Rahul Gandhi Reappears

Rahul Gandhi ReappearsBack from a mysterious 56-day “sabbatical” abroad, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party’s reluctant leader, has seized on a political battle over India’s land legislation and the financial plight of poor farmers as subjects for re-establishing himself as a possibly credible politician. In the past two days he has made two public appearances – at a…

China’s US$46 billion Gift to Pakistan

China’s US$46 billion Gift to PakistanThe one thing to take away from the visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan is that both are in trouble diplomatically if they have to regard each other as their closest friends in Asia. Even by its standards of official largesse, China’s offer of US$46 billion for road, rail, energy and other investments in…

International Investors Burned by China’s Kaisa Fiasco

International Investors Burned by China’s Kaisa FiascoFor all the media ink spilled recently, you would think the ongoing fight in Hong Kong between severely-troubled Hong Kong-listed Chinese real estate developer Kaisa Group and its creditors was the biggest, nastiest, most portentous blood feud the capital markets have ever seen. It’s none of that. It’s a reasonably small deal (US$2.5 billion in…

New Constitution Will End Thai Democracy

New Constitution Will End Thai DemocracyThe portions of Thailand’s new written constitution that are emerging on the Internet in English present a charter designed to make sure that any election, should there be one anytime soon, will be strictly controlled by the military and the royalty in Bangkok, and that the franchise will effectively be denied to many voters. What…

Former Official Recalls Cambodian Collapse

Former Official Recalls Cambodian CollapseOn April 10, John Gunther Dean, the US ambassador to Cambodia at the fall of Phnom Penh, gave a startling interview to Denis D. Gray of the Associated Press, in which Dean accused the US of abandoning the country and “handing it over to the butcher.” Dean left on one of the last helicopters out.…

Koh Samui Bombing Points to Confusion Under Junta

Koh Samui Bombing Points to Confusion Under JuntaThe authoritarian posture of Thailand’s military regime led by General-turned-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is obvious enough, going further than its numerous predecessors in muzzling the media and suppressing opponents. The military and police are also more in daily evidence. Yet it is still just a thin and potentially brittle crust over a society that is factionalized…

Book Review: Hump Pilot

Book Review: Hump PilotStarting in 1942, Ned Thomas, then a young US Army second lieutenant, and his peers winged skyward from their base in northeast India to hoist multiple tons of war material over the Himalayas to land in and provision Chongqing, the headquarters of Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalists, tying down Japanese forces in what became known as…

Book Review: In Manchuria

Book Review: In ManchuriaThe head of the chicken that is the map of China is more or less in the place that we would call Manchuria. Dongbei (the Northeast) as it’s more commonly known now is bitterly cold in winter, desolate, and pocked by mines and heavy industry. For this book, Mike Meyer parks himself in a lonely…

The ‘Greening’ of Mahathir Mohamad

The ‘Greening’ of Mahathir MohamadWith the continuing controversy of his confrontation with Najib Tun Razak, the man he anointed in 2009 to take over as prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad may be learning a political lesson.  As Samuel T. Rayburn, the late Speaker of the US House of Representatives, once said, “What goes around comes around.” Since he started his…

Update: Chinese Journalist Jailed For 7 Years

Update: Chinese Journalist Jailed For 7 YearsGao Yu, one of China’s most prominent dissident journalists, has been formally sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets.  She was tried in November after having been detained since last April. Gao, whose 36-year career began as a reporter for the China News Service, has been arrested repeatedly. She was…