24 March 2019

Simon Shen

Associate professor and director of Global Studies Programme, Faculty of Social Science, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Lead Writer (Global) at the Hong Kong Economic Journal
  • Consumption of khat has become a widespread habit in East Africa. Photo: Reuters

    A different type of globalization: East African ‘grass-munching’

    - Mar 21, 2019 9:09am
    East Africa is markedly different now from ten years ago if we look at how widespread “grass-munching”  has become. “Grass-munching” refers to the consumption of khat or Catha edulis, or the derogatory term “East African Poppy”. The...
  • Somaliland leader Musa Bihi Abdi greets supporters during an election campaign in the city of Hargeisa on Nov. 9, 2017. Somaliland has an estimated GDP per capita of only around US$300. Photo: Reuters

    Somaliland: Can the unrecognized state get out of poverty?

    - Mar 18, 2019 6:22pm
    A recent of trip of mine was to Somaliland, an impoverished region in East Africa that has remained largely unrecognized by the international community ever since it unilaterally declared its independence on May 18, 1991. In...
  • Donald Trump displays the "Space Policy Directive 4" after signing an order on Feb. 19 to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces. Photo: Reuters

    Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ and Trump’s Space Force

    - Mar 14, 2019 6:25pm
    Despite being flamboyant and boastful, US President Donald Trump has a very strong ability to set the agenda on key topics. A year ago, Trump floated the idea of a “space force” as a new military...
  • The sinking of the Kursk had taken a heavy toll on Russia’s pride, but it gave President Vladimir Putin the opportunity to consolidate political power.  Photo: Bloomberg

    The Kursk tragedy and Putin’s rise to power

    - Mar 11, 2019 5:39pm
    The recent Hollywood movie Kursk starring Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth tells about the true story of the Russian Oscar II-class nuclear-powered attack submarine K-141 Kursk, which sank to the sea bottom off the coast of Murmansk...
  • A scene in Damascus. Syria used to be a technological powerhouse in the Middle East.  Photo: Reuters

    The untold story of the Syrian astronaut

    - Mar 5, 2019 6:29pm
    Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to intervene in the Syrian civil war, the Bashar al-Assad regime has been largely able to regain political control of the once war-torn country and re-establish its dictatorship....
  • Short-form mobile video app TikTok, also known as Douyin in mainland China, has become a monster hit among millennials. Photo: AFP

    How TikTok has conquered the world without state efforts

    - Mar 1, 2019 6:35pm
    The promulgation of the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is seen by many as a milestone in the course of promoting a sense of recognition of identity among the people of...
  • Alien, the 1979 Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster, not only touches on the intriguing subject of space colonies but also provides us with quite disturbing insights into how space colonization may work. Photo: Alien movie still

    Sci-fi classic Alien offers insights into future of space race

    - Feb 20, 2019 6:44pm
    In one of my recent articles, I wrote that the ongoing Sino-US rivalry over 5G technology might escalate into a full-scale space race between the two great powers. Decades from now, is the space race between...
  • File photo of riders passing by the presidential palace in Hanoi. US President Donald Trump announced on Feb. 8 that his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be held in Hanoi on Feb. 27 and 28. Photo: AFP

    Trump-Kim summit 2.0: Vietnam’s wisdom

    - Feb 19, 2019 6:10pm
    That US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have chosen Vietnam as the venue for their next summit may probably have more significance for Hanoi than for Washington and Pyongyang. There is talk...
  • A sports store in Manama. Every weekend, many Saudis drive across the border into Bahrain, where they can shop till they drop and enjoy the freedom that is not available in their own country. Photo: Reuters

    How Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are benefiting from each other

    - Feb 4, 2019 2:50pm
    In previous articles, I talked about a number of microstates scattered across Europe (Andorra, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, etc.) that serve as financial windows or tax havens for traditional European powers. In the Middle Est, Bahrain...
  • An Autumn scene in Vancouver. Many Canadians are no longer as friendly to new immigrants as they used to be. Photo: Xinhua

    How ordinary Canadians view China and Meng’s case

    - Jan 31, 2019 6:47pm
    Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the mainland telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., was arrested by Canadian authorities on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States.  Meng’s apprehension immediately sparked a diplomatic...
  • The greater a society becomes automated, the more vulnerable it would be to cyber attacks. Photo: Reuters

    The future of terrorism

    - Jan 28, 2019 11:40am
    In a recent article, I discussed the 1989 essay “The End of History?” by the acclaimed American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, in which he warned of the ramifications of the developing biotechnology for the future of...
  • A file picture from May 2006 shows Chagossians celebrating after a London court ruled that natives of the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia had been unfairly ejected from their land many decades ago. Photo: Bloomberg

    BIOT: The last conspiracy of the British Empire

    - Jan 25, 2019 6:42pm
    As the United Kingdom grapples with Brexit woes, a dishonorable historical event of the British Empire surfaced again in news recently but received very little public attention. The matter involves a region known as the British...
  • In pursuing hardline immigration policies, Donald Trump seems to forget the immense contributions that millions of foreign workers are bringing to the US labor force and the economy, critics say. Photo: AFP

    US immigration debate: Going beyond the surface

    - Jan 21, 2019 10:27am
    Ever since he took office two years ago, US President Donald Trump has been vigorously promoting the “America First” policy theme. A key element in that political agenda is tightening the relatively loose immigration policies adopted...
  • File picture shows remembrance poppies and a Canadian flag on the grave of an unknown soldier at the Sai Wan War Cemetery.during a Canadian ceremony honoring those who died in the Battle of Hong Kong and World War II. Photo: AFP

    John Robert Osborn: a Canadian soldier we will always remember

    - Jan 17, 2019 6:42pm
    In a previous article, I mentioned that Canada was a key member of the Allies of World War II, during which more than 23,000 Canadian soldiers died in battle.  Among them, about a thousand perished in...
  • Physicist Max Tegmark predicts that humans will get used to artificial intelligence making the decisions for them that they will eventually allow them to rule society. Photo: Reuters

    When humans are ruled by artificial intelligence

    - Jan 9, 2019 6:44pm
    In his book Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, physicist Max Tegmark makes a lot of predictions about the new ethical paradigms likely to be adopted in the future. Among his projections...
  • US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet military personnel during an unannounced visit to the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Dec. 26. Photo: Reuters

    The political calculations behind Trump’s Xmas visit to Iraq

    - Dec 31, 2018 12:14pm
    Last Wednesday, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania paid an unannounced visit to the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq and met with American troops. No matter whether you like Trump or not, you...
  • US Marine Corps tactical vehicles are seen driving along a road near the town of Tal Baydar in the countryside of Hasakeh province in Syria on Dec. 21. US President Donald Trump has ordered a withdrawal of the estimated 2,000 US troops in Syria. Photo: AF

    How Trump has betrayed Syrian Kurds with US troop withdrawal

    - Dec 31, 2018 10:43am
    In one of my previous articles, I wrote about fading hopes in relation to the future of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. Now, the outlook for the Kurdish movement has suddenly even grimmer as...
  • A picture taken on Dec. 4, 2016 shows floral wreaths at the base of the Cross of Sacrifice memorial during a Canadian Commemorative Ceremony in the Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

    How HK and Canada have a shared chapter in history

    - Dec 27, 2018 6:35pm
    The arrest of Huawei’s global chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, Canada has cast a fresh spotlight on international relations and drawn much media attention in Hong Kong. Given the media frenzy surrounding the...
  • A helicopter patrols a border crossing after the border between Mexico and the US was closed in the San Ysidro neighborhood of San Diego on Nov. 25. Trump’s vow to crack down on illegal immigrants has struck a deep chord among his supporters. Pic: Reuters

    Trump and his ‘Mexico card’

    - Dec 24, 2018 12:07pm
    Ever since Donald Trump assumed the US presidency in January 2017, Washington saw its relations with quite a few countries take a turn for the worse, including the ties with Mexico. One of Trump’s most controversial policies...
  • The Erbil International Airport in Erbil, the administrative capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. The region has seen a rapid rise in its international status. Photo: Reuters

    How long will Kurdish autonomy last?

    - Dec 20, 2018 6:19pm
    When I recently visited the city of Erbil, the administrative capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, and Sulaymaniyah, its cultural capital, I was deeply struck by the economic prosperity across the region and...

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