Growing up in rural North Korea, Yeonmi Park says she survived the great famine of the 1990s by foraging for grasshoppers and dragonflies. Today, she is a human rights activist living in Chicago. How she got from there to here is the story of a lifetime.
Does the leader of Hong Kong appear weaker withdrawing the extradition bill?
Well as we'd say in Australia, "Is the Pope a Catholic?" Of course. This means that Carrie Lam's authority within the Hong Kong SAR is reduced and her standing in Beijing is reduced as well. But I think the bottom line is that China will resist any efforts to remove her from office, despite local pressure.
Is the US – China trade war coming to an end anytime soon?
Depends Dr. Bremmer on what your definition of "any time soon" happens to be. My prediction is simply this: once they get to the G20 meeting in Osaka Xi Jinping and President Trump will agree to reboot the negotiations process but then it's a question of the substance of the deal. My prediction is A) there will be a deal sometime between now and the end of the year. And secondly, the nature of the deal will be America yielding on the questions of tariffs to the Chinese and China yielding to the Americans on the amount that President Trump expects in the purchasing order of future American goods by the Chinese. That's my bottom line. Both countries need the economic outcome. Both countries therefore have a deep interest in securing a deal. Doesn't mean the end of the economic war however, technology reigns supreme.
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For more on this and other issues, visit → Microsoft On The Issues.
If Willis's story on Tuesday about Argentina being plunged into darkness after a nationwide power failure didn't get you packing a flashlight and checking that your car has a full tank of gas, this one should. Over the weekend, the New York Times said anonymous US officials had revealed a US campaign to plant "potentially crippling malware" inside Russia's power grid "at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before."
This is a big provocation. It's the cyber equivalent of mining a harbor — an aggressive move that falls short of actual conflict but sends an unmistakable message: mess with us, and we'll mess you up.
The leak was probably intentional. The campaign fits with the new US strategy, launched under the Trump administration, of trying to deter cyber adversaries like Russia, China, and Iran from hacking its critical infrastructure. By disclosing the US campaign, US officials are effectively telling Russia (and by extension China and Iran), that they've got a loaded gun cocked and pointed at their economies.
That's dangerous. People — and governments — may not always behave rationally when a gun is pointed at their heads. Russia might be even more inclined to lash out. And unlike more conventional forms of conflict, cyber isn't a domain where the US can be sure it has an overwhelming advantage if push comes to shove.
It gets worse. The Times said US cyber officials described a "broad hesitation" to go into details of cyber operations against Russia with President Donald Trump because they feared he might cancel it or tell other governments about it. Among other things that are disturbing about this story, a lack of communication between the President and US cyber warriors could send mixed signals that further embolden US adversaries.
It's no secret that cyberattacks are becoming more commonplace. But where do most of them originate and what countries do they target most? The graphic above shows the most significant offenders and victims since 2006. Hackers in China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea account for three-quarters of all major attacks. Nearly a fifth of attacks, meanwhile, have targeted institutions or companies in the United States.
(At least that we know of: this chart highlights known attacks on government agencies, tech companies, and other operations that caused more than $1 million in economic damage. But many cyberattacks are never disclosed, and some countries are more transparent than others, so consider this a cross-section of a much bigger — and more disturbing — picture.)
China's outrage against Swiss bankers – Paul Donovan, an economist at UBS and a former colleague of your Wednesday Signal author, ended up in hot water last week after he wrote that an outbreak of swine fever that had pushed up pork prices in China, "matters if you are a Chinese pig. It matters if you like eating pork in China. It does not really matter to the rest of the world." The Swiss bank put Donovan on leave after a nationalist tabloid picked up the story, unleashing a torrent of invective from angry Chinese citizens, industry groups, and clients. Although we're a bit puzzled at the intensity of the outrage, we're following this story closely. The anger of 1.4 billion people is a powerful thing, and if the US-China standoff over tech and trade continues to escalate, US firms could soon find themselves on the receiving end.
What we are ignoring: Trump on ICE
Trump's Deportation Threats – As Donald Trump revved up his official reelection campaign in Florida on Tuesday, he took to Twitter to vow mass deportations of "millions of illegal aliens" starting next week. We are ignoring this for two reasons: First, it looks more like a campaign trail stunt than a well-thought-out plan — the scale of deportations Trump envisions would require massive logistical coordination, and it's not clear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can deliver it — even if the federal force got help from local police, who may be reluctant to participate in mass arrests in their communities. Second, while this type of rhetoric may play directly to Trump's base, images of crying children torn from their parents will galvanize the president's opponents — and, in particular, the suburban women crucial to his 2016 victory. We're not ignoring the pain and trauma that mass deportations would inflict on immigrant communities if Trump delivers on this threat. We're ignoring a boast that's likely to prove a political bust.
9.7 billion: A new UN Population Division report projects that the global population will hit 9.7 billion by 2050, up from the current 7.7 billion. Most of that population growth will come from sub-Saharan Africa, which is expected to add another billion people over the next three decades.
13.3 trillion: In other projections to the year 2050, energy trackers at BloombergNEF estimate that the 62% increase in electricity demand over the next three decades will bring in $13.3 trillion in new investments, with $5.3 trillion going to wind and $4.2 trillion to solar. That's a lot of power but sweeping policy changes will still be needed to hit global climate targets.
9,000: Bitcoin, the world's original cryptocurrency, surged past $9,000 this week to a 13-month high following the news of Facebook's plan to launch its own digital currency and payment system. The prospect of the world's biggest social network moving into the crypto space has seemingly legitimized an industry that's been struggling with growth problems, fraud, and volatile prices.
1,232: Local authorities in Berlin this week approved a plan to freeze rent hikes in the city for the next five years as the German capital has become a major destination for European job seekers. Currently, the average monthly rent in Berlin is about $1,232, a 7% jump over the first three months of this year.
Can President Trump bring the Iranians to the negotiating table?
Well certainly better than John Bolton can. Trump is the guy that said that actually it wasn't such a big deal that these two tankers were hit. He's more concerned about the nuclear issue. He would like the Iranians to talk. The Iranians, meanwhile, have to show a little bit of strength before they'd be willing to negotiate. And still they're under a lot of pressure. I think it's possible that they'll start talking but not until they get out of the nuclear deal - they break through the new uranium enrichment.
Is Hong Kong a big thorn in President Xi's side?
No question and the timing is horrible. I mean 2 million people demonstrating making the Chinese government back down on this extradition law and now they've got the G20 meeting and are they going to negotiate or not with President Trump? Harder for the Chinese to look in any way weak or take risks with the Americans because of what's happening right now in Hong Kong. But keep in mind, mainland Chinese are not really aware of these demonstrations.
Will Mohammed Morsi's death lead to protests in Egypt?
On balance, no. But it'll probably lead to more terrorism from Islamic extremists and I think that is the danger. This guy was not given appropriate medical treatment while he was being held and now in court he's dead and there's no question that a lot of his supporters who themselves have been on the more extreme side are really going to be unhappy. So I'd watch out for that.
Hong Kong's democracy movement scored a big win over the weekend by forcing the territory's chief executive to suspend plans to enact a law that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kongers to the Chinese mainland. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, has apologized in hopes that the swelling crowds, estimated at more than two million people, might go home.
But the worst political crisis to hit Hong Kong since the United Kingdom handed it back to China in 1997 is far from over. The protesters believe more action is needed to protect the independence of Hong Kong's political and court systems and to safeguard the basic rights of the territory's citizens.
The crucial next questions:
How will Beijing respond to this setback? By all indications, Beijing wanted this law to be passed as part of President Xi Jinping's goal of bringing Hong Kong – as well as self-governing Taiwan – under greater control from Beijing.
But the protesters' victory sets a dangerous precedent by showing that a big-enough mobilization of people can deny China something it wants. So far, Beijing's response has been to blame Lam for mismanagement and to suggest that foreigners are stoking the protests.
Mr. Xi arguably has bigger fish to fry at the moment (the deepening trade war with the United States and a potential upcoming meeting with Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Osaka next week). And since tight state control of Chinese media means that most people on the mainland have no idea that millions of protesters faced down the government, he can probably afford to make a tactical retreat on the extradition law -- for now.
But will the protesters force Beijing to act sooner rather than later? The intoxication of success sometimes encourages protesters to make new and tougher demands. For many in Hong Kong, suspending the law isn't enough; they want it dead. What's more, far from accepting Lam's apology, the streets are now calling for her resignation.
That's a more serious and immediate problem for China's leadership. Postponing the law to try to quiet the crowd is one thing. Allowing the streets to take down a government official is quite another.
The bottom line: Chinese officials know that inaction may encourage, rather than quiet, the triumphant crowds. More repressive action by the state is dangerous, but if protester demands continue to mount, Beijing may see a rougher course of action as unavoidable. And no one knows where that might lead.