News, August 9th

From Dragon to the land of ‘Ascending Dragon’

Since the face-off between India and China in Ladakh, there has been strident cries for boycotting Chinese products. The government has already put some barriers on economic engagement with China. It has restricted Chinese FDI approvals and blocked 59 Chinese Apps, imposed stricter regulations for Government procurement, restricted import of color TV (since China is the biggest exporter of it to India) and many more restrictions are in the offing.

There are counter arguments also against decoupling from China. This is because India is over dependent on imports from China for the development of electronics and telecommunication. Nearly, 38-39 percent of total imports of electronic and telecommunication equipment and parts are from China. Of these, 42 percent were accounted for by telecommunication equipment and mobile phones.

These industries registered dramatic growth since India and China came closer economically. China was the biggest trading partner of India till 2018-19. It turned a major catalyst to boost India’s new industries. In 2014, India had few mobile manufacturers. In 2019, India became the second largest manufacturer of mobile phone in the world with 200 units. The industry provided a major boost to employment and successfully wooed global players like Foxcom, a Taiwanese giant.

India is also one of the global leaders for manufacturing and exporting pharmaceutical products. One of the reasons for its growth was large imports from China. Bulk drugs or the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) are the raw materials for making formulations and medicines. These are used to manufacture at least 12 essential drugs such as paracetamol, ranitidine, ciprofloxian, met formin, acetylsalicylic acid, ofloxacin, metronidozole, ampicillin and ascorbic acid. India imports 80 percent of API from China, according to Dr Saktivel Sevaraj, Director, Health Economics. Chinese APIs are 20 – 30 percent cheaper than India.

While political relations have turned frosty, China is also facing two major headwinds. There is the ongoing trade war with the USA – the biggest destination for China’s exports and the exodus of foreign investors from China, after the outbreak of COVID-19.

FDI in China declined by 6.2 percent during the first five months of 2020. Japan is the first nation to inspire its investors to shift their investment from China to other low-cost countries like Vietnam, other ASEAN nations and India. USA has also discouraged American investors from investing in China and export to USA.

In order to reduce import dependence on China, India can either find alternatives to China or develop domestic supply chains by increasing production, or both in conjunction.

Vietnam is fast emerging as an alternative to China. According to US Census Bureau, imports from Vietnam into USA jumped by 33 percent in the first half of 2019. Low labor cost is one of the attractions for investment in Vietnam. It is almost 50 percent lower than China. Vietnam’s biggest specializations are in production of electronics, textiles, and furniture. Eventually, electrical machinery, including electronics, are the biggest items of Vietnam’s exports.

Finding alternative sources for supply chain however will not be enough to tide over overdependence on imports. Eventually domestic production and import substitution will matter more. Import substitution should be an important lever to self-reliance.

Import substitution will encourage foreign investors to produce in the consuming country and may give a new lease of life to the domestic investors and enable them to join hands with foreign investors for technology transfer and avoid capital investment risks.

Another way out is to encourage Indian investors to invest abroad. Alongside the development of domestic industry, investment abroad will supplement the supply chain production. In other words, integrating the countries with domestic production should pitch for a stable supply chain for production.

A lesson can be learnt from Asian car policy of Toyota Motor Company. With a bid to cut costs, the Japanese company invested in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India to build up a new supply chain. It set up production facilities for diesel engine, press parts, axle in Thailand, manual transmission (middle type) in Philippines, engine computer in Malaysia, gasoline engine and door lock in Indonesia and manual transmission (large type) in India.

India’s dependence on imports should adhere to the new dynamism. India- Vietnam bonhomie sparked when both became victims of China in South China Sea. The turning point was when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vietnam in September 2016 – the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 15 years, and back to back visit by the newly elected Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang.

NYC educators fight life-threatening reopening plan

On Aug. 3, hundreds of teachers, parents, and community members joined the Movement of Rank and File Educators – the MORE Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers – for the national day of action against unsafe school reopening. The action began at the UFT headquarters and marched to the New York City Department of Education ending with a rally at the Federal Building at Foley Square, to demand no school re-opening until there is no community transmission of the COVID-19.

As the virus disproportionately ravages Black and Brown communities, and safety standards crumble, speakers and community members connected the fight over reopening to the struggle to defund the police, fully fund schools, and make sure Black and Brown and low-income students, teachers and families have the resources needed to access remote learning safely.

Gina Lee, a member of MORE and Black Lives Matter at Schools, explained that the city’s powers-that-be “play into the values and mindsets of ‘all lives matter’ rhetoric when they cut nearly $1 billion dollars from education, and choose to ignore the calls to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share, they spend five hundred times more on militarizing our schools and communities than they do for education.”

Teachers have been in this fight since before the pandemic, she said. Last year, the DOE imposed a hiring freeze on custodians, announced lay-offs for 20,000 city workers, and failed to make any real plan to hire nurses and healthcare workers to properly staff the schools or for safe busing and transportation, particularly for students with special needs.

Kaliris Yimar Salas-Ramirez, President of Community Education Council 4 and a parent leader, added that there are classrooms without windows, and even more without HVAC systems and proper ventilation, yet teachers are expected to bear the burden of making those same spaces “safe” with social distancing, without any additional resources.

“Instead of focusing on making remote learning a more robust experience that centers equity in our communities, we’ve engaged in an exercise of futility.” She continued: “The PTAs on the Upper East Side that collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for their schools, they’re going to be fine. But what about the schools in East Harlem that get no money at all? An unsafe reopening would perpetuate the inequities that already exist in our education system, the most segregated in the country.”

Teachers, parents, and healthcare workers spoke one after the other amplifying the message that schools and education are meant to nurture children, not kill them. As long as there is community transmission of the virus, re-opening the schools and workplaces, sending teachers and parents back into danger, means mass death. But activists also asked: Who benefits from “the economy” that politicians demand to reopen? The crowd recognized that the economy benefits the billionaire ruling class as it continues getting richer while Black and Brown students and families die.

Among the demands raised by rally participants are:

No return to in-person school until it’s safe: We need no new cases for 14 days, all health and safety measures implemented including consistent rapid testing, contact tracing, safe public transit, and community input!

Substantial and continuous financial relief from the city, state, and federal government for working parents, guardians, and all workers — inclusive of undocumented immigrants.

That our public schools are adequately funded according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity formula and given additional COVID aid so that every school has the staff and resources it needs to support students during learning in and outside of school buildings.

That New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tax the millionaires and billionaires of New York State to provide economic relief and support for working families and to fully fund our schools and communities.

Nothing about us without us: That parents, students, and school staff are fully empowered and included in planning for eventual school reopening and equitable remote learning.

The rally attendees marched through Wall St. to the DOE headquarters chanting: “Black teachers matter! Black students matter!” and “Carranza, what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” aimed at Richard Carranza, current New York City Schools Chancellor.  Protesters carried a guillotine with the DOE letters painted on the top, and “US” at the bottom, being sacrificed for the profits of the rich by this department.

They carried body bags, and coffins with flowers to symbolize the humiliating way that the city has treated the bodies of those who died from COVID, shoving them in refrigerated trucks. The names and pictures of teachers lost to COVID, such as Kimarlee Nguyen, were held up.

At the closing rally, Karla Reyes, a NYC special education teacher and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, reminded the crowd that if the schools had closed just one week earlier in March, tens of thousands of people would have never been infected in the first place. The struggle now is to prevent the city government from sacrificing so many thousands of lives again. In the largest school system in the country, Reyes emphasized that “teachers are playing a key role in exposing the real enemy and the shortcomings of this government.”

“Teachers,” Reyes affirmed, “are making an active choice to fight for what we all deserve, which is the right to live.” Educators and their many allies will continue to fight to make sure New York City does not sacrifice any lives for profit.

On International Day, UN chief spotlights indigenous peoples’ resilience in face of COVID-19 pandemic

Inclusion and participation of the world’s 476 million indigenous peoples must be ensured in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and on the road ahead towards recovery, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has underscored.

Marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Guterres drew attention to the “devastating” impact of the pandemic on indigenous peoples around the world.

“Throughout history, indigenous peoples have been decimated by diseases brought from elsewhere, to which they had no immunity,” said the Secretary-General.

While indigenous peoples already faced deep-rooted inequalities, stigmatization and discrimination prior to the current pandemic, inadequate access to healthcare, clean water and sanitation increases their vulnerability, he added.

That said, indigenous peoples’ traditional practices and knowledge also offer solutions that can be replicated elsewhere.

For instance, the Karen people of Thailand revived their ancient ritual of “Kroh Yee” – or village closure – to fight the pandemic. Other Asian countries and in Latin America applied similar strategies, with communities closing off entry to their areas.

In his message the UN chief also highlighted the extraordinary resilience shown by indigenous peoples in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Many have lost their jobs in traditional occupations, the informal sector or subsistence economies. Indigenous women – often the main providers of food and nutritious for their families – have been particularly impacted with closure of markets for handicrafts, produce and other goods, as have indigenous children, who have lost out on education due to lack of access to virtual learning opportunities.

In addition, indigenous people have been victims of threats and violence, and many have lost their lives, amid increasing encroachment on indigenous peoples’ territories by illegal miners and loggers due to lapsed enforcement of environmental protections during the crisis.

“In the face of such threats, indigenous peoples have demonstrated extraordinary resilience,” declared Mr. Guterres in the message, urging countries to marshal the resources to respond to their needs, honor their contributions and respect their inalienable rights.

Indigenous peoples must be consulted in all efforts to build back stronger and recover better, he added, noting that from the outset of the global pandemic, UN agencies have been working to uphold indigenous peoples’ rights.

“The UN system remains committed to realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to bolstering their resilience,” he concluded.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is commemorated annually on 9 August in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva in 1982.

This year, the Day’s theme focuses the spotlight on COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience, and several events – mostly virtual – will be organized, bringing together indigenous peoples’ organizations, UN agencies, UN; Member States, civil society, and other key stakeholders.

Vietnamese missions abroad celebrate ASEAN’s founding anniversary

Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in its capacity as ASEAN Chair in New York hosted a virtual ceremony on August 7 to celebrate the 53rd founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (August 8).

The ceremony was attended by President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad Bande, UN Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare, UN Assistant Secretary-General Alexander Zuev and more than 4,000 delegates from UN member states.

Bande applauded ASEAN’s key role in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region and expressed his wish to further enhance close cooperation between ASEAN and the UN in various fields such as peacekeeping, counterterrorism, natural disaster mitigation, climate change, protection of laborer’s, gender equality and children’s rights.

He welcomed ASEAN’s efforts in promoting sustainable development and enhancing links between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Khare also expressed his desire to step up close cooperation between ASEAN and the UN, especially in peacekeeping and building peacekeeping capacity, and thanked ASEAN member nations for sending 5,000 servicepersons, including servicewomen, to UN peacekeeping missions.

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, he said, ASEAN may play an important role in dealing with the current challenges.

He took this occasion to thank Vietnam for helping the UN’s COVID-19 medical evacuation force to bring UN staff infected with the coronavirus to high-quality treatment facilities as well as providing technical training for nations sending servicepersons to peacekeeping missions within the ASEAN-UN cooperation framework.

On behalf of the ASEAN member states, Head of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the UN Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy said ASEAN has been developing strongly since its inception 53 years ago, emerging from a war-torn region to a region of peace, stability, prosperity, and dynamic development.

These achievements are attributed to the efforts of ASEAN people and the close relations with partner and friend nations around the world as well as the UN, he stressed.

The ambassador affirmed the commitment to join hands with other nations to further promote ASEAN-UN relations in the fields of politics, economy, culture, and social affairs.

The Embassies of ASEAN member states in Venezuela held a ceremony in Caracas on August 7 to celebrate the 53rd founding anniversary of the regional grouping, with Venezuelan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania Ruben Molina in attendance.

Speaking on the behalf of the ASEAN Committee in Caracas, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Viet Duyen highlighted achievements made by ASEAN in recent years, saying that with a population of more than 679 million and GDP of over 3 trillion USD, the bloc has become one of the world’s most successful regional organizations and an important partner of many countries around the world.

ASEAN has entered a new era of development with a target of building the ASEAN Community based on three pillars: Political-Security Community, Economic Community, and Socio-Cultural Community, he said.

This year is significant to building the ASEAN Community in the ASEAN Vision 2025 and to strengthening relations with its partners, he said, adding that against the backdrop of regional and global uncertainties, ASEAN has always maintained its unity and consensus on dealing with issues regarding regional peace and security.

He further noted that in the face of rising global trade tensions and protectionism, ASEAN is committed to promoting trading of goods and capital among member states and accelerating negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between ASEAN nations and six partners, including China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.

As ASEAN Chair this year, Vietnam has given priority to closely coordinating with other member states to uphold ASEAN’s centrality in maintaining peace, security and stability in the region, fostering intra-bloc connectivity and integration, seizing opportunities from the fourth Industrial Revolution, raising community awareness and identity, enhancing cooperation with partners for peace and sustainable development, and promoting ASEAN’s role and contributions to the global community.

Duyen vowed to work closely with the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry to strengthen and expand relations between the two sides.

He took the occasion to present the ASEAN’s donation of medical supplies to help the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

For his part, Molina voiced his hope to further reinforce ties between Venezuela and ASEAN as well as Venezuela and the bloc’s member states. He particularly expected that Venezuela will soon sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) with ASEAN.

The Embassy of Vietnam in Switzerland has hosted a ceremony to mark the 53rd founding anniversary of ASEAN and presided over the first meeting of the ASEAN Committee in Bern (ACB) in its capacity as the chair of the committee.

In her opening remarks, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Linh Lan said over the past five decades after it was founded, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has become a widely-recognized regional organization that plays an important role in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia.

The ambassador also recalled milestones in Vietnam’s admission to and membership of ASEAN over the last 25 years, noting in the face of COVID-19 wreaking havoc in the region and the world, Vietnam, as ASEAN Chair 2020, has promptly shifted the focus of the bloc’s cooperation to fighting the pandemic and actively developed a master plan for ASEAN’s post-pandemic recovery.

During the ACB’s meeting, the ambassadors of ASEAN member states discussed the current situation of the disease and its impacts on relations between ASEAN and Switzerland.

They emphasized that the ACB should further promote ASEAN’s image in Switzerland, prioritize holding political and economic activities and promotion of cooperation with Switzerland in healthcare, and foster exchange of policies with local universities and research institutions.

The same day, the Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa hoisted the ASEAN flag to mark the bloc’s 53rd founding anniversary.

Speaking at the ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa Hoang Van Loi said as ASEAN Chair 2020, Vietnam has been trying its best to lead the bloc to seize opportunities and effectively respond to challenges in the “Cohesive and Responsive” spirit.

As South Africa is planning to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) this year, relations between South Africa and ASEAN in general and its member states in particular, including Vietnam, are expected to see new and strong development steps, especially in the fields of economy-trade and coordination at regional and international forums, Loi added.

World faces growing cybersecurity threat, CEO of 360 warns

With the advent of the digital era, cybersecurity professionals have to deal with new threats and risks brought by 5G, big data, internet of things and other emerging technologies.

“Powered by new technologies such as internet of things and 5G, we will be able to digitalize the whole physical world,” Zhou Hongyi, chairman and CEO of 360 Security Group said, on Saturday at the ongoing Internet Security Conference 2020. “While we enjoy the convenience brought by new technologies, there are also challenges ahead, such as the safety concerns.”

He said the future world will be powered by software that is based on running programs. “Once attacked and controlled by hackers, the consequences may be catastrophic,” Zhou, whose security company is known for its anti-virus software, said.

Zhou added there will be hundreds of billions of smart connected devices in various fields, and the world will face unprecedented security challenges. “Particularly, the IoT will break the boundaries between the physical world and the virtual world. Today, viruses, worms and trojan horses that used to only attack in the virtual world can actually cause damage in the real world.”

Globally, the cybersecurity threats are increasing. In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware virus reportedly affected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries and regions including China.

During the 2018 Summer Davos Forum, cybersecurity was defined as the third-largest risk after natural disasters and extreme weather. And the overall cybersecurity capability is definitely one of the key signs of a powerful internet country.

To reduce the potential cybersecurity threats and risks, Zhou suggested use of big data to detect hidden risks, build a threat intelligence system and cultivate more cybersecurity talents.

So far, 360 has already unveiled the 360 Brain of Security, the world’s first brain program in the cybersecurity sector. Based on AI technologies, the plan aims to address the security challenges brought by the intelligent era.

“We would like to cooperate with the whole industry and various government departments to build a national brain of security, to improve the country’s overall response to security challenges in the digital world.” Zhou added.

World must respond quickly to Lebanon disaster

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called for speedy international backing for disaster-struck Lebanon and urged its leaders to prevent “chaos” as he opened an emergency aid conference following Beirut’s deadly port blast.

Macron hosted US President Donald Trump and other world leaders for the virtual conference to drum up aid for Lebanon, as the UN said some US$117 million will be needed over the next three months for the emergency response.

“The objective today is to act quickly and effectively to coordinate our aid on the ground so that it goes as efficiently as possible to the Lebanese people,” Macron told the conference also attended by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, UN aid coordinator Mark Lowcock, representatives of the World Bank, the Red Cross, the IMF, the EU, the Arab League and several Middle Eastern leaders.

Macron was the first world leader to visit Beirut after Tuesday’s devastating explosion which killed at least 158 people, wounded some 6,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless.

Lebanese people enraged by the official negligence blamed for the explosion have taken to the streets in anti-government protests that saw clashes with the army.

Macron said it was “up to the authorities of the country to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut.

“We must all work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails,” he added. “It is the future of Lebanon that is at stake.”

Macron also warned that “those who have an interest in this division and chaos, it is the powers that would somehow want to put the Lebanese people at risk.” He did not name names.

The French president repeated his call for political and economic reforms, which he said, “would allow the international community to act effectively side by side with Lebanon for the reconstruction.”

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Saturday that he would call for early elections.

An “emergency response framework” drafted by the United Nations said US$66.3 million was needed for immediate humanitarian aid, including health services for the injured, emergency shelter for those whose homes were destroyed, food distribution and programs to “prevent further spread of Covid-19.”

Phase II of the plan will require US$50.6 million to rebuild public infrastructure, rehabilitate private homes and prevent disease outbreaks.

It said at least 15 medical facilities, including three major hospitals, sustained structural damage in the blast, and extensive damage to more than 120 schools may interrupt learning for some 55,000 children.

Thousands of people need food and the blast interrupted basic water and sanitation to many neighborhoods.

Speaking in Beirut after his visit on Thursday, Macron said clear and transparent governance will be put in place to ensure all international aid “is directly channeled to the people, to NGOs, to the teams in the field who need it, without any possible opacity or diversion.”

Trump, confirming his attendance at the conference, tweeted Saturday that “everyone wants to help!”.

Israel, with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations, was not on the list of participants, nor Iran which wields huge influence in Lebanon through the Shiite group Hezbollah.

Key Arab states in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, and the UAE were represented, as were Britain, China, Jordan, and Egypt.

Macron, who hosted the conference from his summer residence on the Mediterranean, has said he would return to Lebanon on Sept 1 to check progress.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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