Pakistan closely coordinating with China for planning, implementation of CPEC: Nawaz

DAWN.com
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif  shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping. —AFP
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping. —AFP

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan strongly favours cooperation and synergetic partnerships across regions to ensure socio-economic development and prosperity.

He was speaking at the leaders’ roundtable on policy synergy in Beijing on Monday, Radio Pakistan reported.

“It is imperative that we appreciate the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative in its proper perspective of interconnected development. It is now turning into the centre of gravity for half of the world’s economies in Asia, Africa and Europe,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

The premier said as part of the same initiative under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) banner, “we have made phenomenal progress in a short span of time through active participation in the areas of infrastructure, energy, industrial zones, and telecommunications”.

He, however, said four areas require more focus.

“First, overall progress should be reviewed as we all stand to benefit from early harvest projects. Second, we need more synergy in our development strategies both at the regional and international levels. Third, this initiative must continue to deliver “win-win” outcomes. Four, we should build on the solid foundations of One Belt One Road to make it a living, growing and organic partnership,” the premier was quoted as saying.

Nawaz said Pakistan is harmonising national development plans with CPEC project, closely coordinating with China for planning and implementation of CPEC and liaising with international financial institutions for policy alignment.

He called for expanding consensus for One Belt One Road, enhancing cooperation in development and implementation and prepare a blueprint and roadmap for long-term cooperation.

Speaking in the second session of the roundtable on ‘connectivity cooperation for interconnected development’, the premier said Pakistan is pursuing vision of a peaceful, inter-connected and prosperous neighbourhood with great determination.

“Rapid digitalisation and next generation connectivity are at the heart of our agenda for transforming into a knowledge-based economy,” he said.

The prime minister was of the view that CPEC is creating new supply and logistic chains, as well as manufacturing networks. “It has infused Pakistan’s economy with new vitality and dynamism.”

He said Gwadar Port, which is the pivot of CPEC, will link up East, West and South Asia. It will also reach out to African and European markets.

Core of the “One Belt-One Road” initiative is connectivity and long-term development, especially in developing countries, the premier concluded.

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Yahoo accused of mismanaging fund for dissidents in China

AFP

A lawsuit accused Yahoo of breaking a financial promise it made to Chinese dissidents almost a decade ago as penance for helping the Chinese government find and jail other activists.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in a Washington, D.C., federal court by a group of Chinese dissidents, contends that Yahoo mismanaged a $17 million fund set up to provide financial aid to activists.

Embroiled in China

Yahoo created the human rights fund in 2007, days after U.S. legislators roasted the company for providing authorities with information that led to the imprisonment of two Chinese dissidents, Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao.

The complaint alleges that Yahoo allowed Harry Wu, a now-deceased dissident from China, to spend about $13 million of the fund enriching himself and pursuing other projects tied to his interests.

Only $700,000 has been doled out to Chinese dissidents who had been imprisoned for expressing their opinions online, the reason Yahoo bankrolled the fund, according to the lawsuit.

Yahoo declined to comment.

The plaintiffs want Yahoo to replenish the fund and to pay unspecified damages. The suit arrives at a delicate time for Yahoo, which is preparing to sell its online operations to Verizon Communications for $4.5 billion.

Lectured by Congress

The unflattering portrait drawn in the lawsuit represents yet another blotch on Yahoo’s record in China. Yahoo’s role in fingering Wang and Shi subjected the Sunnyvale, California, company to withering criticism that culminated in Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang being grilled during a Congressional hearing.

“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,” Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, told Yang.

Two days later, Yahoo announced the $17 million fund as part of a settlement that ended lawsuits related to its role in the imprisonment of Wang and Shi. “We are committed to making sure our actions match our values around the world,” Yahoo vowed in a November 2017 statement announcing the fund.

Alleged mismanagement

The new lawsuit argues Yahoo instead used the fund as “window dressing” to help shield the company from further ridicule and resolve other lawsuits.

Meanwhile, Yahoo turned a “blind eye” to Wu’s reckless spending, even though company executives had been warned about the abuses as far back as 2010, according to the complaint.

Among other things, the complaint alleges that Wu paid himself and his wife more than $1 million, spent about $4 million buying real estate in Washington and more than $800,000 on his own legal bills, including a case alleging sexual harassment.

Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps, died last year.

Dawn.com

N. Korea warns of N-strike; Trump says US can ‘solve problem’ without China’s help

REUTERS

PYONGYANG: North Korean state media warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression as a US Navy strike group steamed toward the western Pacific.

President Donald Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its neighbour, said in a Tweet that North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without Beijing’s help.

Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula amid concerns that reclusive North Korea may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test and after Washington said at the weekend it was diverting the aircraft carrier strike group Carl Vinson toward the region in a show of force.

US officials have stressed that stronger sanctions are the most likely US course to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme, but Washington has said all options — including military ones — are on the table. It said a US strike last week against Syria should serve as a warning to Pyongyang.

North Korea said it was prepared to respond to any US aggression.

“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the US mainland,” its official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump had put North Korea “clearly on notice” he would not tolerate certain actions, but dismissed Pyongyang’s nuclear attack threat.

“I think there is no evidence that North Korea has that capability at this time,” he said. “Threatening something that you don’t have the capability of isn’t really a threat.”

North Korea remains technically at war with the United States and South Korea after the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. It regularly threatens to destroy both countries.

DAWN.com

Chinese official demoted for not smoking in front of Muslims

A Chinese official who allegedly declined to smoke in front of Muslims in Xinjiang has been demoted for taking an “unstable political stance,” a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.

Xinjiang, home to China’s Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, restricts religious practices ─ such as growing beards, wearing headscarves, and fasting during Ramadan ─ that are seen as symbols of “Islamic extremism”.

A notice from the Hotan district government over the weekend accused Jelil Matniyaz, a village-level secretary for the ruling Communist party in the far-western region, of being afraid to smoke before religious figures.

“His behaviour of ‘not daring’ to smoke conforms with extreme religious thought in Xinjiang,” a local official told the Global Times newspaper.

He added that a dutiful party member would choose to smoke in front of religious believers in order to demonstrate his or her commitment to secularism.

Matniyaz’s failure to do so meant that instead of “leading the fight against extreme religious thought,” he was “failing to confront the threat of extreme regional forces”, the official said.

Matniyaz was given a “stern warning”, stripped of his party secretary duties and downgraded from senior staff member to staff member.

Xinjiang has been racked for years by a series of violent attacks which Beijing blames on exiled Uighur separatist groups whom it says are aligned with foreign terrorist networks.

Rights groups have countered that unrest in the region is largely a response to repressive policies, and that tighter measures are counterproductive.

Uighurs, a traditionally Muslim group, complain of cultural and religious repression and discrimination. China introduced new anti-extremism legislation in Xinjiang late March, including a provision that bans “abnormal” beards.

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First ‘Silk Road’ train from Britain leaves for China

The first-ever freight train from Britain to China, laden with whisky, soft drinks and baby products, started its mammoth journey on Monday along a modern-day “Silk Road” trade route.

The 32-container train, around 600 metres (yards) long, left from the vast London Gateway container port on the River Thames estuary, bound for Yiwu on the Chinese east coast.

It was seen off on its 18-day, 12,000-kilometre (7,500-mile) journey with a string quartet, British and Chinese flags, and speeches voicing hope that it will cement a new golden age of trade between the two countries as the UK leaves the European Union.

The first train from China to Britain arrived on January 18, filled with clothes and other retail goods, and Monday’s departure was the first journey in the other direction.

The rail route is cheaper than air freight and faster than sea freight, offering logistics companies a new middle option.

The driver gave a thumbs-up and tooted his horn as he got the wagons rolling at the port in Stanford-le-Hope, east of London.

The train will go through the Channel Tunnel before travelling across France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan before heading into China.

The containers will be taken off and put on different wagons at the Belarus border, as the former Soviet Union countries use a wider rail gauge.

The containers switch back to standard gauge rails at the Chinese border, an operation that typically takes around two hours.

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