In a recent development at the G20 Summit, leaders from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, India, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, and Italy jointly announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC). The IMEC aims to bolster economic development by enhancing connectivity between Asia, the Persian Gulf, and Europe. While IMEC is still in its conceptual stages, it has already earned comparisons to the “New Spice Route,” suggesting that it could rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The U.S. Version of the Belt and Road
According to details released by the White House, IMEC envisions the construction of two distinct corridors: the Eastern corridor connecting India to the Persian Gulf (also known as the Arabian Gulf) and the Northern corridor connecting the Persian Gulf to Europe. These corridors will primarily consist of rail networks connecting major ports, supported by infrastructure for clean energy and digital connectivity along the railway lines. Participating nations will provide technical, design, financing, legal, and regulatory support for corridor construction. IMEC has two primary objectives: ensuring regional supply chain security, enhancing trade facilitation, and promoting the stable flow of goods and services between Europe and Asia. Additionally, IMEC aims to create employment opportunities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fostering transformative integration across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
This “New Spice Route” is not entirely new; it bears a historical resemblance to ancient trade routes where European goods landed at the port of Alexandria in North Africa over two thousand years ago. Caravans then traversed deserts, and ships sailed from the Red Sea to India—a route quite similar to what IMEC envisions. In those times, Alexandria was the world’s busiest port, and the Arabs emerged as influential traders, amassing great wealth. Arab dominance continued until the 15th century when Western societies developed superior maritime technologies, opening the era of circumnavigation, and gradually eclipsing the Arab-controlled “Spice Route.” Religious conflicts between Arab Islam and Western Christian nations hindered the route’s development.
Today, Indian Prime Minister Modi lauds IMEC as a “beacon of cooperation and innovation,” illustrating the journey of “shared aspirations and dreams.” Termed the “New Spice Route,” the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor seeks to facilitate trade and energy transit between Gulf countries and Europe, reducing shipping times, costs, and energy usage. The White House states, “This landmark corridor is expected to stimulate economic growth by enhancing intercontinental connectivity and economic integration, thus unleashing sustainable and inclusive economic growth across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.” IMEC holds significant geopolitical significance for India and the United States. It positions India as a pivotal hub connecting Southeast Asia to Europe.
From a transportation perspective, IMEC shares similarities with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—both aim to establish comprehensive transport corridors to facilitate the movement of goods and services. While the signatory countries have not explicitly stated that IMEC is aimed at countering China’s BRI, the comparison is inevitable. Prime Minister Modi has been critical of China’s BRI from the beginning, citing it as a tool for China’s “debt trap diplomacy,” used to establish dominance over resource-rich or strategically significant nations. IMEC now serves as another attempt by the United States and its allies and partners to offer an alternative choice to other nations.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative Faces Challenges
During China’s zenith, it exported goods like silk and tea to Europe—achieving what was known as the Silk Road. In 2013, China launched the Belt and Road Initiative, intending to create a global production base in China and export goods worldwide. However, this contradicts China’s current goal of becoming a world leader by cooperating with developed countries worldwide. China simultaneously exports its production capabilities to developing countries, making Western nations skeptical of China’s BRI, believing it leads to debt traps. Recent economic downturns, conflicts like the Russo-Ukraine war, and inflation have raised concerns about debt defaults in countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Cambodia, and the Maldives, which were once eager participants in the BRI. Moreover, China’s relationship with Russia has put the BRI at risk in Eastern Europe.
If the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor becomes operational, it signifies increased trade between India, the Middle East, and Europe. With U.S. support, IMEC is likely to continue its operations. However, there is a significant hurdle that cannot be ignored: neither Pakistan nor Iran, two signatory countries, have joined IMEC. Pakistan appears cautious about participating due to its relations with China, and Iran is hampered by U.S. sanctions, making its inclusion impossible. This implies that, until the corridor reaches the Persian Gulf, it will comprise only India. Therefore, the so-called India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC) may primarily consist of India venturing directly into the sea to connect with Saudi Arabia and the UAE via maritime routes. This development may not significantly improve the rail transport starting from India and potentially hinders the promotion of “transformative integration” among corridor countries. The rivalry between the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor and the Belt and Road Initiative is apparent.
The question of whether China’s Belt and Road Initiative will influence global economic development or whether the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor will quickly take the lead in competition with Western nations remains open. However, China is currently facing financial challenges, economic contraction, and a global trend of “de-risking,” where countries aim to reduce their economic reliance on China. This adds to the pressure and crisis facing China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Profound Geopolitical Significance
IMEC’s emergence elevates it to the level of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but they differ fundamentally in nature. The BRI is characterized by its opacity, with funding primarily originating from a single country, China. In contrast, IMEC has been under discussion for some time, focusing on the feasibility of pooling resources from multiple parties, including public-private partnerships. If the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor becomes operational, it will facilitate increased trade between India, the Middle East, and Europe. The backing of the United States further tips the balance in favor of India. IMEC reinforces and extends the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific strategy and marks a significant return to the Middle East. International alliances opposing the Chinese regime are extending from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and directly connecting with Europe and NATO. From an international geopolitical perspective, the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor serves as a comprehensive blockade against China, boxing it in from all sides.
The absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping at this year’s G20 Summit undoubtedly makes him the biggest loser of the event. His absence allowed Prime Minister Modi and President Biden to expand their influence and views, underscoring China’s increasing isolation. The India-Middle East-Europe Corridor is a significant development, offering “endless opportunities” to countries along its route and becoming a “green digital bridge” spanning continents and civilizations. India is undoubtedly the biggest winner in this project, given its central location for trade and economic activity between Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The intensifying competition between India and China is bound to escalate, with the backing of the United States tilting the balance in India’s favor.
The Reemergence of India, the Middle East, and Africa on the World Stage
IMEC reaffirms the vital role that India, the Middle East, and African nations will play in the future of global economic development. India’s sheer population, technological prowess, and widespread use of English provide it with a significant advantage over China. Western nations looking to reduce their dependence on China or diminish its influence are likely to rely more on India and, in turn, support its accelerated development.
Middle Eastern countries, blessed with abundant oil resources, possess considerable economic potential as the world transitions to increased use of renewable energy. IMEC presents an attractive prospect for Middle Eastern nations as a source of funding for infrastructure development. Africa, with its burgeoning population, constitutes a promising market for trade and economic development. Few remember that North Africa was once part of the Roman Empire and enjoyed economic prosperity.
IMEC rekindles the historical significance of these regions in the global economy and may offer political opportunities for the countries involved. The evolving competition between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor will shape the geopolitical landscape. Whether China’s BRI will impact global economic development or IMEC will assert itself as a faster-growing competitor remains to be seen. Currently, China faces financial constraints, an economic contraction, and Western nations’ “de-risking” strategies, highlighting the mounting pressure and challenges confronting the Belt and Road Initiative.
The India-Middle East-Europe Corridor’s recent introduction has elevated it to a level where it is now being compared to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. While the two projects share similarities in enhancing connectivity and trade, they differ in their nature and approach. IMEC has gained attention as a potential rival to the BRI, and its geopolitical significance cannot be understated.
The absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit underscored China’s increasing isolation on the international stage. IMEC presents a substantial challenge to China’s ambitions, as it extends U.S. influence in the Middle East and enhances global efforts to counterbalance China’s influence.
In addition to the geopolitical implications, IMEC promises economic opportunities for India, the Middle East, and African nations. With the world’s economic dynamics shifting and nations seeking alternatives to China, IMEC has the potential to reshape regional economies and international trade patterns.
As IMEC takes its first steps, it signifies a shift in global economic and geopolitical dynamics, with significant implications for the future of trade, development, and international relations. Whether it can live up to its potential and compete with the Belt and Road Initiative remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor has arrived on the world stage as a force to be reckoned with.
Author : Editorial of Sameway Magazine
Image : Internet
Silicon Valley in a “Palace Drama”
As the year 2023 comes to an end, the AI field, which has always been in the limelight, is staging a “Palace Drama” – reversing and reversing again.
After five days of chaotic infighting at OpenAI, Sam Altman returned to OpenAI as CEO and formed a new board of directors with Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo. This “epic power struggle” within OpenAI has shocked the entire tech community, earning the attention of the public, and giving us a chance to take a moment to look back at where AI has been and where it might be headed in the future. And what the future might hold for AI.
Continuing the “facepalm”
As we all know, OpenAI is currently one of the most highly regarded, influential and valuable AI companies in the world. This year, the company has brought its new version of chat robot ChatGPT into the market, shocking the world with its AI capabilities that are beyond people’s expectation and overturning people’s previous perceptions. Today, OpenAI is at the top of its game, with a funding valuation of more than US$80 billion. At this time, OpenAI has carried out a wave of “miraculous operations”, without warning, but within a few days, it has caused a strong earthquake in the industry.
The incident began on November 17th, when OpenAI, a globally popular Silicon Valley artificial intelligence company, suddenly and without warning released a statement that Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, had failed to maintain honesty in his communications with the board of directors, which had impeded the board’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities, and had thus fired Sam Altman from the company directly. The statement was met with an outcry: the reason was stated, but it was so vague as to be suspicious. The announcement of Sam Altman’s dismissal was followed by the resignation of another co-founder, Greg Brockman. The weekend after the incident, there were signs that Altman might quickly return to his position, but news quickly broke that Altman would be joining Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI.
In a post on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, Microsoft CEO Della Nadella said Altman would lead “a new high-end AI R&D team” at Microsoft. Altman retweeted the post confirming his new job on X, saying “the mission continues”. Meanwhile, OpenAI appointed Emmett Shear, the former CEO of video and audio streaming platform Twitch, as interim chief executive officer. Immediately afterward, more than 700 OpenAI employees signed a letter demanding the resignation of the company’s board of directors over Altman’s removal. In the letter, they questioned the board’s competence, accused it of disrupting the company’s operations, demanded that Altman be reappointed, and threatened to resign en masse to follow Altman and Brockman to Microsoft unless the board resigned and reinstated them. What’s even more incredible is that the letter was even signed by Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist who is widely believed to be one of the architects of this “earthquake” and the soul of the company’s AI technology.
When Open AI was in its infancy, the participants believed that AI belonged to the entire human community, not to a few people who wanted to make money, so they left the highest authority to run the company in the hands of a group of founders and independent members with outside credibility who shared their goals. However, as the company grows in size with the results of the research and the support of the investors, the investors are demanding a return on their investment, and the participants are faced with the immeasurable results of their work, as well as the challenge of obtaining more funds to face the challengers and promote the original purpose of public welfare. Ilya, as the core of the project, finally supported the decision of the company’s guardians to expel the founder Altman from the company, opening up the reality that Open AI would have to face sooner or later.
The situation has changed from a coup d’état against Altman to an overthrow of the Board of Directors by all employees. Worried that the board’s actions would lead to the company’s collapse and the loss of billions of dollars in value, OpenAI shareholders were prepared to take strong action and file a lawsuit against the OpenAI board. Under pressure, the Board of Directors was forced to re-engage with Altman, and soon announced in a post on X that Altman was “reinstated”; as a prerequisite for his return, the Board of Directors also underwent a major turnover. This farce was put to rest for the time being.
This is a common situation for any company of its kind. As the Chinese idiom goes, “It’s easy to share the hard times, but hard to share the riches.” Not only did the founders struggle with their ideals, but also the employees, who joined the company with their interest, mission, and skills, saw their future bundled up with the company, and became key stakeholders in the benefits of the huge changes Open AI would bring to society. As a result, the initial management philosophy has been challenged by reality.
Innovation meets ethics
In less than a week, Altman was suddenly deposed, three CEOs were replaced in three days, there was a mass turnover of the entire staff, behind-the-scenes deals and lawsuits were threatened, the “push” failed, and the coup d’état “turned against the company”, with the main characters including the expansionist Altman, the gatekeeper of the security Sutzkiewicz, the conflicting interests of the D’Angelo …… power struggles and The power struggles and rivalries are as dazzling as Game of Thrones, and the situations are reversed, reversed, and reversed again. This sudden and rapidly unfolding event has attracted the attention of the entire technology industry and the media, and the outside world is speculating on how this upheaval will affect the direction of the development of artificial intelligence technology, or whether it is just a farce.
In 2015, when founders such as Altman and Musk came together to create the prototype of OpenAI, a non-profit organization based on the philosophical idea of effective altruism, the mission was to create artificial intelligence that would maximize the benefits to humanity and that would not be controlled by any capital or anyone else. But as it turns out, the most promising AI technologies require a lot of arithmetic power, and a lot of money. In a break with Musk, OpenAI has chosen to abandon its purely nonprofit organizational model in favor of a more realistic business path: OpenAI is still governed by a nonprofit board of directors, but has a for-profit subsidiary and is actively attracting venture capitalists and business partners. As founder and CEO, Altman says he has no ownership stake in the company, and Microsoft owns 49 percent of OpenAI.
The development prospect of artificial intelligence is indisputable, the major technology giants set off a new round of competition, as the AI leader OpenAI not to fall behind, can only continue to finance the money to maintain absolute technology leadership, Altman is seeking a series of expansion, the current valuation of OpenAI or reached 86 billion U.S. dollars. In contrast to Altman’s ambition and aggressiveness, Ilya Sutskever has always been very concerned about security, and he set up a “Super Alignment Team” this summer to align the goals of the AI system with the interests of mankind through a variety of technological means, and to prevent the AI system from engaging in behaviors harmful to mankind.
Over time, trust has been steadily and slowly eroding, making the Effective Altruists increasingly uneasy, which has led to questions from the board about how to use OpenAI’s technology or intellectual property rights. On the one-year anniversary of ChatGPT’s release, a “court battle” ensued as the Effective Altruism directors took the reins of power. Today, OpenAI is back to business as usual, as if nothing had happened, but the core conflict cannot be ignored. The end of this “court battle” reflects the difficulty of balancing idealism against reality, and the difficulty of balancing “profitable expansion” with “non-profitable visions.” Behind OpenAI’s “shock” is an unpredictable clash of philosophies between the company’s rapid development and its imminent need for security governance. With the rapid development of AI technology, these two voices may need to be better balanced and understood.
The fight is now on hold, but the problems remain, and the further development of Open AI and other similar companies will need to address them. The challenge for governments around the world is how to ensure that Open AI can continue without compromising human safety, bring development to society, and provide returns for investors and workers. In totalitarian countries, AI is likely to be used by ambitious people as a tool to suppress humanity. In democratic countries, people may not be aware of the possible dangers of AI, and society will have to pay a heavy price for the full-scale use of AI in the end. Therefore, governments around the world can’t stay away from these issues and see them as purely a challenge to the business process.
Within OpenAI, Elysium and its supporters represent the relatively radical “left”, who want an “AI paradise” that is almost free of “commercialization sludge”, while the Altmans are on the more moderate “right”, who want a sustainable commercial company that gives due consideration to the vision of benefiting mankind under this premise. Ilya Sutskever’s subsequent reaction shows that he is remorseful for his involvement in the dismissal of the Ultramen. This may be a sign that he realizes that the long-term development of OpenAI will not be possible without Altman’s business operations. After all, the philosopher Karl Popper long ago said, “The attraction of utopianism
is the failure to realize that we cannot build a kingdom of heaven on earth. And people grow up.
OpenAI seems to have no choice but to give in and bring back Altman, who has already been kicked out, in order to keep OpenAI from destroying its leading position in the AI industry. Once again, this incident has undoubtedly brought to the forefront what’s right and what’s wrong with AI. It’s reasonable to ask: What’s going on inside the company? Where is the debate and competition over how AI should be developed going? Will the chaos that has characterized the AI industry finally change?The OpenAI drama is over, but an even bigger mess may have just begun.
With the return of Sam Altman, the details of his dismissal are beginning to emerge. A few days before Altman’s dismissal, several OpenAI researchers sent a letter to the board of directors warning that they had discovered a powerful artificial intelligence technology that could threaten humanity. The letter, which has never been revealed, and the “AI technology” mentioned in its contents, may have been one of the catalysts that led to Altman’s dismissal, but the details behind it are still not clear enough. At this point, we have to admire Elon Musk’s candor, “If you’re scared to fire the CEO, you should tell us why. 200 years have passed, and biologists haven’t created life with a body yet, but computer experts have created intelligence without a body. But our fear of “them” that are “like us” but not us remains unchanged.
In this farce, some have even linked Altman to Steve Jobs, who was fired from his own Apple company at the age of 30. What needs to be clarified here is that the 30-year-old Jobs really lacked some maturity and sophistication in management, and at the time he gave people the impression that he was “stubborn, headstrong, and temperamental. And after many years when Jobs with 10 million dollars to buy Pixar, his management style and temperament has changed a lot: in the management style has become relaxed, in the control of the right to become the slightest bit of the fight, these changes make the return of Jobes to play a greater value. And these two points are exactly 38-year-old Altman lack of. Of course, after this battle, Altman did not experience Job’s years of stings, sudden dismissal, and then quickly returned, whether Altman can have Job’s reflection and change, it is worth further observation.
Photo / Internet
The end of chaos or the beginning of a new one in northern Burma?
The Ming family, one of the five largest telecom fraud syndicates in northern Burma, has been arrested, three members of the family have been arrested, and the head of the family, Ming Xuechang, has committed suicide. Together with other syndicates that have already switched sides, 31,000 suspected fraudsters have been handed over by the Burmese side to the Chinese side so far.
China’s crackdown on Kokang has almost been completed, to the applause of Chinese informants. But while the fraud plague in northeastern Burma may be over for now, there’s a good chance that it will simply move on to another lawless corner of the globe and start up again.
Do you know the real North Burma?
With a population of 58 million and an area of about 676,500 square kilometers, Myanmar is the 40th largest country in the world and the second largest in Southeast Asia. The history of Myanmar is dominated by four ethnic groups: the Mon (မန် mawn), the Khmer (ပျူ), the Burmese (ဗမာ Băma) and the Dai (ဗမာ Tay, also known as the Shan). ). In G. E. Harvey’s History of Burma, it is argued that the Burmese claimed to have come from the Buddha’s tribe in North India, and that they retained many of the cultural customs of India, having entered Burma from Assam, India, around the end of the reign of the Emperor. Historically, Burma had an autonomous dynasty, but it became a British colony in the mid-19th century, and now its GDP is less than US$5,000 per person on average, ranking 130th in the world, making it a very poor country. Over the past 50 years, Burma has been under military rule and social development has lagged behind.
Burma is divided into two units, “Upper Burma” and “Lower Burma”, which has led to obvious differences in ethnic structure, production methods and cultural characteristics. The British colonial rulers further aggravated the divide by adopting different ruling policies for Upper and Lower Burma, and by “using the barbarians to fight against the barbarians,” and Burma became independent in 1948, but the rift in history did not heal on its own. Geographically, northern Burma’s high mountains, rugged terrain, and complex ethnic composition have made it a region where all forces are intertwined; economically, in order to support the armed forces’ survival activities, many of the local armed forces in northern Burma have made their economy based on illegal industries such as drug, jade, and timber smuggling, and the underground economy is thriving.
The chaotic political environment has laid the groundwork for the growth of the black and gray industry in northern Burma, while technological advances have “catalyzed” its transformation. China has long maintained good relations with the Burmese military government, and has also supported the military forces in northern Burma, especially those under the control of the Kokang warlord Pang Ka-sing, known as the “King of Kokang,” the founder of the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and the former chairman of the first special administrative region of Burma’s Shan State. Under his rule, northern Burma became a center of various illegal activities, and in the 1990s, after years of heavy-handed crackdowns, the drug trafficking that had once been rampant in the north of the country subsided, and some of the Minjab districts began to look for other ways to make money. In 2019, Myanmar’s new Gambling Law, which allows foreigners to legally register and operate casinos in the country, further accelerated the development of online gambling in northern Myanmar. The rapid development of global mobile communication technology has also seen the integration of Internet technology with the dysfunctional economic model of northern Burma, which has led to a gradual change in the economic structure of the region.
Looking at Burma’s neighboring countries, some of China’s P2P platforms and Internet fraud syndicates are gradually spreading to the north of the country and forming a community of interest with local forces. At the same time, against the backdrop of joint enforcement actions between China and Southeast Asian countries, telecommunication network crime syndicates from the Philippines, Cambodia and other countries are shifting to Myanmar. As a result, northern Burma and Myawaddy in Myanmar have become the hardest-hit areas in Southeast Asia and even globally in terms of telecommunication fraud.
China’s stance on Myanmar as a center for piracy has been extremely influential. China has maintained good relations with Peng Jiasheng and his military family, but has a long history of cooperation with the Burmese government. However, Chinese nationals are also the biggest victims of telecoms fraud, so China’s willingness to crack down on telecoms fraud and cooperate with the Burmese government will be key.
In the opinion of many criminals in northern Burma, compared with drug trafficking, online gambling is “less risky and more profitable”. The economic development of Wa and Kokang has begun to rely on the Internet gambling and fraud industry. In Wa State, for example, in Mangnang County of Wa State, there is even a situation where school buildings are rented out to fraudulent companies. It is no wonder that there are hundreds of fraud parks in Myawaddy on the Burma-Thailand border alone. Together with the fraud syndicates that are entrenched in parts of northern Burma, there are at least 1,000 parks in total, with more than 100,000 people practicing telecommunication frauds every day.
The delicate relationship with China
Since the beginning of the year, China has taken a more proactive stance on telecoms fraud. According to the Chinese side, the Ministry of Public Security and the Yunnan Provincial Public Security Bureau have been cooperating with relevant local law enforcement agencies in Myanmar on border police enforcement since September this year, which has resulted in a large number of suspects of wire fraud being caught in the net, and in November the Chinese public security authorities further deepened the cooperation between the two countries on police enforcement and launched an offensive against wire fraud in the north of the country. The cooperation between the two countries has resulted in a variety of combinations that have led to the success of the battle, with 31,000 suspects being handed over to China. But the story goes much further than that. Media sources have reported that China has supported the Burmese military since it seized power in 2021, while the Chinese government has maintained complex cross-border relations with armed factions in northern Burma for years, often outside the control of the military government.
China exerts significant influence in northern Shan State, particularly in areas controlled by the ethnic Kokang, Burma’s ethnic minority. The Chinese government is embarrassed by the large-scale criminal activities, especially telecommunication fraud, that are taking place in the border area and has vowed to stamp them out. For the past month, Myanmar has been staging a dramatic gangster movie to help China fight wire fraud. But it’s clear to everyone that the Three Brothers Alliance, led by the Kokang rebels, is fighting fraud and traitors, but its ultimate goal is to reclaim territory controlled by the Burmese military, and so the counter-fraud campaign has indirectly triggered a civil war in the country.
The Burmese authorities have long suspected Chinese involvement in supporting local armed factions. This year’s telecoms fraud crackdown is believed to be an attempt by China to help the armed forces in northern Burma to dismantle the fraud syndicates, indirectly triggering a civil war in Burma that has cost more than two million Burmese people their lives in displacement. Therefore, this anti-electrofraud campaign is like a slaying between CCP agents due to a conflict of interests, and it has once again trampled on Myanmar’s democracy, which has been difficult to achieve due to internal racial tensions.
Of course, China cannot be blamed for the difficulty of democracy in Burma, because the internal conflicts between the Burmese and the other seven ethnic minorities, even if resolved through a federal system, have made it impossible to reach a consensus on issues such as the official language and script, a common currency, or a single federal army, not to mention the fact that the Shan, Karen, and Kachin ethnic groups have split into different armed forces, and have long been in tension with the Burmese, all of which have been detrimental to the development of democracy. The recent resurgence of civil war has been a major factor against the development of democracy. The recent resurgence of the civil war has further aggravated the democratization process.
It’s hard to go back
As the campaign against telecoms fraud continues, new choices seem to be emerging for the Burmese government. But easier said than done. The fragmented political, economic and social landscape of northern Burma makes it difficult to develop a normal economic model. Over the past few decades, the Kokang economy has been supported first by drugs, then by gambling and wire fraud. Historically, northern Burma and Kokang have always been highly autonomous, and the government has always chosen to rule in cooperation with the local Tujia leaders; Peng Jiasheng, the chairman of the autonomous region that actually ruled Kokang from the late 1980s to 2009, once said that there was no way to do business in the region, with no land for agriculture and no market for industry. This has left Kokang with no choice but to rely on opium cultivation, drug trafficking, casinos, and, in recent years, even fraud parks to make a living.
Differences in aspirations for statehood and conflicts over the allocation of power and resources have led to armed conflict between the Burmese central government and ethnic armed groups, which continues to this day. Now, the four big families represented by Bai Sok Seng, Wei Chao Ren, Liu Guoxi, and Liu Zheng Xiang in the old streets of northern Burma have finally collapsed under the attack of the Kokang Allied Army. They died, were injured, and fled, and the former unrivaled families were suddenly scattered, and the former strong families could never return to their former prosperity.
The aftermath of the fraud sweep is a new round of military conflict between the local armed forces and the military government. A drone attack on a fleet of Chinese trucks has burned about 120 vehicles. China has yet to respond. After all, the civil war in Burma has so far not caused any substantial economic losses to China, so as long as China’s economy is not affected, the safety of the Chinese people is safeguarded, and China’s influence on the balance of power and stability of the Burmese parties in the future remains, this is the bottom line that China can accept.
China’s wait-and-see attitude is not difficult to understand. This is in line with their two-pronged strategy of maintaining a balance between the Burmese military government and the local ethnic armed forces. After all, there are major Chinese investments in Burma, such as the Belt and Road project and the Sino-Burmese oil and gas pipeline that runs through the Kokang and Rakhine regions to Kunming, which is especially crucial for China to avoid the Malacca dilemma. China’s attitude is therefore ambiguous, waiting to see what happens and enjoying the benefits. Inside Burma, even if the four big families are eliminated, the vacuum of power and economic hardship could allow new criminal forces to return to Kokang and resume their old ways with a new umbrella.
Many Western countries are aware of the support of the Burmese warlords in the telecom fraud ring, but as long as the influence of these activities is confined to the Chinese, they are reluctant to pay much attention to it. But as long as the influence of these activities is limited to the Chinese, they don’t want to pay much attention to them, because after all, this is a matter of internal affairs for the Burmese government, just like drug trafficking in Colombia or Mexico, in which the U.S. can’t intervene directly. The fact that the Chinese government has taken the initiative to assist Myanmar in dealing with telecom fraud may temporarily suppress the global trend of Chinese fraud, but it also affects the internal balance of military power in Myanmar. Whether or not this will destabilize the Burmese government in the near future is a development that we will all be aware of and concerned about. However, since Burma does not have much economic and political influence, it is likely that only the Chinese will keep an eye on the situation.
Text / Editorial Department
Photo / Internet
Though the world is difficult, there is hope for the future.
As we enter December, it is often a time when we look back on the past year and look forward to the future. This is the last issue of Sameway to be published in 2023, and I won’t see you again in my column until January 19th of next year, so let me also reflect on the past and suggest some directions for the future.
Where is the World Going?
Some of you may have hoped at the beginning of the year that the Russian-Ukrainian war would come to an end, but the reality today is that the Russian-Ukrainian war is a stalemate and there is no way out. There is also the Israel-Hamas confrontation, which is dividing the world. Not long ago, the leaders of China and the United States met at the APEC summit in San Francisco, but they did not reach any substantive reconciliation in their relationship, only that each side made its bottom line clear to the other, and the competition still continues. After Biden’s meeting with Xi Jinping, China’s rivalry with other countries in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait continues, and the world seems to be getting darker and darker.
Late last year, many people were excited by the breakthroughs in artificial intelligence development. But the last two weeks have been a dizzying tussle between the board of Open AI and its founder Sam Altman, but also a belief that AI is bound to have a huge impact on human society in the future. So this tug-of-war is just a prelude to what is expected to be not just a battle over the direction of corporate development, but also an agenda for global leaders who can’t afford not to be concerned about the direction of human society.
In Australia, we are also feeling the pressure of the economic downturn on many of us and others. Although Australia is still a “lucky country”, the government cannot ignore the fact that the vulnerables are experiencing difficulties in getting enough to eat. High housing prices have increased the wealth of those who own a home, but at the same time it has brought high rents and homelessness to those who do not. The NSW government has just launched a consultation on redrawing housing zones in the hope that it will significantly reduce housing prices and solve the housing problem. Whether it will be effective is not yet known, but it shows that political leaders are aware of the seriousness of the problem.
The federal government’s drastic cuts to state infrastructure funding signal that Australians will be facing tight times ahead. For the first time, Prime Minister Albanese’s approval rating in a policy poll is negative, indicating that Australians are losing confidence in the government. If the government fails to reverse the disappointment next year, I am afraid the Labor Party will be under great pressure in the 2025 election.
Concerns of Chinese Australians
In the Chinese community, we are seeing a slight easing of the relationship between Australia and China. The main reason for this is that China, in the midst of its economic difficulties, is temporarily letting go of its wolf diplomacy, and is looking forward to renewed economic cooperation with the West, in order to change China’s predicament. Australia, on the other hand, hopes to separate economic cooperation from international geopolitics. Whether this will be successful or not is not up to Australia, but depends on China’s acceptance. I believe the situation will become clearer in the coming year. Most immigrants from China hope that next year they will have a clearer picture of how the relationship between the two countries is developing, and perhaps be able to plan again for their role in Australian society.
The number of immigrants from Hong Kong is expected to continue to grow, but the biggest challenge for them will be to accept that they will have to let go of Hong Kong and start living in Australia. Immigrants from Taiwan will be watching the results of the general election in January next year to see if there will be a change of political parties and changes in the relationship between China and Taiwan. The recent trial of Mr. Sunny Duong, a Vietnamese-Cambodian leader, who was prosecuted under the Foreign Intervention Act, is expected to make Chinese Australians rethink their identity as Australian nationals, their role and their relationship with China.
Another case that has attracted attention in 2020 is the refusal of business migrant Mr. Liu Huifeng’s application for permanent residence, because Liu had set up an organisation with social groups through WeChat for more than 50,000 Chinese immigrants to help each other, and was refused a permanent residency visa because he was involved in receiving subsidies from the Chinese government, and recently, the negative assessment of Liu by the ASIO has been rejected. This incident is a great revelation of how Chinese prospective immigrants should live in Australia. Application for permanent residency in Australia is not only determined by the conditions of the migrant visa, but also by the applicant’s character, which is constructed by his or her attitude and recognition of the Australian society and system, and of course, the relationship with the Chinese government may also be considered as a condition.
Migration is not just a refugee
As migrants living in Australia, it is understandable that we find our minds changing. Before we immigrate, most of our considerations, activities and decisions are tied to the community we live in. However, when we immigrate, it is a new beginning. In the beginning, we may still have some ideas about living in our place of origin, but as time goes by, life here becomes a situation we experience every day, and our thinking will change along with it. Some investment immigrants from mainland China may have good vision and experience in doing business, but it is not easy for them to follow the Chinese way of doing things in Australia. Those who are more positive will go to re-learn and adjust their methods, but there are also those who are not satisfied with what they have here, and do not appreciate the advantages of a different society compared to the original one.
Over the past few years, I have come across new immigrants from Hong Kong, and many of them display the mentality that they are refugees. They have come to live in Australia because of Hong Kong’s difficulties in 2019, thinking that they are leaving behind a beautiful past that they have lost. They don’t realize that migrating can be a positive decision, a chance to create a better and different future for us. Hong Kong friends who are willing to commit to Australia have chosen to emigrate not because they want to run away, but because they want to work hard to find out what’s better here, to forget about the past and work hard for what’s in front of them.
I myself responded to the call to come from Hong Kong to Melbourne to serve the Chinese churches, and in doing so, I opened a new chapter in multicultural Australia. Of course not everything in Australia is better than in Hong Kong. In fact, if we had stayed in Hong Kong, there would have been more opportunities for us. However, living in Australia, you will realize that life is indeed different from Hong Kong, and appreciating these differences is the greatest blessing that every immigrant, no matter where you come from, can receive.
Multiculturalism is an opportunity
The recently released Scanlon Social Cohesion Report 2023 mentions the reasons why the author is optimistic about the future of the Australian community in spite of the economic challenges it faces, including Australians’ love of their neighbou and their commitment to their communities, their recognition of democracy, and their affirmation of and support for a multicultural society. These three points, especially the third, are worth thinking about. It is true that rich countries all over the world emphasize on people’s participation and acceptance in the community, and the democratic political system also provides a platform for the people to participate in public affairs. However, very few countries are able to absorb immigrants from all over the world to build a new society with equality and respect as Australia does. I believe this is where Australia excels over other countries.
Our multicultural society allows Australians to connect with the rest of the world. Australia is rich in local resources and has a small population, so there are many agricultural and mineral resources. Furthermore, Australia emphasizes education and has great potential for scientific research and technology export. By attracting immigrants from all over the world, Australia has the conditions to establish ties with many countries. Because of these conditions, many young people who grow up in Australia will spend some time living in other countries to build up a good working network, so that Australia has excellent conditions in the era of globalization.
Migrants from different parts of the world also serve as a bridge to build relationships. In May, I attended a meeting of a multicultural radio station, and an anchor from Kenya, knowing that my daughter had lived in Kenya, told me that she would be returning to Kenya for a period of time, and that she would be willing to assist me if I had any projects that involved cooperation between the two places. This happens all the time in Australia. No matter which country in the world you want to connect with, you can always find some connection points in Australia.
There is also the fact that the next generation who grows up in a multicultural society has a very international network, and they are able to accept the differences of other people, and it is easy for them to establish cooperative relationships. Many of my friends have children who have returned to Hong Kong to work, and their international outlook gives them a great advantage when working in Hong Kong.
Yes, first-time immigrants often miss the good things of the past, but as long as we are willing to invest in this society, no matter how difficult it is today, I believe we can still grasp the advantages of this society to create a better future for ourselves. I wish all of you, the readers, a more fruitful year in the coming year, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas! I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
Mr. Raymond Chow
NEMBC Mandarin News – 30 November 2023
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