Archive for ‘Pakistan’

09/07/2019

Rights violations in contested Kashmir continue unchecked, U.N. report says

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Tensions in disputed Kashmir after a deadly suicide bombing earlier this year are having a severe impact on human rights in the region, a United Nations report released on Monday said.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, who both rule it in part and have fought two wars over the territory. They came close to a third in February after the suicide bombing of a convoy claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group killed 40 paramilitary police.

India accuses Pakistan of funding these groups, who want independence for Indian-administered Kashmir, a claim Islamabad denies.

The report, by the U.N. Human Rights Council, says that arbitrary detentions during search operations by Indian troops are leading to a range of human rights violations.

Despite the high numbers of civilians killed in the vicinity of gun battles between security forces and militants, “there is no information about any new investigation into excessive use of force leading to casualties”, it said.

The report was also critical of special legal regimes used by India in Kashmir, saying accountability for violations committed by troops remains virtually non-existent.

The report says that in nearly three decades that emergency laws have been in force in Jammu and Kashmir, there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government in a civilian court.

It called for the repeal of special powers protecting troops from prosecution.

The United Nations also flagged a spike in hate crimes against Kashmiris in the rest of India following the February attacks, calling on India to do more to prevent the violence.

In response, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the report presented a “false and motivated narrative” on the state of the region.

“Its assertions are in violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ignore the core issue of cross-border terrorism,” Kumar added in a statement.

Though the majority of the allegations in the report pertain to Indian-administered Kashmir, it was also critical of Pakistan for detentions of separatists in its portion of the region.

A spokesman for the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Reuters

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07/07/2019

China says briefed by U.S. on latest Trump-Kim meeting

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has received a briefing from the United States on the latest meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, in a call between two senior diplomats.

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday when he met Kim in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui and U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun discussed that meeting in a telephone call on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a short statement.

“Biegun introduced the meeting between the U.S. and North Korean leaders at Panmunjom, and said the U.S. side is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the Chinese side on the peninsula issue,” the ministry added.

Luo told Biegun the recent “positive interactions” on the North Korean issue by all parties had important meaning for the peace talks process, the ministry said.

“China supports U.S.-North Korea exchanges and dialogue and hopes that the two sides will meet each other halfway and follow the consensus of the leaders of the two countries to resume consultations at the working level as soon as possible,” it added.

Trump’s meeting with Kim came around a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Kim himself during a state visit to Pyongyang.

While China has not officially announced it, Luo is likely China’s new special envoy for the North Korea issue, after predecessor Kong Xuanyou became China’s new ambassador in Tokyo in late May.

Luo was also involved in a briefing to Chinese reporters on Xi’s visit to North Korea before Xi went, according to state media.

Luo is an urbane career diplomat who speaks good English, according to diplomats who have met him.

He previously served as China’s ambassador in Canada, Pakistan and India, and also worked in the Chinese embassy in Washington from 1996-2000.

Source: Reuters

27/06/2019

China’s growing demand for clean energy and natural gas sparks contest in the Middle East

  • First Qatar, and now Saudi Arabia, are competing to dominate China’s fast-growing natural gas market, already the third largest in the world, as Beijing encourages the switch from coal to cleaner, greener energy
  • A PetroChina LNG tank at Rudong port in Nantong, Jiangsu province. China’s massive and rapidly growing appetite for natural gas is sparking off a scramble in the Middle East, as energy producers compete to become the biggest player in the market. Photo: Reuters
    A PetroChina LNG tank at Rudong port in Nantong, Jiangsu province. China’s massive and rapidly growing appetite for natural gas is sparking off a scramble in the Middle East, as energy producers compete to become the biggest player in the market. Photo: Reuters
    As more countries turn towards clean energy, the geoeconomic impact of natural gas as a fuel has become second only to that of oil. Over the past decade, the global demand for this carbon-free energy source has risen considerably and one major buyer is China.
    The third largest global market for natural gas, China has implemented government policies to replace the use of coal as fuel and millions of households are switching over to clean energy. Consequently, China’s market for gas expanded by a record 43 billion cubic metres last year to reach 280 billion cubic metres at the end of 2018.
    With the recent

    tax cuts in April

    , China’s gas consumption should continue to grow in the year ahead. As the demand spirals further, natural gas consumption in China is estimated to grow to around 620 billion cubic metres in 2030.

    Prioritising its energy security, Beijing last year approved a 22-year gas supply deal between QatarGas and PetroChina International Co. The agreement is PetroChina’s largest LNG supply deal by volume, and will provide 3.4 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas annually.
    With this deal, which QatarGas initiated with Total and ExxonMobil Corp as partners, Qatar achieved regional dominance and filled a vacuum left by major gas producer Iran, currently the target of US sanctions. Interestingly, Beijing has also unwittingly sparked off a competition between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the kingpins of the Middle Eastern energy industry.
    A vessel carrying Qatar LNG looking to berth in Shenzhen, China last August. Qatar’s recent deal highlighted the massive and growing Chinese appetite for natural gas. Photo: Reuters
    A vessel carrying Qatar LNG looking to berth in Shenzhen, China last August. Qatar’s recent deal highlighted the massive and growing Chinese appetite for natural gas. Photo: Reuters
    China to become world’s top natural gas importer in 2019: report
    By exporting gas, as well as oil, Qatar sail unruffled through the

    economic and diplomatic boycott

    imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June 2017, over allegations that Qatar supports terrorism and is friendly with Iran, which the region sees as an enemy. Qatar denies this. Meantime, Qatar plans to further increase its gas output. To attract more buyers, it is offering attractive long-term supply contracts to other countries in the region.

    Inspired by the success of Qatar Gas, Saudi Arabia has stepped up its efforts to capture this new market. The Saudi state-owned oil giant Aramco plans to build an “energy bridge” between Saudi Arabia and China to better meet Beijing’s growing requirements for oil, gas, including LNG, said Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser at an industry event in Beijing in March.

    Aramco, already a major supplier of crude oil to China, would need to invest US$150 billion over the next decade to realise its plans to convert crude oil into chemicals, and eventually become a gas producer. “We need to help our stakeholders – including here in China and the wider Asia region – realise that oil and gas will remain vital to world energy for decades to come,” said Nasser.

    An Aramco employee near an oil tank in Saudi Arabia. Aramco has grand ambitions to become a major producer of natural gas. Photo: Reuters
    An Aramco employee near an oil tank in Saudi Arabia. Aramco has grand ambitions to become a major producer of natural gas. Photo: Reuters

    The vision of Saudi Arabia as a major natural gas producer is in in line with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic plan Vision 2030. Riyadh has only Qatar to beat, with Iran on the back foot. Under sanctions pressure, Tehran, despite plans to increase gas exports, has clung on to just 1 per cent of the natural gas market, exporting 36.24 million cubic metres daily. Yet Iran was once part of the so-called regional gas troika along with Russia and Qatar, and is located at the cusp of several energy transit corridors. China, defying sanctions, continues to buy oil from Iran.

    In around five years, Riyadh could become a major gas exporter. Saudi Arabia has already replaced Iran as the main energy provider in countries such as China, Pakistan and India, and has made huge investments in energy projects in these countries.

    However, Qatar is also playing smart, sharply lowering its prices to clinch deals and make the right business connections. The competition for the growing natural gas market is a long game. The main possible setback for Riyadh is that its gas reserves do not match those in Qatar and Iran.

    Source: SCMP

25/06/2019

Police arrest newspaper publisher in midnight raid in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – Police arrested the publisher of one of the most widely read newspapers in Indian-controlled Kashmir in a midnight raid over a decades-old case, the police and his brother said on Tuesday, highlighting the difficulties facing media in the region.

Tension has run high in the Himalayan region since more than 40 Indian police were killed in a February suicide car bomb attack by a militant group based in Pakistan.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is at the heart of more than seven decades of hostility between nuclear archrivals India and Pakistan. Each claims it in full but rules only a part.

Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, 62, a journalist and the publisher of the Urdu-language newspaper Daily Afaaq, was arrested at his home in the region’s main city of Srinagar, half an hour before midnight on Monday.

“It is harassment,” his brother, Mohammad Morifat Qadri, told Reuters. “Why is a 1993 arrest warrant executed today? And why against him only?”

Qadri was released on bail after a court appearance on Tuesday.

The case dates from 1990, when Qadri was one of nine journalists to publish a statement by a militant group fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir. An arrest warrant for Qadri was issued in 1993, but it was never served.

Qadri had visited the police station involved in the arrest multiple times since the warrant was issued, most recently in 2017 to apply for a passport, his brother added.

Asked why Qadri was arrested at night, Srinagar police chief Haseeb Mughal told Reuters, “Police were busy during the day.”

The Kashmir Union of Working Journalists condemned the arrest, saying it seemed to be aimed at muzzling the press.

“Qadri was attending the office on a daily basis and there was absolutely no need for carrying out a midnight raid at his residence,” it said in a statement.

Journalists in Kashmir find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Indian government and militant groups battling for independence.
Both sides are stepping up efforts to control the flow of information, with the situation at its worst in decades, dozens of journalists have told Reuters.
India is one of the world’s worst places to be a journalist, ranked 138th among 180 countries on the press freedom index of international monitor Reporters Without Borders, with conditions in Kashmir cited as a key reason.
Source: Reuters
20/06/2019

Taliban delegation holds talks in China as part of peace push

BEIJING (Reuters) – China recently played host to a Taliban delegation as part of efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Representatives of the Taliban, who have been fighting for years to expel foreign forces and defeat the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, have been holding talks with U.S. diplomats for months.

The focus has been the Taliban demand for the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces, in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for militant attacks.

Taliban negotiators have also met senior Afghan politicians and civil society representatives, including in Moscow recently, as part of so-called intra-Afghan dialogue to discuss their country’s future.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing that Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban representative in Qatar, and some of his colleagues had recently visited China, though he did not say exactly when.

Chinese officials met them to discuss the Afghan peace process and counter-terror issues, Lu told the briefing, without saying who met the delegation.

“China pays great attention to the evolving situation in Afghanistan in recent years. We have always played a positive role in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process,” Lu said.
China supports Afghans resolving their problems themselves through talks, and this visit was an important part of China promoting such peace talks, he said.
“Both sides believe that this exchange was beneficial and agreed to keep in touch about and cooperate on continuing to seek a political resolution for Afghanistan and fighting terrorism.”
China’s far western Chinese region of Xinjiang shares a short border with Afghanistan.
China has long worried about links between militant groups and what it says are Islamist extremists operating in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people, who speak a Turkic language.
China, a close ally of Pakistan, has been deepening its economic and political ties with Kabul and is also using its influence to try to bring the two uneasy neighbours closer.
The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, visited Kabul last December.
Source: Reuters
14/06/2019

Chinese, Afghan presidents pledge joint efforts to promote ties

KYRGYZSTAN-BISHKEK-CHINA-AFGHANISTAN-PRESIDENTS-MEETING

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 13, 2019. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

BISHKEK, June 13 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Afghan counterpart, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, met here Thursday, pledging joint efforts to promote bilateral relations.

Xi congratulated Afghanistan on the 100th anniversary of its independence and wished the country an early restoration of peace, stability and development.

China and Afghanistan are neighbors that enjoy traditional friendship and strategic partnership of cooperation, Xi said.

China is willing to deepen the mutually beneficial cooperation with Afghanistan in various sectors within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), steadily promote practical cooperation in economy and trade, and support the two countries’ enterprises to strengthen cooperation based on the principles of mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, he said.

Xi said China will, as always, continue to help Afghanistan build its capacity in fighting terrorism and maintaining stability.

He called on the Afghan side to continue to firmly support China in its fight against the terrorist force of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

The Chinese side firmly supports a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, and will continue to actively encourage and promote talks through various channels to help the Afghan people achieve internal dialogue, Xi said.

China supports Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations, enhance mutual trust and carry out cooperation, and is ready to further promote the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation, he said.

Ghani conveyed congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

By proposing to build a community with a shared future for mankind and supporting the economic globalization, China has set an example of promoting the construction of a new type of international relations in the 21st century, Ghani said.

Ghani thanked China for the active role it has played in his country’s peace process and in safeguarding regional peace and stability, adding that Afghanistan is committed to fighting, side by side with China, against the “three forces” including the ETIM.

Afghanistan stands ready to align its plan of reconstruction and development with the BRI and set up an even closer trade and economic partnership with China, Ghani added.

Source: Xinhua

13/06/2019

Could Chinese scientists have found evidence of world’s first stoners in 2,500-year-old Xinjiang graveyard?

  • Findings support earliest record of cannabis use, written in 440BC
  • Researchers speculate psychoactive THC had role in grim funeral rites
Researchers say their findings at a burial site in Xinjiang about cannabis use 2,500 years ago back up a Greek record written around 440BC. Photo: Handout
Researchers say their findings at a burial site in Xinjiang about cannabis use 2,500 years ago back up a Greek record written around 440BC. Photo: Handout
Scientists say a burial site in mountainous northwestern China contains evidence that cannabis smoke was used there as far back as 2,500 years ago, corroborating the earliest record of the practice, written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.
They said the evidence was found in a wooden bowl containing blackened stones unearthed at a Scythian cemetery in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Chemical analysis showed traces of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – the potent psychoactive component in cannabis.
Yang Yimin, lead author of a paper published in the journal Science Advances on Thursday, said the discovery at Jirzankal Cemetery, close to the border of Tajikistan, Pakistan and India, was “jaw-dropping”.

Scythians were horseback warriors who roamed from the Black Sea across central Asia and into western China more than 2,000 years ago. Herodotus wrote in The Histories around 440BC that they used marijuana, the earliest written record of the practice.

Scientists in Xinjiang found hemp had been burned on stones inside these wooden bowls 2,500 years ago. Photo: Chinese Academy of Sciences and Max Planck Institute
Scientists in Xinjiang found hemp had been burned on stones inside these wooden bowls 2,500 years ago. Photo: Chinese Academy of Sciences and Max Planck Institute

“The Scythians take the seed of this hemp and … they throw it on the red-hot stones. It smoulders and sends forth so much steam that no Greek vapour-bath could surpass it.

The Scythians howl in their joy at the vapour-bath,” Herodotus wrote.

Yang, who led an international team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany and the University of Queensland, said that until now there was no evidence to back up the Greek historian’s account.

“There was never any archaeological proof to the claim. We thought – is this it?” Yang said.

The discovery posed a question for the research team: where would the plants have come from? While hemp was commonly found in many parts of the world and was used for fabric, cooking and medicine, most wild species contained only small amounts of THC.

Ruins of 2,000-year-old coin workshop found in central China’s Henan province

Yang and his colleagues speculated that the altitude, 3,000 metres (9,843 feet) above sea level, and strong ultraviolet radiation might have resulted in a potent plant strain with THC levels similar to those in marijuana today.

“From here it was selected, probably domesticated and then went to other parts of the world along ancient trade routes with the Scythian nomads, forming an enormous ring of culture that shared the ritual of smoking cannabis,” Yang said.

Archaeologists said the site, with its 40 circular mounds and marked by long strips of black and white stones, could have been a burial ground for tribal members, with human sacrifice and cannabis part of the last rites.

Researchers suspect a potent strain of cannabis grew close to the Xinjiang burial site. Photo: Chinese Academy of Sciences and Max Planck Institute
Researchers suspect a potent strain of cannabis grew close to the Xinjiang burial site. Photo: Chinese Academy of Sciences and Max Planck Institute

So the early pot party might not have been the kind of celebration Herodotus described, the study’s authors suggested.

While the Scythians might have been inhaling the smoke to try to communicate with the dead in the next world, evidence suggested that a sacrifice – perhaps a war captive or a slave – was struck repeatedly on the head with a sword and the body hacked to pieces nearby, the researchers said.

Source: SCMP

09/06/2019

India’s Modi calls for global conference on terrorism

MALE, Maldives (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a global conference to tackle the threat of terrorism in the region and around the world.

During a speech on his first foreign visit since winning re-election, he told the Maldivian parliament in Male that “terrorism is not just a threat for a country, but to the entire civilisation”.

“The international community has actively arranged for global convention and many conferences on the threat of climate change. Why not on the issue of terrorism?” Modi said.

He called for a global conference “so that there can be meaningful and result-oriented discussions for plugging the loopholes that terrorists and their supporters exploit”.

India is pursuing what it calls a “neighbourhood first” foreign policy centred on its allies in South Asia, although there is little sign of a warming in relations with arch rival Pakistan.

His trip to the Maldives is being viewed as a statement of intent to counter the rise of China, which has been making strategic inroads in the Indian Ocean in recent years and seeking closer military ties, to the alarm of New Delhi.

“In the neighbourhood, Maldives is priority,” Modi said in his speech.

During the visit, Modi has signed a slew of agreements with the island nation encompassing ferry services, port terminals and a new national cricket stadium.

His next stop is Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, where security is likely to be high on the agenda.

A wave of bombings on Easter Sunday killed more than 250 people across Sri Lanka despite repeated warnings from Indian intelligence services about a militant plot.

Source: Reuters

04/06/2019

No time to waste in saving the world’s rivers from drying up – especially in China

  • Brahma Chellaney writes that excessive damming and drastic overuse of water resources are causing the world’s major waterways to run dry
Vessels head for the lock of the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, in central China's Hubei province. Sediment build-up in the dam’s reservoir stems from silt flow disruption in the Yangtze River, Brahma Chellaney writes. Photo: Xinhua
Vessels head for the lock of the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, in central China’s Hubei province. Sediment build-up in the dam’s reservoir stems from silt flow disruption in the Yangtze River, Brahma Chellaney writes. Photo: Xinhua
Thanks to excessive damming and drastic overuse of water resources, an increasing number of major rivers across the world are drying up before reaching the sea.
Nowhere is this more evident than in China, where the old saying, “Follow the river and it will eventually lead you to a sea,” is no longer wholly true.
While a number of smaller rivers in China have simply disappeared, the Yellow River – the cradle of the Chinese civilisation – now tends to run dry before reaching the sea.
This has prompted Chinese scientists to embark on a controversial rainmaking project to help increase the Yellow’s flow. By sucking moisture from the air, however, the project could potentially affect monsoon rains elsewhere.
For large sections of the world’s population, major river systems serve as lifelines. The rivers not only supply the most essential of all natural resources – water – but also sustain biodiversity, which in turn supports human beings.
Yet an increasing number of rivers, not just in China, are drying up before reaching the sea.
A major new United Nations study published early this month offers grim conclusions: human actions are irremediably altering rivers and other ecosystems and driving increasing numbers of plant and animal species to extinction.

“Nature across the globe has now been significantly altered,” according to the study’s summary of findings.

The Yangtze and Jialing rivers come together in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Photo: Simon Song
The Yangtze and Jialing rivers come together in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Photo: Simon Song

Water sustains life and livelihoods and enables economic development.

If the world is to avert a thirsty future and contain the risks of greater intrastate and interstate water conflict, it must protect freshwater ecosystems, which harbour the greatest concentration of species.

The Mekong is mighty no more: book charts river’s demise

Yet, according to another study published in Nature this month humans have modified the flows of most long rivers, other than those found in the remote regions of the

Amazon and Congo basins and the Arctic.

Consequently, only a little more than one-third of the world’s 246 long rivers are still free-flowing, meaning they remain free from dams, levees and other man-made water-diversion structures that leave them increasingly fragmented.

Humans have modified the flows of most long rivers, including the Yangtze, home to some of China’s most spectacular natural scenery. Photo: WWF
Humans have modified the flows of most long rivers, including the Yangtze, home to some of China’s most spectacular natural scenery. Photo: WWF

Such fragmentation is affecting river hydrology, flow of nutrient-rich sediment from the mountains where rivers originate, riparian vegetation, migration of fish and quality of water.

Take the Colorado River, one of the world’s most diverted and dammed rivers. Broken up by more than 100 dams and thousands of kilometres of diversion canals, the Colorado has not reached the sea since 1998.

Sinking sands along the Mekong River leave Vietnamese homeless

The river, which originates in the Rocky Mountains and is the lifeblood for the southwestern United States, used to empty into the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

But now, owing to the upstream diversion of 9.3 billion cubic metres (328.4 billion cubic feet) of water annually, the Colorado’s flow into its delta has been reduced to a trickle.

Altering the flow characteristics of rivers poses a serious problem for sustainable development, because they affect the ecosystem services on which both humans and wildlife depend. Photo: AP
Altering the flow characteristics of rivers poses a serious problem for sustainable development, because they affect the ecosystem services on which both humans and wildlife depend. Photo: AP

Other major rivers that run dry before reaching the sea include the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, the two lifelines of Central Asia; the Euphrates and the Tigris in the Middle East; and the Rio Grande, which marks the border between Texas and Mexico before heading to the Gulf of Mexico.

The overused Murray in Australia and Indus in Pakistan are at risk of meeting the same fate.

Are China’s Mekong dams washing away Cambodian livelihoods?

More fundamentally, altered flow characteristics of rivers are among the most serious problems for sustainable development, because they seriously affect the ecosystem services on which both humans and wildlife depend.

Free-flowing rivers, while supporting a wealth of biodiversity, allow billions of fish – the main source of protein for the poor – to trek through their waters and breed copiously.

Urgent action is needed to save the world’s rivers, including improving agricultural practices, which account for the bulk of freshwater withdrawals

Free-flowing rivers also deliver nutrient-rich silt crucial to agriculture, fisheries and marine life.

Such high-quality sediment helps to naturally re-fertilise overworked soils in the plains, sustain freshwater species and, after rivers empty into seas or oceans, underpin the aquatic food chain supporting marine life.

China’s hyperactive dam building illustrates the high costs of river fragmentation. No country in history has built more dams than China. In fact, China today boasts more large dams than the rest of the world combined.

China’s chain of dams and reservoirs on each of its long rivers impedes the downstream flow of sediment, thereby denying essential nutrients to agricultural land and aquatic species.

A case in point is China’s Three Gorges Dam – the world’s largest – which has a problematic build-up of sediment in its own massive reservoir because it has disrupted silt flows in the Yangtze River.

Likewise, China’s cascade of eight giant dams on the Mekong, just before the river enters Southeast Asia, is affecting the quality and quantity of flows in the delta, in Vietnam.

Yangtze dams may spell end to sturgeon in a decade
Undeterred, China is building or planning another 20 dams on the Mekong.
How the drying up of rivers affects seas and oceans is apparent from the Aral Sea, which has shrunk 74 per cent in area and 90 per cent in volume, with its salinity growing nine-fold.
People beat the heat by cooling off in the Yangtze River in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province. Photo: Nora Tam
People beat the heat by cooling off in the Yangtze River in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province. Photo: Nora Tam

This change is the result of the Aral Sea’s principal water sources, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, being so overexploited for irrigation that they are drying up before reaching what was once the world’s fourth-largest inland lake.

Compounding the challenges is the increasing pollution of rivers. Aquatic ecosystems have lost half of their biodiversity since the mid-1970s alone.

Chinese court jails nine for dumping toxic waste in Yangtze

Urgent action is needed to save the world’s rivers. This includes action on several fronts, including improving practices in agriculture, which accounts for the bulk of the world’s freshwater withdrawals.

Without embracing integrated water resource management and other sustainable practices, the world risks a parched future.

Source: SCMP

03/06/2019

Chinese vice president visits Germany, vows closer cooperation

GERMANY-CHINA-WANG QISHAN-VISIT

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan meets with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, Germany, May, 31, 2019. Wang Qishan paid a visit to Germany from Thursday to Sunday at the invitation of the German Federal Government. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

BERLIN, June 2 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan paid a visit to Germany from Thursday to Sunday at the invitation of the German Federal Government.

During his visit in Berlin, Wang met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas separately.

When meeting with Steinmeier, Wang said that China and Germany were both major world economies and major countries with great influence. The relations between the two countries have gone beyond bilateral scope and bear global significance.

Wang said in recent years the high-level contacts were frequent, and the cooperation in all fields has been constantly deepened, adding he is willing to push for new development of the all-around strategic partnership through his visit.

Noting the ties between China and Germany is currently facing a new situation, Wang called on the two countries to set a model of win-win cooperation for the world through deepening collaboration, to bring stability to the world through guiding the China-EU cooperation, and to strength the power to safeguard multilateralism through boosting global governance.

For his part, German President Steinmeier said that the current international landscape is complicated and turbulent, and multilateralism is under threat.

He noted that Germany highly values the ties with China, adding Germany is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China at all levels, and to continue the pragmatic cooperations in Industry 4.0 and in other fields.

Germany and China, and Europe and China, should join hands to maintain the world peace and stability, free trade, and existing international orders, Steinmeier added.

When meeting with Merkel, Wang said China sticks to peaceful development, and will through steadily deepening reform and opening up, solve the existing problem of imbalance and insufficient development to meet people’s desire for a better life and to fulfill the promises of the party and the government to the people.

Wang said China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world, nor can the world develop without the 1.4 billion Chinese people, and China advocates countries to together build a community of shared future for humankind.

Facing the profound and complex changes in the international situation, China always insists on doing its own share firstly, staying calm and clear-headed, showing composure, shouldering responsibility and reacting rationally, he noted.

Wang called on China and Germany, as all-around strategic partners, to strengthen cooperation in building a more fair and reasonable global governance system, and to jointly face the uncertainties.

The Chinese vice president also said that China has always viewed Europe from a strategic height and with a long-term vision, and firmly supported the European integration. Wang added that China is a trustworthy partner for Europe to have dialogue on an equal footing.

Chancellor Merkel said Germany appreciates China’s great achievements in economic development and believes that China can definitely achieve the ambitious goals of eradicating poverty and finishing building a moderately prosperous society on schedule.

Facing the current complex and volatile international environment in which various new problems emerge, Merkel said, Germany is always committed to safeguarding the principle of multilateralism and the existing international order.

She noted that Germany advocates to strengthen international coordination and collaboration through dialogue, disagrees with the action of exerting threat and pressure to solve problems.

She believed that Germany and China, as well as Europe and China, share broad consensus on a wide range of issues, expressing Germany’s willingness to strengthen communication, exchanges and cooperation with China, and to improve global governance system jointly with China.

When meeting with Heiko Maas, Wang said China and Germany share common interests in many fields such as deepening pragmatic cooperation, safeguarding multilateralism and free trade, improving global governance and promoting world peace.

Looking to the next stage of the bilateral relations, Wang advocates that both sides should set the right direction for the Sino-German, Sino-European win-win cooperation, encourage the enhanced exchanges in ideology, talents as well as science and technology, cement the friendship between the two peoples, and to inject more positive energy into the world.

Echoing Wang’s comments, Maas said Germany is willing to strengthen strategic communication and cooperation on multilateral issues with China, as well as to jointly tackle global challenges, safeguard multilateralism and international order, promote the liberalization of international trade.

During his visit to Germany, Wang also met with mayor of Hamburg Peter Tschentscher and Bavarian governor Markus Soeder and visited the port of Hamburg.

Before his tour to Germany, the Chinese Vice president also visited Pakistan and the Netherlands.

Source: Xinhua

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