MONTH IN BRIEF
Putin welcomes China’s top diplomat
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed China’s top diplomat at the Kremlin as the two countries deepen their strategic partnership amid growingfears that Beijing could provide military support to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, told Putin that ties between Russia and China had withstood the pressure from a volatile international situation and that crises offered certain opportunities.According to China’s most senior diplomat, the relationship between his government and Russia was not directed against any third party but equally would ‘not succumb to pressure from third parties’.
AUKUS subs to boost Oz defence
Australia’s fleet of nuclear submarines provided under the AUKUS agreement will be the ‘biggest leap in our defence capability in our history’, according to the country’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The new fleet was built in cooperation with the US and the UK under the AUKUS security arrangement, which was signed in September 2021. In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra, Mr Albanese described AUKUS as the ‘future’, saying Australia has long known that ‘partnerships and alliances are key to our security’.
Taiwan’s military said it alerted aviation authorities after seeing a balloon floating in its airspace on 24 Feb., one week after the self-ruled island found remnants of what was believed to be a crashed Chinese meteorological instrument.According to its initial analysis, the air force said the object in ‘northern airspace’ was for meteorological and scientific research purposes.‘As it could affect aviation safety, we have notified the aviation control units to remind airplanes to beware,’ the air force statement said.
Modi calls for lending reform
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those calling for reform of global lenders such as the World Bank, as G-20 finance ministers and central bank heads gathered in Bengaluru.The talks focused on the ongoing damage wrought by the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine war, as well as debt relief for poorer nations reeling from high food and fuel prices.‘Trust in international financial institutions has eroded,’ Mr Modi said by video link as the two-day gathering began, adding that this was‘partly because they have been slow to reform themselves’.
Academic arrested by Taliban
Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities have arrested an academic who ripped up his degree certificates on live television, in protest against a ban on women’s university education in the country. ‘From today I don’t need these diplomas anymore because this country is no place for an education,’ veteran journalism lecturer Ismail Mashal said in the video, which went viral on social media last month. ‘If my sister and my mother can’t study, then I don’t accept this education.’ Mashal’s aide, Farid Ahmad Fazli, said the academic was ‘mercilessly beaten’ and taken away by members of ‘the Islamic Emirate’.
The Indian government has unveiled Bhar OS, a home-grown mobile operating system (OS) – a software that is the core interface on smartphones – that is being pitched as the country’s answer to Google-owned Android and Apple-owned iOS, the world’s dominant mobile operating systems. Developed at a start-up incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras – one of the country’s top engineering colleges – BharOS is a government-funded project to develop a free and open-source OS for use in government and public systems.
Concern over Cambodian bird flu
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with Cambodian authorities after two confirmed human cases of H5N1 bird flu were found among one family in the country.
Describing the situation as ‘worrying’ due to the rise in cases in birds and mammals, Dr Sylvie Briand, director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, told reporters in a virtual briefing that WHO was reviewing its global risk assessment in the light of the recent developments.The United Nations health agency last assessed the risk to humans from avian flu as low earlier in February.
Giant panda heads for China
A giant panda born in Japan has set off for China from the Tokyo zoo where she was raised, amid tears and shouts of farewell from fans. A hugely popular attraction at Ueno Zoo since her birth there nearly six years ago, Xiang Xiang returned to China under an agreement in which giant pandas are loaned to zoos around the world, but China maintains ownership of any such loaned bears and their offspring.Xiang Xiang’s original return in December 2020 was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.