Press review EX - 28 March
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China-linked Russian body armor is landing on the battlefield in Ukraine
A Russian body armor manufacturer is importing Chinese components for its vests — some of which are being used on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to trade data, photographs and Ukrainians who say they’ve recovered the vests from the front lines.
In 2022, multiple Chinese companies, including one linked to the government in Beijing, sent parts for body armor manufacturing to Klass, a Russian manufacturer of body armor with ties to the country’s national guard and law enforcement, according to customs and trade data obtained by POLITICO from Import Genius, a customs data aggregator.
Xi Jinping talks to Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on the phone
Xinhua News Agency
On March 28, President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. Xi Jinping asked Mohammed to convey his best wishes to King Salman and extend his greetings for Ramadan. Xi Jinping stressed that China-Saudi Arabia relations are currently in the best period in history. At the end of last year, I made a successful state visit to Saudi Arabia, where we successfully held the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Arab Gulf States Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh, which he promoted with force the development of China-Saudi Arabia relations and promoted the development of China-GCC relations and Arab countries and had a positive impact on the situation in the Middle East. China is willing to work together with Saudi Arabia to implement the achievements of the "Three Rings Summit", continue to staunchly support each other on issues of mutual fundamental interests, expand practical cooperation and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, promote China-Saudi Arabia comprehensive strategic partnership to achieve greater development and make every effort to build an oriented The Chinese-Arab community with a shared future in the new era will make greater contributions to the promotion of peace, stability and development in the Middle East.
China spent $240bn on belt and road bailouts from 2008 to 2021, study finds
China spent $240bn (£195bn) bailing out countries struggling under their belt and road initiative debts between 2008 and 2021, new data shows. Research found that Chinese state-backed lenders released bailout funds to 22 countries, including Argentina, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. Almost 80% of the emergency rescue lending was issued after 2016, reaching more than $40bn in 2021. The increase in emergency financing since 2016 correlates with a drop in Chinese lending for infrastructure projects that are part of the belt and road initiative. Commitments from China’s two main institutional lenders, China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim), fell from a peak of $87bn in 2016 to $3.7bn in 2021, according to data analysed by Boston University.
China spent $240 billion bailing out 'Belt and Road' countries - study
China spent $240 billion bailing out 22 developing countries between 2008 and 2021, with the amount soaring in recent years as more have struggled to repay loans spent building "Belt and Road" infrastructure, a study published on Tuesday showed.
Almost 80% of the lending was made between 2016 and 2021, mainly to middle-income countries including Argentina, Mongolia and Pakistan, according to the report by researchers from the World Bank, Harvard Kennedy School, AidData and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
If Andrews is proud of his China trip, why so little transparency?
When then-prime minister Tony Abbott was asked in November 2014 by his German counterpart, Angela Merkel, to explain the drivers of Australia’s China policy, he answered “fear and greed”. At that point Xi Jinping had led China for just two years and Daniel Andrews was two weeks away from the election that made him premier. In the years since, Xi and Andrews have each grown in political stature, dwarfing their rivals on the very different stages of China and Victoria.
China Can Deploy 1500 Nuclear Warheads By 2035 As Russia ‘Supplied’ Enriched Uranium To Beijing’s CFR-600 Facility
The Eurasian Times
The United States security establishment has sounded the alarm of a possible arms race over the latest Putin-Xi bilateral agreement for a critical technology transfer that China could use to produce nuclear warheads.
The US officials are on edge. The recent summit meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping led to a long-term deal aimed at the sustained development of the so-called fast-neutron reactors.
During the meeting in Moscow last Tuesday, Putin and Xi announced the nuclear deal as part of a slew of agreements their nations signed. Xi was in Russia for three days last week to press for Putin to agree to a 12-point peace plan to defuse the war in Ukraine, though the proposals haven’t found takers among the western powers that back Kyiv.
Chinese communist way of war: Different than the West
I disagree with the article written by Major Rick Chersicla, "Stop Talking About a 'Chinese Way of War'" in The Diplomat on 14 March 2023. This article commits the mirror-imaging error, which in trying to understand the adversary, is one of the biggest mistakes any military planner, strategist, policy and decision-maker can make. I will identify errors in his arguments and highlight why the Chinese Communist strategy is different from the Western model.
Jack Ma returns to China as Beijing seeks to lift confidence in tech sector Financial Times Eleanor Olcott and Qianer Liu Alibaba founder Jack Ma has returned to mainland China in a rare public visit that comes as Beijing tries to restore confidence in the entrepreneurial class after a years-long crackdown on the tech sector.
China says U.S. presumption of guilt against TikTok is baseless Reuters The U.S. has made a presumption of guilt against TikTok without presenting any evidence that threatens its national security, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday regarding the TikTok bill.
Apple CEO Tim Cook meets with new premier Li Qiang on trip to reaffirm commitment to China market South China Morning Post Iris Deng Apple CEO Tim Cook met China’s new premier Li Qiang and other top officials on Monday as part of a trip to reaffirm the US tech giant’s commitment to the market amid supply chain shifts and geopolitical uncertainties.
Online trolls are taking a toll in China BBC Richard Milne While so-called cyber bullying happens everywhere, China's collectivist culture and the lack of pressure on social media companies to stamp out abuse lend the phenomenon a particular momentum. A poll of more than 2,000 social media users in China found that about four in 10 respondents have experienced some form of online abuse. It also found that 16% of the victims had suicidal thoughts. Almost half experienced anxiety, 42% insomnia, and 32% depression.
The censorship drag The Wire China Eliot Chen Last week, the public got a peek at China’s best shot at competing in the chatbot craze when search giant Baidu released its chatbot, named Ernie. It didn’t go well. Baidu’s stock fell 10 percent shortly after Ernie’s reveal, largely because CEO Robin Li demonstrated Ernie’s capabilities with a pre-recorded video, not a live demo, leaving many doubtful about the chatbot’s true capabilities.
Chinese navy to recruit more professional, practical carrier-based aircraft pilots among junior high school graduates
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy will recruit carrier-based aircraft pilots among junior high school graduates, as the annual recruitment of youth pilots has started in recent days. The move is aimed at training pilots with more professional skills to adapt to the rapid development of China's aircraft carrier construction, said military experts.
Leadership void. Authoritarian states such as China seek to define the rules around technology. Without U.S.-led regulations, they’re succeeding, Alina Polyakova writes.
Brief #141: Party and State Institutional Reform Plan 2023
Brief #140: Two Sessions 2023: Outcomes
China Scholarship Digest #20
‘I am not nostalgic, I want to remember.’ — Lao Shu, spring 2023
China Media Project
On National Humiliation, Don’t Mention the Russians
Faking the Fake News Debate in Cambodia
Two Countries at War, in the People’s Daily
New York Times
How China Keeps Putting Off Its ‘Lehman Moment’
An anti-coercion coalition can check China's economic weaponization
Juggled plan for McCarthy-Tsai meeting does Taiwan no favors
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong is just collateral damage in US economic war against China
Lessons for stressed-out Hong Kong from the latest global happiness report
China is quietly revelling in the US’ latest self-made crisis
Signs for Hong Kong at China’s ‘two sessions’ were promising
TikTok is targeted in the US for being Chinese, not for its deeds
From Anger to Nostalgia: Dr Li Wenliang’s ‘Wailing Wall’
On Monday, Alibaba founder Jack Ma appeared in public in China for the first time since late 2020, when he got caught in the crosshairs of Xi Jinping's tech crackdown after criticizing Chinese regulators. The billionaire, once China's richest man, paid the price by giving up control of his fintech company Ant Group, which was also blocked from going public and fined a record $7.5 billion for antitrust violations.
Meanwhile, Ma Ying-jeou (no relation) became the first former president of Taiwan to set foot in China since 1949. Ma — who is also the only Taiwanese leader to have met the sitting Chinese leader — is visiting this week as a private citizen, but anything Taiwan-related is always politically sensitive. What's more, his trip comes just days before current Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen travels to Central America and the US amid bubbling cross-strait tensions.
The Ma trips are unrelated and probably coincidental. Still, Jack Ma's resurfacing might be a sign that Xi is no longer going after China's tech titans because he needs them to help the economy recover from zero-COVID. For his part, Ma Ying-jeou probably wants to pitch the opposition Kuomintang party's softer touch with China in contrast with Tsai's hardline diplomacy ahead of the presidential elections in 2024.
China/Saudi Arabia: Riyadh announced a pair of oil deals with Beijing that are expected to increase Saudi Arabia’s oil contracts with China (FT) by up to 690,000 barrels per day.
Chinese Bailouts to Developing Countries Boomed as Pandemic Began. China issued $104 billion worth of rescue loans (FT) to developing countries between 2019 and 2021, almost as much as it granted for the same types of loans over the previous two decades, according to a study by AidData, Harvard University, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and the World Bank. Researchers found that the loans had an average interest rate of 5 percent, more than twice the average rate of rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund.This Backgrounder looks at China’s lending to developing countries under its Belt and Road Initiative.
It’s in America’s interest to end the Ukraine crisis
The Japan Times
The recent face-to-face meeting in New Delhi between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — the first such high-level interaction since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine — suggests that diplomacy may no longer be a dirty word.
The 10-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 gathering occurred after U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly urged Ukraine to show Russia that it is open to negotiating an end to the war. Together, these recent developments offer a glimmer of hope that a cease-fire is within the realm of the possible.
Ukraine is changing the math for countries caught between the U.S. and China
China and the U.S. are in a race to build up their world power blocs, and both are using the same pressure point: the war in Ukraine.
Last week, China’s leader Xi Jinping spent three days in Russia, solidifying his “no limits” partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden kicks off his second Summit for Democracy — aiming to rally world leaders around principles of freedom, rule of law and human rights.
Biden executive order bans federal agencies from using commercial spyware TechCrunch Zack Whittaker The Biden administration on Monday announced a new executive order that would broadly ban U.S. federal agencies from using commercially developed spyware that poses threats to human rights and national security.
US military needs 7th branch just for cyber, current and former leaders say The Record by Recorded Future Martin Matishak A national association of current and former military digital security leaders is calling on Congress to establish a separate cyber service, arguing that the lack of one creates an “unnecessary risk” to U.S. national security.
US military personnel reportedly spotted observing Taiwan Army drill
U.S. military personnel were reportedly spotted at a Taiwan Army training session in Kaohsiung’s Gangshan District on Monday (March 27).
The 117th Brigade of the Army’s Eighth Corps conducted its new 14-day education and training session on Monday, simulating real combat situations including enemy forces approaching from the air, shelling, and gas attacks. The soldiers also went on a 5-km march.
As the troops trained, two foreigners were seen observing the drill and taking pictures. They are speculated to be U.S. military personnel but the Eighth Corps refused to comment on the matter.
Video: U.S. ‘industrial policy’ returns with $53 billion for chip manufacturing The Wall Street Journal Eliot Chen The $53 billion Chips Act seeks to end the U.S.’s reliance on foreign-made semiconductors, especially those used by the Pentagon. It’s the latest example of the federal government using its cash to remake an industry it sees as crucial to national security.
Lawmakers, Former Top Officials Offer Bipartisan Rebuke of Biden’s Syria Policy
Earlier today, an open letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the administration’s passive response to Arab governments’ accelerating normalization of diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime and its leader, Bashar al-Assad. The letter’s three dozen bipartisan signatories included senior State Department officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations as well as retired U.S. generals and a range of scholars and activists.
Last Thursday, the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a separate letter to Blinken and to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in which they objected to “the disappointingly slow pace of sanctions under the Caesar Act,” a human rights law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support at the end of 2019.
The Republican chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul (R-TX), said yesterday that he signed a subpoena to be delivered to Secretary of State Antony Blinken for documents related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Unfortunately, Secretary Blinken has refused to provide the Dissent Cable and his response to the cable, forcing me to issue my first subpoena as chairman of this committee,” McCaul said. About two dozen U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan sent a confidential cable through a so-called dissent channel warning Blinken in July 2021 of the potential fall of Kabul to the Taliban as U.S. troops withdrew from the country. Reuters reports.
Facial recognition firm Clearview has run nearly a million searches for U.S. police, its founder CEO Hoan Ton-That has said. Ton-That also revealed Clearview has 30 billion images scraped from platforms such as Facebook, taken without users’ permission. Clearview allows a law enforcement customer to upload a photo of a face and find matches in a database of billions of images. It then provides links to where matching images appear online. There are a handful of documented cases of mistaken identity using facial recognition by the police. However, the lack of data and transparency around police use means the figure is likely far higher. James Clayton and Ben Derico report for BBC News.
President Biden yesterday invoked the Defense Production Act to spend $50 million on domestic and Canadian production of printed circuit boards used in missiles and radar systems, citing the technology’s importance to national defense. The move will speed up contracts, said Franklin Turner, a government contracts lawyer at McCarter & English, “by streamlining and prioritizing the procurement processes for these critical technologies, which are used in a variety of defense theaters around the world, including the current conflict in Ukraine.” Reuters reports.
U.S. retaliatory airstrikes on Iran-backed forces in Syria have been on hold after concerns of escalation grew sparked by the attack of an “Iranian origin” drone that killed a U.S. civilian contractor on Thursday. President Biden has sought to ease fears that the tit-for-tat strikes between the U.S. and militant groups could spin out of control, while at the same time warning Tehran to keep its proxies in line. Eric Schmitt reports for the New York Times.
President Biden signed an executive order that imposes rules limiting the federal government’s acquisition and deployment of hacking tools from vendors linked to human-rights abuses or who pose national security risks to the U.S. The order lists steps companies can take to remove their wares from prohibition, such as canceling licensing agreements with governments that violate human rights. Officials said they believed high-powered spyware had compromised devices belonging to at least 50 U.S. personnel working overseas. Dustin Volz reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin is on Capitol Hill talking about the military's latest budget request with lawmakers of the Senate Armed Services Committee. This is the second time in less than a week that Austin has been called to explain the Defense Department's $842 billion budget request for fiscal year 2024. Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley, and Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord spoke with House Appropriators on the same subject this past Thursday; both joined Austin Tuesday morning; and they will all be back on the Hill taking budget questions from House Armed Services Committee lawmakers Wednesday morning, too. Austin called it a "strategy-driven budget" drawn up with China clearly in mind. "The [People's Republic of China] is our pacing challenge, and we're driving hard to meet it," Austin said. That's why the military is asking for $9.1 billion to be spent specifically on activities in the Indo-Pacific region, known as the Pacific Deterrence Initiative; some of that is intended to help bolster U.S. forces in Hawaii and Guam. Money for several new submarines are also included, as well as "major investments" in hypersonic missile technology, Austin said. Russia remains an "acute threat," and North Korea and Iran are described as "persistent threats." But "our network of allied partners" around the world will help the U.S. deter threats from those three countries, Austin said. "The Philippines has agreed to nearly double the number of sites where we cooperate together [and] Japan committed to double its defense spending," he said. "And through the historic AUKUS partnership, we'll work with our Australian and British allies to build game-changing defense advantages that will deter aggression and boost our defense industrial capacity." "The PRC remains our number one, long-term geo-strategic challenge," Milley told lawmakers. "But again, war with China is neither inevitable, nor imminent," he said. Milley also repeated his warning that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in a very short period of time, possibly as little as a few months.
"There is nothing more expensive than fighting a war," Milley warned. "Preparing for war will deter war, and that is our goal…in order to deter great power war," the general said. Watch the rest of that hearing over on DVIDS, here.
Another thing: Enough with the wish lists to lawmakers, Pentagon says. According to Roll Call's John Donnelly, "The Pentagon opposes—for the first time—legal requirements that the brass send Congress annual wish lists requesting money for projects that didn't make it into the budget. Hawks love the lists, but critics say the practice bloats the defense budget." Details, here.
In other Pentagon news, more than a hundred military promotions are stalled by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who placed the hold in February because he disagrees with new Defense Department policies that help troops travel for reproductive care if they serve in states that heavily restrict abortion. Tuberville, an election denier, serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Nearly 160 promotions were on hold as of Monday, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who called on Tuberville's GOP colleagues to press him to lift the hold. The hold also covers the handful of civilians whose nominations for top Defense Department jobs remain in limbo. Some 40 percent of women in uniform serve in states that have imposed or plan to impose bans or severe restrictions to abortion services, according to a RAND report. Also: the Senate may soon repeal two decades-old authorizations of military force. On Monday, The Hill reports: "Senators voted 65-28 to end debate on the measure to repeal the 1991 authorization for the U.S. invasion of Kuwait and the 2002 AUMF that paved the way for the Iraq War the following March." A final vote could happen as early as today, Schumer said. Read, here. Still in force: The 2001 AUMF that authorizes overseas operations to kill descendents of al-Qaeda; which means U.S. counterterrorism operations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, and other places (largely in Africa) will continue apace.
US, South Korea conduct THAAD remote launcher deployment training
The US Forces Korea (USFK) and the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA)have conducted deployment training for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) remote launcher.
According to a joint press release by the USFK and the RoKA, the THAAD remote launcher deployment training was conducted “for the first time”, as part of the bilateral South Korea-hosted Exercise ‘Freedom Shield', which concluded on 23 March.
The normalisation of the THAAD operations and capabilities provided the USFK readiness to ensure continued resourcing of the unit, as well as an opportunity to modify the defence design by exercising remote launch options, the RoKA said.
Idaho Bill To Restrict China Tech Advances to State Affairs Committee
China Tech Threat
In 2016, China was Idaho’s number two trade partner, and its rank has now dropped to number seven. At the same time, the Idaho State Legislature is also acting to restrict the use of dangerous China tech that opens the doors to intrusion as China Tech Threat’s recent report shows.
The country will not ban TikTok (Reuters), President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said. Lawmakers in the United States have called to ban the Chinese-owned app over security concerns, as some countries have done to varying extents.
Japan lawmakers eye ban on TikTok, others if used improperly Reuters Kiyoshi Takenaka and Miho Uranaka A group of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers plans to compile a proposal next month urging the government to ban social networking services such as TikTok if they are used for disinformation campaigns, an LDP lawmaker said on Monday.
Japan to China: Free Japanese detained in Beijing now
The Manila Times
Japan has demanded that China release a Japanese citizen who was detained in Beijing earlier this month on suspicion of spying, Tokyo's top government spokesman said on Monday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference at the prime minister's official residence that Japan's Embassy in China was informed by Chinese authorities that a Japanese man in his 50s was taken into custody in the Chinese capital earlier in March.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
The first shipment of Leopard 2 tanks from Germany has been sent to Ukraine, the German defense ministry said. 18 Leopard 2 tanks, regarded as among the best main battle tanks produced by NATO countries, were delivered after Ukrainian crews were trained to use them. Challenger 2 tanks from the U.K. have also arrived, according to reports from Ukraine. Adam Durbin reports for BBC News.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Mariano Grossi met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as fears of a potential release of radiation grow. Shelling and shooting have repeatedly damaged the plant and temporarily knocked out vital supporting equipment. Reports that Ukraine is planning a counteroffensive to retake southern territory, including the plant, have heightened fears of a disastrous strike. Matthew Mpoke Bigg reports for the New York Times.
Ukraine calls for the use of frozen Russian Central Bank assets to rebuild Ukraine following the World Bank assessment last week that the price of recovery and rebuilding had grown to $411 billion. Roughly $300 billion in Russian assets have been frozen in Western banks since the invasion began. The E.U. has already declared its desire to use the Kremlin’s bankroll to pay for reconstruction in Ukraine. However, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who visited Kyiv last month, reiterated her warnings of formidable legal obstacles to confiscation efforts. Patricia Cohen reports for the New York Times.
Hungary ratified Finland’s NATO membership yesterday. Finland and Sweden had their NATO bids stalled primarily due to Turkey’s concern over Sweden. Hungary also held off on approving the two countries’ bids as Orbán sought to leverage his vote to unblock E.U. funds frozen over corruption allegations. Finland’s accession is now imminent, while Sweden’s remains stalled. Marton Dunai and Richard Milne report for the Financial Times.
Belgian intelligence puts Huawei on its watchlist
Belgium's intelligence service is scrutinizing the operations of technology giant Huawei as fears of Chinese espionage grow around the EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels, according to confidential documents seen by POLITICO and three people familiar with the matter.
In recent months, Belgium's State Security Service (VSSE) has requested interviews with former employees of the company’s lobbying operation in the heart of Brussels’ European district. The intelligence gathering is part of security officials' activities to scrutinize how China may be using non-state actors — including senior lobbyists in Huawei’s Brussels office — to advance the interests of the Chinese state and its Communist party in Europe, said the people, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Why fun apps are banned on French officials' phones BBC Richard Milne One of Europe’s largest manufacturers of ammunition is facing a roadblock to the planned expansion of its largest factory because a new data centre for TikTok is using up all the spare electricity in the area.
European ammunition maker says plant expansion hit by energy-guzzling TikTok site Financial Times Shiona McCallum Governments and institutions around the world have been banning TikTok from officials' phones and devices, over the past few months. The Netherlands and Norway have joined the list of countries banning the video-sharing app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, from government-issued devices.
The Swedish military bans TikTok on its mobile devices
The Swedish military announced on Monday that it will ban its military from using the Chinese app TikTok on its professional mobile devices for security reasons, following in the footsteps of other Western countries that have taken similar measures.
Russia Supplies Iran With Cyber Weapons as Military Cooperation Grows
Russia is helping Iran gain advanced digital-surveillance capabilities as Tehran seeks deeper cooperation on cyberwarfare, people familiar with the matter said, adding another layer to a burgeoning military alliance that the U.S. sees as a threat.
The potential for cyberwarfare collaboration comes after Iran has, according to U.S. and Iranian officials, sold Russia drones for use in Ukraine, agreed to provide short-range missiles to Moscow and shipped tank and artillery rounds to the battlefield. Tehran is seeking the cyber help along with what U.S. and Iranian officials have said are requests for dozens of elite Russian attack helicopters and jet fighters and aid with its long-range missile program.
Russia fires supersonic missile at mock target in Sea of Japan
Russia's navy fired supersonic anti-ship missiles at a mock target in the Sea of Japan, the Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday.
"In the waters of the Sea of Japan, missile ships of the Pacific Fleet fired Moskit cruise missiles at a mock enemy sea target," it said in a statement on its Telegram account.
"The target, located at a distance of about 100 kilometres (62.14 miles), was successfully hit by a direct hit from two Moskit cruise missiles."
The E.U. backing for Libyan authorities who stop and detain migrants in the Mediterranean means the bloc has “aided and abetted” crimes against humanity, Chaloka Beyani, an investigator for a U.N. mission, said yesterday. “Although we are not saying that the E.U. and its member states have committed these crimes. The point is that the support given has aided and abetted the commission of the crimes,” said Beyani. The mission will present its final report on an array of abuses committed in Libya and said it would pass any evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court. Emma Farge and Angus Mcdowall report for Reuters.
France faces a new nationwide day of strikes and protests today after some of the country’s worst street violence in years marred rallies over the past week. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin warned yesterday that there was “a very serious risk” of further violence. 13,000 police will be assigned to the rallies, just under half of them in Paris. Violent far-left groups, some from abroad, want to “set France on fire,” Darmanin told a news conference. Ingrid Melander reports for Reuters.
Scotland to Inaugurate First Muslim, Ethnic Minority Leader. The ruling Scottish National Party has elected health minister Humza Yousaf (AP), who is of Punjabi ancestry, to lead the party and the country after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unexpectedly stepped down last mont
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday evening that he would delay a key part of controversial plans to overhaul the justice system to prevent a “rupture among our people.” Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partner, the Jewish Power party, said they had withdrawn a veto on any delay to passing the reforms in return for a guarantee that Netanyahu would pass them during the next session of parliament. The delay Netanyahu has proposed will buy him time, but it may not assuage demonstrators who are fighting for this bill to be scrapped, not delayed. Anna Foster and Marita Moloney report for BBC News.
Disinformation has a human cost in Africa’s largest democracy Instick Media Olatunji Olaigbe One of the pressing problems in fighting disinformation in Nigeria is that the grassroots are still very vulnerable. “Despite efforts by fact-checking organizations to spread media literacy, the grassroots are not yet enlightened enough on information verification,” Phillip Anjorin, a fact-checker with one of West Africa’s leading fact-checking platforms, Dubawa, said. Disinformation travels faster among everyday people who are barely on social media.
Anti-government protests escalate in Kenya
On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed a controversial farm owned by Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta. The rioters stole livestock, cut down trees, and then set the land on fire.
The motive likely has something to do with the ongoing protests against the government of President William Ruto captained by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who narrowly lost the 2022 election to Ruto, Kenyatta’s ex-VP. (The members of this political threesome have all worked with each other in the past in Kenya, where elite business and politics are about as tight as can be.)
This behavior is nothing new for Odinga. While the protests are outwardly about the rising cost of living, Eurasia Group analyst Connor Vasey says that the opposition is just “taking his politics to the streets,” using inflation and other grievances as a “lightning rod to ensure turnout”. And while he is officially trying to overturn Ruto’s victory, Vasey believes that what Odinga really wants is an unofficial executive role in government.
From here, we can expect a test of political willpower. Odinga is threatening more rallies, while Ruto says he’ll continue to deploy the security forces against the protesters. The president hopes that if his rival doesn’t get his political concessions soon, popular support for his mobilization will subside.
Newly Freed Rwandan Dissident Paul Rusesabagina Arrives in Qatar. On Friday, Rwandan authorities commuted (NYT) Rusesabagina’s twenty-five-year prison sentence on terrorism charges following months of negotiations brokered by U.S. officials. His efforts to shelter people during the Rwandan genocide inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda.
Russia supplies Iran with cyber weapons as military cooperation grows The Wall Street Journal Dov Lieber, Benoit Faucon and Michael Amon Russia is helping Iran gain advanced digital-surveillance capabilities as Tehran seeks deeper cooperation on cyberwarfare, people familiar with the matter said, adding another layer to a burgeoning military alliance that the U.S. sees as a threat.
Afghan girls struggle with poor internet as they turn to online classes Reuters Charlotte Greenfield and Mohammad Yunus Yawar The Taliban administration has allowed girls to study individually at home and has not moved to ban the internet, which its officials use to make announcements via social media. But girls and women face a host of problems from power cuts, to cripplingly slow internet speeds, let alone the cost of computers and wifi in a country where 97% of people live in poverty.
Ayres to attend ‘Davos of Asia’ to pave way for further China trade
Australia will send an official delegation to China’s Bo’ao business forum this week, paving the way for a Beijing visit by the federal trade minister in the coming weeks as restrictions on Australian exports continue to be lifted despite the recent AUKUS announcement.
Assistant Trade Minister Tim Ayres is travelling to China for the forum, which he dubbed the “Davos of Asia”, the first Australian minister to attend the summit in more than half a decade, saying it was another positive step in the thawing relationship. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also plans a visit to the country.
Latitude confirms details of 14 million consumers stolen The Age Colin Kruger Consumer finance provider Latitude Financial has confirmed that details of 14 million customers were stolen from its computer systems in a cyberattack this month, in what could be the biggest data breach reported in Australia.
Superannuation fund NGS Super hit by cyber attack, 'limited data' taken from its system ABC Kate Ainsworth Superannuation fund NGS Super has confirmed it was hit by a cyber attack earlier this month which resulted in "some limited data" being taken from its system.
Crown Resorts says ransomware group claims accessing some of its files Reuters Savyata Mishra and Himanshi Akhand Crown Resorts said on Monday a ransomware group had contacted the company, claiming that they had gained access to some files related to Australia's biggest casino operator following a data breach at a file transfer service GoAnywhere.
North Korea unveiled new, smaller nuclear warheads and vowed to produce more weapons-grade nuclear material to expand the country’s arsenal, state media KCNA said today. Experts say this could indicate progress in miniaturizing warheads that are powerful yet small enough to mount on intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. Hyonhee Shin and Daewoung Kim reports for Reuters.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the country is ending all engagement (CNN Philippines) with the International Criminal Court after the court refused to suspend a probe into alleged abuses committed during the previous government’s war on drugs.
Indian Opposition Parties Unite Against Lawmaker’s Expulsion From Parliament. Rahul Gandhi of the opposition Indian National Congress is expected to file an appeal today (Bloomberg) against his expulsion from Parliament on defamation charges. Yesterday, lawmakers interrupted Parliament to demand his reinstatement.
India/Russia: Russia’s oil exports to India increased more than twentyfold (AFP) last year as European buyers spurned Russia over its war in Ukraine, a top Russian official said.
A new threat calls for U.S. leadership, new policy tools US Embassy & Consulates in Japan The coercive dimension of PRC economic statecraft has taken different forms and targeted various countries – in the Indo-Pacific and including a large number of European countries – for over a decade, and Russia has shown during its war against Ukraine that it is following a similar playbook when it deployed its energy resources against Europe. A February 2023 paper by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and a March 2023 paper by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) independently detail studies of cases of the PRC’s economic coercion. The evidence is clear. The policy tools vary. The current international response is lacking.
Twitter says parts of source code posted online, seeks leaker The Washington Post Rachel Pannett and Rachel Lerman Some of the computer code that powers Twitter has been leaked online, a legal filing claims, posing the latest challenge for Elon Musk’s social media network.
How and when Facebook decides to break its own moderation rules Rest of World Andrew Deck and Zinara Rathnayake As a financial crisis continues to ripple through the Sri Lankan economy, in the last year, Munza Mushtaq has turned to Facebook and Twitter for support. A journalist and former news editor, Mushtaq regularly asks for donations on social media — most recently, she used Twitter in early March to raise 150,000 Sri Lankan rupees ($439) for twin sisters in need of medication for a rare skin disease. Mushtaq said Facebook has proven to be a powerful tool for these drives, particularly for medicines in short supply. But the platform also has clear rules against soliciting drugs. And as fundraising has edged into explicit calls for donations of specific drugs, Meta has been forced to make difficult decisions about whether or not to remove potentially life-saving posts.
The teen mental health crisis: a reckoning for Big Tech Financial Times Jamie Smyth and Hannah Murphy Suicide among those aged between 10 and 19 years old in the US surged by 45.5 per cent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A survey last month from the same government agency found nearly one in three teenage girls had seriously considered taking their own life, up from one in five in 2011. The reasons for this deterioration in mental wellbeing, however, are less conclusive. Many parents and legislators put the blame at the door of social media companies who, they say, are developing highly addictive products that expose young people to harmful material that has real-world consequences. Platforms push back, arguing their technology allows people to build relationships and are beneficial for mental health.
Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale
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