Asia

China gets tough on debt with ‘Rottweiler regulator’

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People’s Bank of China handed increased powers as financial shake-up points to Liu He’s influence Gordon Watts Asia times President Xi Jinping has opened the door for confidante Liu He to push through economic reforms after China’s central bank was handed more power in a major shake-up in the financial sector. Details released during Tuesday’s session of the de facto parliament, the National People’s Congress, outlined plans for merging the banking and insurance regulators. At the same time, the People’s ... Read More »

UN Goodwill Ambassador says Turkish attack on Afrin foreshadows genocide and ethnic cleansing

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UN Goodwill Ambassador and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad on Monday called for a ceasefire in Afrin and called on Turkey to stop the attacks on Afrin that so far have killed over 200 civilians. Wladimir van Wilgenburg The Region “Today, I received information that the area of Afrin inhabited by Kurds, Yazidis and Christians is under siege from all sides. There is only one road through which people can leave the city,” she said in a statement. “200 civilians have ... Read More »

UN: Israel settlements in West Bank, Jerusalem ‘war crime’

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein has described Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem as “war crimes”, Quds Press reported yesterday. MEM According to local media, Al-Hussein’s warnings would be part of a report he is to introduce to the UN Security Council on 19 March. “Building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the social, economic and security facilities given to their residents with the aim to move Zionists to forcefully occupied lands, is a violation ... Read More »

Ai Weiwei: Chinese dissident artist critiques Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers ahead of Sydney Biennale

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He is one of the world’s most famous artists and China’s best known dissident, and 60-year-old Ai Weiwei has a message for Australia when it comes to the treatment of asylum seekers. Philippa McDonald ABC “I struggle with Australia’s record towards refugees,” he said. “Australia is a nation of migrants and its culture accepts and tolerates difference. “But Australia’s refugee record is quite poor internationally. This is a very bad position for a state because people judge states on their ... Read More »

Hero’s welcome for East Timor border negotiator Xanana Gusmao

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Dili: Thousands of East Timorese have lined the road to the capital’s international airport to cheer independence hero Xanana Gusmao after he led negotiations that settled the sea border with Australia. Oki Raimundos The Canberra Times Gusmao, whose party lost power in parliamentary elections last year, was greeted at Dili’s tiny airport on Sunday with cries of “Viva Xanana Gusmao”. He’d been abroad for the previous eight months leading the final stretch of maritime border talks. Australia and East Timor, one of ... Read More »

Saleh Moslem: Turkey kills Kurds in Afrin with European weapons

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TEV-DEM foreign relations official and former PYD leader Saleh Moslem said; ANF “Nobody has the right to tell the people of Afrin to leave. That land belongs to the people of Afrin. The children there are protecting their lands. Why should they abandon it?” The meeting where Kurdish parties, institutions, professional organizations and individuals express their solidarity with Afrin at national level, continues in The Hague. The meeting is organized by the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) and… Saleh Moslem: Turkey… Read More »

The Modest Diplomatic Promise of North Korea’s Charm Offensive

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Following the first inter-Korean summit in ten years, the announcement that President Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a promising sign. Christopher Green ICG Although Pyongyang is unlikely to change its strategic course, the summit provides an opportunity for the U.S. to pair its maximum pressure with diplomacy and coordinate with Asian powers. The surprise announcement on 8 March that U.S. President Donald Trump would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by… The Modest Diplomatic… Read More »

The Garlic Girls and Why South Korean Nationalism is a Bad Thing

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Even before the two weeks of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the media carefully cultivated captivating stories for its audience. Justin Lee International Policy Digest These stories were quite powerful in their ability to make us emote—to make us share in athletes’ feelings of triumph—and one simply cannot ignore these human-interest stories, but what often happens is that politics are removed from the telling of such stories. There are some who believe that athletics and politics should ... Read More »

Greece frees German journalists detained at Turkish border

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Greece on March 10 freed two German journalists who had been detained at the border with Turkey for allegedly entering a restricted area, a judicial source stated. Agence France Presse Hurriyet Greece on March 10 freed two German journalists who had been detained at the border with Turkey for allegedly entering a restricted area, a judicial source stated. The pair, a 31-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman, were working for regional German television channel NDR on a documentary about refugees, ... Read More »

‘This could destroy China’: parliament sets Xi Jinping up to rule for life

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People’s Congress confirms abolition of presidential term limits, sparking fears Xi is ‘leading us back to the Mao era’ Tom Phillips The Guardian The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has succeeded in abolishing presidential term limits, a momentous political coup that paves the way for him to stay in power for years to come. Nearly 3,000 members of China’s National People’s Congress voted the highly controversial constitutional amendment through during a Sunday afternoon session at the Great Hall of the People – an imposing ... Read More »

U.S. moving to repair relations with Turkey, endangering ties with Kurdish allies

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In an effort to repair tattered relations, the Trump administration has told Turkey it will move to rein in Kurdish fighters who have been the backbone of the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, according to U.S. and… By Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim The Washington Post The first step and “the crux of the matter,” a senior Turkish official said, is to withdraw the Kurds from the Syrian town of Manbij and relocate them east of the ... Read More »

Trump tariffs: EU wants clarity on exemption

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The EU’s trade commissioner says there is “no immediate clarity” from the US on how the bloc can gain exemption from new tariffs on imported steel and aluminium imposed by President Trump. BBC Cecilia Malmstrom met with the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan’s Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko in Brussels. She said discussions would continue next week. Mr Seko called for calm-headed behaviour in the dispute. The EU says that its exports should be excluded from the… Trump tariffs: ... Read More »

Cautious Hope Ahead of U.S.-North Korea Meeting

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President Trump’s 8 March acceptance of an invitation to meet his counterpart Kim Jong-un marks a first in U.S.-North Korea relations and a rare opening for diplomacy. ICG To maximise the chance of a successful summit, all sides will have to prepare a realistic agenda and align their expectations. Developments on the Korean peninsula have been dizzying, from talk of war, to hints of diplomacy, to symbolic gestures and now this: the acceptance by U.S. President Donald Trump of Democratic ... Read More »

Is Trump falling into Kim’s trap?

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Donald Trump is not the cause of America’s most serious problems. But could he be part of some solutions? Peter Hartcher Brisbane Times The news that he’d agreed to meet North Korea’s dictator is something new in dealing with an old problem. No US president has ever met his North Korean counterpart while in office. Till now, the US has always set preconditions too onerous for the North Koreas to accept. It’s not entirely clear, but it doesn’t seem that ... Read More »

Why China’s Xi is not ‘Putin-plus’

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Xi Jinping is not following in Vladimir Putin’s footsteps. He’s carving his own path. Maria Repnikova Al Jazeera The recently announced constitutional amendments in China, ending term limits and paving the way for Chinese leader Xi Jinping‘s indefinite rule, have sparked quite a lot of debate and speculations in Western media. Some commentators went as far as comparing Xi to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming that China is now turning into a Russia-style autocracy. While the phrase “Putin-plus“ sounds catchy, the comparison does not reflect the ... Read More »

Pakistan Deploys Fighter Jet Squadron to Afghan Border to Protect Airspace

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The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has fielded a squadron of new Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 “Thunder” combat aircraft, according to a recent report by the Associated Press of Pakistan. Sputnik The multi-role fighter jets are stationed at Pakistan’s Samungli Base near Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. Speaking at the February 28 inauguration ceremony of the planes, which form the Number 28 Multirole Squadron, Sohail Aman, chief of staff for the PAF, said “We totally understand the kind of conspiracies the enemies of Pakistan continue to hatch, ... Read More »