Focus Neighbourhood: Geopolitics in focus as PM Hasina arrives in China

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ANANTA ASPEN CENTRE

ANANTA ASPEN CENTRE

Geopolitics in focus as PM Hasina arrives in China

Prothom Alo | 9th July

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will be holding separate meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping and prime premier Li Qiang on Wednesday in a fresh perspective.

The bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and China has elevated to a new level over the past decade as Bangladesh joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while China has financed various mega projects including Padma Rail Bridge and Bangabandhu Tunnel projects.

However, this time the meetings between the top leaders of two countries at Beijing’s Great Hall will not be limited to the issue of bilateral relationship.

 

Chinese debt restructuring sought

The Express Tribune | 9thJuly

Pakistan’s finance minister will fly to Beijing this week as an envoy of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to request the Chinese leadership to restructure the $15 billion energy debt. The government faces a challenging situation with multiple unresolved issues.

Highly placed sources told The Express Tribune that Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb would visit China this week. While Iqbal’s visit was pre-planned, the finance minister is being dispatched as the PM’s special messenger, they added. As the finance minister’s visit was not scheduled earlier, Pakistan’s ambassador to Beijing has been instructed to arrange meetings with Chinese authorities, said the sources.

 

Girls Deprived of Education in Kabul Turn to Tailoring, Embroidery

TOLO News | 8th July

Some girls who have been deprived of education in the capital have turned to tailoring and embroidery. 

These girls are asking the interim government to support them and provide them with job opportunities. 

Mina, a thirteen-year-old, had to learn a profession to help her family after the doors of schools were closed to girls over the sixth grade. 

Mina, a student, said: “I came to this workshop; it is very good for women who are at home and for girls who have been deprived of school.”

Neda, another student, said: “My request from the Islamic Emirate is to provide job opportunities for women so that women can stand on their own feet.

 

PAKISTAN 

 

‘National security under threat’ from X: ministry of interior

Dawn | 9th July

The ministry of interior has defended the months-long ban on social media platform X on the ground that it is a “threat to peace and national security” as it spreads “misinformation and incites violence”, it emerged on Monday.

The ban was imposed on Feb 17 on the basis of reports from intelligence agencies.

In its reply placed before the Sindh High Court (SHC), the ministry said: “[The] hostile elements operating on X have nefarious intentions to create an environment of chaos and instability, with the ultimate goal of destabilising the country and plunging it into some form of anarchy.”

It added that elements of society involved in a “defamatory campaign against state institutions” are exploiting platform X to “spread misinformation and incite violence”, posing a grave “threat to the peace and security of the nation”.

 

Failure to make tough decisions will throw us back at IMF feet: PM Shehbaz

The News | 8th July

Expressing concerns over the burden of debt that has pawned the future of the nation’s generations, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday that knocking on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) door again after three years would be an utter disgrace for Pakistan.

“To free ourselves from this cycle of debt, the federal and provincial governments, along with the relevant institutions, must work together,” the premier said while addressing a signing ceremony to launch a significant initiative aimed at the solarisation of agricultural tube wells in Balochistan.

 

Govt to set up new terminal at Pak-Afghan border

The Nation | 9th July

The federal government will establish a new terminal at the Pak-Afghan border in Badini, Balochistan, aiming to check terrorist activities of non-state actors, to control illegal trade and regularize the illegal movement of people between the two neighbouring countries.

The new proposed border terminal at Badini and 40km road located in district Killa Saifullah in Balochistan province will be used as an alternate route for trade with Afghanistan but also with Central Asian Republic (CARs), official documents seen by The Nation.

The project is aimed at construction of Border Terminal facility on Pak-Afghan border at Badini in district Killa Saifullah.

 

SRI LANKA

 

Marine expert calls for sustainable shift in SL’s tourism focus

Daily Mirror | 9th July

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry requires a major shift towards long-term thinking and a collective approach to protect and promote the country’s natural resources, a prominent marine scientist said. 

Citing the self-driven and selfish processes that dominate the country’s tourism sector, Oceanswell Founder and marine biologist Dr. Asha De Vos stressed the need to instil a change in attitude that facilities awareness, courage and self-confidence among those involved. 

“Our biodiversity is in bad state but many will not agree because we don’t even know what we have and the damage we’ve caused.

 

Korea makes possible new plant quarantine technology at Colombo Port

The Island | 9th July

The Plant Quarantine Service at Colombo Sea Port is undergoing significant expansion with the introduction of new technology, made possible by an investment of USD 1.3 million, thanks to the Korean government, Agriculture and Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at an event held recently at the Colombo Sea Port.

Amaraweera said that under the 2019 to 2024 framework, the Korean government has allocated a total of USD 7.5 million to modernize the plant quarantine services at Colombo Sea Port.

Amaraweera added: ‘This project includes the construction of the new building and the establishment of research and laboratory facilities necessary for plant quarantine during imports and exports.

 

Sri Lanka must create a conducive environment for rating upgrade: Semasinghe

Daily Mirror | 8th July

With the completion of three key steps in its debt restructuring— the finalisation of Domestic Debt Optimisation (DDO), inking agreements with the Official Creditor Committee and China Exim Bank, and reaching consensus with bondholders—Sri Lanka is now poised for a rating upgrade.

State Minister of Finance highlighted that while the next positive milestone is a rating upgrade, the island nation must work diligently to achieve this and shed its current default status.

“We cannot set a timeline for the rating agencies to update us. What we can do from our end is to create the environment for the rating agencies 

to look at.

 

AFGHANISTAN

 

Afghanistan reports surge in Malaria cases

The Khaama Press | 8th July

The Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health has reported an increase in malaria cases in Afghanistan, with approximately 50,000 incidents recorded in the first six months of the current year.

Sharafatzaman Amarkhil, spokesperson for the ministry, stated on Monday, July 8th, that the number of malaria patients has increased by 69% compared to last year in Afghanistan.

Amarkhil emphasized that nearly 370,000 patients with malaria symptoms visited health centers and hospitals in the first six months of 2024, with 50,000 cases confirmed positive.

He highlighted that seasonal diseases like malaria escalate in warmer climates nationwide.

 

Japan allocates $10 million to strengthen private sector in Afghanistan

The Khaama Press | 8th July

Takayoshi Kurokawa, Japan’s ambassador to Kabul, announced on Sunday, July 7th, a $10 million aid package to strengthen Afghanistan’s private sector.

Japan’s contribution of $10 million to the private sector in Afghanistan comes as countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, emphasized support for the private sector at the Third Doha Meeting.

The Japanese embassy has not yet provided official details regarding its support for Afghanistan’s private sector or how these funds will be utilized.

 

 

BANGLADESH

 

Talent Partnership with Bangladesh’ to benefit migrants economically

Bangladesh Post | 8th July

Ambassador of the European Union to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley on Monday said the signed “Talent Partnership with Bangladesh” will benefit migrants and their families economically.

He said the partnership will also improve overall migration management, increase labour force skills, and strengthen Bangladesh’s capacity for cooperation with countries of destination outside the EU, including the reduction of irregular migration.

Whiteley said the Talent Partnership marks another milestone in Bangladesh-EU relations, and this win-win effort will boost sustainable growth and address labour market demands in Europe.

 

Rising Aedes density fuels dengue spread beyond city corporation areas

Dhaka Tribune | 9th July

With the decline in rainfall, the number of dengue patients is increasing. In the 24 hours till Monday morning, 86 people suffering from dengue were admitted to hospital, the highest in July. 

According to statistics from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), from January 1 to July 7 of this year, 3,978 people have been hospitalized with dengue, and 46 people have died. 

Among those infected, 2,503 are outside city corporation areas, and 1,475 are within city corporation areas. 

This means that nearly twice as many patients are affected outside city corporation areas.

 

 

BHUTAN

 

Nu 10.23 billion allocated to RNR sector to boost food security and GDP growth

Kuensel | 9th July

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MoAL) has allocated Nu 10.23 billion for the renewable natural resources (RNR) sector for the financial year 2024-25 to enhance food and nutrition security, improve farmers’ income, and increase the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This constitutes 10 percent of the ministry’s overall budget outlay. In 2023, the agriculture and livestock sector contributed Nu 36,479 million to the GDP, which is expected to increase to Nu 58,698 million by 2029.

The government also plans to increase the sector’s growth by 8.3 percent in the 13th plan by prioritising high-tech farming and establishment and expansion of large-scale commercial farming.

 

400 plus Bhutanese register for Bhutan Innovation Forum within 2 days

Business Bhutan | 6th July

Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) announcement of the “Inaugural Bhutan Innovation Forum,” set to be held at Dungkar Dzong in Pangbisa from  1-3 October, 2024, which will be centered around Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC), has ignited huge interest in the Bhutanese populace.  This is illustrated by the fact that more than 400 Bhutanese had registered for the Forum as of 1800 hours, July 5th, 2024.

“Firstly, we have to thank His Majesty, not only for pioneering GMC, but for bringing these highly distinguished investors, thought leaders and philosophers to Bhutan. It will be three days of dialogues and though centered on GMC, the discussions will be about the world, for I believe that GMC is an answer to problems that the world faces today,” Ugen Tshering Dukpa, a civil servant added.

 

 

MALDIVES

 

Indian cricket team invited to celebrate T20 win in Maldives

The Edition | 8th July

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) have invited the Indian national cricket team to visit Maldives after winning this year’s T20 Cricket World Cup.

In a press release today, MMPRC said that it had issued a special invitation to the Indian national cricket team to celebrate their victory in this year’s T20 Cricket World Cup in Maldives.

MMPRC CEO and Managing Director Ibrahim Shiuree and Secretary General of MATI Ahmed Nazeer congratulated the Indian cricket team and invited them to visit the Maldives.

 

Maldives-Lanka agreement on mutual legal assistance heads to committee

Sun | 9th July

he treaty between Maldives and Sri Lanka on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, has been sent to parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee at Tuesday’s sitting for review.

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu submitted the text of the “Treaty Between the Government of the Republic of Maldives and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters” to the parliament for approval on Monday.

 

Gov’t sacks long-term employees serving political posts

Raajje | 9th July

The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) has sacked long-serving employees at top positions of the company.

MMPRC announced its decision to dismiss Ibrahim Asim, who had been serving as a director at the company for an extensive period, following a board meeting held on Monday.

Asim also served in the Tourism Promotion Board, established to promote the tourism industry of the island nation.

Further, Mohamed Bassam Adam was also sacked as the company’s Deputy Managing Director (DMD), following Monday’s board meeting.

 

 

MYANMAR

 

China Filling Huge Arms Order Placed by Myanmar Junta

The Irrawaddy | 9th July

China is supplying military hardware and ammunition to the Myanmar military junta as it struggles with fierce and growing armed resistance across the country.

Sources familiar with the matter based in Naypyitaw and on the Thai-Myanmar border said Beijing is in the process of shipping arms purchased by the regime.

“The [regime’s] shopping list is long and huge arms caches are on the way to Myanmar,” they said.

“They will arrive Myanmar in two weeks to a month,” they added.

 

Myanmar Junta Deputy in China to Discuss Election and Border Security

The Irrawaddy | 8th July

With Myanmar regime’s emergency rule expiring at the end of this month, the junta’s second-in-command Soe Win discussed preparations for a general election with Chinese officials on Sunday.

On his first official visit to China since the 2021 coup, Soe Win arrived in Qingdao on Saturday to attend the Green Development Forum at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

On Sunday, he met Shen Yueyue, vice chairwoman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and president of SCO’s Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission.

Junta media said they discussed border stability, security for Chinese investments in Myanmar, elimination of online scam operations, promotion of trade and the proposed election.

 

 

NEPAL

 

Monsoon devastation in Nepal: Death toll rises to 70, 14 in last two days

The Himalayan Times | 7th July

With the monsoon in full force in Nepal, the country has experienced severe weather-related disasters. The continuous rainfall over the last few days has led to the death of 14 individuals since Friday, bringing the total death toll to 70 since the monsoon began. Recent casualties Since Friday, monsoon-related disasters including floods and landslides have claimed the lives of several individuals from different regions. The deceased include one person from Kathmandu, one from Udayapur, one from Palpa, two from Kavrepalan chowk, two from Parbat, three from Syangja, three from Tanahun, and one from Dang.

 

Bangladesh writes to Nepal to proceed with power trade agreement

The Kathmandu Post | 9th July

The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has corresponded with the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), calling to proceed with the signing of a power trade agreement.

The Bangladeshi power authority sent a letter to the NEA requesting that they sign an agreement to sell 40 MW of electricity, informing it that the bid submitted by the NEA has been approved by the concerned authorities.

On January 1, 2024, the BPDB called for bids to purchase 40 megawatts of electricity produced in Nepal for five years under a tripartite agreement among the authorities of Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.

 

Game of Thrones syndrome persists among top leaders

The Himalayan Times | 7th July

With the two largest political parties in the federal parliament agreeing to form a national consensus government and signing a power-sharing pact to oust Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, despite his strategic moves in managing the two largest parties and leading the government, as well as his blatant claims that his party possesses magical numbers, the political turmoil will continue until he is in politics.

Preparations are now on to form Nepal’s 18th government in nearly two decades, and the tenth government in nearly a decade after the new constitution goes into effect.

 

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