Photo of the Week: Taking Atoll

Over the past two weeks, the following things have happened on, near, or because of Woody Island (pictured above), a controversial Chinese military outpost in the South China Sea:

  • China landed nuclear-capable long-range bombers on an airstrip on the island.
  • The US disinvited China from a major international naval exercise in Hawaii, citing missile installations elsewhere in the region and the bomber landings as factors in rising tensions.
  • A US destroyer and guided missile cruiser steamed within a few nautical miles of shore, prompting sharp objections from Beijing.

Normally, this wouldn’t be all that remarkable. China’s military ambitions in the South China Sea are well known, and strategic tit-for-tat is commonplace. But the latest ratcheting up of military activity and rhetoric comes at a time when the US and China are engaged in delicate negotiations on other key issues like US-China trade and North Korea.

Stuff happens–particularly when there is heavy hardware operating at close quarters. And we live in a complex and interconnected world, where a miscalculation or accident in one arena can have knock-on effects elsewhere. Rising tensions in the South China Sea add another layer of complexity to what was already a volatile mix of competing national interests.

The Business and Market Fair that recently took place in Sanzule, Ghana featured local crops, livestock and manufactured goods, thanks in part to the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), one of Eni's initiatives to diversify the local economy. The LRP program provided training and support to start new businesses to approximately 1,400 people from 205 households, invigorating entrepreneurship in the community.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.

Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.

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Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite five days of mass unrest that has paralyzed Paris' public transport system and dented both tourism and Christmas retail, the government will stand firm on a proposal to reform and unify the country's 42 different pension plans. France's pension system, one of the most generous of any major industrialized country, has major budget shortfalls that contribute to the country's ballooning deficit. Last year, Macron abandoned a proposed fuel price hike that ignited the Yellow Vest movement. But overhauling France's "welfare state" was central to his 2017 election platform, and acquiescing to protesters this time around would be political suicide. France's prime minister – tapped to lead the pension reform project – is expected to announce the plan's final details tomorrow. We're watching to see how this might escalate things further.

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4: The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, precluding its participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia has three weeks to appeal the ban, which its prime minister says is the result of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria."

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Are we seeing the creation of a parallel universe for US and Chinese tech industries?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

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