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Armenia and Azerbaijan truce in jeopardy, both ready for talks

A new ceasefire in the mountain territory of Nagorno-Karabakh was in jeopardy on Monday with Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces reporting shelling and heavy fighting.Among accusations on both sides, Azerbaijan said it had "neutralized" a missile fired by Armenian forces at an oil pipeline in Azerbaijan on Sunday, several hours after the ceasefire went into force. Armenia denied firing it.The ceasefire was agreed on Saturday after an earlier deal brokered by Russia failed to halt the deadliest clashes in the South Caucasus since the 1990s.So far, the main driver of diplomacy between the ex-Soviet enemies has been Russia. Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev both told Russia's TASS news agency in separate interviews on Monday that they were ready to come to Moscow for talks.Azerbaijan had destroyed missile launchers inside Armenia that were targeting its cities, as fierce fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh risked widening beyond the disputed region, October 14, 2020. /AFPThe failure to stop the fighting has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis, and put new strains on ties between Turkey, which strongly backs Azerbaijan, and its NATO allies which want the conflict to end.Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway enclave of Azerbaijan that is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians, said 729 of its military personnel and 36 civilians had been killed in fighting that began on September 27. Azerbaijan said 61 Azeri civilians had been killed and 282 wounded. It has not disclosed its military casualties.Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh said Azeri forces were shelling their positions in northern and southern areas of the line of contact that divides them.They said Azeri forces had shelled civilian settlements including the town of Martuni and four villages - charges that were denied by Azerbaijan. They reported one civilian killed and one wounded in Martuni.The aftermath of shelling during the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, October 14, 2020. /AFPThe Azeri defense ministry said Armenian forces were shelling the Agjebedin, Tovuz and Dashkesan regions far from the conflict zone – accusations denied by Armenia.The ministry also said Terter and Aghdam regions were under shelling. AzTV state television said one of its journalists was wounded in Terter.The Azeri prosecutor general's office said Armenia had targeted a pipeline in the Khizi district of Azerbaijan, more than 300 km (186 miles) from the conflict zone, on Sunday afternoon. The pipeline, which carries oil to Novorossiisk in Russia, was not damaged but some missile fragments fell about 250 meters (820 feet) away, it said.Dismissing the report, Armenian defense ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said: "It's a total lie.”A ceasefire brokered in Moscow earlier this month was aimed at letting the sides swap detainees and bodies of those killed, but it had little impact on the fighting.The new ceasefire was announced on Saturday after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talked to the Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers by telephone.(REUTERS)

UNICEF to stockpile syringes for COVID-19 vaccination

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has begun laying the groundwork for COVID-19 vaccination by purchasing and pre-positioning syringes and other necessary equipment, said the fund on Monday.UNICEF will stockpile 520 million syringes by the end of this year in its warehouses, part of a larger plan of 1 billion syringes by 2021, to guarantee initial supply and help ensure that syringes arrive in countries before the COVID-19 vaccines, it said."Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 will be one of the largest mass undertakings in human history, and we will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a press release."In order to move fast later, we must move fast now. By the end of the year, we will already have over half a billion syringes pre-positioned where they can be deployed quickly and cost-effectively. That's enough syringes to wrap around the world one and a half times."Besides syringes, UNICEF is also buying 5 million safety boxes so that used syringes and needles can be disposed of in a safe manner, thus preventing the risk of needle stick injuries and blood-borne diseases. Every safety box carries 100 syringes.Lead-times for injection equipment such as syringes and safety boxes are long as these items are bulky and need to be transported by sea freight. Vaccines, which are heat sensitive, are normally transported more quickly by air freight. In addition to saving time, early purchase of syringes and safety boxes also reduces pressure on the market and preempts potential early spikes in demand when vaccines do become available, said the press release.To make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are transported and stored at the right temperature, UNICEF, along with the World Health Organization, is also mapping out existing cold chain equipment and storage capacity and preparing necessary guidance for countries to receive vaccines, it said. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

Trump: Sudan to be removed from state sponsors of terrorism list

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday announced that an agreement had been reached with Sudan to pay American victims of terrorism.He added that once the money, about 335 million U.S. dollars, had been paid, Khartoum would be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism."GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to U.S. terror victims and families," Trump tweeted."At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!"Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok thanked Trump and said his country was looking forward to the removal from the list."Thank you so much, President Trump! We very much look forward to your official notification to Congress rescinding the designation of Sudan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which has cost Sudan too much."He added that Sudan's removal from the list will open the door for the African country to get relief of its external debt worth 60 billion U.S. dollars.Screenshot from Trump's Twitter account. /CGTNChairman of Sudan's Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan on Monday also welcomed the plan."I would like to express my great appreciation and that of the Sudanese nation to President Donald Trump and the American Administration for taking this constructive step to remove Sudan's name from the list of states sponsors of terrorism," said Al-Burhan in a statement issued by the sovereign council.The U.S. government added Sudan to its list of state sponsors of "terrorism" in 1993 over allegations that al-Bashir's government was supporting "terrorist" groups. The designation makes Sudan technically ineligible for debt relief and urgently needed financing from major international institutions.The U.S. Congress would need to approve the removal after being formally notified by the president.(CGTN)

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Trump seeks campaign boost in battleground Pennsylvania with two weeks to go

U.S. President Donald Trump heads to the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday with hopes of rekindling the 11th-hour surge of support that powered his surprise 2016 victory.But with more than 30 million early ballots already cast with two weeks to go before voting ends on Election Day Nov. 3, time is running short in his contest against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.National polls show former Vice President Biden holding a wide lead on Republican Trump, though the contest is closer in swing states including Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina.Trump has gained some ground on Biden in Pennsylvania, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, which showed the challenger leading by 49% to 45%, slightly narrower than a week earlier.Trump is due to hold a rally in Erie, in the state's northwest corner, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (2300 GMT). Biden has no events planned.Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 219,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work, has taken a heavy toll on his re-election prospects.Despite rising cases of the highly contagious disease, which landed Trump in hospital for three days, he has resumed a heavy schedule of campaign travel including rallies where his supporters pack together tightly, many not wearing masks.Trump continues to call for an end to social restrictions, which medical experts say could limit the spread of coronavirus, and for the country to re-open for business. On Monday he lashed out at top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, calling the highly respected figure a "disaster."Trump's path to victory is narrowing in the state-by-state race that determines who will sit in the White House on January 21, 2021.Reuters/Ipsos polling also shows Trump trailing in Wisconsin and Michigan, the two other Rust Belt states that he narrowly carried four years ago. Trump also trails in Arizona and the two are effectively tied in Florida and North Carolina.More than 30 million votes have already been cast, according to the University of Florida's U.S. Elections Project, more than one-fifth of the total vote in the last presidential contest four years ago.Early returns show registered Democrats outpacing Republicans in most states that track party affiliation. Trump has repeatedly characterized absentee voting as unreliable, though experts say it is as secure as any other method.His campaign and the Republican Party have sought, with mixed success, to limit mail voting in states that expanded it in response to fears of spreading COVID-19 at crowded polling places.In Pennsylvania, his campaign has failed to prevent officials from setting up ballot drop boxes, a popular option in many other states.On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court also allowed state officials to count mail ballots that arrive up to three days after the Nov. 3 election, rejecting a Republican effort to reject all those that arrive after Election Day.Early in-person voting, already underway in many states, will begin in Wisconsin, Utah and Hawaii on Tuesday.Trump and Biden will face off in a final televised debate on Thursday, their second such matchup after Trump backed out of last week's planned appearance over a disagreement about the virtual format following his COVID-19 infection.Organizers said on Monday they would deploy a mute button to ensure each candidate has a chance to speak for two minutes at the outset of every 15-minute debate segment -- an attempt to head off the interruptions that marred the first matchup.Trump's campaign objected to the rule change but said he will still participate."I’ll participate, I just think it’s very unfair," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One."I will participate but it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it’s very unfair that again we have an anchor who’s totally biased."(REUTERS)

2020-10-21

Palestinian official Erekat in critical, stable condition

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat remained in critical but stable condition in an Israeli hospital Tuesday, his family said, after he was infected with the coronavirus.Erekat’s family told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that he was receiving artificial respiration in the intensive care unit at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center.Erekat, 65, has been one of the Palestinians’ most recognizable faces over the past several decades, serving as a senior negotiator in talks with Israel. He was also a senior advisor to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and current President Mahmoud Abbas.He was hospitalized Sunday at the Jerusalem hospital despite the Palestinian leadership’s decision earlier this year to sever ties with Israel over plans to begin annexing parts of the occupied West Bank as part of President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan.The hospital said Monday that Erekat’s case was extremely challenging in light of his history of health problems, including a lung transplant in 2017. It said he suffered from a weak immune system, and a bacterial infection in addition to COVID-19.(AP)

2020-10-21

Insightsmore >>

Mark Esper is putting the U.S. military's integrity on the line

Politico reported on Tuesday that U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper "stopped short of committing to keep troops away from polling stations next month," which has led to understandable suspicion from Democrats. According to Representatives Elissa Slotkin and Mikie Sherrill, Esper was "evasive" in his written responses over the politicization of the military and its role in the peaceful transition of power that President Trump has so far not committed to.As opposed to many countries, the U.S. military falls under civilian leadership because it is not a separate branch of government, instead it falls under the executive branch, i.e. the president, which is an elected office. Because of this, the military is meant to be accountable to voters in some sense and is not an autonomous organization, meaning that it should (in principle) be political only insofar as it defers to political outcomes instead of influencing them from the outside.Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley had previously said that the armed forces would play "no role" in the upcoming election."This isn't the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election," Milley told NPR in an interview. "And if there is, it'll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the U.S. Congress. There's no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. Zero. There is no role there."Esper had previously stood against the president on several worrying matters, including Trump's floating of the Insurrection Act to deploy troops in order to put down protests across American cities. This time there are perhaps several reasons for his unwillingness to commit on this issue this time.First, it's possible that there may actually be a very real concern that federal troops may need to be deployed in order to put down violence during the election. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has already said that the months leading up to inauguration is expected to be a "flashpoint" for right-wing extremism. These groups have already organized plans to abduct elected officials and incite a civil war; they could well be planning attacks of terror on polling locations.This could be a complicated issue. Suppose that white supremacists were hatching a plot to commit acts of terror on polling locations in predominantly minority districts. If federal troops were deployed to protect these locations beforehand, it would be seen by Democrats as voter intimidation – which is not so far-fetched coming from the Trump administration. It is unlikely that any clear answer would come out if this were the case now because it would be a sensitive issue of national security.Second, and perhaps most likely, Esper is simply keeping his cards up for now. He's probably trying to stay in the president's good graces in order to keep his job should Trump be re-elected. If he comes out right now, as the president continues to spread conspiracies about mail-in ballots being fraudulent or about "radical" left-wing protesters, it would put him out of lockstep with the administration before the election, which Trump would interpret as treacherous. The president is more than willing to boot out those who don't toe his line.Esper is the quintessential example of the "revolving door" between Capitol Hill and K Street, having served in the administration of President George W. Bush and as a policy director in various capacities in congress before becoming a lobbyist for Raytheon, one of the country's largest defense contractors. His departure from Raytheon included a deferred compensation package to be paid after 2022 – which will depend, in part, on Raytheon's stock price, according to a profile of Esper by Rolling Stone's Ryan Bort.In plain English: it means that Esper's retirement will depend on Raytheon's future profits, which he directly influences while acting as secretary of defense. It is quite literally in his personal interest to stay in this position and not upset Trump.The real tragedy of this is that it could destroy the current setup of the civilian military. With a president that has little regard for the constitution or fundamental norms, the military could become the political cudgel of a power-obsessed president that's unwilling to leave office peacefully. In the event that the military backs the president in his quest to hold onto control, it would raise a serious question of whether the military should be separated from the executive.And of course adopting this change would pose serious risks; for example, when democratically-elected former Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973 by General Augusto Pinochet in a foreign-backed coup that inflicted years of horror on the country. This, and many other similar scenarios in various other countries, was facilitated by the fact that the military was not under civilian control.In the unlikely scenario that the military ends up political in the sense that it influences this election at the behest of the president, a serious question will be raised about its structure of accountability in the future – perhaps even making it a separate branch of government entirely one day. Esper has made his position clear in the past and if he really feels the patriotic duty he claims then he should put his personal interests aside to maintain the military's integrity.(CGTN)

2020-10-18

The real reason ceasefire is not holding in Nagorno-Karabakh

It might be sad to say so, but the Russian-mediated humanitarian ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which went into effect on October 10, does not appear to be holding.The truce has fallen apart largely because the two sides continue to shell each other's military positions, border towns and villages. The two Caucasus rivals have repeatedly accused each other of serious truce violations and crimes against civilians.Perhaps, they are both to blame for this new mishap, as they have in fact dashed any hopes for future peace talks, and for actually going to have something to work with.That's bad news not just for the displaced people of Nagorno-Karabakh but for the rest of the Caucasus region, whose governments have urged the two countries to observe the much-needed ceasefire in the disputed territory - in case it becomes a regional war.Here, the problem is not that Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has said his country will continue its military operation to free territory in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani army has already captured several military bases and villages in the area, and they insist they will keep them forever come what may.Nor is it a problem that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said only a change in Turkey's stance on the conflict can prompt Azerbaijan to halt further military action in the region.The real problem, nonetheless, is this - the two sides are still living in the past. They are unable to get over the past, and they both refuse to make painful compromises that are actually based on universal principles and values they share.Right on cue, Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, but it has been under Armenia's jurisdiction since the early 1990s. The territory declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.Since then, the two neighbors have been fighting each other over the region.A ceasefire in 1994 failed to end the struggle. The recent truce also fell flat on its face and paved the way for a renewal of this classic geographical, historical, religious and ethnic conflict.Defined in these terms, it sounds like little more than simply saying that the two sides are still defending their national identity or national sovereignty in the breakaway region. They both insist on their justification of the current chaos that's based on the most virulent forms of ethnicity, race, militarism, and religion.But who really is responsible for this misunderstanding and confusion? The politicians who are trying to redefine the term nationalism and make it relevant in the 21st century, or the people who remind the rest of the world of their regional history and nationalism?Regional history and nationalism have nothing to do with attacking your neighbor. It's not to force your neighbor militarily to respect your national sovereignty and identity. It should be something different.Both sides are single-minded. They want to show the world they have what it takes to stand for their regional territorial claims. They want to push back on the border agreements of the past and limitless inertia. Their desire to have a beefy and nationalistic reaction to the overreach of the border dispute is understandable, but at what price?If history is the clue, nationalism has been part and parcel of Armenian and Azerbaijani cultures and identities for generations. Both cultures are distinguished by what makes them different. Their common heritage is actually their difference that incorporates different languages, ethnicities, cultures, and religions.The biggest problem causing the current misunderstanding and disagreement is their failure to recognize the actual history of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is a combination of Armenian and Azerbaijani cultures.Renaissance Square in Stepanakert, capital of Nagorno-Karabakh region. /Getty ImagesIt is wrong to confuse this shared identity and consciousness with militarism and firepower. It has been unfortunately a common historical error for both Armenia and Azerbaijan to equate nationalism and sovereignty with historical belligerence, chaos and distrust, the very same sentiments and hatreds that upset the recent ceasefire and status quo.It's a concept that captures both the reality and the ambiguity of their claims over the unfortunate territory. But it should also be based on universal principles: the Charter of the United Nations, international law, responsible governance, human rights, peaceful co-existence, checks and balances of territorial claims and agreements, and the crucial role of civil society and institutions in grounding and mediating the two national identities and cultures.  The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan stand to win if they manage to distinguish these differences and come to believe that universal principles are right and true for all peoples and all cultures, not just for their own people.That's what would make the Armenian and Azerbaijani values and principles universal. The new round of fighting must ultimately ground them in universal principles and values, not nationalistic sentiments and belligerence, and certainly not a continuation of the conflict.Indeed, there can be no Nagorno-Karabakh identity without the universal Armenian-Azerbaijani principles. The region's ethnic identity is more than just about a set of ideas confined to a specific geographical location. It is a story that embodies shared lives, relationships and cultural experiences in a shared space and time that is called Armenia and Azerbaijan.The best way for the two sides to protect this shared greatness and identity is to believe in what made Nagorno-Karabakh great in the first place. It wasn't their language, ethnicity, religion or patriotism.It was their shared belief system in civil society and representative way of governance that made Nagorno-Karabakh one of the greatest places to live in the history of the Caucasus. That's what made the autonomous territory outstanding.Armenia and Azerbaijan must continue to do so by accepting that their troubled past is over. No matter how many times they revisit it by violating the border agreement, it should be over.(CGTN)

2020-10-16

World Newsmore >>

Europe unveils new COVID-19 rules as daily infections surge

Nearly 4.8 million people across Europe are infected with the coronavirus and 240,306 people have died from the disease, according to the latest figures from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.The three countries reporting most deaths are the United Kingdom (43,579), Italy (36,474), and Spain (33,775).In order to rein the latest surge, Belgium imposed a nationwide overnight curfew on Monday as Switzerland made wearing face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gave mayors the power to shut public squares from 9 p.m. to halt gatherings on Sunday. European governments have been presenting the latest desperate measures to fight a powerful second coronavirus wave one after another.Cafes and restaurants across Belgium were shuttered for four weeks as the country tackled its own infection spike, part of a continent-wide surge that has seen a 44 percent increase in cases across Europe in the past week.But the move has prompted a backlash from businesses despite authorities warning the country of 11.5 million people was in the middle of an exponential increase in cases."We don't feel considered, and it hurts my heart," said Angelo Bussi, a restaurant manager in Brussels. "Everyone is in pain. It's horrible."Switzerland was among the few countries largely spared since the coronavirus emerged late last year and swept the world, infecting nearly 40 million people so far.But infections have doubled in the wealthy Alpine nation in the last seven days, prompting new restrictions that also include a ban on public gatherings of more than 15 people."The sharp increase in the number of contaminations in recent days is worrying. Indeed, it concerns all age groups," a government statement said.France on the weekend imposed its own overnight curfew in nine cities including Paris, affecting 20 million people, as it announced a record 29,837 new infections on Sunday.Restaurant and bar owners in Marseille, France, told AP that the city was unfairly targeted last month for the nation's toughest virus rules at the time.Meanwhile, Britain's government scientific adviser said the country needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown restrictions."The current tiered restrictions will not bring the transmission rates down sufficiently or prevent the continued spread of the virus," government scientific adviser Jeremy Farrar said."A three-week period of nationally increased restrictions, with the right levels of financial support, will allow us to reset before winter, stop transmission spiraling, protect and prepare health services, give time to get the test-trace-isolate systems fully functional, and save lives," he said.Wales on Monday said it would impose a two-week sharp "firebreak" lockdown from Friday in which everybody apart from essential workers would have to stay at home."It will have to be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need," Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told reporters. "Everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home."All non-essential businesses will have to close.File photo: Restaurant owners clang spoons and casseroles at a demonstration against restaurant and bar closures in Marseille, southern France, October 2, 2020. /APAs daily cases in Italy hit a new record of 11,705 on Sunday, Conte said the situation had become critical but his government has been determined to avoid a repeat of the lockdown imposed at the start of the crisis in March."The situation is critical. The government is there but everyone must do their part," he told a news conference.As well as ordering betting shops to close from 9 p.m. and halting amateur sporting competitions and local fairs, he said the government would consider closing gyms and swimming pools after further checks on security protocols this week.Stricter measures have been already imposed in some of the hardest-hit regions, including Campania around Naples, which has closed schools for two weeks.Authorities had managed to get contagion largely under control by the summer thanks to a rigid two-month nationwide lockdown, but as a second wave has emerged they have ordered new measures, including mandatory mask-wearing in public and restrictions on public gatherings and restaurants.COVID-related deaths on Sunday increased to 69, up from 47 the day before, the ministry said - far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April, when daily fatalities peaked at more than 900.The government will increase smart working in the public administration and is asking high schools to adopt staggered timetables to avoid congestion on public transport.As part of a new 40 billion-euro (about 47 billion U.S. dollars) stimulus package the government approved in its 2021 budget, Rome will set up a four billion-euro fund to compensate companies which have been worst hit by coronavirus restrictions.(CGTN)

2020-10-20

Switzerland announces tighter measures to tackle second COVID-19 wave

A set of tougher health restrictions are set to come into force in Switzerland as authorities scramble to get ahead of the second wave of coronavirus infections in the country.The measures were announced by the government on Sunday following an extraordinary meeting.The wearing of masks in all indoor public places will be mandatory, and will apply to shops, banks, churches, and cinemas.Additionally, the order to have people wear masks on public transport was extended to cover train stations, airports, bus and tram stops.Gatherings of more than 15 people in public places will be prohibited from Monday. People have also been advised to work from home if they can.According to Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga, the measures will be in place indefinitely to protect both the population and the economy.Sommaruga said the coronavirus infection rate had increased at a "very quick rate"."Unlike before it is affecting all cantons and all age groups," Sommaruga said during a press conference in the capital Bern."With winter coming it is very important to slow the spread of the virus now. Every day counts."She added that even tougher measures will be implemented should the existing ones fail to work.Swiss Minister of Health Alain Berset, meanwhile, reaffirmed the presence of the second wave of the coronavirus in the country. On Friday, authorities reported the country's highest daily number of infections (3,105) since the outbreak began."I can say that over the last 10 days, the second wave is here... It has come rather earlier and stronger than we thought, but we are prepared for the situation," Berset said.Switzerland has reported more than 74,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,800 deaths.(CGTN)

2020-10-19

Breaking Newsmore >>

14 killed in jihadist attack on Nigeria military base

Jihadists killed 14 security personnel and civilians in an attack on a military base in northeast Nigeria's Borno state on Wednesday, security sources told AFP.Suspected Boko Haram fighters in trucks fitted with machine guns launched a dawn raid on the army base in the town of Damboa, sparking intense fighting.Sources said six soldiers, four police officers and two members of a government-backed militia were killed along with two civilians."We lost six soldiers in the attack while six others were injured," a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.The officer claimed 13 insurgents were killed by a fighter jet as they fled the area.The leader of an anti-jihadist militia said the civilians who died were among more than 50 local residents hit by shrapnel after rocket-propelled grenades fired by the jihadists hit nearby homes.Nigeria's decade-long jihadist insurgency has killed 36 000 people and displaced two million others inside the country, and spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.The United Nations has complained of a surge in violence in the conflict zone in recent weeks.Anger has been growing among local residents about the army's failure to stem the attacks despite repeated claims from officials that the insurgency has been defeated.(CGTN)

2020-03-06

One dead, multiple injured shot near skate park in California

A 23-year-old male was shot dead and five others were injured following a shooting at a party near a skate park in Tulare County, California, late Wednesday night, ABC News reported citing local police.The conditions of the other shooting victims are unclear, including a 7-year-old girl who is suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, police said at a press conference.Police said a "solo suspect shooter" walked up to the party and fired multiple rounds.(CGTN)

2020-03-05

Life Stylemore >>

Silk Road film festival selects 17 recommended movies

An international film festival focusing on Silk Road cultural collaboration published a list of 17 recommended movies on Friday.The films were selected by world-renowned professionals from more than 3,500 films from 116 countries and regions during the 7th Silk Road International Film Festival held from Oct. 11 to 16 in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi province.The recommended movies include 11 feature films, three documentaries and three cartoons, including Yellow Cat, Sunless Shadows, and Persian Lessons.Joint productions between countries and collaborations between professionals from different industries will bring vitality into the film industry, said Peter Dinges, chief executive officer of the German Federal Film Board.Shaanxi is home to the Terracotta Warriors and the starting point of the Silk Road. First held in 2014, the Silk Road International Film Festival is hosted annually by Shaanxi and east China's Fujian province in turn.(CHINA.ORG.CN)

2020-10-17

Rome Film Festival opens in shadow of coronavirus

The Rome Film Festival opened on Thursday with a screening of the Pixar animated film about a jazzman's dreams, "Soul," despite the lingering coronavirus that has transformed film watching in public.At the world-famous cinema festival in Venice last month, thermal scanners measured audience members' temperatures at the theater doors, mask-wearing was compulsory and fewer spectators were allowed."The safety of everyone takes precedence over everything else," said festival director Antonio Monda in an interview with Il Messaggero daily.Attending the opening night ceremony was Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini and the Italian actors lending their voices to the characters of "Soul," which has received rave early reviews and will be released directly on the Disney+ platform, bypassing movie theaters.The film premiered last week at the London Film Festival.One of the most eagerly awaited films in Rome is the documentary, "Mi chiamo Francesco Totti" ("My name is Francesco Totti"), about the legendary footballer who spent his entire career at AS Roma.However, whether Roma's ex-number 10, who has just lost his father, will turn up is uncertain.The 15th edition of the festival will end October 25.(Top image: The Rome Film Festival opened with a screening of "Soul".)(AFP)

2020-10-17

Sportsmore >>

European roundup: Tottenham wastes three-goal lead, Sociedad and Lille go top

West Ham ruined Gareth Bale's Tottenham return with a stunning late fightback from three goals down to rescue a thrilling 3-3 draw, while Aston Villa extended their perfect start with a dramatic 1-0 win at Leicester on Sunday.Tottenham was leading 3-0 after goals from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane when Bale came on as a 72nd-minute substitute for his first appearance since joining on a season-long loan from Real Madrid, but he suffered a debut to forget as Tottenham capitulated in astonishing fashion.The Wales star was one of the main Tottenham culprits as he missed a golden opportunity to wrap up the points before West Ham's Manuel Lanzini snatched a stoppage-time equalizer."The game was under control. We had Harry Kane to score the fourth when he hit the post, then Gareth Bale to kill the game. This is a game that was in the pocket and we lost two points," Tottenham's boss Jose Mourinho said."We should be stronger. They were lucky but maybe they deserved that luck. We were unlucky but maybe we deserved that," he added.At the King Power Stadium, Villa left it until the 90th minute to seal its fourth successive victory. Ross Barkley, on loan from Chelsea, took John McGinn's pass and fired home from the edge of the area.Just months after avoiding relegation on the final day of last season, Villa moved up to second place.They thrashed champions Liverpool 7-2 before the international break and now sit three points behind leaders Everton.Villa has won its opening four games of a league season for the first time since 1930-31."It is a really good start. To come here and get the win, this is a really good team. There are a lot of tired legs but they are getting into the season slowly but surely. We will savor what we are doing at the moment," said Villa Coach Dean Smith.Matty Cash (L) of Aston Villa and Harvey Barnes of Leicester City during their Premier League match at The King Power Stadium, Leicester, England, October 18, 2020. /CFPAt Bramall Lane, Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic endured a penalty nightmare in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.In Spain, Real Sociedad beat Real Betis 3-0 away to go top of La Liga, winning a fiery encounter marked by three VAR interventions, which went their way.Sociedad leads the standings on 11 points after six games, level with second-placed Villarreal, which beat Valencia 2-1 earlier on.Real Madrid are third on 10 points after its shocking 1-0 home defeat to Cadiz on Saturday, while Barcelona is ninth after the team was beaten 1-0 at Getafe.In France, Lille grabbed top spot in Ligue 1 by thrashing newly-promoted Lens 4-0 in the country's northern derby as the ill-disciplined visitors had two players sent off.Lens had a chance to go top in France for the first time in 16 years but its defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed by Lille, which moved two points ahead of defending champions Paris Saint-Germain.In Italy, Sassuolo moved second in Serie A behind leader AC Milan after a thrilling 4-3 win at Bologna as Roma also staged a 5-2 comeback against promoted Benevento.Roberto de Zerbi's Sassuolo had been trailing 3-1 after an hour, but three substitutions, including a first start for French midfielder Maxime Lopez, rescued three points for the visitors.In Udine, Uruguayan forward Ignacio Pusetto's late winner earned a first win this season for Udinese, 3-2 over coronavirus-hit Parma, missing seven players.Fiorentina threw away a two-goal lead, going two goals up after four minutes through German Pezzella and Cristiano Biraghi before settling for a 2-2 draw at promoted Spezia.(CGTN)

2020-10-19

Multiple world champion swimmer Pellegrini tests positive for COVID-19

Multiple world swimming champion Federica Pellegrini has contracted COVID-19, the Italian said in a social media post on Thursday.The 32-year-old Italian, who intends to take part in her fifth and final Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, was due to leave for the International Swimming League event in Budapest but felt unwell after training on Wednesday."Unfortunately I have some bad news: yesterday I stopped training because I felt pain and on the way home I also got a sore throat. So this afternoon I took a swab and I tested positive for Covid," she said in a tearful Instagram post."I was supposed to leave on Monday for Budapest to take part in the ISL," added the world record holder for 200 meters  freestyleeventr."I was looking forward to getting back into the water and finally starting a normal season, even more so because I was fine and had trained well."Instead I have to stop again and in the meantime I will undergo ten days of quarantine."Pellegrini won gold in the 200 meters freestyle at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and at the world championship in 2009, 2011, 2017 and 2019. She also won the 400 meters freestyle in 2009 and 2011 world championships. (CGTN)

2020-10-16

Science&Militarymore >>

Solve the dead equity problem with a longer founder vesting schedule

The four-year vesting schedule that the typical startup uses today is a problem waiting to happen. If one founder ends up quitting a year or two before the last cliff, they still own a large share of the cap table through many rounds to come. The departing founder might consider that fair, but the remaining founder(s) are the ones adding on the additional value — and resentment is not the only issue.“The opportunity cost of dead equity is talent and capital,” Jake Jolis of Matrix Partners explains in a guest post for us this week. “Compensating talent and raising capital are the (only) two things you can use your startup’s equity for, and you need to do both in order for your company to grow large. If you want to build a big business, the road ahead is still long and windy, and you’re going to need every bit of help you can get. If your competitors don’t have dead equity you’re literally competing with a handicap.”Instead, he argues that founders who are just starting out should consider doubling the vesting schedule to eight years or so. In one example he gives, a founder who leaves after two and a half years on a four-year plan could end up with 22% of the company even after a big new funding round, the creation of an employee stock option pool, and additional shares set aside for a replacement cofounder-level hire. On an eight-year plan, that would be only 11%, and there would be a lot more remaining to entice new cofounders.The full article is on Extra Crunch, but I’m including more key parts here given the broad value:Given the risks still ahead of the business, this level of compensation is often much more fair from a value-creation standpoint. With less dead equity on the cap table, the startup is still attractive in the eyes of VCs and well-positioned to attract a strong co-founder replacement to take the company forward. The alternative can cripple the company, and even co-founder B won’t be happy owning a larger percent of zero. While it’s better to do it when you start the company, a co-founder unit can elongate their vesting later on as well. The main requirement is that all the co-founders believe it’s in their best interest and agree to it. Most repeat founders I’ve talked to agree that four years is too short. Personally, if I started another company, I’d pick something like eight. You definitely don’t need to. You might decide four or six is better for your co-founder unit and your company.One final thought, from my startup cofounder years. The departing cofounder should still want to see the company succeed as big as possible to maximize the value of their own shares. On the steep slope between failure and success in this business, vesting longer is a powerful way to help the company will deliver the most back to them after the hard work of the early days.Why one successful early-stage VC firm is getting into SPACs nowSPACs are an exciting development for any type of investor, public or private, Amish Jani of FirstMark Capital tells Connie Loizos. Indeed, his firm has historically focused on writing early-stage checks, so at first it is a bit jarring to see the FirstMark Horizon Acquisition SPAC raise $360 million and head out looking for the right unicorn. But he explains it all quite well an extensive interview this week:TC: Why SPACs right now? Is it fair to say it’s a shortcut to a hot public market, in a time when no one quite knows when the markets could shift?AJ: There are a couple of different threads that are coming together. I think the first one is the possibility that [SPACs] work, and really well. [Our portfolio company] DraftKings  [reverse-merged into a SPAC] and did a [private investment in a public equity deal]; it was a fairly complicated transaction and they used this to go public, and the stock has done incredibly well.In parallel, [privately held companies] over the last five or six years could raise large sums of capital, and that was pushing out the timeline [to going public] fairly substantially. [Now there are] tens of billions of dollars in value sitting in the private markets and [at the same time] an opportunity to go public and build trust with public shareholders and leverage the early tailwinds of growth.He goes on to explain why public markets are likely to stay hot for the right SPACs far into the future.AJ: I think a bit of a misconception is this idea that most investors in the public markets want to be hot money or fast money. There are a lot of investors that are interested in being part of a company’s journey and who’ve been frustrated because they’ve been frozen out of being able to access these companies as they’ve stayed private longer. So our investors are some of are our [limited partners], but the vast majority are long-only funds, alternative investment managers and people who are really excited about technology as a long-term disrupter and want to be aligned with this next generation of iconic companies.SaaS continues to boom with Databricks funding, Segment acquisitionMaybe Segment would have gone public sometime soon, but instead Twilio has scooped it up for $3.2 billion this week. The popular data management tool will now be a part of Twilio’s ever-expanding suite of customer communication products. Perhaps it’s another sign of a consolidation phase taking hold in the sector, after a Pre-Cambrian explosion of SaaS startups over the last decade? Alex Wilhelm dug into the financials of the deal for Extra Crunch and came away thinking that the deal was not too expensive — in fact he thinks Segment may have been able to hold out for a little more, especially considering the multiplication of Twilio’s stock price this year.Databricks, meanwhile, has evolved from an open-source data analytics platform that struggled to make revenues to a run rate of $350 million. Per an interview that Alex did for EC with chief executive Ali Ghodsi, the factors in this growth included a shift to focus on more proprietary code, big customers and sophisticated features. It’s now aiming for an IPO next year.And what about that IPO market, which was a bit quieter this week? Alex gives a letter grade to each of the 18 most notable tech companies that have gone public this year, and observes that most them are continuing to stay in positive territory from their initial prices.Nigeria startup scene gets watershed exit with Paystack dealLagos has been building a strong local startup scene for years, and this week that translated into a win that could mark a new era for the city, country and beyond. Stripe has agreed to acquire payments provider Paystack in a deal that Ingrid Lunden hears was worth more than $200 million. With Stripe’s own aims for a massive IPO, Paystack is poised to produce ongoing returns for the company and its investors, as well as providing Nigeria with a new generation of investors, founders and highly skilled employees who are tightly interlinked with Silicon Valley and other innovation centers.A startup hub just needs one or two of the right deals to change everything. Readers who were paying attention when Google bought YouTube almost exactly 14 years ago today will remember the ensuing surge in fundings, foundings, acquisitions and overall consumer internet industry activity that helped the Silicon Valley internet scene get back on its feet (and helped this site get on the map, too). Stripe has said it is planning more global expansion that could include additional deals like this, so more cities around the world could be getting their moments this way.Vienna startups finding new opportunities during the pandemicIn this week’s European investor survey for Extra Crunch, Mike Butcher checks in on Vienna, Austria, which has been tallying up growth in local startup activity recently. Here’s Eva Ahr of Capital 300, which focuses on Germanic and Central Eastern European investments, regarding about the impact of the pandemic on the local markets:Telemedicine, online education has been accelerated. We see a shift that otherwise would have taken years, especially in the relatively conservative German-speaking area. As mentioned previously, mental health solutions, hiring and employing remotely are some of the opportunities highlighted by COVID-19. Companies that are heavily exposed are those that have been serving the long tail of companies, small merchants, and local businesses that were closed down or experienced much less traffic in past months and hence are extremely sensitive around their cost base, discontinuing services that are not 110% essential.Mike is also working on a Lisbon survey and we’d love to hear from any investors focused on the city and Portugal in general.Around TechCrunchDiscuss the unbundling of early-stage VC with Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary John Vrionis.(TC)

2020-10-19

London council unable to pay housing benefit after cyber attack

Thousands of private renters in Hackney face eviction and potentially homelessness as the council says it is unable to make housing benefit payments due to a cyber attack earlier this week.The council was hit on Tuesday morning by what Mayor Philip Glanville described as a "serious cyber attack" which continues to leave many of its services and IT systems unavailable.In an update regarding the incident published late on Friday, the council warned it was unable to make some payments, including discretionary housing payments, certain supplier payments, and housing benefit.Those impacted by the inability to make these payments are being encouraged to contact the council directly.The type of cyber attack has not been confirmed and the council said it would not publish more details about the attack in order to prevent assisting the attackers, but it has reported a data breach to the Information Commissioner's Office.It stated: "Key essential services, including our coronavirus response, continue to operate, but some of our services may be unavailable or disrupted for some time."The council has not stated how long it expected the disruption to last for, nor did it respond to Sky News' request for comment about the impact of being unable to make housing benefit payments."With so many people facing housing insecurity due to the economic shock of the pandemic, housing payments are more critical than ever," warned Greg Beales, the director of campaigns at housing charity Shelter."Local residents must not be put at risk as a result of this attack. It's vital that housing payments are prioritised as services are restored," Mr Beales added.While the majority of private renters who receive assistance with their rents will receive it under Universal Credit, run by the Department for Work and Pensions, thousands are believed to be using the council-funded support scheme.A spokesperson for the Ministry for Housing told Sky News: "The government is working closely with Hackney Borough Council to provide advice and support and ensure vital services are protected."Safeguarding frontline services remains the council's priority," the government spokesperson added.(SKYNEWS)

2020-10-18

Businessmore >>

Wall Street closes lower as stimulus deadline nears without deal

Wall Street's main indexes closed lower on Monday as Washington lawmakers still appeared to struggle to reach an agreement on coronavirus stimulus ahead of a Tuesday deadline that would make a relief package possible ahead of the elections on November 3.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that in order to push through an agreement before the election, it would have to be settled on by Tuesday.Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin "continued to narrow their differences" in conversations on Monday and Pelosi was hopeful that by the end of Tuesday there will be "clarity" on whether coronavirus stimulus is possible before the election on November 3, according to a spokesperson for Pelosi. Investors were also worried about rising coronavirus cases in parts of the United States and about whether U.S. President Donald Trump might end up contesting the election results."The lack of news on stimulus is worrisome compounded by worsening virus trends and uncertainty ahead of the elections," said Mona Mahajan, U.S. Investment Strategist, Allianz Global Investors, New York.Last week, the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus package that Pelosi rejected because it fell short of her demand for $2.2 trillion in aid."There's a decent case that regardless of who wins if the stimulus doesn't happen before the election it'll happen afterwards," said Mahajan but she added, "with (virus) cases rising again stimulus will be important."A street sign, Wall Street, is seen outside New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, January 3, 2019. /ReutersAs Wisconsin battled one of the worst coronavirus surges in the U.S., a judge on Monday reinstated restrictions. In New Mexico, the governor warned that the state's healthcare resources might not be sufficient if cases keep rising at the current pace. The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week rose by 13% to more than 393,000, approaching levels last seen during a summer peak, according to a Reuters analysis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 410.89 points, or 1.44%, to 28,195.42, the SP 500 lost 56.89 points, or 1.63%, to 3,426.92 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 192.67 points, or 1.65%, to 11,478.88. All 11 major SP industry sectors closed lower, with energy, down by 2%, leading the percentage declines followed by the communication services index, down by 1.9%. Only the defensive utilities sector, down by 0.9 percent, finished with a decline of less than 1%. High flyers stocks Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com all fell by more than 2% and created the biggest drags on the SP 500. Wall Street's fear gauge closed higher for a sixth straight session and finished above 29 for the first time since October 6 as U.S. election campaigns kicked into high gear.Nearly 30 million Americans have cast early ballots, shattering records as voters adjust to the coronavirus pandemic, including in Florida, a battleground state that on Monday opened polls to early voting. President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden will debate for a final time on Thursday. The election is "weighing on investor sentiment a bit and maybe there's an incremental concern there will be a contested election," according to Mahajan citing poll stabilization and betting odds reflecting higher expectations for a Trump win. The Dow Jones Transport Average closed down 1% after reversing course late in the afternoon as hopes dimmed for stimulus deal during the session.Still, it outperformed the broader market as the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it screened more than one million airline passengers on Sunday for the first time since mid-March. After the financial sector set a mixed tone for the start of the third-quarter earnings season last week, investors will look to results from about 91 SP 500 companies this week.International Business Machines Corp was down by 1% in choppy after-the-bell trading when it reported results.ConocoPhillips shares fell by 3.2% after it agreed to buy U.S. shale oil producer Concho Resources Inc for $9.7 billion as the energy sector continued to consolidate. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.67-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.30-to-1 ratio favored decliners. The SP 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 101 new highs and 29 new lows. On U.S. exchanges, 8.698 billion shares changed hands compared with the 9.213 billion average for the last 20 sessions.(REUTERS)

2020-10-20

American Airlines to return Boeing 737 Max to service at year-end

American Airlines Group plans to bring its Boeing 737 Max jets back to service for passenger flights by the end of this year depending on certification of the aircraft from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it said on Sunday.The airline said it will operate a daily 737 Max flight between Miami and New York from December 29 to January 4, with flights available for booking from October 24.American Airlines' Boeing 737 MAX passenger jets are seen parked on the tarmac at Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., March 23, 2020. /Reuters"We remain in contact with the FAA and Boeing on the certification process and we'll continue to update our plans based on when the aircraft is certified," the company said in a statement. The FAA in a statement Sunday reiterated it has no timeline for approving the plane's return to service and said it "will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards."The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. The FAA expected to lift its grounding order around mid-November, sources briefed on the matter previously told Reuters, but that date could still slip. American Airlines said it will make customers aware that they are flying on a 737 MAX. The FAA in early October issued a draft report on revised training procedures for the MAX, which is open for public comment through November 2.(REUTERS)

2020-10-19

chinamore >>

China will support Shenzhen's lead in capital market construction

China will support Shenzhen to take the lead in capital market construction under the newly implemented plan for comprehensive pilot reforms in Shenzhen, said China's top securities regulator on Sunday."ChiNext reform and the pilot registration-based IPO system has been implemented since late August and achieved some progress," said Yan Qingmin, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) at a press conference about comprehensive pilot reforms in Shenzhen.A statue of a bull is displayed outside the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, October 23, 2009. /ReutersAs of October 15, a total of 414 applications for the issuance and listing of companies have been accepted, according to Yan. Among them, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) has approved 93 companies, 42 companies have been registered by CSRC, and 36 companies have been listed.Under the registration-based IPO system, the SZSE examines IPO applications based on corporate disclosures. Companies no longer need to go through the CSRC for approval before listing, which shortens the time for them to go public."Meanwhile, guidelines on infrastructure public offering of real estate investment trust funds have been issued, with projects currently in recommendations and screening. And the SZSE has quoted CSI 300 ETF Options for trading last December," Yan noted.He also mentioned that CSRC has adjusted the threshold for innovative red chip companies at the end of April, or companies registered overseas but operate in the Chinese mainland, and clarified the institutional innovation arrangements for such as the agreement control structure and the reduction of stock shares.Based on the list of the first batch of authorized items for comprehensive pilot reforms in Shenzhen issued Sunday, China will support Shenzhen to take the lead in capital market construction, including promoting the ChiNext reform, and establishing a transferring listing mechanism for companies listed on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), or the "new third board."In addition, the Shenzhen stock index futures will be launched to continuously enrich the stock index futures product system.The country will also improve the domestic issuance and listing system of innovative companies, promote the issuance of shares or Chinese Depository Receipt (CDR) and listing on the SZSE for innovative companies and protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors.(CGTN)

2020-10-19

Over 90% of impoverished counties in China have shaken off poverty

October 17 marks China's National Poverty Relief Day, and it's also the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.China has set a target to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020, which means once China makes it true, the country will be ten years ahead in achieving the poverty reduction goal set by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.In the past decade, an average of 10 million people were lifted out of penury every year. The number of people living in poverty has dropped from 166 million at the end of 2010 to 5.51 million by the end of 2019.And over 90 percent of the poorest counties in China have shaken off poverty at the end of 2019, making the last 52 impoverished counties the final battleground for the Chinese government.To conquer the "last bastion" by 2020, local government officials traveled to the most treacherous terrains in the remaining 1,113 villages, leading investigations, fostering poverty relief programs and supervising the implementation.In the first quarter of 2020, over 139 billion yuan (about $19.7 billion) of government funds were disbursed to alleviate poverty.So far, 90 percent of the people living in poverty have benefited directly or indirectly from industries fostered by the government. Among the population, two thirds landed a job in local companies or in other provinces through the East-West Pairing-off Cooperation program.With the policies, the population's income has increased steadily year by year. From 2013 to 2019, the per capita disposable income of people in poor areas increased from 6,079 yuan to 11,567 yuan, with an average annual growth rate of 9.7 percent, 2.2 percentage points higher than the national growth rate.According to officials, by the end of July, poverty-related problems in compulsory education, basic medical care, safe housing and drinking water had been solved in the remaining 52 counties, making China's 2020 poverty relief goal almost a certain thing.(CGTN)

2020-10-18

The Belt and Roadmore >>

Belt and Road Initiative paves way for win-win cooperation between China and Czech

By APD Writer He WeiIn July last year, the first China-EU freight train departed from Prague, captial of Czech,to Yiwu, a city in east China’s Zhejang Province. The new cargo train service marked the official launch of “the Belt and Road Initiative” in Czech. Thanks to joint efforts of both sides, the economic and trade ties between China and Czech Republic is heading for a bright future.During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, two months before the opening, China signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Jointly Coordinate and Promote Cooperation and Project Implementation with Czech. According to the memorandum, more efforts will be made to set up a China-Czech Cooperation Center under the Belt and Road initiative, a key project bank and a cooperation platform, integrate domestic and foreign resources, as well as adjoin and implement projects On the sidelines of the The Working Conference of China-Czech Jointly Coordinating and Monitoring Cooperation Plan and Projects under the Framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Liu Jielei, vice chairman of the Czech-China Friendship Association, told the Asia Pacific Daily (APD) that besides geographic advantage, Czech enjoys a sound investment environment because of its stable domestic policies, friendly policy toward China, lower business taxes and labor cost than that of in other European countries.The "Yixin’ou (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe) cargo train, which began in Yiwu, was hailed as an important bridge linking Asian and European continents and a signficiant achievement in the early stage of the initative by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xu Jie, general manager of Rongsheng Travelling (Czech) Investment Co., Ltd., said because of its important location, they have launched two projects including the Czech-Chinese Technology Business District (CCTBD) project and the South Moravia Chinese Herbal Spa Project in Prague during the past two years, stressing that initial success has been achieved thanks to the initiative.Transalated by Hu Yahui(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

2018-06-12

Work conference held in Yiwu for China, Czech to coordinate their efforts in promoting Belt and Road Initiative cooperation

By APD Writer He Wei The conference, which jointly organized by the western development department of the National Development and Reform Commission and the second foreign policy department of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade kicked off on June 6, 2018. It is of great significance in implementing the plan for China-Czech cooperation and promoting bilateral communication and cooperation. Both sides took a review on the development of the plan and held a talk over the cooperation prospects on trade, finance, think tank and projects. The priority work of the China and Czech cooperation in the next phase was discussed during the conference.Both sides reached an agreement on enhancing the cooperation on the field of policy coordination, facility connectivity, economic and trade, investment, finance and culture aiming at boosting the economy of both countries and benefiting the people. Almost 100 people from government officials, financial institutions, think tanks  and enterprises of both countries attended the conference.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

2018-06-06