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CWA # 801, 23 October 2022

The World This Week
China's 20th Party Congress and Former Prime Minister Liz Truss' resignation in the UK

  GP Team

TWTW#187, 23 October 2022, Vol. 4, No. 36
 

Avishka Ashok and Padmashree Anandhan 


China: President Xi seeks 'socialist modern' state through the 20th Party Congress

What happened?
On 16 October, President Xi Jinping inaugurated the 20th Communist Party of China’s National Party Congress and addressed the 2,296 delegates and released a comprehensive report on the party’s previous achievements and the road map for the coming five years and more.

Xi Jinping also highlighted that the party had achieved an overwhelming victory over its fight against corruption in the country and said that the CPC would continue to offend a few thousands rather than failing its population of 1.4 billion people.

On its internal affairs, China will be focused on safeguarding national security and social stability. Xi appreciated the Zero-COVID strategy for its effectiveness in preventing further outbreaks within the county. Political, economic, military, technological, cultural and social security will be the ultimate goal for the CPC in the coming years.

On climate change, Xi announced that China would work effectively to achieve carbon neutrality and reach peak carbon emissions. He promised an energy revolution which will use coal in a cleaner and more efficient way.

On foreign policy, Xi said that China would not seek hegemony or engage in any kind of expansionism. However, on the Taiwan question, Xi reiterated that it was an internal matter and called for a complete reunification of the island with the rest of China. He also stressed on improving the ‘one country, two systems’ policy and supporting regions like Hong Kong and Macao in growing economically.

What is the background?
First, the National Congress. The political gathering convenes to decide on new promotions, key positions and their appointments, and amendments. The conference of approximately 2000 delegates represents the 96-million-member communist party. The delegates are chosen from the 36 regions within China and from different traditional and non-traditional economic fields. The minorities make for 11.5 per cent of the Congress and while women make 27 per cent. The National Congress is of particular significance as the Central Committee chooses the 25-member Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee where all the legislative and executive power is concentrated.
Second, the previous congresses and its achievements. The goal to make China a “moderately prosperous society” was coined by Deng Xiaoping in 1979. The goal was achieved gradually through the 16th, 17th, and 18th Party Congress as the administration reformed the economy by doubling the GDP, reaching an urbanization rate of 50 per cent, increasing university enrollment by 20 per cent, and pulling up the disposable income of urban residents. In 2021, before the centenary celebration of the CPC, China claimed that the country had eradicated poverty. The Party Congress, therefore, plays a crucial role in identifying China’s future path and preparing a plan to achieve the goals.
Third, the current Congress and its aims. One of the most reformative statements made during the current congress was on Taiwan and its reunification with mainland China.  For the first time, China announced that it would not give up its right to use force on Taiwan in its goal of reunification. Although, peaceful reunification has been on the country’s agenda for long, the current congress used strong words on the reunification of Taiwan. In the furtherance of this goal, Xi also seeks to modernize the military technology and called for greater encouragement to innovation and research. The current congress is also important as Xi Jinping finally takes on a third term as the President, for the first time in China’s political history. After Xi abolished the law that prevents leaders from continuing for more than two terms, this is the first congress that would have otherwise elected a new President. 

What does it mean?
The 20th Party Congress primarily focused on the Chinese economy, the post COVID recovery, and the Taiwan question. Unlike the US and the UK who have been targeting China through their national strategy documents, China has barely even mentioned the countries; showing the indifference in China’s political circles regarding the external perspective on China. However, the heightened focus on economic recovery also shows that the country is concerned about the slow economic growth and realizes the urgency to lift up the economy as quickly as they can in the coming years. 
 


The UK: Liz Truss' resignation spins political chaos 
 
What happened?
On 17 October, Jeremy Hunt was appointed as the UK’s new chancellor replacing Kwasi Kwarteng as the announced economic mini-budget to “unfunded tax cuts” backfired. The plan resulted in sudden fluctuation in inflation, currency, and borrowing rates leading to domestic and international criticisms. According to an IMF spokesperson: “There is also a sense of problems in the country's economic management and their ability to handle issues, which could lead to problems of inflation [and] financial market difficulties.” Right after the appointment, Hunt reverses GBP 32 billion out of the GBP 45 billion announced under the economic plan of Liz Truss.
 
On 19 October, UK’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman handed in the resignation citing technical infringement and raised concerns over the ruling government in terms of “honoring manifesto commitments” and immigration. Along with the resignation and the reversal of the economic plan not having a drastic change in the economy, the conservative party leader asked Liz Truss to step down.
 
On 20 October, despite continued meetings with the conservative party members, Liz Truss succumbed to the pressure and resigned as Prime Minister. The term longed only 45 days, and the labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a general election.
 
On 22 October, BBC reported the probable candidates for contenting in the Tory leadership next. Rishi Sunak who was a former competitor against Liz Truss topped the list with support from 93 MPs, followed by Boris Johnson with the support of 44 MPs, and lastly Penny Mordaunt with 21 MP’s support. To go forward the support of 100 MPs will be required by the contenders.

What is the background?
First, the reversal of Truss’s mini-budget. Since the 2016 Brexit, UK’s economic management has been under pressure and the mini-budget plan which was supposed to boost the economy went in the opposite direction. The energy support package, aimed at keeping the unit price under the cap and slashing taxes was done to provide space to rework the economy but it prompting inflation, increased the risk of a recession, and the pound value crashed. With negative reactions within the conservative party, domestic and international asking for a reversal laid the basis for Truss to step down. If the budget had been introduced before Brexit, the immediate fallout could have been less burden on UK’s economy, but without its access to the EU market, its businesses still recovering from COVID-19 and reduced trade traffic, only the conservatives are at the receiving end for their bad economic plans.
 
Second, crack within the conservatives. Truss who was seen as the best replacement for Boris Johnson was expected to cut taxes and lead the party like a conservative, but the crack within the party is not only about the economic policy, leadership, or the selection process. Since Brexit, the differences between the nationalists and unionists over culture, climate change, and measures for the working class weakened the unity, immigration, and contending interest for the economy making it challenging to lead the party in one direction. Apart from this, the recurring contest for leadership within the party has prompted the members to grow a thirst for power and implement their vision for the UK. Brexit, combined with the widening differences after Truss’s administration has devasted the equation within the party members threatening its continuity in the UK’s political fora.
 
Third, the possibility of a general election. The previous contest to lead the Tories which longed to three months is not cut down where contenders for the next leadership will qualify upon getting backing from 100 MPs, Rishi Sunak or Boris Johnson emerging as the top two contenders will now be voted amongst the conservatives to select the next Prime Minister. If either one withdraws the candidacy, the other candidate will be chosen as the leader. If the Tories continue to be split the Prime Minister can call for a general election as per the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, which will prompt a confidence vote in the House of Commons, and if the government loses the vote, new elections will be held in next 25 days, this means a complete teardown of the Tories.

What does it mean?
First, the conservative party’s failure to stand put, Truss’s overarching dart to economic growth, and the effects of Brexit, the pandemic, and the Ukraine war, have tumulted the political and economic landscape of the UK into clutter. The next UK Prime Minister will have more pressure and a more complexed scenario than Truss to bring a pause to the ongoing chaos, but the continuity of the Torys till the 2025 general elections remains in the hands of the members than its leader.
 
Second, on the front, Brexit might be seen as a cause of the broadening ideological divide, economic challenges, and political chaos, for the EU always wants to grow its relations with the UK. For the UK whether it is the Tories or the Labour party accomplishing Brexit remains a priority. With the economic escalations, the UK might draw closer to improving its equation with specific EU member states but in cooperation with the Brexit agreement, the Ukraine war and tackling the energy crisis can be expected to be seriously affected due to the political instability ahead.


Also, in the news... 
Regional round-ups

East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: Foreign Ministry claims right to investigate assault on protestor in the UK
On 18 October, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that the country was well within its rights to investigate the case of assault over a Chinese citizen during protests outside the embassy building. The spokesperson has accused the protestor of illegally entering the embassy grounds and jeopardizing the security of the diplomatic premises. Wang said: “The diplomatic missions of all countries have the right to take necessary measures to maintain the peace and dignity of the premises. What I want to stress is that the peace and dignity of Chinese embassies and consulates abroad must not be violated.”
 
China: India’s proposal to list Pakistan-based terrorist as a global terrorist halted at the UN
On 19 October, China halted a proposal by India at the United Nations Security Council to list Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) leader Shahid Mahmood as a global terrorist under 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee. The latest rejection of the proposal is the fourth time in many months that China has stopped India’s appeal to list the Pakistan-based terrorist as a global threat. India’s proposal comes at a time when the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits India and pays a tribute to the victims of the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai which was carried out by the LeT. 
 
Japan: Yen crosses 150 against the US dollar for the first time in 32 years.
On 21 October, Japan’s Yen slumped to 150 per US Dollar. This was the first time in 32 years that the Japanese Yen crashed to this level. Japanese Yen went as high as 150.43 since 150.38 in August 1990. The Japanese currency is sensitive to changes in the US, where the Federal Reserve are trying to increase the interest rate to counter the growing fear of recession. Japan’s Yen was first weakened on late 20 October. The Japanese government warned investors to be on high alert for the changes of Yen.
 
South Korea: Seoul urges the Netherlands to invest in the chips and the energy industries.
On 18 October, South Korea requested the Netherlands to invest considerably in semiconductors, hydrogen and nuclear power generation, and advanced technological and industrial fields, which can also enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The request was made to the Netherlands’ Vice Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, by South Korea’s Deputy Trade Minister during a meeting in Seoul. South Korea’s government has been giving incentives for investments in the technological fields. South Korea has been working closely to support ASML, a Dutch chip equipment maker, to build a semiconductor cluster in Hwaseong by spending SKW 240 billion. The two countries are also interested in working closely in nuclear energy, hydrogen and other future energy fields.
 
Singapore: Memorandum signed with Vietnam for energy and carbon credits
On 17 October, Singapore and Vietnam signed a memorandum for energy and carbon credits. This is the first MoU between Singapore and an ASEAN country. The MoU covers several key areas such as development and financing of renewable energy as well as development of interconnectors for increased grid resistance, stability and electricity trading. The signing took place on the sidelines of President Halimah's state visit to Vietnam
 
Indonesia: Authorities seek return of ‘looted’ artefacts from Netherlands
On 21 October, Indonesia asked the Netherlands, the country’s former colonial ruler, to return eight collections of historical artefacts from its museums, including the bones of “Java Man”, the first known fossils of the Homo erectus species from which humans are believed to have evolved. The artefacts, which are classified as “looted” by Jakarta, include statues from Java’s ancient Hindu kingdom of Singhasari, personal items belonging to an Indonesian national hero, and the bones excavated in Java in the 19th century by Dutch paleoanthropologist Eugène Dubois, which became known as Java Man.

Myanmar: Chinese fighter jets to replace old jets
On 19 October, Myanmar air force has ordered several FTC 2000G fighter jets from China. The new fighter jets will replace Myanmar's aging A-5 and F-7. It is not known when the agreement was signed between the two countries. The new fighter jets are used for pilot fighter training, aerial surveillance, close in air support system etc.

South Asia This Week
Maldives: Inspector selected to work at Interpol Headquarters for the first Time
On 18 October, an officer from Maldives Police Service was selected to work at the Interpol headquarters in a historic first. The announcement was made by Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed in a tweet. Hameed said that a serving chief inspector from MPS will be sent to the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, by the end of this year. He said that Interpol completed the selection process. The officer selected will work at the Interpol headquarters for three threats at the Specialist Crime Unit. Hameed said: “This demonstrates Maldives’ contribution to enhance the globe’s effort to fight crime.”
 
Sri Lanka: Import restrictions on beauty care, vehicle spare parts to be lifted
On 21 October, Sri Lanka’s State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said that import restrictions on beauty care products, vehicle spare parts, and raw materials for export items would be lifted within the next two weeks. He said import restrictions had to be imposed on some items due to the foreign exchange crisis. But after the appeal, more than 700 products were removed from the list. Ranjith said: “Within the next two weeks, import restrictions on several items, including vehicle spare parts and cosmetics, will be lifted following requests by individuals in respective sectors.”
 
India: DefExpo held to increase defence exports
On 22 October, India hosted 12th edition of DefExpo 2022 which included joint venture firms from the UK, Israel, France and the US. The event was postponed in March 2022 due to the outbreak of Russia-Ukraine war. The exhibition is aimed at pitching Indian military hardware to various countries. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said: "India has undertaken a transformative journey from being the largest defence importer to an exporter," India has set a target to achieve USD 25 billion manufacturing turnover in defence goods and services by 2025.
 
India: DRDO successfully test-fires ‘Agni Prime’
On 21 October, India successfully test-fired its most advanced medium range nuclear-capable ballistic missile ‘Agni Prime’. The indigenously designed and built two-stage canisterised missile was launched from Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast, and travelled the pre-coordinated range of 1400 kilometres. Agni Prime is the sixth variant in the Agni series with independently targetable multiple re-entry vehicles.
 
India: ISRO’s first dedicated commercial mission lifts off
On 23 October, the heaviest rocket of the Indian Space Research Organisation, LVM3-M2 (previously called GSLV MK-III) blasted off from this spaceport on Sunday to place 36 broadband communication satellites into the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for a UK-based customer, Network Access Associated Limited (OneWeb). NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a central public sector enterprise under the Department of Space, had earlier signed two launch service contracts. LVM3-M2 is a three-stage launch vehicle consisting of two solid propellant S200 strap-ons on its sides and core stage comprising L110 liquid stage and C25 cryogenic stage.
 
Pakistan: FATF removes Islamabad from the ‘grey list’ after four years
On 21 October, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Pakistan from a list of countries under “increased monitoring” also known as the “grey list” after a period of four year. While addressing a press conference FATF President Raja Kumar said: “It has two concurrent action plans. After a lot of work by Pakistani authorities, they have largely addressed all of the action plan item,” adding, “As a result of these action plans, Pakistan has made significant improvements to strengthen the effectiveness of this framework for combating terrorism financing.” Further, in its handout the FATF said: “Pakistan has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans regarding strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in June 2018 and June 2021, the latter of which was completed in advance of the deadlines, encompassing 34 action items in total.
 
Pakistan: Imran Khan gets five-year disqualification in Toshakhana reference
On 21 October, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference under Article 63(1)(p) for making “false statements and incorrect declaration.” According to the verdict, Imran Khan had “intentionally and deliberately” violated the provisions contained [in] sections 137, 167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, as he “has made false statement (sic) and incorrect declaration before the Commission in the statement of assets and liabilities filed by him for the year 2020-21.” Hence, he attracts disqualification under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read with sections 137 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017. After the ECP’s verdict, Imran Khan could also cease to be the PTI chairman as per an earlier judgement by the Supreme Court which ruled that an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution could not serve as head of a political party.
 
Afghanistan: UNAMA chief meets with Afghan women leaders
On 19 October, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Head, Roza Otunbayeva met with Afghan women leaders and rights activists. During the meeting, issues related to the socio-economic hardships of Afghan women after the restrictions on girls' education and work were discussed. Previously, Otunbayeva met with the Taliban Deputy Prime Minister for Administrative Affairs, Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi, and the Taliban Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs, Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, during which she discussed the role of women in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, governance, the importance of an inclusive government, the need to lift the ban on girls for their education, and press freedom.

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Kazakhstan: Senate ratifies agreement on the delimitation of Kazakh-Turkmen border
On 20 October, the Senate ratified the agreement between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on delimiting the border in the Caspian Sea. The chairman of the Senate said: “The law allows Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to complete the delimitation process of their respective state borders in the Caspian Sea. The law will strengthen the two countries’ good neighbourly relations and foster mutually beneficial cooperation.” Previously, the land border between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan was delineated in 2006, however, the demarcation was only completed in 2018.
 
Azerbaijan-Turkey: Erdogan and Aliyev meet for another airport opening near Nagorno-Karabakh
On 20 October, President Ilham Aliyev and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened another international airport in the southwestern city of Zangilan near Nagorno-Karabakh. This is the second airport to build in the region after Azerbaijan regained control over parts of the breakaway region and seven adjacent districts in 2020. During a joint conference, the two leaders stated that there is an opportunity for Turkey to mend ties with Armenia. President Erdogan said: “The processes of normalization between Azerbaijan and Armenia, between Turkey and Armenia, are interdependent,” adding, “We must seize the opportunity which has opened.”
 
Iran: Issue over deployment of Iranian drones in Russia continues
On 22 October, Nasser Kanaani, spokesperson of Iran's foreign ministry, strongly condemned a call by France, United Kingdom and Germany for an UN investigation into the accusations of Russia using Iranian drones to attack Ukraine. The three countries had backed Ukraine’s call for an inquiry. The spokesperson said that “the government of Islamic Republic of Iran, in its pursuit to protect its national interest… reserves the right to respond to any irresponsible action.”

On 21 October, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba had a telephonic conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and held discussions over the Iranian supply. Ukraine reportedly requested Israel to provide air and missile defence systems and technology.
 
On 20 October, the US National Security spokesperson John Kirby said that “Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons that are impacting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.” The statement comes after the UNSC meeting on the issue and Russia’s statement denying the allegations and emphasizing that the drones were made in Russia. On the same day, the EU Council said that the EU countries have decided to impose sanctions on Iran over the supply and use of the kamikaze drones.
 
Israel-Palestine: Australia reverses recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
On 18 October, Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong said that the government will no longer recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing the Scott Morrison government’s decision taken in 2018. The official statement by the minister read that “Australia’s previous and longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people.” With this, Canberra confirmed its commitment to the two-state solution.
 
Israel: International summit organized to promote aquaculture  and battle global food security
On 18 October, Israel organized the first-ever International Summit on Food Technologies from the Sea and the Desert. The agenda of the conference mooted on the challenges to global sustainable and integrated aquaculture and desert agriculture, while presenting promising solutions and cutting-edge technology platforms. The event assembled all stakeholders of this critical ecosystem at one venue. It offers an opportunity to examine the latest progress in Israel’s research and that of global academies, experienced companies in the industry as well as emerging new companies, innovative start-ups, investors, entrepreneurs, and government representatives.
 
Algeria: Russia, Algeria Hold Joint Naval Exercise
On 18 October, Russia and Algeria launched a joint military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, to strengthen military cooperation between the Algerian and Russian navies. A Russian navy minesweeper docked in the port of Jijel on the eastern Mediterranean coast in September to conduct joint exercises with the Algerian navy. Algeria along with Morocco and Egypt, is reported to be one of Russia’s top three trading partners on the African continent. Algeria did not join the restrictive measures against Moscow and maintains a neutral position.
 
Africa: UNSC and AUPSC hold 16th annual consultative meeting
On 16 October, ReliefWeb published the joint communique of the Sixteenth (16th) Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the Members of the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council held on 14 October. The members reiterated the UNSC's responsibility to ensure peace and security in Africa, in line with the UN Charter and the AUPSC's duty to promote peace, security and stability in the continent. The two sides assessed the situation in West Africa and the Sahel and the Great Lakes Region. They expressed  concern over the following: terrorism and violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel; the prevalent sexual violence in conflict and attacks against the UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic; and "protracted insecurity and humanitarian crisis" in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's east. They also observed that despite Africa's minimal contribution to climate change, it is extremely vulnerable to the latter's impacts and extreme weather patterns.

Europe and The Americas This Week
Russia: Scientists reveal what Neanderthal life may have looked like
On 19 October, scientists have for the first time pieced together what they think Neanderthal life may have looked like. Experts looked at bone and tooth remains, believed to be around 54,000 years old, from 13 individuals found in two caves in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. The remains were found in two nearby caves - Chagyrskaya cave and Okladnikov cave in Russia's Altai Mountains. Their results show that these Neanderthal communities were made up of small groups of close relatives, consisting of around 10 to 20 members. They also suggest that women travelled more frequently to mix with different groups of Neanderthals, while the men largely stayed home.
 
France: Design of a new nuclear powered aircraft carrier unveiled
On 18 October, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will build a new, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to replace its Charles de Gaulle carrier by 2038. Macron framed the decision to use nuclear reactors to propel the future warship as part of France's climate strategy, stressing its lower emissions compared to diesel fuel. One of his advisers noted that having an aircraft carrier also helps France project its global influence. Only a few countries in the world maintain the huge, costly vessels.
 
Saab demos autonomous ‘Enforcer-3’ in joint trials with Swedish Navy
On 20 October, SAAB conducted trials with Swedish Navy on a modified CB-90, a workhorse amphibious landing craft for the Swedish military, which recently bought 18 of the company’s next generation version. Rising interest in unmanned systems has spread throughout all of Europe and Sweden is one of the countries interested in finding out the future solutions of autonomous functionality.
 
The US: NASA plans to fly faster than sound without generating sonic boom
On 16 October, Business Standard reported that NASA intends to use Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) to demonstrate that the X-59 can fly faster than sound without producing the generally loud sonic booms that led to the prohibition of supersonic flying over land in 1973. With the X-59 and its quiet supersonic technology building on all that has been learned since the X-1 first proved it was possible to go beyond Mach 1, NASA hopes to enable industry to make faster-than-sound flight available to everyone. Lockheed Martin has designed, built and conducted initial flight tests with the aircraft and the first flight is targeted for 2023.
 
Brazil: First Presidential debate kicks off the final round of the presidential election
On 16 October, the first presidential debate of the 2022 election took palace between Brazillian president Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inacio da Silva. The debate which lasted two hours was filled with jabs at each other and filled with personal attacks. Lula brought up Bolsonaro’s government’s delay in acquiring Covid-19 vaccines and expressed that half the deaths could have been prevented if there was a faster response. Bolsonaro took up the case of Lula’s corruption scandal-plagued stint in power. Both the candidates did not discuss anything from their mandate including both of their promises to increase Brazil’s welfare programme.
 
Haiti: UNSC to impose sanctions on Haiti gang leader
On 21 October, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted the sanctions resolution targeting Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier. Introduced by the US and Mexico, the resolution outlines a travel ban, asset freeze and an arms embargo on state actors in Haiti. The resolution mentioned Cherizier and he will be the first one to be sanctioned, going forward more individuals will be applied to others.


About the authors
Ankit Singh, Akriti Sharma and Rashmi Ramesh are PhD Scholars in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Avishka Ashok, Abigail Miriam Fernandes, Apoorva Sudhakar, Padmashree Anandhan, Sai Pranav, Joel Jacob and Anu Maria are Research Associates at NIAS. Madhura Mahesh and Sethuraman Nadarajan are Research Interns at NIAS.

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