The armed forces of Myanmar, also known as Tatmadaw, originated when former Burma was at war with Great Britain. The story goes that at a ceremony in Bangkok in 1941 a so-called group of "Thirty Comrades" decided to establish an army to liberate Burma from the British, giving life to the armed resistance that ultimately led the country to independence in 1948. A historical moment that has been memorialized in the Military Museum of Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar, where there are stories and testimonies of the event.
Global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows fell by 35 per cent in 2020 to $1 trillion, from $1.5 trillion in 2019 (World Investment Report 2021). This is the lowest level since 2005. The pandemic has hit hardest developed economies (-58%) while developing countries proved relatively more resilient (-8%).
It seems that not only the economy and health care systems, but also human rights and democracy have proven particularly fragile during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even in more consolidated democracies, governments did not always succeed in ensuring that all the restrictions were necessary and proportionate to the threat to the lives of their citizens.
Over the course of the past decade, Russia and China have been increasingly aligning on a number of issues that encompass foreign and domestic politics. With the COVID-19 pandemic, such alignment has increased in the digital space.
The “vaccine production power” developed by some global actors to fight the COVID-19 pandemic has turned into a soft power tool to influence the international global order.
The COVID-19 pandemic, aside from being a health disaster, was a huge economic shock to the world economy. All G20 countries had negative GDP growth in 2020, except for China, which eked out a 2.3% expansion. All these major economies, and most smaller ones too, carried out Keynesian counter-cyclical fiscal and monetary stimulus policies.
As China emerges from the grips of COVID-19, there is potential for it to become a global leader in managing the pandemic and provide assistance to other countries. But what does the latest pandemic tell us about the durability of authoritarian regimes, like China? Furthermore, given its recent experiences with a national crisis, such as SARS or the Sichuan earthquake, what is the role of civil society in managing the impacts of such national emergencies?
One indisputable trend of Xi Jinping’s leadership since taking up the reins of government in 2012 has been the reaffirming of the Party’s control over the state, the army, society, and the economy. To this aim, establishing heightened control over the national security apparatus has been his means as much as an end. Xi has thus strengthened the Party’s overall security authority through major institutional and legal reforms (not to mention through its anti-corruption campaign).
Looking back at how major international magazines commented on Xi Jinping’s rise as General Secretary in 2012 is a helpful exercise in understanding what the international community was expecting.
The pandemic has increased poverty worldwide. As estimated by the World Bank, COVID-19 has pushed back between 88 and 115 million people into extreme poverty in 2020, setting back poverty reduction by around three years. Moreover, the International Labour Organization assessed that in 2020 an additional 255 million full-time jobs were lost worldwide; vulnerable groups, particularly women and low-skilled workers, are more likely to lose their jobs or to suffer from salary and wage reduction.