Greatest living rock climber. Lone master of Yosemite Valley’s most terrifying ascent. That’s Alex Honnold.
Propelled by wiry strength, secured with chalk-dusted fingers, sticky-soled climbing shoes and months of keen, Zen-like choreography on the same escarpment, Honnold stunned even the climbing world last June, ascending nearly three thousand feet along the granite face of Yosemite’s El Capitan in less than four hours. Alone. No ropes. No safety equipment.
“May be the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport,” exclaimed National Geographic magazine. “One of the greatest athletic feats of any kind, ever,” mountaineering author Daniel Duane asserted in The New York Times.
With President Trump scheduled to meet President Xi Jinping and other China leaders Wednesday in Beijing, it is hard to know how much their discussions will focus on U.S.-China trade and economic policies. U.S. concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and China’s military expansion in the South China Sea could dominate.
Whatever the outcome, modern ties between the world’s two largest economies are crucial for the global economy — and often misunderstood. Here is what top experts and analysts are saying about China’s beliefs about trade and economic policy today, and what’s at stake for the U.S. and the world.
Can China achieve Xi Jinping’s vision of becoming a “moderately prosperous society” if the world’s second largest economy continues to be dominated by state-owned, state-run companies?
Not by conventional models of markets and economic growth. Job security and self-dealing in China’s state-owned enterprises have been known to override what markets value more: innovation, risk-taking and reinvention.
President Xi’s 19th Party Congress two weeks ago called for stronger, bigger state companies along with more support for private firms. That may sound like a dead-end contradiction to capitalists in the West. But it prompts an intriguing question: can China’s state-owned enterprises become more efficient and profitable within China’s government-controlled economy?
Mary Robinson became one of the world’s most ardent champions for human rights after serving in the 1990’s as the first woman president of Ireland. She believes the gravest threat today to the global poor is rising temperatures caused by climate change.
“The profound injustice of climate change is that those who are most vulnerable … will suffer most,” she said shortly after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma stunned much of the Caribbean, Texas and Florida in September, and before Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico.
The many dimensions of what’s at stake in U.S. foreign aid spending are explored in two crisply edited, new episodes of the prize-winning podcast, The Brookings Cafeteria.
In Part 1, Madeleine Albright, Richard Blum, Stephen Hadley, Brookings’ George Ingram and other experts weigh in with analysis and commentary.
It’s an excellent 50-minute primer, ranging from origins of U.S. foreign assistance after World War II to pivotal questions Congress budget makers must answer in coming weeks. Questions on issues such as the role of U.S. leadership in the world, concerns over fragile states and whether it makes sense for 25 different government agencies to have a hand in making U.S. foreign aid policy.
Why does foreign aid spending benefit Americans? How much is appropriate in the next federal budget?
Budget makers in Congress and the White House continue to wrestle with these questions. Five weeks ago they pushed the deadline for answers to December 8 from September 30, the official end of the 2017 fiscal calendar. If lawmakers and the administration can’t reach agreement by December 8, they will be forced to consider another continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.
Threading aid into the chaos of war or collapse of social order is one of most dangerous, and crucial, challenges of our time. There are 65 million refugees in the world today – the most since World War II.
Fragile states such as Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and Afghanistan (farmland, pictured above) are notoriously vexing, yet aid organizations continue to support millions of the displaced, who are mostly women and children. In each case, America’s security interests hang in the balance. In each case, soft power matters.
Momentum, and urgency, continue to build for bringing together a wide range of expertise and sources of capital to fight poverty. It’s an exciting area of progress for global development and business investing in the next decade.
We heard this repeatedly from experts at the Brookings Blum Roundtable in August, and again last month during the United Nations General Assembly. Many are exploring how the U.S. can best respond to new geopolitical realities, and how the private sector can apply the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals through impact investing in fast-growing emerging economies.
The United States spends by far the most money on humanitarian aid of any country. Last week, more than $800 million in additional aid to Africa and the Middle East was pledged by the U.S. Agency for International Development, with nearly $600 million for famine relief in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia.
Yet Americans need to keep in mind that, as Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Carol Morello reported, our commitment as a percentage of GDP is roughly the same as Portugal and Japan, “while many European countries like Sweden, Switzerland and Luxembourg are far more generous.”
It was alarming last May when the White House proposed slashing budgets for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by nearly 30 percent in the 2018 fiscal year starting October 1.
Those draconian cuts aren’t likely to happen, but we won’t know the outcome for at least another three months. In a surprise, President Trump and Congressional leaders agreed September 6 to fund the government at current levels through mid-December, setting up a new round of high-stakes, year-end budget talks.