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Steve Mollman

Asia Correspondent Asia Correspondent for Quartz.
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Syria’s War Has Been a ‘Goldmine’ for North Korea—and Don’t Expect It to Change Anytime Soon

April 20, 2017 The civil war in Syria, which began in 2011, has been a tragedy for millions of people, including refugees fleeing the violence and residents caught in the crossfire. But for North Korea’s ruling elite, the conflict has in many ways been a good thing. Since the 1960s, North Korea has...

Duterte Seems Alarmingly Resigned to Beijing's New Building in the South China Sea

March 21, 2017 In the mid-1990s Beijing reassured Manila that structures it was building atop Mischief Reef, near the Philippines in the South China Sea, were merely fishermen’s shelters. Today China has a militarized island at that “shelter,” complete with a runway and large anti-aircraft guns. A similar progression could begin this year...

Now China Wants All Subs in the South China Sea to Ask Permission, Surface, Show Flag

February 21, 2017 Submarines are designed with one primary aim: to travel underwater. But when it comes to foreign vessels operating in the vast waters it claims, China doesn’t much like that idea. According to state media reports posted last week, Beijing is drafting a revision to the nation’s maritime “traffic safety” law....

Duterte's Forces Are Secretly Being Paid Per-Kill Bonuses, Says Watchdog

February 1, 2017 President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines has created incentives to kill and “an economy of murder,” according to a new report by Amnesty International. More than 7,000 drug-related killings have taken place in the nation since Duterte came to power seven months ago. According to an officer...

For $1 Million, Donors to Trump’s Inauguration Will Get an 'Intimate' Dinner With Mike Pence

November 30, 2016 A fancy US presidential inauguration doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately for incoming presidents, plenty of companies and individuals have historically eagerly contributed to the effort through wildly overpriced luncheons, dinners, and other activities surrounding the big day. In the case of Donald Trump’s inauguration, they’ll cough up $1 million for the...

The Philippines Is About to Give Up the South China Sea to China

October 13, 2016 Next week Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who took power in late June, will make his first state visit to China. Of course he’s hoping for a bonanza of loans and trade deals. What he’s not expecting or demanding: the return of Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in...

Maritime Tensions Grow Between Rising China and Rearming Japan

September 23, 2016 Last month, Japan’s defense ministry requested a record budget of about $51 billion for fiscal 2017. At the top of its security worries: China’s maritime aggression. Japan has reason to worry. In both the East China Sea and South China Sea, Tokyo faces an increasingly assertive China that looks determined...

Even Duterte’s Slurs Can’t Break US-Philippines Ties Cemented by Chinese Aggression

September 7, 2016 When the US military abandoned its long-held bases in the Philippines in the early 1990s, it wasn’t because it wanted to. It was because the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, kicked it out. Filipino leadership decided the bases were unwelcome vestiges of the Philippines’ time as a US colony, which...

Joe Biden Officiated His First Marriage — a Same-sex Union at His House

August 2, 2016 When White House staffers Joe Mahshie and Brian Mosteller tied the knot Monday, US vice president Joe Biden officiated, at their request. The small wedding ceremony took place in the vice presidential residence at the US Naval Observatory, and Biden tweeted about the event. Proud to marry Brian and Joe...

Beijing Announces New Plans to Break International Law in South China Sea

July 18, 2016 China appears to have timed military activities in the South China Sea to take place in the days both before and after a ruling that largely invalidated its sweeping claims to the strategic waterway. The country’s maritime safety agency announced today (July 18) that military exercises will be held in...