Philippines and China: While President Duterte has lauded China as a national development partner, his Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana continues to ring alarm bells about China’s expanding maritime footprint. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that although it is unclear whether Duterte and Lorenzana are engaged in a “good cop, bad cop” routine to extract maximum benefits from China while still keeping the US close, Lorenzana has said he finds Beijing’s expansion in the South China Sea “very, very disturbing” and “unacceptable.”
Chinese modern art: Hong Kong-born artist Wang Tingxin blends her roots in classical Chinese painting with an immersion in contemporary western tradition to create works of striking beauty. Richard Cook visited an exhibition of her paintings, called Courtyard of the Soul, that has just opened at Halcyon Gallery in London and saw how popular her work is proving to be with art buyers.
India, China, Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu wants to boost Israeli connections with both China and India but Israel’s growing military and defense cooperation with Delhi could make this simultaneous courting tricky, writes Emanuele Scimia . If Israel continues to transfer sensitive defense technology to the Indian armed forces, Prime Minister Netanyahu may have to some explaining to do during his upcoming talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Iran and Syria: Estimates of Iran’s military expenditure in Syria vary from US$6 billion a year to US$15-US$20 billion a year. David P. Goldman writes that even if the lower estimates are closer to the truth, the cost of the Syrian war to the Tehran regime is roughly the same as the country’s total budget deficit and Tehran’s lopsided commitment to military spending can be explained by Russian and Chinese geopolitical ambitions and fears.