Tag Archives: Europe

VIF Cyber Review: July 2022

NATIONAL
Government of India issued a consultation paper on the “Need for a new legal framework governing Telecommunication in India”.

On 28 July 2022, the Ministry of Communications, Department of Telecommunications, Govt. of India, prepared a consultation paper on the requirement for a new legal framework governing the telecom sector in India. Various stakeholders have requested an evolution of the legal framework concerning the changing technology. The consultation paper can be accessed from: Click here to read…

The legal framework for telecommunications in India is governed by the laws enacted before the independence from colonial rule. In recent decades, technology has changed significantly. To keep pace with the dynamics of technology, many nations, including the United States (in 1996), Australia (1979), the United Kingdom (2003), Singapore (1999), South Africa (2000), and Brazil (1997) have advanced the telecommunication legislation.[1]

Indian Telecom Service Providers are likely to launch 5G mobile services during 2022-2023

In a notification dated 15 June 2022, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Ministry of Communication has initiated the process of auction of spectrum in 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz Bands which includes the spectrum required for the launch of 5G Services in India. It is expected that the Indian Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) will launch 5G mobile services in India during 2022-2023.

To enable design-led production of 5G-related products in India, the DoT has modified the rules for the Production Linked Initiative (PLI) plan for manufacturing telecom and networking products. One of the amendments included a 01 per cent higher incentive for products qualifying the design-led criteria. [2]

Indian Air Force launched an Artificial Intelligence Centre of Excellence

Under the aegis of UDAAN (Unit for Digitisation, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Application Networking), the Indian Air Force (IAF) launched a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for AI. The CoE was inaugurated by Air Marshal Sandeep Singh, Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS), on 10 July 2022 at Air Force Station Rajokri, New Delhi. A Big Data Analytics and AI platform for managing all aspects of Analytics, Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Neural Networks, and Deep Learning algorithms has been commissioned in the IAF’s AI Centre. The newest servers powered by Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) would handle the high-end compute requirements.

“The IAF has taken proactive steps to embed Industry 4.0 and AI-based technologies in its war-fighting processes. The AI CoE with high-end compute and Big Data storage capabilities, coupled with full-spectrum AI Software suites, would substantially enhance operational capabilities of IAF,” said the VCAS while addressing the gathering.[3]

MeitY released the Draft “National Data Governance Framework” Policy for public consultation

On 27 July 2022, the Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics & Information Technology (E&IT)— Rajeev Chandrasekhar, informed the Lok Sabha (the Lower House of the Indian Parliament) that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) released the Draft “National Data Governance Framework” policy on 26 May 2022, for public consultation, and the draft policy is under finalisation. The policy aims to ensure that non-personal data and anonymised data from both government and private sector are safely accessible by Research and Innovation eco-system. It will also provide a framework for data/datasets/metadata rules, standards, guidelines, and protocols for sharing non-personal data sets while ensuring privacy, security, and integrity/trust.[4]

Government of India may introduce new law regarding IT and Data Protection

On 22 July 2022, the Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and Information Technology (E&IT)— Rajeev Chandrasekhar, informed the Lok Sabha (the Lower House of the Indian Parliament) that government aims to ensure Open, Safe & Trusted, and Accountable Internet for all users. The Ministry continues to engage in discussions with various stakeholders, including industry, legal experts, and academicians, to achieve the objective of new legislation, amendments to the Rules, etcetera. The existing Information Technology (IT) Act was enacted in 2000, around 22 years ago. Since then, technology and the Internet have evolved at a fast pace.[5]

CERT-In issued an advisory about multiple vulnerabilities in Apple macOS

On 29 July 2022, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued an advisory highlighting the multiple vulnerabilities that have been reported in Apple macOS, which a remote attacker could further exploit to execute arbitrary code, bypass security restrictions, and cause a denial of service conditions on the targeted system.
The vulnerabilities exist in Apple macOS due to out-of-bounds read in Apple Script, SMB and Kernal; out-of-bounds write in audio, ICU, PS Normaliser, GPU drivers, SMB and WebKit; authorisation issue in AppleMobileFileIntegrity; information disclosure in Calendar and iCloud photo library; logic issue in File System Events, PluginKit, Windows Server and Automation. A remote attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities by persuading a victim to visit maliciously crafted web content. The advisory also suggested applying appropriate patches as mentioned in the Apple Security Updates. [6]

INTERNATIONAL
Chinese government’s PR entity approached TikTok to open a “Stealth” propaganda account

According to news reported by Bloomberg, the Chinese government’s entity responsible for Public Relations attempted to open a “stealth” TikTok account targeting western audiences with propaganda. In response, TikTok executives pushed-back the attempt for the stealth account. The push-back highlighted the internal tensions ongoing within TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Inc., as it has constantly attempted to distance itself from Chinese state propaganda and influence.

“Chinese government entity that’s interested in joining TikTok but would not want to be openly seen as a government account as the main purpose is for promoting content that showcases the best side of China (some sort of propaganda),” said a TikTok employee and colleague of Elizabeth Kanter, TikTok’s Head of government relations in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, and Israel, via a message in April7 2020.[7]

Russia fined WhatsApp, Snapchat and others for storing user data outside the nation

On 28 July 2022, Moscow’s Tagansky District Court imposed a fine on Meta Platforms Inc’s— Meta, WhatsApp messenger, Snapchat owner— Snap Inc., and other firms, including Match Group, Hotels.com, and Spotify, for their alleged refusal to store the data of Russian users within the country. Amid the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict, Russia has clashed with big tech firms over content, censorship, data and local representation in escalated disputes.

Following a 04 million rouble fine in August 2021, WhatsApp was penalised 18 million roubles (roughly USD 301,255) by the Tagansky District Court for a repeat offence. The fine imposed on WhatsApp was higher than the 15 million roubles fine imposed in July 2022 for a repeat infraction on Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. The Court also fined “Tinder” owner— Match Group around 02 million roubles, Snap and Hotels.com, owned by Expedia Group Inc., 01 million roubles, and Spotify— a music streaming service, 500,000 roubles. “The five companies had not provided documents ensuring the storage and processing of Russian users’ data was taking place in Russia in time,” said the Communications Regulator— Roskomnadzor.[8]

China may transform the “Global Internet Conference” into an “International Internet Organisation”, claimed the Chinese State news agency

Since 2014, China’s Cyberspace Administration has been organising a World Internet Conference, where technology companies and government representatives of other nations convene to discuss the Internet and where China propagates its vision of State Internet control. Recently, according to a Chinese State news agency— Xinhua, “Beijing plans to transform the global internet conference into International Internet Organisation.” The organisation’s founding members include institutions, organisations, businesses, and individuals from nearly 20 countries. Some other State news agencies indicated that Afghanistan, Cambodia, North Korea, and Syria are among the member countries. On its successful transformation, Chinese-led International Internet Organisation could threaten global technology standards and the global Internet itself. [9]

A network of 11,000 phoney investments sites targeted Europe

Researchers at a cyber security firm— Group-IB, discovered a network of more than 11,000 domains engaged in promoting numerous fake investment schemes to users in Europe. As a modus operandi, the platforms show fabricated evidence of enrichment and falsified celebrity endorsements to create an image of legitimacy and lure many victims. In the phoney process, the user gets tricked into an opportunity for high-return investments and is convinced to deposit a minimum amount of EUR 250 (₹ 20,410) to sign up for the fake services. At the time of reporting, the countries targeted included the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.[10]

Endnotes :

[1] “Need for a new legal framework governing Telecommunications in India”, Ministry of Communications- Press Information Bureau, 28 July 2022, accessed on 06 August 2022, available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1845920
[2] “5G Networks”, Ministry of Communications, 27 July 2022, accessed on 06 August 2022, available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1845325
[3] “Artificial Intelligence (AI) Centre of Excellence (CoE) launched by IAF”, Ministry of Defence, 10 July 2022, accessed on 05 August 2022, available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1840695
[4] “National Data Governance Framework Policy”, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 27 July 2022, accessed on 05 August 2022, available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1845318
[5] “New law relating to information technology and data protection”, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 22 July 2022, accessed on 05 August 2022, available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1843845
[6] “CERT-In Vulnerability Note CIVN-2022-0313: Multiple Vulnerabilities in Apple macOS”, Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, 29 July 2022, accessed on 07 August 2022, available from: https://www.cert-in.org.in/
[7]Olivia Solon, “Chinese government asked TikTok for Stealth propaganda account”, Bloomberg, 29 July 2022, accessed on 06 August 2022, available from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-29/chinese-government-asked-tiktok-for-stealth-propaganda-account
[8] “Russia fines WhatsApp, Snap and others for storing user data abroad”, Reuters, 28 July 2022, accessed on 06 August 2022, available from: https://www.reuters.com/technology/russia-fines-snapchat-owner-data-law-violation-ifax-2022-07-28
[9]Justin Sherman, “China’s New Organisation Could Threaten the Global Internet”, Slate, 29 July 2022, accessed on 06 August 2022, available from: https://slate.com/technology/2022/07/china-world-internet-conference-organization-standards.html
[10]Bill Toulas, “Huge network of 11,000 fake investment sites targets Europe”, Bleeping Computer, 31 July 2022, accessed on 08 August 2022, available from: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/huge-network-of-11-000-fake-investment-sites-targets-europe/

Global Developments and Analysis: Weekly Monitor, 11 July – 17 July 2022

Economic
China faces difficult decisions with slide in economic growth

China’s economic growth teetered on the brink of contraction in the second quarter year on year, reflecting a two-month lockdown of the financial and industrial hub of Shanghai. This came on top of Covid-19 shutdowns and travel curbs that have hampered recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy. Following an increase in gross domestic product of 4.8 per cent in the first quarter, growth in the three months to June of just 0.4 per cent dragged expansion in the first half down to 2.5 per cent. This year’s growth target of “around 5.5 per cent” would require a bounce back to 7.5 per cent in the second half. But a return to stable growth will be the paramount goal of Beijing ahead of a landmark political meeting later this year, the 20th national party congress, which includes a leadership reshuffle. This can be expected to lead to increased pressure to fine-tune President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid strategy and for stimulatory measures, such as looser monetary policy and fiscal stimulus, without triggering a surge of inflation. This is in contrast to a tightening cycle to combat inflationary growth well under way among China’s trading partners. Recent statements by top leaders have shown a rising sense of urgency about the need to put the economy back on a stable track. However, if there is to be a new round of credit-driven investment it should not be at the cost of exacerbating local debt problems. Click here to read…

China and EU to hold high-level trade talks this week after months of delays

Just before the summer lull hits Brussels, the European Union will hold a high-level trade dialogue with China on July 19 – talks the 27-member bloc has been trying to organise for more than three months. Valdis Dombrovskis, the European commissioner for trade, and Chinese vice-premier Liu He will co-chair the virtual meeting, which will also include representatives from the trade and economic ministries of both sides. According to a European Commission representative, a number of global economic challenges will be discussed, including food security and energy prices, supply chains, financial services, and bilateral trade and investment concerns. “The dialogue is taking place against the background of war in Europe and increasing uncertainties in the global economic outlook,” the representative said. The last high-level meeting between the EU and China was a virtual summit in April; it ended unsuccessfully after the EU failed to gain any assurances from China that it would not support Russia’s war against Ukraine financially or militarily. But both sides agreed to talk again “to find concrete ways to progress on these issues before the summer”. While Brussels continued pushing Beijing to nail down a date, China took time in responding. Click here to read…

Europe Fears Widespread Economic Fallout if Russian Gas Outage Drags On

As a deadline approaches for Russia to resume supplying natural gas to Germany this week, European officials and executives are growing concerned about a cascading economic fallout that would spread across the continent should Moscow keep the tap shut. The Nord Stream pipeline that ferries gas from Siberia to Germany closed July 11 for annual maintenance that is expected to last 10 days. Many in the West fear that Moscow might prolong the closure, possibly permanently, and deprive Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse, of a key ingredient for its and its neighbors’ factories. European leaders blamed Moscow for using gas as a weapon when flows along the pipeline began to ebb last month. Moscow blamed that shortfall on technical issues related to Western sanctions. According to the annual maintenance schedule, Nord Stream goes back online July 21, meaning that gas flow should resume the following day. Complicating the calculus, officials and executives say it might not be easy to determine whether Russia is restoring gas flows fully. Under one scenario, Moscow could switch the pipeline back on but with lower volumes, as it already has, citing technical problems linked to the sanctions. Germany is highly dependent on Russian gas, and it also acts as a transit hub for gas headed to Austria, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. Click here to read…

China jobs: youth unemployment hits record high in June – nearly 1 in 5 young people out of work

The hits keep coming for China’s disillusioned youth who increasingly cannot seem to catch a break when it comes to landing work in a job market that – at least for their demographic – keeps going from really bad to even worse. Nearly one out of five young jobseekers were unemployed last month as China’s youth unemployment rate hit an all-time high of 19.3 per cent in June, official figures show. It was a sharp rise from 18.4 per cent in May, and marked a year-on-year increase of 25 per cent. The intensifying struggle among those aged 16-24 to carve out their own piece of China’s economic pie came in the midst of the nation’s economy growing by a mere 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2022, year on year. This was largely the result of Beijing’s zero-Covid strategy, which forced large-scale lockdowns in Shanghai and other major cities – far from ideal conditions in which China’s latest army of fresh college graduates were plunged into. China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has previously noted that new graduates generally push the unemployment rate upward come June and July each year, but the youth unemployment rate has seen a steady rise since October. Click here to read…

A fifth of Chinese developers face insolvency as investors grow tired of repeated bond extensions, S&P Global warns

At least a fifth of rated Chinese property developers will end up becoming insolvent, putting as much as US$88 billion of their distressed bonds at risk, according to S&P Global Ratings. While some developers have resorted to debt extensions and bond exchanges to buy time to avoid default, investors will soon lose patience and press their claims through the courts or debt restructuring if a recovery of the sector does not play out by the first quarter of 2023, the ratings agency said. Exchanges and debt extensions have been the two most common ways for Chinese developers to resolve their bond default risks. Guangzhou R&F Properties, for example, recently received approval to regroup all 10 tranches of its offshore bonds worth a total of US$4.94 billion due between now and 2024 into three amortisation notes that mature in 2025, 2027 and 2028, giving it three to four years of breathing room as it struggles to raise cash. But “this forbearance may not continue,” said S&P. “If a sales turnaround is not forthcoming, investors will reject repeated extensions. “The end of the beginning is at hand for China developer defaults.” Click here to read…

Russia has price cap-busting oil plan – media

Russia has ramped up efforts to create its own national oil pricing benchmark as part of its response to Western efforts to limit its oil revenues, Bloomberg reported on July 14, citing government and industry sources. According to the agency, the Western sanctions campaign, which was launched after Russia began its military operation in Ukraine, and the attempts to squeeze its oil export revenue with a proposed price cap, have reinvigorated the idea. US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen is attempting to set an upper limit on how much Moscow can charge for its crude exports. Some experts have warned that the scheme may backfire. The Russian government wants to have a pricing benchmark in action sometime between March and July of 2023, the business news outlet reported. Discussions about the plan are in the early stages, but were confirmed by an executive in the energy industry, the report said. The country has tried for years to launch a national benchmark based on crude trade at the St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange, but the volume of foreign deals made on the exchange has not been high enough for this purpose. The US and its allies are seeking to damage Russian crude trade with nations like China and India, which refused to join the sanctions drive, by leveraging their dominance in the areas of insurance and finance. Click here to read…

Saudi Arabia outlines what it will do for oil output

Saudi Arabia is ready to increase oil production to its maximum of 13 million barrels per day but does not have the capacity to pump out more, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said during his address at the US-Arab summit in Jeddah on July 16. “The kingdom has announced an increase in its production capacity level to 13 million barrels per day, after which the kingdom will not have any additional capacity to increase production,” he was quoted as saying by UAE’s newspaper The National. The crown prince also said that the global community should join forces to support the worldwide economy, but noted that unrealistic policies regarding energy sources would only worsen the situation. “Adopting unrealistic policies to reduce emissions by excluding main sources of energy will lead in coming years to unprecedented inflation and an increase in energy prices and rising unemployment, and a worsening of serious social and security problems,” he stated. Mohammed bin Salman’s words come a day after his talks with Joe Biden, who was in Saudi Arabia on his first visit as US president, and urged the kingdom to increase oil production in order to reduce global reliance on supplies from Russia. Commenting on his trip to the kingdom, Biden said Saudi Arabia’s “energy resources are vital for mitigating the impact on global supplies of Russia’s war in Ukraine.Click here to read…

Middle East Buyers Ramp Up Russian Fuel Imports

US and European sanctions have led to a significant shift in the direction of Russian energy flows. Bloomberg reports diesel and other fuel products shunned by many countries in the West are heading to the Middle East. Increasing flows began after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and reached 155,000 barrels a day in June, according to new data from Vortexa Ltd. Meanwhile, European imports have slumped 30% since the invasion on Feb. 24. Vortexa’s data shows most of the products arriving in the Middle East from Russian ports are fuel oil, diesel/gasoil, and more recently, jet fuel and kerosene. “Most of the Middle East’s imports from Russia are of fuel oil — a leftover from the refining process and often used in power generation and shipping,” Bloomberg noted. About a third of the inflows of fuel products went into the Fujairah Oil Terminal for storage in the United Arab Emirates. Imports of Russian fuel products are at a 2016 high and could increase further because of Western trade restrictions to punish President Putin for the invasion of Ukraine. However, Koen Wessels, senior oil products analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd, said Russian flows to the Middle East will be temporary and could eventually slow because of shipping insurance-related restrictions for vessels leaving Russian ports. Click here to read…

Afghan minister holds talks with Chinese mining firm, progress to be expected

An Afghan government official from the mining sector met with the representative of a Chinese mining company July 17, and they discussed issues ranging from technical to financial operations of the Aynak copper project, the second-largest copper ore body in the world. But an insider said that no substantive progress was made. A staffer of Chinese mining giant Metallurgical Group Corp (MCC), the company that owns the Aynak copper project, told the Global Times July 18 that the company has staff in Afghanistan at the moment, and they are keeping in close contact with the new Afghan government over the project. The remark came as the Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum Sheikh Shahabuddin Delawar held a meeting Sunday with a vice president of MCC-JCL Aynak Minerals Co (MJAM), a Chinese-funded mining company registered in Afghanistan under MCC, according to the official website of the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum. Discussions were held at the meeting on the latest developments, as well as technical, financial and land acquisition issues, and the transfer of ancient artifacts in the field of the Aynak project, said the ministry. While there have been frequent talks, no substantive progress has been made, the Global Times learned. “The only thing we needed to confirm with the Afghan government is the ownership of the mine, which has already been done with the new government,” a staffer with the MCC Group said. Click here to read…

Kishida: Up to 9 nuclear reactors to go online by winter

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the central government intends to bring up to nine nuclear reactors online this winter to prepare for possible power shortages during peak periods. Kishida told a July 14 news conference that he instructed economy minister Koichi Hagiuda to start preparations. “We are aiming to put as many nuclear reactors as possible online,” said Kishida. “We will have up to nine reactors operating this winter to secure enough sources of energy to cover about 10 percent of Japan’s overall power consumption.” The move comes as the government is asking the public to save electricity this summer amid a power shortage, which will likely become even more severe in the winter. According to government sources, five of the nine reactors are at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture: the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant; the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama plant; and the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant. All nine reactors were brought online at least once after passing the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening for a restart. Four were in operation as of July 14. Kishida said he also instructed government officials to get 10 more units of thermal power plants ready for operations to ensure a stable power supply during peak periods. Click here to read…

China closes in on Japan’s hydrogen technology patent lead

Though Japan continues to lead the world in hydrogen-related technology, its edge is narrowing as new patent filings by the country’s companies and research institutions slow while Chinese players forge ahead with government backing. Hydrogen is considered the ultimate clean fuel since it emits no carbon dioxide when burned. Tokyo-based research company Astamuse, in which Nikkei has a stake, has compiled a ranking of countries, scored in terms of the competitiveness of their hydrogen technologies between 2011 and 2020, based on the number of times their patents were cited in similar patent applications, expiration dates and other data. The 2020 figures were based on preliminary data. Japan came out on top overall propelled by its strength in fuel-cell patents, which are key to harnessing hydrogen to power cars, homes and factories. Toyota Motor has been developing fuel-cell vehicles for the past three decades, and became the first automaker in the world to commercialize the vehicles in 2014. It had expanded their driving range about 30% by 2020. Japanese petroleum company ENEOS and Industrial gases company Iwatani operate more than 160 hydrogen stations, and are working to halve the cost of building a new station from the current range of 300 million yen to 400 million yen ($2.19 million to $2.91 million) currently. Click here to read…

China locks in record long-term LNG deals to bolster energy security

As global competition for liquefied natural gas intensifies in response to the Ukraine war, China is increasingly turning to long-term contracts of a decade or more to ensure the country’s growing needs will continue to be met years into the future. Chinese demand for natural gas grew at the fastest rate on record in 2021. LNG demand jumped 18% to 78.9 million tons, surpassing Japan as the largest importer. Spot contracts accounted for 39% of China’s LNG imports last year. But contracts lasting 10 to 20 years make up a rapidly growing portion of those with delivery dates in 2022 and beyond. Chinese players signed 23 long-term contracts for a total of 27 million tons of LNG in 2021, according to Mika Takehara at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. Both figures were among the largest on record, she said. Most LNG was purchased by China’s three state-owned energy groups — China National Petroleum Corp., CNOOC and China Petrochemical, known as Sinopec. But energy companies owned by regional governments and private-sector utilities are also increasingly dealing directly with overseas suppliers. Three-quarters of the sellers were located in the U.S., Qatar and Russia. Between January 2021 and this April, Chinese companies had signed 10 contracts for 13.9 million tons to 14.8 million tons of LNG from American entities alone. Click here to read…

Myanmar revokes foreign company exemption from currency rules

The Central Bank of Myanmar on July 13 reversed its position on exempting foreign companies from forced exchanges of currency to the local kyat, several sources at the bank said. The central bank in April had instructed financial institutions to convert foreign currency earned by its customers into kyat within one business day. Existing foreign-currency deposits were also to be converted into the kyat in stages. In mid-June, the bank issued a notice exempting companies that are 10% or more owned by overseas entities, which applied to the majority of foreign companies doing business in Myanmar. It has now rescinded this exception in a new notice, sources said. Companies making investments approved by the Myanmar Investment Commission, as well those operating in special economic zones, are expected to remain exempt. The currency exchange rule comes as Myanmar suffers a serious shortage of foreign currency following its military takeover in February 2021. The government established the Foreign Exchange Supervisory Committee in April, which now must approve any conversions from kyat to a foreign currency, or money transfers abroad. Foreign currency from the forced conversions will be used to repay foreign debt flagged as a priority by the FESC. Click here to read…

Why China can’t let Laos default

Laos faces intensifying economic and financial crises and there is likely no way out without some form of a Chinese bailout or debt forgiveness. Various warning signs are blinking red in the small Southeast Asian country. The national currency, the kip, has lost around a third of its value against the US dollar compared to this time last year. Inflation hit 23% in June, its highest level in decades. Meanwhile, much of the landlocked country faces fuel shortages. The communist-run government has huffed and bluffed but finally undertook a cabinet reshuffle in late June, bringing in a new commerce minister and central bank governor. Some emergency measures have stemmed certain economic problems from worsening. But those haven’t alleviated the nation’s underlying financial woes, which are now more precarious than ever. “The chances that Laos will default on its debt obligations are extremely high,” says Carl Thayer, an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Indeed, the country’s foreign debts have swelled to over US$14 billion, or 88% of gross domestic product (GDP). Around half that amount is owed to China, including the Lao state’s one-third stake in the $5.9 billion China-Laos railway, a megaproject that opened in December amid concerns about the line’s commercial viability. Vientiane barely scraped through making its annual debt repayments last year. Click here to read…

Super-strong dollar imperils world economy

The US dollar has been on a major surge against major global currencies in the past year, recently hitting levels not seen in 20 years. It has gained 15% against the British pound, 16% against the euro and 23% against the Japanese yen. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency, which means it is used in most international transactions. As a result, changes in its value have implications for the entire global economy. Below are five of the main ones. 1. Even more inflation. Petrol and most commodities such as metals or timber are usually traded in US dollars (though with exceptions). So when the dollar gets stronger, these items cost more in local currency. For example in British pounds, the cost of US$100-worth of petrol has risen over the past year from £72 to £84. And since the price per liter of petrol in US dollars has risen steeply as well, it is creating a double whammy. When energy and raw materials cost more, the prices of many products go up for consumers and businesses, causing inflation around the world. The only exception is the US, where a stronger dollar makes it cheaper to import consumer products and therefore could help to tame inflation. Click here to read…

Strategic
‘Judgment Day’ warning as Russia hunts Ukraine’s US-made HIMARS

Nearly five months since President Vladimir Putin ordered the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces are grinding through the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and now occupy around a fifth of the country. Shoigu, one of Putin’s closest allies, inspected the Vostok group which is fighting in Ukraine, the defence ministry said. Shoigu “instructed the commander to give priority to the enemy’s long-range missile and artillery weapons,” the defence ministry said. The ministry said the weapons were being used to shell residential areas of Russian-controlled Donbas and to deliberately set fire to wheat fields and grain storage silos. Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said a depot in the Black Sea port of Odesa that stored Harpoon anti-ship missiles was hit, while a US-supplied HIMARS multiple-launch rocket system was struck in the eastern Donetsk region. There are concerns in Moscow that Ukraine’s longer-range missiles could be used to target Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Crimea is of particular strategic importance to Russia as it includes the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol. Another prized target would be the 18km (11-mile) bridge that links the Black Sea peninsula with mainland Russia. That prospect of an attack on Crimea prompted a warning from Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev, who said such an attack would trigger devastating consequences for the Ukrainian leadership. Click here to read…

Chinese military upgrades near disputed Himalayan border viewed as provocative in India

The upgrading of China’s military projection and logistics capabilities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Himalayas, designed to prepare for contingencies, is being viewed by the Indian side as offensive and provocative. Citing Indian intelligence sources, The Hindu said the People’s Liberation Army had expanded its troop accommodation capacity within 100km (60 miles) of the LAC from 20,000 to 120,000 in the past two years. The Indian newspaper’s report, published late last month, said the PLA had deployed four divisions, or 48,000 troops, from its Xinjiang military district, with the soldiers being rotated on the disputed border facing eastern Ladakh, where the worst fighting in over four decades saw at least 20 Indian soldiers and four from the PLA killed in the Galwan Valley two years ago. Zhou Chenming, a researcher from the Yuan Wang military science and technology think tank in Beijing, confirmed the PLA had renovated and expanded barracks along the LAC since that clash, including permanent buildings and temporary ones. “Many of the permanent buildings are warehouses for fuel storage, while other accommodation and portable facilities will be used for housing troops,” Zhou said, adding that the PLA was capable of deploying up to 120,000 troops to the LAC in a week if necessary. “China doesn’t need to station so many troops in border areas because of its powerful military projection capacity and infrastructure and logistics supply network.” Click here to read…

South Korea’s Yoon faces becoming a ‘lame duck’ as nepotism claims, wife’s gaffes hit ratings

Barely two months after South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took office, his support base has quickly dwindled as a lack of experience, accusations of a poor attitude, gaffes and various political and personal issues weigh on his approval ratings. This could complicate his political agenda, especially in a parliament where the liberal opposition Democratic Party dominates his conservative People Power Party. His approval rating plunged to 32 per cent from a high of 53 per cent five weeks earlier, according to an opinion poll last week by Gallup Korea. Disapproval stood at 53 per cent, up 19 percentage points in the same five-week period. Yoon’s approval rating could extend its decline, as he had barely two months to rally his base before his ratings began to tank. Approval ratings of South Korea’s presidents typically stand at 70-80 per cent during their early months in office, fuelled by high expectations for their new governments. Resentment among conservatives against former president Moon Jae-in’s political missteps such as skyrocketing real estate prices and his associates’ alleged nepotism had helped Yoon to the presidency. Yoon was initially lauded for delivering on his election promise to make himself more accessible than his predecessors, allowing journalists to question him on his way to work every morning, a first for a South Korean president. But he came under fire for his curt responses and poor attitude. Click here to read…

China’s Communist Party finds it easier to win hearts and minds at home than overseas

When Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013, he showed he was determined to maintain the Communist Party’s mandate to rule by winning the people’s hearts and minds. At the start of his first term he ordered bureaucrats across the country to confess any loss of touch with the grass roots to the party. The campaign ended up lasting for more than a year. He also kicked off a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign, with graft busters setting up a website and a social media account that enabled people to report corruption via their phones. Xi also famously warned the party in 2013 of the risk of losing the people’s trust, using the term Tacitus Trap, which describes a lack of trust in a government regardless of its actions. Yet just months before Xi is set to begin his third term as the party’s leader at this year’s 20th party congress, crises have emerged that point at the heart of trust in the government, including a banking fiasco in which thousands of people risk losing all their savings in local banks. The Tacitus Trap, named after the Roman historian, describes the dire situation facing a government when no matter what it says or does, people assume it is a lie or a bad deed. It was one of three traps, along with the middle-income trap and the Thucydides Trap, that Xi warned publicly in 2013 could undermine China’s rise. Click here to read…

Three more countries set to join BRICS – official

Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt plan to join BRICS, and their potential membership bids could be discussed and answered at next year’s summit in South Africa, Purnima Anand, the president of the organization, told Russian media on July 14. “All these countries have shown their interest in joining [BRICS] and are preparing to apply for membership. I believe this is a good step, because expansion is always looked upon favorably; it will definitely bolster BRICS’ global influence,” she told Russian newspaper Izvestia. The BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) account for over 40% of the global population and nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP. Anand said the issue of expansion was raised during this year’s BRICS summit, which took place in late June in Beijing. The BRICS Forum president said she hopes the accession of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt will not take much time, given that they “are already engaged in the process,” though doubts that all three will join the alliance at the same time. The news of the three nations’ plans to join BRICS comes after Iran and Argentina officially applied for membership in late June, with Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh touting the bloc as a “very creative mechanism with broad aspects.” Click here to read…

Italian president rejects PM Draghi’s resignation

Italian President Sergio Mattarella on July 14 rejected Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s attempt to resign. Draghi announced his intent to step down after he survived a confidence vote but lost the backing of his largest coalition partner. Draghi met with Mattarella following a confidence vote in the Italian Senate earlier in the afternoon. While the PM comfortably survived the vote by 172-39, the ballot was boycotted by the Five Star Movement, the largest partner in Draghi’s broad coalition government. Having earlier stated that he would not remain in power without the support of the Five Star populists, Draghi said that he would step down as the conditions to govern “no longer exist.” However, Mattarella has the power to accept or reject the prime minister’s resignation, and he chose the latter option. The move sends Draghi back to Parliament where a fresh confidence vote will likely be held. Should Draghi win the support of lawmakers, snap elections could be avoided. Mattarella appointed Draghi, who formerly led the European Central Bank, in 2021, in a bid to stave off an economic downturn as Italy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. However, Draghi has faced persistent criticism from the Five Star Movement’s leader, Giuseppe Conte, over rising inflation and energy costs, as well as his support for EU sanctions on Russia and weapons shipments to Ukraine. Click here to read…

Russia-Ukraine grain talks outcome revealed

Russia and Ukraine have agreed to establish a joint coordination center on grain exports in Istanbul that will include representatives from all parties, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told local media following the four-way talks that also involved Turkey and the UN. On July 13, negotiators from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN met in the Turkish city to discuss the situation regarding the held-up Ukrainian exports. Ahead of the meeting, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that Kiev and Moscow had been close to breaking the impasse on the issue. “An agreement has been reached on technical issues such as joint controls at the destination points and … the safety of navigation on the transfer routes,” Akar told journalists. Russian and Ukrainian delegations “should meet again in Turkey next week,” he said, adding that the parties would “review all the details once again” during that meeting. Ukraine is one of the world’s leading grain exporters. Yet, it has been unable to export its grain by sea due to the ongoing conflict with Russia. Kiev and Western nations have accused Moscow of preventing Ukrainian grain shipments from leaving the nation’s Black Sea ports. Click here to read…

South Korea seeks to kickstart talks to resolve historical feuds with Japan

South Korea hopes a high-level visit to Tokyo next week will kickstart talks aimed at a breakthrough in historical disputes despite concerns the death of former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe could disrupt efforts to mend ties, Seoul officials said. Relations between the two North Asian U.S. allies have been strained over disputes dating to Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea. Washington has been pressing Tokyo and Seoul to mend fences in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat and the rising influence of China. Officials in the administration of new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May vowing to improve ties with Japan, told Reuters they feel emboldened by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s recent election victory which could give him more scope to advance his policy agenda for another three years. Foreign Minister Park Jin will visit Tokyo as early as next week, a trip which a senior official handling Japan policy said is aimed at “turning on the tap” for serious negotiations on issues relating to wartime laborers, which stalled under Yoon’s predecessor. Park will visit Tokyo on July 18, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported on July 14. South Korea did not immediately confirm the report. Yoon would also likely use his Aug. 15 Liberation Day speech marking Korea’s independence from Japan as a chance to send a reconciliatory message to Tokyo, the official added. Click here to read…

China’s Xi visits Xinjiang for first time in 8 years

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Xinjiang this week for the first time since 2014, seeking to demonstrate his success in subduing the country’s restive northwestern region. The trip, reported by state broadcaster China Central TV and other news outlets, comes as Xi works to solidify a rare third term as leader of the Chinese Communist Party at its twice-a-decade congress this fall. Xi observed freight trains on the China-Europe Railway Express in the regional capital of Urumqi on July 12. “With the Belt and Road Initiative progressing, Xinjiang is no longer an outlying area,” he said. “It has become a pivotal region with historical significance.” The following day, Xi visited a residential community in Urumqi and watched a traditional dance performance by Uyghur Muslims. “We need to bring even more happiness to the lives of different ethnic groups,” he said. The state-run Xinhua News Agency published a photo of a maskless Xi walking the streets, surrounded by Uyghur children. During Xi’s last visit to the Xinjiang region in September 2014, suicide bombers attacked a train station in Urumqi. He warned of a protracted struggle with “terrorist separatists” in the region and ordered a crackdown against “terrorist elements.” The Xi administration has pushed for the “sinicization” of Islam in Xinjiang. Click here to read…

China, Russia military activity near Japan up 2.5 times since Ukraine

Chinese and Russian military activity around Japan increased 2.5 times in the four months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, sparking alarm here over a potential escalation. Releases by Japan’s Ministry of Defense show 90 instances of activity by Chinese and Russian military vessels and aircraft near Japan in the four months after the invasion began. There had been 35 in the four months before. A Chinese vessel and Russian vessel entered Japan’s contiguous zone near the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands on July 4. The Russian vessel then sailed north through the Senkakus on July 5 before entering the contiguous zone near Japan’s southernmost Okinotori islets the following day. The type of activity recorded has also shifted since the Ukraine invasion began. On June 7, four aircraft believed to be part of the Russian military flew straight toward Japan from west of Hokkaido. They shifted course just before entering Japanese airspace after the Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response. Before turning away, the four planes were on a trajectory toward Hokkaido’s largest city of Sapporo, a Japanese defense official said. Concern is growing that such activity may be part of planned military operations in the area. Click here to read…

Abe’s house of cards: Death leaves largest party faction in limbo

Nearly a week after an assassin took the life of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the ruling party faction he led has yet to zero in on a possible successor. The largest faction in the Liberal Democratic Party, known as Seiwa-kai, is scrambling to maintain unity. But Abe’s murder left the group with little time to select and groom a suitable successor, putting it in a precarious position. The group boasts 93 conservative-leaning upper and lower house LDP lawmakers, with many calling for bigger military spending and revising the nation’s pacifist charter. After producing the longest-serving prime minister, the group yields enormous clout in the party. Senior members met July 11 at a Tokyo hotel to discuss the next step but could only muster a vague pledge to maintain solidarity. In 2017, Abe floated the idea of having four core leaders in the faction, modeled after a similar setup his father, Shintaro Abe, had when he led the faction decades ago. Given the lack of a clear leader, the faction could opt for this option. Right now, Hakubun Shimomura and Ryu Shionoya, both former education ministers, are serving as acting chairs of the faction. They have supported Abe’s family through the ordeal by meeting with mourners at his private residence. “There are proposals to have two acting chairs or to set up a seven-person structure,” said a senior member of Abe’s faction. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka’s acting president declares state of emergency

Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency, according to a government notice released late on July 17, as his administration seeks to quell social unrest and tackle an economic crisis gripping the island nation. “It is expedient, so to do, in the interests of public security, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community,” the notification stated. Sri Lanka’s ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled overseas this week to escape a popular uprising against his government, has said he took “all possible steps” to avert the economic crisis that has engulfed the island nation. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation was accepted by parliament on July 15. He flew to the Maldives and then Singapore after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters came out onto the streets of Colombo a week ago and occupied his official residence and offices. Sri Lanka’s parliament met on July 16 to begin the process of electing a new president, and a shipment of fuel arrived to provide some relief to the crisis-hit nation. Wickremesinghe, an ally of Rajapaksa, is one of the top contenders to take on the presidency full-time but protesters also want him gone, leading to the prospect of further unrest should he be elected. Click here to read…

Biden Lays Out a U.S. Middle East Vision Heavy on Diplomacy

President Biden laid out his vision for the U.S. role in the Middle East July 16, pledging to stay engaged in the region and strengthen relationships with Arab nations to counter the influence of China, Russia and Iran. “The United States is going to remain an active engaged partner in the Middle East as the world grows more competitive, and the challenges we face more complex,” Mr. Biden said in a 10-minute speech in this seaside town during a summit of Arab leaders. “It’s only becoming clear to me how closely interwoven America’s interests are with the successes of the Middle East.” “We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,” he added. He also repeated a pledge that the U.S. is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Mr. Biden said the U.S. would chart a new approach to the Middle East focused on diplomacy over aggression. “Today, I’m proud to be able to say that the era of land wars in the region, wars involving huge numbers of American forces, is not underway,” he said. Mr. Biden’s speech comes amid mounting concern about Washington’s commitment to the region, which was galvanized by the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan last summer. Click here to read…

Biden disputes Saudi minister’s account of meeting with MBS

President Joe Biden hints the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia was not being truthful in his account of the US leader’s meeting with the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Biden was referring to comments made by Adel al-Jubeir, who told Fox News he did not “hear” the US president tell MBS that he directly blamed him for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during their discussion in Jeddah on July 15. “I didn’t hear that particular phrase,” al-Jubeir told Fox News correspondent Alex Hogan in an interview on July 16. “The president mentioned that the US is committed to human rights because since the founding fathers wrote the constitution and he also made the point that American presidents – this is part of the agenda of every American president.” Upon returning to the White House early on July 17 after his four-day Middle East trip, Biden was asked by reporters if al-Jubeir was telling the truth in recounting his exchange with MBS. Biden pointedly replied: “No.” Biden, who visited Saudi Arabia, Israel and the occupied West Bank in his first trip to the region as US president, previously told reporters he brought up Khashoggi’s killing at the top of his initial meeting with the Saudi crown prince. He said he “indicated” to MBS that he held him “personally responsible” for the 2018 killing. He added that MBS repeatedly denied responsibility during their meeting. Click here to read…

Amid Russia-Ukraine war, Putin to visit Iran for Syria talks

As Russia’s war on Ukraine grinds on, President Vladimir Putin will travel to Iran next week for a Syria summit with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin has announced. “The president’s visit to Tehran is being planned for July 19,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on July 12. He added the trio would meet for peace talks on Syria. Russia, Turkey and Iran have in recent years been holding talks as part of the so-called “Astana peace process” to end more than 11 years of conflict in the Middle Eastern country. Russia and Iran are the key military and political backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has provided military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups still fighting against al-Assad’s forces in the northwest. The foreign trip marks the Kremlin chief’s second since he sent troops into Ukraine in late February; he visited Tajikistan in late June. Russia and Iran hold close ties, while Turkey has attempted to act as a mediator during the Ukraine conflict. July 12’s announcement comes after the White House said on July 11 that it believed Moscow was turning to Iran to provide it with “hundreds” of drones, including those capable of carrying weapons, for use in Ukraine. Click here to read…

Health
WHO declares Marburg outbreak in Ghana, after first two cases of deadly Ebola-like virus reported

Two cases of the deadly Marburg virus have been identified in Ghana, the first time the Ebola-like disease has been found in the West African nation, health authorities announced on Sunday. Earlier in the month, blood samples taken from two people in the southern Ashanti region suggested the Marburg virus. The samples were sent to the Pasteur Institute in Senegal which confirmed the diagnosis, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said. “This is the first time Ghana has confirmed Marburg Virus Disease,” said GHS head Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said in a statement. No treatment or vaccine exists for Marburg, which is almost as deadly as Ebola. Its symptoms include high fever as well as internal and external bleeding. A total of 98 people identified as contact cases are currently under quarantine, the GHS statement said, noting that no other cases of Marburg had yet been detected in Ghana. The World Health Organization (WHO) said Guinea had confirmed a single case in an outbreak declared over in September 2021. Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg in Africa have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, according to the World Health Organization. Click here to read…

China makes tweaks, but tough COVID policy still drags on economy

China has been tweaking its stringent COVID curbs but shows no sign of backing off from its “dynamic zero” policy and has lagged in vaccination efforts that would enable it to do so, casting a heavy shadow over the world’s second-largest economy. The absence of a roadmap out of zero-COVID and expectations that it will persist well into 2023 leaves residents and businesses facing a prolonged period of uncertainty. Recent scattered COVID flare-ups, the imposition of lockdowns in some cities and the arrival of the highly contagious BA.5 variant have added to those worries. On July 15, China is expected to report that gross domestic product (GDP) grew just 1 percent in the second quarter, with full year growth forecast at 4 percent, according to a Reuters poll – far short of Beijing’s official target of around 5.5 percent for 2022. In addition to a sharp lockdown-induced slowdown, growth has been weighed down by a sputtering property market and an uncertain global outlook. This week, Shanghai’s 25 million people were subject to more mandatory city-wide testing, and fear of tougher measures or getting caught up in China’s zero-COVID bureaucracy continues to exact an economic toll, including on consumption and jobs. Nomura estimated 31 cities were implementing full or partial lockdowns as of July 11, affecting nearly 250 million people in regions accounting for a quarter of China’s GDP. As the rest of the world tries to coexist with COVID, China points to the lives saved by its tough measures. Click here to read…

China: Daily Scan, April 18, 2022

China’s Xi’an launches new freight train service to Europe: Xinhuanet
April 14, 2022

Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, launched a new freight train service to Europe on Wednesday that traverses the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea via rail-sea combined transportation. Click here to read…

China firmly opposes U.S. congressmen’s visit to Taiwan: Xinhuanet
April 15, 2022

A Chinese defense spokesperson on Friday slammed the visit to Taiwan by some members of the U.S. Congress. The visit is a deliberate provocation that seriously violates the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-U.S. joint communiques, said Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense. Click here to read…

China’s Chengdu launches direct freight train to Vietnam: Xinhuanet
April 16, 2022

A freight train loaded with Dell-branded computer parts departed from Chengdu International Railway Port Friday in the southwestern province of Sichuan, headed for Vietnam. Click here to read…

Number of rail transit trips decline in China’s urban areas: Xinhuanet

April 17, 2022

China reported a year-on-year decline in passenger trips in its urban transit networks in March, official data showed. The country’s urban transit lines, running through 51 cities, handled a total of 1.6 billion passenger trips last month, down 26.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Transport. Click here to read…

China to tighten virtual currency regulation: Xinhuanet
April 14, 2022

China will tighten regulation on new areas, including virtual currency, as the latest move to fend off risks in the financial sector, a central bank official said Thursday. Wen Xinxiang, an official with the People’s Bank of China, told a press conference that the financial-sector regulation is getting complex and arduous as fund-transfer methods and tools of criminals are constantly innovating. Click here to read…

China issues plan to strengthen basic education teacher force: Xinhuanet
April 14, 2022

China’s Ministry of Education (MOE), in collaboration with seven other authorities, has issued a plan to build a stronger teacher force for the country’s basic education system. China has 15.86 million teachers of basic education, accounting for 86 percent of the total number of full-time teachers, Ren Youqun, an MOE official in charge of teacher work, said at a press conference on Thursday. Click here to read…

Inflatable COVID-19 testing lab improves Shanghai’s screening capacity: Xinhuanet
April 14, 2022

An inflatable laboratory for COVID-19 nucleic acid testing that was recently put into operation in Shanghai’s Xuhui District has helped improve the city’s testing efficiency, local authorities said Thursday. Click here to read…

Zhang Qixiang elected mayor of China’s Harbin: Xinhuanet
April 14, 2022

Zhang Qixiang was elected mayor of Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, on Thursday. Sun Zhe was elected director of the standing committee of the municipal people’s congress. Click here to read…

Chinese mainland reports 3,472 new local COVID-19 cases, 3,200 in Shanghai: Xinhuanet
April 15, 2022

The Chinese mainland Thursday reported 3,472 locally-transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 3,200 were in Shanghai, according to the National Health Commission (NHC)’s report Friday. Click here to read…

China cracks down on vulgar, illegal livestreaming, short video contents: Xinhuanet
April 16, 2022

China has started a two-month crackdown on livestreamings and short videos involving obscene, vulgar, false, gambling and other illegal contents in an effort to build a sound environment in cyberspace. Click here to read…

Senior political advisor of Beijing under probe: Xinhuanet
April 16, 2022

Yu Luming, vice chairman of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, is being investigated for suspected severe violations of discipline and law. Click here to read…

Construction of makeshift hospital completed in NE China city: Xinhuanet

April 16, 2022

Suifenhe, a land port city in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, completed a makeshift hospital Friday, according to the city’s COVID-19 prevention and control headquarters. The hospital, located in the city’s border economic cooperation zone, was repurposed from six factory buildings. It covers an area of over 66,000 square meters and can house 2,000 beds. Click here to read…

Chinese mainland reports 3,504 new local COVID-19 cases: Xinhuanet
April 17, 2022

The Chinese mainland Saturday reported 3,504 locally-transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 3,238 were in Shanghai, according to the National Health Commission’s report Sunday. Click here to read…

Hong Kong marks National Security Education Day with series of activities: Xinhuanet

Hong Kong on Friday launched a string of activities to promote national security education to raise the awareness of the Hong Kong people of safeguarding national security. April 15 marks the second National Security Education Day in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) after the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong. In view of the local COVID-19 situation, the publicity and promotion activities were conducted mainly through online platforms. Click here to read…

Carrie Lam urges elderly people in Hong Kong to get 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose: Xinhuanet

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam on Thursday appealed to people aged 60 or above who had received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to get the fourth dose in a timely manner. Click here to read…

Paul Chan appointed as chairman of HKSAR’s candidate eligibility review committee: Xinhuanet
April 14, 2022

Paul Chan, financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, was appointed as the chairman of the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee (CERC), the HKSAR government said on Thursday. Click here to read…

China’s trade with RCEP members sustains steady growth: Quishi
April 14, 2022

Trade between China and members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) saw steady growth since the trade agreement took effect at the beginning of this year, official data showed Wednesday. Click here to read…

Draft law heralds enhanced financial safety net: Quishi
April 13, 2022

The People’s Bank of China, the central bank of China, started soliciting public views on the draft Financial Stability Law last week. The draft law proposes the establishment of a financial stability guarantee fund to help maintain the country’s financial security and stability. Click here to read…

PLA’s Eastern Theater Command organizes joint combat-readiness alert patrol surrounding Taiwan Island: April 15, 2022

Army Senior Colonel Shi Yi, the spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said on Friday that the PLA Eastern Theater Command sent destroyers, frigates, bombers and fighter jets to stage a joint combat-readiness alert patrol involving troops of various services and arms in the East China Sea and waters and airspace surrounding the Taiwan Island on 15th April. The troops also held drills on subjects including striking maritime targets. Click here to read…

New combat rations introduced in PLA’s plateau troops: China Military
April 14, 2022

Four new-type combat rations independently developed by the Chinese military are being tried out in troops stationed on plateaus, and the oxygen saturation of the soldiers has got improved as a result. Click here to read…

CPC book lauds holistic view of national security: China Daily
April 16, 2022

Publication spells out significance, key content of comprehensive approach. A study outline on China’s holistic view of national security has been published and distributed across the country starting from Friday. Click here to read…

New policy looks to lure Taiwan entrepreneurs: China Daily
April 13, 2022

Expanding business opportunities could attract more island youth to the mainland. Authorities recently introduced a new policy that provides more opportunities for Taiwan residents who are willing to establish businesses on the Chinese mainland. Click here to read…

Genetic resource rules to have wide impact: China Daily
April 15, 2022

China’s new rules in the pipeline on human genetic resources will clarify jurisdictions of regulatory bodies and enhance supervision related to biopharmaceutical research, and will have a lasting impact on international cooperation regarding the nation’s biomaterials, experts said. Click here to read…

Power demonstration project benefits thousands of residents in Shandong: China Daily
April 18, 2022

A demonstration project on the comprehensive use of nuclear energy in Haiyang, Shandong province, is being used as an example in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) to better develop nuclear energy. Click here to read…

Telecom scams being kept in check: China Daily
April 15, 2022

The rising trend of telecom fraud in recent years has been effectively curbed, but an intensified crackdown will remain along with comprehensive governance and prevention, authorities said on Thursday. Click here to read…

More intelligent, robotic solutions to safeguard workers: China Daily

April 14, 2022

China will tap the potential of intelligent facilities in production and risk management during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), as it works to curb workplace accidents and casualties. The goal is to reduce the number of annual deaths by 15 percent during the period, according to details contained in the National Safe Production Plan, which was unveiled on Thursday by the Ministry of Emergency Management. Click here to read…

Interservice exercises held near Taiwan: China Daily
April 16, 2022

The People’s Liberation Army organized interservice combat exercises near Taiwan on Friday in response to recent provocations by the United States surrounding the Taiwan question, according to a military spokesman. Click here to read…

Increasing Racial Discrimination Against Asians Exposes Overall Racist Nature of US Society: Global Times
April 15, 2022

The China Society for Human Rights Studies on Friday released a report titled “Increasing Racial Discrimination against Asians Exposes Overall Racist Nature of U.S. Society.” The following is the full text of the report. Increasing Racial Discrimination against Asians Exposes Overall Racist Nature of U.S. Society. Click here to read…

CPC opens 1st online public opinions on natl congress; offers reference for report of 20th congress: Global Times
April 15, 2022

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is asking the public to contribute opinions on its 20th national congress to be held in the second half of 2022, marking the first time in the CPC’s history that work related to national congress has included publicly solicited opinions. Click here to read…

Xi calls for building Hainan FTP with global influence: Global Times
April 14, 2022

Four years after China’s top leadership announced a resounding decision to build the entire southern island province of Hainan into a pilot free trade port (FTP), the first-of-its-kind in the country with Chinese characteristics, the island with enviable natural surroundings has produced desired results in notably institutional innovations and greener growth, according to the local government on the FTP’s fourth anniversary on Wednesday. Click here to read…

Port city Dalian registers 12 asymptomatic infections related to an apparel factory importing fabrics from neighboring countries: Global Times
April 18, 2022

A total of 12 asymptomatic COVID-19 infections reported on Thursday and Friday in the port city Dalian, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, are related with an apparel factory which imported fabrics from neighboring countries. Click here to read…

Wedding photographer sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing hundreds of photos of warships and military ports to a person overseas: Global Times
April 18, 2022

A wedding photographer has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for endangering national security, after he was found providing 384 photos of Chinese warships and military ports to a person overseas that he met via WeChat, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate disclosed on Sunday. Click here to read…

Shanghai issues epidemic prevention guidelines for local industrial enterprises to resume operation: Global Times
April 16, 2022

After entering so-called “static management” in most parts of Shanghai for nearly three weeks, local authorities on Saturday issued the first edition of epidemic prevention guidelines for the city’s industrial enterprises to resume production. The purpose of the guidelines is to coordinate epidemic control efforts and social economic development. Click here to read…

Temporary controls in Xi’an ‘not lockdown’; residents feel impact to life ‘not as big as imagined’: Global Times
April 16, 2022

Epidemic control authorities in Northwest China’s Xi’an on Saturday early morning explained that the city’s temporary control measures, effective from Saturday to Tuesday, are not a “lockdown” as some people interpreted. Click here to read…

Shanghai steps up efforts to ensure daily necessities supply; neighboring Suzhou tightens epidemic control: Global Times
April 16, 2022

Shanghai has tried its best to establish enough quarantine centers and called for residents’ cooperation during the transfer arrangements as the city is going through the most difficult time in its fight against the highly contagious Omicron variant, local authorities said on Saturday. Click here to read…

Chinese public alerted against COVID-19 transmission from objects to humans as cities nationwide report cases on courier workers: Global Times
April 15, 2022

At a time when many Chinese cities are being hit by COVID-19, the possibility of transmission of the virus from objects to humans is also coming into the public spotlight as a number of cities have reported infections on courier workers. Experts remind the public to carefully conduct disinfection after receiving parcels. Click here to read…

Shanghai’s daily cases may peak this week; total infections may reach 700,000 in outbreak: Global Times
April 14, 2022

The number of Shanghai’s daily new COVID-19 cases may peak this week and the fresh wave may finish as early as the end of next month, experts said, although China’s financial hub reported a record high number of daily new infections on Thursday, bringing the total infections in Shanghai to more than 250,000 since March. Click here to read…

2 suspects in Shanghai under criminal compulsory measures for forging vehicle passes used for epidemic prevention: Global Times
April 18, 2022

Two suspects that forged passes for vehicles used for epidemic prevention have been placed under criminal detention by the Shanghai police after they used the counterfeit passes to profit. Since Shanghai was placed under lockdown to stop the transmission of the Omicron variant, local families have been heavily relying on online purchasing of daily necessities. Click here to read…

China, US should break current frigid bilateral relations through dialogue, says Chinese Ambassador: Global Times
April 17, 2022

Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang said in a video address at the opening ceremony of the 25th Harvard College China Forum on Saturday that China and the US should break the current cold bilateral relations through dialogue. Click here to read…

Producer of Chinese herbal medicine under fire after its product was denounced for not preventing COVID-19: Global Times
April 18, 2022

Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, Chinese producer of drugs and supplier of the Chinese herbal medicine Lianhua Qingwen is suffering a heavy blow after an influential health platform said on Sunday that the famous medicine cannot prevent people from infection with COVID-19, contrary to what many people believed. Click here to read…

More Chinese cities tighten controls as Shanghai COVID cases rise: Reuters
April 16, 2022

Shanghai reported a record number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases on Saturday and other areas across China tightened controls as the country kept up its “dynamic clearance” approach that aims to stamp out the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Click here to read…

Chinese truckers left stranded for days at highway exit by hardline COVID curbs: Reuters
April 15, 2022

Earlier this month Chinese truck driver Dong Zhigang finished a job in the coastal city of Nantong and began what should have been a four-hour journey north to his home village in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. On Friday, nine sticky days in his cab later, he still had not made it home. Click here to read…

China’s Xian imposes temporary, partial lockdown to fight Omicron flare-up: Reuters
April 15, 2022

The northwestern Chinese city of Xian said on Friday it will temporarily impose a partial lockdown to reduce its 13 million residents’ movement, after reporting dozens of COVID-19 infections this month, as China fights a record wave of cases. Click here to read…

Beware of foreign spies on job and dating websites, China warns public: South China Morning Post
17 April 2022

When a Beijing restaurant manager was approached by Chinese national security authorities last year, he had no clue about the seriousness of an ongoing investigation involving his workplace. Click here to read…

China: Daily Scan, October 8, 2021

China achieves remarkable results in pollution control, says white paper: Xinhuanet
October 8, 2021

Through an increasing effort to combat pollution, China has achieved remarkable results in pollution control, according to a white paper released Friday by the State Council Information Office. Having announced a battle against pollution, the country has improved the quality of air, water and soil, said the white paper titled “Biodiversity Conservation in China.” Click here to read…

Chinese ambassador shares seven buzzwords to showcase fast-changing China: Xinhuanet
October 7, 2021

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang on Wednesday shared with Americans seven buzzwords that are currently popular in China to illustrate what is going on in his country. “The buzzwords I shared with you today reflect the changing and unchanging elements in our values when China experiences rapid economic growth and profound social transformation,” said Qin in his keynote speech at the online Forum on Tourism, Hospitality and Cultural Exchange co-hosted by the U.S.-Asia Institute and Las Vegas Sands Corp. Click here to read…

Customs in Tibet gets tough against smuggling: Xinhuanet
October 8, 2021

The customs authority in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region has acted against smuggling activities with an iron hand in the first eight months of the year. From January to August, Lhasa customs cracked 13 smuggling cases involving a total value of 6.9 million yuan (about 1.1 million U.S. dollars), it said in a statement. Click here to read…

New fund to spur Yangtze SOE reform: China Daily
October 8, 2021

China launched a 73.75 billion yuan fund in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, on Thursday to facilitate cutting-edge technology innovation and mixed-ownership reform at its State-owned enterprises in the Yangtze River Delta region, its operator said. The big-ticket fund aims to sharpen the core competitiveness of SOEs and spur high-quality development in the region. Click here to read…

Chinese companies display latest technologies at Expo 2021 Dubai:
October 7, 2021

Chinese companies are showcasing their latest technologies at the China Pavilion of the ongoing Expo 2021 Dubai, as they plan to leverage the opportunity to expand their overseas reach. For instance, UBTech Robotics, a Shenzhen-based artificial intelligence and humanoid robotics company, is showcasing its Panda Robot and the Walker X, a large humanoid service robot. Click here to read…

CUHK student union’s fate shows no room for campus troublemakers: Global Times
October 7, 2021

The student union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) announced its disbandment on Thursday, becoming another opposition-leaning university student union to dissolve following a series of recent events which saw some local universities cut ties with their problematic student unions. Click here to read…

Hungary to build Europe’s first 5G smart railway port together with Huawei: Global Times
October 7, 2021

Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei on Wednesday signed a cooperation agreement with Hungary’s East-West Intermodal Logistics and British telecommunications operator Vodafone, in a joint effort to build Europe’s first smart railway hub managed by a 5G private network to be empowered by Huawei. The move, which comes as some other European countries are still weighing whether to use the firm’s 5G technology due to oppositions from the US government, could enable Hungary to lead the way in 5G industrial solutions ahead of other hesitant countries, Chinese experts said. Click here to read…

Bond defaults of China’s property developers surge as they face debt crisis: Global Times
October 7, 2021

A few Chinese property developers, including Evergrande Group, CFLD and Tahoe, are facing liquidity issues, according to data released by CRIC, a property research center on Wednesday. The data showed that as of September 27, the number of bond defaults by real estate enterprises in 2021 stood at 39, up 25 from 2020, for a cumulative amount of 46.75 billion yuan ($7.2 billion), an increase of 159 percent year-on-year. Click here to read…

China power crisis forces ‘serious’ Beijing to order top coal producer to increase output: South China Morning Post
October 8, 2021

North China’s Inner Mongolia region, China’s second-largest coal producer, has told 72 mines to boost annual output capacity by nearly 100 million tonnes, said a government official and coal traders with direct knowledge of the matter. In an urgent notice dated Thursday, Inner Mongolia’s energy department asked the cities of Wuhai, Ordos and Hulunbuir, as well as Xilingol league, to immediately notify the miners they may operate at stipulated higher capacities straightaway, provided they ensure safe production. A league is an administrative unit of the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia. Click here to read…

Chinese property bonds, shares slump as Evergrande angst spreads: Reuters
October 8, 2021

Bonds and shares issued by Chinese developers slumped on Friday as onshore markets returned from a week-long holiday with few clues as to how regulators propose to contain the contagion from cash-strapped China Evergrande Group’s debt problems. Evergrande, whose shares remain suspended since it requested a trading halt on Monday pending a major transaction announcement, is facing one of the country’s largest defaults as it wrestles with more than $300 billion of debt. Click here to read…

Fall in China’s $1.3 trln land sales to test local finances, economy: Reuters
October 8, 2021

Sagging demand at China’s urban land auctions amid a crackdown on borrowing by private developers risks squeezing regional finances, pressuring local governments to scramble for other income sources to fund investments and support the economy. Land sales soared to a record 8.4 trillion yuan in 2020, the equivalent of Australia’s annual gross domestic product, bolstering fiscal budgets in a pandemic year. Click here to read…