Categories
Security

China’s Nuke Storage Site Revealed

Chinese soldiers in Beijing / Photo: Luther Bailey, flickr
When it comes to the stockpiles of the world’s nuclear-armed states, China is among the most secretive of them all. This is what made the 12 March publication of a report on China’s Nuclear Warhead Storage and Handling System by Mark Stokes, executive director of the Washington-based Project 2049 Institute, an Asia-focused think-tank – all the more remarkable. Through “authoritative sources, correlation of reliable data, and analysis,” Stokes identifies not only where China keeps its nuclear weapons, but how (and how well) they are protected from accident and attack.

Stokes writes that the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission “maintains strict control over China’s operational nuclear warheads through a centralized storage and handling system managed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery.” In peacetime, warheads are managed through a system that is “separate and distinct” from PLA Second Artillery missile bases as well as apart from China’s system for keeping tabs on its civilian-use fissile materials. In addition, he says, the Second Artillery appears to control and manage nuclear warheads that could be used by the PLA’s air force and navy.

Categories
International Relations Government Security Foreign policy

On the Relevance of BRIC…

BRIC Leaders in 2008, courtesy of Kremlin Press and Information Office

On 16 April, the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will meet in Brasilia. The group has managed to develop  a presence on the geopolitical stage in the past years and is increasingly able and willing to counter the influence of western power on various fronts. They share many characteristics and interest- primarily in the economic realm- and account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its land area.

The four are also pushing for a more multilateral world and use BRIC as a vehicle to pursue this end. The international community and media have enthusiastically embraced this concept and often view or treat the group as a coherent political actor, granting it clout and weight on the international stage.

But has the BRIC concept graduated from mere theory (and labeling) to real, actionable practice? Beyond the push for a more “multilateral world”, do the BRIC countries have much in common? Do they share anything beyond their inclusion in the 22  “emerging markets” index and perhaps most importantly, does the bloc have political relevance?

Categories
International Relations Social Media Government

US Internet Policy: Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Censored, courtesy of gojira75/flickr

Last week, an article in Arab Crunch stated that internet users from Syria, Sudan, N Korea, Iran and Cuba were not allowed to access some services and sites. The US-based open source repository SourceForge is an example.

It must be said though that these countries are also known for their own site-blocking capabilities.

As always on the World Wide Web, nothing is certain. But the evidences point out that it is the US government that is prohibiting access to these websites. These five countries are subject to US sanctions, and as such, Washington is restraining internet access to users in these ‘blacklisted’ countries. It is also worth saying that 4 out of 5 of these countries are the one “sponsoring terrorism” (North Korea having been removed in 2008 following bilateral negotiation on non-proliferation).

But US companies and the citizens of the countries mentioned are not the only ones affected by the sanctions.

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Uncategorized

The Power of Photography: Rapid Growth has a Price

Screenshot of New York Times 'Lens' blog
Screenshot of New York Times 'Lens' blog

Words do little to convey the kind of destruction unfettered growth has caused in China. Stories of environmental degradation and displacement are common but fail to show the true, human impact of China’s rise.

Contrastingly, spectacular examples of China’s positive ambition are everywhere; in the mushrooming modern mega-cities as well as events such as the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival; a whimsical Disney-like world made entirely of ice, snow and millions upon millions of Christmas lights. A tourist trap perhaps, but also a testament to the innovative and hopeful spirit of the country.

The following photo essays provide insights into the strange world of China’s yin and yang.

Categories
International Relations Environment

Melting Expectations

Iceberg, Alaska, photo: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton/flickr
Iceberg, Alaska, photo: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton/flickr

With the Copenhagen conference on climate change only two weeks away, it remains doubtful whether a legally binding agreement on climate change will emerge.  Here a run-down of the (mostly vague) pledges made by key greenhouse gas emitters in the wake of the conference: