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Australia denies participating in China-led Indian Ocean Forum meet

While Canberra was invited for the meet by Beijing, Australia, a member of Quad (comprising Australia, Japan, India and the US) declined to participate in the China-led Indian Ocean Forum meet…reports Asian Lite News

After Maldives, Australia on Sunday clarified that it did not participate in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation” held on November 21.

“Contrary to media reporting, no Australian Government official attended the Kunming China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation,” tweeted Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell. China’s aid agency hosted a meeting on Indian Ocean Forum. Maldives’s former President Mohammed Waheed Hassan & Australia’s Former PM Kevin Rudd joined virtually. No representation at official capacity by Male, Canberra.

“Pleased @TimWattsMP attended #IORA Ministerial Council last week, the only ministerial-level forum for the Indian Ocean. Australia was delighted India’s application for Vice Chair was accepted by consensus. We share an enduring interest: a free, open, rules-based and secure Indo-Pacific,” added the Australian envoy.

While Canberra was invited for the meet by Beijing, Australia, a member of Quad (comprising Australia, Japan, India and the US) declined to participate in the China-led Indian Ocean Forum meet.

Earlier, the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday denied participating in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation.”

“The Ministry would like to clarify, that the Government of Maldives did not participate in the above-mentioned Forum, and communicated its decision not to participate to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to the Maldives on November 15, 2022, read Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.

Notably, a joint press statement was released by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) alleging the participation of the Maldives in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation”, held on 21 November 2022.

Furthermore, participation by individuals or groups of individuals from the Maldives does not constitute official representation by the Government of Maldives, read the statement.

In accordance with Article 115 (J) of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, only the serving President may determine, conduct and oversee the foreign policy of the country, and conduct political relations with foreign nations and international organizations.

Official accreditation to meetings, forums and conferences to represent the Maldives, as per international practice, will only take place through diplomatic channels. Therefore, for this specific meeting, there was no official representation by the Government of Maldives, added the statement.

In recent times there has been a shifting of goalposts by major world powers from other areas of conflict to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This has largely been due to Chinese belligerence in the South China Sea by hegemonizing its intention over the entire seawater defying the laid down UN conventions and international maritime laws.

The present geo-political situation in the Indo-Pacific is fraught with major irritants destabilising the region. There is a need to establish common standards to form the basis of deeper integration in the future and to ensure equal access to global commons for all countries as a right under international law.

Recently, the US administration announced its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy which focuses on building collective capacity to deal with challenges in the region.

These include a focus on challenges from China, advancing the US relationship, a ‘Major Defence Partnership’ with India and supporting its role as a net security provider in the region.

The European Union (EU) has recently come up with an Indo-Pacific strategy that aims to enhance its engagement across a wide spectrum.

The EU already sees itself and the Indo-Pacific as “natural partner regions”. It is a significant player in the Indian Ocean littoral states, the ASEAN area and the Pacific Island states.

In September 2021, the US announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS).

The security grouping AUKUS will focus on advancing strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

The major highlight of this arrangement is the sharing of US nuclear submarine technology to Australia.

Nearly every one of the nations in this part of the world recognise the assertiveness and aggressiveness of China.

To deal with China, the US at the recently held Quad Summit in Tokyo launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) to offer the region better alternatives to fulfil its developmental goals.

The IPEF will work on fine-tuning four major pillars: standards and rules for digital trade; resilient supply chains; green energy commitments; and fair trade.

The Indo-Pacific region has more than half of the world’s population with 2 billion people living under democratic rule.

This region generates a third of the world’s economic output, more than any other region of the World.

Three of the most important allies of the United States namely Japan, South Korea and Australia are located here.

More than one-third of the foreign trade of the world takes place in this region.

The world’s largest economies are located in the Indo-Pacific region namely, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Australia clears FTA with India

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-Top News China Tech Lite

FCC bans Chinese tech equipment from entering US

Biden signed the law to ban Chinese tech companies like Huawei and ZTE from getting approval for network equipment licences in the country…reports Asian Lite News

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has prohibited communications equipment and video surveillance technology from Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, Hytera, and Dahua to reach the country.

The FCC adopted new rules prohibiting communications equipment deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security from being authorised for importation or sale in the US”.

This is a huge blow to Chinese companies as they can’t legally import or sell anything with a radio in the US without the FCC authorisation.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorised for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

“These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications,” she added.

The list (both equipment and services) currently includes communications equipment produced by Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology (and their subsidiaries and affiliates).

The new rules implement the directive in the ‘Secure Equipment Act of 2021’, signed into law by US President Joe Biden last November, that requires the Commission to adopt such rules.

Biden signed the law to ban Chinese tech companies like Huawei and ZTE from getting approval for network equipment licences in the country.

In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats to communications networks — making it harder for US firms to buy equipment from them.

The new rules follow a series of other FCC initiatives to keep US networks secure.

The FCC has also prohibited the use of public funds to purchase covered equipment or services, launched the ‘Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Programme’ to remove insecure equipment that has already been installed in US networks and revoked operating authorities for Chinese state-owned carriers based on recommendations from national security agencies.

ALSO READ-China helps Pakistan to undermine UN anti-terror measures

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‘Step down CCP’: Protest erupts in Shanghai over zero-Covid policy

The protests erupted after 10 people died and nine others were injured in an apartment fire in Urumqi…reports Asian Lite News

Protests erupted in China’s Shanghai on Saturday night against Beijing’s strict COVID-19 policy. Several videos have emerged on social media which showcased people chanting slogans against restrictions imposed by the Chinese government to curb the spread of Covid.

The protests erupted after 10 people died and nine others were injured in an apartment fire in Urumqi. Saturday saw protests erupt in Shanghai with people calling to relax COVID-19 curbs across the country. Expressing anger over the stringent Covid policy, Chinese citizens took to the streets in large numbers.

\According to a video posted by DW News East Asia Correspondent William Yang on Twitter, people at ‘Urumqi Road’ held a protest against Xi Jinping-led Chinese Communist Party (CCP), chanting slogans like “Step down the Communist Party” and ” the Communist Party, Step down. Xi Jinping, step down.”

In a series of tweets regarding the protests in Shanghai, William Yang said that countless people gathered on Urumqi Road and chanted slogans, “I don’t want PCR test, I want freedom.” In another tweet, William Yang said, people in ‘Urumqi Road’ also called for ending the lockdown in Xinjiang.

“Citizens chanting #Xinjiang, end lockdown, #Xinjiang, end lockdown,” Yang wrote on Twitter.

Continuing the thread, he said that a scuffle broke out between people and police at the site of a protest in Shanghai. In a tweet, William Yang said, “Police surrounded the last few dozens of protesters at the scene in Shanghai and some women were reportedly taken away.”

“Incredible footage from #China’s #Shanghai, where countless people gathered at a road called “#Urumqi road,” chanting the slogan “Step down, the Communist Party” very loudly,” William Yang wrote on Twitter. Notably, the Chinese government has been adhering to strict COVID-19 policy in order to curb the spread of the virus ever since the pandemic emerged in China. The restrictions imposed by the Chinese government include strict lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing.

Meanwhile, Joyce Karam, senior US correspondent at The National, also posted a video on her Twitter handle in which people were seen protesting against COVID-19 restrictions in Wulumuqi Road. “Rare protests erupt in #China’s largest city over Covid restrictions & gov. rules. “We want freedom” the crowd chants in this video from Wulumuqi road tonight,” Karam tweeted.

While sharing the protest video on Twitter, Axial Vibe Studio Co-founder Vivian Wu wrote, “Scale of the protest tonight in Shanghai. Notice police didn’t do anything but stand calmly watching ppl protest and shout. It’s not benevolence. My guess: they need to ask for directives from the top authorities. Police might be stunned as nobody dares to do so for decades.”

Earlier on Friday, a fire in a residential high-rise in Urumqi, where many residents have been placed under lockdown, set off public anger and questions about China’s zero-Covid policy. Chang Che, a freelance writer covering Chinese technology and society and Amy Chang Chien covering news in mainland China and Taiwan, writing in The New York Post (NYT) said that the protest erupted after the fire killed 10 persons in the region, with residents calling for the lifting of lockdowns.

Chinese commenters on social media shared reports and footage of the blaze that killed 10 people and injured nine in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, demanding to know if Covid restrictions had hampered the rescue or prevented residents from escaping their apartments or the building. Late Friday, videos circulated widely on the Chinese internet showing throngs of residents in Urumqi marching to a government building and chanting “end lockdowns.” (ANI)

ALSO READ: China helps Pakistan to undermine UN anti-terror measures

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China helps Pakistan to undermine UN anti-terror measures

China continues to defy the other members of the Security Council and the overwhelming anti-terrorism sentiments by protecting from UN sanctions four key leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that carried out the 26/11 Mumbai attack, reports Arul Louis

Fourteen years after the attack that killed at least 166 people, Beijing works with Islamabad to undermine anti-terrorism measures against Pakistan-based terrorists behind the carnage.

The four from LeT who got China’s umbrella this year were the group’s commander Sajid Mir, who orchestrated the 26/11 attack; deputy chief Abdur Rehman Makki; deputy chief of the LeT front Falah-I-Insaniyat Foundation Shahid Mahmood, and LeT commander Hafiz Talha Saeed, who is LeT chief Hafiz Muhammed Saeed’s son.

China also put a hold on sanctions on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group’s deputy leader Abdul Rauf.

China had initially allowed eight LeT leaders to be sanctioned, four in the month after the 26/11 attack, and four later, before taking a hardline in support of other LeT leaders in a show of solidarity with Pakistan.

“Our efforts to sanction the perpetrators and facilitators of these terror attacks were blocked in the past for political reasons,” India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj said last week at the Security Council.

“These actors continue to walk free and have been organising further cross-border attacks against my country,” she said.

US Permanent Mission’s Political Coordinator John Kelley at the same meeting regretted that only one entity was added to the sanctions list this year and said, “The important work of this committee must remain free from politicisation that only benefits the terrorists.”

The committee paralysed by China’s intransigence was only able to add Khatiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, a terror group operating in Syria to the sanctions list this year, while the LeT leaders and another Pakistan-based terrorist have been spared.

The Security Council’s panel, known as the 1267 Sanctions Committee for the resolution setting it up, places individuals and groups under sanctions that include travel bans and financial restrictions for terrorist activities involving the al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and affiliated organisations like the LeT.

The committee includes all the 15 members of the Security Council and gives every one of them the right to place a hold on sanctions, which amounts to a veto.

When the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) met in Mumbai last month, an audio clip of Mir directing the 26/11 terrorists at the Jewish centre was played to focus on the role of the terrorist under Beijing protection at the UN.

A file photo of 26/11 Attacks on Mumbai. Ten heavily armed Pakistani terrorists had landed undetected in Mumbai’s Badhwar Park in Colaba from the sea Nov 26, 2008, and laid siege to several key locations, including Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Taj Mahal Hotel, Chabad House and Leopold Cafe. (Photo: Sandeep Mahankal/IANS)

At the CTC’s special session in the terrorists’ killing field, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said, “The key conspirators and planners of the 26/11 attacks continue to remain protected and unpunished.”

This, he said, “undermines our collective credibility and our collective interests” and until “the masterminds and perpetrators of this attack” are brought “to justice, this task remains unfinished”.

In a video message to the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “That is what the US has been working to do, together with India and other partners for the last 14 years because when we allow the architects of these attacks to go unpunished, we send a message to terrorists everywhere that their heinous crimes will be tolerated.”

In the first flush of global fury against the horror of the 26/11 attack, China in December 2008 did not stand in the way of sanctioning LeT boss Saeed, operations head Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, finance chief Haji Muhammad Ashraf and financier Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq.

Later, four others from the LeT were added to the list: Muhammad Arif Qasmani and Mohammad Yahya Aziz in 2009, and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhattvi and Malik Zafar Iqbal Shahbaz in 2012.

ALSO READ: 26/11: Envoy says Israel will ‘never forget, never forgive’

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China Tech Lite UK News

No made-in-China cameras in govt buildings

“Since security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security risks materialising,” the statement added…reports Asian Lite News

The government has instructed its various departments to not install surveillance cameras manufactured by Chinese firms at its buildings. This comes amid reports of security risks posed by Chinese companies as part of a cyber tactics adopted by Beijing.

Oliver Dowden said in a written statement to parliament that the decision was taken following a review of “current and future possible security risks associated with the installation of visual surveillance systems on the government estate.”

“The review has concluded that, in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are required,” Oliver Dowden said.

“Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment onto sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China,” the review submitted by Dowden stated, according to Sky News.

“Since security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security risks materialising,” the statement added.

Moreover, the existing cameras made by Chinese companies will also be immediately taken down from the government facilities and the departments have also been instructed to disconnect them from all systems.

Earlier, US implemented such a ban as government organisations were ordered not to use any cameras made by Hikvision, Dahua, and other Chinese firms.

ALSO READ-Home security camera market grows 116%

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UN panel calls on China to probe Xinjiang rights violations

It asked Beijing to ensure that victims of human rights violations, including Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslim communities, are provided with adequate and effective remedies and reparation…reports Asian Lite News

A UN committee has called on China to immediately probe all allegations of human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), including those of torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence, forced labour, enforced disappearances and deaths in custody.

Acting under its early warning and urgent action procedure, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) also called on China to immediately release all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in the XUAR, whether in so-called Vocational Education and Training Centres (VETCs) or other detention facilities. In a statement, UN Human Rights Office said the Committee urged the State party to immediately cease all intimidation and reprisals against Uyghur and other ethnic Muslim communities, the diaspora and those who speak out in their defence, both domestically and abroad.

It asked Beijing to ensure that victims of human rights violations, including Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslim communities, are provided with adequate and effective remedies and reparation.

According to OHCHR, the committee also recommended that China undertake a full review of its legal framework governing national security, counter-terrorism and minority rights in the XUAR to ensure its full compliance with its obligations as a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Furthermore, it urged the State party to effectively implement its 2018 recommendations, as well as the 2015 Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture, and the UN Human Rights Office’s assessment of human rights concerns in XUAR of August 2022.

“CERD’s early warning and urgent action procedure primarily aim to consider situations which might lead to conflicts in order to take appropriate preventive actions to avoid full-scale violations of human rights under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD),” Human Rights Office said.

A total of 182 States are party to ICERD. They are required to undergo regular reviews by the Committee of 18 independent international experts on how they are implementing the Convention.

In 2018, the Committee reviewed the periodic reports submitted by China and issued Concluding Observations in which it expressed a number of concerns, including about human rights violations of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR. (ANI)

ALSO READ-China encroaches on 36 hectares of northern Nepal land

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Canadian pension plans could be fuelling Xinjiang abuses

Analysts said that six of 12 companies listed on Morgan Stanley’s China index have been involved in constructing internment camps and six have been involved in labour transfers…reports Asian Lite News

Multiple Canadian pension plans have invested in firms complicit in Xinjiang abuses, alleges a report by UK-based human rights organisation Hong Kong Watch and expert in forced labour, Prof Laura Murphy at Sheffield Hallam University.

At least three federal and six provincial pension funds in Canada are investing in Chinese companies complicit in human rights abuses in Xinjiang, reported Toronto Star.

Pension funds in a number of western countries have also invested in companies involved in a Chinese government labour transfer programme accused of subjecting the country’s Uyghur minority to forced labour or internment.

“Lawmakers and government officials must urgently consider how it could be morally defensible for federal employees’ pensions to be passively invested in companies complicit in gross human rights violations in the Uyghur Region,” argues the report, released Monday.

The report, titled “Passively Funding Crimes Against Humanity: How Your Savings May Be Financing Internment Camps and Forced Labor in China,” alleged Canadian funds are exposed to varying degrees, reported Toronto Star.

The report analyzed component stocks from three major global indexes, which are investment funds made up of a number of stocks run by the investment management firm Morgan Stanley.

Analysts said that six of 12 companies listed on Morgan Stanley’s China index have been involved in constructing internment camps and six have been involved in labour transfers, reported Toronto Star.

Morgan Stanley.

Seven of 13 companies on the emerging markets index have used labour drawn from China’s state-sponsored labour transfer programs with six involved in camp construction, the report alleged.

Out of four companies on the All-Country World Index ex-US, two are alleged to have obtained labour from such labour-transfer programs and two are alleged to have been involved in camp construction, reported Toronto Star.

The report says the Canada Pension Plan is exposed to seven companies accused of using forced labour and six complicit in building repressive infrastructure.

But the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s senior managing director of public affairs, Michel Leduc, rejected those allegations.

Leduc said the board has a rigorous process to vet companies in which it invests for human rights abuses and that companies listed in the report are not part of the plan’s foreign holdings, reported Toronto Star.

The Royal Bank, Civil Service Superannuation Board (CSSB) and Public Sector Investment Board (PSIB) are also alleged in the report to have exposure specifically to labour transfers or infrastructure used to oppress Uyghurs.

Beijing has been under scrutiny in recent years for the treatment of its Uyghur and other ethnic minorities, the majority of whom live in the western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Allegations of forced labour, physical and sexual abuse and indoctrination have been raised repeatedly.

However, China has insisted its camps are part of vocational training centres.

A United Nations report over the summer accused China of “serious human rights violations” in Xinjiang. In early 2021, Canada’s Parliament declared treatment of the minorities a “genocide” in a motion during which some government members abstained from voting. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Canada launches Ukraine Sovereignty Bond

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China steps up surveillance in Tibet

The Chinese authorities have made security even tighter in the China-occupied Tibet region, especially after the protests that broke out demanding the return of the Dalai Lama…reports Asian Lite News

Reports have surfaced that China is sparing no tactics in asserting its dominance in the China-occupied Tibet region. This comes at a time when the surveillance tactics employed by Chinese Communist Party in that region are almost choking the lives of local Tibetans, Tibet Rights Collective reported.

Citing reports from Human Rights Watch and the Citizen Lab in September this year the Tibet Rights Collective also claimed that CCP has been involved in an extensive collection of DNA samples. These samples are gathered from locals and children attending kindergarten.

As per a report published in December 2020 by the Tibetan municipality of Qinghai in China. The samples of all boys between the age of five and 17 were gathered from the area. It must also be noted that a person’s DNA is extremely vital information. As it helps the holder of the DNA to identify a person permanently, know their medical records and even derive information about their relatives and family members. And that too without the slightest possibility of forged identity.

The Chinese authorities have made security even tighter in the China-occupied Tibet region, especially after the protests that broke out demanding the return of the Dalai Lama.

According to Tibet Rights Collective, the CCP asks the local government to report all political crimes, profile DNA reports and listen to personal phone conversations. The use of We Chat is banned and 5G has been installed to process, access and gather data from the area more efficiently. The locals even have to bear limits on movements as there are on where these people can go. This is the pattern that China is following to not only assert political or military but also social dominance over the area.

The tapping of personal phone conversations of local Tibetans makes having a conversation on topics that are deemed sensitive to the CCP tough. There even are cases in which Chinese authorities have been detaining people just for talking to people who have settled abroad or living in exile, reported Tibet Rights Collective citing a report from the Central Tibetan Administration.

This area has been flooded by cameras that are enabled with facial-recognition technology. Cameras. Cameras have also been installed on Qinghai-Tibet Railway which is the highest elevated railway track around 4500 mts above sea level. This grid of camera network is being created with the help of HikVision which is a Chinese government-owned establishment and the largest producer of video surveillance products, reported Tibet Rights Collective citing a Free Tibet report.

The CCP has applied “Grid Management” and “Double-Linked Household” as forms of mass surveillance. In the Grid Management system entire neighbourhoods have been divided into small groups. As small as five to ten houses and a team of at least five security and administrative staff are being allotted to such grids each with a designated grid captain. This is to stop any possible unrest at the very grass root level and was introduced in 2007. And in the Double-Linked Household system which started in 2012, the grid system was further intensified thereby making block-level surveillance offices.

People in Tibet villages are divided into groups of locals that are made volunteers to support even further surveillance at the village level. There is the use of survey drones are being employed to closely monitor the movement of locals as they may cross the border from the Himalayan mountains from China-occupied Tibet to Nepal or India.

The nomads of Tibet who are a significant part of the Tibetan culture are forced into concrete settlements where it is easier for authorities to control their movements and further maintain their surveillance on Tibet locals.

The Tibet Rights Collective further reported citing a report from Radio Free Asia that there are members of surveillance units posted in monasteries by the Chinese government which is making the lives of monks difficult. And cameras have also been installed to maintain 24-hour watch even the monks. Similarly, the CCP has been interfering with local publications stopping them to publish any information that is considered sensitive by the CCP and their masters.

The surveillance of China does not stop here as there are also reports that China has established Chinese police-run service centres across the world that are made purposely to help Chinese citizens update their documents. There are at least 54 of these stations across the world spread across five continents. Reportedly, there are 36 such stations in Europe, 5 in South America, 5 in Asia, 4 in North America, and 3 in Africa. All such attempts of China come at a time when it is being blamed for conspiring in all the wrong ways possible and has been supporting Pakistan which has already proven to be associated with terrorism. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Xi going all out to expand China’s military might

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Foreign firms in China on verge of closure

China’s COVID-19 measures have resulted in distrust and outcry towards local officials and raised doubts about the zero-COVID policy…reports Asian Lite News

Foreign companies in China are on the verge of closure due to severe losses because of stringent Covid curbs and other movement restrictions, Channel Asia reported.

Beijing announced the previous week that it would shorten the quarantine periods despite a surge in Covid cases across the manufacturing hub Guangzhou, resulting in the region’s lockdown.

Notably, a two-month lockdown of Shanghai’s 25 million residents earlier this year and restrictions that dented production at the world’s largest iPhone plant in central Zhengzhou city this month underscore China’s zeal to quash outbreaks at almost any cost, Channel News Asia reported.

“How the government will handle the surge of cases there could be a litmus test for the future of China’s zero-COVID policy,” Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the US-based Council of Foreign Relations, wrote on Twitter, according to Channel News Asia.

Notably, China has been adhering to strict measures since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chinese government has been imposing lockdowns, and travel restrictions and conducting mass testing of people to control the spread of the virus.

The recent surge in Beijing’s Covid cases comes as experts have warned that some of China’s economic downtown could likely be due to the zero-COVID policy.

The stringent policy measures, which continue to remain in the headlines, appear to have no end as cities in China continue to be under lockdown due to COVID-19 cases.

The lockdown imposed by Chinese authorities has affected businesses and people’s livelihoods, impacting both supply and demand.

China’s COVID-19 measures have resulted in distrust and outcry towards local officials and raised doubts about the zero-COVID policy. The party congress has hinted that the COVID policy will continue in China and the party official responsible for lockdowns in Shanghai was given the second most powerful post in the party. As per the report, COVID testing now accounts for up to 1.3 per cent of China’s GDP and 7.2 per cent of public revenue.

Moody’s closing business

The US-headquartered credit rating firm, Moody’s Corp is shutting it’s China consulting business and is laying off its staff.

Two people with knowledge of the matter said that Moody’s Corp is laying off people associated with the unit in multiple locations across the country, reported The News International.

Moody’s Corp started winding down the business, Moody’s Analytics, in China this week, the people said on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to media.

First announced internally on Monday, the move has affected more than 100 employees across Moody’s Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen offices, one of the sources said, reported The News International.

The total headcount for the business unit could not immediately be ascertained. Moody’s credit rating business will continue to operate in the world’s second-largest economy, the source added.

Moody’s had flagged in a recent earnings call that it was “taking steps to align our global workforce with current and anticipated economic conditions,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Notably, China’s zero-Covid policy and its sporadic lockdowns are pushing multinational firms from its lands to different countries, a media report said citing the report of the European Union Chamber of Commerce.

Recently, in September, the EU Chamber of Commerce released a report that China had become less predictable, less reliable, and less efficient, resulting in several multinational firms considering shifting their operations out of China to other markets, Financial Post reported.

According to a European Chamber of Commerce survey, 50 per cent of western firms reported that business in China had become more politicised in 2021 than it was in earlier years.

“Increasing number of European businesses are putting China investments on hold and re-evaluating their positions in the market as they wait to see how long this uncertainty will continue, and many are looking towards other destinations for future projects,” Vice President of the European Chamber Bettina Schoen-Behanzin was quoted by Financial Times as saying.

In 2022, the shift of multinational companies from China shows that there is a decline in trust, according to Financial Post.

On October 3, American tech giant Google (local time) announced that it was shutting down the Google Translate service in mainland China, citing low usage in the country, as per reports.

With this Google’s announcement, the American tech giant was also added to the list of other companies that left China. Amazon, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Microsoft are some of the companies that pulled out their operation in China.

Meanwhile, droves of migrant workers have been fleeing back to their hometowns from the country’s largest iPhone factory in Covid-hit Zhengzhou, amidst a lockdown triggered by the Covid outbreak.

“Workers have broken out of #Apple’s largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they’re walking to hometowns more than 100 kilometers away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China,” tweeted Stephen McDonell, BBC’s correspondent in China.

Videos shared on Chinese social media showed people jumping a fence outside the plant, owned by manufacturer Foxconn, in the central city of Zhengzhou.

It was previously reported that a number of workers had been placed under quarantine because of an outbreak of the disease.

According to McDonell, Zhengzhou Foxconn hires approximately around 300,000 workers and makes half of the world’s iPhones. Amidst Covid lockdown chaos and food shortages, videos on Douyin, a Chinese video-hosting service show many migrant workers from within Henan province returning home on foot… as no public transport is available due to the lockdown. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Dar in a bind as Pakistan-IMF talks hit roadblock again

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China deploys more brigades to LAC; India keeps close watch

The Indian Army is reported to be closely tracking the movement of these three brigades for its  deployment plans in the winter…reports Asian Lite News

Despite the winter setting in when military activity normally turns low-ley, the Indian Army is not taking any chances on the close to 3,500 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China as the PLA has brought in three armed brigades as reserves to bolster its troop buildup.

A Hindustan Times report cited senior officials as saying that the three armed brigades were deployed just a month before the 20th Party Congress of Communist Party of China (CPC) in the eastern sector. Each brigade has around 4,500 troops.

“It is understood that one combined armed brigade is deployed as reserve by PLA around Phari Dzong area across the Silliguri Corridor near the China-Bhutan border and two other PLA brigades are deployed across Arunachal Pradesh.” the report states.

The Indian Army is reported to be closely tracking the movement of these three brigades for its  deployment plans in the winter.

On November 12, Army Chief General Manoj Pande had said the situation in eastern Ladakh is stable but unpredictable and in spite of the onset of winter, there is no significant reduction in the Chinese army’s force levels on the Line of Actual Control (LAC),

In reply to a question at the ‘Chanakya Dialogues’ in Delhi, the Army chief said that talks were going on at the political, diplomatic and military level between the two sides. Because of these talks, we have been able to find resolution in five of the seven friction points which were on the table. And it is for the next two friction points that we are trying to find a resolution,” he added.

To resolve the remaining issues along the LAC, it has been agreed to hold the 17th round of talks between senior military commanders of the two countries at an early date.

The Army Chief said the force’s transition to the winter posture is underway but “we have also made sure that we have adequate forces to deal with any contingency.”

(India Narrative)

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