What We're Watching: More details about Xinjiang

What We're Watching: More details about Xinjiang

More details about Xinjiang: The world already knew that China has imprisoned more than a million ethnic Uighur Muslims and other minorities in camps in the country's far-west Xinjiang province. Beijing says the prisoners are volunteers receiving job training. Rights groups say they're locked in mass incarceration "re-education camps" designed to indoctrinate ethnic minorities. But a classified blueprint of the system that's been leaked to the media now details life on the inside. The camps reportedly have watch towers, double-locked doors, and video surveillance "to prevent escapes." What's more, the Chinese state is evidently using the camps to train its artificial intelligence programs for use in mass surveillance. This is the largest incarceration of people based on an ethnic or religious identity since the Holocaust. We're watching for any sign the governments of predominantly Muslim countries, the US, or Europe will take meaningful action against the Chinese government.


Press crackdown in Egypt: Over the weekend, Egyptian authorities raided the offices of the digital publication Mada Masr, one of the country's last bastions of independent investigative journalism. Top editors were arrested, and there's a decent chance it had to do with the site's publication, just days earlier, of a report that strongman President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi's son had been quietly removed from his senior role in the intelligence services due to poor performance. Though Mada Masr is well-accustomed to the security apparatus' techniques used to intimidate journalists, the clampdown has been more aggressive since anti-government protests broke out in September. Egypt ranks 163rd of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders.

A breakthrough in Bolivia? Supporters of ousted president Evo Morales have reached a deal with the new interim government to ease tensions and pave the way to new presidential elections. Under the pact, approved over the weekend by a Congress that Morales' MAS party still controls, lawmakers will appoint a new electoral board that will set the date for a vote early next year. Morales himself will not be permitted to run. Pro-Morales groups and unions have agreed to take down hundreds of road blockades that have strangled the Bolivian economy in recent weeks, and interim-president Jeanine Áñez has begun meeting with pro-Morales activists. But things aren't exactly going swimmingly: Morales' party wants to exempt him from prosecution for backing the blockades, while the new interior minister wants to jail him for the "rest of his life."

What We're Ignoring

The Pope's call to banish nuclear weapons. Look, it's not that we are opposed to eliminating the world's most dangerous weapons. It's just that only one of the nine nuclear powers has a majority of people who consider themselves Catholics—and just 15% of French adults say they are "practicing." Which leads us to the old line: "And how many divisions does the Pope have?"

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

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Listen: In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer, Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert assesses the current state of the climate crisis and answers a simple question: how screwed are we? And as the climate continues to warm at a record pace, she unpacks some of the more extreme climate solutions that some increasingly desperate nations are starting to consider. Such measures may sound like stuff of science fiction (see: injecting sulfur particles into the atmosphere or shooting millions of tiny orbital mirrors into outer space) as times become more desperate, their appeal is growing. Can we fix the planet the same way we broke it?

China is making its neighbors nervous these days. Chinese fighter jets are screaming into Taiwan's airspace. Hundreds of armed Chinese "fishing boats" are plying the disputed waters of the South China Sea. And Beijing is slashing imports from some trading partners because of disputes over political issues.

To push back against this increasingly aggressive behavior, regional powers Japan, India, and Australia, together with the US, are boosting cooperation via a 17-year-old grouping called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or simply "The Quad." But how effectively can these four countries really work together to counter China? Eurasia Group's Peter Mumford discusses the Quad's future.

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Want to tackle climate change? If so you'll have to reach out to China, which is currently responsible for over a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions. Beijing will certainly take your call, as climate is a huge priority for President Xi Jinping.

Xi has promised that China will go "net zero" — meaning its carbon emissions will be offset by equal amounts of either natural or tech-driven carbon capture — by 2060. Is a decade later than most of the top 10 polluting countries fast enough for the rest of the world? It is for the Chinese, who want to help but have their own ideas about how.

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When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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Can "the Quad" constrain China?

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