Hard Numbers: Tuesday, April 17

10,000: Tomorrow, China will hold live-fire naval drills in the Taiwan Strait that include 10,000 people, 48 ships and submarines, and 76 fighter jets. The drills, China’s largest ever, are sure to further inflame already-rising tensions with Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing considers part of China.


5,000: Venezuela’s acute political and humanitarian crisis is now driving out some 5,000 refugees a day, according to the UN. At that rate, some 1.8 million people — or more than 5 per cent of Venezuela’s population — will depart this year. They are straining the ability of neighboring countries like Brazil and Colombia to cope, in ways that could become politically significant soon.

68: Back in the late 1980s, some 68 percent of Americans polled said they thought that the world’s leading economic power was… Japan. Only a quarter said the US was top dog, even though the US economy was almost twice as large as Japan’s at the time. Today, 44 percent of Americans give that title to China, while 42 percent say the US still rules the roost (Japan clocks in at a modest 4 percent.)

11: The share of Russians who view the US positively has fallen 11 points to just 26 percent since Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Despite early hopes that Trump would improve US-Russia ties, his administration and Congress have hit Moscow with several rafts of fresh sanctions. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Russians view China positively.

2: Only two subgroups of voters currently favor President Trump’s threatened tariffs on China: non college-educated whites and rural voters, according to a new poll. Trade policy is always about tradeoffs — and Trump’s tariff approach is designed to appeal directly to the base of voters that put him in office and who, he hopes, will keep him there in 2020.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

More Show less

Bolivia's polarizing interim president: After Bolivian president Evo Morales and his deputies were pushed out of office for rigging last month's presidential election, little-known opposition Senator Jeanine Añez took office as interim leader. Añez has promised to guide the country toward a "national consensus" ahead of new elections in January, but she's already risked deepening political divides. On day one, she lugged a giant bible into office, in a perceived swipe at Morales, who had elevated popular indigenous traditions that the ultra-conservative Ms. Añez once called "satanic." She's also abruptly reoriented the country's foreign ties toward Latin America's conservative governments. On her watch, at least eight pro-Morales protesters have been killed by the authorities. Morales himself, exiled in Mexico, says he's the victim of a coup and wants to run in the elections. Añez says he's barred, but his MAS political party still controls both houses of congress and has to be a partner for any smooth transition. Some compromise is necessary, but things don't seem to be going that way.

More Show less

2,887: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now broken a century-old record to become the longest serving PM in Japan's history, at 2,887 days. It's a stunning feat for a premier who made a political comeback after quitting in 2007 due to a series of embarrassing scandals.

More Show less