The Second Blue Moon of 2018

2018’s 2nd Blue Moon on March 31
We have a total of 8 Blue Moons in the upcoming 19-year Metonic cycle

Tonight – March 31, 2018 – that full moon you’ll see in the sky all night carries the name Blue Moon. In fact, it’s the second and final Blue Moon of this year. By popular acclaim, a Blue Moon is defined as the second of two full moons to occur in one calendar month. January had two full moons. Now March does, too.

Two Blue Moons in one year seem to belie idea that once in a Blue Moon indicates something rare. It’s true that, in recent years – with more than one definition for Blue Moon – Blue Moons seem to happen pretty often. Yet it’s indeed quite rare to have two Blue Moons in a single calendar year. It last happened in 1999 and won’t happen again until 2037.

A calendar year only embraces two Blue Moons if there are 13 full moons in one calendar year – and, in addition, February has no full moon at all. That’s exactly what happens in 2018. February didn’t have a full moon, while January and March both have two full moons. Thus – in 2018 – the full moons on January 31 and March 31 both count as Blue Moons.

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Saturday's Blue Moon Is the Last One Until 2020

The second New Moon in a single is called a 'Black Moon'

Skywatchers take note: The last Blue Moon of 2018 is just around the corner. If you miss it, you'll have to wait to 2020 for the next one.

The upcoming Blue Moon — the name given to the second full moon to occur in a single calendar month — rises on Saturday (March 31). It'll be the second Blue Moon of the year; the first occurred on Jan. 31, when we experienced the "Super Blue Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse."

If you're a Blue Moon fan, make sure to get an eyeful on Saturday; the next one won't come until Halloween night in 2020, according to the Weather Channel.

Blue Moons aren't actually blue, and they don't look different from any other full moon in the sky. The term, which has been around for hundreds of years, apparently originally signified something that's absurd, but then shifted over time to refer to exceedingly rare events, Philip Hiscock wrote in a 2012 article for Sky & Telescope. (Interestingly, a Blue Moon previously meant the third full moon in a season that had four of them. This sense of an "extra" full moon morphed into the definition most people recognize today. Language is a slippery and changeable thing!)

But Blue Moons aren't all that rare, really: On average, they occur about once every 2.7 years. Blue Moons are possible because it takes Earth's nearest neighbor 29.5 days to circle our planet, but each calendar month (except February) contains 30 or 31 days.

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When to See the (Blue) 'Sap Moon'

The month of March opens and closes with a full moon this year, making this the second "Blue Moon" month in 2018.

The moon first became full on Thursday, March 1, at 7:51 p.m. EST (0051 GMT) and will again on Saturday, March 31, at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT). The first Blue Moon of 2018 was the spectacular Super Blue Blood Moon of Jan. 31.

Not every month gets two full moons. The time between full moons (known as a synodic month) averages 29.53 days, so we usually see one full moon per month. About every two to three years on average, we see a "Blue Moon" — a second full moon in one month.

Two Blue Moons in a year is relatively uncommon. According to EarthSky.org, the next year when two calendar months will each have two full moons will be 2037, when January and March will have Blue Moons. The last time it happened was in 1999.

One effect of having a full moon on Jan. 31 and March 1 is that February has no full moon at all. February is the only month in which this can happen, because the month has only 28 days (while the phenomenon can happen in a leap year, it is rare). The next time a full moon will skip February will be in 2037, according to TheSkyscrapers.org, a site run by amateur astronomers, and the phenomenon is sometimes referred to as a "Black Moon."

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2018 Full Moon Calendar

The moon shows its full face to Earth once a month. Well, sort of.

In fact, the same side of the moon always faces the planet, but part of it is in shadow. And, in reality most of the time the "full moon" is never perfectly full. Only when the moon, Earth and the sun are perfectly aligned is the moon 100 percent full, and that alignment produces a lunar eclipse. And sometimes — once in a blue moon — the moon is full twice in a month (or four times in a season, depending on which definition you prefer). [The Moon: 10 Surprising Facts]

The next full moon will be a Blue Moon — the second full moon of January — on Wednesday, Jan. 31. To casual observers, the moon will still appear full the day prior and after the peak. Like January's first full moon, the second full moon will be a "supermoon" as the moon arrives at perigee close to reaching its fullest phase. There will also be a total lunar eclipse during the Blue Moon, which some are billing as a rare Super Blue-Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. Such a Blue Moon total lunar eclipse has not occurred for 152 years, our skywatching columnist Joe Rao has found.

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Full moon

The full Moon as viewed through a 235 mm (9.25 in) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The Moon was near its northernmost ecliptic latitude, so the southern craters are especially prominent

The full moon is the lunar phase when the Moon appears fully illuminated from Earth's perspective. This occurs when Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon (more exactly, when the ecliptic longitudes of the Sun and Moon differ by 180°). This means that the lunar hemisphere facing Earth – the near side – is completely sunlit and appears as a circular disk, while the far side is dark. The full moon occurs once roughly every month.

When the Moon moves into Earth's shadow, a lunar eclipse occurs, during which all or part of the Moon's face may appear reddish due to the Rayleigh scattering of blue wavelengths and the refraction of sunlight through Earth's atmosphere. Lunar eclipses happen only during full moon and around points on its orbit where the satellite may pass through the planet's shadow. A lunar eclipses does not occur every month because the Moon's orbit is inclined 5.14° to the ecliptic plane; thus, the Moon usually passes north or south of Earth's shadow, which is mostly restricted to this plane of reference. Lunar eclipses happen only when the full moon occurs around either node of its orbit (ascending or descending). Therefore, a lunar eclipse occurs approximately every 6 months and often 2 weeks before or after a solar eclipse, which occurs during new moon around the opposite node.

The interval period between a new or full moon and the next same phase, a synodic month, averages about 29.53 days. Therefore, in those lunar calendars in which each month begins on the day of the new moon, the full moon falls on either the 14th or 15th day of the lunar month. Because a calendar month consists of a whole number of days, a lunar month may be either 29 or 30 days long.

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Moon Phase Terms
Full Moon & New Moon Calendar for 2018

Full Moon - The moon is full when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. Another way to look at it is that the moon, sun and earth are in a line with the earth being between the sun and moon. When this occurs the entire surface of the moon looks to be illuminated. The full moon occurs every 29.53058 days.

New Moon - A new moon occurs when the moon is between the earth and the sun. We are seeing the oposite side of the moon that the sun is shinning on. At the exact time of the New moon the moon is to close to the sun to see at all.

Blue Moon - Today we consider the Blue Moon to be when a full moon occurs twice in one month. This is a relatively new concept for the term. Originaly a blue moon was considered to be when a full moon occured 4 times in a season. A season usualy has 3 full moons. The term has became popular when referring to any rare event.

Super Moon - A new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.

Black Moon - This is a term that is not used frequently and has no exact definition. Some sources use this term when there are 2 new moons in one month similar to the blue moon which is 2 full moons in a month. It is also the term used when there is no full moon in a month. Having a month with no full moon is very rare. It can only happen in the month of February since is has fewer days then the full moon cycle of 29.53058 days.

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Blue Moon

A "Blue Moon" is a fairly infrequent phenomenon involving the appearance of an additional full moon within a given period. But which period — there are two definitions of the term, and one was borne out of a misunderstanding of the other.

The older meaning defines a Blue Moon as the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. Called a seasonal Blue Moon, this occurs about every 2.5 years, according to NASA. Why the third moon? There are roughly 29.5 days between full moons, making it unusual for two full moons to fit into a 30- or 31-day-long month. (This means that February will never have a blue moon.) Seasons normally have three full moons, and some of them, for traditional and religious reasons, must occur at specific times of the year. So, the "Moon Before Yule" is always the one before Christmas.

The other meaning is that a Blue Moon is the second full moon within a single calendar month. This definition — a "monthly Blue Moon" — has gained popularity in recent years because of a misinterpretation of an almanac's original definition.

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Black Moon

A Black Moon has multiple meanings. One commonly used definition is the second new moon in a month. The moon goes through several phases that skywatchers can see from Earth. During a full moon, the entire disc is visible. During a new moon, none of the disc is visible because the far side of the moon is lit by the sun, leaving the Earth-facing side in shadow.

According to Space.com skywatching columnist Joe Rao, Black Moons (under this definition) occur about every 32 months. The next Black Moon in North America will be Friday, Sept. 30. Berman added that there are other definitions of a Black Moon. One refers to a situation in which there are no new moons in an entire month. This is only possible during the month of February, which normally has 28 days. Because a lunar cycle is 29.5 days, it's possible for February to miss either a full moon or a new moon.

An even lesser-known definition for the Black Moon is the third new moon in a season of four moons. Berman said he is not sure where this definition originated.

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Chinese Lunar Calendar
Full Moon on 1st Jan 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Nov 2017 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 31st Jan 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Dec 2017 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 2nd Mar 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Jan 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 31st Mar 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Feb 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 30th Apr 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Mar 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 29 May 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Apr 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 28th Jun 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th May 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 27 Jul 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Jun 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 25th Aug 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Jul 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 24th Sep 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Aug 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 23rd Oct 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Sep 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 22nd Nov 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Oct 2018 in Chinese calendar

Full Moon on 21st Dec 2018 in Gregorian calendar & on 15th Nov 2018 in Chinese calendar

Chinese calendar, a lunisolar calendar, is formed on the movement of the moon.

Full Moon occurs on every 15th Day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

There are 2 Full Moons in January & March but no Full Moon in February 2018.

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Solar and Lunar Eclipses Worldwide – Next 10 Years
Featured Eclipses in Coming Years

Find Solar Eclipses, Lunar Eclipses, and Planetary Transits Worldwide from 1900 to 2199

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The modern day definition of a Blue Moon is when there are 2 Full Moons in one Month. A Full Moon occurs roughly every 29.5 days and on the rare occasions when the Full Moon falls at the very beginning of a month there is a good chance a Blue Moon will occur at the end of the month. According to this definition the next Blue Moon will occur on January 31, 2018.

  • The modern definition of a Blue Moon was derived from an earlier idea of what a Blue Moon was. This earlier definition says a Blue Moon is when there are 4 Full Moons in a season rather than the usual 3. The Blue moon is the 3rd Full Moon out of the 4. This definition gets a bit complicated and it's origins are murky. One school of thought has to do with the naming of the Full Moons. Many cultures named the Full Moons each month to reflected the times for planting, harvesting or seasonal conditions. When an extra Full Moon was thrown in it was referred to as a Blue Moon to keep the Full Moon names constant throughout the year.
  • Another origin could be from the Christian ecclesiastical calendar. This one gets even more tricky but basically has to do with the idea that there are usually 12 Full Moons in a year. The Full Moons on this calendar were important markers for determining curtain dates such as Easter. When a 13th Full moon was thrown into the year it made things messy so giving it a name allowed the calendar to stay on track.
  • The idea of a Blue Moon being the extra full moon in a season (or when there were 13 in a year) was widely used in 19th and early 20th center Farmers Almanacs and the more modern version seems to have come from an article written in the 1930's that misinterpreted the Farmers Almanac definition. The article was names "Once in a Blue Moon" and from that point on the term became part of popular culture.

  • This is a very rare event but it does happen. There are a few recorded events when forest fires or ash volcanic eruptions have given the moon a bluish color. The moon can also has a blueish color on very cold winter nights when ice crystals in the air form a ring around the moon. Of course the idea of the moon being blue is very subjective and left up to ones own interpretation.
  • An interesting twist to the idea of a Blue Moon is the idea of Dark Moon. Sometimes the reference of a Dark Moon is given when there are 2 new moons is a calendar month, the opposite of a Blue Moon. Other definitions say it is when there is no Full moon is a calendar month. Neither of these definitions or the term Dark Moon is used very often. Neither has any scientific bases and is more a part of popular culture.


Good Friday 2018

Holy Friday

Good Friday, the day on which Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, falls on a different date each year. It is the day on which Jesus Christ, having been betrayed by Judas and sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate, was crucified for the sins of mankind.

From the earliest days of Christianity, no Mass has been celebrated on Good Friday, since the Mass is a celebration both of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and of His Resurrection. Instead, the Church celebrates a special liturgy in which the account of the Passion according to the Gospel of John is read, a series of intercessory prayers (prayers for special intentions) are offered, and the faithful venerate the Cross by coming forward and kissing it. The Good Friday liturgy concludes with the distribution of Holy Communion. Since there was no Mass, Hosts that were reserved from the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday are distributed instead.

The service on Good Friday is particularly solemn; the organ is not played, and all vestments are red or (in the Traditional Latin Mass) black. Since the date of Good Friday is dependent on the date of Easter, it changes from year to year.

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Japan and ‘One Belt, One Road’

Update 19 Oct 2023: The "One Belt, One Road" initiative 一带一路

One Belt, One Road OBOR or the Belt and Road Initiative BRI is a development strategy and framework, proposed by Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People's Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia.

It consists of two main components, the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the ocean going "Maritime Silk Road".

The strategy underlines China's push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need for priority capacity cooperation in areas such as steel manufacturing.

Japan buckles up to join China’s Belt and Road
The extent of Japan’s cooperation remains to be seen, but this move may help Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe realise his ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy’

In June 2017 the Japanese government suddenly reversed its original position on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and announced that Japan would cooperate and provide financial backing for the US$1 trillion cross-border infrastructure development project.

Engaging with the BRI allows Tokyo to pursue some of its important economic goals through greater overseas infrastructure investment. The Initiative may also motivate Japanese companies to seek greater business opportunities along the BRI route. Japan’s own regional connectivity projects can complement the BRI and strengthen regional integration in the Indo-Pacific.

Japan’s support for the BRI is likely to enhance the efficiency of both China and Japan’s ongoing infrastructure projects due to their overlapping functional areas like energy conservation, the advancement of industry and the distribution of goods. There is huge potential for cooperation between Tokyo and Beijing to help deliver more rapid and sustainable growth given the region’s high demand for infrastructure. Japan and China may also be able to use this opportunity to improve their bilateral relationship, including by resuming high-level visits and winding down existing tensions in the East and South China Seas.

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Japan said ready to cooperate with China’s ‘Silk Road’ project

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to promote cooperation in China’s cross-border infrastructure development project, in a shift in diplomatic policy to check Beijing’s growing territorial assertiveness in the region, government sources said Sunday.

The Japanese government has briefed China on Abe’s current goal of promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region and the policy’s positive effects on Beijing’s so-called One Belt, One Road cross-border infrastructure initiative, according to the sources.

“Our strategy is to achieve stability and prosperity of international society by coordinating with countries in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean,” one of the sources said. “This should contribute to advancing the One Belt, One Road initiative.”

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Japan to help finance China's Belt and Road projects
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Nov. 11, 2017

The Japanese government plans to cooperate with China on its Belt and Road initiative by financially supporting private-sector partnerships, as Tokyo seeks to improve bilateral ties with its Asian neighbour, the Nikkei reported on Wednesday.

Cooperation will centre on the environmental sector, industrial modernization and logistics, according to guidelines compiled by the government, the Japanese business daily said.

Assistance will include loans through government-backed financial institutions to promote cooperation among private Japanese and Chinese firms working on projects in third-party countries, it said.

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Japan welcome to join belt and road

Japan’s reluctance to join China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” was always puzzling. Geopolitical concerns are one matter, but the economic gains and benefits from the planned infrastructure projects between Asia, Africa and Europe could not be ignored. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s expressed intention to cooperate is welcome. The United States and India would also do well to follow his lead.

Japanese business leaders and corporations have always been eager to join the scheme, but were disadvantaged by their government’s refusal to get on board. More than 100 nations and international organisations have backed the belt and road idea since it was first raised by President Xi Jinping in 2013 and dozens have signed cooperation agreements with Beijing under the framework. There is a widespread recognition of the opportunities offered by the initiative and the growth and prosperity that it can bring to the world’s most economically promising regions. Abe’s putting politics ahead of all else was cutting his country off from the benefits and potential gains.

Worse, Abe seemed intent on forming a rival scheme with the US, India and Australia, a grouping informally known as the quad. Reflecting outdated thinking harking back to the cold war, the stated aim was to counter China’s growing influence in the region through isolation. The strategy was raised and promoted during US President Donald Trump’s visit to East Asia last month. But Abe’s positive remarks about cooperation with China at a business forum in Tokyo earlier this month attended by Chinese and Japanese executives shows realisation that when it comes to trade and investment, such an approach is not in the interests of his country.

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One Belt, One Road: a Japanese perspective

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was established under the leadership of China for the purpose of putting into reality the country’s economic vision of One Belt, One Road. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has been consistently skeptical about the AIIB, pointing to the lack of transparency in its management and financing, as well as other issues. Even Vietnam and the Philippines, who are in a harsh territorial conflict with China in the South China Sea, joined the AIIB along with European powers; but Japan, keeping in step with the US, has chosen to stay out.

However, given Japan’s position in Asia, its continuous dismissive attitude to the One Belt, One Road initiative may hurt the country’s economic interests and even diminish its presence as a major power in the region. In fact, from an economic standpoint, it makes more sense for Japan to welcome One Belt, One Road. The reason why the Japanese government has failed to do so lies in its strained relationship with China.

Japan has been suffering from an economic depression for a long time. In contrast, China, despite the shadows cast on its growth these days, has already grown to become the world’s second largest economic superpower, and its military presence is also increasing. Consequently, the Japanese are starting to doubt the sense of superiority they felt over China for many years after the end of World War II. The antagonism over the perception of history, the Senkaku Islands, and other issues cannot be ignored, either. According to the “Survey of Public Opinion on Foreign Relations” released by the Cabinet Office on 12 March 2016, the percentage of respondents who had “no positive feelings” toward China recorded the highest value since 1978: 83.2 percent.

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Japan’s Belt and Road Puzzle, Decoded
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping reach to shake hands before a group photo session for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou (Sept. 4, 2016)

Has Japan, a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led, universal value-based international order, embraced China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? Since the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in 2017, in what may appear to be a sudden shift, traditional U.S. ally Japan has been embracing the BRI, which is often understood as Beijing’s grand strategy to employ every component of national strength to assert its influence and redesign the regional order. But a closer look at Japan’s strategy suggests Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is involved in a carefully considered attempt to discard a narrow approach — pursued in the case of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — and engage with China with the objective of shaping it as a responsible actor and upholding the highest standards of global governance in accordance with international norms.

As Beijing is becoming increasingly confident of its national power, it is pursuing geopolitical and geoeconomic interests through grand designs like the BRI. The BRI is an important instrument to realize President Xi Jinping’s goal of making China a “global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence” by the middle of the 21st century. As Xi pursues the Chinese Dream under the narrative of “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Beijing is increasingly putting the U.S.-led, universal value-based order to test. Whether it is designing a new regional security architecture marked by an “Asia for Asians” approach, testing U.S. resolve in the South China Sea, effectively employing “institutional statecraft” by designing alternatives like the AIIB, or leading regional economic architecture with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China is putting the U.S. role to the test. While traditionally a U.S.-led liberal order dominated East Asia, the arrival of China as a major power is altering the regional balance of power.

As the debate around the future of the U.S.-led regional order intensifies, traditional allies like Japan have stepped up to reinforce the foundations and resilience of the U.S.-led system. The initial articulation of this was witnessed in Shinzo Abe’s strategic vision, culminating in Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy in 2016. The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), conceived in collaboration with India, is one of the key manifestations of this strategy.

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Wait, Japan, Don’t Rush Down China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Path

Calls in the government and the media to participate in the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) expansionist economic project being promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping are bubbling to the surface once again. Beijing continues its sweet-talk, but isn’t it just promoting a trip down the primrose path?

Mr. Xi proposed the OBOR in November 2014. It is a grand plan to create an infrastructure network across the Eurasian continent, joining east and south Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and the European coast with major Chinese cities such as Beijing. Local projects in the OBOR region are carried out under Chinese supervision. China is also organizing project funding through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an institution it established in Beijing in December 2015.

Many countries from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe—including Russia—participate in both the OBOR and AIIB. Among the developed countries, however, Japan and the United States have continued to observe cautiously.

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Japan and ‘One Belt, One Road’

Reversing his position, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated that Japan is ready to cooperate with China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative for cross-continental infrastructure development under certain conditions. He is also now willing to consider Japan joining the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — of which Japan, along with the United States, sat out when it was set up in 2015 — once doubts about its governance and operation are cleared. While these shifts may be motivated by concerns that Tokyo could be left behind as Beijing and Washington move closer in trying to restrain North Korea, it’s time that Japan also take steps to rebuild its strained ties with China, and cooperating with the Chinese initiatives should be a good start.

After Tokyo nationalized the disputed Senkaku Islands in 2012, relations with China plunged to their lowest point since the two countries normalized ties in 1972. China’s aggressive maritime posture in the South China Sea, such as its large-scale construction of islands in disputed areas, have added to bilateral tensions. Efforts toward rebuilding the frigid ties have been slow, and top-level contacts remain sporadic.

In a speech in Tokyo earlier this month, Abe lauded the OBOR initiative — put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to facilitate massive investments that would connect a land-based economic belt modeled on the ancient Silk Road and a maritime corridor stretching from China to Southeast Asia, India, Africa and Europe — as having the “potential to connect East and West as well as diverse regions found in between.”

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Key to success of the Maritime Silk Road

The projects of the New Silk Road are like pieces of a puzzle scattered all across a clutter-filled room. You see some here, some there, but you don’t really think much of any of them in and of themselves. On their own, conventional perceptions of them tend to range from moderately impressive to downright mind boggling—why are resource-dependent nations building massive transport hubs in the middle of nowhere? It’s only when we start to connect the dots do we see how these these pieces come together to form a much larger picture of what global economics in the 21st century will become.

Eurasia, the continental landmass containing both Europe and Asia, is rapidly being strung together into a contiguous market covering upwards of 65% of the population, 75% of energy resources and 40% of GDP in the world. In this light, speaking of individual New Silk Road projects is almost a wasted exercise. It's the network that's of significance--a network that's seeing diverse economies and political systems from China to Europe being put on the same page via a more or less unified initiative. This is something that has never happened before.

That said, we can’t tell where the New Silk Road is going tomorrow by looking where it’s at today. We’re talking about formally remote and disconnected regions becoming linked-in hubs of regional logistics , resource-dependent nations cultivating new agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial potentials, and previously poor, under-developed economies reconfiguring themselves to become epicenters of production and innovation. When economies connect, economies change, and our paradigms of what these countries are and the roles they will serve in the future needs to change as well.
  • Piraeus Port
  • The Khorgos / Horgos cross-border area
  • The New Port of Baku
  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
  • Central and Western China development

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Singapore Stumbles on China's Road
A tourist boat travels along the Malacca River

The Straits of Malacca have been a gateway for China for centuries in its quest for power.

A story blended from Malaysian history and folklore says an emperor sent a princess called Hang Li Po to marry the Sultan of Malacca in the Ming Dynasty, offering a ship filled with gold needles. He also sent a blunt message. “For every gold needle, there is a subject. If you can count the number of needles, you will learn the true extent of my power,” the emperor reportedly said in a letter.

Hundreds of years later, China is again seeking influence in Malaysia as it spreads its economic and military clout through Southeast Asia. It is investing billions in a $7.2 billion redevelopment that will see Malacca, long the haunt of Chinese traders, become a new deep sea port.

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The Belt And Road Initiative: A new way forward
Tajik women who are optimistic about the region’s redevelopment.
Tajik women who are optimistic about the region’s redevelopment. Photograph: Tom Phillips for the Guardian

When Chinese president, Xi Jinping, unveiled what some call the most ambitious development plan in history, Zhou Jun decided almost immediately he should head for the hills.

The 45-year-old entrepreneur packed his bags and set off for one of his country’s most staggeringly beautiful corners: a sleepy, high-altitude border outpost called Tashkurgan that - at almost 5,000km (3,100 miles) from Beijing - is the most westerly settlement in China.

“I saw a great opportunity to turn this little town into a mid-sized city,” Zhou explained during a tour of ‘Europa Manor’, a garish roadside spa he recently opened for Chinese tourists along the Karakoram, the legendary 1,300km highway that snakes through China’s rugged western mountains towards the 4,700m-high Khunjerab Pass.

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The New Silk Road 新絲綢之路

A huge shift in trade and relations could be under way across Eurasia and China's New Silk Road policy is at the heart of it.

As a historical reference point, the Silk Road continues to resonate, long after the trade route serve ant economic purpose.

For Europe it evokes the slow sway of camel trains across parched landscapes and the flow of exotic goods into the continent. And in China, it brings to mind the touchstones of its imperial history and its connection to the outside world.

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Singapore as a 21st century maritime silk road

LET'S NOT BEAT around the bush. PM Lee Hsien Loong's absence at the New Silk Road summit currently taking place in China is a big deal.

Was he not invited or did he elect not to attend (and despatched National Development Minister Lawrence Wong instead)? The former seems the more plausible account. Either way, the development can only be described as doomy.

The summit, attended by 28 heads of government, is Beijing's way of announcing its intention of breaking out from under the United State's world domination, at least in the sphere of trade and commerce. Here are are five ways Beijing is doing this:
  • Melaka Gateway
  • East Coast Railway Line (ECRL)
  • New Silk Road
  • Arctic Route
  • Kra Canal

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The "One Belt, One Road" 一带一路 initiative

Belt and Road Initiative -- idea from China but belongs to whole world. The Belt and Road (yidaiyilu) Initiative has become the most popular public goods and platform for international cooperation with the brightest prospects in the world amid rising protectionism and unilateralism, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on the sideline of the recently concluded China's two sessions.

Proposed in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the initiative has witnessed continuous expansion of its "friend circle", and yield tangible benefits for countries along its routes.

It will provide unprecedented opportunities for the economic and social development of countries involved, as "it is the way leading to the community of shared future for mankind," said Gerrishon K. Ikiara, a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

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Uber 'Grabbed' by rival Grab

Grab acquires Uber's Southeast Asia operations
Uber will hold a 27.5% stake in Grab and have its CEO join the latter’s board

Grab has acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations. According to an announcement, in exchange, Uber will take a 27.5% stake in Grab & Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board. Moreover, Grab is now backed by DiDi Chuxing & Uber, in addition to leading global investor SoftBank.

Grab will integrate Uber’s ridesharing and food delivery business in the region into Grab’s existing multi-modal transportation and fintech platform. It will also take over Uber’s operations and assets in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

For its food delivery services, Grab will rapidly expand its existing GrabFood businesses in Indonesia and Thailand to two more countries - Singapore and Malaysia - following the integration of the Uber Eats business. “GrabFood will be available across all major Southeast Asian countries in the first half of 2018,” the firm said.

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Grab buys Uber; PCC sets review
Office workers walk past Grab and Uber offices during their lunch hour Monday, March 26, 2018, in Singapore. Grab, a fast growing Southeast Asian ridesharing, food delivery and financial services business, said Monday that Uber will take a 27.5 percent stake in it and a seat on its board as part of the deal. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Singapore-based Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-sharing company, snapped up main rival Uber’s business in the region, promising better services through its enlarged network.

Grab announced Monday it would take over Uber’s operations and assets in the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam, ending months of speculation.

In exchange, California-based Uber will get a 27.5% stake in the combined business—a move seen to cut Uber’s massive losses as it prepares to go public next year. Grab said the figure reflected Uber’s market share in the region.

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Grab-Uber merger may have negative impact on riders and drivers

As an Uber driver, it came as a shock to me that Uber was sold to Grab (“Grab, Uber SEA confirm merger, with Uber taking 27.5% stake in Grab”; March 26).

Many of us private-hire car drivers are with Grab and Uber because they both have their own advantages. With the acquisition, I worry that many consumer and driver benefits will be lost.

Many people think that drivers just want more income through surge pricing or the payment incentives in providing ride-hailing services. However, this is not often the case. The non-financial benefits are important as well.

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Why Uber is selling its Southeast Asian business to a local rival
Grab will purchase Uber's ride-hailing and food delivery operations in Southeast Asia, in a deal valued at several billion dollars

Uber will sell its business in Southeast Asia to a local competitor, Grab, the ride-hailing company has announced, in a deal that experts say is designed to position Uber for an initial public offering next year.

Grab will purchase Uber's ride-hailing and food delivery operations in the region in a deal valued at several billion dollars, according to a person familiar with the acquisition who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly. Uber will receive a 27.5 per cent stake in the Singapore-based Grab, and chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab's board, the companies said.

Uber's sale in Southeast Asia, where Grab claims 5 million daily users, follows several strategic deals in competitive international markets. Yandax, a Russian rival, merged with Uber last year in a deal valued at US $3.7 billion. And in 2016, Uber sold off its local operations to the dominant Chinese ride sharing service, Didi Chuxing. Like the prior transactions, the deals free Uber to invest in other, more lucrative markets, while granting the company a stake in their competitors' expanding businesses, experts say.

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Why Uber Is Just Another Taxi Company Doomed to Bankruptcy

Not too long ago, new, improved Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi bemoaned his company’s massive hemorrhaging of cash and vowed to “get the love back” and restore Uber as a beloved brand. As an Uber/Lyft driver, all I can say is good f—ing luck with that. Here’s a news flash: Uber is bound to fail. And so is Lyft, Uber’s little sibling with better PR. The sooner we all understand this, the better.

Uber calls itself a “technology” company instead of a taxi company. This is because unlike a traditional cab company, for which you use your phone to call for a cab, you use your phone to call for a cab. See? The difference is obvious. Uber/Lyft’s business model is to lose money for years or decades to grow its market and then, suddenly, replace all its human drivers with robots. And then we’ll all be rich, because volume. How’s that working for you, fellas? Oh, Uber has lost more money than any start-up in human history? What? How can this be?! Uber makes so much money! Look at all the Uber/Lyft cars clogging our streets! We use it so much! How could it not be profitable?

The short answer is that they don’t charge enough. Uber’s rates in most of the USA are less than $1 a mile and 10 cents a minute. How long ago were taximeter rates that low? Well, that depends if you want to correct for inflation or not. For New York City taxi rates (which are roughly similar to SF’s) to get that low in non-adjusted dollars, you’d have to set your way-back machine to 1980, when you could rent a three-bedroom apartment for under $500 a month. In Nob Hill.

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As Uber bows out to Grab, drivers and riders bemoan loss of choice
A passenger of Grab bike fixes her helmet next to Uber driver at Manggarai train station in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

A mix of concern and disappointment met Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] deal to sell its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab, as drivers and users of the ride-hailing firms took in the prospect of sharply reduced competition.

The services throughout Asia have long relied on discounts and promotions for consumers and incentives for drivers, which made for tough competition, pushing down profit margins.

Grab said the Uber acquisition accelerated its path to profitability in its core transport business, as it would become the most cost-efficient Southeast Asian platform. While drivers were split on which of the two services offered better compensation, they generally expected fares to go up with the reduced competition.

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Grab buys Uber’s Southeast Asia operations

In a move that its founder described as “the beginning of a new era”, Singapore-based Grab confirmed on Monday (Mar 26) that it will be taking over the Southeast Asia operations of its arch-rival Uber at an undisclosed sum.

The announcement puts an end to months of speculation about a merger, as well as years of intense turf wars which have seen both operators dishing out generous promotions to entice passengers.

With the acquisition, Grab will take over Uber's operations & assets in 8 Southeast Asian countries. It will be integrating Uber’s ride-sharing and food delivery business in the region into its platform. In exchange, Uber will take a 27.5% stake in Grab and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab's board.

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Grab says Uber deal driven independently by firms, has SoftBank support

Grab’s acquisition of U.S. ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] Southeast Asian business was driven independently by the two companies, and was supported by their common investor, Japan’s SoftBank Group (9984.T), a top executive at the Singapore-based firm said.

“It was really a very independent decision by both companies. SoftBank, of course, and Masa in particular, was highly supportive of the acquisition,” Grab President Ming Maa told Reuters, referring to SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. The deal was in the “best interest of both of the companies”, he added.

The deal marks Uber’s second retreat from an Asian market and will see the firm take a 27.5 percent stake in Grab.

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Grab-Uber deal sparks fears of price hike
Consumers and industry watchers are raising concerns that Grab's acquisition of Uber's South-east Asian business will lead to higher fares. FOTO: ST FILE

Consumers & industry watchers are raising concerns that ride-hailing firm Grab's acquisition of rival Uber's South-east Asian business will reduce competition & lead to higher fares.

Ms Zhang Bin Bin, who takes both Grab and Uber rides, is unsure how fares will change now that "competition is minimised".

"If prices increase or if they match regular taxi prices, I will probably go back to public transport," said the film-maker, 23.

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ComfortDelGro to acquire 51% stake in Uber’s car rental subsidiary in Singapore for S$642m
Taxi operator ComfortDelGro and Uber announced on Friday (Dec 8) that they have entered into a strategic agreement to form a joint venture

Taxi operator ComfortDelGro and Uber announced on Friday (Dec 8) that they have entered into a strategic agreement to form a joint venture.

Under the agreement, which is subject to regulatory approval, ComfortDelGro will acquire a 51% stake in Uber’s wholly-owned car rental subsidiary in Singapore, Lion City Holdings, the 2 parties said in a joint media release.

The latter, in turn, operates Lion City Rentals which has a fleet of about 14,000 vehicles. Uber will retain the remaining 49%. Valued at about S$642 million, with a cash consideration of S$295 million, it ranks as ComfortDelGro’s single largest deal to-date.

related: How will the Grab-Uber deal affect ComfortDelGro?

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Who are the winners and losers?

While most of the taxi operators will likely be heaving a sigh of relief with the elimination of a major competitor, the same cannot be said for ComfortDelGro.

“ComfortDelgro is the biggest loser from this,” said Dr Lee, citing the S$642 million alliance between the taxi giant and Uber struck just 3 months ago, in which ComfortDelGro would acquire a 51% stake in Uber's Lion City Holdings. The collaboration between the two also led to the launch of UberFlash in January.

Analysts have said the alliance would give Singapore’s biggest taxi operator some help in keeping up with a disrupted taxi industry, as well as an uplift in earnings for its automotive engineering services and car leasing & rental divisions.  But the merger announced on Monday will likely render this alliance “futile”, analysts said.

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ComfortDelGro left in limbo as Uber falls to Grab
ComfortDelGro left in limbo as Uber falls to Grab

The proposed $642m acquisition of LCR might be renegotiated. As Grab assumes control over Uber’s Southeast Asian operations, ComfortDelGro is left in limbo amidst its proposed tie-up with the defeated ride-sharing giant.

On December, CD announced it was cooperating with Uber for a proposed acquisition of 51% of the Lion City Rental for $642m. This move launched the UberFlash service which matched riders with the nearest CD/UberX vehicle.

However, with Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s ride-sharing business, the terms & conditions of the deal could be renegotiated so that CD can continue to partner LCR with Grab, according to CIMB.

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Merger of Grab and Uber drive monopoly, pricing concerns 

Grab is acquiring Uber's ride-sharing and food delivery businesses in Southeast Asia and integrating them into its transport and fintech platform.

The merger between Grab and Uber is driving market concentration to monopoly levels, underlying the urgency of regulations that legalise and keep in check ride-sharing service in Thailand, say industry.

Sumet Ongkittikul, research director for transport and logistics policy at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said the consolidation of ride-hailing firms in Southeast Asia might increase. Regulators need to take steps to protect consumers, legalise the service and implement anti-dumping laws, he said.

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Higher fares and reduced subsidies loom as Grab nabs Uber's operations

Analysts believe that being in a monopolistic position, Grab can change fare structures in order to improve profitability.

After Grab's acquisition of Uber's Southeast Asian operations, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote to employees that consolidation will no longer be a strategy for the company after it also bowed out of the markets in China & Russia, and most recently in Southeast Asia.

“One of the potential dangers of our global strategy is that we take on too many battles across too many fronts and with too many competitors,” Khosrowshahi said. “This transaction now puts us in a position to compete with real focus & weight in the core markets where we operate, whilst giving us valuable and growing equity stakes in a number of big and important markets where we don’t.”

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This Uber driver succinctly explains why it’s a bad idea for Uber and Grab to merge

In a letter to Today, Uber driver Benedict Wu explains how many consumer and driver benefits will be lost with the merger:

  • Difference in protection policies
  • Picking and choosing
  • Loss of benefits

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