covid pandemic – Gurugama http://gurugama.org/ Sun, 13 Mar 2022 20:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 http://gurugama.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/favicon-16.png covid pandemic – Gurugama http://gurugama.org/ 32 32 From ‘hardware’ to ‘human-ware’ | Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide http://gurugama.org/from-hardware-to-human-ware-hellenic-shipping-news-worldwide/ Sun, 13 Mar 2022 20:00:00 +0000 http://gurugama.org/from-hardware-to-human-ware-hellenic-shipping-news-worldwide/ With 640 million consumers, a growing middle-income group and growing smartphone penetration, Southeast Asia presents huge opportunities for technology and ancillary companies. However, each country’s ability to compete in the digital economy varies, and geographic divides prevent the region from integrating into a common digital market for investment, goods, or labor. The Digital Silk Road […]]]>

With 640 million consumers, a growing middle-income group and growing smartphone penetration, Southeast Asia presents huge opportunities for technology and ancillary companies.

However, each country’s ability to compete in the digital economy varies, and geographic divides prevent the region from integrating into a common digital market for investment, goods, or labor.

The Digital Silk Road aims to complement the Belt and Road Initiative’s land and sea connectivity by connecting countries via fiber optic cables, cell towers, widespread internet and telecommunications connections, as well as “soft” digital infrastructures such as common technical standards, city developments”, e-commerce platforms, mobile payment systems and other applications of the digital economy. As the world’s second largest digital economy after the United States, China has benefited greatly from its advanced digital infrastructure during its own rise.

China-based information and communications technology companies have a vested interest in advancing the digital silk road to secure access to untapped overseas markets and promote local development. Unlike the large-scale physical infrastructure of the Belt and Road Initiative, Digital Silk Road projects are feasible in a resource-constrained environment because they are less expensive and easier to complete.

The digital silk road is gaining momentum in Southeast Asia. The China-ASEAN Information Port was launched in 2019, and a number of submarine cable projects are under construction. Chinese private companies, such as Huawei, Alibaba and Sense-Time, have invested heavily in the region. Huawei established its OpenLab in Bangkok as part of the “Thailand 4.0” initiative in 2017 and launched the first 5G testbed in February 2020. Kuala Lumpur became the first city outside China to adopt the city system smart from AliCloud. Alibaba has helped Southeast Asian small and medium-sized enterprises access the vast Chinese market through the global electronic commerce platform. eWTP’s Malaysian hub is home to over 2,600 Malaysian SMEs and is estimated to have created 60,000 jobs and generated billions of dollars in trade revenue.

Chinese companies involved in Digital Silk Road projects are also helping to connect people through exchange programs and training programs. Huawei has established training centers in various countries since 2012 for young people in the telecommunications industry. Its “Seeds for the Future” program has invited more than 30,000 selected engineering students from more than 108 countries (including Southeast Asia) to train in China in the telecommunications sector and in Huawei operations since 2011. .

The Digital Silk Road will have a strong impact on the region’s employment prospects as e-commerce, e-payments and other digital projects become increasingly popular. It will also facilitate job creation in mobile app development, virtual reality design and working online or joining the so-called gig economy job market. More widespread access to affordable digital infrastructure will create an enabling environment in which on-demand and other services can thrive. Examples range from grocery delivery and ride-sharing services to more sophisticated tasks, such as accounting, editing, and music production.

Furthermore, by expanding access to markets, especially the huge Chinese market, the digital silk road infrastructure will also facilitate the creation of new and efficient value chains by creating new channels and modes of trade. worldwide and facilitating cross-border logistics.

The private sector’s shift to digital commerce makes large-scale economic growth and jobs possible, especially for SMEs. The COVID-19 pandemic further reinforces these trends. China and many countries are increasingly using digital technology and big data. The success of using artificial intelligence and other technologies to identify and monitor virus carriers is sparking interest across Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, the sudden reliance of so many on the ability to work remotely indicates that a significant and inclusive expansion of Wi-Fi, broadband, and other hardware and software infrastructure will be needed to enable acceleration. digitized economic activity. As such, Southeast Asian companies will likely express interest in deeper and broader collaboration with Chinese tech companies around their proven technologies and business implementation models.

However, this positive economic trajectory is not certain. Without well-designed policies, the forces of change could go in the opposite direction or increase income inequality. The gains offered by the digital silk road also threaten to displace workers and exacerbate inequalities between high-skilled and low-skilled workers. Digital work generated by new technologies requires internet access and is subject to education and skills biases, which can disadvantage less connected, less digitally literate and less educated workers, often located in areas rural or poor. As proponents of the Digital Silk Road have pledged to improve the connectivity of digital infrastructure, participating countries will need to create a roadmap to address the tensions between uneven technology adoption and the introduction of digital technologies. At work.

Since many future jobs will be different from today’s jobs and will require specific skills, it is important to place more emphasis on closing the gaps in the region’s education and training programs. This forces governments to shift their policy agendas from “hardware” to “human software”, making substantial investments in human capital and improving the digital skills of the next generation of workers. China can also share its experience and practices in strengthening resources for the workforce and improving the availability and accessibility of on-the-job training. Public-private partnerships should also be leveraged to facilitate technology transfer and training.

Increased Digital Silk Road activity will lead to more frequent cross-border data flows, posing new policy challenges in the areas of privacy, security, competition and taxation. This will require collaboration between the Chinese government and Southeast Asian governments to work together in terms of legislation regarding cross-border data transfers, dispute resolution mechanisms, risk early warning and network security. , and the unification of technical standards. Regulations and protective laws will also need to be put in place to control governments and private companies, building mutual trust and shared benefits for sustainable digital economies.
Source: China Daily

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Links within the framework of the China Silk Road cooperative are essential to the community of destiny http://gurugama.org/links-within-the-framework-of-the-china-silk-road-cooperative-are-essential-to-the-community-of-destiny/ Wed, 09 Mar 2022 14:26:15 +0000 http://gurugama.org/links-within-the-framework-of-the-china-silk-road-cooperative-are-essential-to-the-community-of-destiny/ Cambodia welcomes and supports the rise of China and sees it not only as a miracle of development greater than the rising tide that lifts all boats, but also as a global phenomenon that brings hope and values ​​to member countries of the Chinese Silk Road. The two countries have witnessed growing interdependence and interconnectedness […]]]>

Cambodia welcomes and supports the rise of China and sees it not only as a miracle of development greater than the rising tide that lifts all boats, but also as a global phenomenon that brings hope and values ​​to member countries of the Chinese Silk Road.

The two countries have witnessed growing interdependence and interconnectedness in economic and trade sectors, especially through the cooperation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In addition, Cambodia and China will benefit from the promotion of relations at all levels, especially people-to-people relations, in the implementation of comprehensive and strategic cooperation programs.

The two countries have considered joint development plans as the two economies are increasingly interdependent. Cambodia also supports the Chinese BRI as investments flowing through the BRI have benefited the country in many ways, including physical infrastructure development and regional connectivity in the Mekong region. The influx of these investments comes largely from Chinese state-owned enterprises and the private sector to support the country’s local development needs.

In recent years, not only are state-to-state and party-to-party ties strong, but people-to-people ties have formed a cornerstone that brings the two nations even closer together.

China has been an important player in the development of Cambodia. China joined the UN peacemaking process in the early 1990s, contributing to the success of the peacebuilding process in Cambodia.

It should be noted that the historical relations between the two countries date back at least a thousand years, as evidenced by ancient Cambodian inscriptions and Chinese chronicles. These relationships have grown even stronger over the past 25 years. The two countries have tried to work together to advance the development of the China-Cambodia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, both bilaterally and regionally, such as through the Mekong-Lancang cooperation.

For whom was the vision exalted and why is it so important?

Bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached over $7.4 billion in 2018, with China recording a trade surplus of over $6 billion. Since the beginning of 2022, the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) has entered into force, while the two countries expect to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023. China is Cambodia’s largest bilateral FTA partner ahead of other bilateral FTAs, including the Cambodia-Korea agreement. FTA and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

China has made steady progress in removing technical and non-technical trade barriers with the Kingdom. Since 2000, bilateral trade has grown steadily, rising from just $500 million in 2005 to over $8 billion in 2020. In 2020, Cambodia’s exports to China reached over $1 billion.

The two countries have planned to jointly build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and forge a program of cooperation and partnership for development, with bilateral relations hitting an all-time high these days. last time.

In April 2019, the two countries signed the 2019-2023 Action Plan on Building the Cambodia-China Community of a Shared Future. Since the signing of the action plan, despite some progress, a lot of potential remains to be exploited. Peace, security, stability and a growing middle class in Cambodia have provided domestic and foreign investors, professional expatriates and tourists with the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of peace, freedom and the rule of law.

China has also been a major supplier of Covid-19 vaccines and medical supplies to the Kingdom in the concerted fight against the pandemic.

For this, the Chinese government and people should share pride with the Cambodian government and people for the success achieved so far in containing and preventing the pandemic, in line with Chinese Route diplomacy. silk for health. For Cambodia, Chinese vaccines are strategic, while other vaccines are used as a booster. I want to emphasize here that China has gained more respect and international recognition not only in Cambodia but around the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has derailed the development plans and efforts of many governments, including those of Cambodia and China. Despite the challenges, Cambodia is keen to promote a rapid and resilient recovery through the modernization of the agricultural, service and manufacturing sectors and the diversification of the Cambodian economy, while accelerating institutional, legal and policy reforms to improve the efficiency, competitiveness and attractiveness as a destination. for responsible investment, clean businesses and free trade.

Cambodia is well on its way to becoming a regional hub for the production, assembly and distribution of goods and services. I believe that the blueprint for building a community with a shared future for Cambodia and China will take shape and become a gateway for Chinese investors as well as visitors.

When crimes such as kidnappings, scams, drug debauchery or murders reported in Cambodia are associated with Chinese residents doing business or on short stays, the news often goes viral, affecting both Cambodia and China.

The alleged ‘blood slave’ involving a 31-year-old Chinese national identified by his surname Li – who appeared to reside in Sihanoukville and was allegedly physically assaulted for repeated blood extractions by a Chinese gang who threatened to have his organs harvested interns to sell on the black market – turned out to be wrong. On February 28, the Cambodian National Police issued a press release debunking the allegation. Unfortunately, the alleged crime was concocted by the alleged “victim” and a few of his followers to gain sympathy and solicit financial contributions, including free medical treatment for his chronic ill health.

In fact, “Blood Slave” has never been the case in Cambodia. My salutations go to the governments of Cambodia and China for their swift action to bring the issue to the fore and settle it in the first place. As a legislator, I want to reassure Cambodia that it has practiced the rule of law as the nation gradually evolves into a mature democracy and an active player in the global economy.

Furthermore, Cambodia abides by the Constitution which protects and upholds human rights and adheres to universal values, rules-based multilateralism and international order and standards. In this regard, Cambodia fully protects the welfare and rights of all people in Cambodia, including their other legal rights as enshrined in Cambodian laws.

Yara Suos is a member of the Cambodian National Assembly

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Russian-Ukrainian conflict: Seychelles braces for economic impact, rising commodity prices and falling tourism revenues http://gurugama.org/russian-ukrainian-conflict-seychelles-braces-for-economic-impact-rising-commodity-prices-and-falling-tourism-revenues/ Wed, 09 Mar 2022 06:35:32 +0000 http://gurugama.org/russian-ukrainian-conflict-seychelles-braces-for-economic-impact-rising-commodity-prices-and-falling-tourism-revenues/ The Minister of Finance of Seychelles, Naadir Hassan, made a statement on this subject to the members of the National Assembly. (National Assembly) Photo License (Seychelles News Agency) – The Seychelles government is considering several measures to limit the impact of rising global commodity prices following the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a senior […]]]>

The Minister of Finance of Seychelles, Naadir Hassan, made a statement on this subject to the members of the National Assembly. (National Assembly)

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(Seychelles News Agency) – The Seychelles government is considering several measures to limit the impact of rising global commodity prices following the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a senior government official said on Tuesday. government.

Seychelles Finance Minister Naadir Hassan made a statement on the matter to members of the National Assembly, given the potential repercussions of the ongoing conflict between the two Eastern European countries.

Hassan said two key factors that will hurt Seychelles’ economy are “a reduction in the stock of certain commodities globally and this will affect prices due to demand. Commodity prices will be influenced by the constantly increasing cost of transportation.”

He said the Ministry of Finance was meeting with key local partners to assess and monitor the impact of the conflict.

“We recognize that the low-wage population group will be more affected. As I said last year in my speech, we are working on reforms in social welfare services. The government is now accelerating reform in the purpose of ensuring that those who really need help will get it,” the minister said.

Possible increase in public sector wages and more social assistance

He added that the government is also discussing and evaluating various measures including the reform of the contribution to the Pension Fund on which an announcement will be made later.

the Seychelles Pension Fund had announced plans to increase the mandatory monthly contribution from April 1 to keep the pension fund paid, amid concerns over its solvency given the island nation’s rising life expectancy.

The minister said an assessment is underway to see the possibility of a salary increase, as announced in his budget speech in December.

“This measure will have to take into account the budgetary constraints in which we are, because we are in an economic reform supported by the International Monetary Fund”, he added.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, relies heavily on the tourism industry, the main contributor to its economy.

Hassan said rising fuel prices will lead to higher airfares and this uncertainty will discourage people from travelling.

“The arrival of tourism which was very promising at the beginning of the year, will go down and the income taxes that the government collects will also go down,” he said.

At the end of February, visitor arrivals to Seychelles according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stood at 48,508 compared to the same period last year when only 1,551 tourists came to the island nation.

“The amount of foreign currency in our domestic market for January and February was $130 million in total. This is a significant increase from the $68 million recorded for the same period last year,” Hasan said.

Seychelles was already on the road to recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic with positive projections for the rest of the year. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has again cast new doubts on the economic stability of the country.

Seychelles’ dependence on the Russian tourist market

A direct impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Seychelles is that Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot, has halted all international operations and this is expected to directly affect the island nation’s current largest tourism market. .

Russia leads the Seychelles tourism market with 32,000 of the total visitor arrivals of 182,849 in 2021, mainly due to the availability of direct flights.

Additionally, with Russia being the world’s second-largest oil producer, this is also expected to impact oil prices, and as of March 8, the price of crude oil had reached $122 per barrel, according to oilprice.com.

Hassan concluded by saying that “like the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us, the uncertainty in the world means that as a country we have to be ready to depend more on ourselves.”

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China-Israel ties blossom dramatically – Xinhua English.news.cn http://gurugama.org/china-israel-ties-blossom-dramatically-xinhua-english-news-cn/ Mon, 07 Mar 2022 02:55:20 +0000 http://gurugama.org/china-israel-ties-blossom-dramatically-xinhua-english-news-cn/ A container is moved by a crane at the port of Haifa, Israel, August 8, 2021. [Photo/Agencies] JERUSALEM – China and Israel have seen their bilateral cooperation grow and expand to their mutual benefit since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, even though they are about 6,437 kilometers apart. other. The two countries announced […]]]>

A container is moved by a crane at the port of Haifa, Israel, August 8, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM – China and Israel have seen their bilateral cooperation grow and expand to their mutual benefit since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, even though they are about 6,437 kilometers apart. other.

The two countries announced the establishment of an innovative comprehensive partnership in 2017, which opened a new chapter in their friendly cooperation. From the Belt and Road cooperation to technology and innovation exchanges, China-Israel relations have achieved fruitful cooperation in various fields over the years.

The new port in the city of Haifa in northern Israel, a transport and industrial center of the country, handles tons of goods every day. Opened in September 2021, the port is expected to reduce import costs and represent an economic boon to Israel, where most international trade is handled via sea routes.

The new port is an automated container port built primarily by Shanghai International Port (Group) Co Ltd, which was franchised to run the port for 25 years. With an investment of $1.7 billion, the port has an annual handling capacity of 1.86 million 20-foot equivalent units.

“The new port has opened a new gateway to the world,” Merav Michaeli, Israel’s Minister of Transport and Road Safety, said at the inauguration ceremony. The minister added that the facility will accelerate Israel’s economic development, increase exports and trade, close social gaps and lower prices.

Supported by the Israeli government, the new port of Haifa is a microcosm of win-win cooperation between China and Israel under the Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network linking Asia to Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes. .

Data released by Israel’s Ministry of Transport and Road Safety showed that the country now invests $4 billion to $5 billion every year to upgrade its transport infrastructure and builds airports, seaports, railways, roads and tunnels, which reflects the enormous complementarity of the respective infrastructures. economic benefits between the two countries.

Chinese companies have managed major infrastructure and transportation projects in Israel in recent years, including winning tenders to build new ports in Haifa and the southern Israeli city of Ashdod , as well as the construction of a key section of Tel Aviv’s light rail system.

Chinese companies and investments have brought tangible benefits to Israel. So far, more than 30 Chinese companies are operating in Israel, creating around 10,000 jobs for the country, according to figures from the Chinese Embassy in Israel.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is a vision that reflects people’s ability to connect and work together across the world, to build bridges for all people and ultimately a better future for all,” said said former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Over the past 30 years, innovation has played one of the major roles in promoting China-Israel relations, especially after the establishment of their innovative comprehensive partnership in 2017.

“Israel is widely regarded as a center of innovation in the world, but the size of its economy is limited, while China is a giant economy with significant manufacturing power, which makes Israel and China a pair perfect and highly complementary,” said Qiang Hao, general manager of the China-Israel Innovation Hub (Shanghai).

As China transforms its economy to focus on quality-driven development, innovation cooperation between China and Israel has begun to cover areas such as modern agriculture, medical devices, cybersecurity and smart cities.

Looking at China’s huge market, Israel is trying to form a long-term strategic relationship with this East Asian country. Backed by both governments, more and more Israeli startups have secured investment from China and access to its market.

One example is the China-Israel Innovation Park in Changzhou, the first innovation cooperation experimental zone established by the two governments and inaugurated in 2015.

Located in east China’s Jiangsu Province, the park provides physical proximity for Israeli companies to obtain funds and collaborate with Chinese companies in industrial research and development, becoming a prototype project for innovative cooperation. between the two countries.

“By the end of 2021, the park had gathered 155 Israeli-owned and Sino-Israeli joint ventures and facilitated 40 Sino-Israeli science and technology cooperation projects,” said Chen Shunming, deputy director of the park’s management office.

Another milestone in scientific cooperation between the two countries is the China-Israel Innovation Hub (Shanghai) inaugurated in 2019. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, some 70 companies have been attracted to operate in the innovation hub with a result of 200 intellectual property rights, according to Qiang, general manager of the innovation hub.

Focusing on design innovation, Israeli company GIAYO Studio began operating in the park in August. “I think we’re bringing something new – new designs, new experience and new products – to our customers,” said Roy Grinfield, Founder of GIAYO Studio.

“I think China is amazing right now. There are so many opportunities here. We are currently recruiting and trying to grow the team as we have a lot of new client requests. We have big plans for 2022,” Grinfield said.

As President Xi Jinping said in a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, in November, “Innovation has become a strong point and an accelerator of bilateral relations”.

“Ten years ago, very little happened between our two countries. In the years since, the relationship has grown significantly on almost all fronts, from academic exchanges and cooperation to scientific collaboration and joint research, from business investment to infrastructure development,” he said. said Carice Witte. , founder and executive director of Sino-Israel Global Network & Academic Leadership, an Israeli political organization specializing in Sino-Israeli relations.

Despite the setbacks of the pandemic, the two countries have not stopped their efforts to strengthen cooperation. Data from China Customs showed that bilateral merchandise trade between China and Israel reached $20.4 billion in the first 11 months of 2021, up 28.9 percent year-on-year.

China and Israel are also working on a bilateral free trade agreement, which will boost economic cooperation and bring more benefits to people and businesses on both sides. As the year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations, the peoples of the two countries look forward to continued cooperation in all fields for mutual benefit.

“I believe that Israel must develop a rational, wise and close relationship with China, which is a great friend and a leading country with growing influence,” said Yoav Kisch, a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

According to Chen, the China-Israel Innovation Park in Changzhou will expand from 5 square kilometers to 72.8 square kilometers. “We will make the park a model of an innovative comprehensive partnership between the two countries and help apply Israel’s innovation resources and technological achievements to Chinese industries,” Chen said.

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Seychelles predicts deeper economic crisis as Russian-Ukrainian conflict affects tourism markets http://gurugama.org/seychelles-predicts-deeper-economic-crisis-as-russian-ukrainian-conflict-affects-tourism-markets/ Sat, 05 Mar 2022 03:09:51 +0000 http://gurugama.org/seychelles-predicts-deeper-economic-crisis-as-russian-ukrainian-conflict-affects-tourism-markets/ Radegonde said the conflict will affect tourist arrivals from Russia, currently Seychelles’ main tourist market. (Gerard Larose) Photo License Seychelles foresees an economic crisis worse than that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with the impact of Russia and Ukraine dispute over it’s oriental European tourism markets, a senior official said on Friday. Tourism Minister Sylvestre […]]]>

Radegonde said the conflict will affect tourist arrivals from Russia, currently Seychelles’ main tourist market. (Gerard Larose)

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Seychelles foresees an economic crisis worse than that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with the impact of Russia and Ukraine dispute over it’s oriental European tourism markets, a senior official said on Friday.

Tourism Minister Sylvestre Radegonde said the dispute will affect tourist arrivals from Russia, currently Seychelles’ biggest tourist market.

In 2021, the market attracted 32,000 tourists to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

The Seychelles have tapped into the Eastern European markets after a drop in travel caused by COVID-19 affected arrivals from traditional Western European markets, namely Germany, France and Italy.

“International flights operated by Aeroflot, Emirates and Turkish Airlines still connect Russia with Seychelles. Looking at the current numbers, we see that there have been some cancellations, but not at the level we thought they would be. As the war enters its eighth day, the sanctions imposed by the US and EU countries are still fresh and as such have not fully entered into force. When they do, we will really see the impacts,” Radegonde said.

The tourism department noted that Aeroflot is still arriving at full occupancy and nearly 250 passengers landed in Seychelles on Friday. However, Russian visitors disembark in Seychelles only in cash, as payments via SWIFT, MasterCard and VisaCard are no longer possible for them due to the imposed sanctions.

“As the sanctions apply, you will see that Aeroflot will naturally stop working, but that does not mean that Russians will not come to Seychelles. Russians will find other ways to reach Seychelles” , said Radegonde.

He further noted that there is also a risk that Russian companies in Seychelles may cease operations in the country if their headquarters are based in Russia. Overnight, hundreds of Seychellois could find themselves out of work as these companies will not be able to pay salaries because of the sanctions.

There are currently two Russian-owned tourist establishments in Seychelles – Savoy and Coral Strand – and the third is under construction.

Ukraine, currently Seychelles’ fourth largest market, has closed its airspace.

“To be able to leave Ukraine for a vacation in the Seychelles, they really have to be willing to do so. Their priority at the moment is safety. Local tourist establishments have informed us today that there are customers who call from bunkers to cancel reservations,” Radegonde said.

He added that although there are cancellations from both countries, new bookings from Western European countries are filling in the gaps as restrictions have been lifted. France is currently the Seychelles’ second largest market.

The tourism department is also looking at countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia as a way to diversify and top up its basket if things get worse in Europe.

With the current situation, Seychelles will not reach its arrival target of 258,000 visitors set for 2022.

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Minneapolis, St. Paul teachers file plans to strike http://gurugama.org/minneapolis-st-paul-teachers-file-plans-to-strike/ Tue, 01 Mar 2022 05:33:10 +0000 http://gurugama.org/minneapolis-st-paul-teachers-file-plans-to-strike/ Following an overwhelming strike authorization vote by educators in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, Minneapolis Teachers’ Federation (MFT) Local 59 and St. Paul’s Teachers’ Federation Local 28 ( SPFE) filed an intention to strike last Wednesday. The walkouts could begin as early as March 8. Rally of striking teachers in Saint-Paul in 2020 (Source: FB […]]]>

Following an overwhelming strike authorization vote by educators in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, Minneapolis Teachers’ Federation (MFT) Local 59 and St. Paul’s Teachers’ Federation Local 28 ( SPFE) filed an intention to strike last Wednesday. The walkouts could begin as early as March 8.

Rally of striking teachers in Saint-Paul in 2020 (Source: FB page of the Federation of Saint-Paul educators)

There are more than 8,000 educators and support staff in the St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) districts. The second and third largest school districts in the state employ about 15% of Minnesota’s 54,000 teachers.

The strike authorization was filed amid a wave of opposition from teachers and students to the reopening of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Across the country, more than 200,000 children have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19. More than half of teachers say they have considered leaving the profession.

Since schools reopened in August of last year, the total number of deaths from COVID-19 infections in the United States has increased by 50%, from around 600,000 to more than 900,000, the group of age with the greatest increase in infections among school-aged children. The spread of the Omicron variant this year alone has resulted in the deaths of at least eight teachers and three students in Minnesota.

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Eastern Winds of Change: A Guide to Egyptian-Chinese Relations http://gurugama.org/eastern-winds-of-change-a-guide-to-egyptian-chinese-relations/ Sun, 27 Feb 2022 19:00:26 +0000 http://gurugama.org/eastern-winds-of-change-a-guide-to-egyptian-chinese-relations/ Eastern Winds of Change: A Guide to Egyptian-Chinese Relations Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (left) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, September 3, 2018. | Photo credit: The Arab Weekly Cairo has always mastered the art of political acrobatics, playing off East and West against each other for its own gain. […]]]>


Eastern Winds of Change: A Guide to Egyptian-Chinese Relations

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (left) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, September 3, 2018. | Photo credit: The Arab Weekly

Cairo has always mastered the art of political acrobatics, playing off East and West against each other for its own gain. During the Cold War, it was former President Gamal Abd El-Nasser who first “shocked the West by approaching the Soviet Union, buying military equipment via Czechoslovakia and raising fears of a race armaments in the Middle East,” according to Foreign Policy.

Six decades later, Cairo is once again seeking to strengthen Eastern ties with Beijing while maintaining a complex relationship with Western allies and the United States.

Earlier this month, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Beijing to take stock of the state of bilateral relations between Egypt and China. The two leaders discussed a myriad of political and economic issues in a bid to enhance the ongoing cooperation.

China and Egypt have ‘shared similar visions and strategies in defending their own interests’, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s seventh visit to the Chinese capital since taking office in 2014.

According to the Associated Press in Beijing, the meeting comes at a good time as al-Sisi’s government seeks to strengthen Chinese relations amid heightened scrutiny by the United States and Western states over the Egyptian government’s poor record. in matters of human rights.

Under Al-Sissi’s leadership, Egyptian-Chinese relations continue to intensify bilateral cooperation. This implies cooperation on the political, economic and security dimensions.

“Chinese investments in Egypt include a $1.8 billion cooperation portfolio that includes many development projects in the areas of electricity, health, education and vocational training,” confirms Mahmoud Sultan, financial analyst and professor at Cairo University.

However, a recent report by the Middle East Institute (MEI) indicates that China-Egypt economic cooperation is gaining momentum in recent years. According to the MEI, “constructing infrastructure and improving manufacturing production capacity have become the most important features of China-Egypt economic cooperation.”

Currently, about 85% of the $3 billion needed to complete the central business district (CBD) of the country’s new administrative capital – part of a massive project undertaken by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) is being funded by Chinese banks.

The rapid development of key integrated land and sea trade routes has been a crucial part of Egypt’s “Vision 2030” and a hallmark of Egyptian-Chinese relations. Egypt’s priority on expanding the Suez Canal, as well as revitalizing existing overland trade routes, aligns perfectly with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s BRI includes plans to develop a “Maritime Silk Road” that connects China to the Mediterranean via the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic ties between Egypt and China were strengthened by the signing of an agreement to jointly manufacture the Sinovac vaccine in Egypt.

The latest meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jingping and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi also signals increased political cooperation, especially on regional security and stability. Presidential spokesman Bassem Rady confirmed that the two leaders discussed developments in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Palestinian conflict as well as the crises in Libya, Syria and Yemen.

In order to protect proliferating Chinese interests in Egypt and the Middle East region, involvement in regional stability has been mandatory for Beijing. It seems that China’s policy of non-interference is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

However, these ongoing regional dynamics are bound to challenge Egypt’s political dexterity. Cairo must be cautious, agile; increased Chinese political involvement could bolster regional rivals, further weaken relations with Western allies, and undermine China’s neutral and pragmatic rhetoric domestically.

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Complementary global initiatives can benefit everyone – Global http://gurugama.org/complementary-global-initiatives-can-benefit-everyone-global/ Wed, 23 Feb 2022 01:07:00 +0000 http://gurugama.org/complementary-global-initiatives-can-benefit-everyone-global/ In the fall of 2013, President Xi Jinping announced his vision for developing a strategic framework in support of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the now-defunct Silk Road Economic Belt. collectively known as the Belt and Road Initiative. This was clearly a very ambitious and truly global plan. So far, China has signed […]]]>

In the fall of 2013, President Xi Jinping announced his vision for developing a strategic framework in support of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the now-defunct Silk Road Economic Belt. collectively known as the Belt and Road Initiative. This was clearly a very ambitious and truly global plan.

So far, China has signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 140 countries and 32 international organizations, proving its worth and confounding doubters. The BRI undeniably fills a real need as emerging markets continue to grow.

Existing projects are also reviewed regularly and adjusted if necessary. This is particularly the case when financing structures become obsolete due to changes in the financial situation of the borrower, in particular due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sometimes new lenders will step in and provide refinancing, as happened recently in Montenegro. A consortium of European and American banks refinanced a $1 billion loan from the Export-Import Bank of China for a road infrastructure project. These developments are positive, as Montenegro will benefit from the new infrastructure when it is completed.

Recently, Argentina and China, celebrating 50 years of bilateral relations, signed a memorandum of understanding regarding BRI cooperation. Argentina is a huge exporter of wheat, soybeans and other commodities to China, so the focus on improving Argentina’s maritime infrastructure is both logical and mutually beneficial. When everything is finished, Argentina will be able to export raw materials much easier and faster.

As the great playwright and political activist George Bernard Shaw once observed, “imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery, it is the sincerest form of learning”, and it is why several major economies are pursuing the BRI model. For example, the European Union recently announced its own international infrastructure engine known as Global Gateway.

The EU plan envisions raising up to 300 billion euros ($340.6 billion), which sounds like a lot of money but represents a small drop in the cost of emerging markets’ infrastructure needs. To put things into perspective, some analysts estimate that the total sum of BIS investments to date has already exceeded $4 trillion. The 300 billion euros will be raised from various public funds that have given the green light, combined with financing from the private sector. This total amount would also be a mixture of loans, grants and guarantees.

According to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the new EU plan offers “a real alternative” to the BRI. The EU Global Portal will focus on Africa, Central Asia and Latin America, all geographical areas where, to date, European infrastructure aid has been minimal to say the least. If the EU Gateway really focuses on helping regions where the infrastructure needs are greatest, this is extremely positive and would complement the commitments of the BRI. If, however, the real agenda is to focus on countries that have expressed an interest in BRI funding, in order to divert them away from China, then everyone loses. The entire planet benefits from global connectivity, increased trade, travel, and face-to-face human interaction, which in turn leads to a higher level of understanding and mutual benefit.

The United States has also launched an initiative, along with other G7 countries including Japan and the United Kingdom, called the Build Back Better World, or B3W, plan. This plan was unveiled by US President Joe Biden in Glasgow during the 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, or COP 26, in November. Its goal is to fund a green and collaborative global infrastructure initiative that Biden said would create a “sustainable path to net-zero emissions by 2050.”

The more global funding made available for serious and sustainable climate change projects around the world, the better. Everyone benefits, including China, which cannot be expected to bear the global burden alone.

If the various global initiatives manage to work in a coordinated and complementary manner, enabling more countries to realize their infrastructure dreams and improve global connectivity, then the BRI may well be hailed as one of the greatest government initiatives. of the 21st century, not only in its own right, but as a catalyst for others to follow in its footsteps, thereby jointly benefiting humanity and the planet.

The late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hit the nail on the head while underscoring the role of infrastructure in triggering economic development when she said: “You and I come by road or rail, but economists travel on infrastructure.

The author is a former lawyer and investment banker, and is the founding partner of a Hong Kong-based strategic consulting firm.

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Born of uncertainty, a new day dawns http://gurugama.org/born-of-uncertainty-a-new-day-dawns/ Sun, 20 Feb 2022 15:05:25 +0000 http://gurugama.org/born-of-uncertainty-a-new-day-dawns/ No wonder we’re beside ourselves, faced with a whole menagerie of 800-pound gorillas: the never-ending COVID pandemic, the looming war with Russia, the climate change catastrophe, and fundamental challenges to our democracy, to say the least. to name a few. When subjected to this endless horror spectacle, our first instinct is to stick our heads […]]]>

No wonder we’re beside ourselves, faced with a whole menagerie of 800-pound gorillas: the never-ending COVID pandemic, the looming war with Russia, the climate change catastrophe, and fundamental challenges to our democracy, to say the least. to name a few. When subjected to this endless horror spectacle, our first instinct is to stick our heads in the sand.

No one likes doomsday tales, especially me, and I try not to write any. Nevertheless, it is imperative to recognize the enormity of what we are facing so that we can make the necessary adjustments. While it is society’s responsibility to reduce greenhouse gases, provide vaccines for COVID-19 and other such dangers, it is our role as individuals to recognize that we are entering into uncharted territory that will require course corrections.

Professor and author Timothy Morton calls these impending perils, greater than human beings can comprehend, “hyperobjects.” He says the first step to overcoming our fear is to admit that these threats are real. In doing so, rather than paralysis, we will find catharsis.

“Our sense of ‘world’ may be dying out, but humans are not doomed. In fact, the end of this limited notion of the world may also be the only thing that can save us from ourselves.

He writes that learning to deal with these deadly perils will force us to move beyond our individualistic society, which “dives us apart and leaves us ill-prepared to deal with hyperobjects.” Instead, we will discover that our fates and our sufferings are defined in large part “by unseen, systemic forces that bear upon us.”

From this crucible, Morton concludes, “We are being born now” – standing on the precipice not of becoming post-human, but of becoming truly human for the first time. »

As a former psychotherapist, the last thing I want is to cause pain. That’s why I’ve shifted my columns from a Paul Revere, crying the alarm, to a more philosophical and therapeutic stance. My writing is now more geared towards how we can get the most out of our lives in these trying times.

I often quote the Tao Te Ching written by Lao-Tzu in the 4th or 5th century BC and the essays of Michel de Montaigne, published in 1580. Although they lived through times of chaos and terror far worse than ours, both men offer timeless wisdom on how to live satisfying and meaningful lives.

I was also transformed by reading Buddhist authors, like Jon Aaron, on ways to go with the flow. Now, when I’m stressed, I recite “embrace uncertainty” as a mantra. it helps to lift the dead weight of all those things I can’t control off my shoulders – flooding me with a sense of serenity, similar, I think, to what longtime AA members get from reciting” Let go, let God”.

Kaira Jewel Lingo, who worked closely with the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, practices a similar approach in her personal life.

“By slowing down, choosing to rest in the uncertainty rather than fight it, I was able to enter a sense of space, precisely in those moments when it felt like there was no way to go on. and that I would be totally overwhelmed.”

I will end by quoting Lingo who, without watering down the magnitude of what is madly rushing towards us, explains, once again, why we must surrender to the process to come out the other side.

“In a sense, our culture, our society is dissolving. We collectively enter the chrysalis: the structures we lean on and identify with crumble, and we don’t know what the next phase will look like. We are in the cocoon. Learning to surrender in our own lives is essential to our collective learning to navigate this time of increasingly rapid change.

(Jean Stimmell lives in Northwood. His blog can be accessed online at jeanstimmell.blogspot.com.)

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Why is the Maldives important to China? http://gurugama.org/why-is-the-maldives-important-to-china/ Wed, 16 Feb 2022 03:18:28 +0000 http://gurugama.org/why-is-the-maldives-important-to-china/ The Chinese-backed projects in the Maldives have raised many security concerns for India, the United States and its allies. China is paying to woo India’s island neighbors in the Indian Ocean, particularly the Maldives and Sri Lanka. by Col R Hariharan China’s use of the commander of the PLA regiment involved in the 2020 Galwan […]]]>

The Chinese-backed projects in the Maldives have raised many security concerns for India, the United States and its allies. China is paying to woo India’s island neighbors in the Indian Ocean, particularly the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

by Col R Hariharan

China’s use of the commander of the PLA regiment involved in the 2020 Galwan clash as a Winter Olympics torchbearer had drawn criticism not only from India, but also from its QUAD ally, the United States. India regretted the incident as China’s attempt to politicize the Games, while the United States described it as “shameful” and deliberately “provocative”. The use of the PLA commander in a global meeting is not just a provocative move by China to steer India. This is a small sample of the “war by other means” (“non-contact war” in military jargon) that China is currently waging in the Indo-Pacific theater.

While China’s misuse of the PLA commander in the torch relay has garnered enough publicity, few have likely noticed the torch bearer, who exchanged the flame with the final torch bearer, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee. He was Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives and President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. It was probably a heartwarming moment for the Maldives, one of the smallest countries in the world with barely 300m² of land, to see its foreign minister receive this honor at the Olympics. There is no doubt that Shahid’s position as the current president of the United Nations General Assembly helped the Chinese decision. But it showed China’s keen attention to courting India’s island neighbors in the Indian Ocean, particularly the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

The Maldives is a chain of 26 atolls, stretching from Ihavandhippolhu atoll in the north to Addu atoll in the south, spanning 90,000 km2 of territory across the equator and having few resources. The Maldives archipelago is located on the Chagos-Lakshadweep Ridge, a vast underwater chain in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It is located 750 km southwest of India and Sri Lanka. Historically, the Maldives has ethnic, religious and cultural connectivity with India and Sri Lanka. The Maldivian language Dhivehi is a dialect of Sinhalese and with a script derived from Arabic. In fact, Minicoy, the southernmost and second largest island in the union territory of Lakshadweep, is home to around 12,000 Mahl of Maldivian ethnicity.

Relations between the Maldives and India have been close since the end of colonial rule in 1965 and the transformation of the Maldives into a republic. It was India that first responded to President Maumoon Gayoom’s call for help to thwart a coup attempt in 1988. After Mohamed Nasheed came to power in 2008, the Maldives signed a defense cooperation agreement with India in 2009. Under this agreement, India would install 26 radars. on all the atolls to liaise with the Indian Coastal Command. The Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) carry out joint surveillance and patrol activities. India was quick to provide aid and relief during the 2004 tsunami and when the country faced a drinking water crisis in 2014.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopted a “neighborhood first” policy when he came to power in 2014, relations between India and the Maldives have been further strengthened. India is involved in a number of projects such as the Greater Male Connectivity Project, Cargo Vessel Services and Capacity Building and Training of MNDF and Maldives Officials in India and the Gulhifalhu Port Project. The Indian Defense Forces and the MNDF regularly organize joint exercises. Even during the rule of Abdulla Yameen who was biased in favor of China, he downplayed his anti-India rhetoric to go to New Delhi and sign the Indo-Maldivian Defense Action Plan. India has provided a Dornier surveillance plane to the Maldives to monitor Chinese vessels as well as the evacuation of injured people from remote islands and to prevent poaching and drug trafficking in Maldivian waters. The American military base located on the atoll of Diego Garcia in the Chagos archipelago, 1713 km from the Maldives, has been used during American operations in Afghanistan. Its strategic importance increased after the establishment of the Quadrilateral Framework for Indo-Pacific Security.

The strategic importance of the Indian Ocean rose after the launch of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 to increase China’s strategic reach across continents. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) is the ocean part of the BRI infrastructure connectivity. It allows China to ensure the passage of its international maritime trade through the bottlenecks of the Indian Ocean. The Maldives and Sri Lanka are important hubs for the MSR’s success, especially after the Quad framework has begun to take shape.

President Xi Jinping was the first Chinese head of state to visit the Maldives since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1972. His visit to the Maldives on May 15, 2014, en route to Sri Lanka and India , stressed the importance of the island nation in Xi’s strategic strategy. awareness within the framework of the BRI.

Although Chinese companies have been involved in project contracts in the Maldives since 1985, they surged forward after President Yameen came to power, with a strong pro-China stance and marked hostility towards India. in 2013. Yameen not only responded to Xi’s invitation to join the MSR during his visit but also signed a free trade pact with China a few months later.

During Yameen’s tenure as president until 2018, a number of Chinese infrastructure and investment projects were executed. The Male-Hulhumale Bridge, designed in 2007, was built by China Harbor Engineering Company at a cost of $210 million. Similarly, Beijing Urban Construction Group replaced Indian contractor GMR, to complete the Malé International Airport expansion project in Hulhumale in 2018.

A Chinese public limited company has acquired Feydhoo Finolhu, a small islet with an area of ​​half a square mile, located three nautical miles from the Maldivian capital, Malé, on a 50-year lease for a price of 4 million dollars in December 2016. However, the Finolhu Beach complex of 125 private villas with a dock for transporting guests built on the property is now fully functional. Similarly, CJL Investment promoted a joint venture of Guangdong Beta Oceans and a Maldivian partner, took Kunaavashi Island in Vaavu Atoll, 35 nautical miles from Male, on a 50-year lease to build a complex. An Australian company now manages the La Vie hotels and resorts there.

However, the opaque process of Chinese-aided projects and widespread corruption in the Maldives have raised many security concerns for India, the United States and its allies. A good example is the Joint Ocean Observatory project in Makhunudhoo, the westernmost island, finalized in 2017 by the Chinese State Oceanic Administration. India feared that China would use it to observe more than ocean conditions. At the urging of India, the Maldives abandoned the project in 2019.

The 2018 election was marred by President Yameen’s misuse of state resources, police interference in opposition campaigns and election officials’ manipulations in favor of the Maldives Progressive Party (PPM) of Yameen. After former President Nasheed was disqualified on an unproven terrorism charge in 2015, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) nominated Ibrahim Mohammed Solih. He got 58% of the vote, with Yameen getting less than 42%. Today, the Maldives is ruled by a coalition of the MDP, the Jumhooree party, the Maldivian Reform Movement (MRF) led by former president Maumoon Gayoom and the conservative Adhaalath party.

Solih came to power with a $1.4 billion debt accumulated by the Yameen government, mostly to the Chinese. He is trying to find ways to pay off this debt. It has tried to improve accountability, root out corruption, tone up the judiciary, and improve gender equity with some success. It has yet to tackle the persistent Islamist extremist threat. Solih signed a defense agreement with the United States and another agreement with Japan to strengthen the MNDF coast guard. India and the United States have both assisted the Maldives by providing them with vaccines and medical equipment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic; so, did China. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a whirlwind trip to the Maldives in January 2022 and reviewed some of the BRI projects.

Yameen was sentenced to five years in prison in a money laundering case in November 2019. However, the Maldives Supreme Court overturned his conviction. A few days after his release, the PPM, the main opposition party, launched the “India Out” campaign. Although Yameen explained that he was only targeting the presence of Indian security forces in the Maldives, this is probably a political curtain-raiser for the year 2022.

China has strengthened its presence in the Maldives. As India reaffirms its presence in the Indian Ocean region, how China will enhance its role in the Maldives in 2022 remains an open question.

The author is a military intelligence specialist on South Asia, associated with the Chennai Center for China Studies

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