#GravitasPlus with Palki Sharma Upadhyay | 3 continents, 6 corridors & 65% of global population. China’s most ambitious infrastructure project is actually a plan to dominate the world. But the Belt & Road Initiative is now facing too many roadblocks. Is Xi Jinping’s dream fading?
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper mocked President Joe Biden on Friday, quoting his declaration, “America is back,” in a headline about his decision to bomb Syria on Thursday evening.
Biden made the remark in a speech about foreign policy in early February, in which he vowed to limit American military engagement.
“And they know when you speak, you speak for me,” Biden told diplomats at the State Department. “And so — so is the message I want the world to hear today: America is back. America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.”
On Thursday, 36 days into his presidency, Biden took unilateral action in Syria, ordering what the Pentagon dubbed a “defensive precision strike” on members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a legal wing of the Iraqi armed forces.
“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement. “Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).”
By Irina Slav
China’s crude oil reserves have reached a level equal to 100 days of imports, Bloomberg has reported, citing unnamed sources in the know, which is near the country’s storage capacity limits.
The amount includes both strategic and commercial inventories, the Bloomberg source said.
Data compiled by oil data analytics company OilX (that is powered by local insights from SIA Energy) shows Chinese storage at close to 1.1 billion barrels and has been growing again after a decline in December 2020, with massive imports during February 2021, OilX chief executive Florian Thaler told Oilprice.com.
China is on course to become the first country to roll out a digital version of its currency, our Daniela Cambone speaks with best-selling author Gordon Chang about the significance and importance of the move. “This is not a cryptocurrency— this is a central bank currency, which means the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) will know how people are using it. It is basically totalitarian control,” Chang explains.
China has successfully launched its largest carrier rocket with a new-generation spacecraft today, marking a significant progress for the country towards landing a man on the moon.
The Long March-5B carrier rocket took off at 6pm local time at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southern island province of Hainan, state broadcaster CCTV announced on Tuesday.
The spacecraft carried by the rocket is expected to one day transport astronauts to a space station that China plans to complete by 2022 – and eventually to the moon.
by Simon Black
Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, risks to your prosperity… and on occasion, inspiring poetic justice.
In January we mentioned that China began using anal swab Covid tests on school children, claiming they were more accurate than the nasal swab method.
China also requires the intrusive (by about 2-3 inches) tests on certain travelers coming into the country.
Recently, a group of US diplomats and their family members reported that they were subjected to the anal swabs.
In response, China at first claimed that the tests were given in error. But later they backtracked and denied that they had ever required anal swabs for US diplomats.
But the diplomats weren’t aren’t dropping the issue, and they’ve appealed to the US State Department— which has already said it is committed to preserving the “dignity” of US diplomats and their families.
China has released a video which reportedly shows its border clash with Indian troops last June after Beijing admitted that four of its soldiers were killed in the fatal high-mountain fight.
The footage, aired by Beijing’s state broadcaster CCTV, is said to capture the bloody hand-to-hand combat between Chinese and Indian forces at the Galwan River valley, which also resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian servicemen.
The official channel claimed the clip showed an Indian army ‘several times the size of the Chinese side’ launching a violent revenge attack after a Chinese commander had tried to solve the two nations’ border disputes through peaceful talks.
China’s state broadcaster CCTV has released a video which it claimed showed Chinese troops’ hand-to-hand border clash with Indian forces last June, which left four of its soldiers killed
The official channel claimed that the clip showed an Indian army ‘several times the size of the Chinese side’ launching a violent revenge attack after China attempted talk to them peaceful
The announcement, coming more than six months after the bloody hand-to-hand fighting, should help global audiences ‘understand the truth and the right and wrong of the incident,’ Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
Yet the delay also appeared to reflect China’s deep culture of military secrecy, as well as concerns over the potential domestic and international fallout from the bloodshed.
Immediately after the clash atop a high ridge on June 2020 in the Ladakh region’s Karakoram Mountains, India announced it had lost 20 of its soldiers in the battle that saw fists, clubs, stones and other improvised weapons used to avoid a firefight.
The battle took place after ‘the foreign military openly violated the consensus reached with us and blatantly crossed the line to provoke [us],’ according to the military channel of CCTV
Chinese state media did not relent in its attacks on President Joe Biden, publishing a column on Thursday accusing him of attempting to “ring-fence China,” a day after Biden appeared to justify the construction of over 1,000 concentration camps for ethnic minorities in the country.
Speaking at a town hall event produced by CNN, Biden claimed that placing Uyghur individuals and members of other Muslim-majority ethnic groups in concentration camps was a way for dictator Xi Jinping to keep the country “unified.” He claimed that he had chastised Xi on China’s litany of human rights abuses, but that the comments were perfunctory, and that Xi “gets it” that Biden is politically obligated to mention the issue.
The U.S. government estimates that as many as 2 million people remain trapped in the Chinese concentration camp system as of 2020. Survivors of the camps have testified to outrageous human rights atrocities including extensive torture, rape, evidence of live organ harvesting, indoctrination, and slavery. In a particularly gruesome account published by the BBC this month, witnesses testified to Han Chinese guards using electric batons to rape women and electrocute them simultaneously. Some women said they were forced to tie other women up to beds so that unknown men could come to the camp on a nightly basis and gang-rape them. Extensive evidence has also revealed the use of forced sterilization and abortions on Uyghur women, a tactic international legal experts accept as a form of genocide.
New national rules bring together party and government guidelines and go into effect in May
Requirements on clerical income follow the prosecution of a house church leader over her handling of contributions from her congregation
The new rules – Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel – were published by the State Administration for Religious Affairs early this month and will go into effect in May.
While the measures underlined many of the controls already in place under existing supervisory guidelines, their packaging as a national regulation gave them greater political force, one observer said.
In July 2020, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) told EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit, that it must hand over information and materials to its Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) partner in China:
The National Institutes of Health told a small New York-based nonprofit that it must hand over information and materials from a research partner in Wuhan, China, that is under scrutiny by the Trump administration to win back a multimillion-dollar research grant.
Among the items the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance must provide to resume funding is a sample of the new coronavirus that the Wuhan researchers used to determine its genetic sequence, according to a July 8 letter from the NIH viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
EcoHealth Alliance must also arrange for an inspection of the Wuhan Institute of Virology by an outside team that would examine the facility’s lab and records “with specific attention to addressing the question of whether WIV staff had SARS-CoV-2 in their possession prior to December 2019,” the U.S. health-research agency’s letter said.
“The NIH has received reports that the Wuhan Institute of Virology…has been conducting research at its facilities in China that pose serious bio-safety concerns,” read the letter, which was signed by Michael Lauer, the NIH deputy director for extramural research.
In the wake of the most recent WHO inspection of the facility, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported that the WIV would once again receive American taxpayer dollars in the form of more grant money.