Posts Tagged ‘China’

Democracy Is Far From Dead

December 11, 2017

In 12 years, the share of the world’s people who live in ‘free’ countries has risen.

Democracy Is Far From Dead
PHOTO: RUI VIEIRA/ZUMA PRESS

With recent setbacks in the Philippines, Turkey, Venezuela and elsewhere, it is common to hear laments about the decline of democracy world-wide. Turbulent times in Britain and the U.S. add to the concern, as does the sweeping failure of the so-called Arab Spring since 2011. After major waves of progress in the wake of World War II and the Cold War, is freedom starting to sputter?

Democracy has taken some hard hits. But before we cede bragging rights to autocrats, or persuade ourselves of the need for precipitate action to arrest a perilous strategic slide, we need perspective on what has been happening.

It is true that the “third wave” of democratization—the proliferation of democratic states in the late 20th century—has largely ended. But it has not been reversed by any stretch of the imagination.

Recall the magnitude of what transpired last century. By 2000 about 120 countries, or nearly two-thirds of the nations of the planet, had become electoral democracies. A hundred years before, the total could be counted on a single hand—or less, if one defines democracy as a system of full enfranchisement of women and men of all races.

The 21st century is not off to such a good start. But the net setbacks have been modest. By one measure, according to Freedom House, 25% of all countries were assessed as “not free” in 2016, compared with 23% in 2006.

Yet if one adjusts for population, there has been no setback at all. India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil, with a combined population of two billion, have, for all their admitted troubles, been holding generally steady in recent years. The countries experiencing setbacks have generally been less populous. As a result, the fraction of people living in “not free” countries has declined slightly over the past dozen years, from 37% to 36%, while the total living in “free” countries rose gently, from 44% to 45%. The remainder were in countries deemed by Freedom House to be “partly free.”

Much as we might regret partial setbacks to liberal democracy in Hungary, population 10 million, developments there pale in significance when compared with democratic progress in Indonesia, population 261 million. The big outlier here is Russia, with its 142 million people, where the early signs of liberalism in the mid-2000s have been decisively reversed.

Viewed in broad historical terms, the democratic model continues to excel when measured against all the alternatives. Established democracies almost never go to war with each other, helping explain why the decades since World War II have been among the least violent in human history, at least when it comes to interstate war.

A world of democracies is also proving to be unambiguously good for fighting poverty and strengthening the global middle class. As our colleague Homi Kharas has shown, in 1950 less than 10% of the world’s population could be said to be middle-class—with daily family income between roughly $10 and $100 in 2005 dollars, adjusted for purchasing power. Today the figure approaches 50%. Some of that progress has been within autocracies, notably China. But more than two-thirds of it has been in democratic countries.

Most of these democracies also generally remain united in a common strategic purpose, despite the occasional robust debates over when and how to use force. The U.S. leads a coalition or loose alliance system of some 60 states that together account for roughly 70% of world military spending and a similar fraction of total world gross domestic product. Except in the Middle East, almost all these U.S. allies are democracies. And while the megastate of India is not a U.S. ally in the way that Canada and the U.K. are, it is nonetheless an increasingly close American strategic partner.

Democracies have struggled with corruption, violent crime, poverty, populism, challenges from globalization, and other hard realities of modern life. Democracy does not change human nature. It does, however, generally put us in a much better position to address those problems peacefully.

Witness South Korea, which impeached a president earlier this year but seems no worse for the wear. Or Brazil, dealing with similar political problems in an ugly yet still constitutional manner. Or India, where a strongman leader is nonetheless checked in some of his ambitions by a balance-of-powers system. Or the U.K., where Brexit, itself the result of a democratic choice, seems likely to cause only limited damage.

We do need to learn one lesson from history’s recent sobering course: Democracy is fragile and can never be taken for granted. But declarations about democracy’s demise, or even its significant decline, go too far.

Mr. Jones is vice president and Mr. O’Hanlon director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy Program.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/democracy-is-far-from-dead-1512938275

Advertisements

What are the differences between China’s two aircraft carriers?

December 11, 2017

As the country’s newest warship readies for the next stage of sea trials here’s how it measures up against its predecessor

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 5:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 5:20pm

China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is expected to start blue-water trials soon, according to state media and mainland military websites.

The 001A, which started preliminary trials in Dalian in the northeast of China in November after its launch on April 26, has a similar design to the country’s first carrier the Liaoning.

That ship started life as the Varyag, an unfinished Admiral Kuznetsov class carrier that China bought in 1998 from Ukraine – which inherited the ship after the break-up of the Soviet Union – and retrofitted.

The new vessel has been designed as a more modern variant on the Admiral Kuznetsov class ships – which means the two Chinese carriers have a similar appearance.

However, naval experts said the Chinese engineers and designers who built the ship had studied the most advanced military technology used by the Americans, as well as the former Soviet Union, and tried to encorporate this into the new ship to meet the practical needs of the PLA Navy.

 (China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, provided the template for the design of the 001A. Photo: AFP

Similarities:

Size – both are medium-size aircraft carriers with 60,000 to 65,000 tonnes of displacement.

Propulsion Systems – both use conventional propulsion.

Runway – both have a short runway with a ski-jump ramp.

Different roles:

The 001A has been designed to operate in a similar strategic role as US carriers – sailing with an escort of frigates, destroyers and other vessels as part of a battle group that can survey and attack targets on land, sea and air.

By contrast the Admiral Kuznetsov class ships were originally designed to serve as a “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser” equipped with much more firepower than other carriers, including powerful anti-ship and surface-to-air cruise missile systems. They were designed to operate without an escort and were able to offer support to other warships.

Take-off ramps

The slope of the ski-jump ramp on the 001A is 12 degrees, compared with 14 degrees on the Liaoning. Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the 12-degree ramp would help fighters shorten their take-off distance, save fuel and increase their weapons payload while strengthening the ship’s structure.

 The new carrier has been designed to have more deck space.

Space for more aircraft

China Central Television said the control tower island on the 001A deck has one more storey than the Liaoning.

However Li said the deck space occupied by the island had actually shrunk by 10 per cent to allow the deck to hold more helicopters and fixed-wing early-warning aircraft.

Li further noted that four weapons sponsons, or projections, had been removed from the aft deck, meaning there is space for more aircraft on deck.

The 001A will be able to house a maximum number of 35 J-15 fighter jets compared with the 24 carried on board the Liaoning, according to overseas military reports and retired Read Admiral Yin Zhuo.

 Both carriers will carry J-15 fighter jets. Photo: Xinhua

More powerful weapons

Li said S-band radars with four large antennae would be installed on the top of control tower. The radar system is China’s most ­advanced and is capable of covering a 360-degree search field to scout dozens of targets in the air and at sea.

Another four HQ-10 short-range air defence missiles systems with 24 tubes would also be deployed on the new ship. This weapons system is also used by the navy’s most ­advanced Type 052D destroyers and Type 056 frigates.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2123610/what-are-differences-between-chinas-two-aircraft

Russia Urges India to Back China’s Belt and Road

December 11, 2017

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and suit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (C) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi Reuters

By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Russia threw its weight behind China’s massive Belt and Road plan to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond, suggesting to India on Monday that it find a way to work with Beijing on the signature project.

India is strongly opposed to an economic corridor that China is building in Pakistan that runs through disputed Kashmir as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

India was the only country that stayed away from a May summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping to promote the plan to build railways, ports and power grids in a modern-day recreation of the Silk Road.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said New Delhi should not let political problems deter it from joining the project, involving billions of dollars of investment, and benefiting from it.

Lavrov was speaking in the Indian capital after a three-way meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at which, he said, India’s reservations over the Chinese project were discussed.

“I know India has problems, we discussed it today, with the concept of One Belt and One Road, but the specific problem in this regard should not make everything else conditional to resolving political issues,” he said.

Russia, all the countries in central Asia, and European nations had signed up to the Chinese project to boost economic cooperation, he said.

“Those are the facts,” he said. “India, I am 100 percent convinced, has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which would allow you to benefit from this process.”

The comments by Russia, India’s former Cold War ally, reflected the differences within the trilateral grouping formed 15 years ago to challenge U.S.-led dominance of global affairs.

But substantial differences between India and China, mainly over long-standing border disputes, have snuffed out prospects of any real cooperation among the three.

India, in addition, has drawn closer to the United States in recent years, buying weapons worth billions of dollars to replace its largely Soviet-origin military.

Swaraj said the three countries had very productive talks on economic issues and the fight against terrorism.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

 

Chinese Foreign Ministry denies claims that intelligence services used LinkedIn to gather information

December 11, 2017

 Image result for logo for LinkedIn shown in California,, picture

The logo for LinkedIn shown in California, US. PHOTO: REUTERS

Speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday (Dec 11), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the accusations were baseless.

“We hope the relevant German organisations, particularly government departments, can speak and act more responsibly, and not do things that are not beneficial to the development of bilateral relations,” he said.

Germany’s intelligence service had earlier published the details of social network profiles which it says were fronts faked by Chinese intelligence to gather personal information about German officials and politicians.

The BfV domestic intelligence service took the unusual step of naming individual profiles it says were fake and fake organisations to warn public officials about the risk of leaking valuable personal information via social media.

“Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way,” including seeking data on users’ habits, hobbies and political interests, they said.

Nine months of research had found that more than 10,000 German citizens had been contacted on the LinkedIn professional networking site by fake profiles disguised as headhunters, consultants, think-tankers or scholars, the BfV said.

“There could be a large number of target individuals and fake profiles that have not yet been identified,” they added.

Among the faked profiles whose details were published were that of “Rachel Li”, identified as a “headhunter” at “RiseHR”, and an “Alex Li”, a “Project Manager at Center for Sino-Europe Development Studies”.

Many of the profile pictures show stylish and visually appealing young men and women. The picture of “Laeticia Chen”, a manager at the “China Center of International Politics and Economy” was nicked from an online fashion catalogue, an official said.

A Reuters review of the profiles showed that some were connected to senior diplomats and politicians from several European countries. There was no way to establish whether contacts had taken place beyond the initial social media “add”.

The warning reflects growing concern in European and western intelligence circles at Chinese covert activities in their countries and follows warnings from the US Central Intelligence Agency over attempts by the economic giant’s security services to recruit US citizens as agents.

The BfV invited concerned users to contact them if they encountered social media profiles that seemed suspect.

Russian military chief criticizes U.S., Japan and South Korea for missile defense drills

December 11, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person

Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, arrives for the opening ceremony of the International Army Games 2017 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov Reuters

 

TOKYO (Reuters) – Russia’s military chief warned on Monday that military exercises by Japan, the United States and South Korea aimed at countering North Korea only raise hysteria and create more instability in the region.

Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov, issued his warning in Tokyo as the United States, Japan and South Korea began a two-day exercise to practice tracking missiles amid rising tension over North Korea’s weapons programs.

“Carrying out military training in regions surrounding North Korea will only heighten hysteria and make the situation unstable,” Gerasimov said at the beginning of a meeting with Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera.

This week’s exercise by the United States and its two Asian allies, in which they will share information on tracking ballistic missiles, comes just days after large-scale drills by U.S. and South Korean forces that North Korea said made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.

North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

On Nov. 29, North Korea test-fired its latest ballistic missile, which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.

China has also repeatedly called for the United States and South Korea to stop their exercises, which North Korea sees as preparation for an invasion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked in Beijing about the latest U.S., South Korean and Japanese drills, said the situation was in a vicious cycle that if followed to a conclusion would not be in anyone’s interests.

“All relevant parties should do is still to completely, precisely and fully implement the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions toward North Korea, and do more for regional peace and stability and to get all parties back to the negotiating table. Not the opposite, mutual provocation,” Lu said.

‘IMPORTANT MEANING’

Gerasimov’s visit to Japan is the first by a senior Russian military official in seven years and follows the resumption of “two-plus-two” defense and foreign minister talks in March after Russia annexed Crimea.

Relations between Russia and Japan have been hampered for decades over the ownership of four islands north of Japan’s Hokkaido, captured by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two. Japan has declined to sign a formal peace treaty with Russia until the dispute is resolved.

Gerasimov also met Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of staff of Japan’s Self Defence Forces.

China’s Defence Ministry said on Monday it had begun a planned joint simulated anti-missile drill with Russia in Beijing, which had “important meaning” for both countries in facing the threat from missiles. It said the exercise was not aimed at any third party.

China and Russia both oppose the development of global anti-missile systems, the ministry added in a statement.

China and Russia both oppose the deployment in South Korea of the advanced U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

China in particular fears the system’s powerful radar could look deep into its territory, threatening its security.

The United States and South Korea say the system is needed to defend against the threat of North Korean missiles.

It is not clear if this week’s exercise by U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces will involve the THAAD system.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

South Korean President Moon Jae-In hopes to “normalise” ties with China on his first state visit

December 11, 2017

SEOUL (AFP) – 

South Korean President Moon Jae-In hopes to “normalise” ties with giant neighbour China on his first state visit to the country this week, his office said Monday, after Beijing was infuriated by a US missile system deployment.

Seoul and Washington decided to install the powerful US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in the South earlier this year to guard against threats from the nuclear-armed North.

Beijing saw it as a threat to its own security and reacted furiously, slapping a string of measures against South Korean businesses and banning group tours to the South, in moves seen as economic retaliation.

 Image result for Moon Jae-In, photos, china
South Korean President Moon Jae-In

China is the South’s top trading partner and the diplomatic row took a major toll on many South Korean firms, most notably retail giant Lotte Group, which provided the land to host the powerful US missile system.

Angry boycott campaigns and regulatory crackdowns by Chinese authorities decimated its business in the world’s second-largest economy, and it was forced to put its supermarket unit in China up for sale.

But last month the two countries issued identically-worded statements on their mutual desire to improve relations.

It did not state any specifics, but Beijing has demanded that Seoul formally promise not to deploy any more THAAD launchers and not to join any regional US missile defence system.

Nam Gwan-Pyo, a deputy director of the presidential national security office, did not give reporters details of any concrete steps that could be expected from Moon’s four-day trip — his first to China since taking power in May.

But he said it would be a turning point in relations towards a “more mature” relationship, he said, “by recovering bilateral trust and strengthening friendship between the leaders of the two nations”.

Ties recently showed some — albeit limited — signs of thaw as China’s state tourism board approved last month Seoul-bound group tours from some parts of China.

Moon heads to Beijing on Wednesday and will hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping the following day to discuss issues including how to curb the North’s nuclear weapons drive, Nam added.

China — the North’s sole diplomatic ally and economic lifeline — has stepped up sanctions on the North amid pressure from the US and the international community to play a bigger role in taming its regime.

Beijing has backed recent UN sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear and missile tests, including a ban on coal imports, although it repeatedly pushed for talks to defuse the tensions.

It has urged a “double freeze” on both North Korean weapons tests and joint military exercises by Seoul and Washington — an idea consistently rejected by the US and South Korea.

China, Taiwan spar over Chinese diplomat’s invasion threat

December 11, 2017

Image may contain: outdoor

FILE PHOTO: A pro-China supporter adjusts a China national flag during a rally calling for peaceful reunification, days before the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, in Taipei, Taiwan May 14, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu Reuters

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) – A threat by a senior Chinese diplomat to invade Taiwan the instant any U.S. warship visits the self-ruled island has sparked a war of words, with Taipei accusing Beijing of failing to understand what democracy means.

China considers Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is its main source of arms.

Beijing regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between it and the United States. In September, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorises mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.

Diplomat Li Kexin said at a Chinese embassy event in Washington on Friday he had told U.S. officials that China would activate its Anti-Secession Law, which allows it to use force on Taiwan if deemed necessary to prevent the island from seceding, if the United States sent navy ships to Taiwan.

“The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force,” Chinese media quoted Li as saying at the weekend, referring to Taiwan’s main port.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said late on Saturday that, while Chinese officials seemed to want to try and win over hearts and minds in Taiwan, they also had been repeatedly using threats that hurt the feelings of Taiwan’s people.

“These methods show a lack of knowledge about the real meaning of the democratic system and how a democratic society works,” the ministry said.

China suspects Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who leads the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, wants to declare the island’s formal independence. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s security.

Influential Chinese tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said on Monday China would never back down over Taiwan.

“The Chinese mainland has never given up the option of Taiwan reunification by force, which is clear to people across the Taiwan Strait,” it said in an editorial.

“Li’s words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line. If Taiwan attempts to hold an independence referendum or other activities in pursuit of de jure ‘Taiwan independence’, the PLA will undoubtedly take action,” it said.

Speaking at a daily news briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China would continue to maintain the principle of peaceful unification.

“At the same time, we will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he told reporters.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait & Simon Cameron-Moore)

US, Japan and South Korea launch two-day ‘missile tracking’ drills

December 11, 2017

RT — Russia Today

US, Japan & S. Korea launch two-day ‘missile tracking’ drills

USS Stethem © US Navy

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have have begun joint “missile tracking” drills, South Korea’s military said. The new round of military exercises comes just days after the US and its allies concluded the largest ever air maneuvers over the peninsula.

.
The exercises kicked off Monday amid speculation that North Korea may soon test launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), South Korea’s military announced, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Two US Aegis destroyers – USS Stethem and USS Decatur – are leading the war games along with South Korea’s Seoae Ryu Seong Ryong Aegis destroyer, and Japan’s Chokai Aegis vessel. During the exercises, the three navies aim to polish their skills at detecting and tracking potential ballistic missiles using a computer-simulated training module.

The drills which are hosted by Japan will conclude Tuesday, December 12, and are aimed at increasing the allies’ ability to respond to the North Korean threat, Japan’s Navy said in a press release.

The allied navies will be “practicing tracking an object and sharing information on it among the three countries,” a Japanese defense official told AFP, adding that the simulations “will translate into a measure against ballistic missiles.”

The S. Korean and Japanese military said the current activities are the sixth of its kind to take place in the last two years.

“(We) are keeping a close eye on North Korea’s missile facilities,” a South Korean defense official told Yonhap. “There has been no indication detected of any imminent provocation, but we are fully prepared for a response.”

The new round of military exercises near N. Korean borders began just days after the US-S.Korean Vigilant Ace drills concluded Friday. A total of 12,000 personnel and over 230 military aircraft took part in the maneuvers which also included the deployment of a B-1B bomber as well as F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters. The exercises have been slammed by Pyongyang, which said it proves that US President Donald Trump is “begging” for nuclear war.

North Korea has repeatedly criticized the joint drills between the US and South Korea. Last month, the North’s ambassador to the UN ruled out negotiations with Washington, citing America’s “hostile policy” against his country and the continuing joint activities of Washington and Seoul. Russia and China have long urged the US and North Korea to accept their proposed “double freeze” plan which would see Pyongyang suspend its nuclear and ballistic missile tests in exchange for a pause in joint US-South Korea drills. That proposal, however, has firmly been rejected by the US.

https://www.rt.com/news/412675-japan-us-skorea-missile-tracking/

See also:

North Korean Submarine Missile Threat Prompts U.S.-Led Military Drills

Source:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/10/world/asia/north-korea-submarine-missile.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

A photo released by North Korea’s state news agency in April 2016 purported to show a submarine-launched ballistic missile test. Credit Korean Central News Agency, via European Pressphoto Agency

Weapons sales up again worldwide

December 11, 2017

Arms sales are increasing around the world. The current report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that the main beneficiaries are armaments groups in the US and Western Europe.

 A member of a coalition of fighters made up of local tribes, Popular Resistance Committees and supporters of the southern Yemeni separatist movement, who are all opposing the Shiite-Huthi movement, drives a tank at the Al-Anad airbase(Getty Images/AFP/S. Al-Obeidi)

Munitions, tanks, drones: The global trade in arms and military services increased again in 2016, for the first time in five years. It was up 1.9 percent on the previous year — and 38 percent compared to 2002. These new figures are from the latest report on the international arms industry by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). It says that in 2016 the world’s 100 biggest armaments groups sold 374.8 billion US dollars-worth of weapons and weapons systems.

Read more: Nobel Peace laureates — Nuclear war is ‘one tantrum away’

Particularly in the United States, armaments groups are producing and selling more weapons. According to the report, sales from US firms rose 4 percent in 2016, totaling 217.2 billion US dollars. This was not only because of the US’ own military deployments abroad: The figure was also boosted by the purchase of large weapons systems by other countries. The US group Lockheed Martin — the biggest weapons producer worldwide — did lucrative business selling its new F-35 to countries like Britain, Italy or Norway. Its biggest customer, though, is the United States Air Force.

Read more: ‘Killer robots’ — autonomous weapons pose moral dilemma

Infografik Deutsche Rüstungsexporte nach Saudi Arabien ENG

Big American players like Lockheed Martin make up the majority of the top 100 armaments groups researched by SIPRI’s experts. Once again, the report clearly shows that the majority of arms come from American companies — a total of 57.9 percent of all global arms sales. Western Europe takes second place in the list of the most important suppliers of arms, followed by Russia with 7.1 percent of arms sales around the world.

Crises benefit the arms trade

The picture is more mixed in the Western European countries. While French and Italian firms are selling fewer arms, German and British groups — despite Brexit — increased their turnover. The German tank manufacturer Krauss-Maffei, for example, and Rheinmetall, which makes military vehicles, profited from the demand for their products in Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

“Nonetheless, it’s very difficult to make a direct connection between large arms purchases and ongoing wars. But of course there are links: There’s a greater demand for certain types of weapon — munitions, missiles or ground vehicles, for example,” says Aude Fleurant, Director of the Arms and Military Expenditure Program at SIPRI. The rise in arms sales around the world is also a response to smoldering conflicts, she adds. “We observe that in some regions the perceived threat is increasing.”

South Korea is arming itself

South Korea is one example of this. In 2016 South Korean firms reported huge 20.6 percent increase in arms sales. “That quite clearly has to do with the security situation in the region,” Fleurant says. South Korea feels seriously threatened by the nuclear provocations of its neighbor North Korea — and is increasing its military expenditure in response. South Korean arms manufacturers, who mainly sell to their country’s defense ministry, are profiting from this.

Read more: Japan to purchase offensive missiles capable of striking North Korea

The SIPRI researchers believe China may also be a top weapons manufacturer. The country does not, however, appear in their statistics, because the experts have no reliable data on the Chinese arms trade. “But we assume that Chinese armaments groups are among the top 20 biggest companies in the world,” says Aude Fleurant.

Russland Flugabwehrsystem Buk-M2 (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Shipenkov)Anti-aircraft missiles can bring down passenger jets, as happened in 2014 with Malaysian Airlines flight 17

Fewer arms sold when the oil price falls

The experts did, however, observe that some of the traditional weapons importers apparently ran out of money in 2016. “The falling commodity prices for oil and gas have put such a strain on the public finances of many African and South American countries that they bought fewer weapons than planned,” says SIPRI researcher Fleurant. Russia’s armaments groups were also affected by the crisis.  Russian arms sales continued to rise, but at a slower rate than in the past. The reasons for this were falling oil and gas prices on the one hand, but also European Union (EU) and US sanctions.

There is no question but that wars prompt individual states to procure weapons. When crises threaten, countries spend more money on more modern arms: They buy new warships, fighter jets and tanks, and armaments groups sell more as a result.

But according to SIPRI expert Fleurant, the majority of weapons are sold by arms manufacturers to the defense ministries of their own countries, not abroad. Thus the new SIPRI report not only provides information about who is selling and buying how many weapons: It also says something about how safe the world as a whole currently feels.

http://www.dw.com/en/sipri-weapons-sales-up-again-worldwide/a-41735391

No automatic alt text available.

Are Robot weapons and AI next in the arms sales arena?

Over 100 AI experts have written to the UN asking them to ban lethal autonomous weapons — those that use AI to act independently without any human input. No “killer robots” currently exist, but advances in artificial intelligence have made them a real possibility. The experts said these weapons could be “the third revolution in warfare,” after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

Rare Protests in Beijing Condemn Forced Evictions

December 10, 2017

Recently evicted migrant workers claim China’s capital has violated their human rights

BEIJING—Migrant workers held a rare demonstration in China’s capital on Sunday, with several hundred protesting outside a local government office that recent forced evictions across the city violated human rights.

The uncommon show of resistance by migrant workers seems to be the first protest since the Beijing government began sweeping evictions last month following a deadly fire in a slum tenement on the city’s southern outskirts. Those evictions have drawn angry critiques from middle class professionals, while many of the workers left the city quietly.

In Feijia Village, on the city’s northeastern fringe, protesters hung a large white banner reading “Violation of Human Rights” across the front gate of the village committee office, according to smartphone videos verified by people on the scene. One man repeatedly yelled “violent evictions,” and the crowd chanted back, “violate human rights.”

The protest lasted several hours in midday, with the crowds growing to several hundred people before police dispersed them, according to eyewitnesses.

Employees in the Feijia government office declined to comment and wouldn’t say if police detained protesters.

The protest came on the same day the U.S., Canada, and the European Union unusually issued near-identical statements condemning China on international human rights day. In previous years, embassies would each issue their own statement. Sunday’s statements, which didn’t mention the evictions, criticized China for continued violations of freedom of speech and religion, and prosecution of human-rights lawyers.

Feijia is one of dozens of neighborhoods across Beijing where local authorities have evicted residents on short notice in recent weeks, citing code violations. Many of those evicted in Feijia were angry because they had belongings destroyed, residents said.

It was unclear how the protest began or if it was organized to coincide with international human rights day. In past years, social activists and petitioners have organized protests in Beijing outside United Nations offices and other notable buildings to mark the day, with protesters quickly detained.

Write to Eva Dou at eva.dou@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/rare-protests-in-beijing-condemn-forced-evictions-1512915082

.
Related: