10 Most Populated Cities in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Most Populated Cities in the World

Earth is home to more than 7.7 billion people and we have to put them somewhere. For millions of people, cities are that somewhere, with everyone existing next to each other with varying degrees of comfort. These are the 10 most populated cities in the world, according to the World Population Review.

Osaka, Japan | 19.2 Million

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For tourists, Osaka is about two things. The first is eating. The Japanese term “kuidaore,” which translates to “eat yourself broke” or “eat until you drop,” is frequently used to describe the city. The second is shopping. The city is full of stores, outlets, malls, bodegas, stalls and vendors. Between those two, you should have a pretty good idea of what your itinerary will be full of in Osaka.

Beijing, China | 20 Million

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There’s some irony in the fact that 20 million people have such ready access to the Forbidden City, a palace that traditionally carried strict, and often fatal, punishment for unauthorized visitors. Though not ironic is the fact that Beijing remains the seat of the Chinese government. That was the original point of the Forbidden City, after all.

Mumbai, India | 20.2 Million

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Mumbai is another one of those old cities that was renamed by the British empire, and has made the modern decision to change back. That’s why some readers may recognize the name Bombay, which was the name of the city up until 1995, when the political party Shiv Sena came to power in the city. Whatever you call it, there are a lot of people living in the city.

Dhaka, Bangladesh | 20.3 Million

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For a city with so many people, we haven’t heard a whole lot about Dhaka. It’s the capital of Bangladesh, so that’s something. It kind of makes it seem like a city of more than 20 million people is some kind of well-kept secret. Not to Bangladeshis, obviously, but to the rest of us.

Cairo, Egypt | 20.5 Million

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Unlike the other cities on this list, Cairo’s population growth is apparently on track for disaster. Just 11 years from now, in 2030, the city’s projected to hit 119 million and the government’s scrambling for solutions. Hopefully they figure something out quickly because 11 years is pretty much the blink of an eye when it comes to city planning.

Mexico City, Mexico | 21.7 Million

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Mexico City’s origins are in some very cool terraforming done by the Aztecs. They expanded a small natural island in Lake Texcoco into an island large enough to house their fortified city, Tenochtitlán, by dumping dirt into the lake until the island was big enough. Today, the sprawl of Mexico City has far exceeded what the island could have held.

São Paulo, Brazil | 21.8 Million

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São Paulo’s size caught us a little off guard. Rio de Janeiro is in the news so often that it’s almost like the default Brazilian city. But São Paulo’s population beats Rio’s by millions. It’s a financial center for Brazil but doesn’t sacrifice culture to achieve it. Case in point, São Paulo’s ethnic diversity is huge, with reasonably large Jewish, Japanese, Italian and Arab populations, among others.

Shanghai, China | 26.3 Million

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The fact that Beijing wasn’t the most populous city in China was a little surprising, though we’d say Shanghai would have been our second guess for “largest Chinese city.” Shanghai’s a great place to experience the convergence of old and new Chinese culture and certainly has enough going on that you won’t be bored. Lost maybe, but not bored.

Delhi, India | 29.4 Million

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Delhi is expanding so much that it’s approaching the next step in the development of cities, where the word city may not even apply anymore. Megacity gets closer, but we’re almost thinking that a modernized form of city-state might be more appropriate. City will work for now, but we imagine there’s going to be an etymologically significant conversation happening in the Indian government soon.

Tokyo, Japan | 37.4 Million

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Tokyo was the only city that could possibly be expected to top this list, even if you didn’t know the exact population. It’s huge and full of people, two things that seem like simple statements until you actually put them in context. It’s constantly brought up in conversations about population density, city planning and the psychology of living in a huge modern city and is the place to watch if humanity’s going to understand its urban future.

In Laos, A Chinese-Funded Railway Sparks Hope For Growth—And Fears Of Debt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
(OPED BY OLDPOET56)—(ANY COUNTRY THAT ACCEPTS CHINA’S MONEY IS IN REALITY SELLING THEIR SOVEREIGNTY AND THEIR LAND TO THE COMMUNISTS LEADERSHIP IN BEIJING AND THEIR MILITARY WHEN YOU CAN’T PAY BACK THEIR HIGH INTEREST LOANS.) 

 

In Laos, A Chinese-Funded Railway Sparks Hope For Growth — And Fears Of Debt

LISTEN·3:57QUEUE

Giant concrete pylons rise from the Mekong River north of Luang Prabang, where a bridge is under construction.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

In Southeast Asia’s only landlocked country, the Mekong River is a lifeline. From a slow boat heading up the river in Laos, you’ll see fishermen working in their boats, riverside farms where bananas grow, and domesticated buffalo lazing. Occasionally a ferry chugs by. From time to time, steps leading to a riverside village become visible on the banks through the foliage. The wind is swift, and the brown fresh water laps up onto the side of the boat.

Just over 9 miles north of Luang Prabang, a startling aberration appears: five giant concrete pylons rising out of the water.

Red cranes top each of the pylons. A bridge is being built here. On either bank, the row of pylons continues until it almost hits the mountainsides, with scaffolding and other heavy construction equipment scattered below.

When it’s finished, the bridge will be part of a new China-Laos railway. Its planned 250-plus miles of track are meant to connect China’s southern Yunnan province with Laos’ capital, Vientiane.

Laotian officials have promised the high-speed railway, slated to open in 2021, will be good for the country.

“Once completed, the railway will benefit Lao people of all ethnic groups, facilitate and reduce costs of transportation, stimulate the development of agricultural and industrial sectors, tourism, investment and trade, as well as generate income for Lao people and the country,” Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Bouchanh Sinthavong said during the groundbreaking ceremony outside Luang Prabang in 2016.

The railway is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative — a $1.3 trillion project that looks to establish a vast network of investment and infrastructure spanning Asia, Europe and Africa.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

But for many Laotian people, the benefits aren’t yet clear.

The risk of debt distress

The railway is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative — a $1.3 trillion project that looks to establish a vast network of investment and infrastructure spanning Asia, Europe and Africa.

Brian Eyler, Southeast Asia program director at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., describes the plan as a “grand vision” that involves China building bridges, railways, ports, highways and airports all over the world.

“Not necessarily to link China to the rest of the world,” he explains. “But to create channels to bring natural resources and commercial inputs back to China so that China’s economy can keep growing.”

As a direct neighbor to China with ample access to the critical Mekong River, Laos is seen as a “linking country,” Eyler says. The China-Laos railway is part of a line that will eventually extend from Kunming, the Yunnan provincial capital, through Malaysia and all the way south to Singapore.

It’s an expensive project for one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries. According to the World Bank, while Laos’ economy has grown consistently over the past decade, the country’s GDP was still only about $16 billion in 2017. The International Monetary Fund ranked Laos 36th out of 42 Asian countries in 2018.

Of the almost $6 billion cost for the China-Laos railway, the Chinese government will pay 70 percent. Laos will finance the remaining 30 percent with loans from Chinese financial institutions.

Eyler says China is a new power player in Laos, whose government most likely found this influx of cash for much needed infrastructure projects attractive. But many wonder if the Laotian government has the ability to pay back such large loans.

“And it’s not just the railway’s debt that’s of concern, but it’s the accumulating mass of debt related to Chinese projects in Laos that have put the country very much on alert for … overleveraged debt,” Eyler says.

Concerns about debt are not unique to Laos. Many experts have expressed misgivings over how China is financing large infrastructure projects in developing nations. A 2018 report by the Center for Global Development identified eight countries, including Laos, among 68 potential Belt and Road Initiative borrowers as being “at particular risk of debt distress.”

A Vientiane resident is not convinced. She does not want NPR to use her name for fear that giving an interview to a journalist will result in retribution from the Laotian government.

The Chinese government has claimed that the rail project would create thousands of jobs for local people, but many Laotians say they don’t know anyone who has been employed.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

Her concern about the railway: “Because we borrow money from the Chinese government to build this railway and how much the Lao people have to owe, and pay back. The debt,” she says. “So I’m not quite sure about the benefits.”

Feeling left out

As Laos is a tightly controlled communist state, there likely isn’t much dialogue between the Laotian government and the public, Eyler notes. The benefits of the railway to the Laotian people haven’t been well-articulated, he says.

Just seeing the way in which the railway is being constructed has given residents pause. Despite the Chinese government’s claiming that the project would create thousands of jobs for local people, many Laotians say they don’t know anyone who has been employed.

“All the construction work was handed off to China Railway Group, and Chinese engineers and laborers have descended on [Laos] in droves. … Not even the Laotian government is clear on the exact number of Chinese workers in the country,” the Nikkei Asian Review reported in 2017.

As a direct neighbor with ample access to the critical Mekong River, China sees Laos as a vital link. The China-Laos railway is part of a line that will eventually extend from Kunming, the Yunnan provincial capital, south to Singapore.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

Chinese state-run media have published various articles claiming the railway is changing local lives for the better. But on the ground, residents have told journalists that thousands were ordered off their land to make way for the railway and aren’t being compensated as promised.

Some people living along the path of the new railway see its completion as tantamount to a Chinese invasion.

In Luang Prabang, a man who did not want to use his name for fear of government retribution says he understands why people would like a new train. It’s faster, cheaper and makes traveling easier.

“But I worry that when the trains are completed, there will be many, many Chinese [moving] in from China to live in Laos and they will take the job[s] from local people,” he says.

He says even the promise of more tourists coming into Luang Prabang isn’t necessarily appealing. According to the local tourism office, the number of visitors to Luang Prabang in 2000 was just under 102,000. In 2018, more than 755,000 tourists came to the city — an increase of more than 600 percent. And in recent years, the tourists have overwhelmingly been Chinese. But Chinese tourists rely on Chinese-run tour groups, stay in Chinese-owned hotels and eat at Chinese-owned restaurants, the man says.

“All the money go back to China, not for Laos people,” he says.

Some say they wish the money for the railway could be used to fix their country’s crumbling roads and schools. Others are deeply concerned about the potential impact of the new railway on Laos’ ecosystem as it cuts through the country’s dwindling foreststunnels through its mountains and disrupts the landscape of the Mekong River.

Conservationists working to rehabilitate Laos’ critically low elephant population — just 400 in the wild — are worried that these animals won’t survive more habitat fragmentation and disruption from such large infrastructure projects.

Both the Luong Prabang resident and the Vientiane resident say many others in their communities share their misgivings about the railway.

“Zero of my friend[s] agree with it,” says the Vientiane resident. “However, we cannot go against because it’s already been decided by the top people and we just have to accept.”

It Is The Communist Government Of China That Is “Confused” Not The Whole World

(This article is courtesy of the Reuters News Agency)

China says Japan trying to ‘confuse’ South China Sea situation

China on Monday accused Japan of trying to “confuse” the situation in the South China Sea, after its neighbor said it would step up activity in the contested waters, through joint training patrols with the United States.

Ties between Asia’s two largest economies have long been overshadowed by arguments over their painful wartime history and a territorial spat in the East China Sea, among other issues.

China has repeatedly denounced what it views as interference by the United States and its ally Japan in the South China Sea.

Japan will also help build the capacity of coastal states in the busy waterway, its defense minister said last week during a visit to Washington.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said countries in the region had reached a consensus that the South China Sea issue should be resolved through talks between the parties directly involved, and that China and Southeast Asian countries should jointly maintain peace and stability there.

“Let’s have a look at the results of Japan’s throwing things into disorder over this same time period … trying to confuse the South China Sea situation under the pretense of (acting for) the international community,” Lu told a daily news briefing, when asked about Japan’s announcement.

Japan’s actions have simply pushed other countries away from it, and it has failed to compel other nations to see its point of view, he added.

“China is resolute in its determination to protect its sovereignty and maritime interests,” Lu said.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which ships carrying about $5 trillion in trade pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea, which is also believed to be rich in energy resources and fish stocks.

In July, an arbitration court in the Hague said China’s claims to the waterway were invalid, after a case was brought by the Philippines. Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST UNDER DIPLOMACY AND DEFENSE)

 

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia, analysts say

Beijing’s handling of protracted conflict in Himalayas has had a spillover effect in the region and fueled suspicion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 11:15pm
Catherine Wong

 

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The protracted border dispute between China and India in the Himalayas has created a “spillover effect” as China’s neighbours become unsettled by its tough handling of the escalating conflict between the two Asian giants, foreign policy experts have said.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Smt. Sushma Swaraj are scheduled to attend the Asian foreign ministers’ meeting in Manila later this week. And while the North Korean nuclear crisis and South China Sea disputes are expected to dominate the meeting, analysts will also be keeping a close eye on how members of the 10-nation group interact with China and India.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations generally regards a robust Indian presence in the region as a useful deterrent against China, which has been increasingly assertive in its approach to handling territorial issues, as has been the case in the Himalayas.

China and India last week held their first substantial talks since the dispute broke out more than a month ago in the Dolklam region, where the pair shares a border with Bhutan. Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi met Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in Beijing, though neither showed any signs of backing down and tensions remain high.

Also last week, China’s defense ministry issued its strongest warning yet to India, with a spokesman saying Beijing had stepped up its deployment along the unmarked border and would protect its sovereignty “at all costs”.

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political scientist at the Manila-based De La Salle University, said the stand-off in Doklam had a “spillover effect” by fueling suspicion among countries that are caught in separate territorial disputes with China.

“People are asking, if China is really peaceful, why are there so many countries having disputes with China?” he said.

Such sentiment may create fertile ground for Southeast Asian countries to leverage China’s influence with engagement with India.

Vietnam’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Pham Binh Minh, has called on India to play a greater role in the region and to partner with Southeast Asian countries on strategic security and promoting freedom of navigation in South China Sea.

A few days after Minh spoke, Vietnam granted Indian Oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension on its plan to explore a Vietnamese oil block in an area of the South China Sea contested by China and Vietnam.

Analysts said recent developments have wide strategic implications – pointing to how Asia is increasingly defined by the China-India rivalry and the renewed tensions between the two Asian giants.

Nisha Desai Biswal, former US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, was quoted by Indian media PTI as saying that China needs to acknowledge that “there is growing strategic and security capability across Asia” and that “India is a force to be reckoned with”.

Wang Yi on Tuesday backed Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s idea of forming joint energy ventures in the disputed South China Sea, warning that unilateral action could cause problems and damage both sides.

Duterte on Monday said a partner had been found to develop oil fields and exploration, and exploitation would restart this year.

However, analysts warn that India’s strong position in the standoff has strengthened the hawkish voices in the Philippines who seize opportunities to criticise Duterte’s détente policy towards China and “push forward the narrative that the Philippines needs to be careful on how to approach China and its territorial expansion”, Heydarian said.

Under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy, India in recent years has formed strategic partnerships with Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and Northeast Asian countries including Japan and South Korea.

During the “India-Asian Delhi Dialogue IX” early this month, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said New Delhi remained committed to enhancing maritime cooperation with Asian as well as upholding freedom of navigation and respect for international law in the region.

Heydarian suggests that India’s upgrading of its strategic partnership with Asian and increasing its strategic presence in the South China Sea could be a way of pushing back against China.

Even a non-claimant Southeast Asian state such as Thailand “would see the benefit of China being challenged in the South Asia theatre”, said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, an international relations scholar at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University.

“India’s standing up to China can only be a boon for Southeast Asian countries even when they don’t say so openly,” he said, “Any major power keeping China in check can only yield geopolitical benefits to Southeast Asia as the region is wary of China’s growing assertiveness.”

But Pongsudhirak also said that India, a “latecomer to Southeast Asia’s geopolitics”, still lacks strategic depth in terms of military reach and economic wherewithal. “But in combination with other middle powers like Japan, India can have a significant impact in Southeast Asia’s power dynamics,” he said.

Despite Southeast Asian countries’ welcoming attitude, India has remained cautious towards more strongly engaging with the region, observers said.

“Southeast Asia is a natural extension of India’s security horizons in light of its growth as a regional power,” said Rajesh Manohar Basrur, a South Asia specialist with Nanyang Technological University.

Basrur said that while competition with China is a major driver of India’s engagement with Southeast Asia, India’s commitment to the region remains limited with measures amounting to no more than “symbolic acts such as military exercises, [to] generate a strategic environment aimed at building up political-psychological pressure on [China].”

Sourabh Gupta, a senior specialist at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, said that as India tries to limit fallout from its Doklam intervention, it will not want to expand the theatre of conflict or widen the geography of competition in the short-term.

“But I can foresee India making a qualitatively greater effort, albeit quietly, to build up Vietnam’s naval and law enforcement capacity to confront and deter Chinese assertiveness,” he said.

Gupta also warned that the situation in the South China Sea could lapse into even further conflict.

“India and China have a fairly rich menu of boundary management protocols which effectively translate into engagements between very lightly armed personnel from either side when a standoff breaks out,” he said.

“That is different from the situation in the South and East China Sea where engagement protocols are still very rudimentary and could see sharp Escalator spirals.”

Chinese president arrives in India’s Goa for BRICS summit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Chinese president arrives in India’s Goa for BRICS summit

CHINESE President Xi Jinping arrived in the western Indian state of Goa Saturday for a summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Leaders of the five countries are expected to discuss BRICS cooperation and other issues of common concern at the Oct. 15-16 summit, themed with “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.”

A Goa declaration will be issued when the summit concludes Sunday.

Along with Xi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma will be attending the summit, the eighth of its kind.

The five leaders will hold dialogues with representatives of the BRICS Business Council and state leaders of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries at the summit.

The BIMSTEC, initiated to connect South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

President Xi will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries on the sidelines of the summit.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRICS cooperation mechanism, which gathers the world’s five major emerging economies.

The bloc members have seen their cooperation growing over the past decade, especially the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) in 2014.

Despite economic headwinds in the BRICS countries and external skepticism about whether the block is losing its power over recent years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said earlier this month in its latest issue of World Economic Outlook that in emerging market and developing economies, the 2016 growth will accelerate for the first time in six years.

China and India, in particular, will continue their relatively fast pace in growth this year and next, according to the IMF projections. Meanwhile, the IMF cut its 2016 growth prospects for advanced economies following a slowdown in the United States and Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.

The five BRICS leaders just met last month in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou when China hosted the 11th summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.

At their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, President Xi said that BRICS members should enhance coordination to make emerging-market economies and developing countries play a bigger role in international affairs.

BRICS nations are leaders among emerging-market economies and developing countries, and also important members of the G20, Xi said, noting that they should reinforce coordination to build, maintain and develop the BRICS and G20 platforms.

China has been a staunch supporter for and an active participant in BRICS cooperation, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong told reporters earlier this week.

“We hope the Goa summit can send out a positive signal of confidence, solidarity and cooperation, help deepen our practical cooperation and promote the cooperation level, enhance communication and coordination on major international issues to safeguard our shared interests, and strengthen dialogue and cooperation with other countries in the region,” Li said at a press conference ahead of Xi’s trip.

India is the final stop of Xi’s Southeast Asia and South Asia tour, which has already taken him to Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Before leaving Bangladesh on Saturday morning, Xi laid a wreath at the national martyr monument in Dhaka.

It Is The Communist Government Of China That Is “Confused” Not The Whole World

(This article is courtesy of the Reuters News Agency)

China says Japan trying to ‘confuse’ South China Sea situation

China on Monday accused Japan of trying to “confuse” the situation in the South China Sea, after its neighbor said it would step up activity in the contested waters, through joint training patrols with the United States.

Ties between Asia’s two largest economies have long been overshadowed by arguments over their painful wartime history and a territorial spat in the East China Sea, among other issues.

China has repeatedly denounced what it views as interference by the United States and its ally Japan in the South China Sea.

Japan will also help build the capacity of coastal states in the busy waterway, its defense minister said last week during a visit to Washington.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said countries in the region had reached a consensus that the South China Sea issue should be resolved through talks between the parties directly involved, and that China and Southeast Asian countries should jointly maintain peace and stability there.

“Let’s have a look at the results of Japan’s throwing things into disorder over this same time period … trying to confuse the South China Sea situation under the pretense of (acting for) the international community,” Lu told a daily news briefing, when asked about Japan’s announcement.

Japan’s actions have simply pushed other countries away from it, and it has failed to compel other nations to see its point of view, he added.

“China is resolute in its determination to protect its sovereignty and maritime interests,” Lu said.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which ships carrying about $5 trillion in trade pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea, which is also believed to be rich in energy resources and fish stocks.

In July, an arbitration court in the Hague said China’s claims to the waterway were invalid, after a case was brought by the Philippines. Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)