Correspondents look at issues to watch around the world

– Matthew Knott, US correspondent Europe After all the huffing, puffing and stuffing around, it’s finally happening: the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. Brexit will take place by January 31, setting the clock on a frantic 11-month mission to stitch together a trade, security and migration pact with the EU that will take effect once the formal “transition” period ends in December. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses British soldiers after serving Christmas lunch to troops stationed in Estonia. He will lead the UK out of the EU…

How to Read Vietnam’s Latest Defense White Paper: A Message to Great Powers

Ten years is a long time to wait for anything, but the release of Vietnam’s latest defense white paper on Nov. 25 — the first since 2009 and fourth since Hanoi began issuing white papers in 1998 — was certainly worthwhile. Vietnam’s defense white papers have traditionally served as generic, non-offensive policy statements on external threats to Vietnamese security and an explanation of how the Ministry of National Defense is addressing them. Wrapped in Marxist-Leninist ideological narrative and steeped in subtlety, ambiguity, and coded language, it is typically difficult to…

Sweater weather to carry on in Singapore in January, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Do not stash away your jackets and windbreakers just yet, as Singapore is expected to cross over into the new year on a wave of blustery weather. The year-end cold spell that saw some reaching for their sweaters and scarves in December is forecast to continue in January, the National Environment Agency’s Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said on Tuesday (Dec 31). This follows the windiest and wettest December Singapore has seen in the past 10 years. “The north-easterly winds over the South China Sea, including (in) Singapore, are…

FTSE 100 dips on year-end profit taking, stronger pound

By Shashwat Awasthi Dec 31 (Reuters) – London’s FTSE 100 declined for the second straight session on Tuesday, as dealers booked year-end profits after the index’s best run in three years and as a stronger pound hit shares of exporter firms. The FTSE 100 .FTSE, which rose for 11 consecutive days earlier this month, fell 0.3% as a modestly firmer sterling GBP= dragged exporter stocks such as BAT BATS.L and AstraZeneca AZN.L lower. The FTSE 250 .FTMC edged 0.1% lower by 0845 GMT in thin trading, as most investors were…

Dangerous Waters: Responding to China’s Maritime Provocations in the South China Sea

CHINA’S CAMPAIGN of expansion in the South China Sea (SCS) threatens the core economic and national security interests of the United States, its partners and the international community. Beijing’s actions in the SCS are not an isolated challenge, but rather one component of a larger effort to push U.S. and allied military power further back from mainland China. Without a timely, comprehensive and robust response by the United States and its partners, the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) aggression may grow more acute. While the PRC has raised alarms on…

Euro and pound inch up as growth optimism cheers investors

By Olga Cotaga LONDON, Dec 31 (Reuters) – The euro and the British pound rose as the dollar weakened on Tuesday as investors saw global growth improving next year, with the United States and China due to finally sign a Phase 1 trade agreement this week. The U.S. currency had maintained its strength over the course of the year as investors saw the U.S. economy outperforming the rest of the world. In thin volumes on the last day of the decade, currencies overall were more volatile than many expected, with…

Another Great Power Interested in the South China Sea?

In October, during his second official visit to Russia, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte invited Moscow-based energy company Rosneft to conduct oil and gas exploration in waters the Philippines claims in the South China Sea. The offer was reciprocated by the Russian ambassador to the Philippines, Igor Khovaev, who invited Philippine companies to also ‘explore oil and gas in Russia together with Russian companies’. A team from Rosneft went to Manila later that month to discuss the possibility of joint offshore oil exploration with the Philippines Department of Energy. Rosneft, which is half-owned by the Russian government, is…

Satellite images tell the stories

This Dec. 12, 2018 image provided by Maxar Technologies shows temporary shelters that have been erected in the Kutupalong area of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP) There has been no shortage of big news over the last decade. Spanning the globe, some stories were expected while others caught the world off guard. Some were so massive they were visible from space, captured through state-of-the-art imaging satellites belonging to technology company and imagery provider Maxar Technologies. Together, The Associated Press and Maxar assembled a selection of…

Asia’s flashpoints: What could go wrong in 2020

The Nikkei Asian Review has looked into its crystal ball to predict possible sources of military friction, political tension and economic trouble across the region in 2020. Some scenarios focus on specific countries, while others span borders. Several involve an increasingly dominant China. Read on for our non-exhaustive list of what may go wrong in Asia. North Korea fires missiles at U.S. bases The U.S. and North Korea are unlikely reach an agreement on denuclearization before Kim Jong Un’s end-of-2019 deadline for sanctions relief, and this may prompt the young…

China: China launches two powerful naval destroyers in ‘year of harvest’ for military

BEIJING: China has launched two powerful naval destroyers, is building a massive pier at the Djibouti naval base in the Indian Ocean to dock its aircraft carriers, as the state media described 2019 the “year of harvest” for the Chinese military, which has acquired a whole range of modern weapons. China has been adding new naval ships on a monthly basis. China on Friday launched its sixth Type 055 and the 23rd Type 052D guided missile destroyers, state-run Global Times reported on Monday. The ships would be ready for operations…