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The World This Week
Taiwan: Launches its first domestically built submarine “Hain Kun”

  GP Team

The World This Week #233, Vol. 5, No.37
01 October 2023

Regional Round-ups
China This Week
Taiwan: Launches its first domestically built submarine “Hain Kun”
On 28 August, Taiwan announced their first domestically built submarine aiming to further their defence capabilities in deterring China. Taiwan has bolstered its defence spending to USD 26 billion for the coming year. The prototype was unveiled and was named “Hai Kun” meaning the mythical sea creature. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said: “History will forever remember this day,” and “In the past, building submarines domestically was considered ‘Mission Impossible’. But today, a submarine designed and built by our people is right in front of everyone – we did it.” Hai Kun is estimated to be 80m in length and weigh approximately 3,000 tons that features combat mechanisms sourced by Lockheed Martin a US-based defence company.

China: Accused of international media manipulation by the US
On 28 September, the US State Department accused China of manipulating the international media via censorship, data harvesting and covert purchases. The report warned of repercussions stating that this will affect the global freedom of expression. With the rise of Chinese aggression and competition, Beijing has intensified its efforts to clean its negative image. It claimed that China has invested in satellite networks and services to further the state-backed media. With its global footprint, China has been able to data harvest overseas, facilitating its censorship efforts.

China: Refuses to expand support for some CPEC proposals by Pakistan
On 26 September, an editorial in The Express Tribune “CPEC expansion plan in doldrums,” on the state of China and Pakistan’s economic ties as China did not agree to further their bilateral cooperation in areas of energy and water management. They expressed that Islamabad left its opposition to set up a coal-powered plant in Gwadar and that China refuses to agree to measures proposed by Pakistan. The negotiations signed upon largely exclude provisions proposed by Pakistan like the issue of financial challenges faced by power companies. They also advised that the imported fuel-based Gwadar plant converts to Thar coal. The Planning Ministry called the ratification of the 11th JCC meeting a testament to their strong cooperation while the iron-clad friendship is seeing strains.

East and Southeast Asia This Week
South Korea: Showcases military power in parade
On 26 September, South Korea displayed advanced weaponry in a rare military parade in Seoul for Armed Forces Day. It emphasized its robust defence. President Yoon Suk Yeol warns that a nuclear attack by North Korea would result in its regime's collapse due to an overwhelming response from the ROK-US alliance. The parade, the first in a decade, features various weapons, including the Hyunmoo ballistic missile and Aegis-equipped destroyer Jeongjo the Great. Approximately 300 US Forces Korean personnel participated, highlighting the combined defense posture. The event marks the 75th Armed Forces Day, focused on strengthening national security.

Australia: Prime Minister of Solomon Islands criticizes US approach to Pacific
On 27 September, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare criticized the US for lecturing Pacific leaders and suggested a rethink of the Pacific Leaders' Summit. He declined US President Joe Biden's invitation to the summit. While initially citing "domestic issues," he later stated that preparations for the parliamentary session in Honiara were more important. It is raising concerns about his growing alignment with China. Sogavare praised China's development role and Belt and Road initiative during his UN speech. China's "positive feedback" has resulted in transformative changes, he noted. Meanwhile, Chinese naval officers visited Papua New Guinea during a goodwill visit.

South Asia This Week
Pakistan: Pakistan has decided to deport over 1 million Afghans
On 26 September, the caretaker government in Pakistan has decided to repatriate over 1.1 million Afghanis who have been living in Pakistan illegally reported Wion. The decision was taken by the caretaker cabinet. The repatriation will be done in three phases according to the status of the Afghanis residing in the Pakistani territory. In the first phase, those without proper documents and lapsed visas will be deported. The second phase will deal with the status of Afghani citizens and the third will look at proof of residence card holders.

Afghanistan: Pakistani police continue to detain Afghan refugees
On 24 September, the consul of the Islamic Emirate in Karachi, Abdul Jabar Takhari claimed that hundreds of Afghan refugees have been detained over the last 15 days by the Pakistani police. He pegged the number of detentions at more than 900 and stated that 200 of them have been released because of the efforts of the consulates.  He further requested the Pakistani government to stop detentions of Afghani refugees that are registered. In response, the Caretaker Government of Pakistan has ordered authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to not disturb Afghan refugees.

Iran: Iran successfully puts into orbit its third imaging satellite Noor
On 27 September, the Aljazeera reported that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has successfully put a third satellite into low orbit which is at a distance of 450km (280 miles) from the surface of the Earth. It’s the third version of the imaging satellite Noor, which means “light” in Persian and is a military reconnaissance satellite. It was put into orbit using a Qased – the three-staged carrier developed by the IRGC. This development comes in the wake of mounting criticism from the West on Iran’s satellite programme which they argue may violate a United Nations Security Council resolution relating to the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran, however, has vowed to continue with the launches and has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran: US denies Iran’s Foreign Minister Permission to visit Washington DC
On 24 September, the Aljazeera reported that the US had rejected Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s request to travel to Washington DC where he wanted to visit Iran’s consular interest section. In the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, it operates under the Pakistan flag. It is to be noted that Amirabdollahian was in the US alongside President Ebrahim Raisi to attend the UNGA General Assembly annual debate last week. US Department of State spokesperson, Matthew Miller, confirmed the request and its denial to reporters and further stated, “Given Iran’s wrongful detention of US citizens, given Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, we did not believe it was either appropriate or necessary in this instance to grant that request.” If he had been allowed, this would have been the first visit by an Iranian Foreign Minister to Washington DC in almost 14 years.
 

Middle East and Africa This Week
Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor
On 27 September, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, described the unveiling of the ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) as "major news" for Israelis and described it as the "largest cooperation project in our history" that will change the Middle East, Israel, and the entire globe for the better. Israel is aware that this would significantly affect its economy. It might enable it to catch up economically to the Gulf and integrate with the region as a whole, enhancing ongoing normalization and giving the process a long-term perspective. On 23 September, the leaders of the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union jointly announced the new economic corridor, which many see as a rival to China's contentious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This was done in New Delhi on the last day of the G20 summit.

Israel: Historic trips to Saudi Arabia and Israel as normalization negotiations advance
On 26 September, the first high-level Saudi delegation to visit the occupied West Bank since Israel seized control of it from Jordan in the 1967 war. According to his office, Haim Katz was the first Israeli minister to head a group of government representatives to the Gulf state. The historic trips happen after Saudi and Israeli officials praised efforts to forge diplomatic ties. Recent complicated negotiations between its two regional partners have been mediated by the US. A settlement between the major players would represent a sea change in Middle Eastern affairs and offer US President Joe Biden a significant diplomatic win. Nayef al-Sudairi, ambassador to Jordan and Saudi Arabia's first official representative to the Palestinians, visited the West Bank. In its statement, the Palestinian foreign ministry hailed the development as "an historic milestone" in ties with Saudi Arabia.Mr. Sudairi attempted to comfort Palestinians about the situation when speaking to journalists. The ambassador said that the crown prince's support for the Palestinian cause is hardly entirely novel. He cares deeply about the stability and safety of the entire area and the entire world since this benefit everyone on the planet.

Niger: France withdraws its ambassador and troops over souring relations
On 25 September, the Niger junta banned French aircraft from entering the country's airspace. The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) stated that Niger's airspace was open to all commercial flights except to those chartered by France. On 26 September, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris will withdraw its ambassador and end all military cooperation with Niger. He added that French troops will withdraw in “the months to come.” Macron stated: "France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours, our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France. Nearly 1,500 French soldiers are present in Niger assisting in its fight against Islamist militants. Following Macrons’ announcement, the military junta stated: "This Sunday we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger.” France-Niger relations soured following the military coup in July and France refused to recognise the coup leadership.

Burkina Faso: Junta says it thwarted a coup attempt
On 28 September, the Burkinabe military government stated that the country's security and intelligence services thwarted a coup attempt on 26 September. The junta commented that unnamed military officers organised to destabilise the country. Reuters quoted the junta: They had "the dark intention of attacking the institutions of the republic and plunging our country in chaos.” Burkina Faso is marking one year of the military takeover on 29 September. In 2022, President Captain Ibrahim Traoré seized power amid growing Islamist insurgency in the country. However, the junta is struggling to address the insurgency after the withdrawal of the UN and French troops. Previously, he had promised to hold elections by July 2024. Before the coup attempt, Captain Traoré stated that he was "determined to safely lead the transition [to democracy] despite adversity and the various manoeuvres to stop our inexorable march towards assumed sovereignty.”

Morocco: IMF approves USD 1.3 billion loans for disaster management
On 29 September, BBC reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a USD 1.3 billion loan to assist Morocco in its natural disaster management sector. The announcement comes three weeks after the earthquake that killed more than 3,000 people in the country. The Moroccan government is being criticised for its poor handling of the earthquake on 8 September in the High Atlas mountains. The IMF stated that the 18-month loan would assist the country’s climate action by tackling "climate vulnerabilities,” "resilience against climate change,” and seizing "opportunities from decarbonisation.”

South Sudan: President Kiir visits Russia
On 28 September, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir visited Russia and held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Euronews, the leaders have agreed to expand their ties in the sectors of energy, trade and oil. They also discussed political and security issues in South Sudan, which is planning its first presidential elections in 2024. Putin stated that Russian investments in oil refineries in South Sudan would bolster bilateral ties. The visit comes against the backdrop of Russia and the West continuing to reach out to African countries seeking support in the war in Ukraine.
 

Europe and the Americas This Week
Ukraine: NATO Secretary General visits Kyiv
On 28 September, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Kyiv. He reaffirmed NATO’s strong support for Ukraine. He commended the leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukraine’s progress in its counteroffensive. He said: "Ukrainians are fighting for their families, their future, their freedom; Moscow is fighting for imperial delusions." Stoltenberg highlighted NATO’s commitment to Ukraine’s membership and three key decisions to enhance cooperation. He emphasized NATO’s collective efforts in providing military support and joint procurement initiatives. Stoltenberg welcomed Ukraine’s peace plan and stated, “Ukraine's future is in NATO.” He paid respects at the Wall of Remembrance for Ukraine’s fallen heroes and reaffirmed NATO’s unwavering solidarity.  

France: President proposes Corsican autonomy within France’s state
On 28 September, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a constitutional text to grant autonomy to Corsica within the French Republic. He emphasized that it would not entail separation from the state. The proposal comes after months of discussions between the government and Corsican political leaders. Macron pledged a constitutional and organic text to be presented within six months. It will grant Corsican elected representatives the ability to define standards and transfer powers. It will be under the supervision of the Council of State and the Constitutional Council. The move aims to address Corsican demands, including legislative powers, Corsican residency status, language promotion. It also aims to recognize Corsican identity, without compromising the French Republic. 

Germany: EU President calls for Global Financing Pact at Berlin Global Dialogue
On 28 September, EU President Charles Michel gave an address at the Berlin Global Dialogue. He emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change and digital transformation as fundamental challenges for the future. He highlighted the EU’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 and stressed the need for legal stability, regulations, and legal certainty to attract investment. Michel called for a new global financing pact, likening it to a “new Bretton Woods moment.” He also emphasized the need for reforms to ensure inclusivity and adequate capitalization of institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. He underlined the EU’s role in promoting global cooperation and multilateralism. 

Switzerland: Tripartite dialogue on labor with China
On 28 September, Switzerland and China held their fifth tripartite labor dialogue in Bern. Boris Zürcher, Head of the Labor Directorate, hosted a delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MoHRSS) along with Chinese social partners. They discussed new work forms, worker protection, and the impact of digitalization on skilled labor. Switzerland expressed concerns about labor issues in China, particularly in Xinjiang. It urges compliance with ILO Core Conventions on forced labor. Social partners in Switzerland supported these demands. 
 

Ecuador: US offers a reward for information about the Ecuador election assassination
On 29 September, for information leading to an arrest in the murder of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, the United States has offered a reward of up to USD 5 million. On 26 September, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that "multiple assassins attacked Mr. Villavicencio, the Movimiento Construye party's presidential candidate for the 2023 elections, as he left a Quito campaign event on August 9." Ecuador, which had 11 days until its general elections, experienced shock following the assassination. The announcement by Blinken comes ahead of the run-off election for president of Ecuador scheduled for October 15. According to him, "the United States will continue to assist the Ecuadorian people and work to bring individuals who attempt to thwart democratic processes through violent crime to justice."

Cuba: Attack with Molotov cocktails on the Cuban embassy in Washington, DC
On 26 September, according to Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, an attacker used two Molotov cocktails to attack the Cuban Embassy in the capital city of the United States, Washington, DC. No one was harmed, he added. Just hours after Miguel Diaz-Canel, the leader of Cuba, arrived back on the island after attending meetings at the UN in New York, the attack took place on 22 September in the late hours. According to Cuban officials, the attack didn't result in any major losses or injuries, but Havana promptly placed the blame on the country's exiled Cuban population in the US. No one claimed credit for the attack. Although there are often demonstrations outside foreign embassies in Washington, DC, attacks are uncommon, and the US consistently denounces instances that have an impact on its missions abroad.

Guatemala: Guatemalan landslides caused by heavy rain resulted in six deaths and 12 missing
On 25 September, A flooded river in Guatemala City washed away homes, leaving at least six people dead and 12 others missing. On 23 September, according to Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction agency (CONRED) flooding from the Naranjo River poured into the shantytown of Dios es Fiel, or God is Faithful, in Guatemala City, destroying at least six homes that had been perched under a bridge. Six bodies were found by search dogs and recovery crews in the floodwaters, including a small girl, who was thought to be around five years old.

US: Major US politician demands for the suspension of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt
On 27 September, In the midst of mounting calls to cut funding, a prominent Democratic member in the US has recommended halting hundreds of millions of dollars in help to Egypt due to concerns about human rights. Gregory Meeks, the leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, claimed that members' standards for Egypt's eligibility for aid in terms of respecting human rights were not met. Of the USD1.3 billion Cairo receives annually from Washington, USD 320 million was subject to human rights conditions set by US Congress.  However, the Joe Biden administration relaxed the restrictions earlier this month on the grounds that the support serves US national interests. Only USD 85 million was ultimately withheld.

US: 'Global information manipulation' by China endangers liberties says US
On 26 September, following the publication of the Global Engagement Center’s report the State Department spokesperson said in a statement that Beijing has spent billions of dollars creating a worldwide information ecosystem that supports its propaganda, enables censorship, and spreads misinformation. In the report, Beijing tried to sway foreign opinion and "bend the global information environment to its advantage" by employing a variety of "deceptive and coercive methods." According to the United States, China is engaging in a massive effort that involves persuasion, censorship, and disinformation that costs billions of dollars annually and may endanger international freedoms.

 

 

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