VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 25th June, 2018

Pakistan to launch observatory satellite next month: Dawn
June 25, 2018

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday announced the launch of Pakistan’s indigenously developed 285kg PakTES-1A observatory satellite in July. Fitted with sensors and cameras, PakTES-1A will remain stationary 610km in space and its position relative to the sun will not change. Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal congratulated Pakistani scientists in a tweet, saying they had made Pakistanis proud. Known as the Remote Sensing Satellite (RSS) it can be used to study various features of Earth, determine mineral deposits, and depending on the kinds of sensors and gadgets fitted, the RSS technology can also help study impacts of climate change such as recession of melting glaciers, green house gasses, detect forest fires and even solve problems related to agriculture as well as forestry, besides a whole range of passive and active tasks. Click here to read...

Pakistan on road to re-emergence, says new envoy to US: Dawn
June 25, 2018

In his first public appearance on Saturday night, Pakistan’s new US ambassador Ali Jahangir Siddiqui urged all members of the Pakistani community living in the United States to participate in the country’s revival and re-emergence. Mr Siddiqui, who presented his credentials to US President Donald Trump on Friday, said he was aware of the current status of the US-Pakistan relationship but he did not believe in conducting diplomacy through the media. “Everyone needs to participate in Pakistan’s revival and re-emergence and we are well on our way towards it,” said Mr Siddiqui while telling the audience how a Latin American country, Colombia, faced the same challenges that Pakistan does but overcame them to become the region’s fourth largest economy. Click here to read...

Officials Tackle Afghanistan-China Railway Line Issues: Tolo News
June 24, 2018

President Ashraf Ghani’s advisor on Central Asian Affairs said after a meeting with Uzbekistan officials that Afghan traders will soon be able to export goods to China via rail once existing problems have been ironed out. According to Shakir Kargar, he met with Uzbek officials in Termez city on Thursday to discuss the issue. The railway line from China, that runs through Uzbekistan, was inaugurated in September 2016. At the time only goods from China were being sent to Afghanistan and the railway trucks were returning empty. However, in about June last year, this ground to a halt. At the time the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) cited lack of infrastructure at Hairatan Port, between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan as one of the key reasons for the Chinese railway company suspending its operations. Efforts have reportedly been ongoing since then to reinstate the railway operations – and this time in both directions. According to Kargar, he discussed with Uzbekistan the challenges and the need to use the railway line as an export route for Afghan goods. Click here to read...

PM hails rail pact with China: Kathmandu Post
June 25, 2018

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has hailed the pact on railway connectivity with China as an important outcome saying, however, that extension of the rail towards Kathmandu from the northern border would take time. “Chinese President Xi Jinping told me about his vision of extending Chinese rail down to Nepal,” PM Oli told journalists, adding that a feasibility study on the link would be conducted after July. “We’ll take matured decisions on railway. We have yet to complete negotiations on extending the railway whose modality is being discussed.” Terming the agreements reached with China during his visit as important, PM Oli said it was a daunting task building a railway on the Nepal side since the topography was more challenging than on the Tibetan plateau. ”The Tibetan Plateau is plain. Down to Nepal after crossing Tibet, the land is a slope. Since connectivity and railway are new phenomena in Nepal, we should not decide in a hurry,” the PM said.The Chinese rail is expected to reach the Nepal border by 2022. In a milestone agreement, feasibility study with a Chinese grant on building the Kerung-Kathmandu railway via Rasuwagadhi would be conducted soon, said the PM. This would be the basis for construction of the Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway, according to a press note provided to the media. Click here to read...

Mattis to hold talks with Chinese leaders: China Daily
June 25, 2018

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis will visit China from June 26 to 28, China's Defense Ministry said on Monday. Mattis will meet with Chinese state and military leaders during the visit and exchange views on issues of common concerns, the ministry said in an online statement. Developing a healthy and stable Sino-US military-to-military relation is in accordance with mutual interests for both countries. It is also a universal expectation shared by the international community. Click here to read...

China to get tough with environmental data manipulation: China Daily
June 25, 2018

China's top environmental watchdog said on Saturday it will impose tough penalties on people who manipulate or falsify environmental monitoring data, with criminal liability in severe cases. The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has a zero-tolerance policy for such deceptive practices and will strengthen inspections and punishment for violators, said a statement on its website. The statement came after a court in Jinzhong, Shanxi province, sentenced five people on May 30 - including the former head of environmental protection in Linfen, Shanxi - to prison sentences of six months to two years for tampering with air quality monitoring equipment and falsifying data. Click here to read...

Australia tries to counter China’s influence in Pacific Islands, will negotiate security treaty with Vanuatu: South China Morning Post
June 25, 2018

Australia said on Monday it would negotiate a security treaty with Vanuatu, weeks after the Australian prime minister warned China against building a military base on the South Pacific island nation. Click here to read...

Overseas experts laud Xi's speech on China's foreign policy: People’s Daily
June 25, 2018

International scholars praised Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at a two-day conference on China's foreign affairs, which elaborated on various topics, including China's vision to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

In an address at the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs held in Beijing on Friday and Saturday, Xi, who is also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, underscored the importance of keeping in mind both internal and international imperatives, focusing on realizing China's rejuvenation and promoting human progress, and contributing to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. Click here to read...

Bank change to aid small businesses: People’s Daily
June 25, 2018

China's central bank announced on Sunday it is cutting the cash required to be held in reserve in commercial banks by one-half percentage point starting July 5, a measure designed to make it easier to lend to small and microsized companies.

The amount of money, to be released by cutting the reserve requirement ratio in the five largest State-owned banks and 12 joint-stock commercial banks, could reach nearly 500 billion yuan ($76.9 billion), as the People's Bank of China, the central bank, estimated in a statement on its website. Click here to read...

Xi urges breaking new ground in major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics: China Daily
June 24, 2018

President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to break new ground in major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, with the guidance of the thought on diplomacy of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era. In an address at the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs held in Beijing on Friday and Saturday, Xi, who is also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, underscored the importance of keeping in mind both internal and international imperatives, focusing on realizing Chinese nation's rejuvenation and promoting human progress, and making contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity. Click here to read...

China, Papua New Guinea boost Belt and Road cooperation: China Daily
June 22, 2018

Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Papua New Guinea counterpart Peter O'Neill oversaw the signing of multiple agreements on Thursday that boost cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and in other areas. China's relations with Papua New Guinea have made steady progress, and can be a good example for its ties with other Pacific island countries, said Premier Li. Prime Minister O'Neill's visit to China is seen as an important high-level exchange, as among Pacific island countries Papua New Guinea has the largest population and land territory, and is seen to have significant regional impact. Click here to read...

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