Afghanistan: Taliban to rely on Chinese funds, spokesperson says

With the help of China, the Taliban will fight for an economic comeback in Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid tells Italian newspaper.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, centre, said the New Silk Road – a Chinese infrastructure initiative – was held in high regard by the Taliban [File: Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has told an Italian newspaper that the group will rely primarily on financing from China following the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and its takeover of the country.

In his interview published by La Repubblica on Thursday, Mujahid said the Taliban will fight for an economic comeback with the help of China.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on August 15 as the country’s Western-backed government melted away, bringing an end to 20 years of war amid fears of an economic collapse and widespread hunger.

Following the chaotic departure of foreign troops from Kabul airport in recent weeks, Western states have severely restricted their aid payments to Afghanistan.

“China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country,” the Taliban spokesperson was quoted as saying in the interview.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

He said the New Silk Road – an infrastructure initiative with which China wants to increase its global influence by opening up trade routes – was held in high regard by the Taliban.

There are “rich copper mines in the country, which, thanks to the Chinese, can be put back into operation and modernised. In addition, China is our pass to markets all over the world.”

Mujahid also confirmed that women would be allowed to continue studying at universities in future. He said women would be able to work as nurses, in the police or as assistants in ministries, but ruled out that there would be female ministers.

Andrew Small, senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States Asia programme, said China’s engagement in Afghanistan would be dependent on political stability.

“China doesn’t do large scale aid; it will provide aid in modest terms, it will provide humanitarian assistance and it’s not going to bail out a new government,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It might do some smaller scale investments but those longer term investments will depend on there being enough stability in the country and enough security in the country for these to turn into something that’s economically viable,” he added.

“So there’s still some limitations to what Cina’s going to be willing to do economically, even if it continues to be happy and the Taliban are keen to be able to send these signals that China’s willing to swing in on scale.”

Afghanistan desperately needs money, and the Taliban is unlikely to get swift access to the roughly $10bn in assets here mostly held abroad by the Afghan central bank.

Earlier this week, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres warned of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” in Afghanistan and urged countries to provide emergency funding as severe drought and war have forced thousands of families to flee their homes.

Guterres expressed his “grave concern at the deepening humanitarian and economic crisis in the country”, adding that basic services threatened to collapse “completely”.

“Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community,” he said in a statement on Tuesday as he pleaded for financial support from nations.

“I urge all member states to dig deep for the people of Afghanistan in their darkest hour of need. I urge them to provide timely, flexible and comprehensive funding,” the UN secretary-general said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the current $1.3bn UN humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan is only 39 percent funded.

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China bans ‘sissy men’ from TV in new crackdown…

BEIJING — China’s government banned effeminate men on TV and told broadcasters Thursday to promote “revolutionary culture,” broadening a campaign to tighten control over business and society and enforce official morality.

President Xi Jinping has called for a “national rejuvenation,” with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion. Companies and the public are under increasing pressure to align with its vision for a more powerful China and healthier society.

The party has reduced children’s access to online games and is trying to discourage what it sees as unhealthy attention to celebrities.

Broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” the TV regulator said, using an insulting slang term for effeminate men — “niang pao,” or literally, “girlie guns.”

That reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, girlish look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.

Read the rest of the story here:

m.startribune.com/china-bans-men-it-sees-as-not-masculine-enough-from-tv/600093187/

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How deploying hypersonic weapons to counter China creates a collision course to war

Biden officials’ claims that the US doesn’t ‘seek conflict’ is belied by pushes to continually one-up Beijing’s defenses.

One purpose of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s meetings in China on Monday was to place “guardrails” on the deteriorating relationship. She told her counterparts that the United States welcomes “stiff competition” but “we do not seek conflict.” During a tour across Southeast Asia the next day, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated that point: “We will not flinch when our interests are threatened. Yet we do not seek confrontation.”

But this is all easy talk. No two countries in history have ever had deeper pockets, and both are digging deep to wire up Asia with the most powerful and sophisticated weaponry to ever exist. Only deliberate and decisive political leadership from both sides — not platitudes — can bring this death spiral to a halt.

Last week, Reuters reported that “before the decade is out, Asia will be bristling with conventional missiles that fly farther and faster, hit harder, and are more sophisticated than before.” Instead of maintaining peace, “missile proliferation will fuel suspicions, trigger arms races, increase tensions, and ultimately cause crises and even wars,” David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum, told Reuters.

The report was based in part on an unreleased Indo-Pacom defense briefing detailing U.S. plans to deploy new long-range weapons systems in “highly survivable, precision-strike networks along the First Island Chain,” a geographic area stretching from the South China Sea up to the Philippines, before looping around to Taiwan and Japan.

Among these systems are Long-range Hypersonic Weapons, conventionally-armed surface-to-surface missiles capable of traveling at over five times the speed of sound, with added maneuverability and precision to help them overcome air and missile defense systems. 

With an effective range of at least 1,725 miles, land-based LRHW deployed along the First Island Chain would be able to strike assets, facilities, and infrastructure located around and deep within the Chinese mainland.

The Army faces a political problem figuring out where to put the $40 million missiles — but even if  no one were to accept them, the Navy and Air Force will soon deploy some of their own as well.

For decades, China has deliberately invested in the capabilities to prevent the U.S. military from waltzing up to its front door and raining down this type of hellfire upon it — referred to by some as an “anti-access/area denial” or A2/AD strategy.

It acquired anti-ship and “carrier-killer” missiles (and many, many submarines) to sink U.S. vessels encircling China’s coast, and an integrated air-defense system to shoot down U.S. planes and missiles on the attack. It deployed a radar and satellite network to give itself eyes and range, and anti-satellite, space-based, electronic and cyber weapons to blind U.S. forces. And it marshaled an extensive tactical ballistic missile force capable of attacking the foundation of U.S. power projection: its air bases and facilities forming a ring around China’s periphery.

Much of this was to counter a U.S. intervention in the event of a crisis over Taiwan, which Beijing sees as critical to “deterring” Taipei from declaring formal independence.

And China’s strategy worked, at least according to the Pentagon. A Defense One report on Monday revealed a classified wargame held last October, simulating a battle over Taiwan between a “blue team” and “red team.”

The blue team “failed miserably,” said General John Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in a Monday speech. Meanwhile, “an aggressive red team that had been studying the United States for the last 20 years just rang rings around us.” Hyten claims this led him to to scrap America’s joint warfighting concept, in search of another.

But there is a single, glaring issue here, which goes well beyond Taiwan.

No superpower — and especially not a rising, authoritarian, nationalist one with a long history of being colonized by outside powers — would ever accept living under the constant, looming threat of U.S. intervention in its backyard. Its only protection would be hope, that the same country which invaded Iraq and elected Donald Trump won’t wake up one day and threaten to pull the trigger.

Were the shoe on the other foot, the United States would certainly never live with such a vulnerability, and would likely adopt the exact same strategy as China, or die trying.

Robert O. Work, former deputy secretary of defense in the Obama administration, sees China’s strategy in these broader terms: it “put a serious dent in the ability of the United States to do what it had always done since the end of the Cold War: project military power around the globe without interference from an adversary.”

Work is well-known for promoting the “Third Offset Strategy” during his time at the Defense Department, which “aimed to restore U.S. conventional overmatch over its strategic rivals and adversaries.” That is to say, the thing to be “offset” by this strategy is China’s own decades-long effort to “offset” the United States.

The deployment of hypersonics is one part of this play. One Congressional Research Service report noted: “As potential adversaries, such as Russia and China, have improved and expanded their defensive capabilities in ways that would complicate U.S. efforts to bring forces to bear during a conflict, the United States has sought to counter with prompt, accurate systems that could suppress those defenses by attacking them early in a conflict.”

“Hypersonic weapons, with their speed, precision, and maneuverability, could contribute to this mission,” it continued. 

In March, the Army called for a “bold transformation” of its warfighting role, to include deploying new hypersonics and other long-range platforms. Army Chief of Staff James C. McConville said “such missiles would enable the Army to counter ‘what some of our competitors have done with anti-access/area denial (A2/AD)’ strategies, by holding rival air and missile defenses at risk.”

By suppressing China’s air defense systems, McConville said this could “open a gap if we needed to put aerial maneuver into place.”

The Air Force is undergoing its own transformation as well. Its 2022 budget request slashed funding for standard, limited-range munitions, shifting these resources to long-range strike and hypersonic capabilities. China is often directly cited as the reason: Major General James D. Peccia III, deputy assistant secretary for budget, said the shift was necessary “for a high-end conflict in 2030 and beyond.”

Not to be left behind, the Navy is rolling out some of its own over the next five years for use on submarines and surface vessels.

“The Americans are coming back strongly,” said Ross Babbage, a former Australian defense official and fellow at the hawkish Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “By 2024 or 2025 there is a serious risk for [China’s People’s Liberation Army] that their military developments will be obsolete.”

And what exactly do we think China will do once its ability to counter U.S. intervention in its own backyard is made “obsolete,” by not only a barrage of high-tech missiles coming at it from all angles, but also whatever other weapons and systems are cooked up in domains such as cyber?

It will, of course, move to offset the offset. And what will the United States do then?

None of this should be taken to mean that China is a completely blameless victim in this high-stakes game: it built up an advantage in long-range missiles while the United States was hampered by the now-dead Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, and its broader military buildup looks awfully threatening to others.

That is one reason that Japan is developing long-range strike capabilities of its own. But the possibility that these could be launched at Chinese bases early in a conflict — rather than just Chinese ships encroaching on Japanese shores — has raised concerns among Japan’s opposition that the move violates the constitution’s requirement for a defense-only force.

As one unnamed Taiwanese diplomat told Reuters, referring to Taiwan’s own missile program, “the line between defensive and offensive nature of the weapons is getting thinner and thinner.”

This death spiral will never stop, and will become all but impossible to control as time passes and force structures and worst-case assumptions harden. President Biden at least seems aware of this security dilemma. Speaking to the intelligence community on Tuesday, referencing China’s military advancements and hypersonic missiles, he said: “We better figure out how we’re going to keep pace without exacerbating and moving us in a position where we increase the hostilities unnecessarily.”

There are no military solutions to this problem, only political solutions based on diplomacy, crisis management, and some form of arms control. Absent that, the United States and China will continue to press better and better guns deeper and deeper into each other’s temples with no end in sight. The only thing holding this house of cards together will be a hope and a prayer, and any accident, crisis, or misperception could easily bring it all tumbling down.

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China proposes WHO investigate other countries instead

Beijing has submitted a counter-proposal to the WHO’s plan to investigate COVID-19’s origin for the second time. According to the communist country’s proposal, the WHO should move its investigation out of China.

Zeng said scientists should look for evidence of animal-to-human transmission of viruses in other countries that also had early COVID-19 cases. If the WHO were to accept this proposal, it would effectively block off any possible investigations centered around China.

Zeng also insisted that the WHO should investigate the U.S. military laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Fort Detrick is home to America’s biological defense program, as well as other military medical research facilities.

China claims that Fort Detrick is a more plausible origin of the COVID-19 virus than the WIV. One spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said a probe into the workings of Fort Detrick is long overdue and called for the U.S. to provide answers to the international community.

The White House has said there are no credible reasons for a probe to be conducted in Fort Detrick. The entire scientific community has declined to support China’s counter-theory.

Learn more about China’s attempts to prevent investigators from learning the truth about COVID-19’s origins at Pandemic.news.

Sources include:

DailyMail.co.uk

WSJ.com

Newsweek.com

CBSNews.com

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China REFUSES to cooperate with “disrespectful” WHO plan to investigate coronavirus origins

China has rejected a plan by the World Health Organization (WHO) to conduct a second investigation into the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Last week, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented member states with a second plan to trace the origins of COVID-19. It includes conducting an audit of the laboratories and markets in Wuhan, the ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic. Tedros wants every single laboratory and research institution operating in Wuhan in Dec. 2019 – the suspected date when the coronavirus cases first appeared – to be audited.

He also proposed a geographic study of Wuhan and neighboring areas where similar viruses like SARS have been detected in animals.

Finally, he proposed an investigation of all animal markets in and around Wuhan, as well as a thorough examination of the exotic wildlife sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. This market sold live animals, including exotic and endangered wildlife, prior to its closure on January 2020.

The director-general also called for greater transparency from Beijing and asked Chinese authorities to be more cooperative by providing the WHO access to raw data.

Calls for a more thorough, independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 came as more evidence supporting the lab leak theory surfaced in recent months. (Related: Liberal media suddenly LOVES the lab leak theory – which NaturalNews has been reporting from the very start.)

Tedros himself only recently admitted that there was a “premature push” in the WHO to rule out the lab leak theory in favor of the natural origin theory. The latter suggests that the COVID-19 virus naturally passed onto humans from animals.

China refuses to open up labs for investigation

Beijing reacted negatively to the WHO’s proposal. Zeng Yixin, vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, said that the communist nation “cannot accept this kind of plan for origin-tracing.”

“To be honest, I was quite surprised when I first saw the WHO’s phase two origin-tracing plan,” said Zeng during a press conference. “Because it includes as one of its research priorities the hypothesis that China had violated laboratory procedures, leading to virus leakage.”

“From this point, I feel it has a disrespect for common sense and reveals an arrogance toward science,” he added.

Zeng also said that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) does not have viruses that can directly infect humans. Proponents of the lab leak theory believe that the COVID-19 virus was engineered in a lab in the WIV.

The Chinese vice minister reminded the public that a WHO-coordinated team of international experts visited the WIV earlier this year and concluded that a lab leak was highly unlikely. However, Zeng failed to mention that this investigation has now been discredited due to undisclosed conflicts of interest between some of the team’s most prominent members.

During his speech, Zeng not only made it clear that China is rejecting the WHO’s plan, but he also strongly denied the lab leak theory. He said reports that staff and graduate students at the WIV had become sick with COVID-19 long before China confirmed the existence of the virus were all untrue.

According to Zeng, China has always been supportive of origin tracing efforts. “However, we are opposed to politicizing the tracing work.”

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This is the story of four Hong Kongers divided by age but united by a deep love of their city – and the toll that tightening Chinese rule has taken on them in the wake of last year’s massive protests.

Ranging in age from 23 to 82, they speak of persevering, and waiting for the day they might rise up again.

Prince Wong was still in her mother’s womb when the Chinese government reclaimed control over Hong Kong from the British in the summer of 1997. She was born nearly three months later, on September 27, into what some here call the city’s “cursed generation.”

For her 23rd birthday this year, Wong posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a pastel-striped paper hat trimmed with pink pompoms. She has a slight smile on her face as she looks down at her birthday cake, a moment of celebration at odds with her words below: “There are great sorrows in life that cannot be washed away with tears. Is life always so painful? Or is it only when I was young?”

On a recent day, Wong spun a gold ring on her finger in continuous circles as she spoke quietly about the past year of her life. It has been a year filled with disappointment and dread.

Read Story Here

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#Videos Hundreds of thousands evacuated from areas devastated by floods as China death toll rises to 33 and more rain forecast (VIDEO)

Rescue workers operate a front loader to evacuate residents on a flooded road following heavy rainfall in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China July 22, 2021. © REUTERS/Aly Song
Thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes in Henan province by a 76,000-strong relief force, as the meteorological office warns that storms and heavy rain is set to continue.

On Thursday, officials raised the death toll from the devastating floods to 33, as rescue workers battled to evacuate hundreds of thousands from further danger. Twelve of the 33 died when the subway in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou was flooded by storm waters. 

The deadly weather is set to continue, with the province’s meteorological bureau raising the storm alert to red – the highest of the four-stage warning codes – for four Henan cities: Xinxiang, Anyang, Hebi, and Jiaozuo. While the skies have cleared over Zhengzhou, the flood waters remain high – waist height in some places. 

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