Chinese government debt is set to be included on a key global bonds index, which could see tens of billions of dollars of foreign investment in the country’s increasingly internationalised financial markets.
The move by FTSE Russell comes as trading in China becomes an increasingly controversial move in Washington as relations between the superpowers grow increasingly fraught.
But analysts said the attraction of higher yields — the yield on 10-year Chinese government bonds is 2.4 percentage points higher than US Treasuries — and a relatively stable currency have made the country an attractive prospect for investors.
Inclusion in the World Government Bond index, which could begin next October if approved, means CGBs will be a must-have asset for investment giants such as pension funds desperate for good returns as the global bond market is battered by the virus pandemic.
Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor at the central People’s Bank of China said international investments in the Chinese market had grown more than 40 percent over the past three years, with 2.8 trillion yuan ($410 billion) of Chinese bonds currently held by international investors.
Goldman Sachs said inclusion could see up to $140 billion floods into the debt market.
AxiCorp strategist Stephen Innes said the move was “big news” which would open up China’s bond market to “a broader band of passive investors”.
FTSE Russell, which is owned by the London Stock Exchange, decided against including Chinese debt in the index last year owing to several worries such as liquidity and the settlement of transactions, but it said the concerns had been addressed.
In the statement its CEO Waqas Samad said authorities had “worked hard to enhance the infrastructure of their government bond market”.
Jason Pang of JP Morgan Asset Management said that while foreign ownership of CGBs had risen to around nine percent from two percent in recent years, it is still well below the 15-30 percent seen in other Asian markets.
But he added: “It is increasingly clear that China bonds’ globalisation is simply a matter of time, further accelerated by increasingly accessible hedging options that enable investors to manage risk.
“Over the past 20 years, China’s bond market has grown more than sixtyfold to nearly $14 trillion.”
The Chinese economy has largely bounced back after a virus-induced sharp economic shock seen earlier in the year, with most people back to work after the government brought the disease largely under control through lockdowns and mass testing.
Thousands of people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease after a leak from a state-owned biopharmaceutical plant making animal vaccines last year.
Health officials in Lanzhou city said 3,245 people had contracted brucellosis, a disease often caused by close contact with infected animals or animal products that can bring about fevers, joint pain and headaches.
Another 1,401 people tested as an early positive for the disease, and health authorities said there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission so far.
Chinese authorities found a biopharmaceutical plant had used expired disinfectant in its production of Brucella vaccines for animals between July and August last year — meaning the bacteria was not eradicated in its factory exhaust.
Contaminated gas from the China Animal Husbandry Lanzhou Biopharmaceutical Factory in Lanzhou formed aerosols containing the bacteria, and this was then carried by wind to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, infecting nearly 200 people there as of December last year.
More than 20 students and faculty members of Lanzhou University, some of whom had been to the institute, subsequently tested positive as well, according to Xinhua news agency.
Lanzhou’s health commission said Friday that sheep, cattle and pigs were most commonly involved in the spread of the bacteria.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, person-to-person transmission of brucellosis is “extremely rare” but some symptoms may reoccur or never go away.
These include recurrent fevers, chronic fatigue, swelling of the heart or arthritis.
The factory — which apologised earlier this year — has had its brucellosis vaccine production licence revoked, Lanzhou authorities said.
Compensation for patients would start in batches from October, according to local authorities.
In joint statement, Wang Yi and S Jaishankar say current situation in border areas not in the interest of either side.
The foreign ministries of China and India agreed in a joint statement on Friday that their troops must quickly disengage from a months-long standoff at their long-disputed Himalayan border.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar met on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation foreign ministers’ meeting in Moscow to try and end the dispute, the most serious in decades at the undemarcated border.
“The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” the statement said.
Separately, China’s foreign ministry said it would maintain communications with India through diplomatic and military channels and commit to “restoring peace and tranquillity” in the disputed border area.
Elaborating on the Moscow meeting, China said Wang had told Jaishankar that the “imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides”.
All personnel and equipment that have trespassed at the border must be moved and frontier troops on both sides “must quickly disengage” in order to de-escalate the situation, Wang added.
“This deal is significant but on the other hand I am still cautious. Let’s wait and see what transpires in the next few weeks and months. That will be the crucial test,” said Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University in Bloomington, the United States.
This deal is significant but on the other hand I am still cautious. Let’s wait and see what transpires in the next few weeks and months. SUMIT GANGULY, A PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY
“I think both sides have considerable reasons to de-escalate,” he told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media.
“In the case of India, the economy has cratered in the wake of the COVID crisis and the shambolic handling thereof. And consequently India can ill afford to devote significant resources to the military at this particular juncture,” he said.
“The Chinese did not want it to become a major distraction as their economy is finally recovering, and they are focused on the November elections in the US.”
Speaking on the five-point agreement between the two countries, Ganguly said they would probably involve withdrawing troops from eyeball-to-eyeball contact with one another.
“They would involve reducing certain kinds of actual deployment of artillery and other weaponry along particular band of territory.”
‘State of puffing’ The Global Times, a tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, took a more strident tone in an editorial published ahead of the two ministers’ meeting.
“The Chinese side must be fully prepared to take military action when diplomatic engagement fails, and its front-line troops must be able to respond to emergencies, and be ready to fight at any time,” the paper said.
It accused India of holding a grudge over the 1962 conflict, and described the country as in “an unprecedented state of puffing”.
Wang and Jaishanka’s meeting took place after a border clash earlier this week when each accused the other of firing in the air during a confrontation on their border in the western Himalayas, a violation of long-held protocols on the use of firearms on the sensitive frontier.
The Chinese ministry said the two countries reached a five-point consensus on reducing tension in the area including the need to abide by existing agreements to ensure peace.
Beijing accuses New Delhi of ‘severe military provocation’ but India denies its soldiers crossed the disputed border.
China and India have accused each other of firing shots on their flashpoint Himalayan border in a further escalation of military tension between the nuclear-armed Asian rivals.
The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated since a hand-to-hand combat clash in the Ladakh region on June 15 in which 20 Indian troops were killed.
Experts fear the latest incident will intensify a months-long standoff between the Asian giants that erupted in late April.
Beijing’s defence ministry accused India of “severe military provocation”, saying soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western border region on Monday and “opened fire to threaten the Chinese border defence patrol officers”.
“According to the Chinese side, Chinese troops approached the India side for negotiations, and then they say some Indian troops fired at the Chinese side,”
“As a result, China’s military said it was forced to take countermeasures – although we don’t know what those countermeasures were, or if there were any casualties,” she added.
India denies transgression New Delhi was swift to give its own account, accusing Chinese border forces of “blatantly violating agreements” and firing “a few rounds in the air” to intimidate their Indian rivals.
“It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres,” the Indian army said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Despite the grave provocation, (our) own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner,” the statement said.
Reporting from New Delhi NRM said that, according to India, “China’s army was trying to close in on one of India’s positions – and that when they [China] were dissuaded by their own troops, they fired in the air”.
The countries fought a brief border war in 1962 but, officially, no shots have been fired in the area since 1975 when four Indian troops were killed in an ambush.
A spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) gave no specifics and did not report casualties, calling on India to investigate the incident.
China’s western military command said the incursion occurred on Monday along the southern shore of Pangong Tso Lake in the area known in Chinese as Shenpaoshan. On the Indian side, the area is known as Chushul, where the two countries’ local military commanders have held several rounds of talks to defuse the tense standoff.
Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the Western Theater Command of the PLA, said India had violated agreements reached by the two countries and warned their actions could “easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgements”.
China’s foreign ministry said Indian troops had illegally crossed the LAC and had been the first to fire shots. “This is a serious military provocation,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news conference in Beijing on Tuesday.
Late last month, India said its soldiers had thwarted the Chinese military’s moves “to change the status quo”, also on the southern shore of Pangong Lake, in violation of a consensus reached in past efforts to settle the standoff. In turn, China also accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control.
Both sides have sent tens of thousands of troops to the disputed Himalayan border, which sits at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres (13,500 feet).
Their troops have had several showdowns since the June 15 clash. China has also acknowledged it has had casualties but not given figures.
Detailed border protocols in place for peaceful disengagement seem to have broken down since the June clash. India’s military has also reportedly changed its rules of engagement, allowing troops to carry guns.
Military commanders and diplomats have held several rounds of talks since July to reduce tension, but have made little progress to calm the border tensions.
Last week, defence ministers from the two countries spoke in Moscow on the sidelines of an international meeting – with both sides later releasing rival statements accusing each other of inflaming the showdown.
And earlier this week, an Indian minister said New Delhi had alerted China to allegations five men had been abducted by the PLA close to the disputed border in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh
Hundreds take to the streets to demonstrate against the postponement of legislative election and the new security law.
More than 30 people have been arrested by Hong Kong police as riot officers swoop in on pro-democracy protesters – opposed to the postponement of the local legislative election – with rounds of pepper balls.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Sunday in the Asian financial hub to demonstrate against a new national security law imposed by China and the postponement of the legislative poll.
Sunday was meant to be voting day for the city’s partially elected legislature, one of the few instances where Hong Kong voters get to cast ballots.
But Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed the election for one year, citing a surge in novel coronavirus cases. Critics say her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting was held as scheduled.
The poll would have been the former British colony’s first official vote since Beijing imposed the new security legislation in late June, which critics say aims to quash dissent in the city.
Anti-government protests have been held in Hong Kong almost every weekend since June 2019. They erupted over opposition to a proposed extradition law and spread to include demands for greater democracy and criticism of Beijing’s efforts to tighten control over the city.
Police fire pepper balls Thousands of police were stationed around the bustling Kowloon Peninsula on Sunday as marchers waved placards and chanted popular anti-government slogans such as, “liberate Hong Kong”.
One woman was arrested during a protest in the Kowloon district of Yau Ma Tei on charges of assault and spreading pro-independence slogans, the police department said on its Facebook page. It said such slogans are illegal under the newly enacted National Security Act.
Police fired pepper balls at protesters in Kowloon’s Mong Kong neighbourhood, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
Some 30 other people were arrested on suspicion of illegal assembly and two were arrested for disorderly conduct, police said.
In the Jordan neighbourhood, protesters raised a banner criticising the election delay, the Post said. It put the number of arrests at 33.
“I want my right to vote,” activist Leung Kwok-hung, popularly known as Long Hair, was quoted as saying. The newspaper said Leung was later arrested.
Reporting from the city, Noble Reporters Media said many people were also carrying out individual acts of defiance across the city, carrying banners or chanting slogans, to protest the new law.
“These acts are remarkable because these individuals are doing that in the face of the sweeping national security law, which makes chants like that, saying things like that illegal,” he said.
“The demonstration was also an unconventional one as people tried hard to blend in with regular shoppers in the heart of the city, and occasionally chanted slogans or make the hand sign of the opposition.”
Limited gatherings Anti-government demonstrations have declined this year mainly because of limits on group gatherings and the security law that punishes actions China sees as subversive, secessionist, “terrorist” or colluding with foreign forces.
Hong Kong has reported about 4,800 coronavirus cases since January, far lower than in other large cities around the world. The number of new daily infections has fallen substantially from triple digits in July to single digits currently.
While street protests have largely lost momentum, anti-government and anti-Beijing sentiment persists, with China’s offer of mass coronavirus testing for Hong Kong residents prompting calls for a boycott amid public distrust.
Gatherings are currently limited to two people. Police have cited such restrictions in rejecting applications for protests in recent months, effectively preventing demonstrations.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a guarantee of autonomy but critics say the new law undermines that promise and puts the territory on a more authoritarian path.
Supporters of the new security law say it will bring more stability after a year of often-violent anti-government and anti-China unrest and it plugs loopholes in national security left by the city’s inability to fulfil a constitutional requirement to pass such laws on its own.
With record surge in daily infections, India is set to overtake Brazil as the second worst-hit nation in the world.
India became the third country to cross four million coronavirus cases on Saturday, also setting a new global record for a daily surge in infections and closing in on Brazil’s total as the second-highest in the world.
The 86,432 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India’s total to 4,023,179.
Brazil has confirmed 4,091,801 infections while the United States has 6,200,186 people infected, according to Johns Hopkins University.
India’s health ministry on Saturday also reported 1,089 deaths for a total of 69,561.
Initially, the virus ravaged India’s sprawling and often densely populated cities. It has since stretched to almost every state in India, spreading through villages and smaller cities where access to healthcare is crippled.
With a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, India’s massive caseload does not surprise experts. The country’s delayed response to the virus forced the government to implement a harsh lockdown in late March. For more than two months, the economy remained shuttered, buying time for the underfunded healthcare system to prepare for the worst.
But with the economic cost of the restrictions rising, authorities saw no choice but to reopen activities.
Most of India’s cases are in western Maharashtra state and the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
‘Worst is yet to come’ In rural Maharashtra, the worst-affected state with 863,062 cases and 25,964 deaths, doctors said measures like wearing masks and washing hands had now largely been abandoned.
“There is a behavioural fatigue now setting in,” said Dr SP Kalantri, the director of a hospital in the village of Sevagram.
He said the past few weeks had driven home the point that the virus had moved from India’s cities to its villages.
“The worst is yet to come,” said Kalantri. “There is no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Even as testing in India has increased to more than a million a day, a growing reliance on screening for antigens or viral proteins is creating more problems.
These tests are cheaper and yield faster results but are not as accurate. The danger is that the tests may falsely clear many who are infected with COVID-19.
In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with a limited healthcare system, the situation is already grim. With a total 253,175 cases and 3,762 deaths, the heartland state is staring at an inevitable surge and with a shortage of hospital beds and other health infrastructure.
Sujata Prakash, a nurse in the state’s capital, Lucknow, has recently tested positive for the coronavirus. But the hospital ward where she worked diligently refused her admission because there were no empty beds. She waited for more than 24 hours outside the surgical ward, sitting on patients’ chairs, before she was allotted one.
“The government can shower flower petals on the hospitals in the name of corona warriors, but can’t the administration provide a bed when the same warrior needs one?” said Prakash’s husband, Vivek Kumar.
Others have not been so lucky.
When journalist Amrit Mohan Dubey fell sick this week, his friends called the local administration for an ambulance. It arrived two hours late and by the time Dubey was taken to hospital, he died.
“Had the ambulance reached in time, we could have saved Amrit,” said Zafar Irshad, a colleague of the journalist.
The social media giant should disclose any information it has relating to crimes against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
Last month, Facebook moved to block a bid by The Gambia in a US court, in which it sought disclosure of posts and communications by members of Myanmar’s military and police. This legal step is related to a case brought by The Gambia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in which it has accused Myanmar of genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority.
The social media giant urged the US District Court for the District of Columbia to reject the “extraordinarily broad” request, saying it would violate a US law that bars electronic communication services from disclosing users’ communications.
In a consequent public statement, Facebook confirmed that it would not comply with The Gambia’s demand, but claimed to be cooperating with the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) – an investigative body established to collect and analyse evidence of serious international crimes committed in Myanmar.
A few days later, however, this was refuted by the IIMM head Nicholas Koumjian. Koumjian explained that while Facebook has indeed been in talks with the IIMM for a year, it had failed to share “highly relevant” material that could be “probative of serious international crimes” with the investigators. Again, a few days after this, there were reports – confirmed by the IIMM – that Facebook has shared the first data set that only “partially complies” with requests from the IIMM.
Facebook has stated that it supports “action against international crimes” by working with the appropriate authorities. However, this series of actions on the part of Facebook may lead to the opposite conclusion, and rather than supporting The Gambia’s legal efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, is obstructing a case relating to genocide.
In August 2017, the Myanmar military launched a so-called “clearance operation” in Rakhine State, home to Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. Over several weeks, soldiers committed atrocities in the region, killing thousands, committing mass rapes, burning villages to the ground, and driving more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.
Since then, it has been established that Facebook was used as a medium for the dissemination of hate speech as a precursor to these atrocities. In September 2018, in a report on the situation in Myanmar, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar highlighted the role Facebook played in creating an enabling environment in the country for the commission of atrocities.
Around the time of the release of the report, Facebook suspended several Myanmar military accounts, including that of the head of the army, and subsequently commissioned a human rights impact assessment into its Myanmar operations. The latter was quite tepid, and the former, a case of too little, too late.
In November 2019, The Gambia filed an application at the ICJ, claiming that a conflict exists between it and Myanmar regarding the interpretation and application of the Genocide Convention, based on how Myanmar was treating the Rohingya population, which The Gambia claimed rose to the level of genocidal acts.
This was a legally unprecedented move – the first instance where a case was filed by a state not directly affected by the international crimes alleged. Nevertheless, The Gambia obtained an initial positive ruling this January from the court – a ruling relating to protective measures, which includes directions to Myanmar to cease and desist from certain actions that would violate the Genocide Convention, and to provide the court with regular updates on its compliance with the order.
However, The Gambia needs to take many more steps and overcome several hurdles to bring the case to a successful conclusion. One of these steps is to obtain more evidence that demonstrates the Myanmar military’s “genocidal intent” against the Rohingya. One likely repository of such evidence is Facebook.
Knowing that there is a trove of information accessible only to Facebook, which may shed light on various aspects of the international crimes alleged, in June 2020, The Gambia initiated legal proceedings in the US, to compel the company to hand over information that would be of assistance for the case before the international court.
The request, made in accordance with a US federal statute, was opposed by Facebook because it violates a US law that “protects billions of global internet users from violations of their right to privacy and freedom of expression”.
However, the provisions of the law invoked – Stored Communications Act, 18 USC 2702(a) – do not seem to be a complete bar to sharing the information. As argued by The Gambia in response to the opposition by Facebook in court, the act aims to protect the privacy of private individuals in the US and not the unlawful acts of state actors such as the Myanmar government. Moreover, it would not apply to information already removed from the system – which is much of what is being requested – given the prior removal for violating Facebook’s own terms and conditions.
The optics of not supporting the disclosure of evidence that may assist in establishing the crime of genocide are truly terrible. As bad, is the obfuscation that seems to accompany this position. Facebook, a company that has built its entire business model on monetising user data, is likely aware of this.
August marked the third anniversary of the mass exodus and atrocities committed against the Rohingya – a time for reflection – and a time to act in support of the survivors, in their quest for accountability and justice. Facebook must walk the talk now.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect NRM’s editorial stance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Priya Pillai is an international lawyer, and head of the Asia Justice Coalition secretariat.
Facing pressure from the US, China wants to develop its own chip-making technology, sources tell Bloomberg.
China is planning a sweeping set of new government policies to develop its domestic semiconductor industry and counter Trump administration restrictions, conferring the same kind of priority on the effort it accorded to building its atomic capability, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Beijing is preparing broad support for so-called third-generation semiconductors for the five years through 2025, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing government deliberations. A suite of measures to bolster research, education and financing for the industry has been added to a draft of the country’s 14th five-year plan, which will be presented to the country’s top leaders in October, the people said.
China’s top leaders will gather next month to lay out their economic strategy for the next half decade, including efforts to ramp up domestic consumption and make critical technology at home. President Xi Jinping has pledged an estimated $1.4 trillion through 2025 for technologies ranging from wireless networks to artificial intelligence. Semiconductors are fundamental to virtually every component of China’s technology ambitions — and an increasingly aggressive Trump administration threatens to cut off their supply from abroad.
“The Chinese leadership realizes that semiconductors underpin all advanced technologies, and that it can no longer dependably rely on American supplies,” said Dan Wang, technology analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics. “In the face of stricter U.S. restrictions on chip access, China’s response can only be to keep pushing its own industry to develop.”
Shares in several major Chinese chipmakers gained. Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics Group Co. finished 4.3% higher in Hong Kong. On mainland bourses, Will Semiconductor Ltd. — the second most valuable listed Chinese chip firm — rose almost 10%. Xiamen Changelight Co. closed 14% up while Focus Lightings Tech Co. jumped 5.6%.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which is responsible for drafting the tech-related goals, did not reply to a request for comment.
China imports more than $300 billion worth of integrated circuits each year and its semiconductor developers rely on U.S.-made chip design tools and patents, as well as critical manufacturing technologies from U.S. allies. But deteriorating ties between Beijing and Washington have made it increasingly difficult for Chinese companies to source components and chipmaking technologies from overseas.
The U.S. government has blacklisted dozens of China’s tech companies so they can’t buy American parts, and slapped bans on ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. In the case of technology giant Huawei Technologies Co., the Trump administration sanctioned the company and pressed allies to ban the company’s equipment from their telecom networks.
This month, Huawei, the country’s largest handset maker, will even lose access to chips from the likes of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. under new American regulations that prohibit suppliers anywhere in the world from working with the company if those suppliers use American equipment. The tighter rules have raised the urgency of building domestic alternatives in Beijing.
Third-generation semiconductors are mainly chipsets made of materials such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride. They can operate at high frequency and in higher power and temperature environments, and are widely used in fifth-generation radio frequency chips, military-grade radars and electric vehicles.
Since no single country now dominates the fledgling, third-generation technology, China’s gamble is its corporations can compete if they accelerate research into the field now. Global leaders such as U.S.-based CREE Inc. and Japan’s Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. are just beginning to grow this business, while Chinese tech giants such as Sanan Optoelectronics Co. Ltd. and state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp. have made inroads on third-generation chipsets.
The country’s other chipmakers, which include Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., Will Semiconductor Ltd. and National Silicon Industry Group Co., may benefit more broadly from the state support.
“This is a sector about to see explosive growth,” Alan Zhou, managing partner of Fujian-based chip investment fund An Xin Capital Co., told an industry forum last week. Because of China’s increasing demand and investment, this is an area that could create a “world-class Chinese chip giant.”
New Diamond, travelling from Kuwait to Paradip, is carrying cargo of 270,000 tonnes of crude and 1,700 tonnes of diesel.
A new fire broke out on a supertanker carrying about two million barrels of oil in the Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka’s eastern coast as Russian and Indian warships joined the battle to put out the blaze.
The New Diamond, travelling from Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip with a cargo of 270,000 tonnes of crude and 1,700 tonnes of diesel, issued a distress call on Thursday, navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said.
The vessel had a crew of 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. One crew member was missing, another was injured, and the rest were rescued from the Panama-flagged vessel, according to the navy.
“An Indian coastguard vessel and one of our ships are now in the process of dousing the flames that have spread to the deck of the tanker’s service area,” de Silva told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)
There was no immediate danger of a leak from the stricken vessel, he added, which was 60km (38 miles) from the coastal town of Sangamankandi Point.
Photographs taken by Sri Lanka’s air force showed extensive damage to the tanker’s funnel, and thick black smoke and flames coming from the bridge, which is just behind the cargo area.
Two Russian warships, which were at Sri Lanka’s southern port of Hambantota to take on food and water, were now headed to the New Diamond’s location to help with the rescue.
India was sending three navy vessels and two more coastguard vessels in addition to providing aerial reconnaissance.
De Silva said rescuers were trying to prevent the fire from spreading to the cargo area and ensuring there was no leak.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Protection Authority said it would take measures to prevent any possible oil leak.
Such a spill could cause an “environmental disaster” Ashok Sharma, managing director of shipbroker BRS Baxi in Singapore, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)
Thursday’s incident happened just over a month after a state of “environmental emergency” was triggered by the spill of about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil from a Japanese bulk carrier, MV Wakashio, when it ran aground on a reef in Mauritius.
Case against media tycoon dates back to 2017 and is not related to his arrest under China-imposed national security law.
A court in Hong Kong has declared media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai not guilty of criminal intimidation, ending one of several cases against him after his high-profile arrest under a new national security law.
Thursday’s verdict was for a case that dates back to 2017 and was unrelated to his arrest last month.
Lai, who is a key critic of Beijing, had used foul language when confronting a reporter from Oriental Daily News, a major competitor to Lai’s tabloid Apple Daily.
Police, however, only charged him in February this year.
The mainland-born media magnate had pleaded not guilty.
He smiled after the verdict was read out and shook hands with supporters who filled the courtroom.
Lai’s case comes after he was arrested for suspected collusion with foreign forces on August 10, making him the highest-profile person to be arrested under the Beijing-imposed law.
The 71-year-old had been a frequent visitor to Washington, where he met officials including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.
After Lai’s August arrest about 200 police officers searched the office of his Apple Daily newspaper.
The national security law punishes any act China considers subversion, succession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Critics say it crushes freedoms, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged anti-China, pro-democracy protests last year.
Lai’s Apple Daily has vied with pro-Beijing Oriental Daily for readership in the special administrative region. In 2014 the Oriental Daily published a fake obituary of Lai, claiming that he had died of AIDS and many types of cancer.
Prosecutors in the case said Lai had intimidated the Oriental Daily reporter.
Lai’s lawyers said Lai had been followed by reporters for three years and his comments were not intended to harm the reporter but expressed his exasperation.
Lai is also facing separate court cases for illegal assembly relating to anti-government protests last year.
Japan’s coastguard said one Filipino crew member had so far been found during the search.
Rescuers in Japan were searching on Thursday for a ship carrying 43 crew and nearly 6,000 cattle that was feared sunk after it sent a distress signal during stormy weather in the East China Sea.
Japan’s coastguard said one person had so far been found in a search involving four vessels and several planes.
The rescued crew member, 45-year-old Filipino Sareno Edvarodo, told the coastguard that the Gulf Livestock 1, a 139-metre Panamanian-flagged vessel, capsized after losing an engine.
The cargo ship sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as the region experienced strong winds, heavy seas and torrential rain from Typhoon Maysak as it headed towards the Korean Peninsula.
Japan’s coastguard said P-3C surveillance aircraft spotted Edvarodo, who was the ship’s chief officer, on Wednesday night. He was wearing a life vest and waving while bobbing up and down in the water.
According to Edvarodo, who is able to walk and in good health, the ship lost an engine before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a coastguard spokeswoman said.
When the ship capsized, the crew were instructed to put on lifejackets. Edvarodo said he jumped into the water and did not see any other crew members before he was rescued.
The crew included 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand and two from Australia, the coastguard said. Pictures provided by the agency showed a person in a lifejacket being hauled from choppy seas in darkness.
The Gulf Livestock 1 left Napier in New Zealand on August 14 with 5,867 cattle and 43 crew, bound for the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The journey was expected to take about 17 days, New Zealand’s foreign ministry told the Reuters news agency.
New Zealand animal rights organisation, Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE), said the tragedy demonstrated the risks of the live animal export trade.
“These cows should never have been at sea,” said the campaigns manager, Marianne Macdonald.
“This is a real crisis, and our thoughts are with the families of the 43 crew who are missing with the ship. But questions remain, including why this trade is allowed to continue.”
Meanwhile, on the Korean Peninsula, one woman was killed in the South Korean city of Busan when a strong gust of wind shattered her apartment window after Maysak made landfall.
More than 2,200 people were evacuated to temporary shelters, and around 120,000 homes were left without power across southern parts of the peninsula and on Jeju island.
The typhoon also brought heavy downpours across the north, and North Korea’s state media have been carrying live broadcasts of the situation, with one showing a reporter standing in a street inundated with water in the port town of Wonsan.
But authorities lifted their typhoon warning as the storm weakened and moved towards China.
“The typhoon will pass through Musan and leave our country,” a meteorological officer told Korean Central Television. “I don’t expect any effects.”
The US says Chinese diplomats will need approval to visit US universities and hold cultural events.
The United States has said senior Chinese diplomats will now be required to secure State Department approval before visiting US university campuses and holding cultural events with more than 50 people outside embassy grounds in a move that drew condemnation from Beijing.
Washington has cast the move as a response to what it said was Beijing’s restrictions on American diplomats based in China. It comes as part of a Trump administration campaign against alleged Chinese influence operations and espionage activity.
The State Department said it also would take action to help ensure all Chinese embassy and consular social media accounts were “properly identified”.
“We’re simply demanding reciprocity. Access for our diplomats in China should be reflective of the access that Chinese diplomats in the United States have, and today’s steps will move us substantially in that direction,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news briefing on Wednesday.
Rising tensions The Chinese Embassy in Washington condemned the move as a “gross violation” of Vienna Conventions that govern diplomacy.
The US should “correct its mistakes, revoke the relevant decisions, and provide support and facilitation for Chinese diplomats in the US to carry out the relevant activities,” the Global Times, a state-run tabloid, reported the embassy as saying.
The US has been taking steps to restrict Chinese activity in the country in the run-up to the November presidential election, in which President Donald Trump faces a strong challenge from Democratic challenger Joe Biden and where he has made a tough approach to China a key foreign policy platform.
Relations between the two countries continue to deteriorate amid disputes over trade, Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, Hong Kong and the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has blamed China for failing to adequately respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
The US has recorded the most cases and deaths in the world and Trump’s handling of the pandemic has become a key campaign issue after the president pushed for a lifting of restrictions designed to curb the spread of the virus.
Despite Trump’s previous affinity for Chinese President Xi Jinping, his administration has been ratcheting up up restrictions and sanctions on Chinese officials, government agencies and companies since last year, beginning with travel limits imposed on diplomats, and registration requirements for Chinese media outlets.
In June, the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, which prompted Beijing to force the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.
University ‘threats’ Pompeo on Wednesday also revealed that Keith Krach, the State Department’s under-secretary for economic erowth, had written recently to the governing boards of US universities alerting them to alleged threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.
“These threats can come in the form of illicit funding for research, intellectual property theft, intimidation of foreign students and opaque talent recruitment efforts,” Pompeo said.
He said universities could ensure they had clean investments and endowment funds, “by taking a few key steps to disclose all (Chinese) companies’ investments invested in the endowment funds, especially those in emerging-market index funds.”
On Tuesday, Pompeo said he was hopeful Confucius Institute cultural centres on US university campuses, which he accused of working to recruit “spies and collaborators”, would all be shut by the end of the year.
Last month, Pompeo labelled the centre that manages the dozens of Confucius Institutes in the US “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence” and required it to register as a foreign mission.
The State Department announced in June it would start treating four major Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies, calling them mouthpieces for Beijing.
It took the same step against five other Chinese outlets in February, and in March said it was slashing the number of journalists allowed to work at US offices of major Chinese media outlets to 100 from 160 due to Beijing’s “long-standing intimidation and harassment of journalists”.
The two nations will pay special attention to prosecuting gender-based violence against Rohingya, including rape.
Canada and the Netherlands will formally join The Gambia’s legal bid to hold Myanmar accountable over allegations of genocide against its mostly-Muslim Rohingya minority in a move described by observers as historic.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok said the two nations were intervening in the case before the International Court of Justice in order “to prevent the crime of genocide and hold those responsible to account”.
Calling the lawsuit “of concern to all of humanity,” Champagne and Blok said Canada and the Netherlands would “assist with the complex legal issues that are expected to arise and will pay special attention to crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence, including rape”.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017, crossing the border into neighbouring Bangladesh where they now live in crowded refugee camps after the military launched a brutal crackdown in the western state.
Myanmar says the military action was a response to attacks by Rohingya armed groups in Rakhine. United Nations investigators concluded that the campaign had been executed with “genocidal intent”.
Champagne and Blok said in filing the case at the UN court, The Gambia “took a laudable step towards ending impunity for those committing atrocities in Myanmar”.
‘Historic’ The New York-based Global Center for Justice welcomed the move by Canada and the Netherlands, calling it “nothing short of historic”.
Akila Radhakrishnan, the group’s president, said: “Just as important as their intention to intervene is their promise to focus on gendered crimes of genocide like sexual and gender-based violence, which was central to the atrocities against the Rohingya.”
She added: “Too often, gendered experiences do not translate to justice and accountability efforts and leave the primary targets of those crimes – women and girls – behind. This is an important step forward to address that gap and Canada and the Netherlands should be applauded for this move.”
Rohingya groups also welcomed the move, and urged others to follow their lead.
“Slowly, but surely, the net is closing in on Myanmar’s leaders – they will not get away with this genocide,” Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK said in a statement, describing Canada and the Netherlands as being on the right side of history.
“It is imperative that other states, including the United Kingdom, now stand on the right of justice for the Rohingya and other ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar,” the statement added. “Justice is a core demand of all Rohingya people and particularly important for those inside the camps of Cox’s Bazar who have been forced to flee their homeland and live as refugees in a foreign state.”
Canada and the Netherlands also urged other states to support The Gambia’s legal fight, which was launched in November last year on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
In the lawsuit, the small West African country said that as a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention it had the obligation to prevent and punish genocide, no matter where it took place.
Relying heavily on UN reports documenting killings, mass rapes and widespread arson in Rohingya villages, The Gambia alleged Myanmar was committing “an ongoing genocide” against its Rohingya minority and called for emergency measures as a preliminary step to protect the long-persecuted minority.
Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi attended the initial hearings at The Hague in December last year, calling on the 17-judge panel to dismiss the case. Rejecting the genocide claims, she warned the UN judges that allowing The Gambia’s case to go ahead risked reigniting the crisis and could “undermine reconciliation”.
The panel in January ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures to protect its Rohingya population, pending the fuller case.
Myanmar will now have to regularly report on its efforts to protect Rohingya from acts of genocide every six months until a final ruling is made, a process that could take years.
Although ICJ rulings are final and binding, countries have occasionally flouted them, and the court has no formal mechanism to enforce its decisions.
Social media giant faces scrutiny after media reports revealed it ignored anti-Muslim hate speech by BJP leaders.
An Indian parliamentary committee has grilled Facebook representatives after the social media giant was accused of bias and not acting against anti-Muslim posts on its platform.
The closed-door hearing on Wednesday followed accusations in newspaper reports that the social media giant was allowing hate speech on its platform and that its top policy official in India had shown favouritism towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The social media giant has denied the allegations and the outcome of the hearing was unclear.
Facebook came under scrutiny after a series of reports by the United States-based Wall Street Journal (WSJ) showed the company ignored anti-Muslim hate speeches by BJP leaders while Facebook’s India policy chief, Ankhi Das, made decisions favouring Modi.
On Tuesday, New Delhi-based English daily the Indian Express reported that following a request from the party, Facebook removed pages critical of the BJP months before the 2019 general elections.
In email exchanges reported by the Express, the BJP had told Facebook the pages were “in violation of expected standards”, with posts that were “not in line with facts”.
Requests for comment from Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) to Facebook went unanswered.
India is Facebook’s biggest market with more than 300 million users while the company’s messaging app, WhatsApp, boasts 400 million users in the world’s second-most populous nation.
The BJP spends more than any political party in India on Facebook advertisements.
Dozens of Muslims have been lynched in the past six years by vigilantes, with many of the incidents triggered by fake news regarding cow slaughter or smuggling shared on WhatsApp.
The WSJ had reported last month that Das refused to apply the company’s hate speech policies to BJP politicians and other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups”.
Facebook allowed anti-Muslim posts on its platform to avoid ruining the company’s relationship with the BJP, the WSJ said. Time Magazine made similar allegations last week.
Das last month apologised to Muslim staff for sharing a post that dubbed Muslims in India a “degenerate community”, according to a report by US media outlet BuzzFeed News.
Opposition attacks Facebook The Facebook deposition was originally slated for Tuesday but was deferred following the death of former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
The opposition Congress party said in a statement on Tuesday that there was a “blasphemous nexus between the BJP and Facebook”.
“The aim of the BJP is ‘divide and rule’ and the social media giant Facebook is helping them achieve this,” it said in the statement.
Opposition parliamentarian Derek O’ Brien, in a letter sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, also said there was “enough material in the public domain, including memos of senior facebook management (in India)” to show bias favouring the BJP.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and India’s communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed in a letter he sent to Zuckerberg that ahead of the 2019 national elections, “there was a concerted effort by Facebook … to not just delete pages or substantially reduce their reach but also offer no recourse or right of appeal to affected people who are supportive of right-of-centre ideology”.
Prasad also alleged in the letter that recent press reports were the result of “selective leaks … to portray an alternate reality”.
“This interference in India’s political process through gossip, whispers and innuendo is condemnable,” Prasad said.
Ajit Mohan, Facebook’s India chief, has defended the company’s actions and denied any bias. But the company also admitted it had to do better on tackling hate speech.
Right-wing bias? Facebook’s alleged favouritism towards India’s Hindu nationalists is not the first time the social media giant has been accused of tacitly supporting right-wing groups.
Last year, campaign group Avaaz said that the tech giant was failing to rein in a “tsunami” of hate posts inflaming ethnic tensions in India’s northeast state of Assam.
Avaaz said the dehumanising language – often targeting India’s Bengali Muslims – was similar to that used on Facebook about Myanmar’s mainly Muslim Rohingya before an army crackdown and ethnic violence forced 700,000 Rohingya to flee in 2017 to Bangladesh.
The platform has also come under fire in Myanmar over hate speech directed against the Rohingya over the past decade.
Investigators from the United Nations said Facebook played a key role in spreading hate speech that fuelled the violence.
The company admitted two years ago that it had been “too slow” to address the problem.
Also last month in the US, a Facebook engineer was reportedly fired for internal posts revealing that right-leaning groups and individuals in the US were given preferential treatment by preventing their posts from being removed, despite violating content rules.
Far-right news website Breitbart, non-profit group PragerU and Trump supporters Diamond and Silk, were some of the organisations and personalities favoured by Facebook, according to internal posts seen by Buzzfeed.