Ever since Deng Xiaoping advised his countrymen to hide their strength and bide their time, China has favoured reassurance over intimidation in its regional dealings.

Foreign policy always becomes a favourite pastime of lame-duck, second-term presidents, American pundits always say, because they can never get anything done at home. Well, this week we may find out whether President Barack Obama is doomed to set new standards in second-term lameness - by being gridlocked at home and frustrated abroad.


China has a secret concerning its territorial disputes with neighbouring countries that it clearly doesn't want you to know about. To keep it concealed, Beijing and its agencies have a policy of blanketing territorial issues in bad publicity and charmless displays of bravado. 

Aircraft carriers have become the ultimate accessory for Asia's aspiring powers. If you have one - or, even better, a collection - then you're in the big-power club; if you don't, you're still just toiling in the minor leagues of world affairs. Even so, the regional carrier competition has reached a new level of intensity of late, as Japan, India and China (kind of) unveiled new ships within days of each other.

Nepal's Langtang Valley is an ancient yet ever-changing landscape of beauty. Words and pictures by Trefor Moss.

Self-determination, the right to decide one's own political fate, has suddenly become a popular cause in the Chinese media. Academics and newspaper columnists have been lining up to argue that a great wrong - the annexation of one country by another - must finally be righted.

Technology has a clever habit of outdoing fantasy, and this month the US Navy announced that it has finally produced a working Laser Weapon System (the US military has been trying to develop something like this for decades). After proving itself by shooting down target drones in 12 out of 12 tests, the laser will be on board an active US warship by next year, probably in the Persian Gulf, ready to zap Iranian missiles.

Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, demands your attention. He just set off a nuclear bomb in order to get it. It would be easy to dismiss Kim as Asia's resident megalomaniac - to mock him as a totalitarian goofball who doesn't deserve to be taken seriously. He certainly doesn't look intimidating, chubby and callow as he is, seemingly more into mushrooms than mushroom clouds.

With 158 festivals a year, the Miao people of Guizhou have plenty to celebrate, unlike their livestock. Words and pictures by Trefor Moss.