China hosts Arab leaders at forum aimed at deepening ties

China hosts Arab leaders at forum aimed at deepening ties
President Xi Jinping, center, is set to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the cooperation forum between China and Arab states. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 May 2024
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China hosts Arab leaders at forum aimed at deepening ties

China hosts Arab leaders at forum aimed at deepening ties
  • Beijing has sought to build closer ties with Arab states in recent years
  • Last year it brokered a detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia

BEIJING: China on Wednesday hosts a litany of Arab dignitaries and diplomats ahead of a forum Beijing hopes will deepen ties with the region and present a “common voice” on the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Beijing has sought to build closer ties with Arab states in recent years, and last year brokered a detente between Tehran and its long-time foe Saudi Arabia.
It has also historically been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
And Beijing last month hosted rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah for “in-depth and candid talks on promoting intra-Palestinian reconciliation.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, as well as a host of other regional leaders and diplomats, are among the delegates attending the forum.
President Xi Jinping is set to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony on Thursday, Beijing has said, aimed at building “common consensus” between China and Arab states.
Top of the agenda will be the war between Israel and Hamas, which Xi has called for an “international peace conference” to resolve.
China sees a “strategic opportunity to boost its reputation and standing in the Arab world” by framing its efforts to end that conflict against US inaction, Ahmed Aboudouh, an associate fellow with the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme, said.
“This, in turn, serves Beijing’s focus on undermining the US’s credibility and influence in the region,” he said.
“The longer the war, the easier for China to pursue this objective,” he added.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with counterparts from Yemen and Sudan in Beijing, saying he hoped to “strengthen solidarity and coordination” with the Arab world.
He also raised China’s concerns over disruptive attacks on Red Sea shipping by Iran-backed Houthi forces acting in solidarity with Hamas with his Yemeni counterpart Shayea Mohsen Al-Zindani.
“China calls for an end to the harassment of civilian vessels and to ensure the safety of waterways in the Red Sea,” state news agency Xinhua quoted him as saying.


Princess of Wales appears at first public event since cancer diagnosis

Princess of Wales appears at first public event since cancer diagnosis
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Princess of Wales appears at first public event since cancer diagnosis

Princess of Wales appears at first public event since cancer diagnosis

Catherine, Princess of Wales, appears at first public event since cancer diagnosis


Indian technology institute to start undergrad courses in UAE

Indian technology institute to start undergrad courses in UAE
Students participate in a summer program run by the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi in Abu Dhabi in July 2023. (WAM)
Updated 13 min 50 sec ago
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Indian technology institute to start undergrad courses in UAE

Indian technology institute to start undergrad courses in UAE
  • Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi globally ranks 45th in engineering and technology
  • Its UAE branch was established in 2023 and is the IIT’s first campus set up abroad

NEW DELHI: The Abu Dhabi branch of the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi is set to start its first undergraduate courses in September — a milestone expected to kickstart the school’s further expansion in Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi is a public engineering institute in the Indian capital, one of 23 IITs operating across the country and offering undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate-level programs.

Run by the Indian Ministry of Education, it is considered one of the best centers of excellence for training, research and science in India, and is globally ranked 45th in engineering and technology in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024.

The institute’s UAE branch is funded by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education based on an agreement with the Indian government signed in July 2023.

Currently hosted by Zayed University, the IIT-Delhi Abu Dhabi started its teaching program in January with a master’s course in energy transition and sustainability, which paved the way for full-fledged operations to be launched in the academic year 2024-25.

“The undergraduate program is a flagship program of the IITs and hence its launch is significant,” Prof. Shantanu Roy, director of the IIT Delhi-Abu Dhabi, told Arab News this week.

“We would like to reach out to international students in the GCC countries. We will also be rolling out our research programs shortly and would like to engage with partners in Abu Dhabi, UAE and the region. IIT-Delhi Abu Dhabi will serve as a meeting point between IIT Delhi and its long 60-plus years legacy in teaching and research, and partners and collaborators in the UAE and neighboring countries.”

The two upcoming undergraduate programs will have a batch of 30 students each. Most of the students will enter based on the institute’s new examination, which the director said was customized for the UAE.

“A significant number of Emirati students have registered ... We see many students in our outreach programs,” Roy said.

“Eleven out of 18 students in our inaugural master’s program in energy transition and sustainability are UAE nationals. They are doing very well, and we are proud of them.”

The offshore campus is a part of the UAE-India comprehensive economic partnership agreement that came into force in May 2022.

The UAE branch is the IIT’s first campus set up abroad.

“The opening of the IIT campus in Abu Dhabi is indeed a significant milestone,” Sunjay Sudhir, Indian ambassador to the UAE told Arab News. “Now, in September, the first bachelor of technology courses in computer science and energy will commence.”

He said that IIT operations would not only strengthen the institute’s global brand, but also Abu Dhabi’s position as a hub for high-tech and innovation.

“The IIT-Delhi campus will be an important part of the innovation ecosystem of this country,” Sudhir said. “We expect a strong linkage between the IIT-Delhi campus and other research teaching establishments and also industries.”


Philippines seeks UN confirmation of its vast continental seabed in the disputed South China Sea

Philippines seeks UN confirmation of its vast continental seabed in the disputed South China Sea
Updated 11 min 42 sec ago
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Philippines seeks UN confirmation of its vast continental seabed in the disputed South China Sea

Philippines seeks UN confirmation of its vast continental seabed in the disputed South China Sea
  • The Philippine government submits information to UN body on the extent of its undersea shelf in the South China Sea

MANILA: The Philippines has asked a United Nations body to formally recognize the extent of its undersea continental seabed in the South China Sea, where it would have the exclusive right to exploit resources, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Saturday, in a move that rejects China’s vast territorial claims to the region.
The Philippine government submitted information to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on the extent of its undersea shelf in the South China Sea, off western Palawan province, after more than a decade and a half of scientific research, the department said.
China did not immediately comment but it will likely contest the Philippine move.
The undersea region where the Philippines seeks to formally establish its sovereign rights under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, covers the Spratlys, a chain of islands, islets, reefs and atolls that has been fiercely contested over the years by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Indonesia has also confronted Chinese coast guard and fishing fleets in the gas-rich Natuna sea in the fringes of the South China Sea.
“Incidents in the waters tend to overshadow the importance of what lies beneath,” Philippine Foreign Assistant Secretary Marshall Louis Alferez said. “The seabed and the subsoil extending from our archipelago up to the maximum extent allowed by UNCLOS hold significant potential resources that will benefit our nation and our people for generations to come.”
“Today, we secure our future by making a manifestation of our exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources in our extended continental shelf entitlement,” Alferez said.
Under the 1982 UN convention, a coastal state could have exclusive rights to exploit resources in its continental shelf, a vast stretch of seabed that can extend up to 350 nautical miles (648 kilometers), including the right to authorize and regulate any kind of drilling.
The Philippines’ undersea continental shelf could potentially overlap with those of other coastal states in the South China Sea, including that of Vietnam. Philippine officials expressed readiness to hold talks to resolve such issues based on UNCLOS.
Philippine permanent representative to the UN Antonio Lagdameo said the move “can reinvigorate efforts of states to demonstrate their readiness to pursue UNCLOS processes in the determination of maritime entitlements and promote a rules-based international order.”
Hostilities and tensions in the disputed waters have alarmingly escalated particularly between China and the Philippines over two disputed shoals since last year. Chinese coast guard ships and suspected militia vessels have used powerful water cannons and dangerous blocking maneuvers against Philippine coast guard patrol ships and navy boats that have injured Filipino navy personnel, damaged their supply boats and strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.
After a tense standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships near a shoal in 2012, the Philippines brought its disputes with China the following year to international arbitration. The arbitration panel invalidated China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea in a 2016 ruling but Beijing refused to participate in the arbitration, rejected the decision and continues to defy it.


North Korea building roads, walls inside Demilitarized Zone: Yonhap

North Korea building roads, walls inside Demilitarized Zone: Yonhap
Updated 15 June 2024
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North Korea building roads, walls inside Demilitarized Zone: Yonhap

North Korea building roads, walls inside Demilitarized Zone: Yonhap
  • Construction activities are taking place north of the Military Demarcation Line that runs through the middle of the DMZ
  • North Korea strictly controls the flow of information inside its borders, and is extremely sensitive about its people gaining access to South Korean content

SEOUL: North Korea’s military has been building roads and walls inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates it from the South, the Yonhap news agency reported Saturday.
The construction activities are taking place north of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that runs through the middle of the DMZ, the South Korean agency said, citing an unnamed military source.
The report follows an incident last week when South Korean forces fired warning shots after North Korean soldiers briefly crossed the MDL.
South Korean authorities said it was likely accidental, and Yonhap quoted a military spokesman as saying some of the North Koreans were carrying work tools.
“Recently, the North Korean military has been erecting walls, digging the ground and constructing roads in some areas between the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) and the Northern Limit Line in the DMZ,” the military source said, according to Yonhap on Saturday.
It was not clear what they were building, the source told Yonhap.
When asked about the report, the South Korean military said in a statement that it was “closely tracking and monitoring the activities of the North Korean military,” and that “further analysis is required.”
It said it could not share the South Korean response to these actions “to ensure the safety of the personnel proceeding with an operation,” without offering further details.
South Korea’s spy agency said this week that it had detected signs that North Korea was demolishing sections of a railway line connecting the two countries.
That followed an escalation in the propaganda war between the two Koreas.
North Korea sent more than a thousand balloons carrying trash into the South, describing them as retaliation for the propaganda balloons sent the other way by anti-Pyongyang activists.
Then, South Korea resumed blasting K-pop songs and news broadcasts at the North, using loudspeakers installed at the border.
The resumption of the loudspeaker campaign prompted Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to threaten an unspecified “new countermeasure.”
North Korea strictly controls the flow of information inside its borders, and is extremely sensitive about its people gaining access to South Korean content, especially pop culture.
It has previously threatened artillery strikes against the South Korean loudspeakers — a psychological warfare tactic that dates back to the 1950-53 Korean War.


Chinese Premier Li launches trade-friendly Australia visit

Chinese Premier Li launches trade-friendly Australia visit
Updated 15 June 2024
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Chinese Premier Li launches trade-friendly Australia visit

Chinese Premier Li launches trade-friendly Australia visit
  • Premier Li Qiang is the second most powerful man in China after President Xi Jinping

SYDNEY: China’s Premier Li Qiang embarked on a four-day trip to Australia on Saturday, dangling the promise of expanded trade even as the two nations compete for influence in the Pacific.
Li – the second most powerful man in China after President Xi Jinping – touched down at Adelaide Airport at the start of his diplomatic mission across the resource-rich continent.