Tag Archives: Nuclear

China: Daily Scan, January 7, 2022

CPC leadership hears work reports: Xinhuanet
January 6, 2022

The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Thursday held a meeting to hear a series of work reports. The reports were from leading Party members groups of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, as well as from the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee.Click here to read…

China hopes U.S. will adopt no-first-use nuclear policy:Xinhuanet
January 6, 2022

China hopes the United States will earnestly diminish the role of nuclear weapons in national security policies and adopt the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday. Spokesperson Wang Wenbin made the remarks at a daily press briefing when asked to comment on reports that some U.S. scholars have suggested the U.S. government should commit to no-first-use of nuclear weapons, as the five Nuclear-Weapon States have agreed that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”Click here to read…

China to advance reforms on market-based allocation of production factors: Xinhuanet
January 6, 2022

China will enhance reforms of the market-based allocation of production factors amid efforts to build a high-standard market system, according to a plan released by the General Office of the State Council.Click here to read…

Former vice governor of Shanxi stands trial for bribery, power abuse: Xinhuanet
January 6, 2022

Liu Xinyun, former vice governor of north China’s Shanxi Province, on Thursday stood trial at the Langfang Intermediate People’s Court in north China’s Hebei Province, on charges of bribery and power abuse.Click here to read…

Tibet’s highway mileage hits 120,000 km: Xinhuanet
January 6, 2022

Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region has constructed 120,000 km of highways, according to the fifth session of the 11th People’s Congress of Tibet. Limited by geographical conditions, technology and funds, transportation was once one of the main bottlenecks restricting the region’s economic and social development.Click here to read…

New-type rotorcraft from China’s key national defense project passes acceptance review: Global Times
January 6, 2022

A type of blended wing body multi-rotor vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which is a key national defense project of China that’s expected to play both military and civilian roles, has passed an acceptance review, with analysts saying on Thursday that the new aircraft could offer higher flexibility and longer endurance than current aircraft.Click here to read…

China bans most exclusive copyright deals for digital music platforms: Reuters
January 7, 2022

China’s copyright authority said on Thursday digital music platforms are not allowed to sign exclusive copyright agreements except in special circumstances, amid a regulatory crackdown on monopolistic behaviour in the country’s private sector.Click here to read…

North Korea will not participate in Beijing Winter Olympics: Kyodo
January 7, 2022

North Korea has decided not to participate in the Beijing 2022 Olympics and Paralympics in response to the United States’ attempts to prevent “the successful opening of the Winter Games,” state-run media reported Friday. The decision was conveyed to China in a letter from North Korea’s national Olympic committee and sports ministry, the news agency said. The nation also did not send a team to last summer’s Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.Click here to read…

China’s propaganda machine is embracing a new slogan to entrench Xi Jinping’s status Communist Party’s ideology chief, Wang Huning, tells officials to highlight the historical significance of the ‘two establishments’ : South China Morning Post:
January 6, 2022

Among the messaging from China’s propaganda machine in 2022, expect to hear a lot more of the ruling Communist Party’s latest slogan – “the two establishments” consolidating Xi Jinping’s powerful leadership status. That was the call from the party’s ideology chief, Wang Huning, at a meeting of propaganda officials in Beijing on Wednesday.Click here to read…

Global Developments and Analysis: Weekly Monitor, 1st November – 07 November 2021

Economic
US, Britain join countries sounding alarm over China food import rules

Several countries including Japan, Britain, and the United States are urging Chinese customs officials to pause the roll-out of regulations on food imports, arguing the measures risk further disrupting global supply chains. Diplomats from seven economies, which also include Australia, Canada, the European Union and Switzerland, expressed their concerns in an October 27 letter to Customs Minister Ni Yuefeng, according to a copy seen by Bloomberg News. They were objecting to a pair of decrees handed down in April that require food importers to meet sweeping new registration, inspection and labelling requirements by January 1. The letter signals mounting frustrations among China’s foreign suppliers, as ships carrying food to the world’s second-largest economy prepare to leave port without knowing whether they will be able to offload their cargo. The dispute comes at a time when the world is already experiencing massive shipping bottlenecks as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and related swings in the global economy. While President Xi Jinping’s government expressed its own concern this month about ensuring food supplies through winter, there is so far been no indication that it intends to suspend or soften the import measures. Click here to read…

Xi says open to discussion on state-owned companies in CPTPP talks

President Xi Jinping said Nov 04 that China is open to negotiations on industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises in order to be accepted into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. This follows China’s application to join the CPTPP in September, a move seen as undermining the role of the U.S. in championing free trade. Washington was the brainchild of the deal — which includes allies such as Australia, Canada and Japan, as well as eight other countries — but later decided to pull out. Speaking via a video link to the China International Import Expo, a six-day trade fair that opens to the public Nov 05 in Shanghai, Xi also vowed to focus more on imports and promote balanced trade development, even as the future of the “phase one” trade deal with the U.S., which expires next month, remains uncertain. “China will take an active and open attitude in negotiations on issues such as the digital economy, trade and the environment, industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises,” Xi told a gathering of officials and businesspeople. “[This is to] uphold the position of the multilateral trading regime as the main channel for international rules-setting and safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains.” Click here to read…

New China data transfer rules to be costly for foreign companies

Proposed rules to tighten control on the transfer of data from China are likely to raise costs significantly for foreign companies operating in the country, lawyers say. Under the draft of Measures on Security Assessment of Cross-Border Data Transfer published by the country’s top internet watchdog last month, companies will be required to conduct a security review before they transfer any “important” data overseas. But “important” is left undefined. The rules are the latest in a series of new regulations introduced by Beijing this year to control the handling of data, including a Data Security Law that went into effect in September and the Personal Information Protection Law that came into force this month. According to the draft data transfer rules, a company that processes the data of more than 1 million people, seeks to transfer personal information on more than 100,000 people out of China, or is involved with cross-border movements of sensitive personal information on more than 10,000 people will be subject to a security assessment. Companies will have to sign contracts with their overseas partners spelling out how Chinese data will be protected and submit the agreements for regulatory review. In effect, foreign companies will need to invest time and money in creating separate systems for handling Chinese data. Click here to read…

Japan weighs curbs on activist investors for national security: minister

On the same day Toshiba shareholders voted to remove the company’s board chairman, Japan’s industry minister suggested that corporations key to national security need protection from activist investors. “We will consider in the government whether there are ways to enable a certain measure of deterrence in cases where particular companies’ business environment becomes unstable, threatening vital operations or research and development,” Hiroshi Kajiyama, who heads the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, told reporters Nov 05. The comments suggest concern that Japan’s current foreign investment rules may not be enough to shield important businesses — such as Toshiba, which is involved in sensitive fields like nuclear power — from shareholder pressure. “We need to think of measures that can protect our national security, regardless of whether [shareholders] are foreign or domestic,” Kajiyama also said. Japan’s revised Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act, which took effect last year, allows for the government to review deals involving companies in designated sectors and overseas investors. Such transactions include the purchase of a stake of 1% or more in a domestic company or a business divestment. The law is centered on prior notification and screening. Click here to read…

U.S. Congress passes $1tn infrastructure bill, ending standoff

After a daylong standoff, Democrats set aside divisions between progressives and centrists to pass a $1 trillion package of highway, broadband and other infrastructure improvements, sending it on to President Joe Biden to sign into law. The 228-to-206 vote is a substantial triumph for Biden’s Democrats, who have bickered for months over the ambitious spending bills that make up the bulk of his domestic agenda. Biden’s administration will now oversee the biggest upgrade of America’s roads, railways and other transportation infrastructure in a generation, which he has promised will create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness. Democrats still have much work to do on the second pillar of Biden’s domestic program: a sweeping expansion of the social safety net and programs to fight climate change. At a price tag of $1.75 trillion, that package would be the biggest expansion of the U.S. safety net since the 1960s, but the party has struggled to unite behind it. Democratic leaders had hoped to pass both bills out of the House on Nov 05, but postponed action after centrists demanded a nonpartisan accounting of its costs — a process that could take weeks. Click here to read…

Helium-3: The secret ‘mining war’ in space

“Outer space holds virtually limitless amounts of energy and raw materials, from Helium-3 fuel on the Moon for clean fusion reactors to heavy metals and volatile gases from asteroids, which can be harvested for use on Earth and in space,” says former CIA space analyst Tim Chrisman. “China will almost certainly use any resources it is able to acquire to the detriment of its adversaries, competitors and bystanders alike,” Chrisman told the Jerusalem Post, in an interview. Chrisman also served in army intelligence and is a co-founder of Foundation for the Future, a scientific education and public works advocacy group dedicated to creating infrastructure to be able to live and work in space. Beijing is charging forward toward potential revolutions in extracting energy in space and mining space materials and could leave the US behind, Chrisman said. China has an upfront advantage because its military and economic components are virtually inseparable. America faces a greater challenge rallying and uniting different aspects of national power to pursue a single challenging long-term mission. Scientists say two fully-loaded Space Shuttle cargo bay’s worth of Helium-3 — about 40 tonnes worth of the gas — could power the United States for a year at the current rate of energy consumption. Click here to read…

Israeli spyware giant NSO group added to US trade blacklist along with three others

The US has added NSO Group, the Israeli spyware giant behind the infamous Pegasus software used to spy on journalists and human rights activists, to a trade blacklist, along with three firms charged with similar acts. NSO and fellow Israeli spyware firm Candiru have been added to the US’ “entity list,” a trade blacklist that restricts the shipment of US tech to listed companies. The Department of Commerce declared on Nov 03 that the designation of both firms was “based on evidence that these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, artists, activists, academics, and embassy workers.” The agency also claimed NSO and Candiru’s products had “enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent.” NSO’s star product, the military-grade encryption-breaker Pegasus, has been deployed extensively around the world and was recently revealed to have been used to hack into smartphones belonging to 37 persons of interest — journalists, human rights activists, and others — last year alone. Click here to read…

Milestone: Cryptocurrency market value blows past $3 trillion

The cryptocurrency market is now worth more than $3 trillion. The little more than a decade old market for digital assets has already roughly quadrupled from its 2020 year-end value, as investors have gotten more comfortable with established tokens such as Bitcoin and networks like Ethereum and Solana continue to upgrade and attract new functionality. Excitement about the possibilities of decentralized finance and non-fungible tokens is growing, and memecoins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu continue to attract attention. “Bitcoin appears to be pushing out of a bullish flag pattern, and Ether is likely to confirm a long-term breakout on a close above resistance this Nov 12,” said Katie Stockton, founder and managing partner of Fairlead Strategies, in a note. As of 9:54 a.m. in New York, the overall market cap of cryptocurrencies hit $3.3 trillion, according to CoinGecko pricing. The third- and fourth-biggest tokens, Binance Coin and Solana, have added more than 20% in the past seven days; all of the seven biggest coins are up over the last week. Bitcoin rose as much as 5.6% on Nov 08 to $66,414, nearing its previous record of about $67,000. Ether advanced as much as 3% to a new high of $4,768. Click here to read…

Focus turns to climate finance after flurry of COP26 pledges

Governments will push for agreement on Nov 08 on how to help vulnerable countries deal with global warming and compensate them for damage already done, a test of whether developing and rich nations can end a standoff over cash for climate change. At the start of a crunch week for the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, government ministers will get down to the nitty gritty of trying to honor earlier promises to pay for climate-linked losses and damages and addressing questions of how best to help nations adapt to the effects of climate change. Britain, which is hosting the COP26 meeting, will again try to set the pace, announcing 290 million pounds ($391 million) in new funding, including support for countries in the Asia Pacific to deal with the impact of global warming. That will come, the British government says, on top of the “billions in additional international funding” already committed by rich countries such as the United States, Japan and Denmark for adaption and resilience in vulnerable nations, many of which have experienced the worst effects of climate change. But while developing countries want more money to help them adapt to higher temperatures that have caused more frequent droughts, floods and wildfires, developed nations have encouraged finance to go towards cutting emissions. Click here to read…

Australia vows to sell coal ‘for decades’

Australia said Nov 08 it will sell coal for “decades into the future” after spurning a pact to phase out the polluting fossil fuel to halt catastrophic climate change. More than 40 countries pledged to eliminate coal use within decades during the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, which aims to cap the warming of Earth since the Industrial Revolution to between 1.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius. Australia, along with some other major coal users such as China and the United States, did not sign up. “We have said very clearly we are not closing coal mines and we are not closing coal-fired power stations,” Australian Minister for Resources Keith Pitt told national broadcaster ABC. Defending Australia’s decision, Pitt said Australia had some of the world’s highest quality coal. “And that is why we will continue to have markets for decades into the future. And if they’re buying… well, we are selling.” Demand for coal is expected to rise until 2030, the minister claimed. “If we aren’t to win that market, somebody else will,” Pitt added. “I would much rather it be Australia’s high-quality product, delivering Australian jobs and building Australia’s economy than coming from Indonesia or Russia or elsewhere.” Click here to read…

Supply-Chain Crisis Has Companies Asking: Should We Still Advertise?

“It’s not wise to drive demand when shelves are bare,” said Susan Cantor, chief executive officer of branding firm Sterling Brands. Chocolate giant Hershey Co. and household-goods manufacturers Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Church & Dwight Co. in recent days said they cut back on ad and marketing spending in the third quarter because of supply-chain issues. Two of the largest players in online advertising, Facebook Inc. and Snap Inc., said recently that they expected a slowdown in revenue growth in the fourth quarter, due in part to macroeconomic factors such as supply-chain bottlenecks and labour shortages. Both companies said their advertising business’s performance was also hurt by Apple Inc.’s new privacy rules, which make it harder for advertisers to target their ads at audiences. The retreat comes as the ad market has been booming, thanks in part to strong consumer confidence and the end to some restrictions intended to slow down the spread of Covid-19. The fourth quarter of the year is typically the most lucrative for media entities as brands and retailers rely heavily on the critical holiday shopping season. Advertisers however are also reluctant to cut marketing expenditures too deeply. Many believe it is important to remain top of mind with customers. Click here to read…

Strategic
US wants coexistence not cold war with China, Jake Sullivan says

In an interview with CNN on Nov 07, Sullivan said the administration of US President Joe Biden did not intend to repeat “one of the errors” of previous policies by seeking to transform the Chinese system. “The [objective] of the Biden administration is to shape the international environment so that it is more favourable to the interests and values of the US, allies, partners, to like-minded democracies. It is not to bring about a fundamental transformation of China itself,” he said. “The goal of America’s China policy is to create a circumstance in which two major powers are going to have to operate in an international system for the foreseeable future, and we want the terms of that … to be favourable to American interests and values.” During the interview, the national security adviser said the White House had been advancing the ally system to counter what he called China’s “abuse” of US, European and Indo-Pacific markets and to “show that China’s efforts at pushing other partners around will not ultimately be successful”. Lu Xiang, a research fellow in US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Sullivan took a more “euphemistic” tone in the interview but the underlying attitude towards China had not changed. Click here to read…

Explainer | Communist Party’s ‘sixth plenum’: what is a plenum, and why is it one of China’s most important political events?

The current 19th Central Committee was elected in 2017 and will sit until next year’s National Congress, when a new committee will be appointed. Each committee usually holds seven plenary sessions during its five-year term. The sixth plenary session usually focuses on ideology and party building and can pave the way for the leadership reshuffle at the party congress the following year. The plenums are a key venue for the party to display unity among the party leadership and indicate the direction of key policies. The meeting serves as a precursor for the introduction of important laws, regulations and economic plans, and discussions that continue beyond the plenum will almost certainly lead to the introduction of new policies. Examples include Hong Kong’s national security law, which was announced in vague wording at the fourth plenum in 2019, the constitutional amendments that lifted presidential term limits, endorsed at the third plenum in 2018, and the abolition of the notorious re-education through labour system, announced at the third plenum of the 18th Central Committee in 2013. These announcements took legal effect after they were endorsed by the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature. Click here to read…

China’s military uses fake US aircraft carrier for missile target practice

The Chinese military is using mock-ups of a US aircraft carrier at a weapons-testing range in a remote western desert, new satellite imagery shows, indicating the People’s Liberation Army is focused on neutralising a key tool of US power. Satellite images show targets in the shape of a carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers at a testing facility in the Taklamakan desert in Xinjiang, according to the news website of the US Naval Institute. Both types of vessels are deployed by the US Seventh Fleet, which patrols the Western Pacific including the waters around Taiwan. The images were taken in October by Maxar Technologies, a US firm with more than 80 company-built satellites in orbit. The facility also had two rectangular targets about 75 metres (246 feet) long that were mounted on rails, Maxar said in a statement to Bloomberg News on Nov 08. The site is clear to satellites, a sign that Beijing is trying to show Washington what its missile The DF-21D is central to China’s strategy of deterring military action off its eastern coast by threatening to destroy the major sources of US power projection in the region, its carrier battle groups. Click here to read…

‘You are not alone’: EU Parliament delegation tells Taiwan on 1st official visit

The European Parliament’s first official delegation to Taiwan said on Nov 04 the diplomatically isolated island is not alone and called for bolder actions to strengthen EU-Taiwan ties as Taipei faces rising pressure from Beijing. Taiwan, which does not have formal diplomatic ties with any European nations except tiny Vatican City, is keen to deepen relations with members of the European Union. The visit comes at a time when China has ramped up military pressure, including repeated missions by Chinese warplanes near democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force. “We came here with a very simple, very clear message: You are not alone. Europe is standing with you,” Raphael Glucksmann, a French member of the European Parliament, told Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in a meeting broadcast live on Facebook. “Our visit should be considered as an important first step,” said Glucksmann, who is leading the delegation. “But next we need a very concrete agenda of high-level meetings and high-level concrete steps together to build a much stronger EU-Taiwan partnership.” The three-day visit, organised by a committee of the European Parliament on foreign interference in democratic processes, will include exchanges with Taiwanese officials on threats such as disinformation and cyber-attacks. Click here to read…

China has debated attacking Taiwan-controlled islands, Taiwan official says

A top Taiwan security official told lawmakers on Nov 04 that China had internally debated whether to attack Taiwan’s Pratas Islands but will not do so before 2024, the year President Tsai Ing-wen’s term ends. National Security Bureau Director-General Chen Ming-tong did not say how he knew that such a move had been debated or why it would not happen during the next few years. China’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Nov 04. Taiwan, a self-ruled island claimed by Beijing, has complained for over a year of repeated sorties by China’s air force, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled but lightly defended Pratas Islands. Lying roughly between southern Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Pratas are seen by some security experts as vulnerable to Chinese attack due to their distance – more than 400 km (250 miles) – from mainland Taiwan. China has blamed Taiwan, and its most important international supporter the United States, for the simmering tensions across the Taiwan Strait. “Attacking and capturing the Pratas Islands – this scenario where war is being used to force (Taiwan into) talks – our assessment is that this will not happen during President Tsai’s tenure,” Chen told a parliamentary meeting. Click here to read…

Xi expands wartime mobilization powers as Taiwan tensions rise

China has granted the central leadership under President Xi Jinping greater control over mobilization for national defense without having to go through time-consuming legislative processes. The changes will allow, for instance, the leadership to swiftly amend the National Defense Mobilization Law and broaden the age groups of civilians it would recruit when on a war footing. While the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, is a rubber-stamp body, amendments to such laws typically involve two or three rounds of discussion by the NPC’s Standing Committee, which meets roughly every one to two months. The move comes as tensions rise in the Taiwan Strait and is seen as an attempt by Beijing to prepare for a contingency. Last month, the NPC Standing Committee adjusted the amendment process for four laws — the National Defense Mobilization Law, the Civil Air Defense Law, the National Defense Transportation Law and the National Defense Education Law — to concentrate powers in the central leadership. The National Defense Mobilization Law stipulates that men aged 18 to 60 and women aged 18 to 55 can be mobilized for national defense purposes if “state sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity or security is threatened.” Click here to read…

Japan’s Kishida to tap ex-defense chief Hayashi as foreign minister

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will appoint former Defense Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi as foreign minister, Nikkei has learned. The new cabinet is expected to be formed on Nov 10. Kishida has told party executives in the ruling coalition of his decision. The move comes after Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party appointed former Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to the No. 2 post of secretary-general. At the moment, Kishida is doubling as foreign minister. Besides the top defense post, Hayashi also had served as education minister and agriculture minister. Hayashi, a member of the LDP’s Kishida faction, is also known as a pro-Beijing lawmaker. A graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Hayashi entered politics as an upper house member in 1995. He was elected to the lower house for the first time in the general election held Oct. 31. Kishida’s LDP faction is one of the two LDP groups that have traditionally advocated for good relations with China. The faction, formally known as Kochikai, was once led by Masayoshi Ohira, who as a foreign minister under Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in the 1970s played an instrumental role in Japan’s normalization of diplomatic relations with Beijing. Click here to read…

Japan, Germany expand military ties as German warship visits

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Nov 05 said Japan will step up military cooperation with Germany in the Indo-Pacific region as he welcomed a port call by the first German warship to visit Japan in about 20 years. The frigate Bayern is visiting Tokyo after two days of joint exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Samidare in the Pacific Ocean amid increasingly assertive maritime activities by China in the region. The ship’s visit is “an important turning point” in pursuing a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and secure one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, Kishi said after inspecting the frigate with German officials. “It shows Germany’s strong commitment to actively contribute to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” he said. The frigate left Germany in August for deployment in the Indo-Pacific as part of the country’s recent shift to the region and follows similar moves by other European countries including Britain, France and the Netherlands. Japan and Germany signed an agreement in March on the protection of classified information exchanges and held their first security talks involving defense and foreign ministers in June. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s military plots to change electoral system, tighten grip

Myanmar’s military regime is laying the groundwork for an electoral system based on proportional representation, an apparent bid to ensure it maintains the control it seized nine months ago. The proposed reform is designed primarily to prevent the dominance of the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, which won an overwhelming majority in the general election held exactly one year ago. Alleging massive voter fraud, the military overthrew the NLD government on Feb. 1. It continues to detain Suu Kyi and other senior NLD members. The generals’ takeover led to nationwide protests and a general strike, prompting a bloody military crackdown. Former Gen. Thein Soe during a three-day meeting of party representatives that ended on Nov 07 suggested he supports the proposal to replace the current election system with one based on proportional representation. The former general heads the Union Election Commission, an election administration committee reorganized after the military’s power grab. During the meeting in Yangon, the country’s largest city, representatives of political parties discussed the electoral system. Click here to read…

Tension rises in Iraq after failed bid to assassinate PM

The failed assassination attempt against Iraq’s prime minister at his residence on Nov 07 has ratcheted up tensions following last month’s parliamentary elections, in which the Iran-backed militias were the biggest losers. Helicopters circled in the Baghdad skies throughout the day, while troops and patrols deployed around Baghdad and near the capital’s fortified Green Zone, where the overnight attack occurred. Supporters of the Iran-backed militias held their ground in a protest camp outside the Green Zone to demand a vote recount. Leaders of the Iran-backed factions converged for the second day on a funeral tent to mourn a protester killed Nov 05 in clashes with security. Many of the faction leaders blame the prime minister for the violence. “Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future,” he said in the televised speech. Condemnation of the attack poured in from world leaders, with several calling Al-Khadimi with words of support. They included French President Emmanuel Macron, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Saudi Arabia called the attack an apparent act of “terrorism.” Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Facebook urged all sides in Iraq to “join forces to preserve the country’s stability.” Click here to read…

China is amassing nukes much faster than previously thought – Pentagon report

China is beefing up its nuclear arsenal a lot faster than Washington thought just a year ago, a new Pentagon report says, predicting that Beijing will own at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of the decade. The Department of Defense published its newest assessment of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) wartime potential in an annual report titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. “The accelerating pace of the PLA’s nuclear expansion may enable the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to have up to about 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027,” a Pentagon official said, describing the key details of the report. And the report states that the PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030 – exceeding the pace and the size that we projected in the 2020 China Military Power report. The last year’s report claims that China’s existing nuclear warhead stockpile was “in the low 200s,” projecting that the number would at least double during the 2020s. The US views China as a strategic rival on the world stage. The countries have accused each other of stirring up tensions around Taiwan and the wider South China Sea region. Click here to read…

North Korea Can Make More Uranium for Nuclear Bombs Than Previously Thought

North Korea has the capacity to make more base ingredients for nuclear bombs than previously believed, according to new research, suggesting the Kim Jong Un regime possesses the potential to accelerate the earliest stages of production. The nation’s output of uranium—a fissile material for nuclear weapons when enriched—is just a fraction of what could be produced, according to new research from Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. The assertion is based on satellite-imagery analysis of the equipment and facility size of the Kim regime’s only confirmed operational uranium mining complex in Pyongsan county, about 30 miles north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. That milling capacity assessment was contrasted with North Korea’s estimated production, based on the levels of waste deposited near the mill. Furthermore, researchers tracked deforestation levels to study mining activity from 2017 to 2020, using an algorithm to analyze satellite imagery and detect land-use changes. Decades-old estimates of North Korea’s annual uranium ore output were put at roughly 30,000 metric tons, the report said. But the capacity could be as much as 360,000 metric tons, according to the Stanford analysis, which factored in Pyongsan’s milling infrastructure, size and equipment. Click here to read…

Kremlin reveals Putin spoke to head of CIA

As well as meeting the secretary of the Russian Security Council and the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, the director of America’s CIA has also had a phone call with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has revealed. Speaking to the press on Nov 08, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that CIA boss William Burns talked directly with Putin. This is unusual for the Russian leader, who typically delegates discussions with other foreign officials, generally preferring only to speak directly to heads of state. “They discussed bilateral relations and the current crisis in bilateral diplomatic relations. They also exchanged views on regional conflicts,” Peskov told reporters. Burns was in Moscow for a two-day working visit last week, along with a delegation of senior American officials. During his trip, the CIA director met with Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council, and Sergey Naryshkin, the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service. Burns’ trip was the latest in a series of recent bilateral talks between American and Russian officials. Last month, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland traveled to Moscow for a three-day visit, but negotiations broke down without producing any tangible results. Click here to read…

Taliban leader warns against infiltrators in the ranks

The supreme leader of the Taliban warned Nov 04 against the danger of turncoats and infiltrators in the movement that has taken charge of Afghanistan. Reflecting the seriousness of the threat, the reclusive Haibatullah Akhundzada issued a rare written public statement to urge Taliban commanders to purge their ranks. In it he says “all those elders of their groups must look inside their ranks and see if there is any unknown entity working against the will of the government, which must be eradicated as soon as possible”. “Whatever wrong happens, the elder will be responsible for the consequences of the actions in this world and in the afterlife,” he warned in a statement tweeted out by multiple Taliban accounts. The Islamist militant movement seized power in August after overrunning the capital and ousting the collapsing US-backed government, declaring a new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. But after 20-years of guerrilla warfare, the Taliban has been forced to expand their ranks rapidly by recruiting former foes, allied Islamist militants and young madrassa students. Now that it is the government, the movement faces attacks in its turn from hardline factions like Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K). Click here to read…

Ethiopia’s war marked by ‘extreme brutality’ from all sides: UN

A joint investigation into alleged atrocities in Ethiopia found all sides committed grave abuses that may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes in the yearlong war in the Tigray region. The report, a collaboration by the United Nations human rights office with the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), was released on Nov 03 as the country enters a new state of emergency with rival Tigrayan forces threatening to advance on the capital, Addis Ababa. It came as the United States State Department said it was sending Jeffrey Feltman, special envoy for the Horn of Africa, to Ethiopia for talks on Nov 04 and Nov 05 to urge “all Ethiopians to commit to peace and resolution of grievances through dialogue”. “The United States is increasingly troubled by the expansion of combat operations and intercommunal violence in Ethiopia and is closely monitoring the situation,” a State Department spokesperson said. Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the Tigray conflict has been marked by “extreme brutality”. “ “The joint investigation team has covered numerous violations and abuses including unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees and forced displacement of civilians.” Click here to read…

Iran wants U.S. assurances it will never abandon nuclear deal if revived

Iran said on Nov 08 that the United States should provide guarantees that it will not abandon Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers again, if talks to revive the agreement succeed. Indirect talks between Iran and the United States, which stalled in June after the election of hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, are set to resume on Nov. 29 in Vienna to find ways to reinstate the 2015 accord. It has eroded since 2018, when then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to breach mandated limits on uranium enrichment the following year. “The U.S. should show that it has the capability and will to provide guarantees that it will not abandon the deal again if the talks to revive the deal succeed,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a virtual news conference. Echoing Iran’s official stance, Khatibzadeh said Washington must lift all sanctions imposed on Tehran in a verifiable process and “recognise its fault in ditching the pact”. That ongoing stance is likely to cause concern in the United States and with its European allies – France, Britain and Germany – who deem it unrealistic and want to resume June’s talks where they left off without new demands. Click here to read…

Abu Dhabi to allow non-Muslim civil marriage under family law shakeup

Non-Muslims will be allowed to marry, divorce and get joint child custody under civil law in Abu Dhabi according to a new decree issued on Nov 07 by its ruler, state news agency WAM said. It is the latest step in the United Arab Emirates — where personal status laws on marriage and divorce had been based on Islamic sharia principles, as in other Gulf states — to maintain its competitive edge as a regional commercial hub. The decree from Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, who is also president of the UAE federation of seven emirates, said the law covers civil marriage, divorce, alimony, joint child custody and proof of paternity, and inheritance. It aims to “enhance the position and global competitiveness of the emirate as one of the most attractive destinations for talent and skills”, WAM said. The report described the civil law regulating non-Muslim family matters as being the first of its kind in the world “in line with international best practices”. A new court to handle non-Muslim family matters will be set up in Abu Dhabi and will operate in both English and Arabic. Click here to read…

Biden’s democracy summit: Problematic invite list casts shadow on impact

President Joe Biden is getting ready to deliver on a key campaign promise by convening a Summit for Democracy: a first-of-its kind gathering of more than 100 countries to help stop democratic backsliding and erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide. But rights advocates are questioning whether the virtual event can push those world leaders who are invited, some accused of harboring authoritarian tendencies, to take meaningful action. The event – to be held on Dec. 9 and 10 – is a test of Biden’s longstanding claim, announced in his first foreign policy address as president in February, that the United States would return to global leadership under his tenure to face down authoritarian forces led by China and Russia. A tentative invite list first reported by Politico and confirmed by a source familiar with the matter shows that the event will bring together mature democracies such as France and Sweden but also countries including Philippines and Poland, where activists say democracy is under threat. In Asia, some U.S. allies such as Japan and South Korea were invited, while others like Thailand and Vietnam were not. Representation from the Middle East was slim with Israel and Iraq among the few countries invited and notable U.S. allies such as Egypt and NATO partner Turkey absent from the list. Click here to read…

Medical
China’s Army Furnishes Foreign Militaries With Covid-19 Vaccines

In Zimbabwe, where just 18% of the population are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the armed forces have a surplus of shots thanks to a gift from a powerful benefactor: China’s People’s Liberation Army. In the Philippines, another PLA donation has helped the majority of service members get vaccinated. In Ethiopia, where the Biden administration is levying fresh sanctions over alleged atrocities committed in an offensive against Tigray rebels, the PLA has delivered 300,000 Covid-19 vaccines to government troops. The People’s Liberation Army has rapidly expanded vaccine donations to military forces this year across four continents. Chinese Defense Ministry figures show that as of September, it had made more than 30 deliveries to about two dozen countries. Many of the recipients, like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, are important players in Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. The PLA’s shipments have come with additional military aid, including medical training and scholarships for senior officers to study in Chinese military colleges. In many cases, they also supplement shipments with donations of personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical assistance. Click here to read…

Covid-19 Vaccines and Myocarditis Link Probed by Researchers

As U.S. health authorities expand use of the leading Covid-19 vaccines, researchers investigating heart-related risks linked to the shots are exploring several emerging theories, including one centered on the spike protein made in response to vaccination. Researchers aren’t certain why the messenger RNA vaccines, one from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech and the other from Moderna Inc. are likely causing the inflammatory heart conditions myocarditis and pericarditis in a small number of cases. Some theories center on the type of spike protein that a person makes in response to the mRNA vaccines. The mRNA itself or other components of the vaccines, researchers say, could also be setting off certain inflammatory responses in some people. One new theory under examination: improper injections of the vaccine directly into a vein, which sends the vaccine to heart muscle. To find answers, some doctors and scientists are running tests in lab dishes and examining heart-tissue samples from people who developed myocarditis or pericarditis after getting vaccinated. Myocarditis describes inflammation of the heart muscle, while pericarditis refers to inflammation of the sac surrounding the muscle. Covid-19 itself can cause both conditions. They have also been reported in a smaller number of people who got an mRNA vaccine, most commonly in men under 30 years and adolescent males. Click here to read…

US lifts COVID restrictions for many foreign travellers

The United States is opening its doors to travellers from a long list of countries that had been subject to previous pandemic restrictions. Fully vaccinated travellers from Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and most of Europe, as well as China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil, will be allowed into the US at airports and land borders as the restrictions are lifted on Nov 08. The pandemic controls, originally put in place at the beginning of 2020, had barred access to the US for non-citizens who had been in those countries 14 days before travelling. The restrictions ravaged the tourism industry, preventing friends and family from easily visiting the US. Under the policy, missed weddings, funerals, and reunions piled up. The countries in question account for 53 percent of all overseas visitors to the US in 2019, according to trade group US Travel. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium showed airlines are increasing flights between the UK and the US by 21 percent this month over the last month. Air travellers will be required to show not only their vaccination status, but also a negative COVID-19 test. Those travelling by land from Canada and Mexico will need to show only proof of vaccination. Click here to read…