China’s Xi arrives in the UAE for state visit

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President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit and was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. (WAM)
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President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit and was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. (WAM)
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President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit and was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. (WAM)
Updated 19 July 2018
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China’s Xi arrives in the UAE for state visit

  • His appointments during the three days include a series of high-level meetings with his Emirati counterparts
  • The UAE and China established diplomatic relations in November 1984

DUBAI: President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit, after the announcement of oil and trade deals between China and the UAE.
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said he was "delighted" to welcome Xi, posting photos on Twitter of the Chinese president receiving flowers on landing in the emirate.
"This is a historic visit and represents a new stage of cooperation in all fields, which will bring growth, development and prosperity to the people of our nations," said the crown prince of the UAE capital.
Abu Dhabi is the first stop on Xi's tour, which also includes Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa.
The Chinese president's arrival followed the Gulf state earlier on Thursday publishing details of new deals clinched with Beijing.
State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. said it had awarded two contracts worth $1.6 billion (1.4 billion euros) to BGP Inc., a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Co., for a seismic survey in the emirate.
The survey is to search for oil and gas in onshore and offshore sites covering an area of 53,000 square kilometres (20,463 square miles), the statement said.
State-run CNPC already has two concession rights contracts with ADNOC worth around $3 billion.
The UAE's state-owned DP World also announced an agreement by the two countries to build a new trade zone in Dubai.
The deal between the global port operator and the Zhejiang China Commodities City Group will see a "traders' market" built at Dubai's Jebel Ali free zone.
The project is part of China's trillion-dollar "One Belt, One Road" infrastructure initiative, an ambitious plan to revive the ancient Silk Road trading routes with a global network of ports, roads and railways.
The new facility will cover three square kilometres at the Jebel Ali site, which is the Middle East's largest trade zone, DP World said in a statement.
The market will host a vast range of goods from food and cosmetics to building materials and technology.
DP World, which operates in 40 countries, did not announce the value of the deal or provide a timeframe for its construction.
China is the United Arab Emirates' top trading partner, with non-oil trade in 2017 rising 15 percent year-on-year to over $53.3 billion -- more than 90 percent of it Chinese exports to the UAE, according to Abu Dhabi's finance ministry.
The UAE is also one of the top 15 crude suppliers to China, exporting some $4 billion worth of oil to Beijing last year. Ninety-six percent of the country's oil reserves are located in Abu Dhabi.
In a further sign of strengthening ties between the two countries, Dubai-based real estate developer Emaar Properties on Wednesday announced plans to build the Middle East's largest Chinatown in the UAE.


Iran faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

Since protests began in December, Iranians have had their internet access disrupted and have lost access to the messaging app Telegram. (Reuters)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Iran faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

  • The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government

GENEVA, LONDON: In early January, labor activist Esmail Bakhshi posted a letter on Instagram saying he had been tortured in jail, attracting support from tens of thousands of Iranians online.
Bakhshi, who said he was still in pain, also challenged the intelligence minister to a public debate about the religious justification for torture. Late last month, Bakhshi was rearrested.
Sepideh Qoliyan, a journalist covering labor issues in the Ahvaz region, was also rearrested on the same day after saying on social media that she had been abused in jail.
Bakhshi’s allegations of torture and the social media furor that followed led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to call for an investigation, and the intelligence minister subsequently met with a parliamentary committee to discuss the case, a rare example of top officials being prompted to act by a public backlash online.
“Each sentence and description of torture from the mouths of #Sepideh_Qoliyan and #Esmail_Bakhshi should be remembered and not forgotten because they are now alone with the torturers and under pressure and defenseless. Let us not forget,” a user named Atish posted on Twitter in Farsi on Feb. 11.
“When thousands of people share it on social media, the pressure for accountability goes up,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director at the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. “Sham investigations won’t put it to rest. Social media is definitely becoming a major, major public square in Iran.”
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said last month, without naming Bakhshi, that allegations of torture online constitute a crime.
His comments follow growing pressure from officials to close Instagram, which has about 24 million users in Iran. Iran last year shut down the Telegram messaging app, which had about 40 million users in the country, citing security concerns.
“Today you see in cyberspace that with the posting of a film or lie or rumor the situation in the country can fall apart,” Dolatabadi said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “You saw in recent days that they spread a rumor and announced the rape of an individual or claimed suicide and recently you even saw claims of torture and all the powers in the country get drawn in. Today cyberspace has been transformed into a very broad platform for committing crimes.”
The arrests of Bakhshi and Qoliyan are part of a crackdown in Ahvaz, center of Iran’s Arab population. Hundreds of activists there pushing for workers’ and minority rights, two of the most contentious issues in Iran, have been detained in recent weeks.
The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government.