China‘s positive economic influence has been surging in surrounding countries over the past five years, as the nation overtook the United States to become the largest trading partner of 124 economies by 2011. The number was only 70 in 2006.
The US may not be as thrilled. The country has seen a sharp decrease in trading partners during the same period, from 127 to 76.
China now boasts the world’s biggest exporter and second-largest importer, with its foreign trade growing 6.2 percent year-on-year to hit $3.867 trillion in 2012. Among that, exports to the EU, China’s biggest trading partner, reached $333.99 billion, down 6.2 percent from a year earlier, while imports from the bloc edged up 0.4 percent to $212.05 billion.
One year ago, the chubby and blubbering soon-to-be leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was seen walking alongside the hearse that carried his dead father, Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Un was young, inexperienced, unqualified, and bereft of any of the larger-than-life myths that had sustained his father’s and grandfather’s rules. And yet, just days later, he assumed power in the only communist dynasty in the world.
Today, the junior Kim can be seen riding high in Pyongyang. And last week, he became the first Korean to launch a domestically designed satellite into orbit on the back of a domestically designed rocket. But more broadly, some analysts see him as pushing his own version of reform.
The debate on Iran and its nuclear program does little credit to the U.S. foreign policy community, because much of it rests on dubious assumptions that do not stand up to even casual scrutiny. Lots of ink, pixels, and air-time has been devoted to discussing whether Iran truly wants a bomb, how close it might be to getting one, how well sanctions are working, whether the mullahs in charge are “rational,” and whether a new diplomatic initiative is advisable. Similarly, journalists, politicians and policy wonks spend endless hours asking if and when Israel might attack and whether the United States should help. But we hardly ever ask ourselves if this issue is being blown wildly out of proportion.