TIME China

Tiny Pacific Nation of Vanuatu to Join Motley Crew at China’s WWII Anniversary Parade

Students pose with a Chinese national flag and red stars during a event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, at a primary school in Handan
China Daily/Reuters Students pose with a Chinese national flag and red stars during an event to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender at a primary school in Handan, Hebei province, China, on Aug. 31, 2015

Thursday marks 70 years since Japan's surrender

The South Pacific island chain of Vanuatu served as a staging ground for American troops fighting in World War II. But the remote islands escaped intense combat with the Japanese. Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan weren’t exactly in the thick of battle against imperial Japan either. But that hasn’t stopped these nations, among others, from planning to take part in a massive military parade in Beijing on Sept. 3, marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s official surrender in World War II. Around 1,000 representatives from 17 nations will march in the Beijing parade.

So important is this occasion to China that Sept. 3 has been designated a new holiday, a festive occasion with the catchy name of the Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. China’s Victory Day parade gives the country, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the opportunity to flaunt both new military hardware as well as long-standing foreign friends. Most of the 500 pieces of military equipment on display, from antiship ballistic missiles to attack helicopters, will have been unveiled for the first time, according to state media, and around 30 foreign leaders will take in the pageantry, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Leaders from democratic nations will be in shorter supply, although South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be in town when the parade takes place, as will former leaders like the U.K.’s Tony Blair and Tomiichi Murayama, the Japanese ex-PM who gave his nation’s most high-profile apology for its brutality during World War II.

On Thursday, more than 10,000 troops will goose-step past Tiananmen Square. To ensure that nothing will compete with some 200 military aircraft overhead, including a new bomber, flights from Beijing Airport will be grounded. The Beijing News reports that five monkeys have been trained to destroy nearby bird nests, lest young migratory birds collide with a speeding fighter jet. An average macaque, readers of the Beijing News were informed, can obliterate around 12 bird nests a day. (Falcons and dogs have also been recruited for the bird-clearing efforts.)

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Sato Kilman will also attend the presumably avian-free festivities, in which seven members of the country’s police force will march. (Vanuatu has no army.) Now a nation of 266,000 people, Vanuatu has long enjoyed close ties with Beijing. Two years after its independence in 1980 — the archipelago was formerly the British-French colony of the New Hebrides — Vanuatu secured diplomatic relations with China. At the time, many countries sided with Taiwan, the island to which the Chinese Nationalist government escaped after losing to the Communists in 1949.

For a brief moment in 2004, Vanuatu switched allegiance to Taiwan, swayed by Taipei’s dollar diplomacy. (Six South Pacific nations currently recognize Taiwan.) But China quickly prevailed, with monetary dispensations of its own, and the Prime Minister who engineered the diplomatic switch lost his job. Another flirtation with Taiwan in 2011 was again forestalled by China. “For Vanuatu, participating in the parade is almost certainly about reinforcing and building relations with China in exchange for favors later,” says Jenny Hayward-Jones, director of the Melanesia program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.

After Australia, China is Vanuatu’s second largest aid donor. The Lowy Institute’s Philippa Brant calculates that, from 2006 to 2013, the Melanesian nation received around $220 million in aid from China. Beijing’s largesse is responsible for new roads, buildings and public transportation in Vanuatu. Although the tiny country already has a convention center, China is building Vanuatu another one — sparking debate over whether or not Chinese funds are being used for the most suitable projects. In many developing countries, Chinese-financed ventures also mean an influx of Chinese workers, narrowing the trickle-down benefits for the local economies. Reporting last December on road construction in Vanuatu by a Chinese state-owned company, a journalist for the Vanuatu Daily Post wondered whether the upgraded road was “an early Christmas present or something else in disguise.”

Back in Beijing, the seven-man team from the Vanuatu Mobile Force flag brigade has spent the days leading up to the parade at a training base on the outskirts of the capital, according to Asa Liu, an employee of the Vanuatu embassy in Beijing. The military facility, where other foreign marching delegations are also staying, is plush, at least as appraised by a spokesman for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. There are, he announced, free accommodations, wireless Internet, laundry facilities — and a buffet of both Western and Chinese delicacies.

TIME Innovation

Behind Russia’s Arctic Land Grab

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Russia just claimed half a million square miles of the Arctic. They won’t get it.

By Paul Stronski at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. Here’s why wages are flat and how to fix it.

By Thomas Kochan in the Conversation

3. See how scientists created human “tissue velcro” to repair damaged hearts.

By Tyler Irving in University of Toronto Engineering News

4. Are the billions we spend training the militaries of other nations worth it?

By Matthew Saintsing in Small Wars Journal

5. What Donald Trump gets wrong about the border.

By Abigail Golden-Vazquez in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Japan

This Week’s Foreign Policy Must-Reads

From yakuza battles to Russian food policy

A roundup of the most intelligent takes on global affairs this week

The Coming Yakuza War—The Daily Beast

Japan’s organized crime groups, known collectively as the “yakuza,” … are different from the mafias we know about in the West. They are treated as if they were some sort of controlled substance, dangerous but accepted within certain parameters… The Yamaguchi-gumi isn’t only Japan’s largest organized crime group; it’s also a well-known Japanese corporation… They are Goldman Sachs with guns.

Only in Japan: The “gangster company man.”

Pablo Escobar Will Never Die – GQ

Alive, Pablo was a murderer and a philanthropist, a kidnapper and a congressman, a populist antihero who corrupted the institutions that tried to contain him and slaughtered thousands of compatriots who got in his way. Safely in the grave, he has spawned an entertainment-industrial complex—movies, books, soap operas, souvenirs—his legacy as impossible to repress as the frisky hippos he left behindThe commodification of Pablo is an awkward development for many Colombians, having struggled for a generation to overcome the collective trauma he visited on them.

Some say you don’t really die until the last time someone says your name. If so, Pablo Escobar will be with us for a long time to come.

The Lessons of Anwar al-Awlaki – New York Times Magazine

Some government agencies have tried to boil the process of radicalization down to a few clear-cut and inevitable stages, but in reality, the journey to extremism is a messy, human affair that defies such predictability. This was true of Awlaki’s acolytes; it was also true of the great radicalizer himself. Before Awlaki could talk anyone else into violent jihad, he had to talk himself into it. One giant step came as the unintended result of surveillance by the United States government.

Here’s a question: Does law enforcement tend to overestimate its ability to use surveillance to understand a person, his motivation, his capabilities, and his intent?

The Other France – New Yorker

France has all kinds of suburbs, but the word for them, banlieues, has become pejorative, meaning slums dominated by immigrants… [After the Charlie Hebdo massacre,] there was a widespread feeling, in France and elsewhere, that the killings were somehow related to the banlieues. But an exact connection is not easy to establish. Although these alienated communities are increasingly prone to anti-Semitism, the profiles of French jihadists don’t track closely with class; many have come from bourgeois families. The sense of exclusion in the banlieues is an acute problem that the republic has neglected for decades, but more jobs and better housing won’t put an end to French jihadism.

There is nothing more dangerous for the internal stability of France (and many other European countries) than the isolation of its minority enclaves, the violence that isolation can inspire, and the rise of political parties who win votes by exploiting the resulting fear and anger.

Why Russia is So Afraid of French Cheese—The Atlantic

Russia’s Federal Customs Service has drafted legislation classifying banned foreign foods as ‘strategically important.’ Until now, that label only applied to weapons, explosives, poisons, and radioactive materials. If it becomes law, the new classification will mean those caught importing banned fruits, vegetables, meat, and poultry can face up to seven years in prison. French cheese is apparently now just as dangerous to the security of the state as polonium, uranium, assault weapons, and dirty bombs.

Maybe NATO should load brie into warheads and rain “fromage fury” on Moscow.

TIME russia

Russia Sentences Ukrainian Filmmaker Oleg Sentsov to 20 Years in Prison

Oleg Sentsov
STR—AP Oleg Sentsov gestures as the verdict is delivered, as he stands behind bars at a court in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Aug. 25, 2015

Washington and Brussels have vigorously denounced the trial

Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker best known for the 2011 movie Gámer, was sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison on charges of terrorism on Tuesday in the city of Rostov-on-Don, the BBC reports.

Sentsov, a vocal pro-Ukrainian activist, was arrested in May of 2014, and charged with organizing two arson attacks in the eastern Ukrainian city of Simferopol, the BBC says.

Sentsov denies the charges, and the case has been denounced by both the E.U. and by the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, who said the trial had been farcical. Ukrainian officials insist that Sentsov — who says he was beaten in an attempt to extract a confession — is being persecuted for protesting Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Another activist, Aleksandr Kolchenko, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on similar charges. He also denies the charges, the BBC reports.


TIME russia

Russia Reverses Ban on Russian Wikipedia After Only a Few Hours

The entry on hashish contained banned information

Russia’s ban on Russian-language Wikipedia lasted only a few hours, ending on Tuesday.

A Russian communications watchdog agency told Internet providers to block access to the popular site’s Russian language material on Monday, after a provincial court ruled Wikipedia’s entry on hashish contained banned information, the Associated Press reports. Recent legislation in Russia has banned sites from carrying information about drugs, suicide and hate, leading critics to accuse authorities of censorship.

The communications agency lifted the ban on Russian language Wikipedia after saying the entry had been edited to comply with the court decision. But users noted that the entry for hashish had only adjusted its title.

TIME Soccer

‘I’m Clean,’ Says Outgoing FIFA Boss Sepp Blatter

Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
Dennis Grombkowski—Getty Images FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks during the preliminary draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg on July 25, 2015

His organization faces a massive graft probe

FIFA’s soon-to-be-ex-president Sepp Blatter, embroiled in a massive investigation into corruption within the governing body of global soccer, said this week that he is “clean.”

“I have my conscience and I know I am an honest man,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “I am not a worried man.”

Blatter has been under investigation since early June in a scandal that has seen 14 FIFA officials indicted for financial irregularities totaling more than $150 million over two and a half decades. He resigned from his post despite having been re-elected for a fifth consecutive presidential term, but will continue to serve as president until a successor is elected early next year.

“I [resigned] because I wanted to protect FIFA,” the 79-year-old told the BBC. “I can protect myself. I am strong enough.”

Read next: These Are the 5 Facts That Explain the FIFA Scandal

The Swiss-led corruption probe is also looking into how hosts for the soccer World Cup were chosen, with the awarding of the quadrennial tournament’s next two editions — in 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar respectively — under particular scrutiny after former FIFA official Chuck Blazer admitted to accepting bribes for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Blatter said he is not “morally responsible” for Blazer and other corrupt officials and told the BBC that the 2010 World Cup “the cleanest World Cup that has ever been done.”

He also defended FIFA, saying the global soccer federation will emerge unscathed from the “tsunami” of allegations.

“The institution is not corrupt,” Blatter said to the BBC. “There is no corruption in football, there is corruption with individuals, it is the people.”


Read next: A South Korean Billionaire Wants to Be FIFA’s Next President

TIME Innovation

Facebook Should Pay for Our Data

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Facebook should pay all of us.

By Tim Wu in the New Yorker

2. Could Google could rig the 2016 election?

By Robert Epstein in Politico

3. Don’t be shocked. Amazon’s culture is the American workplace.

By Michael Cohen in the Boston Globe

4. For Putin, Crimea went from long lost relative to problem child.

By Carol Matlack in Bloomberg Business

5. Are Americans losing their right to walk?

By Antonia Malchik in Aeon

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME russia

This Week’s Foreign Policy Must-Reads

Putin, China and the war over corn

A roundup of the most intelligent takes on global affairs this week

Vladimir Putin’s Bonfire of the Delicacies – Foreign Policy

[The 1940’s Leningrad famine] is the most legendary of all the famines in the Russian history books, and its lore of hunger and cannibalism haunts most Russians, but especially Leningraders…So how could Putin and Medvedev—these two famous Leningraders—rid themselves of this inherited neurosis and sanction the calm destruction of food?

Russian defiance often takes self-destructive forms, but Putin’s popularity is holding steady, and the perception gap between urban and rural citizens continues to widen.

Corn Wars – The New Republic

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI now contend, in effect, that the theft of genetically modified corn technology is as credible a threat to national security as the spread to nation-states of the technology necessary to deliver and detonate nuclear warheads. Disturbingly, they may be right. …The world’s next superpower will be determined not just by which country has the most military might but also, and more importantly, by its mastery of the technology required to produce large quantities of food.

Even in a high-tech world, security of food and water is crucial.

How Google Could Rig the 2016 Elections – Politico EU

Google’s search algorithm can easily shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more—up to 80 percent in some demographic groups—with virtually no one knowing they are being manipulated…This gives Google the power, right now, to flip upwards of 25 percent of the national elections worldwide. In the United States, half of our presidential elections have been won by margins under 7.6 percent, and the 2012 election was won by a margin of only 3.9 percent—well within Google’s control.

A less flashy, more interesting idea for remaking The Manchurian Candidate for a 21st century audience.

Is Donald Trump an American Putin? – Washington Post

He promises to restore his country’s greatness, without offering a specific plan. He uses crude, vulgar expressions that make him sound like an ordinary guy, even though he’s a billionaire. He’s a narcissist who craves media attention. And for all his obvious shortcomings, he’s very popular…Donald Trump is in some respects an American version of Putin. Like the Russian leader, he seeks to reverse his country’s losses and return its former glory. He promises a restoration of power and prestige without trifling about the details.

It’s an interesting comparison. People are naturally attracted to leaders who project extraordinary self-confidence and who don’t back down the way ordinary politicians would. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Trump phenomenon can continue when a broader segment of U.S. voters begins to really pay attention.

Jihad and Girl Power: How ISIS Lured 3 London Teenagers – New York Times

They were smart, popular girls from a world in which teenage rebellion is expressed through a radical religiosity that questions everything around them. In this world, the counterculture is conservative. Islam is punk rock. The head scarf is liberating. Beards are sexy. Ask young Muslim women in their neighborhood what kind of guys are popular at school these days and they start raving about “the brothers who pray.”… The Islamic State is making a determined play for these girls, tailoring its siren calls to their vulnerabilities, frustrations and dreams, and filling a void the West has so far failed to address.

Islam is punk rock? For how long? “Girl power” and jihadi culture won’t mix well over time. Yet another reminder that it will be easier to recruit people than to keep them.

TIME Cheese

Russian Police Bust $30 Million Contraband Cheese Ring

Danita Delimont—Getty Images/Gallo Images

U.S. and European agriculture imports have been banned since last year

Fake cheese doing the rounds? Fear not. The Russian authorities have come to the rescue, preserving the sanctity of cheese in Russia and arresting six people along the way.

An international ring of schemers were involved in producing contraband cheese worth about 2 billion rubles, or nearly $30 million, according to CBS News. The crackdown is part of the Russian government’s plan to enforce a ban on imports of Western products.

The ring of schemers, six of whom were taken into custody Tuesday, had allegedly been fixing fake labels on banned cheeses to then sell to supermarket chains in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russian authorities have been cracking down on contraband food — much of which was banned a year ago — in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions against the country. Government workers have destroyed 48 tons of animal products and 552 tons of fruits and vegetables seized to date, the national agricultural oversight agency said.

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