VIF News Digest: International Developments, 27 May – 6 June, 2019
Huawei Chairman willing to sign a 'No-Spy' deal with the United States,
4 June 2019

A top Huawei executive said that the company is willing to sign a "no-spy agreement" with the United States to reassure US leaders who say the company's technology could be used for surveillance.

The offer is similar to proposals the Chinese tech giant has made to the United Kingdom and Germany, and it comes after weeks of intense pressure from the Trump administration. But becasue the US has not bought from Huawei and perhaps continue to retain the ban, such an agreement may not be actually signed. But if it does, it would be first of its kind.

Huawei is part of US's 'Entity List' that bans American companies from selling technology to the Chinese company. This has drastically reduced the demand for Huawei in the US. The US is also convincing Germany, Netherlands and the UK to ban Huawei. As a result of the ban, Huawei is developing its own chips and operating systems. According to Professor David Daokui Li from Tsinghua University, "What President Trump is doing is waking the sleeping capacity of Huawei." Click here to read

Trump says no deal with Mexico reached as border arrests surge,
5 June 2019

The United States on Wednesday barrelled closer to imposing tariffs on all Mexican imports as high-stakes negotiations at the White House failed to immediately resolve President Trump’s demand that Mexico prevent a surge of Central American migrants from flowing across the south-western border. Illegal migration from Mexico has reached a seven year high. President Trump has warned that if the deal is not reached, a tariff of 5 percent would be levied that would increase each month.

According to experts from Mexico, such measure cannot be applied within a week. Trump's advisors have warned that the tariff measures would jeopardise the North American trade deal. The Tariff measures would cost dearly to American workers, particularly in Texas. An analysis points that if the 5 percent tariff is maintained, then 400,000 jobs in the US could be lost. The measures against Mexico and the trade war with China would hit business expansion and cause a recession. Click here to read
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Biden infuriates abortion rights groups with Hyde stance
6 June 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden infuriated abortion rights advocates Wednesday when his campaign confirmed he supports a policy that blocks Medicaid and other federal health programs from paying for abortions, making him the only Democratic presidential candidate to hold that position. Abortion rights activists have criticised Biden and called his career in public service as inconsistent and unreliable on reproductive issues. He is criticised for being out of touch with realities of the day.
The Hyde amendment followed Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that legalised abortions 40 years ago. Biden had previously expressed that he would allow the states to overturn the court ruling. Biden now claims to codify the abortion ruling in case he is overruled by conservative majority on the Supreme Court. A recent poll has shown that democratic voters care for women’s' issues over restrictive state laws. Click here to read

Europe's China diplomacy seeks silver linings to US trade war
1 June 2019

Wang Qishan, Vice-President of China, visited Germany and Netherlands this week. The trip is analysed as china exploring a market for Huawei and also attempt to lure Berlin from Washington. Germany's stance impact others European nations. The On-going Sino-US trade war has made Europe as the largest trading block very important for China. Experts in Europe also view the trade war as an opportunity for the EU.

Previously the EU wanted China to comply by its rule but China did not abide, and EU did not strictly enforce it either. That is now likely to change. EU took a tough stance in the previous China-EU summit on measures like state subsidies and technology transfers and pushing China to open its market. China is in a tough position where it wants the economy to run smoothly, and hence it is receptive to the demands from the EU as it reels under the pressure from the US. Click here to read

The European Commission, European Investment Bank and Breakthrough Energy Ventures establish a new €100 million fund to support clean energy investments
29 May 2019

Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe (BEV-E), a new €100 million investment fund, was established by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and Breakthrough Energy Ventures during the Fourth Mission Innovation Ministerial meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

The fund will help develop innovative European companies and bring radically new clean energy technologies to the market. It will support Europe's best clean energy entrepreneurs whose solutions can deliver significant and lasting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The first of its kind, it caters to the capital intensity and long development horizons that energy technologies need. The total fund will be worth 100 million euros hat would come from two sources. The fund would invest in five areas - electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and buildings. These areas are deemed critical to combat climate change. The Fund would contribute to EU's commitments under 'Clean Energy for all Europeans'. The fund aims to boost public-private investment in clean energy. Click here to read

What to make of the European Elections
30 May 2019

The EU elections demonstrated that that far-right populism was not a big phenomenon as it was believed to be. In most of the European nations far-right parties did not perform well. They did well in smaller countries such as Austria where it won in double digits - Poland and Hungary - but had a disappointing show in Germany and Spain. The initial surge in Denmark and Netherlands eventually waned.

But it is a fact that right-wing populists are growing and attaining political centre stage - France's Nationalist Party of Marie Le Penn beat Macron's En Marche. Likewise, Nigel Farrage's Brexit party took greater voter share than the conservatives and the Labour in the UK. Italy's Northern League has emerged as a dominant force in national politics. The share of the Greens and the Left has been reducing. This is because the progressive parties do not speak in a language that appeals to people. Click here to read

Russia must defend its part of the internet against ‘illegal actions’ by foreign states – Kremlin
3 June 2019

In an environment where Washington is waging trade wars and slapping sanctions on other nations, Moscow must protect its segment of the internet from foreign attacks, the Kremlin’s spokesperson told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze. Dmitry Peskov was commenting on the so-called ‘Sovereign Internet Bill’, which was signed into law last month by President Vladimir Putin.

The legislation is called as 'RuNet' that would keep the Russian part of the internet from operating smoothly in an event of global internet shutdown and other emergencies. The law would also safeguard vital Russian installations and infrastructure against malign cyber-attacks. Critics feel that the law will be costly and difficult to implement but officials urge that it is imperative for Russia to become self-sufficient and independent in all its capacities. The move comes in the wake of US-China tensions over Huawei. Click here to read

New Soyuz-5 carrier rocket built to ‘Capture’ global market – Russia’s space chief
31 May 2019

A powerful engine and an affordable price will allow the Soyuz-5 carrier rocket, currently being developed by Moscow, to outperform other space-launching nations, despite the sanctions trickery, Russian space boss Dmitry Rogozin said.

The new rocket will be aimed at “capturing the [global] commercial market”, the head of Roscosmos told reporters on Friday. Soyuz is priced highly competitively and the makers are confident that the low price tags will make it very attractive for buyers. Further it is claimed that the low price tag will insure the Soyuz in the event of any price-wars or sanctions or other economic measures.

The US had banned its companies from buying Russian equipment, so Russia is on a lookout for newer markets. The Soyuz-5 is a medium-class rocket carrier and will be operational by 2022 and is capable of carrying 17 tonnes of cargo into space. Click here to read

Sudan opposition to press ahead with general strike: VOA
27 May 2019

Sudan's alliance of opposition and protest groups said Monday that it would push ahead with a two-day general strike starting Tuesday after talks with the ruling military council collapsed.

Wagdy Saleh, speaking for the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) alliance, said the Transitional Military Council (TMC) demanded a two-thirds majority on a sovereign council that would lead the country after the ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir last month. The deputy head of the TMC, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said earlier Monday that the council was ready to hand over power swiftly but that the opposition was not serious about sharing power. Click here to read

30 dead and 200 missing in Congo after boat sinks: The New York Times
27 May 2019

At least 30 people died and hundreds were believed missing after a boat sank over the weekend in a lake in the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Associated Press has reported. The boat sank after hitting bad weather on Saturday night in Lake Mai-Ndombe, nearly 300 miles northeast of the capital, Kinshasa, The Associated Press reported. Officials said on Sunday that more than 80 people survived but that 200 others were still missing.

Simon Mboo Wemba, the mayor of Inongo, the provincial capital of Mai-Ndombe Province, told The Associated Press on Sunday that many of those aboard were teachers. He said they were traveling to collect their salaries by boat because local roads in that part of the central African country were so poor. Click here to read

Ghana just scratching the surface of illegal gold mining: VOA
27 May 2019

Only the chirping of birds and insects break the silence at a gold mining site in the Eastern Region of Ghana, right at the foot of the Atewa forest reserve. Caterpillar excavators stand still, as the two Ghanaian companies operating them wait for a new mining permit a process that has been in the works for months.

But a fresh pile of sludge spilt over a patch of vegetation suggests the mine is being operated illegally. Click here to read

HRW: Egyptian Security Forces Committed Widespread Abuses in Northern Sinai: VOA
28 May 2019

The Egyptian military and police forces have committed widespread abuses in the northern Sinai Peninsula, according a new report by Human Rights Watch, which said some of the actions amount to war crimes. The report alleges that Egyptian security forces, who have been conducting military operations against Islamist insurgents in the region, have engaged in unlawful action against civilians in the region.

The report describes widespread extrajudicial arrests and killings, as well as torture, forced evictions and collective punishment by Egyptian security forces. Egyptian forces have also armed and trained. Click here to read

Congo Ebola response must be elevated to maximum level, UN told: The Guardian
29 May 2019

The UN has been urged by charities to ramp up Ebola prevention work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the highest level of emergency response. Only three crises – Yemen, Syria and Mozambique – are treated as the equivalent of a level-three response, activated when agencies are unable to meet needs on the ground.

Charities including Mercy Corps and Oxfam said the same declaration should also be made in DRC, following a recent acceleration in the spread of Ebola. Click here to read

Mozambique seeks $3.2 billion to recover from cyclones: VOA
30 May 2019

Mozambique says it needs $3.2 billion to recover from a pair of powerful tropical cyclones that ripped into the southern African nation earlier this year and left hundreds dead, raising alarm about the effects of climate change on coastal nations. That's according to a government assessment supported by the World Bank, United Nations and European Union for a global pledging conference that begins on Friday.

Some aid workers fear the worst is yet to come. The storms wiped out crops on the eve of harvest in one of the world's least developed countries, and many people must rely on food aid well into next year. More than 1.3 million people are said to require emergency food assistance. Click here to read

Ethiopia PM presses plan to return displaced people after violence: Reuters
30 May 2019

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister on Thursday pursued a plan to return displaced people to their homes following ethnic violence, meeting communities who recently went home, as relief workers voiced fears that the initiative could provoke fresh violence.

Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, has won international plaudits for announcing bold reform pledges, but the blossoming of political freedoms over the past year has been accompanied by a surge in ethnic violence. Click here to read

Malawi President, at inauguration, pledges to root out corruption: Reuters
31 May 2019

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika began his second five-year term with a tough stance against corruption and pledged to revive the economy, following accusations of corruption and mismanagement.
Speaking at his inauguration on Friday in Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city, Mutharika warned that he would not spare anyone found abusing their positions, in an apparent response to allegations of corruption that marked his first term. Click here to read

Eritrea, Nigeria, Benin: Outsiders from Africa free-trade zone, AfCFTA: africanews
31 May 2019

A lot is being said and celebrated about the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, in the wake of its maturity on Thursday (May 30).

The African Union (AU) initiative aims to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion. Different African countries have made varying levels of commitment. The highest being the ratification and deposition of necessary documents with the AU. The other class being the signing of the agreement and the non-commitment level being those that have yet to even sign up. Click here to read

Africa further embraces China's Huawei as it battles Trump onslaught: africanews
1 June 2019

The AU has signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei to strengthen their cooperation in information and communication technologies, the Chinese telecom giant announced on Friday. “The main objective of the MOU is to strengthen their partnership in the following 5 areas: broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, 5G and artificial intelligence,” Huawei said in a statement.

The development comes at a time when Huawei is at the heart of the trade war between the United States and China. Click here to read

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