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China censors shots of maskless World Cup crowd

Chinese netizens said it was “weird” to see hundreds of thousands of people gathering in a carnival-like atmosphere while they were still forced to live under a draconian system…reports Asian Lite News

Chinese state television has censored FIFA World Cup matches to remove shots of maskless crowd after the sight of joyous fans celebrating in packed stadia stoked anger back home, where hundreds of millions remain under strict pandemic restrictions, according to a media report.

A well-attended opening ceremony in Doha with no social distancing led to users of Chinese social media platforms complaining that it contrasted with the severe isolation they felt under President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy, The Guardian reported.

Chinese netizens said it was “weird” to see hundreds of thousands of people gathering in a carnival-like atmosphere while they were still forced to live under a draconian system that most other countries have long abandoned, the report said.

Mark Dreyer, who runs the China Sports Insider blog, noticed that games broadcast on the state-owned channel, China Central Television (CCTV), were being edited to avoid live shots of cheering crowd and instead show closeu-ps of the players and coaches.

“Of course, there are going to be times when you still see crowd shots � wider shots, after some goals when a cutaway shot would be too jarring etc. But there is clear reduction,” Dreyer wrote on Twitter.

Broadcasters at sporting tournaments are typically given the option by organisers to choose their own camera angles, and can set a delay so that the game can be edited quickly before the public sees it.

Dreyer, the author of ‘Sporting Superpower: An Insider’s View on China’s Quest to Be the Best’, said such “pre-emptive censorship” was not a new policy for Beijing.

“Chinese broadcasters are notoriously cautious of crowd shots at international sporting events because of what might be seen like Tibetan flags, for example,” he said, The Guardian reported.

ALSO READ: ‘A4 Revolution’ grips China

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How did one Lt Gen manage to become Pak army chief?

As far as General Asim Munir’s credentials for becoming army chief was that he had been removed from the post of DGISI by Imran Khan for personal reasons including his complaint about corruption by Bushra Bibi…reports Asian Lite News

The hype and hoopla created over the appointment of Pakistan’s new army chief came to rest after General Asim Munir and General Sahir Shamshad Mirza were notified as the next chief of army staff (COAS) and chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) respectively on November 24.

Munir, who was to retire on November 27, two days before Bajwa completed an extended tenure of almost six years, was among six generals in the race for the top post — a cause for much uncertainty and speculation till this week.
People familiar with the matter in Pakistan said Munir’s reputation as a straight military officer who played by the book helped him clinch the post.

There was an unprecedented hysteria and frenzy in Pakistan by former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, his followers and his social media brigade after the PTI government was thrown out of the power corridors of Islamabad in April.

The government has accused Khan of making the appointment of the new army chief controversial for political gains.

For the last month, Pakistan was literally paralysed administratively and economically because of the delay in the appointment of the army chief who is considered the most powerful personality with all political stakeholders dying for his blessings.

Notably, Pakistan’s military has directly ruled the country of 220 million people for nearly half of its 75-year history.

It is imperative to analyze as to how the decision to appoint Asim Munir was taken and what factors were behind it. How did one Lt Gen manage to become the chief?

The selection, which caps weeks of speculation, was confirmed after President Arif Alvi signed a summary sent by the premier.

Lt Gen Munir was promoted to the rank of a three-star general in September 2018, but he took charge two months later. As such, his four-year tenure as Lt Gen ends on November 27, around the same time when incumbent Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Nadeem Raza and Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa will be doffing their army uniform, reported Dawn.

Lt Gen Munir entered the service via the Officers Training School programme in Mangla and was commissioned into the Frontier Force Regiment.

He has been a close aide of Gen Bajwa ever since he commanded troops in the Force Command Northern Areas as a brigadier under the outgoing army chief, who was then Commander X Corps.

Lt Gen Munir was later appointed Military Intelligence director general in early 2017, and in October next year was made the Inter-Services Intelligence chief, reported Dawn.

General Asim Munir is the first army chief of Pakistan who has been chief of both Military Intelligence (MI) and the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). Presently, General Munir is serving as the Quarter Master at the General Headquarters (GHQ).

However, his stint as the top intelligence officer turned out to be the shortest ever, as he was replaced by Lt Gen Faiz Hamid within eight months, on the insistence of then-PM Imran Khan.

Chief of ISI – Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid

He was posted as Gujranwala Corps commander, a position he held for two years, before being moved to the General Headquarters as the quartermaster general.

General Asim Munir was among those in Pakistan who oversaw the 2019 Pulwama terror attack, according to Tilak Devasher, a member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and who retired as Special Secretary, the Cabinet Secretariat. Notably, the tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the suicide attack in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives when their convoy was attacked on February 14, 2019.

It is also yet to be seen as to what future course of action Imran Khan, the dismayed ex-prime minister, decides to pursue in the coming days.

First of all, the reality is that outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa despite all announcements by the DG ISPR, DG ISI, and himself was desirous of an extension.

Prima facie, he took a position as if he doesn’t want an extension; he was actually striving hard for it. He was pursuing two game plans. He should get as much extension as possible under the army act.

The second was that if it is not possible, the army chief of his choice should be appointed. He was following a comprehensive strategy in this regard. He had created a certain atmosphere for this purpose.

PTI and its chairman Imran Khan had no objection. Had the government initiated the matter of extension, Imran Khan would have accepted it immediately. That was why an atmosphere of consensus on the extension issue between Bajwa and Imran Khan was present.

During such kind of manoeuvring, the former pursued policy of soft-peddling against Imran Khan creating an impression of the former prime minister being a blue-eyed boy.

It is noteworthy that Bajwa was doing this not for the first time. At the time of his first extension, he had been playing on both sides of the wicket. It was because he secured votes from both the treasury and opposition benches on the army act. He was working on the same plan this time too.

Sources close to PML (N) say that the snatching of the Punjab government from the hands of the ruling coalition was the main reason behind his failure in getting a second extension.

Pakistan-Army-Chief-Gen-Qamar-Javed-Bajwa-meets-Prime-Minister-Imran-Khan

Moreover, Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi in private gatherings used to claim that he took the side of Imran Khan on the direction of Bajwa.

The ruling coalition had a strong grudge against Bajwa, alleging behind closed doors that it lost Punjab because of Bajwa. General Bajwa continued thinking that Punjab is a trump card in his hand.

Whenever Punjab was discussed, General Bajwa would assure that they will tackle Punjab after he gets strengthened after the extension, while on the other hand, the ruling coalition wanted Punjab back first.

This was the turning point in the ties between Bajwa and the government. The ruling coalition decided not to get blackmailed through the Punjab card. The trust between Bajwa and the government got fully shattered.

Now the question is as to why Sahir Shamshad was not made the army chief. The answer is that he was the candidate of Qamar Javed Bajwa, who wished that Sahir Shamshad should be made the army chief if he was not granted an extension.

On the other hand, the ruling coalition was of the view when he isn’t given an extension, why should his representative be appointed army chief?

If General Bajwa had the potential to get his demands met, he would’ve taken an extension himself. There was no need of getting his representative appointed as army chief. When the situation became unfavourable for General Bajwa, it did happen so in the case of his representative also.

In this way, the ruling coalition won the battle of timing with General Bajwa. General Bajwa continued losing while prolonging the matter. PM Shehbaz Sharif’s isolation in the disguise of the COVID-19 pandemic proved an important factor in sending Bajwa back home.

The coalition government, mainly Nawaz Sharif was in search of a neutral candidate, who could be made the army chief after General Bajwa. That kind of person should neither be a candidate of Bajwa, nor a supporter of Imran Khan.

Thus, there was no scope for Lt General Faiz, though his name was on the list. While Sahir Shamshad was unacceptable because of being a candidate of Bajwa, Faiz Hameed was also unacceptable due to being a staunch supporter of Imran Khan.

Azhar Abbas

Lt General Faiz was constantly in touch with Sharifs in London for lobbying. Even before the no-confidence vote, he had requested Nawaz Sharif not to create any hurdle in his way. He had forgotten that he had lost the trust of political parties in 2018 and there was no one to trust him.

In fact, the no-confidence vote was against General Faiz and not against Imran Khan. It was aimed at blocking the path of Faiz Hamid. Imran Khan’s willingness to support the second extension of Bajwa was also an effort to open the path for General Faiz.

It was a formula to keep him in the game. Early elections demand was also aimed at appointing Faiz as army chief. Imran khan had left no stone unturned for early elections prior to the appointment of the new army chief.

His willingness for elections in March 2023 was also for this purpose because Faiz Hamid’s retirement was due in April. However, Imran Khan failed in achieving his target even by creating unprecedented instability in the country.

In the quest for a suitable candidate, Lt Gen Azhar Abbas also figured. He was a good candidate but was included in Bajwa’s Plan B. He used to be considered that type of neutral, who played on both sides of the wicket. He was close to Bajwa but at the same time not much opposed to Lt General Faiz. He had good ties with Faiz and his opponents. His habit of playing on both sides became a hurdle in his way.

It is a common impression in power circles that Lt General Amir and General Nauman during their entire service remained on the one side, while General Faiz and General Sahir Shamshad remained on the other side.

On the other hand, Azhar Abbas continued playing on both sides. It is significant that all four generals are coursemates.

Lt General Nauman and Lt General Faiz have also served together in ISI, but at that time General Faiz was reigning supreme in the Intel agency. Both of them weren’t on good terms. Even today their relations are not cordial. Lt General Amir was branded as the choice of Asif Zardari, which became an obstacle in his way. The noon league didn’t want to take any risk, therefore, there was no chance left for Lt General Amir.

Asif Zardari had this realization that is why; he wanted him to appoint Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

His formula was that with General Amir becoming chairman, the remaining generals in the seniority list will automatically retire. He had floated a formula that PML (N) should appoint its own chief, while the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee should be of his choice.

The PML (N) was ready for it, but the summary was again stopped as General Bajwa again started playing his game and in this way Sahir Shamshad’s name was floated. General Bajwa in light of saying “something is better than nothing” agreed over the slot of CJCSC.

General Qamar javed Bajwa

As far as General Asim Munir’s credentials for becoming army chief was that he had been removed from the post of DGISI by Imran Khan for personal reasons including his complaint about corruption by Bushra Bibi, and difference over Imran’s demand of crushing of opposition parties. Imran Khan was openly opposed to Asim Munir and it was evident from the fact that his order got issued.

Because of heightened animosity, Imran Khan continued blocking his path. He used to talk about playing with the appointment was also aimed at stopping his appointment.

How can a person be acceptable to him as an army chief who wasn’t acceptable as DGISI? The person who was removed from the office of DGISI has now become the army chief. This is why; Asim Munir was the best choice.

His being the most senior is meaningless. Even if he had not been the most senior general, he would’ve been the best choice for today. His ouster from the office of Imran Khan became his top quality. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Rift in Pakistan Army?

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Trump faulted for dinner with white nationalist, rapper Ye

Trump, in a series of statements Friday, said he had “never met and knew nothing about” Fuentes before he arrived with Ye at his club…reports Asian Lite News

Former President Donald Trump is renewing attention to his long history of turning a blind eye to bigotry after dining with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West just days into his third campaign for the White House.

Trump had dinner Tuesday at his Mar-a-Lago club with West, who is now known as Ye, as well as Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist who has used his online platform to spew antisemitic and white nationalist rhetoric.

Ye, who says he, too, is running for president in 2024, has made his own series of antisemitic comments in recent weeks, leading to his suspension from social media platforms, his talent agency dropping him and companies like Adidas cutting ties with him. The sportswear manufacturer has also launched an investigation into his conduct.

In a statement from the White House, spokesman Andrew Bates said: “Bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America — including at Mar-A-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be forcefully condemned.”

Trump, in a series of statements Friday, said he had “never met and knew nothing about” Fuentes before he arrived with Ye at his club. But Trump also did not acknowledge Fuentes’ long history of racist and antisemitic remarks, nor did he denounce either man’s defamatory statements.

Trump wrote of Ye on his social media platform that “we got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’” He added, “Why wouldn’t I agree to meet?”

The former president has a long history of failing to unequivocally condemn hate speech. During his 2016 campaign, Trump waffled when asked to denounce the KKK after he was endorsed by the group’s former leader, saying in a televised interview that he didn’t “know anything about David Duke.” In 2017, in the aftermath of the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump was widely criticized for saying there was “blame on both sides” for the violence. And his rallies frequently feature inflammatory rhetoric from figures like U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who spoke earlier this year at a far-right conference organized by Fuentes.

The latest episode, coming just one week after Trump launched his third run for the Republican nomination, also underscored how loosely controlled access to the former president remained, particularly without a traditional campaign operation in place.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club came under intense scrutiny amid revelations that Trump was storing hundreds of documents with classified markings there — sparking a federal investigation. But the club — and the people it gave access to Trump — had long been a source of consternation among former White House aides.

Mar-a-Lago is not only Trump’s home, but also a private club and event space. Paid members and their guests dine alongside him and often mingle with him; members of the public can book weddings, fundraisers and other events, and Trump often drops by.

Ye first shared details of the dinner in a video he posted to his Twitter account Thursday. Ye said he had traveled to Florida to ask Trump to be his 2024 running mate, and that the meeting had grown heated, with Trump “perturbed” by his request and Ye angered by Trump’s criticism of his estranged wife, Kim Kardashian.

“When Trump started basically screaming at me at the table telling me I was gonna lose. I mean, has that ever worked for anyone in history, telling Ye that I’m going to lose?” Ye asked in the video. “You’re talking to Ye!”

ALSO READ: Democrats under dilemma on publishing Trump’s tax records

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China vs US rivalry enters space

The Shenzhou-15 crewed spaceship will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China on Tuesday…reports Asian Lite News

China will be sending a three-person crew to its space station, which is nearing completion, and also announced today plans for a manned mission to the Moon amid intensifying competition with the US.

The Shenzhou-15 crewed spaceship will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China on Tuesday, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced.

The spaceship will take three astronauts — Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu — to carry out the spaceflight mission.

Fei will be the commander of the mission, Ji Qiming, assistant to the director of the CMSA, told the media. The crew will stay in orbit for about six months, a period in which the construction of the low-orbit space station is expected to be completed.

The launch will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket, which will be filled with propellant soon, Ji said.

After entering the orbit, the Shenzhou-15 spaceship will make a fast, automated rendezvous and dock with the front port of the space station’s core module called Tianhe, Ji said.

During their stay in orbit, the Shenzhou-15 crew will witness the arrival of the Tianzhou-6 cargo craft and Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship.

China is launching a host of rockets amid concerns over their falling debris, which is scattered around the world. The Shenzhou-15 astronauts will return in May next year, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

This is the third manned mission to be launched by China to link up with its space station.

US China flag.

Two batches comprising three astronauts were flown to the space station, on a six months mission each to build the orbiting station.

While one set of astronauts returned, another set of three astronauts is currently based in Tianhe.

According to an earlier announcement by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) the low-orbit space station construction was expected to be completed this year.

Once ready, China will be the only country to own a space station. China Space Station (CSS) is also expected to be a competitor to the ISS built by Russia.

Observers say the CSS may become the sole space station to remain in orbit once the ISS retires in the coming years. Ji also announced plans to send a manned mission to Moon amid intensifying competition with the US.

The US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched its most powerful rocket on November 16 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The objective of the 100m-tall Artemis vehicle was to hurl an unmanned astronaut capsule in the Moon’s direction.

The spacecraft, known as Orion, is uncrewed for this particular flight, but its future missions will be manned missions to explore the lunar surface.

China has completed key technology research and validation of the manned lunar exploration project, forming a Moon landing implementation plan with “Chinese characteristics,” Ji said.

China has made breakthroughs in the development of the new-generation crewed spaceship, new-generation manned carrier rocket, Moon lander, and Moon landing spacesuit, stepping closer to its moon landing goal, he said.

“China’s footsteps in space exploration will not stay only in the low-Earth orbit, and we will surely fly further,” Ji said when asked when China will land on the Moon. “The country is ready to implement the lunar landing project. I believe the dream of landing on the moon will come true in the near future,” Ji was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

China in the past successfully launched uncrewed missions to the Moon which included Yutu 2 a rover that sent back pictures of the little-explored far side of the Moon.

China’s Chang’e 5 probe returned lunar rocks to Earth in December 2000. China has also sent a rover to Mars.

ALSO READ: ‘A4 Revolution’ grips China

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India in the centre of Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy

Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy describes China as an increasingly disruptive global power and rebukes the Asian’s country for its disregard of international rules and norms…reports Asian Lite News

Canada has in its new Indo-Pacific strategy document highlighted plans to increase cooperation with India, including a commitment to work towards a new trade agreement, underscoring New Delhi’s growing importance in the strategic, economic and demographic spheres in the region.

The “Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy” document states that the Indo-Pacific region will play a critical role in shaping Canada’s future over the next half-century.

At the same time the document describes China as “an increasingly disruptive global power” and rebukes the Asian’s country for its disregard of international rules and norms. “India’s growing strategic, economic and demographic importance in the Indo-Pacific makes it a critical partner in Canada’s pursuit of its objectives under this strategy,” says the 26-page document released on Sunday.

The strategy document contains a separate section on India and growing economic ties, including through deeper trade and investment, as well as cooperate on building resilient supply chains.

It seeks to expand to market access with India by concluding an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) as a step towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries.

The strategy seeks to create a Canada-India desk within the Trade Commissioner Service to promote implementation of the EPTA for businesses and investors looking to enter the Indian market, or for those partnering with Indian businesses

Canada will it says invest in and connect people, including by bolstering Canada’s visa-processing capacity in New Delhi and Chandigarh.

The Canadian government will support academic, educational, cultural, youth and research exchanges.

Canada will seek to accelerate cooperation in the fight against climate change, in protecting the environment and in deploying green technologies.

It will also send enhanced Team Canada trade missions in priority sectors of mutual interest, such as renewable energy and clean technology.

The strategy states that Canada and India have a shared tradition of democracy and pluralism, a common commitment to a rules-based international system and multilateralism, mutual interest in expanding multifaceted ties between the two countries.

According to the document, the Indo-Pacific region will play a critical role in shaping Canada’s future over the next half-century.

Encompassing 40 economies, over four billion people and USD 47.19 trillion in economic activity, it is the world’s fastest growing-region and home to six of Canada’s top 13 trading partners.

“The Indo-Pacific region represents significant opportunities for growing the economy here at home, as well as opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses for decades to come,” the document read.

Meanwhile, the document describes China as “an increasingly disruptive global power,” that have complex and deeply intertwined relationships with its “key regional actors.”

“Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy is informed by its clear-eyed understanding of this global China, and Canada’s approach is aligned with those of our partners in the region and around the world,” the document reads.

It also rebukes China’s disregard of international rules and norms.

“China’s rise, enabled by the same international rules and norms that it now increasingly disregards, has had an enormous impact on the Indo-Pacific, and it has ambitions to become the leading power in the region,” the document adds.

China rejects Canada’s strategy

China strongly deplored and rejected the attack and smear targeting China outlined within Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy, an embassy spokesperson said, emphasizing that Canada is completely wrong in interpreting China’s domestic and foreign policies, in recognizing the leadership of Communist Party of China, in jeopardizing China’s national interest and in provoking geopolitical confrontation in the region.

Some Western countries, who at will undermine the international order and other countries’ sovereignty, are the true disruptive force to global peace, security and development, and Canada has played a disgraceful role to this effect, the Chinese Embassy in Canada said after Canada launched an Indo-Pacific strategy on Sunday, calling China “an increasingly disruptive global power” that must be contained.

The spokesperson pointed out that days were long gone when individual Western countries bossed around the developing ones, saying China won’t tolerate any external interference on matters related to Taiwan island, Xinjiang region and Hong Kong.

Trying to separate the Chinese government from its people only exposes Canada’s ignorance of China, and is an approach that is doomed to fail, the spokesperson said.

China urged the Canadian side to stop sabotaging regional peace and stability, as well as political manipulation on China-related issues. “Otherwise, it will face shameful failure and forceful countermeasures from the Chinese side,” the embassy said. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Canada unveils Indo-Pacific Strategy, ramps up visa processing in India

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‘A4 Revolution’ grips China

During various demonstrations across the country, people were seen holding a blank sheet of paper. Some say it’s a way to avoid censorship….reports Asian Lite News

Blank sheets of paper have become an iconic item during the protests, which many now refer to as “white paper revolution”, “blank sheet revolution” or “A4 revolution”, as per reports.

During various demonstrations across the country, people were seen holding a blank sheet of paper. Some say it’s a way to avoid censorship.

In a viral video said to be from Saturday, a woman in the Communication University of Nanjing held a blank piece of paper before an unidentified man took it away, BBC reported.

In another video from later that night, dozens of more students were seen on the campus holding pieces of white paper, standing in silence. Similar scenes occurred in other major cities over the weekend.

“There was definitely nothing on the paper, but we know what’s on there,” a woman who participated a protests in Shanghai on Saturday night told the BBC.

Paper maker Shanghai M&G Stationary has denied rumours that it has taken all A4 papers off shelves for national security reasons.

Blank pieces of paper have become a symbol of defiance for protesters in China, especially among students at universities. They are expressing their anger over the country’s Covid-19 restrictions. It is a form of silent protest, but a way for them to avoid censorship or being arrested.

On Monday, the company posted an emergency notice on the Shanghai Stock Exchange saying a forged document has been circulating online.

M&G officials said production and operation was all normal and that they had notified police, BBC reported.

ALSO READ: China’s zero-Covid policy makes Tibetans’ life a living hell

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Sunak vows to maintain military aid to Ukraine

On Ukraine, Sunak indicated no change with the policy pursued by Johnson and Truss…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak plans to promise on Monday to maintain or increase military aid to Ukraine next year, and to confront international competitors “not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism”.

British government support for Ukraine has remained unchanged, despite turmoil in recent months as Boris Johnson was succeeded as prime minister by Liz Truss and then Sunak.

However, some Conservatives view Sunak as less hawkish on China than Truss – although a planned meeting between Sunak and China’s President Xi Jinping at this month’s G20 summit in Bali fell through and last week London banned Chinese-made security cameras from sensitive government buildings.

“Under my leadership we won’t choose the status quo. We will do things differently,” Sunak said in an extract released by his office of his first major foreign policy speech, which he plans to deliver on Monday in London’s financial district.

Sunak said his priorities would be “freedom, openness and the rule of law”.

European Union officials have questioned whether Britain under Johnson was genuinely committed to its Brexit legal agreements, especially regarding Northern Ireland.

On Ukraine, Sunak indicated no change with the policy pursued by Johnson and Truss.

“We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will maintain or increase our military aid next year. And we will provide new support for air defence,” he said.

In September Britain said it was the second largest military donor to Ukraine after the United States, providing 2.3 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) of aid this year.

Sunak said Britain needed to take the same long-term approach as its adversaries and competitors, who he did not name directly in the speech extracts, and that Britain should make “an evolutionary leap” in its approach to foreign policy.

“It means delivering a stronger economy at home – because it is the foundation of our strength abroad. And it means standing up to our competitors, not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism,” he said.

Sunak has previously described China as a “systemic challenge” and “the single biggest state threat to our economic security”.

ALSO READ-Sunak’s curbs on foreign students could meet resistance

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Australian parliament ratifies FTA with UK

This will resolve a long pending issue and lead to savings of more than $200 million for IT companies per year…reports Asian Lite News

The Australian Parliament on Monday ratified the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) with India, paving the way for implementing the deal as early as January 1, 2023. This will be India’s first trade deal with a developed country in more than a decade, after the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was signed with Japan in 2011.

“The (Anthony) Albanese government has worked hard to expeditiously advance all processes necessary, to ensure Australia is in a position to implement both (India and the UK) free trade agreements before the end of 2022,” the Australian trade ministry said in a statement. The Australian Parliament on Tuesday also ratified its pending deal with the UK.

“There is a good chance that the deal will be implemented starting January 1, 2023, though the Christmas holidays are coming,” said a senior Indian government official requesting anonymity.

The deal will now need approval from the Australian Cabinet and the President of India. The ECTA will enter into force 30 days after an exchange of written notifications on the completion of domestic processes.

The Australian Parliament also amended the double tax avoidance agreement (DTAA) with India to stop taxing the offshore income of Indian information technology companies operating in Australia. This will resolve a long pending issue and lead to savings of more than $200 million for IT companies per year.

Under the deal, Australia has agreed to eliminate Customs duty immediately on 98.3 per cent of the traded goods and on 100 per cent tariff lines over a period of five years. India, on the other hand, will do away with Customs duties on 40 per cent of products immediately and on 70.3 per cent of tariff lines over a period of 10 years. Major labour-intensive sectors in India that will benefit from the elimination of 5 per cent Customs duty at present include textiles and apparel, agricultural products, leather, furniture, jewellery, and pharmaceuticals.

Thanking his Australian counterpart Albanese, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The entry into force of Ind-Aus ECTA will be greatly welcomed by our business communities, and will further strengthen that India-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Trade minister Piyush Goyal said it is indeed a landmark moment for Australia and India. “Australia opens 100 per cent of its tariff lines without even any quota restriction. It is the first time Australia has done this for any country. It reflects the confidence and trust between the two countries,” he added.

Under the trade deal, India can every year send 1,800 Yoga teachers and Indian chefs to Australia, and 1,000 work-cum-holiday visas will be available for young professionals. Post-study work visas up to four years will benefit over 100,000 Indian students.

On 750 ml bottles of Australian wine, India has agreed to reduce tariff over 10 years, from 150 per cent to 50 per cent if the value of the bottle is between $5 to $15. For bottles above $15, a reduction of tariff from 150 per cent to 25 per cent will be carried out over a period of 10 years. However, on wine bottles priced below $5, the existing Customs duty of 150 per cent will not be reduced.

ALSO READ-Australia clears FTA with India

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Protesters seek Xi’s resignation

State censors appeared to have scrubbed Chinese social media of any news about the rallies, with the search terms “Liangma River”, “Urumqi Road”…reports Asian Lite News

China’s censors were working Monday to extinguish signs of rare, social media-driven protests that flared across major cities over the weekend calling for political freedoms and an end to Covid lockdowns.

Sunday saw people take to the streets in several major cities across China to call for an end to lockdowns and greater political freedoms, in a wave of nationwide protests not seen since pro-democracy rallies in 1989 were crushed.

A deadly fire last week in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang region, has become a catalyst for public anger, with many blaming Covid lockdowns for hampering rescue efforts.

But they have also featured prominent calls for greater political freedoms — with some even demanding the resignation of China’s President Xi Jinping, recently re-appointed to an unprecedented third term as the country’s leader.

Large crowds gathered Sunday in the capital Beijing and Shanghai, where police clashed with protesters as they tried to stop groups from converging at Wulumuqi street, named after the Mandarin for Urumqi.

Crowds that had gathered overnight — some of whom chanted “Xi Jinping, step down! CCP, step down!” — were dispersed by Sunday morning.

But in the afternoon, hundreds rallied in the same area with blank sheets of paper and flowers to hold what appeared to be a silent protest, an eyewitness said.

In the capital, at least 400 people gathered on the banks of a river for several hours, with some shouting: “We are all Xinjiang people! Go Chinese people!”

Reporters at the scene described the crowd singing the national anthem and listening to speeches, while on the other side of the canal bank, a line of police cars waited.

State censors appeared to have scrubbed Chinese social media of any news about the rallies, with the search terms “Liangma River”, “Urumqi Road” — sites of protests in Beijing and Shanghai — scrubbed of any references to the rallies on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

Videos including those showing university students singing in protest and rallies in other cities had also vanished from WeChat, replaced by notices saying the content was reported for “non-compliant or sensitive content.”

The Weibo search for the hashtag #A4 — a reference to the blank pieces of paper held up at rallies in a symbolic protest against censorship — also appeared to have been manipulated, showing only a handful of posts from the past day.

Boiling point

China’s strict control of information and continued travel curbs tied to the zero-Covid policy make verifying numbers of protestors across the vast country challenging.

But such widespread rallies are exceptionally rare, with authorities harshly clamping down on any and all opposition to the central government.

Protests also occurred on Sunday in Wuhan, the central city where Covid-19 first emerged, while there were reports of demonstrations in Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong.

Spreading through social media, they have been fuelled by frustration at the central government’s zero-Covid policy, which sees authorities impose snap lockdowns, lengthy quarantines and mass testing campaigns over just a handful of cases.

State-run newspaper the People’s Daily published a commentary Monday morning warning against “paralysis” and “battle-weariness” in the fight against Covid — but stopped far short of calling for an end to hardline policy.

“People have now reached a boiling point because there has been no clear direction to path to end the zero-Covid policy,” Alfred Wu Muluan, a Chinese politics expert at the National University of Singapore, said.

“The party has underestimated the people’s anger.”

Investors were spooked by the weekend protests, with Asian stocks opening sharply lower on Monday morning.

China reported 40,052 domestic Covid-19 cases Monday, a record high but tiny compared to caseloads in the West at the height of the pandemic.

Clashes in Shanghai

Hundreds of demonstrators and police have clashed in Shanghai as protests over Chinas stringent Covid restrictions continued for a third day and spread to several cities, in the biggest test for President Xi Jinping since he secured a historic third term in power.

The wave of civil disobedience is unprecedented in mainland China in the past decade, as frustration mounts over Xi’s signature zero-Covid policy nearly three years into the pandemic, the Guardian reported.

Protests triggered by a deadly apartment fire in the far west of the country last week took place on Sunday in cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou.

On Monday, China reported a new daily record of new Covid-19 infections, with 40,347 cases.

ALSO READ-‘Economy ceased to be priority area of Xi Jinping’

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Indonesia resumes multiple entry visa

With this visa, business people and foreign tourists are allowed to travel to Indonesia many times a year without re-applying for a visa…reports Asian Lite News

Indonesia has relaunched the multiple entry visa which was deactivated amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a top official said on Monday.

“With this visa, business people and foreign tourists are allowed to travel to Indonesia many times a year without re-applying for a visa,” Xinhua news agency quoted Acting Director General of Immigration Widodo Ekatjahjana as saying.

Every time they visit Indonesia, they can stay for a maximum of 60 days, he added.

Holders of this visa are allowed to enter and leave Indonesia in Riau Islands province and they are free to visit other areas in this Southeast Asian country during the stay.

ALSO READ: Indian, Indonesian troops engage in joint military exercise