Cambodia needs to tread cautiously in defending China and its debt diplomacy



International Desk, Barta24.com
Cambodia needs to tread cautiously in defending China and its debt diplomacy

Cambodia needs to tread cautiously in defending China and its debt diplomacy

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Cambodian government is always seen standing against the world for defending China and its debt diplomacy, however, China's debt and security arrangements with Cambodia signal a greater plan for South East Asia.

The ever-increasing Chinese debt in the country serves as a major red flag for them. Cambodia's external debt which was more than USD 9 billion in 2021 is expected to cross USD 10 billion by the end of 2022. More alarming is the fact that more than 40 per cent of it is believed to be owed to China; making the country quite vulnerable to Chinese debt policy, reported the Financial Post.

Cambodia's continued reliance on China for various needs has put to the test its efforts for shedding the image of China's proxy. Various observers point towards the strategic pitfalls for the South East Asian country due to outsized Chinese influence on its economy, policy and security matters.

Moreover, China remains Cambodia's largest source of imports accounting for more than 30 per cent of its total imports. Analysts also warn about Beijing creating long term-dependence on it for Cambodia by financing large infrastructure projects in the country, reported Financial Post.They fear that this support may eventually be leveraged by China to further its interests in the overall South East Asian region. This may further aggravate the problems within ASEAN, a regional group struggling to agree on a unified policy on the South China Sea issue.Chinese investments have financed massive infrastructural projects in Cambodia including roads, bridges, sea ports, airports, railways and hydropower dams. The major Cambodian projects currently being implemented through Chinese capital include work on Dara Sakor International Airport and a deep-water port project in Kampo, reported Financial Post.Notably, the under-development port would allow Chinese aircraft carriers and ships to sail; a facility that would aid Chinese naval activities in the South China Sea.

It is widely believed that a secret agreement between Cambodia and China allows the latter to use some facilities for military purposes.Going forward, Cambodia may also witness regular stationing and port calls by Chinese naval vessels, including those of the second Navy (Chinese Coast Guard), and the third Navy (Maritime Militia). This would ensure a crucial base for China in the "nine-dash line," on which China seeks to have greater control, reported Financial Post.Writing for the Jakarta Post, Dr Takashi Hosoda of Charles University, Prague recently warned that establishing a naval base in Cambodia poses a major security risk for other countries in the region.The modernization and expansion of the Ream Naval Base will allow the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) to operate anti-ship and air defence missile-carrying vessels such as Chinese Type 22 (Houbei class) missile boats, Type 056 corvettes, and Type 054A frigates, in contrast of current capabilities of the RCN of operating patrol boats without an anti-ship missile, reported Financial Post.

China also seems to have played up in the gradual deterioration of Cambodian ties with other countries. The visible decline in Cambodia's relations with the US in recent years is considered to be driven by Beijing's increased coaxing of Phnom Penh.Bilateral ties with the US faced twin drubbing in the form of the cancellation of the "Angkor Sentinel" joint military exercise and the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017.On the other hand, the US went on to criticize the state of democracy in Cambodia and passed the Cambodia Democracy Act.Cambodia is also engrossed in disputes with Vietnam over the land border and ethnic Vietnamese immigrants in Cambodia. The fragility of Cambodia's bilateral relations thus provides Beijing with a fertile ground for increasing influence through proxy wars in the region, reported Financial Post. (ANI)

Protests in China over Covid restrictions



News Desk, Barta24.com
Protests in China over Covid restrictions

Protests in China over Covid restrictions

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Police in Shanghai on Sunday (November 27) dragged and detained demonstrators who were protesting strict coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Protesters were seen singing the national anthem as they gathered in the streets of Shanghai.

China has been marred by rare protests against Covid measures that are part of the nation's strict zero-Covid policy. Police face the unusual task of maintaining law and order as people express anger over recent restrictions.

Amid the protests, demonstrators were seen clashing with the police in Shanghai on Sunday as the protests continued for a third day, further spreading to several cities. This comes after the deadly apartment fire in the country's far west.

On Thursday, a fire at a residential high-rise building in the city of Urumqi, reportedly led to the death of at least 10 people. Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang region.

China has implemented stringent policies, including lockdowns, mass testing, etc. in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus, which was first reported in China in late 2019.

Now, nearly three years into the pandemic, the authorities in China are still imposing the zero-Covid policy that has caused frustration among people.

Besides Shanghai, protesters also took to the streets in the cities of Wuhan and Chengdu on Sunday. Peaceful vigils were held in Beijing. Meanwhile, the students on several university campuses around China demonstrated over the weekend.

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President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief



News Desk, Barta24.com
President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief

President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief

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President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday formally approved Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s nominations for the next army chief and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), hours after receiving a summary in this regard.

Lt Gen Asim Munir has been named as the chief of army staff and Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza has been named as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The confirmation of the president’s approval was given by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, putting an end to weeks’ long speculation. However, an official handout from the President’s office is still awaited.

Talking to media persons in Islamabad, Asif said that the advisory sent to President Alvi by the government has been approved. “The president has signed [the summary],” he said, calling it a “good omen”.

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Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister



News Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister on Thursday, ending a 24-year wait to lead the country.

In a black baju melayu, with gold sampin, Mr Anwar wore a wide smile as he was called upon to take his oath of office and secrecy.

Datuk Seri Anwar, 75, was appointed after the king, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, made the decision following a conference with other rulers in a special meeting of the nation’s nine state monarchs.

“After going through the views of the Malay rulers, His Majesty has consented to appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister,” said Royal Comptroller Fadli Shamsuddin on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony was attended by top officials such as the chief secretary to the government, the chief justice, attorney-general, speakers of both houses of Parliament and leaders from both his PH and Barisan Nasional (BN).

Mr Anwar was seated next to his wife and former deputy premier Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with their six children including former MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in attendance.

“After going through the views of the Malay rulers, His Majesty has consented to appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister,” said Royal Comptroller Fadli Shamsuddin on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony was attended by top officials such as the chief secretary to the government, the chief justice, attorney-general, speakers of both houses of Parliament and leaders from both his PH and Barisan Nasional (BN).

Mr Anwar was seated next to his wife and former deputy premier Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with their six children including former MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in attendance.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar and his rival Perikatan Nasional (PN) chief Muhyiddin Yassin, also 75, had been deadlocked and unable to gather the 112 MPs needed for a simple majority in the legislature.

After Umno confirmed early on Thursday that it would join a unity government, departing from the BN coalition’s earlier stance of remaining in opposition, other parties across the country followed suit.

Even PN said on Thursday that it would consider unity government discussions with like-minded parties.

Markets surged upon the end of the political deadlock. The ringgit currency posted its best day in two weeks and equities rose 3 per cent, hitting a 15-month high.

The Straits Times has learnt that a deal struck between PH and BN – which found itself in the role of kingmaker with 30 MPs despite the Umno-led coalition being humiliated at Saturday’s vote – will see Umno gaining several senior portfolios, with the party’s No. 2 Mohamad Hasan set to be installed as deputy premier.

Mr Anwar’s ascension to the top office, having been sacked as deputy premier in 1998 amid controversial allegations of sodomy and abuse of power, marks a remarkable triumph following a journey that included two stints in prison.

He was appointed deputy prime minister under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Umno-led government in 1993, but his prospects dimmed after he was jailed for corruption in 1999. His imprisonment sparked street protests and the birth of his PKR, which now leads PH.

Mr Anwar was again imprisoned in 2015 for sodomy, but was given a royal pardon and released in May 2018 after PH won the general election that year. Dr Mahathir, who had left Umno and joined hands with Mr Anwar to secure PH’s victory, became the prime minister.

The PKR chief was then widely expected to ascend to power as part of an agreement within PH for him to take over as prime minister in two years from Dr Mahathir. But his progress was again thwarted when the PH government collapsed in February 2020 following defections.

Mr Anwar and Tan Sri Muhyiddin both staked their claim after their respective coalitions won 81 and 73 seats, respectively, in Saturday’s general election, which also saw Dr Mahathir fall from grace in a thumping defeat.

Sultan Abdullah stepped in on Tuesday to surface the idea of a unity government.

Mr Muhyiddin’s decision to reject the proposal, claiming he had a simple majority with backing from other parties, proved fatal to his hopes.

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Malaysia's King Names Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister



Newsdesk, barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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After last week's election, the country risked ending up with a political impasse, since no bloc or alliance could secure a majority of votes in the parliament.

Malaysian King Abdullah of Pahang named Anwar Ibrahim, the chairman of the Pakatan Harapan (the Alliance of Hope) the country's new prime minister on Thursday, resolving an ongoing cabinet crisis.

After taking into the consideration the views of Their Royal Highnesses the Malay Rulers, His Majesty has given consent to appoint Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia," an official statement said.

During a general election on Saturday, Ibrahim's alliance managed to secure 82 seats in the 222-member parliament. Ex-PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Malay-based Perikatan Nasional (PN) got 73 seats, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition only managed to attract 30 votes. The blocs were not able to form any coalition over the past days, with the cabinet, headed by Barisan Nasional stating they would go into opposition.

Source: Sputnik

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