One of the three 900-hundred-pound behemoths in global affairs along with the United States and Russia is China. The 45th president of the US was especially obsessed with the far eastern giant, especially its role in global economics. Fears were spread politically about its nefarious intentions, a view that was later served by insistence upon China as an epicenter of the origin of the COVID virus.
There is little doubt that the Sino nation has made enormous strides economically on behalf of its people and continued to cultivate a military footprint across the world. It is beginning to appear, however, that the pace of it economic growth may have also orchestrated an underlying set of fractures in the financial infrastructure created to propel prosperity.
Evergrande is a huge property developer in China formed, in part, to create housing projects for the nation’s eager and prosperous middle class. The company had $300 billion in loans with bondholders. The government later adopted regulations to temper its financial appetite, leading to seriously discounted sales. Over the last month, Evergrande has failed to meet interest payments to bondholders.
Concurrently, another huge Chinese property company – Fantasia – also failed to make interest payments to bondholders, causing deep concern in markets across the globe. In September, the government declared cryptocurrency illegal except for its own digital currency. These strains in China resemble the Goldman Sachs collapse in the US. It remains to be seen what other remedial steps China will take.
Almost, but not quite. Iceland elected 30 of 63 (48%) of its legislative seats to be filled by women; Sweden has a 47% ratio. No European nation has broken the glass ceiling with 50%. The “Land of Fire and Ice” has long ranked high in nations promoting gender equality.
By comparison, the 117th Congress in the United States convened in January 2021 with 147 women members, including four delegates (27%, just over half that of Iceland and Sweden). Voter turnout, another vital civic indicator, is 80% in Iceland and 67% in the US (2020 election).
Whether rising gender equality dynamics, voter turnout, and election of women to office increase, either globally or in the US, is certainly a measure of democratic progress. Women’s suffrage in the United States was 100 years old in 2020.
With all eyes on the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, little attention is being paid to the effect that action had on other nations. In a reminder of the international character of the planet upon which we live, Ukrainian special forces troops flew into Kabul on September 26 to escort 96 of its citizens and Afghans out of the country.
Some of this cohort were part of a group of students sponsored by a Vatican university. Delicate and detailed matters were coordinated with Taliban representatives to ensure safe travel by the evacuees to the airport. This mission was one of a series of interventions by Ukraine, airlifting over 700 from Afghanistan. As the chaos in Kabul increased, the troops were forced to camp near their chartered airplane at the airport for four days.
It is sometimes difficult for Americans to appreciate the mix of peoples and organizations involved in countries across the globe. This new world is far different from the one of early exploders and colonists.