Thursday, June 30, 2022

Sudan Doctors: 8 People Killed in Mass Rallies Against Coup


Sudanese anti-military protesters march in demonstrations in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, on Thursday, June 30, 2022. A Sudanese medical group says multiple people were killed on Thursday in the anti-coup rallies during which security forces fired on protesters denouncing the country’s military rulers and demanding an immediate transfer of power to civilians. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese security forces shot eight people to death during anti-coup protests Thursday, a medical group said as thousands marched to denounce the country’s military rulers and demand an immediate transfer of power to civilians.

The Sudan’s Doctors Committee said in a tweet that six people were fatally shot when police fired live ammunition at protesters in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

Across the Nile River in Khartoum, another person died from a gunshot wound in the head and a child died after being shot in the chest, according the group, which tracks casualties during protests. The identities of the eight were not immediately known.

Also in Khartoum, police fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators trying to reach the Republican Palace, the military’s seat of power in the heart of the city. Videos showing thousands waving Sudanese flags and running under clouds of tear gas were posted on social media.

Other videos show demonstrators raising banners reading “No Negotiations! No Partnership” — reiterating their opposition to any power-sharing deal with the military rulers.

Sudan’s leading pro-democracy groups — Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change and the Resistance Committees — had called for nationwide protest Thursday to reiterate their demands for a reversal of the Oct. 25 military coup. The takeover upended the East African country’s short-lived transition to democracy following the 2019 ouster of longtime autocratic ruler Omar al-Bashir.

Thursday’s protests also fell on the third anniversary of a 2019 mass rally that forced the generals to sit down at the negotiating table with pro-democracy groups and eventually sign a power-sharing agreement that was expected to govern Sudan during a transitional period, until general elections were to be held. The coup last October scuttled this arrangement.

“We’re very, very much gravely concerned by the continued use of excessive force by the government security forces in Sudan as they respond to protests and especially what we’ve seen today,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York. “It is imperative that people be allowed to express themselves freely and peacefully, and security forces in any country should be there to protect people’s right to do that, not to hinder it.”

Meanwhile, the London-based internet advocacy group, NetBlocks, said internet access was disrupted across many mobile and fixed-line internet providers in Sudan on Thursday, including state operator Sudantel, leaving national connectivity at only 17% of its ordinary level. Cuts to internet services have been routinely recorded ahead of most anti-coup protests.

“NetBlocks recommends against the use of network disruptions and social media restrictions to counter protests, given their disproportionate impact to fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” said the London-based group.

The October coup triggered near-weekly street demonstrations, which authorities have met with a deadly crackdown that has so far killed 111 people, including Thursday’s casualties. Among those killed were 18 children, according to the Doctors Committee.

Hundreds of people, including prominent politicians and activists, have been detained, although many have been released recently as part of trust-building measures.

Since the coup, the U.N. political mission in Sudan, the African Union, and the eight-nation east African regional Intergovernmental Authority in Development group have been trying to broker a way out of the political impasse. Earlier this month, the leading pro-democracy group finally agreed to sit with the generals in a meeting that was brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

However, no breakthrough has materialized from these talks.

Sudan Shows Self-restraint on Border Crises with Ethiopia

By Xinhua

Jun 30, 2022 05:33 PM

The Sudanese government has expressed commitment to restraint and non-escalation amid the mounting crises between Sudan and Ethiopia.

The crisis between the two countries was sparked after Sudan accused Ethiopia of killing its soldiers on the joint eastern border, which Ethiopia denied.

"Sudan exercises self-restraint to prevent escalation with Ethiopia," Sudan's foreign ministry said, official SUNA news agency reported.

"Ethiopian forces entered Sudanese territory, kidnapped seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian, executed them, and displayed their bodies in public," SUNA quoted Dafalla al-Haj Ali, Sudan's foreign ministry undersecretary, as saying.

What Ethiopia had done did not comply with international conventions and norms and the nature of the relationship between the two countries, he added.

Meanwhile, local Sudanese media reported that Sudanese acting Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq said the UN Security Council has adopted Sudan's complaint against Ethiopia submitted on Tuesday as an official document.

The Ethiopian army on Tuesday reportedly denied the accusations, saying it was ready to work with its Sudanese counterpart to investigate the incident.

Since September 2020, the Sudan-Ethiopia border has been witnessing rising tensions and deadly skirmishes between the two sides.

Sudan has accused the Ethiopian military of backing the farmers' seizure of Sudanese lands in the disputed Fashaga district on the border of the two neighbors.


Sudanese Leader Stresses Keenness on Normal, Balanced Ties with Ethiopia

By Xinhua

Jun 29, 2022 05:32 PM

Chairman of Sudan's Transitional Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Tuesday reiterated Sudan's keenness on normal and balanced ties with Ethiopia.

Al-Burhan made the remarks when he met here with visiting European Union's Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Annette Weber, the sovereign council said in a statement.

Al-Burhan and Weber reviewed the tensions in the Fashaga area on the Sudan-Ethiopia border and the Ethiopian army's execution of seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen, said the statement.

"Al-Burhan stressed Sudan's keenness on normal and balanced relations with neighboring Ethiopia," it said.

On Sunday, the Sudanese Armed Forces said the Ethiopian army "executed" seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were held captive, which Ethiopia denied.

On Monday, Sudan decided to file a formal complaint to the UN Security Council against Ethiopia, while the Sudanese foreign ministry decided to immediately recall its ambassador to Ethiopia for consultations and to summon the Ethiopian ambassador in Khartoum to inform him of Sudan's condemnation.

Since September 2020, the Sudan-Ethiopia border has been witnessing rising tensions and deadly skirmishes between the two sides.

Sudan has accused the Ethiopian military of backing the farmers' seizure of Sudanese lands at the disputed Fashaga district on its border with Ethiopia.


‘Unity of NATO’ a Disguise of its Existential Crisis

By Global Times

Jun 30, 2022 01:12 AM

Cartoon: Vitaly Podvitski

Not surprisingly, Turkey on Tuesday lifted its veto of Finland and Sweden's bid to join NATO after the three countries signed an agreement. In his speech after arriving in Madrid for the NATO Summit, US President Joe Biden stressed the unity of the organization, saying NATO was "as galvanized as I believe it's ever been."

The accession of these two neutral countries to NATO will increase the organization's membership to 32 countries. NATO was never meant to be a so-called regional security organization, but rather an aggressive military bloc and political instrument set up in Europe to help maintain US global hegemony. 

Despite what the US would like, Europe essentially believes that NATO should be a defensive group of its own security. In American hands, NATO is the spear; in European eyes, it should serve as the shield. As NATO continues to expand, the gradually exposed differences in the interests of NATO members will result in more disputes and conflicts within the alliance. 

And the expansion raises the problem of a security dilemma, in which the uneasiness of NATO's neighbor countries increases, in turn leading the entire region and even the world into an arms race and seriously changing the geopolitical landscape. Mistrust and the risk of war are on the rise, making the region and the world less secure. Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times that NATO is just an outdated Cold War organization that has long lost its so-called unity or cohesion. 

The U-turn in Turkey's attitude was due to a deal that was more satisfactory to all parties. Turkey wants to receive assurances that the Nordic countries were willing to address support for the Kurdish groups Turkey designates as terrorist organizations, in particular the Kurdistan Workers' Party. And the memorandum says Finland and Sweden "extend their full support to Turkey against threats to its national security," making sure they will not provide support to those groups. The Nordic countries also affirmed there were no national arms embargoes relating to Turkey, and the three countries would work together on extradition requests. 

According to Song, this is a huge victory for Turkey, which has been demanding major power status since Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan came to power. And it can even be said that Turkey is the only winner in Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO. "Turkey confirms that it has a voice in NATO, while the two Nordic countries are more insecure after joining the alliance," Song noted. 

Erdogan achieved his political goals with this move, and the fact that NATO is internally scattered has come to the fore. The divisions within NATO grow as more countries are dragged in. The US hopes to bridge the divisions within NATO, but it's difficult to cater to all needs. 

On the issue of the Russia-Ukraine conflict alone, there are different demands among Western countries, as Germany, France and Italy want to stop the war as soon as possible, and the US is calling on all NATO countries to make a common cause against Russia. Wang Shuo, a professor at the School of International Relations of Beijing Foreign Studies University, believes that in this situation, many European countries are questioning whether NATO can solve the crisis in Ukraine. If it cannot work, what's the point of NATO's existence? At the moment when Europeans believe that NATO needs to play a role, it proved itself disunited and incompetent, another sign of NATO's existential crisis. 

Russia will probably have to swallow the bitter fruit - NATO's further expansion. But the two Nordic countries' joining NATO is a provocation and humiliation to Russia, and new enmity will be deeply sowed. Europe will not become safer with this significant expansion. 

Wang pointed out that joining NATO is like buying medical insurance for serious illnesses, which is a psychological comfort for many European countries: the insurance may be useful, but everyone wants to avoid it coming in handy. Joining NATO is not a no-cost benefit; countries may be "extorted" by NATO, the "insurance company," as the latter brings far more trouble than benefits.

Whether it is the hype of the "Russia threat" or the emphasis of the agreement between Turkey and the two Nordic countries, it has nothing to do with the so-called "unity" of NATO, but only a life-saving straw to prolong NATO's life. 

Sharp Contrast: China Brings Hope with Assistance vs US Taking Lives in Chaotic Withdrawal from Afghanistan

By Xu Keyue

Jun 30, 2022 07:49 PM

American military aircraft in Afghanistan vs Chinese military aircraft in Afghanistan Graphic:GT

 A Chinese military aircraft recently arrived at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan to deliver disaster relief supplies to the local people, reminding many netizens of the stark contrast from last August when a US military aircraft forcibly took off from the airport in a chaotic withdrawal from the country, killing at least seven people.

Responding to this contrast, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, at a regular press briefing on Thursday cited a comment by a netizen saying there were two planes at the same Kabul airport, one taking lives, one carrying hope.

A powerful earthquake jolted parts of Afghanistan including the capital city Kabul early Wednesday, killing at least 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 in eastern Afghanistan, BBC reported on June 22.

After the earthquake, China did its best to meet the urgent needs of the Afghan people, immediately deciding to provide 50 million yuan ($7.47 million) of emergency humanitarian assistance to the disaster-hit areas in the country, the largest and fastest aid provided to Afghanistan, according to Zhao.

As of June 29, three batches of relief materials have arrived in Afghanistan, Zhao said, noting that China is coordinating closely with the Afghan interim government to ensure that relief materials are delivered to the victims as soon as possible to help see the Afghan people through their difficulties.

Zhao's remarks came after two PLA Air Force Y-20 cargo planes arrived at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, carrying with them disaster relief supplies provided by China including tents, towel blankets, folding beds and other items urgently needed by the Afghan people after a deadly earthquake, China Central Television reported on Tuesday.

In contrast, the US is the initiator of the humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and is directly responsible for the years of war and poverty suffered by the Afghan people, Zhao pointed out.

Afghanistan had been invaded by the US 20 years ago, and during the 20 years more than 30,000 civilians were killed and 11 million have become refugees, according to Zhao.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson revealed that even during the occupation of Afghanistan, the US tacitly supported and participated in the production and trade of drugs in the country, which resulted in poppy planting areas and opium production in Afghanistan far exceeding pre-invasion levels, leading to an inundation of drugs into Afghanistan and seriously harming the health of the people.

"Even more outrageously, the US has imposed a freeze on the Afghan people's $7 billion lifesaving funds without their permission, which has made the suffering of the Afghan people even worse," Zhao said, slamming this evil act by the US as "intolerable."

In the face of natural and man-made disasters, Zhao urged the US to immediately "release its hands from the throat" of the Afghan people, return Afghanistan's national property to the country as soon as possible, take concrete actions to repair the damage done to the Afghan people and ease the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The sharp contrast between China's and the US' moves in Kabul airport again demonstrated that China is the true advocate and practitioner of peace and friendship in the Asia-Pacific and the international community while the so-called "China threat" hyped by the US and some other Western countries and regions is unfounded, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

As a friend of Afghanistan, China has never stood idly by in the face of disasters in Afghanistan and has brought hope to the country and the local people, Qian said. However, during the past 20 years, the US has launched a war that brought destruction and despair to Afghanistan and its people, Qian said.

After US President Joe Biden in February signed an executive order to unfreeze $7 billion in Afghan funds but use it for the US' needs, the international community was outraged, media reported. In response, China and many other countries and regions in the international community have urged the US to return the life-saving money to Afghanistan unconditionally.

FM Denounces NATO as Having Blood of World's People on its Hands After it Smears China as ‘Systemic Challenge’ in New ‘Strategic Concept’

By Wang Qi

Jul 01, 2022 12:48 AM

NATO alliance shows cracks under a weakening US leadership. Illustration: Vitaly Podvitski

China on Thursday expressed strong opposition and denounced NATO, after the US-led military alliance vilified China's development as "systemic challenges" in its newly released "strategic concept" for the first time, which means Beijing was targeted as one of NATO's "strategic priorities for the next decade." 

Despite Russia being defined as the "most significant and direct threat" by NATO during the two-day summit in Madrid, China, which is viewed as Russia's "ally" by the West, was also among the targets of NATO's smear campaign. 

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a Thursday press briefing that NATO's so-called new strategic concept document disregards facts, smears China's foreign policy, makes irresponsible remarks on China's normal military development and national defense policy, incites confrontation and smacks heavily of Cold War mentality and ideological bias.

China has always been a force for world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order, Zhao said. "China has never invaded any country, never launched proxy wars, nor joined or formed any military blocs."

NATO, by contrast, poses systemic challenge to world peace and stability, Zhao said, noting that NATO claims to be a regional defensive organization, but in fact   is waging wars in various countries in the world and killing innocent civilians. 

"NATO has the blood of their people on its hands," Zhao said. "Chinese people will never forget that 23 years ago when the US-led NATO committed the crime of bombing the Chinese Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and now NATO is extending its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific region in an attempt to export the Cold War mentality and replicate the bloc confrontation in Asia."

For the first time in history, leaders of Japan and South Korea joined the NATO Summit and expressed interest in underpinning a security alliance with the US' Western allies. A 23-minute three-way summit between US, Japan, and South Korea was also held. Japanese media Kyodo News said the three leaders agreed to boost security cooperation over the Korean Peninsula issue. 

South Korean and Japanese leaders also participated in a four-way summit with Australian and New Zealand leaders on Wednesday for the first time. 

In the "strategic concept" document, China mainly appears in paragraphs 13 and 14. The rhetoric in paragraph 13 stresses "China threats" in terms of military build-up, cyber operations, technologies and supply chain. While in paragraph 14, NATO said the bloc "remains open to constructive engagement" with China.   

"Paragraph 13 which stressed competition and confrontation with China is more about US ideas, while  paragraph 14 reflects the will of some of NATO's European members," a Beijing-based expert told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.

"There is a complex situation of confrontation and engagement with China in the current process of NATO transformation. And if NATO's European members do not take the initiative to exert influence over the US, they will become a tool of American manipulation against China," the expert said. 

Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies and research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, further explained that for all its bluster and hostility toward Russia and China, NATO's "strategic concept" does not even spell out what Europe will do if the Ukraine crisis spills over.

NATO's vilification of China serves as a backdrop to the success of the Chinese system and their anxiety about own system's "institutional failures," Lü said. 

Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, said that NATO's warning against China in its new "strategic concept" feels like "a big-sized psychopath shouting your name."

"The document seems to assume that the world belongs to NATO.  But NATO's situation is like what the UK Prime Minister suggested to other leaders at the G7 meeting - be shirtless and "show our pecs." But he seems to have no well-shaped pecs to flex, Shen said. 

Even if the Taiwan question was not mentioned directly in the new "strategic concept," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after presenting the strategic document that China is "bullying its neighbors, threatening Taiwan," AP reported. 

Experts warned that given the increasing importance of the "Taiwan card" in the US Indo-Pacific strategy, it's likely that Washington would wield influence over NATO to manipulate the Taiwan question and even create a crisis, and concentrate the resources of NATO's European members in the Asia-Pacific region.

Any attempt to undermine peace, stability, solidarity, and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region will be opposed by the Chinese people and people of other Asia-Pacific countries, and will be doomed to fail, Zhao Lijian said. 

NATO should immediately stop making groundless accusations and provocative remarks against China, abandon the outdated concept of zero-sum game, renounce its blind faith in military might and misguided practice of seeking absolute security, and abandon dangerous acts that stir up Europe and the Asia-Pacific, Zhao said. 

China to Strengthen Coordination with Pakistan on Multilateral Affairs and Safeguard Common Interests of Developing Countries: Top Chinese Diplomat

By Liu Caiyu

Jun 30, 2022 02:58 PM 

Top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad on Wednesday. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China always puts China-Pakistan relations a priority in neighboring diplomacy, and is willing to strengthen coordination with Pakistan on multilateral affairs and safeguard the common interests of developing countries, said top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad on Wednesday. 

China views Pakistan as an iron-clad friend and reliable brother and China-Pakistan mutual trust and friendship remain solid as a rock no matter how the international landscape changes, said Yang, who is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee. 

China regards the bilateral relations as a priority in neighboring diplomacy, and is willing to work with Pakistan to further strengthen communication and strategy coordination to maintain the traditional friendship, and enhance strategic mutual trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation in construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), join hands to build closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future, Yang noted. 

Yang said China appreciates Pakistan's support for the Global Security Initiative and Global Development Initiative and stands ready to work with Pakistan to implement the initiatives so as to make Asia and the world more peaceful, secure and prosperous. 

Shehbaz said developing relations with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy. Pakistan firmly pursues the One-China principle and supports China in safeguarding its core interests and major concerns. 

Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that Yang's visit reaffirms all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries after Shehbaz came into office. 

It proves that China-Pakistan ties won't change along with government reshuffles and strong ties between the two nations bring regional stability and peace in the turbulent era, Hu said. 

The Pakistani government and people thank China for its long-term selfless assistance and are ready to learn from China's successful experience in economic development and the fight against COVID-19, Shehbaz said, adding that China has bright prospects for development, and no force can hold back China's development and growth. 

Pakistan is ready to work with China to deepen practical cooperation in various fields, speed up the construction of the CPEC and push the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to a new height, Shehbaz said.

The communication between the two countries' leaders further deepens bilateral cooperation on CPEC, a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, Hu noted.

In their meeting, Yang also conveyed greetings from Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to Shehbaz. Shehbaz also asked Yang to deliver his greetings to the Chinese leaders. 

Recalling the recent visit of tri-services delegation to China led by the Chief of Army Staff, the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction at the expanding defense and security cooperation between Pakistan and China, which is contributing to regional peace and stability, according to a statement by the Pakistan Embassy in Beijing to the Global Times.

Besides, both Yang and Shehbaz agreed to further strengthen cooperation in safeguarding regional security and counterterrorism. 

In their meeting, Shehbaz reiterated his strong condemnation of the Karachi terrorist attack and underscored Pakistan's determination to bring the perpetrators to justice. He reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to enhanced measures for safety, security and protection of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in the country. 

In his recent visit to Gwadar, Shehba quoted by Aaj TV said that "We should not allow people to target workers of our friendly countries … Value their security more than yours. If we do not give security to our investors, they will leave the country." 

Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque also told the Global Times in a recent interview said that Pakistan is working together with China and upgrading the security and working together on a new, enhanced security plan together.

Haque noted that Pakistan and China are aware of these threats coming from external forces that attempt to undermine China-Pakistan friendship. "We are working together to destroy these forces who are against our future."

The two also exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan including the humanitarian and economic crises. The need for international cooperation and unfreezing of assets to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and ease the misery of the Afghan people was underscored, the statement from the embassy reads. 

They also signed a slew of MOUs and protocols including works of G2G joint technical working group for realignment of Karakoram Highway from Thakot to Raikot in Pakistan. 

The Economist Rephrases Controversial Article: Clarifies it Never Intended to Cause Offense amid Accusations of Racism

By GT staff reporters

Jun 30, 2022 04:02 PM

The Economist magazine has rephrased the controversial comparison featured in one of their articles that compares pigs to Chinese people and clarified that it was not intended to cause offense, which, however, failed to convince Chinese netizens outraged by such racist and dehumanizing language.

On Thursday, in an email reply to the Global Times, the magazine writes: "As our intention was never to cause offence, we have rephrased the article to make our meaning absolutely clear."

"In a Graphic setting out how most of the world's grain is fed to animals or used to make biofuel, we observed that 431m tonnes of grain is eaten by pigs and that, if it were a stand-alone country, this would rank at the very top of the league tables for grain consumption. By way of comparison, we pointed out that this is 45% more than the real-life country that consumes the most rice and wheat, which is China," The Economist explained in the email. 

The Economist said it had rephrased the article and attached a note at the bottom after being "contacted by Chinese readers, who object to the comparison."

The now-deleted content was part of an article titled "Most of the world's grain is not eaten by humans" published on June 23. 

"In 2019 pigs ate 432m tonnes of grain, 45% more than the people of China did," it read.

On Thursday, the Global Times found that the comparison has been rephrased to "According to our calculations, if the world's pig population were a stand-alone country, it would rank at the very top of grain-consumption league tables, chomping through as much grain as 2bn people."

In a clarification note attached at the bottom of the article on Wednesday, The Economist said "An earlier version of this article compared the grain-consumption rate of pigs with that of the people of China. We selected China solely because it is the world's leading consumer of both wheat and rice."

However, the rephrase and clarification seemingly still failed to convince the outraged Chinese netizens, as The Economist did not make any apology for the mistake.

"Spitting in our face and then 'rephrasing things,' what's the point??" said a user of China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

The previous comparison triggered backlash among Chinese readers as well as overseas netizens after The Economist used it in a Tweet to promote the article on Tuesday. 

Although the article mainly focuses on analyzing data of food consumption per country, area, and year, the inappropriate comparison between pigs and the Chinese people was widely criticized for being "awful," "racist" and "dehumanizing."

The Tweet has also been deleted as of Wednesday.

President Xi's Visit to Hong Kong Underscores Trust, Confidence

Central govt demonstrates strong will of upholding 'one country, two systems' to safeguard Hong Kong

By Chen Qingqing and Leng Shumei

Jun 30, 2022 03:24 PM

Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan wave to the welcoming crowd upon their arrival in Hong Kong, on June 30, 2022. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, arrived in Hong Kong by train. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived at West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong by train on Thursday afternoon, launching his visit to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the city's return to the motherland. 

This is also Xi's first publicly announced visit outside the Chinese mainland since the COVID-19 epidemic started in early 2020. This visit will be of great significance as observers expect that Xi will point out in his speech the direction of the city's future development, especially after the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong and electoral system reform helped restore stability in the city.  

Observers in Hong Kong and the mainland believed that Xi's visit to Hong Kong amid an increasingly complex geopolitical environment sends a clear message to Hong Kong and to the world that the "one country, two systems" principle is beneficial to the country and to the city, and will be unswervingly upheld for the long term despite smears and doubts by the West. 

It also serves as an important warning to some external hostile forces as well as extremist secessionists in the city that the country will never tolerate those who sabotage Hong Kong's prosperity or the country's sovereignty, security and development interests.

Carrie Lam, the outgoing chief executive of the HKSAR, and Luo Huining, director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, welcomed Xi and the first lady Peng Liyuan on the station platform. They were surrounded by local residents and students waving Chinese national flags, flowers and banners with the words "Warmly welcome President Xi to attend the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the city's return to the motherland and the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of the HKSAR."

Inside the station, a lion dance was held and the atmosphere of excitement was palpable. 

Xi extended congratulations and best wishes to Hong Kong compatriots as he gave a short speech inside the station. He said he has always been concerned about Hong Kong and his heart is always with Hong Kong compatriots. 

"It has been five years since my last visit to Hong Kong," Xi said upon arrival at the West Kowloon high-speed rail station.

Over the past five years, I have been all along concerned about and caring for Hong Kong, and my heart is always with Hong Kong compatriots, Xi said.

'A brighter future will beckon'

In the recent period, Hong Kong has withstood many severe tests and overcome many risks and challenges. After many storms and hardships, Hong Kong has been reborn and shown vigorous vitality, Xi said, noting that the reality proves that the "one country, two systems" principle has strong vitality that will ensure the long-term prosperity of the city and benefits of Hong Kong compatriots. 

"A brighter future will beckon, if we forge ahead with perseverance," said Xi, noting that as long as the principle is upheld unswervingly, Hong Kong will surely have an even brighter future and make new, greater contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. 

"It's expected that with the care of Xi and the central government, the practice of 'one country, two systems' will be stable and sustainable in Hong Kong, and the city's status and importance in the country will be more prominent with its prosperity and stability much guaranteed," Lau Siu-kai, the vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Accompanied by Lam, Xi met with some 160 people from various sectors of Hong Kong and representatives of the disciplined services at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday afternoon. The President also visited the Hong Kong Science Park to inspect Hong Kong's innovation and technology development while his wife Peng Liyuan visited the Xiqu Centre of the West Kowloon Cultural District. 

Chan Yung, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who was also among the 160 representatives, told the Global Times that Xi's visit greatly boosts the confidence of Hong Kong people, especially after the city has been battling the epidemic for two years. "Also, we face a growingly complex geopolitical environment as the Ukraine crisis goes on and the pandemic has not ended," Chan said. 

China adjusted its quarantine policy for close contacts and international arrivals ahead of Xi's visit. Chan, who also served as a deputy director for Chief Executive-elect John Lee's campaign office, said he believed it's a positive signal for Hong Kong's economic recovery, as many are expecting the resumption of mainland-Hong Kong exchanges. 

Xi's choice to go to Hong Kong by high-speed rail demonstrates the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which shows a major achievement of the practice of "one country, two systems" in the area, Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan affairs at Nankai University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Being a key part of China's high-speed rail network, the entire line of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link entered into service on September 23, 2022. The line is 141 kilometers long, of which 115 km is on the mainland and 26 km is in the Hong Kong SAR.

While Hong Kong is still in the aftermath of the fifth wave of its COVID-19 epidemic and Macao is witnessing sporadic cases, and the current international situation is bringing about more uncertain factors, Xi's visit to the SAR shows his and the central government's trust in and concerns about Hong Kong, Li noted.

Significant political message

No matter how hard the Western media and politicians twisted the "one country, two systems" and slandered the national security law for Hong Kong and electoral reform by claiming that the city has completely changed and there's no freedom anymore, the city has been moving on, ignoring those trivial voices and embracing a brighter future as the central government also points out a clear direction for it. 

During a meeting with Lam, Xi said the central government acknowledged her work over the past five years, as she made significant contributions to leading the HKSAR government to govern according to the law, uniting all sectors in society to stop violence, fighting COVID-19 outbreaks and integrating Hong Kong into national development while safeguarding sovereignty, security, development interests and the city's stability as well as prosperity. 

The implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong and the electoral reform crushed plots of a "color revolution", bringing order back to the city and giving an opportunity for the city to select qualified leaders and competent patriots.  

While the ups and downs of the past few years have led to doubts among some people about whether China will continue upholding the "one country, two systems" principle, Xi's visit set the fundamental tone on this issue, serving as a political vow, Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"Also, it sent out a clear warning to those extremists in Hong Kong and the external forces that attempt to interfere in Hong Kong affairs: any force sabotaging stability, prosperity, security and development interests would meet a resolute crackdown by the central government," he said. 

Make US’ ‘Long Arm’ Toward China Feel the Pain: Global Times Editorial

By Global Times

Jun 30, 2022 12:53 AM

Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden's administration placed five Chinese companies on a trade blacklist for "allegedly supporting Russia's military and defense industrial base." On the same day, 20 other entities which have connections with China were also added to the blacklist by the US for allegedly helping Iran or supporting military application. 

This is the first time the US has taken action against Chinese entities over Russia-related businesses since the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out in February. US media claimed that the move was to demonstrate US' resolve and strength to implement sanctions against Russia. Who does Washington think it is? The UN Security Council? Or the judge and the police of the world? 

The US does not and should not have the privilege of being superior, and China will never accept any country that claims to be superior. The US' unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction have neither the basis of international law nor the authorization of the UN Security Council. They are completely illegal. Where does the US gain the confidence to set up a moral plaque for illegal actions? Once taking off the confusing disguise, the hegemony can be immediately revealed. After all, quite a few American elites today still regard the world of the 21st century as a "jungle," and view the US as the most ferocious beast, or the only hunter in the jungle.

However, the world is no longer a "jungle society." The rapid development of political civilization, economic globalization and the multilateralism has all made it difficult for the US to maintain its hegemony. More and more countries don't buy such US tricks, and the US' ability has been gradually falling short of its ambition. As a result, it starts to talk more about "rules" - using the "rules" to demand and constrain others, while the US itself is wandering outside the "rules." American hegemony seems to have become "smarter," but the sly nature has not changed. 

China and Russia maintain normal energy, economic and trade cooperation. On what grounds is the US blocking the cooperation and "punishing" China? The Chinese people are opposed to this, and will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of companies of our country. We must let the "long arm" of the US that has constantly reached out to China feel the pain and teach it a lesson.

On the day that Washington announced sanctions against Chinese companies, the G7 summit ended with a joint statement. The statement, which mainly reflects Washington's attitude, interests and style, is full of domineering and arrogant rhetoric and unreasonable content, creating a record in G7 history. It mentioned China 14 times, called on "China to press Russia... to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine" and urged China to give up "expansive maritime claims" in the South China Sea. It also voiced "grave concerns" on China's human rights situation. Obviously, the illegal sanctions against Chinese companies are consistent with this statement. This has reminded us of the Eight-Nation Alliance over 100 years ago, but today's China is not the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) that could be bullied by foreign powers. 

Take Russia-Ukraine conflict as an example. Its essence and root cause are the contradictions between the US and Russia. It's the result of the strategic imbalance caused by the US-led NATO's eastward expansion. However, Washington has arbitrarily concocted the so-called "Chinese responsibility theory." It's complete hooligan logic. People have seen that the sanctions against Russia by the US and its followers have "reached the political limit," but they have failed to generate the expected effect. Instead they have fallen into the traps they dug, with energy shortages and soaring prices. If they don't clean up the economic chaos themselves, what qualifications do they have to put the blame on China, which has been working hard to promote talks and peace?

It's worth noting that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said not long ago that there was little evidence China was supporting Russia militarily or was violating in wholesale fashion sanctions imposed on Moscow. The US government's contradictory statement on this issue has not only reflected the chaotic decision-making of the current Biden administration, but also once again demonstrated the US' bad habit of shifting the blame to others. Washington wants to create a false impression in public opinion that "China can take actions to solve the crisis." On one hand, it tries to shirk its "special responsibility" for the Ukraine crisis, and on the other, creates new common enemies to maintain "unity" within the US-led camp.

The US sanctions on Chinese companies on Tuesday set another extremely bad precedent. According to past examples, once the US sets a precedent, it will continue to expand its scope of attack according to its own needs. The sooner the international community stops the US, the less damage it will cause. Opposing hegemony is not only a matter of international morality, but also a must-do for safeguarding legitimate interests.

Four Chinese Nationals Abducted in Deadly Nigeria Attack


ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Gunmen attacked a local mining site in northcentral Nigeria, killing “many security personnel” and abducting some workers including four Chinese nationals, authorities said on Thursday.

The attackers on Wednesday evening “invaded” the mining site in Shiroro council area of Niger state which is prone to such attacks and opened fire on those present before fleeing with some staffers including the Chinese, according to Emmanuel Umar, the state commissioner for security.

A security team deployed to respond to the attack “engaged the terrorists and there was a yet-to-be-determined number of casualties from both sides,” said Umar.

Locals and authorities in Shiroro told The Associated Press that bodies are still being recovered and the death toll remains unclear because of how remote the area is. The Niger governor’s office said in a different statement that “many security personnel” lost their lives in the attack.

“Security forces mobilized reinforcement for the manhunt of the remaining terrorists … and rescue of the injured victims including security personnel that sustained various degrees of injuries have been taken to a government medical facility in the state for treatment,” the official said of the attack in the state which borders Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Authorities did not disclose the name of the company, the latest affected in attacks targeting foreigners over the years in Nigeria though not as frequent as they used to be. Three Chinese nationals were abducted in a similar attack in Niger state earlier this year while working at a hydroelectric power plant.

In November, Chinese authorities issued a travel advisory warning their citizens and companies against travel to “high-risk” areas in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

Wednesday’s attack is the latest incident in a cycle of violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in the past year. A growing kidnap-for-ransom syndrome has also seen more victims held in captivity for months, including dozens kidnapped in a train attack near the capital city in March.

The state of Nigeria’s security has deteriorated under President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired military general who became president in 2015. Frequent attacks in the northwest and northcentral parts of Nigeria are blamed on armed groups that authorities have said are mostly young semi-nomadic herdsmen from the Fulani tribe in conflict with farming communities over limited access to water and land. Some of the rebellious herdsmen are now working with Islamist extremist rebels in the country’s northeast in targeting remote communities.

Ethiopia, Sudan Can Resolve Problems Without Foreign Intervention: Abiy Ahmed

June 29, 2022

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed (Photo: ENA)


“Although there are problems between Sudan and Ethiopia, the two countries should be determined to work in cooperation to resolve them,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a Twitter message he shared on Tuesday. 

In his message, which he wrote in the Arabic language, he said that there are states or countries interested in the conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia. 

“However, nothing good comes out of conflict,” Abiy Ahmed added. 

He said that Ethiopia’s choice is for peace and trust to prevail between the two countries. And that the “two countries should not resort to conflict due to external influence.” 

Abiy Ahmed did not explicitly say where the external influence is coming from. 

On Tuesday, Egyptian President, Sisi, expressed condolences over the death of seven Sudanese troops along the border with Ethiopia. 

The recent tension between Sudan and Ethiopia came after Sudan claimed that seven captured Sudanese soldiers were executed by the Ethiopian army -something the Ethiopian Defence Force rejected as baseless. 

According to the Ethiopian Defence Force, the exchange of fire was between Sudanese forces and local militia in the Armachiho area.

Sudan invaded a large tract of Ethiopian territory in November 2020 soon after the war between Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Federal government of Ethiopia erupted. 

Sudan Shelled Ethiopian Territories, TPLF Collaborating

June 29, 2022

It came after claims of execution of captured Sudanese soldiers by Ethiopian forces. Four of the victims from the incident along the Ethio-Sudan area are said to be Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters 

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) and Al Burhan (right). (Photo by – / AFP / file)


Sudan shelled areas along the Ethiopian border where there was an incident involving its defence force and local Ethiopian militia.

The BBC Amharic service, on Wednesday, cited Desalegne Ayana, who is head of the West Armachiho district administration, to report that Sudan has been shelling the area with artillery, mortar and other heavy weaponry. 

Residents in the area said the shelling was strong on Monday, and it continued to Tuesday in the afternoon. 

No casualty is reported in connection with the heavy weaponry attack from Sudan. 

Sudan started the military move this week on alleged grounds that seven of its soldiers who were captured by the Ethiopian Defence Force were executed. It further claimed that the execution happened within the “Sudanese border.” 

Egyptian President,  Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,  on Tuesday, expressed condolences to Al Burhan, Sudanese military leader and president of the country, over the loss of the death of the Sudanese soldiers. 

The Ethiopian government on Tuesday said no Ethiopian army was deployed to the area where the incident occurred.  According to the Ethiopian Defence Force, the fighting was between the local militia in Armachiho and the Sudanese forces.  

Desalegne Ayana said Sudanese forces made advances from the Ethiopian territories they forcefully occupied, and they met resistance from the local militia. 

In the exchange of fire seven were killed on the side of Sudan. One militia was killed from the Ethiopian side. 

Although not confirmed by Desalegne Ayana, other local reports say that four of the victims on the side of Sudan were TPLF fighters. 

Sudanese Forces invaded Ethiopia territories in November 2020 when the Ethiopian Defence Force deployed in the area was removed in connection with what the Ethiopian government called a law enforcement operation against the TPLF following the attack on the northern command of the Ethiopian Defence Force. 

The African Union on Wednesday expressed concern over the escalation of a border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan.  The Chairperson,  Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for a “complete refrain from any military action whatever it’s origin and calls for dialogue between the two brotherly countries to solve any dispute.” 

Ethiopia, through the public relations director of the Ethiopian Defence Force, Colonel Getnet Adane, on Tuesday expressed readiness to cooperate with the investigation of the incident. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is advancing a pacifist position in the recent development, and he tends to think that both countries will not benefit from conflict. 

There is an understanding on the part of Ethiopia that the incident was manufactured and that there are other forces behind it. 

In a message, written in Arabic, Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopia and Sudan are capable of resolving the problems they are facing in a spirit of “brotherhood and good neighbourhood.” 

US, EU Call to Not Use Violence Against Sudanese Protesters as Congressmen Call for Sanctions

Demonstrators from the Resistance committee of Almamoura area of Khartoum on Dec 28, 2021 (AFP photo)

June 29, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – U.S. and EU diplomats urged to refrain from violence against the pro-democracy protests planned on Thursday as Congressmen renewed calls for targeted sanctions on the coup leaders.

Pro-democracy forces plan to hold a protest on Thursday to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the popular rallies that forced the military leaders to hand over power to civilians in August 2019, before a coup that toppled the transitional government.

The Resistance Committees organise neighbourhood protests reminding Sudanese to take to the street on June 30, while the security services arrested activists in a bid to abort the successful demonstration.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Molly Phee spoke on Wednesday with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and urged not to use violence to disperse the protests supporting the restoration of a civilian government.

Phee said that she also spoke with the leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and Sudanese Revolutionary Forces.

“Spoilers must not be allowed to use June 30 protests to undermine progress on restoring the transition,” she added.

For their part, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden ambassadors and the EU Delegation in Khartoum released a statement calling upon the Sudanese authorities to “guarantee freedom of expression”.

“Moreover, it is essential for protests to remain peaceful and protected by security forces,” added the European diplomats.

General al-Burhan repeated on Wednesday that power handover to civilians requires a national agreement or elections.

“Power transfer cannot be implemented through chaos, sabotage, or the provocation of others,” he said in remarks before to the Sudanese army special forces.

Also, the authorities plan to close bridges in the three cities of the capital Khartoum to prevent protests from Omdurman and Bahri from reaching the presidential place the headquarters of the military-led Sovereign Council.

Also, a disruption to mobile internet access is expected in Khartoum to prevent coordination between the protesters.

Congress urges targeted sanctions

Four Congressmen in Washington issued a joint statement calling on the Sudanese coup leaders to cede power to civilian government and respect the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful protest.

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, Jim Risch, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Gregory Meeks and Michael McCaul, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee condemned the killing of over 200 civilians in Khartoum and Darfur as result of excessive use of violence against protesters and tribal clashes.

“We urge Sudanese security forces to refrain from using violence to suppress peaceful protests and to respect the rights of the Sudanese people to advocate for change without fear of reprisal,” reads the joint statement.

The congressmen urged the Sudanese military to return to their barracks and called the Biden administration and the international community to take punitive measures against the military leaders.

“We also urge the United States and other members of the international community to curb impunity by imposing individual, targeted sanctions on security force leaders responsible for gross violations of human rights or significant public corruption.”

On Thursday, the security forces killed a protester in Bahri when they fired live ammunition to disperse the neighbourhood protest calling to take part in the national protests of June 30.


Ethiopia’s TPLF Group Denies Executing Sudanese Soldiers

TPLF rebels arrive in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region, Ethiopia on June 29, 2021 (AFP photo)

June 28, 2022 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopia Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has denied allegations that its forces executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian inside the Horn of Africa nation’s territory.

Sudan on Sunday said Ethiopia killed its soldiers and a civilian who were prisoners of war and displayed their bodies to the general public.

But the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs ministry, in a statement, said that the “tragic incident” took place inside the Ethiopian territory following an attack carried out by Sudanese troops with the support of “elements of the terrorist TPLF”.

The TPLF is an ethnic nationalist paramilitary group, banned political party, former ruling party of Ethiopia, and designated as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government.

The group, in a statement issued on Wednesday, dismissed is alleged involvement in masterminding horrific massacres  against civilians  in Gambella  region and elsewhere.

“In reality, members of the [Ethiopian] regime’s security forces have been captured on tape brutally executing civilians in all regions in a broad daylight on many occasions,” partly reads the statement.

It accused the government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of  millions “forcibly” displacing millions of the population from their homes, while hundreds of thousands have been killed and most parts of the country inaccessible by citizens.

The genocidal  war on Tigray,  the most glaring  expression  of the Abiy regime’s destructive obsession with using force to settle political  differences, has unleashed  a cascade  of events that threaten the survival of Ethiopia as we know it,” the group said.

Meanwhile sources said Sudan has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations Security Council over the killings.

In recent years, tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia have run high in because of a spillover of the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and Ethiopia’s construction of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile.

Tens thousands of refugees have fled into eastern Sudan and there have been military skirmishes in an area of contested farmland along Sudan-Ethiopia border.


African Union Calls for Restraint and Dialogue Between Sudan and Ethiopia

June 29, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – The Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Moussa Faki called on Sudan and Ethiopia to refrain from military escalation and to seek a negotiated dispute for the border conflict between the two countries.

Sudanese army on Tuesday attacked Ethiopian troops based in Barkhat area and destroyed their settlement after the killing of seven of its soldiers and the display of their bodies.

Faki on Wednesday released a statement saying he was following with “deep concern” the military escalations between Sudan and Ethiopia.

“The Chairperson appeals for complete refrain from any military action whatever its origin and calls for dialogue between the two brotherly countries to solve any dispute,” further he said.

He further called on the two sides to hold negotiations under “the auspices of the AU Border Program”.

Sudan had already rejected any talks with Ethiopia on the Fashaga area. Khartoum says there are two border demarcation agreements sealed in 1902 and 1975.

Faki’s proposal, which is in line with the Ethiopian demand to engage in new discussions, has very little chance of being accepted by the Sudanese government.

Ethiopia said that the abduction of the Sudanese soldiers and their murder were done by a local militia.


African Union Urges Calm in Ethiopia-Sudan Border Dispute

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The African Union says it is deeply concerned by “the escalating military tension” between Ethiopia and Sudan after seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian were killed in a border dispute.

The statement Wednesday by the chairman of the continent-wide organization urged both countries to cease armed hostilities and hold talks.

The incident happened in the disputed area of al-Fashaqa, which is known to Ethiopians as Alfashga.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry reported the eight victims had been taken into Ethiopia after the soldiers were held captive in an area inside Sudan on June 22. A separate statement from Sudan’s military described the killings as a “cowardly act” and said Khartoum would retaliate.

Ethiopian authorities have denied its government troops were responsible for the killings. A spokesman for the Ethiopian military blamed Sudanese forces for illegally entering Ethiopia and clashing with a local militia.

“Independent investigations into the matter can be launched with the participation of the two sides,” Getinent Adane said.

Residents of Tach Armacho, an Ethiopian town near the Sudan border, told The Associated Press by phone that their area was hit by heavy artillery fired from Sudan until Tuesday afternoon.

Ties between the neighboring countries have deteriorated in recent years amid a long-running border dispute over large swaths of agricultural land in the al-Fashaqa area. Sudan insists the lands are within its borders, according to an agreement that demarcated the boundary between their territories in the early 1900s.

Sporadic clashes have erupted over the past two years in that area, after Sudan said it reclaimed most of its territory and called on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from at least two locations it says are inside Sudan.

In November, Sudan said six of its troops were killed in an attack by Ethiopian military and militia forces in the area. The two nations have held talks, most recently in Khartoum in December 2020, to settle the dispute over al-Fashaqa, but have not made progress.

Ethiopia, in turn, says Sudan took advantage of the deadly conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region to enter Ethiopian territory. It has called for Sudanese troops to return to positions they held before fighting erupted in Ethiopia’s Tigray region in November 2020, pitting Ethiopia’s federal forces against regional fighters.

UN Envoy Warns Congo’s M23 Rebels Are Acting Like an Army


Armed militiamen gather near Rutshuru, 70 kms (45 miles) north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo,Wednesday June 22, 2022. Earlier in the week, East Africa's leaders have responded to the threat of war between Rwanda and Congo by instructing a new regional force to deploy in eastern Congo and ordering an immediate cease-fire. A statement after the meeting in Kenya's capital does not give details on the date of deployment of the force or its composition. (AP Photo/Moses Sawasawa)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Congo warned Wednesday that the M23 rebel group has increasingly acted as a conventional army during escalating military action in the country’s volatile east and could threaten the U.N. peacekeeping force charged with protecting civilians.

Bintou Keita urged the U.N. Security Council to fully back regional efforts to defuse tensions between Congo and Rwanda over M23 rebels and other armed groups that have raised fears of war between the neighboring countries.

She also urged Congo and Rwanda to seize the opportunity to resolve their differences at an upcoming summit hosted by Angola’s President Joao Lourenco in the capital, Luanda.

Eastern Congo, which borders Rwanda, lives with the daily threat from dozens of armed groups that jostle for a piece of the region’s rich mineral wealth, which the world mines for electric cars, laptops and mobile phones. The M23, one of the most notorious rebel groups, surged into action this year and captured a key trading town in eastern Congo this month.

Congo has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23, which Rwanda has long denied. Each country has accused the other of recent incursions.

On June 20, east African leaders meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, responded to the threat of war by instructing a new regional force to deploy in eastern Congo and ordering an immediate cease-fire.

Keita told the Security Council that “during the most recent hostilities, the M23 has conducted itself increasingly as a conventional army rather than an armed group.”

“The M23 possesses firepower and equipment, which is increasingly sophisticated, specifically in terms of long-range fire capacities, mortars and machine guns as well as precision fire against aircraft,” she said. “The threat that this poses both for civilians” and U.N. peacekeepers “who have a mandate to protect them is evident.”

The M23 offensive has had a major impact on civilians, causing the death of 23 people including six children in May and June, and displacing more than 170,000, the U.N. special representative said.

Keita warned that if the M23 continues “its well-coordinated attacks” against the Congolese army and the U.N. peacekeeping force known as MONUSCO “with increasing conventional capabilities, the mission may find itself confronted by a threat that goes beyond its current capabilities.

She also cited threats from other armed groups.

As government forces and the U.N. peacekeeping body shifted troops to focus on the M23, Keita said other armed groups “sought to take advantage of the resulting security vacuum,” increasing attacks in North Kivu and Ituri provinces that killed more than 150 civilians between May 28 and June 17.

Keita later told reporters that deployment of the regional force authorized at the Kenya meeting should complement U.N. peacekeepers: “The most important element and feature for us is coordination, coordination, coordination.”

Fortunately, she said, the regional force will be based in Goma, eastern Congo’s largest city, where U.N. peacekeepers have a coordination center with the Congolese army. She also stressed the importance of the regional force’s commitment to human rights.

Keita said MONUSCO has been informed that the regional force’s headquarters will be deployed by the end of July and its troops should come sometime in August.

U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills told the council the United States insists that the regional force’s deployment be closely coordinated with U.N. peacekeepers and conducted under international law and existing Security Council sanctions resolutions.

Keita said she was encouraged by the commitment of Congo’s government to pursue consultations with armed groups and encourage them to lay down their arms and join a national disarmament program, adding that several groups expressed their willingness.

Julienne Lusenge, president of the Congolese organization Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development, told the council about the impact of the worsening conflict in the east on women, saying mothers are cooking “soil to feed their children instead of boiling corn or soya.”

Lusenge also told the story of a woman whose family mortgaged land to pay $700 to ransom a relative. She was kidnapped when she went to deliver the money, forced to cook the entrails of a man who had been killed that were fed to prisoners, and repeatedly raped. After being released, she was detained by another group as she headed home, held as a sexual slave and forced to cook and eat human flesh. She escaped, returned to her village, and learned the family member she went to ransom had been murdered.

Lusenge urged the Security Council to end “any ambiguity of what is happening in the east,” saying U.N. experts have shown Rwanda’s involvement with the M23. And she urged increased protection for civilians to prevent deaths and sexual violence against women and girls, medical and psychological support for survivors, and strengthened dialogue to end the violence and restore stability to eastern Congo.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Boat Capsizes off Senegal Coastline, 13 Migrants Killed


DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A boat carrying migrants trying to get to Europe capsized off the coast of Senegal, killing at least 13 people, according to local Red Cross officials.

The incident happened near Kafountine in the southern Casamance area Monday night, said Djadja Sambou, an official with the Senegal Red Cross.

About 150 people were on the boat and 91 people have been rescued, leaving more than 40 missing, said rescue workers. The search is continuing for any survivors or to retrieve bodies.

The boat capsized after a fire broke out on board, according to local news reports.

Government officials are investigating what caused the accident happened and who was in charge of the boat and the migration operation, according to officials in the Ziguinchor area.

Senegal sees many people try to migrate to Europe each year by taking small boats on the hazardous sea route along West Africa’s coastline. In August 2021, a boat carrying around 60 migrants capsized in Saint-Louis, in the north of Senegal, causing dozens of passengers to drown.

Sea, Land Tragedies Claim Lives of 50 Migrants in Libya


In this photo released by Doctors Without Borders and taken on June 27, the MSF team rescues 71 people from a rubber boat in distress. A flimsy rubber boat collapsed and sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya's coast, leaving at least 30 people including women and children missing and feared dead, the international charity said Wednesday, June 29, 2022. It marked the latest tragedy at sea involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe. (Anna Pantelia/MSF via AP)

CAIRO (AP) — A flimsy rubber boat collapsed and sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya’s coast, leaving at least 30 people including women and children missing and feared dead, an international charity said Wednesday.

Officials said meanwhile they found the bodies of 20 migrants who they said died of thirst in the desert close to the border with Chad.

The deaths marked the latest tragedies involving migrants who use Libya as a transit point on a perilous journey to Europe.

The vessel sank in the deadly central Mediterranean Sea route, said Doctors Without Borders, also known by its abbreviation MSF for the French name of the group.

A rescue ship operated by MSF reached the boat, and managed to rescue dozens of other migrants including some women, the charity said. A pregnant woman died on board the rescue ship, Geo Barents.

The missing migrants include five women and eight children, MSF said.

“We have seen so many people drowning — men, women and children — and we will never forget the day we had yesterday. We tried to save them but we couldn’t save them all,” a 17-year-old boy from Cameroon said in a testimony posted by MSF on Twitter.

Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. The oil-rich country plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Human traffickers in recent years have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in migrants across the country’s lengthy borders with six nations. The migrants are then packed into ill-equipped rubber boats and set off on risky sea voyages.

Among the rescued migrants from Monday’s boat sinking was a woman who lost her child in the sinking and another one who said she lost two children, the charity said. Three people on board needed emergency care, including a 4-month-old baby and they were evacuated to Malta. The infant was evacuated along with his mother, MSF said.

“The survivors are exhausted; many have ingested large amounts of seawater and multiple people suffered from hypothermia after spending many hours in the water,” said Stephanie Hofstetter, MSF medical team leader on board.

The charity has called for Italian and Maltese authorities to determine a port of safety to allow the disembarkation of survivors.

The loss of life is the latest tragedy at sea involving migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from the North African nation in a desperate attempt to reach European shores.

“This is an example of what happens weekly, if not daily in the Central Mediterranean,” said Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration. “The lack of active monitoring and search and rescue by State actors makes it extremely difficult for us to have the full picture.”

In recent years, the European Union has cooperated with Libyan authorities to prevent the crossings in policies criticized by rights groups.

Rights groups and U.N. agencies have for years documented systematic abuse of migrants in Libya including forced labor, beatings, rapes and torture. The abuse often accompanies efforts to extort money from families before migrants are allowed to leave Libya on traffickers’ boats.

Libyan authorities said Wednesday they found the bodies of 20 migrants who died from thirst in the desert 120 kilometers (around 75 miles) from the border with Chad.

The Ambulance and Emergency Authority in the southeastern city of Kufra said the migrants were on their way from Chad to Libya when their vehicle broke down around 310 kilometers (192 miles) south of the city.

It was not immediately clear when the vehicle broke down.

The agency posted footage online showing rescue workers putting the dead migrants into black body bags before moving them to waiting vehicles.

UN Keeps Peacekeepers in Mali as Russia and China Abstain


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to maintain the U.N. peacekeeping mission in turmoil-wracked Mali, while condemning the West African nation’s military rulers for using mercenaries that commit human rights and humanitarian violations.

The council also expressed “grave concern” at the deteriorating political and security situation in the West African nation.

Russia and China abstained on the French-drafted resolution that extends the mandate of the mission until June 30, 2023, with its current ceiling of 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 international police.

Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted mutinous soldiers to overthrow the president. The power vacuum that resulted ultimately led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led war that ousted the jihadists from power in 2013.

But insurgents remain active and extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have moved from the arid north to more populated central Mali since 2015, stoking animosity and violence between ethnic groups in the region.

Mali’s current ruling junta, which seized power in August 2020, has grown closer to Russia as Moscow has looked to build alliances and gain sway in Africa.

The junta has hired mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group, which has been accused by the European Union and human rights groups of violating human rights and international humanitarian law. The Kremlin denies any connection to the company, but Western analysts call it a tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After Wednesday’s vote, France’s U.N. ambassador, Nicolas De Riviere, said violations of human rights and humanitarian law by terrorist groups as well as Malian armed forces accompanied by members of the Wagner Group “must stop.”

Warning that insecurity in Mali is rising, he said the U.N. mission must be given access to areas where alleged violations are committed to fulfill its mandate and publish quarterly human rights reports as the resolution demands. He said that “those responsible for violations must be brought to justice.”

Amid tensions with Mali’s military rulers, France announced in February that its military forces would be out of the country by this summer. But France proposed continuing to provide aerial support to the U.N. peacekeepers, who need the capabilities of attack helicopters. Mali strongly objected to a continued French air presence, however, and the French offer was dropped from the resolution.

U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills said one reason the United States supported the resolution was “because it strongly condemns the alarming increase in violations and abuses against civilians and again calls for all parties to cease committing or abetting any violation or abuse.” He said that “this includes terrorist armed groups, the Malian armed forces, and the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group.”

The resolution authorizes the U.N. mission to assist Malian authorities in promoting and protecting human rights. The force also is “to monitor, document, conduct fact-finding missions, help investigate and report publicly” to the Security Council on humanitarian and rights violations, including sexual violence and human trafficking, “and to contribute to efforts to prevent such violations and abuses.”

It also authorizes U.N. peacekeepers to carry out other “priority tasks,” including supporting implementation of a June 2015 peace agreement and the current political transition, supporting the restoration of state authority to central Mali and stabilizing the region, protecting civilians and creating safe environments for delivery of humanitarian aid.

Explaining Russia’s abstention, the country’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, pointed to the resolution’s “intrusive wording “on human rights, saying it will not help ensure that Mali can exercise its right to protect its own citizens.

“We are concerned that this might be used by those who want to tarnish the work of the transition government and are not pleased with its independent foreign policy approach,” she said. “We to a degree have become used to the fact that our Western colleagues time and again try and push `fakes’ into the council about the apparently disruptive work of Russia in Mali” when Moscow is helping the country combat terrorism.

Last Friday, Mali’s junta leader signed a new law paving the way for elections and a return to constitutional rule in 2024. The law would allow Col. Assimi Goita, who is president of the transitional government and other military members, to be candidates, according to a copy of the legislation seen by The Associated Press.

The resolution on Mali also gives Security Council backing to continued support for the regional counterterrorism force known as the G5 Sahel, which Mali’s military rulers announced they were pulling out of in May. The G5 Sahel force, which also includes soldiers from the neighboring West African states of Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad, was created in 2014 and actually deployed troops in 2017.

The council said it will continue providing medical evacuations and “access to life support consumables and use of engineering plant equipment.” It asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “to enhance exchange of information between the peacekeepuing force in Mali and the G5 Sahel states through provision of relevant intelligence.”

Colonial Rhetoric on Egypt’s “Historic Share” from Nile Waters is Unacceptable

Ethiopia has been working on the win-win solution regarding using Nile waters. It believes that over 250 million people of the Blue Nile Basin have to benefit fairly from the water. This stance of the country that contributes over 85 percent of the water deserves recognition instead of rejecting it putting unnecessary pressure in place.

The European Union’s (EU) latest statement for the preservation of Egypt’s “historic share” from Nile waters is a one-sided and contravenes the Union’s impartial status regarding the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, EU’s backing of Egypt’s mythical historic share from Nile waters is not something expected from observers and the stance needs reconsideration. This stance of the EU contradicts that it had before.

Some two years back, the European Commission and European Council acknowledged the strategic significance of the Nile River and Ethiopia’s mega hydro-power under construction. This is indicated in a letter Presidents of European Council and European Commission have written to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia. The two presidents have indicated that they encourage discussions and negotiations among the major Nile Riparian countries, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to resolve the issue peacefully. They also expressed their interest to bring aboard international cross boundary water experts that can help the disputing countries reach agreement on the use of the Nile River and GERD.

On top of contradicting its impartial stance thus, EU’s latest comment showcases the union’s departure from its mandate and affinity with Egypt. The move also puts the EU’s integrity and impartiality in the negotiations in a doubt.

Though promoting a win-win benefit from the Nile waters among the riparian countries, Ethiopia strictly defies the colonial rhetoric the so called Egypt’s “historic share” that allocated all the Nile River’s Water to Egypt and Sudan. Although Egypt has persistently argued that the 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan is the legal framework for the allocation of the waters of the Nile, Ethiopia and other upstream riparian states reject that argument.

The 1959 agreement allocated all the Nile River’s waters to Egypt and Sudan, leaving 10 billion cubic meters (b.c.m.) for seepage and evaporation, but afforded no water to Ethiopia or other upstream riparian states—the sources of most of the water that flows into the Nile.

This agreement of colonial era that excluded Ethiopia, the source of the river is totally unacceptable and the European Union should reconsider the issue and correct its comment in the way it reveals its impartiality.

The main reason repeatedly expressed that Ethiopia is constructing GERD is to generate hydro power to give light to its over 60 percent population living in the darkness at the moment and enable them to produce enough food for their family. It has no such evil intention of blocking the river and putting in danger the livelihood of the lower riparian people.

The Ethiopian Herald  25 June 2022