One Belt, One Road, Many Problems

Photo: Council on Foreign Relations: James McBride & Julia Ro

‘One-Belt, One-Road’ (OBOR) is the chunky umbrella term for a series of Chinese funded infrastructure projects that aim to link China, the rest of Asia, and Europe. At a cost of $1 trillion, spread over sixty-eight countries, it is thought to be the largest infrastructure project ever. There are three main parts of the project…. Continue Reading ➤

Becoming One With Nature (Again)

Source: pxhere

 “Over-civilised people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that [nature] parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life… None of nature’s landscapes are ugly, as long as they are wild” -… Continue Reading ➤

The Land of Make Believe: Federalism in Russia

“Let’s meet at the cafe on the right,” read the note in my hand. “It’s the one where they don’t sell cigarettes.” I stood on the corner of Rue La Bruyère and Rue Jean-Baptiste-Pigalle in the Saint-Georges district of Paris. The byzantine domes of Sacré Coeur could be glimpsed at a distance, their impressive alabaster gently piercing the ultramarine sky,… Continue Reading ➤

Kwan-li-so: unspoken, unchallenged

Korea image

Hoeryong concentration camp, northeast North Korea: officially named Kwan-li-so, No. 22. A Russian doll of obscurity, the camp is within a valley, with many side valleys, enclosed by 1,300 – 2,300 ft. high mountains. From the macro to the micro, the camp measures 225km2 in area, skirted by an inner 33,000 volt electric fence and… Continue Reading ➤

English: a global language, but a language nonetheless

A language laboratory in Huaihua College's Western Campus in Huaihua, Hunan, China. The rigid teaching of English in some Asian nations is hampering learners' abilities to make creative use of the language, thus harming cross-cultural communication

In the occasional but ever-growing English language fancies of South Korean TV, there is an instructional approach to answering the question “How are you?” A celebrity on a variety quiz show, a reporter interviewing an American musician or a TV character traveling through Sydney will answer all the same, verbatim, in a monotone, “I am… Continue Reading ➤

Who needs the rule of law, anyway?

The Pudong area of Shanghai, as seen from the Bund (Source: Flickr: mclcbooks)

China is not always known for its adherence to the rule of law.  The judiciary is controlled by the Communist Party, and criminal trials, which 98% of the time result in convictions, “often amount to mere sentencing announcements”, according to Freedom House.  The law that exists is flouted with impunity; provisions against torture do little… Continue Reading ➤

The Hong Kong Protests in Context

Hong Kong protests

In September, Emily Ting, along with Hong Kongers across the globe, changed her Facebook profile picture to a yellow ribbon: a symbol of solidarity with the democracy movement. Hers was not the only colour of ribbon, however. Throughout Hong Kong, there was a veritable rainbow of colours, from blue, showing support for the police and… Continue Reading ➤