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ASIAN (H)

China’s Tajikistan military base eclipses India’s Central Asian ambitions

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Author: Micha’el Tanchum, Hebrew University

A recent investigation revealed that Chinese troops are stationed on Tajikistan’s southeastern border, 30 kilometres from Pakistan-administered Kashmir across Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor. India has unsuccessfully sought to establish its own military base in Tajikistan for over 15 years. The discovery of Chinese troops constitutes a severe setback to New Delhi’s Central Asian ambitions.    

Soldiers from Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Indian Army take part in the ‘Hand in Hand’ joint military exercise in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, 22 December 2018 (Photo: Reuters/ An Yuan).

Soldiers from the base reportedly wear the insignia of the Xinjiang units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In 2016, Chinese mine-resistant armoured vehicles bearing the logo of China’s paramilitary forces were photographed patrolling Baza’i Gonbad in the Wakhan Corridor. To respect Russian sensitivities — Moscow being Dushanbe’s main security provider — China’s forces in Tajikistan could plausibly be composed of paramilitaries under PLA command or perhaps PLA troops out of standard uniform.

While neither Beijing nor Dushanbe acknowledge China’s military presence, the objective of the Chinese base seems to be preventing jihadi Uighur militants returning to China’s restive Xinjiang province. Given the 2016 terrorist attack on China’s embassy in Kyrgyzstan by a Uighur suicide bomber, Beijing faces a credible threat as Central Asian and Uighur jihadis exit Syria.

China’s military presence in Tajikistan, alongside its major role in Tajikistan’s economy, poses a strategic challenge to New Delhi. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s failure to improve on the lacklustre results of his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s diplomacy in Tajikistan raises questions about India’s capacity to maintain strategic partnerships across Eurasia.

Tajikistan is India’s closest Central Asian neighbour, with Dushanbe being approximately the same distance from New Delhi as Mumbai. Tajikistan’s proximity to Pakistan-administered Kashmir would also make the country an invaluable strategic asset for India if it could establish an air base on Tajik soil capable of conducting reconnaissance and combat operations.

India’s air base at Farkhor, Tajikistan — its only foreign airbase — is sorely deficient in this regard. India started operating the base in 2002 with Russian acquiescence. But with no active combat squadrons, the airbase does not provide India with an alternative attack route against Pakistan or the ability to affect militant operations in Kashmir. The base’s main function is to transport India’s relief and reconstruction supplies into Afghanistan. India airlifts resources to Tajikistan’s Ayni air force base near Dushanbe, then transports material 150 kilometres to Farkhor, where it is then trucked to Afghanistan.

The Ayni airbase is key to India’s strategic footprint in Tajikistan. India’s interest there began 19 years ago after a report investigating the intelligence failure that led to the 1999 Kargil War, according to retired ambassador Phunchok Stobdan — the visionary behind India’s 2012 ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy.

Abandoned after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, India under Manmohan Singh contributed technical assistance and US$70 million to renovate the Ayni airbase between 2004 and 2010. India extended the main runway, built a control tower and constructed three hangars capable of housing squadrons of MiG-29 bombers used by the Indian Air Force. In September 2010, a Tajik Ministry of Defence spokesman also confirmed that the Ayni airbase has state-of-the-art navigational and defence technology and a 3200-metre runway able to accommodate all types of aircraft.

Still, there are no reports of Indian combat aircraft ever being stationed at the base and the Singh government seems never to have developed a coherent vision on how to use the base or leverage its position with the Tajik government. In December 2010, Tajikistan announced that Russia was the only country under consideration to use the Ayni airbase in future. Although India continues to maintain approximately 150 personnel at the air base, it has been effectively closed out.

Despite US regional presence providing a decade-long opportunity for New Delhi to expand its role in Central Asia, India did not project any significant military or economic power in the region. Modi’s visit to Tajikistan during his highly-touted 2015 tour of the five Central Asian republics resulted in no tangible gain. It is quite possible that the visit coincided with the onset of Chinese operations in southern Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor.

New Delhi still seeks an expanded combat presence at Ayni, but will need to incentivise Moscow as well as Dushanbe. During his October 2018 visit to Tajikistan, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind visited the base. But with the United States planning to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, China and Pakistan are well placed to prevent India from projecting any hard power in Central Asia. China’s active military presence in Tajikistan thus constitutes a severe strategic setback for India.

India is now prioritising its route to Central Asia through the Indian-built Chabahar port in Iran, with road and rail lines extending northward through Iran and Afghanistan and connecting to Central Asia and Russia. Since it will provide Russia with commercial access to the Indian ocean, Moscow also has a significant stake in the project.

Unless New Delhi can entice Russia to engage more vigorously with India as a strategic counter-balance to growing Chinese influence in Central Asia, New Delhi will watch from the sidelines as the Beijing–Moscow partnership defines the security architecture and commercial trade routes of the new Eurasia.

Dr. Micha’el Tanchum is a Fellow at the Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University, and an affiliated scholar with the Centre for Strategic Studies at Başkent University in Ankara, Turkey (Başkent-SAM). Follow him on Twitter @michaeltanchum

This a revised version of an article that originally appeared in South Asian Monitor.



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ASIAN (H)

Will Sri Lanka’s hard line on drugs produce results?

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Author: Amresh Gunasingham, RSIS

Sri Lanka’s move in February 2019 to bring back capital punishment for convicted drug offenders has put a spotlight on the growth of narcotics-related crime in the country. The government’s apparent tough stance is in response to concerns that Sri Lanka is re-emerging as a transit hub for global drug trafficking networks.

A jail official looks through a peep hole at a jail where 46 policemen were injured by prisoners after a drug raid in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 7 November 2010 (Photo: Reuters/ Andrew Caballero-Reynolds).

The announcement that Sri Lanka will start to hang convicted drug offenders — ending a nearly half-century moratorium on executions — is a move that closely mirrors the controversial tactics employed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in his country’s war on drugs. During a state visit to the Philippines in January, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena acknowledged the proliferation of illegal drugs in Sri Lanka and lauded the Philippines’ strategy in dealing with the issue. Duterte is running a controversial law-and-order operation that has killed at least 5000 drug offenders since 2016. More than 200 people in Bangladesh have been killed by police in a similar campaign.

President Sirisena, who has been in office since 2015, is indicating that the government will also deploy the military in anti-narcotics operations. Authorities say a tougher approach is required to deal with drug-related crime, amidst concerns international drug smugglers are using Sri Lanka as a transit hub in Asia. The re-introduction of capital punishment is also significant: although criminals are regularly given death sentences for murder, rape and drug-related crimes, until now their punishments have been commuted to life imprisonment. Nobody has been executed in the country for 42 years.

Although Sri Lanka is not a major producer of contraband drugs, its strategic location along important maritime and aviation shipping routes between Europe and Southeast Asia makes it an attractive gateway for international drug trafficking cartels. Law enforcement officials say organised gangs seek to conceal their shipments to Australian and European markets by bringing them into Sir Lanka, before switching the cargo into Sri Lankan containers and sending them onwards. Colombo’s high volumes of traffic and lack of effective security checks on cargo make it an attractive trans-shipment point.

According to government officials, a spike in large-scale cocaine seizures (a drug previously uncommon in Sri Lanka) is a clear indication that the country is emerging as a key transit point for drug-smugglers. Counter-narcotics operations had traditionally focused their efforts on heroin and synthetic drugs. In December 2016, 928 kilograms of cocaine — the largest ever cocaine haul in South Asia — was discovered aboard a Colombian ship bound for India, one of several high value cocaine seizures in recent years. In March 2019, Sri Lanka’s police arrested two people and seized nearly 300 kilograms of heroin, estimated to be worth US$17 million — the island’s biggest haul of the narcotic.

The growing evidence that Sri Lanka is being used as a regional drug distribution hub raises the risk that the flow of narcotics will create a local user base as well. According to the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (the central government agency in charge of combating drug use), there were 79,378 drug-related arrests in 2016, a sharp rise from the 47,926 cases in 2012. The government maintains that high conviction rates are a result of enhanced law enforcement operations, but experts argue that they can at least partly be explained by a larger number of both drug traffickers and users.

Among other initiatives, the President has set up a task force directly under his purview that implements and supervises a national drug prevention programme. Law enforcement and the military have also stepped up their operations, while amendments to the National Policy for the Prevention and Control of Drug Abuse of 2005 have strengthened legislation against the production, smuggling, trafficking and use of illicit drugs in the country. Sri Lanka has also sought international assistance. For example, Singapore, which also takes a tough stance on drug crimes, is providing technical expertise on programs conducted by Sri Lanka to prevent and control drug trafficking.

One challenge is the lack of financial and human resources committed to capacity-building like training for anti-narcotic officers. A low number of drug users also enter rehabilitation programmes, while treatment facilities in prisons have few takers. The government needs to allocate more money to rehabilitation and reintegration programs for the victims of drugs, particularly youth.

Capital punishment was previously re-introduced in the country after a heroin crisis in 1984, and again in 2004 after a judge known for handing out tough sentences was gunned down. Both instances were followed by opposition from domestic human rights groups and significant public opinion against the use of capital punishment. The current government will have to overcome both domestic and international opposition from those who do not endorse the death penalty for drug trafficking.

Several Western countries often provide information on drug trafficking networks operating internationally on the condition that prosecution will not lead to the death penalty. By ignoring the moratorium on the death penalty, Sri Lanka risks alienating nations whose help is needed to combat drug trafficking. While the current government appears to be getting tough on drug crimes, there are challenges ahead.

Amresh Gunasingham is an Associate Editor with the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

A version of this article originally appeared here on RSIS.



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ASIAN (H)

The hard road from Hanoi

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Authors: Markus Bell and Marco Milani, University of Sheffield

Following the Hanoi summit, critics argue that the absence of an agreement between Trump and Kim is a sign that diplomacy between the United States and North Korea has failed. But even without a roadmap to denuclearisation, the summit promoted important goals in these early stages of negotiations: dialogue, a continued freeze on nuclear testing and hope for a gradual lifting of economic sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sit down for a dinner during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, 27 February 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis).

The June 2018 summit in Singapore was the first time a sitting US president has met with a North Korean leader. Trump and Kim signed an agreement that included a pledge to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula, committing the United States and North Korea to working toward ‘peace and prosperity’.

But following the summit, Trump came under fire for not extracting guarantees from Pyongyang on the specifics of ‘denuclearisation’. Critics argued that promises to disarm were inadequate, as North Korea had advanced its ballistic and nuclear programs to the point where a testing pause made little difference.

The Trump administration countered that the summit was not supposed to solve the nuclear crisis, but rather set conditions for future talks in which North Korea would give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for economic incentives.

Despite continued goodwill, there has been no forward momentum on either side. Washington refuses to lift sanctions and Pyongyang reportedly continues to develop its nuclear weapons program. As such, negotiations have languished.

The second Trump–Kim summit was expected to break the diplomatic stalemate and reignite the impetus for denuclearisation. Instead, the impasse remains.

While the Trump administration sought ‘complete, verifiable, irreversible’ denuclearisation (CVID) at the first summit, they came to the second summit more flexible and willing to listen. Trump stated that he wanted denuclearisation, but was in no rush. He praised the importance of his ‘personal relationship’ with Kim and took credit for the United States and North Korea avoiding a major war.

For Pyongyang, the Singapore summit bought Kim international legitimacy and the suspension of US–South Korea joint military exercises. Kim left Singapore confident that US pressure had been defused.

Easing sanctions was at the top of Kim’s Hanoi wish list. To achieve his goal and to provide evidence of a commitment to denuclearisation, Kim proposed shutting down and dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear facilities. Negotiations collapsed on this point — Yongbyon was not enough of a bargaining chip.

Trump claimed that Kim asked to eliminate the entire sanctions regime in exchange for the closure of Yongbyon. Such an agreement would have gone against the longstanding US position of CVID as a precondition for ending economic pressure on North Korea. But North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho subsequently contradicted Trump, saying that North Korea had asked only for the partial lifting of sanctions, following the step-by-step approach favoured by Pyongyang.

Despite conflicting accounts, one point was clear: the leader-to-leader diplomatic approach had failed to bridge the gap between the United States and North Korea, prompting a new stalemate.

Perhaps the biggest ramifications for the breakdown of talks come in third-party nations.

In South Korea, Moon has been a mediator of US–North Korea rapprochement and is wagering considerable political capital on mending ties with North Korea. Moon’s popularity, at an all-time high in 2018, is now struggling amidst an economic slump. While US participation in inter-Korean reconciliation keeps domestic opposition to this process in check, the disappointment of the Hanoi summit will provide new impetus to the conservative opposition in South Korea. To manage these repercussions, Moon will likely resume his role as mediator.

China, meanwhile, was conspicuously quiet on the Hanoi summit. This should not be misunderstood as a lack of interest. Beijing has a vested interest in both the stability of its eastern borders and its influence on the Korean Peninsula.

With Chinese support, North Korea weathered a battery of economic sanctions. Chinese President Xi Jinping met Kim four times over the past year, most recently in January. China is unlikely to oppose plans for a denuclearised Korean Peninsula but will press for an accompanying reduction of US troops in the region.

North Korea is unlikely to offer more than the dismantling of Yongbyon in current negotiations. Without a more substantial sign that Pyongyang is ready to decommission its nuclear program, Trump will be less willing to spend precious political capital on meeting with Kim — especially as the 2020 US presidential elections approach.

While Hanoi might be seen as a disappointment, all is not lost. Despite initial US opposition, a gradual approach still represents the best path forward. This requires focusing on more realistic goals: a commitment to officially end the Korean War, limited but substantial steps in terms of North Korea’s denuclearization and a gradual relaxation of economic sanctions.

Markus Bell is a lecturer in Korean studies at the University of Sheffield.

Marco Milani is a lecturer in Korean studies at the University of Sheffield.

A version of this article originally appeared here on AsiaGlobal Online.



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ASIAN (H)

Realising smart cities in ASEAN

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Author: Phidel Vineles, RSIS

Rapid urbanisation poses concerning implications across ASEAN by straining infrastructure, raising inequality and compromising public safety. If ASEAN is to overcome these obstacles, it needs to make greater use of technology. While the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), already with 26 pilot cities, is a step in the right direction, a few flaws in its plan need attention.

A view of the Nanyang Technological University campus in Singapore 2 August 2016 (Photo: ReutersEUTERS/Edgar Su).

Rapid urbanisation is occurring throughout ASEAN with an additional 90 million people expected to move into cities across the region by 2030. Most of this growth is expected in medium-sized cities with populations of between 200,000 and two million. These cities are projected to drive 40 per cent of the region’s growth.

It is then crucial to adopt ’smart’ technologies to address the increasing challenges of urban development, including traffic congestion, pollution and strained infrastructure. The establishment of the ASCN, an initiative of Singapore for its 2018 ASEAN chairmanship, gives ASEAN member states leeway to adopt a cities-level mechanism for achieving next generation urban settings.

The ASCN framework was developed as a non-binding guide to facilitate smart city development in each ASCN city. It consists of three strategic objectives: competitive economies, sustainable environments and higher quality of life. Smart cities help economies become competitive by leveraging innovation and entrepreneurship, helping to generate business and job opportunities. They also promote sustainable environments by employing sustainable green technology and energy. Smart cities also enhance the well-being of people by applying innovative solutions, particularly in key areas such as in education and health services.

The ASCN allows ASEAN to capitalise on innovative technologies, especially in infrastructure and urban planning. In Thailand, the government established the Phuket Smart City Vision, aiming to boost tourism using big data analytics. One project is the City Data Platform, used to understand tourist behaviour in Phuket collected from Wi-Fi, Internet of Things and social media. The data collected at popular locations that tourists visit as they connect to Wi-Fi is also used to ensure their safety.

Smart city initiatives also promote the well-being of residents. Indonesia’s fifth largest city, Makassar, initiated its Smart City Plan in 2014, with one successful program being the mobile health service Dottoro’ta. Its services include diagnosis, emergency care and follow-up care.

The Philippines has been struggling to adapt to digital disruption. But Davao City’s establishment of the Public Safety and Security Command Centre (PSSCC), which supports the city’s security using new technology, deserves praise. The PSSCC’s centralised CCTV surveillance systems and geographic information systems analyse spatial information and processes mapping data to effectively add extra layers to the city’s protection.

The ASCN also raises the efficiency of innovative services. Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative provides an open and accessible national e-payment infrastructure to facilitate seamless digital transactions. Singapore’s banking industry launched FAST (Fast and Secure Transfers) in 2014, improving money transfers between consumers and businesses across different banks.

Opportunities like these are only harnessed if the challenges of implementing smart city initiatives are tackled, and the ASEAN digital divide remains significant. While Singapore is the best performer of the 2016 Digital Adoption Index, the rankings suggest huge gaps, with Malaysia (41st), Brunei (58th), Thailand (61st), Vietnam (91st), Philippines (101st), Indonesia (109th), Cambodia (123rd), Laos (159th) and Myanmar (160th) trailing far behind.

High costs of high-speed internet are also stymying progress. While in Singapore it costs only US$0.05 per megabit per month, this is far more affordable than in Thailand (US$0.42), Indonesia (US$1.39), Vietnam (US$2.41), the Philippines (US$2.69) and Malaysia (US$3.16). The digital divide is the most significant barrier to be addressed.

An insufficient digital talent base also holds ASEAN back. Around 45 per cent of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region are lacking understanding of digital technology, even though SMEs represent 99 per cent of ASEAN’s enterprises. Lack of trust and low consumer awareness also hinders the uptake of digital services. Around 89 per cent of Malaysians and 79 per cent of Indonesians have expressed concerns about sharing their personal information online.

ASEAN governments need to be more effective in implementing the ASCN. A coordinated system like Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, established to develop digital strategies across agencies, is a better system for designing digital roadmaps. But there are still regulatory elements that restrict the digital economy’s progress elsewhere. Malaysia’s heavy-handed Personal Data Protection Act 2010, enforced in 2013, compels data users to seek approval from authorities before moving personal data out of Malaysia.

Individual governments cannot build smart cities alone and it is important to partner with the private sector, helping to create better value in financing, planning and technical expertise. Thailand’s Chonburi Amata Smart City and Japan’s Yokohama Urban Solution Alliance have recently signed a letter of intent for a smart energy management system, helping the smart city set up its own smart grid project. More partnerships and external support would bring better operational capabilities.

The ASCN is instrumental in bringing ASEAN smart cities together. But realising the opportunities they present requires better action plans aimed at closing the regional digital divide, developing public confidence in digitalisation, coordinating government agencies and cooperating with the private sector and external partners.

Phidel Vineles is a Senior Analyst in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

A version of this article originally appeared here on RSIS.



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ASIAN (H)

Finer economic data for a fairer ASEAN economy

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Author: Jose Ramon Albert, PIDS

The Philippines and other ASEAN economies are experiencing stellar economic growth. Frontier technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as automation and robotics, the internet of things, 3D printing, blockchain and nanotechnologies are rapidly transforming economies. To respond effectively to these changes and understand how they will impact different groups, governments need to collect and analyse a broader range of data — including more and better-quality disaggregated statistics.

Filipino employees work at the assembly line of Kinpo Electronics factory in Malvar, Batangas, Philippines, 10 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro).

Disaggregated data about economies give clues about where growth is happening and help policymakers shape appropriate policy responses. But when countries produce growth reports, data is usually only disaggregated by economic sector. A full picture of the contribution of men and women in an economy, among other things, cannot be obtained — at best, policymakers can disaggregate the incomes of men and women using household and establishment surveys. These provide little insight into what is happening in the informal sector.

Policymakers need to value unpaid housework and care work. Time-use surveys report that the economic contribution of women through unpaid care is large. It is likely that GDP would look very different if unpaid care was properly valued in national accounts.

The importance of economic growth to poverty reduction is well known. Poverty rates across ASEAN were cut from 19.6 to 5.5 per cent between 2005 and 2015. This reduction is largely due to sharp declines in extreme poverty in Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia, where headcounts in this category have more than halved since the 1990s.

A picture of poverty conditions by sex (available from countries through their official poverty statistics) gives some clue about disparities in economic opportunities between men and women. But the seemingly small differences in poverty between men and women do not provide a clear picture of gender disparities in economic opportunities. Monetary poverty is measured for the entire household — every member of a poor household is considered poor, and there is no measure of intra-household welfare.

Gender disparities in accessing economic opportunities can sometimes be revealed by measuring vulnerability. Studies that measure vulnerability provide insight into the risks to future welfare faced by specific groups, such as farmers, women, children and the elderly.

In the Philippines, the vulnerability of these groups is much higher than that simply reflected in their share in poverty.  While about a fifth of Philippine women are poor according to data from 2015, more than half are at risk of being poor in the future. The corresponding estimates of poverty and vulnerability for men are similar to those for women, again masking the varying risks faced by women and men.

Several factors specifically influence the vulnerability of women in the Philippines, including how they participate in the economy. In all ASEAN economies, fewer women join the labour force. In the Philippines, about four in five working-age men are part of the labour force compared to only half of working-age women. Even in a relatively gender-equal country like the Philippines, women carry the burden of unpaid family work.

Although unemployment rates are nearly the same between men and women, the share of employed women across sectors varies with that of men. Women are dominant in services, with 7 out of 10 working women employed in the services sector. A fifth of working women are in agriculture and the rest are in industry. A third of working men are engaged in agriculture, more than two-fifths in services and the remaining fifth in industry.

While the average wage gap seems to favour women in the Philippine formal economy, huge gaps between genders can be seen in specific sectors and occupations. High-level positions generally have wages favouring women, who also have the lion’s share of the occupation. But men working as technicians and associate professionals, clerks, service workers, and shop and market sales workers are better compensated despite women having the bigger share in employment.

The traditional labour market has been designed for men, which leads to a relatively bigger share of employed women engaging in jobs that lack decent working conditions. These women either work with unregistered companies in the informal economy or as unpaid family workers. They have limited opportunities for social mobility and social protection.

Also contributing to the vulnerability of women in the Philippines is the extent to which new technologies, particularly automation, are putting jobs at risk. A study by the International Labour Organization suggests that over the next decade or two more than half of employment in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam is at high risk of automation.

The same report suggests that Philippine women, as well as workers who finish only primary school, are more likely to be employed in jobs that are at high risk of automation. Nearly 9 out of 10 workers in business process outsourcing firms in the Philippines, for which three-fifths of the workforce are women, face a high risk of having their jobs automated.

Data serve as inputs into social and economic policymaking and public interventions. For too long these data have focussed only on market activities and GDP, which can produce distorted policies that reinforce the status quo and do not promote inclusive economic participation. Policymakers have yet to adequately address the disproportionally large housework and care work burden that society places on women.

Approaches to poverty are largely curative but it is important to consider preventive approaches. In the wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, ASEAN governments and private sectors must work together to manage the disruptive consequences of automation by improving the technical and soft skills of the labour force. To manage this change effectively, policymakers will have to pay close attention to how different groups are affected, with a focus on how factors such as a gender, occupation and age interact.

Employers also need to focus attention on working conditions between men and women in all occupations and examine practices that may contribute to gender biases in the workplace, including issues related to compensation and sexual harassment. Policymakers should work to ensure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to participate in the economy and enjoy a better future.

Jose Ramon Albert is a Senior Research Fellow at the Philippine government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).



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ASIAN (H)

SinoCorrugated IndiaCorr Expo 2019

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Dates: 
Sep 05, 2019Sep 07, 2019

Venue: 
India expo Centre Greater Noida

Location address: 
Plot No. 25,27,28,29, KnowledgePark-||, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201306, India

Country: 
India

Organizer: 
Reed Manch Exhibitions Pvt Ltd

Show URL: 
www.indiacorrexpo.com

Major exhibits: 

Corrugated box making machinery
Printing and lamination machines
Testing Equipment
Adhesives
Inks
Ancillary equipment
Kraft paper
Softwares

Show banner: 

ONE INDUSTRY, ONE SHOW!
IndiaCorr Expo is the leading global event serving the entire value chain of the corrugated packaging industry. It is the India edition of the world’s leading show—SinoCorrugated that takes place in China every year. The objective of the show is to cater manufacturers, buyers and users of corrugated packaging and allied technologies. The show is scheduled to be held from 05-06-07 September 2019 at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida, Delhi-NCR, India. With over 250+ exhibitors offering end-to-end solutions from both Indian & International brands. This exhibition has always been the most coveted show for corrugated packaging industry addressing the needs of corrugated box manufacturer, converters, designers for corrugated box & related packaging, industry consultants, printers, converters and end-users. IndiaCorr Expo with its concurrent shows, India Folding Carton 2019, India Flexography Expo 2019 and ICCMA Congress, is a benchmark among all packaging exhibitions in India with largest ever Indian and international participation.

Show Contact
Title: 

Sale Executive

Name: 
Vaishali Arya

Telephone: 

(91) 9911335153

E-mail: 

vaishali.arya@reedmanch.com

Mailing address: 

D – 2, Unit no. 3, 4 & 5, 1st Floor, Southern Park Building, Saket District Center

City / State / Province: 
Saket, New Delhi – 110017

Country: 
India



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ASIAN (H)

India Folding Carton 2019

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Dates: 
Sep 05, 2019Sep 07, 2019

Venue: 
India expo Centre Greater Noida

Location address: 
Plot No. 25,27,28,29, KnowledgePark-||, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201306, India

Country: 
India

Organizer: 
Reed Manch Exhibitions

Show URL: 
www.indiafoldingcarton.com

Major exhibits: 

Paper Bag Manufacturing Equipments | Software | Testing Equipments | Paper | Ancillary Equipments| Printers- Digital, Offset, Flexographic | Lamination Solutions | Inks and Other Consumables

Show banner: 

India Folding Carton, your gateway to the world of carton and box making industry is coming on 05-06-07 September 2019 at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida, Delhi-NCR, India . The event will bring in industry leaders who want to be abreast of the most recent technology, innovation and progress. It covers the whole of the carton and paper industry and gives exhibitors and visitors a wide range of opportunities for making new business contacts and developing existing customer relations. With its higher scale effect, the exhibition highlights the one-stop solution combined purchasing, technology, information, trade, and education across the entire folding carton industry chain. As a dedicated and focused event, India Folding Carton 2019 is the international meeting point where manufacturers and dealers of pre-press equipments, carton making machinery, printing machinery, post-print equipments, designing software solutions and raw materials providers connect and close business deals.

India Folding Carton will be co-located with IndiaCorr Expo – SinoCorrugated 2019 will help folding carton manufacturers to evaluate feasibility of business expansion to the corrugated market; who will also meet with the R & D and procurement decision makers to enlarge networks and to catch business opportunities.

Show Contact
Title: 

Sale Executive

Name: 
Vaishali Arya

Telephone: 

(91) 9911335153

E-mail: 

vaishali.arya@reedmanch.com

Mailing address: 

Reed Manch Exhibitions Pvt Ltd D2 Unit no 3 4 & 5 1st Floor Southern Park Building Saket District Center Saket New Delhi

City / State / Province: 
Delhi, India

Country: 
India



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Can Thailand’s junta manage the election’s outcome?

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Author: James Ockey, University of Canterbury

For Thailand’s junta, the 2019 election is to be carefully managed so that the government can return to power with enhanced legitimacy, both among its own people and the international community. Yet the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) may have miscalculated its ability to control the elections effectively and so enhance its legitimacy.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks with a man as he visits Lumphini Park ahead of the general election, in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

The constitution and electoral laws were carefully designed to disadvantage the two large parties, Pheu Thai and the Democrats. Meanwhile, the junta leaders are allowed to appoint the 250 senators who will join with elected MPs to choose the prime minister. The constitution also allowed junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha to be nominated for prime minister without membership in a party. This gives him greater flexibility in seeking the additional 126 elected MPs whose support is necessary for him to remain in his current position.

While writing a favourable constitution and electoral laws proved possible, managing the campaign process is much more difficult. Yet strong efforts are being made. Elections are under the purview of the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT). PNet, an NGO that independently monitors the election process, recently awarded the ECT an ‘F’ grade for its performance, stating that it ‘has failed to demonstrate it is not under undue political influence’.

So far, the ETC has decided that a government handout to the elderly and the poor just prior to the beginning of campaigning did not violate election laws and that the pro-government Phalang Pracharat Party (PPRP) had not accepted illegal donations at a fundraiser. Most recently, it ruled that the prime minister could actively campaign with the party that nominated him (a step too far even for Prayut himself, who instead has chosen to follow the party on the campaign trail).

In contrast, in the case of the anti-government Thai Raksa Chart party, the ECT recommended dissolution without following its own procedures in a rush to judgement. The Constitutional Court would later follow that recommendation.

In January and February, I interviewed candidates from a range of parties, in all four regions of Thailand. None expressed any faith in the ECT. Candidates of pro-regime parties thought the ECT was ineffective. Candidates of anti-regime parties not only questioned the ECT’s capability, but also feared that it was focused on identifying any small violation of the law that would justify banning opposition candidates and parties.

Opposition parties also have to defend themselves from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). The NBTC sought to shut down the opposition-oriented Voice TV for 15 days during the election, only to see the decision reversed by the courts. Other threats have come from criminal investigations, with leaders of the Future Forward party charged under the Computer Crime Act.

Ironically, but perhaps not surprisingly, attempts to manage the outcome of the election appear to have created a backlash against the regime. Recent polling done by the Nation newspaper shows the PPRP winning just 62 of 350 constituency seats, with the anti-regime Pheu Thai party winning 136. A recent rally of the PPRP in Korat drew just a few hundred supporters, leaving thousands of empty seats.

Perhaps more interesting are the results of a recent King Prajadhipok Institute poll, which indicate that 96 per cent of eligible voters intend to vote. One would not expect that level of enthusiasm if voters were happy with the government and the status quo.

Political parties also seem to be reacting to anti-government sentiment. The Democrat party, which is likely to win the second most seats after Pheu Thai, recently announced that it would not support the return of Prayut as prime minister. The Democrat Party had previously been deliberately ambiguous regarding its stance. It also set conditions for potential pro- and anti-government coalition partners.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Bhum Jai Thai (BJT) party leader Anuthin Charnvirakul stated that the party will wait for the outcome of the election before finalising its stance, so that it can take into account the voice of the people. BJT has long been considered to be firmly on the government side. Answering this way, even as a campaign tactic, indicates concerns with being seen as too firmly on the side of the junta.

Despite these indications of very limited support for the government, it is expected that the junta will continue to manage the outcome. In the interviews I conducted in January and February, academics and candidates suggested that the junta will expend resources to convince both small parties and individual MPs to join the pro-government side after the election, ensuring support will go well beyond the elected members of the PPRP.

One leading member of a large party noted that the ECT has 60 days to certify the results of the election. They raised concerns that during that period anti-government parties might be dissolved to ensure the junta remains in power.

While Prayut is likely to return to power, it will not be with the clear mandate he seeks. The manipulation of the elections to ensure his return is more likely to result in a decline in legitimacy and support at home, although even a manipulated election may help relieve international pressure to return to democracy. Under such circumstances, concerns about future government stability are likely to remain.

James Ockey is Associate Professor at the School of Language, Social and Political Sciences, University of Canterbury.



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HISPANIC (H

New Massachusetts Bills Propose Telehealth Insurance Coverage, Practice Standards

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MassHealth

Momentum and support continues to build for telehealth commercial coverage laws across the United States, designed to ensure that covered members of health insurance plans can enjoy the full scope of their medical benefits – whether in-person or virtually.  Last summer, the Massachusetts Legislature considered a sweeping telehealth bill that would have instituted certain requirements for insurance coverage.  (Read our critique of that bill here.)  Although the 2018 legislative session ended before the proposed legislation was approved, Massachusetts legislators recently filed five new telehealth bills for consideration.

Listed below are four of the proposed bills that directly compete with each other, so it will be important to monitor their progress through committees and reconciliation:

  • HB 1002: An Act Expanding Access to Telemedicine Services;
  • HB 1001: An Act Relative to Behavioral Health Telemedicine;
  • HB 991: An Act Advancing and Expanding Access to Telemedicine Services; and
  • HB 1095: An Act Enhancing Access to Telemedicine Services.

Each of the four bills require certain groups or divisions to provide coverage for telemedicine services under varying conditions. Just like the language contained in the 2018 legislation, these new bills state that insurers may “not decline to provide coverage for health care services solely on the basis that those services were delivered by way of telemedicine by a contracted health care provider if: (i) the health care services are covered by way of in-person consultation or delivery; and (ii) the health care services may be appropriately provided through the use of telemedicine.”

In general, the bills require the following insurers to provide coverage for telehealth services:

  • The Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission;
  • Medicaid-managed care organizations in Massachusetts;
  • Individual, group blanket or general insurance policies;
  • Hospital service plan;
  • Medical service corporation;
  • Health maintenance organizations; and
  • Preferred provider arrangements.

HB 1095 is notable because it allows, but does not require, Medicaid managed care organizations in Massachusetts to cover services delivered via telemedicine. In contrast, HB 1001 (An Act Relative to Behavioral Health Telemedicine) requires insurers to cover only behavioral health services delivered via telemedicine.

Of the five new bills, HB 917 (An Act to Facilitate the Provision of Telehealth Services) is the distinct outlier. It would not require health insurance plans to cover telehealth services. Instead, it proposes definitions, practice standards, prescribing, and informed consent rules for telehealth services.

At this time, it is unclear which of the five bills will prevail (or perhaps a combination of them).  What is clear is that Massachusetts legislators continue to explore ways for policy to drive innovation in health technology, balancing patient safety and health insurance considerations.  We will continue to monitor Massachusetts for changes that affect or improve telemedicine opportunities in the state.

Want to learn more?

Join a deeper discussion of telehealth state law and policy issues at the American Telemedicine Association’s 2019 Annual Conference and Expo in New Orleans on April 14-16, 2019.  Read the current program agenda and register here.

For more information on telemedicine, telehealth, virtual care, remote patient monitoring, digital health, and other health innovations, including the team, publications, and representative experience, visit Foley’s Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team.



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ASIAN (H)

What’s next after the Trump–Kim summit?

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Author: Vu Minh Khuong, Lee Kuan Yew School, NUS

The 12 June Trump–Kim summit has turned something that was only recently unthinkable into a plausible future scenario: a completely denuclearised North Korea that is working rapidly towards global integration and economic development.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump listen to questions from the media during their one-on-one bilateral meeting at the second North Korea-US summit in the Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam 28 February 2019 (Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis).

For a major change to take place in a country, three driving factors — receptivity, pressure and enablers — must reach certain critical levels. While none of these driving factors are currently very strong in North Korea, they have far surpassed any previously observed levels.

On its receptivity to change, just like China and Vietnam before their economic reforms, North Korea has learned the costly lesson that a command economy and economic isolation lead only to disappointing results, regardless of how much corrective effort is made internally. Moreover, the impressive success of China and Vietnam has proven that making decisive change through economic reforms and global integration is the only way for a country to not only survive but also prosper.

With regard to pressure, the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations since 2017 and the ‘maximum pressure’ approach adopted by the United States have had a severe economic impact on North Korea. The country is more isolated than ever before: it is losing its trade links even with its closest ally and faces the risk of falling into economic crisis.

And there are now unique factors enabling North Korea to enact change. On the diplomatic front, the proactive and sincere approach adopted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the unorthodox method used by US President Donald Trump have been highly effective in demonstrating to North Korea the advantages of changing course towards peace and global integration. On the economic front, globalisation, the digital revolution, the economic success of South Korea and the rise of Asia are all significant enablers that can help North Korea reap substantial benefits upon embracing reform.

Examining the summit in this light suggests that North Korea is entering a paradigm shift in its commitment to change. Profound change has become likely, but questions remain about how far and how smoothly this change will occur. The dynamics of this will depend on two major drivers: the North Korean leadership’s vision for their country’s future and the strategy and efforts that the United States and South Korea pursue in facilitating North Korea’s transformation.

Although Kim Jong-un’s vision for his country is still unclear, his apparent interest in learning about Singapore’s socioeconomic development success reveals early signs of his aspiration for North Korea’s future.

The way that the United States and South Korea coordinate in working with North Korea seems to have worked well so far. In particular, the ‘breakthrough’ approach adopted by Trump in engaging Kim has not only produced a ‘breakthrough’ symbolic outcome but has also formulated a productive platform for the United States, North Korea and South Korea to work together.

To encourage North Korea to do its best in implementing the Trump–Kim agreement, the United States and South Korea should effectively address the three strategic priorities that a communist country considers in making a major policy change: political stability, economic improvement (distinct from economic aid) and national pride. The foundation has already been laid for this endeavour: the impressive success of China and Vietnam, which were impoverished just a few decades ago at the beginning of their reform periods, has had a powerful impact on the thinking of North Korea’s leadership.

Creating a robust platform for all the involved parties to address any emerging concerns and to enhance mutual understanding and trust is vital. Respect, reciprocity and reliability should be the norms in building any partnership with North Korea. If North Korea offers to do something positive, the United States and South Korea should do a bit more in return. Kim Jong-un needs to build on his own confidence and enhance his people’s national pride in this early fragile stage of change. This approach is particularly effective for East Asian nations such as North Korea. To make changes in North Korea more robust, broad-based and predictable, the United States and South Korea should proactively engage the countries that can provide North Korea with inspiring and relevant experiences such as Singapore, China and Vietnam.

In any circumstances, North Korea will be an exciting case of change and transformation in the years to come. Although the risks and challenges remain substantial, it is likely that the world has entered a new era in which a major security threat is averted and a once-closed nation will undergo profound change.

Vu Minh Khuong is Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.



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