TIME Asia

U.S. Is Willing to Take in Rohingya Boat People

Rescued migrants rest as they are given food and drink upon arrival in Simpang Tiga, Aceh province, Indonesia
Binsar Bakkara—AP Rescued migrants rest as they are given food and drink upon arrival in Simpang Tiga, Aceh province, Indonesia, on May 20, 2015.

Since Oct. 1, the U.S. has resettled more than 1,000 Rohingya

(WASHINGTON) — The United States is willing to take in Rohingya refugees as part of international efforts to cope with Southeast Asia’s stranded boat people, the State Department said Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the U.S. is prepared to take a leading role in any multicountry effort, organized by the United Nations refugee agency, to resettle the most vulnerable refugees.

In the past three weeks, more than 3,000 people — Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis trying to escape poverty — have landed in overcrowded boats on the shores of various Southeast Asian countries. Aid groups say thousands more are stranded at sea after human smugglers abandoned their boats because of a crackdown by authorities.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have been reluctant to let the Rohingya in and have turned boats full of hungry, thirsty people away, because they fear a flood of unwanted migrants. But on Wednesday, they relented.

Harf welcomed the governments’ decision “to uphold their responsibilities under international law and provide humanitarian assistance and shelter to 7,000 vulnerable migrants.” The U.S. would consider requests from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and International Organization for Migration for funds to help receive and screen refugees as they come to shore.

Harf said that since Oct. 1, the U.S. has resettled more than 1,000 Rohingya.

“I think the Malaysians and the Indonesians have requested some help resettling people. We’re taking a careful look at the proposal,” Harf told reporters in Washington. “It has to be a multicountry effort. We obviously can’t take this all on ourselves. But we are prepared to play a leading role in this effort.”

Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit Myanmar on Thursday and urge it to cooperate with Bangladesh to help migrants who are adrift. Harf said he would call for Myanmar to improve conditions inside the country for Rohingya.

“The only sustainable solution to the problem is changing the conditions that let them put their lives at risk at the first place,” Blinken, the second-ranking U.S. diplomat, told reporters in Indonesia.

At least 120,000 minority Muslim Rohingya have fled sectarian violence and apartheid-like conditions in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar in the past three years. Myanmar officials refer to the group as “Bengalis” and insist they have immigrated illegally from Bangladesh, even though most have lived in the country for generations.

TIME Crime

Subject of Serial Podcast Gets a Break in His Case

A friend never called to testify at Adnan Syed's trial may get to speak

The central subject of the popular podcast ‘Serial’ received a break in favor of his case on Monday after an appeals court in Maryland ruled that his request for relief following his conviction can be reopened in a circuit court.

Adnan Syed, who was jailed after being convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, will receive a new hearing that could bring testimony from someone who was never called to testify at his original trial, the Huffington Post reports. The case of Syed, who has always maintained his innocence, gained notoriety after millions tuned into the ‘Serial’ podcast.

On Monday, the Maryland Court Of Special Appeals granted Syed’s request to have his case remanded to a circuit court, which could open the door for more review and possibly the testimony of Asia McClain, a high school friend who claimed to have seen Syed during the time authorities said he committed the murder, which could give him an alibi.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Syed’s attorneys have 45 days to file a motion in Baltimore Circuit Court requesting the hearing so McClain can testify.

TIME Asia

The Exodus of Rohingya Muslims

Thousands of migrants are believed to be at sea

Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Burma were spotted in the Andaman sea on Thursday as the exodus has fueled an intensifying migrant crisis.

At least 6,000 migrants from Burma and Bangladesh are believed to be at sea, and neighboring countries have become increasingly reluctant to take responsibility for them.

Earlier this week, more than 1,500 refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh landed ashore in Indonesia and Malaysia, but both countries say they plan to turn away other boats.

Meanwhile, a recent crackdown in Thailand on human smugglers may have led smugglers to abandon boatloads of refugees at sea. Though Thai forces provided food to one abandoned boat of migrants pictured above, the New York Times reports that it was unclear if the Thai navy would provide more help. Passengers said that the crew had abandoned them six days ago and that 10 people had died during the voyage, according to the Times.

Some 25,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis have fled their countries by sea in the first three months of 2015, according to the United Nations, or nearly twice as many as last year.

Read next: The Rohingya, Burma’s Forgotten Muslims by James Nachtwey

TIME China

Why China and India Just Can’t Get Along

India's PM Modi presents a bouquet to China's President Xi before their meeting in Ahmedabad
Amit Dave—Reuters India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, presents a bouquet to China's President Xi Jinping before their meeting in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad on Sept. 17, 2014

A stunning dearth of fraternal ties exist between the two Asian superpowers

In the 7th century, a Chinese monk traversed a ribbon of the Silk Road, through the forbidding Taklamakan desert and over the mighty Tianshan peaks, to India. The Buddhist cleric’s name was Xuanzang, and he spent 17 years abroad before returning home with a cache of sutras and religious relics.

On Thursday, Narendra Modi will make his first visit to China as Prime Minister of India. One of his first stops will be the Wild Goose Pagoda in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, which, legend has it, was originally built to store Xuanzang’s Buddhist treasures from India. With China’s President Xi Jinping at his side — a rare instance in which a Chinese leader will greet a foreign leader outside of Beijing — Modi is expected to pay respects to one of the first devotees of globalization. It’s no small irony that an ancient Buddhist pilgrim will bring together a Hindu nationalist and a Communist princeling.

Yet for all the feting of Xuanzang, India and China’s relations remain tenuous. The world’s two most populous nations comprise more than one-third of humanity. Yet bilateral trade hovers around $70 billion, less than half the dollar figure of commercial ties between China and Australia. Memories of border battles — the most recent in 1962 — fester, and the 4,000-km frontier, which cuts through disputed territory, remains tense. “The bilateral relationship cannot be very good unless the border dispute is solved,” says Zhao Gancheng, a South Asia expert from the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

Imagine: there is not a single direct flight between two of Asia’s financial capitals, Shanghai and Mumbai. Between Beijing and New Delhi, nonstop flights only run three times a week. In 2013, 175,000 Chinese went on holiday in India, according to the Indian Ministry of Tourism. Thailand, meanwhile, attracted 4.6 million Chinese visitors last year.

Ahead of his China trip, Modi joined Weibo, the Chinese social-media service that has flourished partly because Twitter is blocked by Chinese censors. Modi may be a Twitter rock star, with 12.2 million followers, but he has attracted fewer than 50,000 fans on Weibo. By comparison, Apple CEO Tim Cook garnered 300,000 Weibo acolytes within 3½ hours of joining the Chinese microblogging network this week. Modi’s Weibo feed was seized upon by Chinese nationalists who demanded that India return “South Tibet,” as they refer to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. “South Tibet belongs to China,” went one comment. “Give it back to us. Otherwise we will take it back by force sooner or later.”

Such incendiary rhetoric notwithstanding, Modi spoke on the eve of his China trip of resetting the Sino-Indian relationship, focusing on economic pragmatism over troublesome politics. “I look forward to working out a road map for qualitatively upgrading our economic relations and seek greater Chinese participation in India’s economic growth,” he told Chinese media in New Delhi, “especially in transforming India’s manufacturing sector and infrastructure.”

MORE: Exclusive Interview With Narendra Modi: ‘We Are Natural Allies’

Still, the stumbling blocks are hard to budge. China’s historic friendship with Pakistan hasn’t helped, nor has India’s decades-long hosting of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader whose political counterpart Modi invited to his inauguration last year. Asked to comment on Sino-Indian ties, several India experts from leading Chinese universities refused to talk to TIME, citing the sensitivity of the bilateral relationship.

The Global Times, a daily affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, published an editorial on Monday accusing Modi of “playing little tricks over border disputes and security issues, hoping to boost his domestic prestige while increasing his leverage in negotiations with China.” The editorial, written by an academic at the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, went on to criticize the “Indian elites’ blind arrogance and confidence in their democracy,” as well as “the inferiority of [India’s] ordinary people.”

When Xi visited India last September, the trip was hailed as groundbreaking — the first time a Chinese President had stepped on Indian soil in eight years. Yet Xi’s visit resulted in an underwhelming $20 billion in promised Chinese investment over a five-year period. By contrast, Xi vowed $46 billion in infrastructure spending for ally Pakistan during a trip there last month. (India’s trade deficit with China reached $45 billion last year.) The bonhomie of Xi’s India trip was also marred by a strategic joust by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which reportedly dispatched hundreds of soldiers past the Line of Actual Control to a remote section of the India-China frontier.

Fourteen centuries ago, Xuanzang so impressed his countrymen that his travels inspired one of the most treasured classics in the Chinese literary canon, Journey to the West. Later during Modi’s China tour, in Shanghai, the Indian PM is slated to preside over the signing of a movie project celebrating Xuanzang’s life that will be jointly made by Chinese and Indian film studios.

But it’s also worth remembering that Xuanzang’s journey west was forbidden by the Chinese Emperor, who was battling Turkic nomads on the Middle Kingdom’s periphery and had therefore banned most Chinese from venturing abroad. By the time Xuanzang returned to China, his spiritual exploits trumped any imperial embargo. Still, even China’s most celebrated pilgrim was, for a time, an outlaw for visiting India.

— With reporting by Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

TIME Education

Here’s Where You’re Going to Find the Best Schools in the World

Schools in Asia outperform those everywhere else

Asian countries claimed the top five spots in a global math-and-science-education ranking administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) while the U.S. placed 28th, below much poorer countries such as the Czech Republic and Vietnam.

Singapore ranked best in the world, with Hong Kong placing second and South Korea, Japan and Taiwan rounding out top five, reports the BBC.

At sixth, Finland is the first non-Asian country to appear in the rankings; Ghana came in last place.

“The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them,” said OECD education director Andreas Schleicher.

The new rankings are different the more well-known PISA scores, which traditionally focuses on affluent nations. The latest version, based on tests taken in different regions worldwide, includes 76 countries of varying economic status.

“This is the first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education,” said Schleicher.

Below is the top 10 as reported by the BBC.

1. Singapore

2. Hong Kong

3. South Korea

4. Japan

4. Taiwan

6. Finland

7. Estonia

8. Switzerland

9. Netherlands

10. Canada

[BBC]

TIME pacific rim

How the U.S. Can Counter China in Asia

President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with leaders from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the US Embassy in Beijing on Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. From left: US Trade Representative Mike Froman, Obama, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with leaders from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the US Embassy in Beijing on Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. From left: US Trade Representative Mike Froman, Obama, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership offers a new solution

A historic debate over trade is now heating up in Washington. President Barack Obama hopes to persuade Congress to grant him fast-track trade authority to help complete negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive multilateral deal involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. The talks include nations on both sides of the Pacific, ranging from Japan to Australia to Peru. Together with the U.S., the group represents a third of world trade and 40% of global GDP.

Given those numbers, the political stakes are high, and emotions are running hot on both sides. Pro-business advocates who favor TPP say it will generate economic gains worth hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade by reducing barriers to trade and investment. Projected GDP growth in Japan and Singapore for 2025 would be nearly 2% higher with the deal than without it. Malaysia’s GDP might rise by more than 5%; Vietnam’s, possibly more than 10%.

TPP isn’t expected to move U.S. GDP much, but the White House insists the deal will boost exports by 4.39% over 2025 forecasts. Exports create the kinds of middle-class jobs that drive longer-term growth and reduce income inequality. TPP would also give the U.S. a firmer commercial foothold in the world’s most economically dynamic region, and it could aid U.S. efforts to negotiate future diplomatic agreements in Asia–even with China, which pointedly isn’t a part of the deal.

Those who oppose TPP–such as labor unions, human-rights groups and environmental organizations–warn that details of the agreement have been negotiated almost entirely in secret. They recall the tumultuous negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the early 1990s, and the confident predictions–which detractors believe went unfulfilled–that the pact would create millions of new jobs.

Both sides miss a critical point: unlike NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is much more than just a trade deal. It is the foundation for an intelligent reorientation of U.S. foreign policy, one that will help revitalize the entire global economy and reinforce security ties with Asian countries fearful of China’s growing regional dominance. It remains the centerpiece of President Obama’s long-delayed “pivot to Asia,” a smart plan that could extend American influence in East and Southeast Asia for many years to come.

That pivot is overdue. China’s rise has challenged the U.S. and its economy by promoting a system of state capitalism that gives political officials a powerful role in directing market activity. By using state-owned companies, state-run banks and loyal firms to achieve political goals, China has tilted the commercial playing field away from foreign companies and the U.S.

TPP can help counter the growth of Chinese-style state capitalism in Asia in much the same way that potential European Union membership once encouraged reform in former communist nations. Countries like Poland and Estonia learned to abide by E.U. rules that advantage private-sector competition and liberalized labor, trade and investment standards.

The deal would provide a landmark win for free markets, the rule of law and Western labor and environmental standards while inviting Beijing’s neighbors to hedge their bets on China by also strengthening investment ties with the U.S. and other TPP members. It would signal that America intends to remain in Asia as a stabilizer even as China becomes an ever more influential player.

And for President Obama, TPP would anchor the legacy of a leader who has often seemed adrift in global politics.

Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy


This appears in the May 11, 2015 issue of TIME.
TIME TIME 100

Here Are the 5 Things TIME 100 Says About the World

Malala Yousafzai after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in Birmingham, England on October 10, 2014.
Christopher Furlong—Getty Images Malala Yousafzai after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in Birmingham, England on Oct. 10, 2014.

The most influential people in the world, from around the world

The annual TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people is out—and looking very international. Fifty-one selectees were born outside the U.S., ranging from national leaders like Tunisia’s Beji Caid Essebsi to financiers like Brazilian multi-billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann to artists like the novelist Haruki Murakami—a favorite of mine, as I’ve been trying to get him on the list since around when the TIME 100 started in 2005.

It’s a large and diverse list, hailing from five continents. But there are a few lessons we can draw from who made the TIME 100–and who didn’t:

1. Asia has a crop of strong leaders: China and India may be two of the most dynamic countries in the world, but for years their leaders were anything but. From 2002 to 2012 China was run by the colorless and cautious President Hu Jintao, though most decisions were made not by the president alone but through consensus among the top tier of the Communist Party. In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presided over a decade of increasingly listless rule, ending in 2014 when he left office at the age of 81.

But today, both China and India are run by forceful leaders eager to to put their stamp on history. In the TIME 100 issue President Barack Obama notes that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India’s true economic potential.” Unlike many of his predecessors, Modi has worked to lead from the front, and he’s already carved out an impressive international profile—not too many other international leaders can pack Madison Square Garden for a speech, as Modi did last September.

If anything, Chinese President Xi Jinping is even more powerful—and more determined to exert direct control of his country. In the TIME 100 former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd—a Mandarin speaker and China expert—writes that Xi is now “likely to be China’s most powerful leader since Mao.” That’s not always a good thing. While Xi is carrying out reforms that are needed to make China’s economy more sustainable, he’s also ruthlessly cracked down on civil society and challenged the U.S. for global leadership. Joining Xi on the list is his tough-minded Internet czar Lu Wei, who’s strengthening the Great Firewall.

A third new Asian leader also made the list: new Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz writes in the TIME 100 that Widodo “has brought youthful energy and a popular touch to his large and diverse nation.” But after a promising start last fall, Widodo has faltered in his first year in the office—as Wolfowitz goes on to note, he’ll need to “overcome the entrenched interests in Indonesia that resist change.”

2. Latin America…not so much: Just one Latin American leader made the TIME 100 this year. From Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto—dodging corruption allegations and public anger over a bloody drug war—to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who may be impeached just a few months after winning re-election, it can seem like every Latin American leader is struggling to stay above water. Even politicians who have had success in the past are flailing—Chile’s widely respected President Michelle Bachelet, who was on last year’s TIME 100 list, has seen her family tainted by corruption allegations.

The one leader bucking trend: Cuban President Raul Castro, who has presided over a historic rapprochement with the U.S. And the region has influencers outside politics. Two Brazilians made the list—the surfing champion Gabriel Medina and the multi-billionaire dealmaker Jorge Paulo Lemann (who’s no slouch of an athlete himself, winning Brazil’s national tennis championship five times in his youth). The courageous Guatemalan human rights activist Aura Elena Farfan was saluted for “fighting for justice for the tens of thousands who were disappeared or killed during the civil war. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour hailed Telemundo anchor Jorge Ramos, born in Mexico City, as a reporter “determined to get an answer or go down trying.”

3. Japan is a cultural superpower: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe didn’t make the TIME 100 list this year—though having been decisively reelected in December, he had a pretty good claim. But two other representatives of Japan did. The home organizing maven Marie Kondo introduced audiences around the world to the happiness of a scrupulously clean living space. (Her most important piece of advice: if an object doesn’t bring you joy, chuck it out.)

And the novelist Haruki Murakami more than earned his spot—his most recent novel sold half a million advance copies in Japan before it was even printed, and became a bestseller around the world. For the TIME 100 we paired him with his countrywoman Yoko Ono, who knows a thing or two about succeeding globally, who celebrated Murakami’s “great imagination and human sympathy.”

4. Africa’s time is now—and Nigeria leads the way: Seven Africans made the list—and more came from Nigeria than any other country. That includes the new president-elect of Africa’s most populous nation, the man TIME’s Aryn Baker called a “born-again democrat” who will face the difficult challenge of defeating the Boko Haram insurgency. Doing so could mean killing another TIME 100 selectee: Boko Haram’s enigmatic leader, Abubakar Shekau, whom retired U.S. General Carter Ham warns “is the most violent killer their country has ever seen.”

But the African spots on the TIME 100 list go beyond strongmen. We selected Obiagali Ezekwesili, an anticorruption activist in Nigeria who has dedicated her life to ensuring that the hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram aren’t forgotten. The actor Idris Elba hailed Dr. Jerry Brown of Liberia for his heroic work to help stop the Ebola outbreak that killed thousands in West Africa. “It is because of this man’s actions—rather than his words,” Elba wrote, “that many lives were saved.”

5. Women are changing the world: Women make up nearly half the TIME 100 list, ranging from the pinnacle of power to activists on the ground. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel isn’t just the most powerful women in the world—she’s one of the most powerful people period. “Angela Merkel,” writes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, “managed to leverage German economic power into diplomatic power.” France’s Marine Le Pen isn’t loved by everyone, but she’s become a major force in French politics—and Europe could be next.

But for every political or business leader, there are women like Chai Jing, the courageous Chinese journalist whose environmental documentary Under the Dome was watched by more than 200 million people in China. Dr. Joanne Liu, the Canadian-born head of Doctors Without Borders, got the Ebola crisis right when so many of her peers got it wrong. And of course, there’s Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who first made the TIME 100 in 2013 at age 15. All she’s done in the meantime is win a Nobel Peace Prize—so we decided to put her on the list again. And that gave us the chance to publish another young woman, the Syrian Mezon Allmellehan, who wrote that “yes, I can make a difference, and I have to continue to fight for what I believe in.” Fitting words for an extraordinary—and influential—collection of women and men from around the world.

TIME India

See the Aftermath of the Deadly Landslide in Kashmir

At least 6 people were killed in a landslide after unseasonal rains lashed India, authorities said Monday. It occurred in a village some 25 miles from Kashmir's capital city of Srinagar.

Read next: At Least 6 Die in Kashmir Landslide

TIME animals

Young Male Monkeys Prefer Spending Time With Daddy, Study Says

A rhesus macaque monkey grooms another on Cayo Santiago, known as Monkey Island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, Tuesday, July 29, 2008.
Brennan Linsley—AP A rhesus macaque monkey grooms another on Cayo Santiago, known as Monkey Island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, on July 29, 2008

Turns out quality father-son time is not just a human phenomenon

Male rhesus macaque monkeys prefer the company of their fathers, according to a new study, marking one of the first times gender partiality has been exhibited in primates before they leave the colony.

Rhesus macaques are generally found in Asia, but by studying a colony on the small Puerto Rican island of Cayo Santiago the team was able to identify individual moneys and document socialization patterns, according to the BBC, citing a report in the American Journal of Primatology.

Researchers discovered that infants and juveniles spent more time with their mothers, but as they developed into adulthood the role of the father (and his relatives) becomes increasingly important.

Scientists think this is because male monkeys eventually leave the colony, so young adults spend more time with their fathers to help them prepare for the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle.

While gender preference had been observed in primates before, the new study shows that parental bias begins before the males go off on their own — a departure from the previous idea that favoritism is the result of females forming strong bonds with their relatives by remaining in the group when the males leave.

[BBC]

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