First commercial flight in 20 years leaves Ethiopia for Eritrea

(AFP)
Updated 18 July 2018
0

First commercial flight in 20 years leaves Ethiopia for Eritrea

  • Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s fastest-growing carriers, has said it would initially operate a once-a-day return flight between Addis Ababa and Asmara
  • Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia and comprised its entire coastline on the Red Sea until it voted for independence in 1993 after decades of bloody conflict

ADDIS ABABA: The first commercial flight to Eritrea in two decades departed Wednesday from Addis Ababa after the two nations ended their bitter conflict in a whirlwind peace process.
Ethiopian Airlines said that flight ET0312 to Asmara had departed Bole International Airport, the latest concrete sign of a thaw between the neighboring countries which began only six weeks ago.
“This day marks a unique event in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea,” the airline’s chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said at a ceremony inaugurating the historic flight.
Overwhelming demand saw the African aviation giant operate two flights within 15 minutes of each other.
“The fact that we are taking two flights at a time shows the eagerness of the people,” said Tewolde.
An AFP journalist onboard the second flight said champagne was served to passengers in all classes, who toasted each other shortly before take-off.
Smiling flight attendants also handed out roses to the passengers.
Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s fastest-growing carriers, has said it would initially operate a once-a-day return flight between Addis Ababa and Asmara.
“With the demand we are witnessing, I think we’re going to increase the frequency to twice a day, thrice a day and even more,” said Tewolde.
He said the opening of the Eritrean airspace to Ethiopian Airlines would also mean more efficient routes to the Middle East.
Among the passengers on the first flight was former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, whose shock resignation in February was the first step in a series of shake ups in Ethiopian politics and the Horn of Africa at large.
“I knew one day it would happen,” Hailemariam said of the peace with Eritrea.
Hailemariam was succeeded in April by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a 42-year-old former army officer and cabinet minister described by analysts as a “man in an extreme hurry.”
After announcing the liberalization of parts of the Ethiopian economy and releasing jailed dissidents, Abiy last month declared his intention to make peace with Eritrea after two decades of frozen relations.
Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia and comprised its entire coastline on the Red Sea until it voted for independence in 1993 after decades of bloody conflict.
A row over the demarcation of the shared border triggered a brutal 1998-2000 conflict which left 80,000 people dead before evolving into a bitter cold war.
Abiy stunned observers with his announcement he would finally accept a 2002 United Nations-backed border demarcation. However he has yet to announce a pull out of troops.
He then paid a historic visit to Eritrea, during which he and President Isaias Afwerki declared an official end to the war. Afwerki reciprocated with a state visit to Ethiopia just days later.
The emotion-filled reunion has been welcomed by Ethiopians, who share strong cultural ties with Eritreans, and many of whom were completely cut off from family during the long years of enmity.
On Monday Afwerki re-opened Eritrea’s embassy in Addis Ababa.
The rapprochement is expected to provide an economic boost to both nations, offering booming Ethiopia — which currently channels its trade through Djiboutian ports — access to Eritrean shores.
Meanwhile Amnesty International has said the newfound peace should be a catalyst for change in Eritrea, one of the world’s most isolated nations.
Since the end of the war, Isaias has used the threat of Ethiopian aggression to justify a rash of repressive policies, including an indefinite national service program the UN has likened to slavery.


US steps up pressure on Huawei, ZTE

Updated 11 min 34 sec ago
0

US steps up pressure on Huawei, ZTE

  • Washington has been pressing allies to refrain from buying Huawei’s switches and other gear because of fears they will be used by Beijing for espionage
  • Canada detained Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer, in December at the request of US authorities

WASHINGTON/BEIJING: A bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced bills on Wednesday that would ban the sale of US chips or other components to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, ZTE Corp. or other Chinese telecommunications companies that violate US sanctions or export control laws.
The proposed law drew sharp criticism from China where Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called the US legislation “hysteria,” intensifying a bitter trade war between Beijing and Washington.
The bills were introduced shortly before the Wall Street Journal reported federal prosecutors were investigating allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile US Inc. and other US businesses.
The Journal said that an indictment could be coming soon on allegations that Huawei stole T-Mobile technology, called Tappy, which mimicked human fingers and was used to test smartphones.
Huawei said in a statement the company and T-Mobile settled their disputes in 2017 following a US jury verdict that found “neither damage, unjust enrichment nor willful and malicious conduct by Huawei in T-Mobile’s trade secret claim.”
Hua urged US lawmakers to block the bills.
“I believe the action of these few representatives are an expression of extreme arrogance and an extreme lack of self-confidence,” Hua said.
“Actually the whole world can see very clearly that the real intent of the United States is to employ its state apparatus in every conceivable way to suppress and block out China’s high-tech companies,” she added.
The legislation is the latest in a long list of actions taken to fight what some in the Trump administration call China’s cheating through intellectual property theft, illegal corporate subsidies and rules hampering US corporations that want to sell their goods in China.
In November, the US Department of Justice unveiled an initiative to investigate China’s trade practices with a goal of bringing trade secret theft cases.
At that time, Washington had announced an indictment against Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. Ltd. for stealing trade secrets from US semiconductor company Micron Technology relating to research and development of memory storage devices.
Jinhua, which has denied any wrongdoing, was put on a list of entities that cannot buy goods from US firms.
On Capitol Hill, Senator Tom Cotton and Representative Mike Gallagher, both Republicans, along with Senator Chris Van Hollen and Representative Ruben Gallego, both Democrats, introduced the bills that would require the president to ban the export of US components to any Chinese telecommunications company that violates US sanctions or export control laws.
The bills specifically cite ZTE and Huawei, both of which are viewed with suspicion in the US because of fears that their switches and other gear could be used to spy on Americans. Both have also been accused of failing to respect US sanctions on Iran.
“Huawei is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party whose founder and CEO was an engineer for the People’s Liberation Army,” Cotton wrote in a statement. “If Chinese telecom companies like Huawei violate our sanctions or export control laws, they should receive nothing less than the death penalty — which this denial order would provide.”
The proposed law and investigation are two of several challenges that Huawei, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker, faces in the US market.
In addition to allegations of sanctions-busting and intellectual property theft, Washington has been pressing allies to refrain from buying Huawei’s switches and other gear because of fears they will be used by Beijing for espionage.
Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, denied this week that his company was used by the Chinese government to spy.
Canada detained Ren’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer, in December at the request of US authorities investigating an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade US sanctions against Iran.
For its part, ZTE agreed last year to pay a $1 billion fine to the United States that had been imposed because the company breached a US embargo on trade with Iran.
As part of the agreement, the US lifted a ban in place since April that had prevented ZTE from buying the US components it relies on heavily to make smartphones and other devices.