenal to be quickly destroyed or to end up in the hands of States alien to China’ interests in the region.

Will this be the case for the USA in the future, after the Singapore Summit?

Kim Jong-Un, who is an excellent strategic analyst, knows all too well that he can use the US card, but only until it is not played against China.

Hence the optimal situation for China would be to keep a share – to be negotiated – of nuclear weapons in North Korea until the situation – even in the South and for the new deployment of the US Armed Forces – is ripe for a new multilateral negotiation on the North Korean issue.

The North Korean leaders, however, see the denuclearization of their country (and of South Korea, too) in a three-phase mechanism: firstly, the freezing of their nuclear potential; secondly, the disabling of critical infrastructure, and finally the dismantling of their weapons already assembled.

From this viewpoint, in all the three phases North Korea wants the USA to reaffirm its decision – already taken and signed in Singapore – to “cease hostile policies”.

As can be inferred from the official text of the Singapore Agreement, in a first phase there would be North Korea’s freezing of all nuclear activities.

Again along the policy line already spelt out in Singapore, there would be a further agreement on mutual economic and political relations.

Furthermore, there is also the request to stop the US military and nuclear activities throughout the Korean peninsula.

After the Singapore Agreement, however, we will probably witness an ever more reduced US presence in South Korea and North Korea’s reduced conventional pressure on the pro-American South Korea.

However, there is nothing preventing the USA from shifting its nuclear weapons – with all the necessary checks – from South Korea to positions not posing a serious strategic threat to North Korea.

Kim Jong-Un, however, does not want a “Libya-style model”, i.e. the unsuccessful model relying on the following principle:  “firstly, put an end to nuclear weapons and then we can talk about it”.

Kim Jong-Un is well-aware of how the USA behaved vis-à-vis Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and Iraq. Indeed, he is not entirely wrong.

Hence North Korea wants to check, step by step, all the costs and benefits of the new and future treaty.

And it will make no concessions.

Nevertheless, everything hinges around an essential strategic process. Never leave the Americans alone – and this is a problem of the inept and vacuous EU – but never leave also the North Koreans alone.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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East Asia

Bushido Spirit Resurrected? Japan publicly bared its swords against China

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Recently, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso declared that Japan will join forces with the US to “protect Taiwan.” There has been a lot of turmoil, but even though the US directly announced that it will follow the “One China policy,” Japan has not given up its secret intentions. Japan’s new “Defense White Paper,” which was just approved, not only continued to link the US, but also displayed greater animosity toward China.

The Japanese government just finished the 2021 version of the “Defense White Paper,” according to the Global Times, but both the cover and the substance of the white paper are full of “provocative” meaning. The first is the front cover. According to the image released by Japanese media, the cover of Japan’s new “Defense White Paper” is an ink drawing of a warrior on horseback. According to a spokesperson for Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the horse samurai on the cover represents the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s commitment to defend Japan. However, after seeing it, some Japanese netizens said that it was “extremely powerful in fighting spirit.”

From a content standpoint, the white paper keeps the substance of advocating “China menace,” talking about China’s military might, aircraft carriers, Diaoyu Islands, and so on, and also includes the significance of “Taiwan stability” for the first time. A new chapter on Sino-US ties is also included in the white paper. According to the Associated Press, the United States is expanding its assistance for the Taiwan region, while China is increasing its military actions in the region. This necessitates Japan paying attention to it with a “crisis mindset.”

Japan has recently grown more daring and rampant, thanks to a warlike cover and material that provokes China and is linked to the US. Japan has recently bared its swords against China on several occasions.

Not only did Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga take the lead in referring to the Taiwan region as a “country,” but after meeting US President Biden, he issued a joint statement referring to the Taiwan region, and tried his best to exaggerate maritime issues such as the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Deputy Defense Mizuho, and Deputy Defense Mizuho. It has all made inappropriate statements on Taiwan and publicly attacked the “One China Principle.”

After China clearly voiced its disapproval, Japan not only refused to be constrained, but actively increased its antagonism toward China. Do they truly believe China is simple to provoke? The tensions between China and Japan will undoubtedly worsen as a result of Japan’s publishing of this white paper. Although Japan has the bravery to provoke, it lacks the guts to initiate an armed war with China. After all, even the United States, on which they have traditionally counted, would not dare.

It is simple to employ force against China, and if the Japanese Self-Defense Force want to fight the People’s Liberation Army, it is preferable for them to be prepared for any catastrophic outcomes. Furthermore, China has long been Japan’s most important commercial partner. Even with Japan’s sluggish economy, they should be wary of challenging China. If they refuse to examine this, China may let them face the consequences of economics and trade.

Furthermore, the US has declared unequivocally that it will pursue the “One China Policy” and has intimated that it will not “protect Taiwan” with Japan. The stance of the United States demonstrates that, despite Japan’s determination to constrain China on the Taiwan problem and invitation to the United States to join in “safeguarding Taiwan and defending Japan,” the United States is hesitant to offer such refuge to Japan. As a result, Japan should be clear about its own place in the heart of the United States and attach itself to the United States, although it may be beaten by the United States again in the end.

In reaction to this event, the Hong Kong media stated that Japan should focus on making friends and generating money rather than intervening in Taiwan’s affairs, saying that “provoking Beijing is a fool’s errand.” As a result, if Japan continues to challenge China, they will be exposed as a total fool. And how good will a fool do in a game between countries?

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East Asia

Hong Kong Issues & the Impact on China’s Domestic Politics

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Hong Kong after years under British colony was handed over to China after the leash period was over and China being the governing state swore that it will protect the uniqueness of Hong Kong and let it function under its established capitalist system under “one state, two system” policy for the period of 50 years. These 50 years ensure Hong Kong to enjoy the freedom under the China security Umbrella. In contrast to China, the Hong Kong political system consist of multiple parties. Some of these political parties fall under the Pro-democratic camp as they supports the positive reforms in democracy. The other camp is of Pro-establishment, they are known for their support for the mainland China as they consist of basically people from the business sector. In the Hong Kong the Pro-Business supporter or pro establishment are known to be more of the dominant group because of their relation with the China but they have less support of the voter in contrast to the Pro-democratic camp.

Though in the wake of the recent Issues and the conflict with the mainland China it seems that the promises that were made at the time of handover are just fading away. Recently China decided to take some bold steps as it decided to intrude and intervene in the political system practiced In the Hong Kong which seems to a crackdown by Mainland China against its opposition. These audacious step of China triggered the massive protest in the Hong Kong driving international attention and Condemnation. What prompted and highlighted the situation more was when China in 2020 passed a national security bill and implemented an extremely comprehensive definitions for crimes such as terrorism, subversion, secession, and collusion with external powers. This bill was said to be controversial as it was a strain for the Hong Kong to establish itself as a full democracy. China also further accelerated the situation by arresting many pro-democracy activist and lawmakers which were protesting against the bill. What factors lead China take such steps was when the political groups in Hong Kong became more radical and formed Anti-Beijing parties threating the China Position and its control over the Hong Kong?  Student and youngster took the street to protest for the establishment of the political system that is more democratic in nature, starting to call themselves Hong Kong Nationals rather than identifying themselves as Chinese National.  Several of these groups separated in 2020, as Beijing cracked down on political opposition. This all threaten the Chinese position and control over the Hong Kong and its political setup. These steps by Mainland China have hushed many Hong Kong citizens who was fighting for democracy and encouraged others to abandon their lifestyle and escape the city.

If we see the motivation of the China Communist Party after consolidating power was to ensure and invest on the stability, CCP does everything and take every measure they have to in order to preserve the Stability of the Country so for this purpose most of the spending by the party was for the stability that is on the police system, training centers and national defense system that ensure the preservance of stability internally. If we study the CCP history, the power tenure of Xi Jinxing was clearly marked with the same preservance of stability as well as consolidation of power. He did it by benefitting those who were loyal to his leadership for example the pro-business man group in Hong Kong or Pro establishment camp. He sidelined those who were in the opposition as he did with the Pro-democratic wing that were protesting in the Hong Kong. China while introducing the National Security bill right after the massive protest did fuel the situation but it is also clear that China was somehow successful in inflaming the nationalism among people and pitting it against those who ever criticizing in and out of the country. China used the coincidental and the inflamed nationalism for its own benefit. Xi Jinxing handling of situation by doing massive arrest and crack downs on the opposition clearly reflects that regardless CCP and the XI jinxing knowing that such move will prove to be disastrous either seen from the diplomatic, geopolitical of economic lenses still go for it. It shows that the leaders only cared about the political requirements and reinforce inner control ignoring the damages it can have on the geopolitical or the economic situation of the country. All over in the history it had been debated that one day Chinese leadership might implement an aggressive foreign policy or even go for a war just for the sake to distract the public and international attention from their domestic issues. Hong Kong offered that very opportunity that could benefit the Chinese leadership, but without the risks and costs of a war. So I must say the situation handled by the Xi Jinxing was merely motivation but the thirst for consolidating power over Hong Kong rather than benefitting either of the mainland China or Hong Kong.

This situation had also impacted the internal politics of the China both diplomatically as well as economically. Diplomatic in a sense that the world had witnessed the massive protest in Hong Kong and a little later China decided to implement the National security Bill just gathered the Attention of the supranational actors and countries. Due to the Pandemic and its origination from China, it was exposed to the world and all the things happening in China was keenly observed. In such a scenario taking such rigid steps brought the world Attention not in the favor of the Country. Admits the Pandemic as well as the crackdown many countries including USA start to reinvent their policies for China. It was a great chance for the Rivals of China to hit it where it hurts. As Hong Kong served as a great technological hub for the China, deteriorating situation and implementation of such broad definition of terrorism compel many business to close down or relocate themselves thus negatively impacting the already crumbling economy due to pandemic. For example the head office of New York Times announced its relocation to Seoul amidst the deteriorating situation in the Hong Kong. Other than that many technological firms relocated themselves as there were facing restriction and censorship in their activities from China.  This happened due to the constant threat of arrest if they did not comply with the demands and the instruction given by the authorities. So Hong Kong issue and the handling of it by the Chinese Government did have many repercussion for the domestic politics of the China. If China keep following on this step and keep seeing Hong through thorough the Nationalist perspective it will Sabotage China Fight for freedom at the larger scale and Hong Kong will time to time rise up again to mold the domestic narrative build by the China and to break its monopoly, which will be a constant threat to China.

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100 Years of the Communist Party of China: A Glorious Journey

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As the Communist Party of China (CPC) marks its centenary, it gives a very strong message to the whole world. The message is: an alternative system is not only possible; it exists, it is working and it is thriving.

During past 100 years of its existence as a political force, CPC has achieved marvels on all the fronts that it had to deal with. The journey started, in my view, by giving Chinese people a confidence that ‘we can do it; we can deal with internal and external challenges successfully.’ That is how the CPC got itself established in the minds and hearts of Chinese people in its foundational decades – 1920s. Through 1930s and 1940s, the party – though young and fragile at that time – registered a phenomenal role against the Japanese aggression.

The proclamation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949 indeed was the most important feat in the history of the CPC and Chinese people at large. Yet, as is globally realized, the tough task starts after the establishment of the state – its preservation, its development and making it a nation known globally for its mettle. CPC performed exceptionally well on all these counts.

Through initial decades of founding of PRC, the Party worked very hard to ensure well-being of Chinese people – the world’s most populous nation – and meet their needs of livelihoods, food, education, health and other amenities. The journey was slow, but steady. Through this pre-reform and opening up period, dealing with calamities like famine as well as negative fallouts of the ‘Cultural Revolution’ was not easy; yet, CPC showed that the Party and its leadership can steer the country through these difficult times.

Obtaining the rightful place for PRC at global fora such as the United Nations, strengthening the country’s defence including making it a nuclear power, and establishing a leadership role for the country among the developing world were momentous achievements of that time.

The post-reform and opening up period started a whole new chapter in the history of CPC and China – one that the world knows today as miracle. Today, the People’s Republic is one of the strongest and most important nations on the face of the earth. Be it economic growth and development; poverty reduction and social uplift; scientific advances and innovation, as well as a potent role for global development, China is visible as a force to be reckoned with.

This has been possible with sincere, well-thought-out, responsive and forward looking strategies and policies of CPC’s central leadership, implemented through its provincial and lower local cadres, across the country.

Lifting more than 800 million people out of absolute poverty and now being a country free of absolute poverty, having achieved a level of modest prosperity – and that too within given timeframe despite the challenges posed by globally-threatening pandemic – is a feat that humanity, not only China, should write with golden words in its history. CPC has made it clear that with dedication to people, engaging them constructively in the process of national development, and giving them confidence, everything is possible.

The advent and successful moving forward of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) now becomes the most promising feather in the cap for CPC, today led by visionary Xi Jinping and his able comrades.

My study of China in general and the Communist Party of China (CPC) in particular, over past about two decades, makes me say with conviction that the whole edifice of the Party and its work are truly people centric. Its selection of the cadres, from bottom to the top, is based on qualification, dedication, integrity and capacity to deliver. You get what you deserve. You have to deliver, or else, pave the way for others to do the same better than you. This is a system that brings the cream of the society to the top.

A distinctive feature of CPC’s strategic planning, functioning and deliverance is adaption to changing ground realities and trends. Thus, the Party – as I have observed – beautifully blends change and continuity it its system and structure of the governance of the country.

As an international observer, the way CPC has ensured equitable distribution of the benefits of growth and development, amongst it regions as well as ethnic groups, is profoundly impressive, for me. It is inclusive. The beauty of it is that no one feels left behind. Even in case of selection and promotion of its cadres, CPC ensures inclusiveness and representation. Not only all the regions of the country but its various ethnic groups are duly represented and become part of the decision-making for the nation.

CPC, the world needs to know, also follows a constructive consultative mechanisms with eight other political parties of the country – it is not a one way traffic or a one party show. Input and feedback from other parties is incorporated, where so needed and feasible. The Party is now fostering linkages and collaboration with political parties across the globe, sharing experiences mutually.

The notion that western democracy is the only workable political model for the world holds no ground. 100 successful years of CPC become one of the strongest reminders for the world that alternatives not only exist but have proven feasible; much more successful than disruptive, destabilizing, distorted ‘democracy’ that the west continues to experiment with and wishes to impose upon the rest of the world.

With close to 91 million members, CPC becomes that largest political party on the planet. Yet, my exposure of China gives me reasons to say that every single citizen of China has immense confidence in CPC – believing that the Party is taking their nation in the right direction, in a glorious manner.

It is time for the CPC experience to be showcased to the world, prominently. In coming years and decades, CPC is all set to take China towards unprecedented heights – domestically and internationally.

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