1H2017 Review: Taiwan

1H2017 Review: TaiwanTaiwan’s gross domestic product is headed for its fastest clip since 2014, according to an economic think tank. GDP will probably exceed 2%, according to a forecast released in April by the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER). Darson Chiu, deputy director of macroeconomic forecasting at TIER, said the figure is not necessarily “a very…

Duterte’s Year One: Chaos Under the Surface

Duterte’s Year One: Chaos Under the SurfaceWith his first year in office completed, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t know the difference between policy and bragging to drinking partners. He has simply not grown up. He remains a hambugerong bugoy, a teenage braggart. Thus the constant boasting about his sexual prowess, the dirty talk, the tilting against convention. He has an exaggerated…

Singapore’s Lee Family Rift and International Consequences

Singapore’s Lee Family Rift and International ConsequencesThe very public rift between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two siblings, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, is a sharp reminder of what a small place Singapore is and how splits in the family can become fissures among a once tight-knit elite. The core of the ruling People’s Action Party…

Glamorous Russian Lawyer Tied to Deeper Scandals

Glamorous Russian Lawyer Tied to Deeper ScandalsThe woman offering compromising information about Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, Jr is no ordinary Russian aparatchik. She is Natalia Veselnitskaya, whose high-powered Moscow-based law firm represented a concern accused by the US Treasury Department of stealing US$235 million from a US-based investment fund through an audacious plan tied to top Kremlin officials.…

Duterte’s War on Drugs: What Has He Achieved?

Duterte’s War on Drugs: What Has He Achieved?Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte promised a savage drug war, the capstone of the campaign that made him the head of the government. With a year now under his belt, indeed change has come but not the kinds of changes he expected. Seven thousand killed before the newspapers stopped counting, perhaps daunted by the scale of…

Unpacking Dutertism

Unpacking DutertismThe ‘best’ way to assess President Rodrigo Duterte’s year in office is to look at him and his presidency on his own terms—to understand and unpack Dutertism itself. Is this a homegrown ‘ideology’ shaped by the experience in governance of a local leader-turned-national? What are the contradictions in his government, between policy and action? If…

India, China Stare Each Other Down over Bhutan

India, China Stare Each Other Down over BhutanThe ongoing controversy since June between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Doka La, near the strategic tri-junction of China, India and Bhutan has brought to a boil the geopolitical tensions between neighbors China and India.   The episode was triggered when China began building a road along the sensitive Doklam…

China India standoff raises memories of 1962 war

China India standoff raises memories of 1962 warFor the past three weeks it has sometimes seemed, from India media reports and aggressive statements coming out of Beijing, that there is a distinct possibility of a Himalayan border war breaking out between the two countries, 55 years after India suffered a humiliating military defeat in the area at the hands of its larger…

US, South Korean Presidents Meet to Confront the Pyongyang Quandary

US, South Korean Presidents Meet to Confront the Pyongyang QuandaryNorth Korean success in test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4 puts the new South Korean government in the difficult position of having to appear tough while still looking for dialogue with its northern rival. With that launch ringing in his ears, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in had already laid the groundwork for…

China Spy

China SpyOn Sept.20, 2014, agents of the Shanghai State Security Bureau of the Ministry of State Security first contacted me in a bid to recruit me as a spy, requesting I pass US state secrets to them in exchange for cash payments, write reports mining my “Washington DC social network” preferably “in the State Department and…