EU imposes tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – The EU has imposed tariffs on rice from Cambodia for the next three years after a probe found out "significant increase" in the import of the Cambodian grain, media reports said Friday.

The European Commission said rising imports of Indica rice from Cambodia and Myanmar into the EU market "has caused economic damage to European producers", the Phnom Penh Post reported.

The move effectively ends the duty-free status of the Cambodian rice in the EU market.

The tariff rate on the Cambodian rice will be gradually reduced over the period of three years, the daily said. However, Cambodian rice producers will have to pay around $53 million in the first year based on the amount of the rice the country sold to the EU in 2018.

Cambodia exported a total of 626,225 tonnes of rice last year, of which the EU bought around 43 percent or 269,127 tonnes.

The Southeast Asian nation is looking to China to expand its rice exports. China has given Cambodia a quota of 300,000 tonnes per year but Cambodia could only export 170,000 tonnes of rice to the country, the news report said.

Kashmir: Avalanche buries 10 along Indo-China border

             By Riyaz ul Khaliq <br>  

ANKARA (AA) – Ten people were buried under snow Friday when an avalanche hit civilians along the border between India and China in disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

Local media reports said that three of the 10 died and their bodies were recovered while the search for others is ongoing in the Ladakh region, reported Indian daily Express.

“The incident took place when the civilians were digging snow in the area,” the report said. The army and local police are conducting rescue operations. The incident is reported to have happened at 7:30 in the morning (0130GMT) today.

Khardung La is a mountain pass in the Leh district of Ladakh, made up of two districts in Jammu and Kashmir bordering China. The district experienced minus 12 C (10.4 F) temperature today, reports added.

The Indian Border Roads Organization (BRO) is engaged in the search and rescue mission along with police, disaster teams, and the army.

“Rescue operation launched after civilians got buried under snow. It is believed that they were digging snow at Khardung La in Leh. Digging triggered a snow slide and civilians got buried. We are fearing that the civilians are trapped,” a local district administration official said.

This winter Kashmir has seen severe cold and heavy snowfall. More snow and rainfall have been predicted.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

NASA sought Chinese help for US mission

            By Riyaz ul Khaliq<br>  

ANKARA (AA) – Scientists in China claimed NASA sought their help to launch a mission on the moon.

The South China Morning Daily said the revelation was made by a top scientist involved in China’s lunar project.

“Wu Weiren, chief scientist of China’s lunar program, said NASA scientists made the request at an international conference a few years ago,” the newspaper reported.

The claim was made Tuesday when Chinese scientists released pictures of a grown up seed of cotton carried to the moon by Chinese mission Chang'e 4.

“US space scientists asked permission to use Chang’e 4 spacecraft and relay satellite to help them plan an American mission to the far side of the moon,” the newspaper quoted Chinese scientist.

Wu said American scientists asked China to “extend the Queqiao relay satellite’s lifespan and allow an American beacon device to be placed on Chang’e 4.

“We asked the Americans why they wanted our relay satellite to operate longer,” Wu said. “It would help the U.S. side plan its own lunar landing strategy.”

The report said that Queqiao relay satellite played a “critical” role in Chang’e 4’s historic soft landing on the moon’s far side Jan. 3.

N. Korea plans to build highway with Chinese investment

                <p>By Riyaz ul Khaliq</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - North Korea is looking for Chinese investment to build a 112-kilometer (70 miles) highway that would connect Wonsan and Hamhung on the country’s east coast, local media reported.</p>    <p>With a budget of $890 million, construction of the highway will be divided into five zones, The Chosunilbo said in a report.</p>    <p>Citing the website of China’s official government tender, the daily said, North Korea’s Ministry of External Economic Relations had advertised a tender on Oct. 30, 2018 in this regard.</p>    <p>“A Chinese company in the border city of Dandong has been contracted by the ministry to float the tender, while Chinese banks will raise the funds with a view to the North eventually repaying the money,” it added.</p>    <p>However, concerns remain as to how the plan would be executed since sanctions on Pyongyang have prevented countries to invest in North Korea.</p>    <p>The construction of the proposed highway will start by April this year and conclude in April 2022.</p>  <p> </p>  <p> </p><br>

US concerned over China's expanding influence

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. is growing concerned over China's moves to expand its influence worldwide through both military and economic means.</p>  <p>In a report published Monday, the Pentagon said China is working towards outnumbering the U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific and replacing it as the foremost power in that region.</p>  <p>&quot;The Department is concerned by actions China’s government has taken that are out of step with international norms, diminish countries’ sovereignty, or undermine the security of the United States, our allies, or our partners,&quot; the Pentagon said.</p>  <p>China currently has a military base in Djibouti and is expected to open more in other countries, allowing them to &quot;sustain operations abroad and hold strategic economic corridors at risk&quot;.</p>  <p>The report also said that China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, while also an economic venture, is a foreign policy tool used by the country to deter other nations from speaking out against or confronting Beijing on issues it finds sensitive.</p>  <p>The same is said about the 21st Century Digital Silk Road project, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has advocated for alongside OBOR.</p>  <p>&quot;While providing benefits to host countries, these projects will also facilitate China’s efforts to expand science and technology cooperation, promote its unique national technical standards, further its objectives for technology transfer, and potentially enable politically-motivated censorship,&quot; the Pentagon said in the report.</p>  <p>The OBOR initiative could also help bolster military advantages by allowing the Chinese naval access to areas like the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, which are all a long way from mainland China.</p>  <p>&quot;China seeks this presence based on its changing military focus and expanding international economic interests, which are increasing demands for the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication,&quot; the Pentagon said.</p>  <p>The report also asserts that increased global activities by Beijing have been leveraged to obtain political influence in other countries, citing 17 examples where Chinese investment abroad led to negative effects on the host countries’ economies.</p>  <p>In some cases, China used &quot;economic coercion to achieve specific political objectives&quot;.</p>  <p>While the Defense Department noted that not all of Beijing's activities were a problem, they would respond by building a more lethal force to gain military advantage, strengthening allies and partners, and potentially reforming the department.</p>  <p>Although the U.S. is open to working with China in areas of mutual interest, Washington will confront Beijing over its market-distorting practices, failure to respect intellectual property and cyber intrusions into commercial networks, the report added.

Chinese lunar mission bears fruit, grows cotton seed

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – In a first ever experiment, a cotton seed has grown on the moon, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.

A team led by Chinese scientists from Chongqing University in southwest of China sent seeds of cotton, rape, potato and Arabidopsis, as well as fruit fly eggs and some yeast, according to Xinhua news agency.

Carried by the Chang'e-4 mission, the scientists succeeded in bearing fruit on the moon.

“[The experiment was] to form a simple mini biosphere,” the scientists said.

The report said the images received from the mission showed that a cotton sprout had grown well adding that “no other plants were found growing.”

EU's trade deficit reaches nearly $30B in Jan-Nov 2018

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – Foreign trade balance of the EU saw a deficit of €25.2 billion (nearly $30 billion) in January-November 2018, according to the EU's statistical office on Tuesday.

Eurostat said the 28-member bloc's exports of goods surged 4.7 percent year-on-year to reach €1.800 trillion ($2.142 trillion) in the 11-month period of last year.

Imports of the EU from the rest of the world amounted to €1.825 trillion ($2.172 trillion) with an annual hike of 6.7 percent.

In the same period, the intra-EU28 trade went up 5.7 percent on a yearly basis, reaching €3.25 trillion ($3.87 trillion).

One euro was exchanged for $1.19 on average in January-November last year, while the average EUR/USD exchange rate was 1.12 over the same period in 2017.

The U.S. was the top export market for the EU in that period with around €374 billion ($445 billion) or nearly 21 percent of the bloc's 11-month total exports.

By export volume, China, Switzerland, Russia, and Turkey followed the U.S. in the same period.

China was the leading source for the EU's imports with some €363 billion ($432 billion) or almost 20 percent of total imports — followed by the U.S., Russia, Switzerland, and Norway.

Country-to-country trade balances showed that the bloc saw the largest deficit with China — nearly €170 billion ($202 billion) –, and the highest surplus with the U.S. — €129 billion ($153 billion) over the same period.

Canadian sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China

             By Barry Ellsworth </p>  <p>TRENTON, Canada (AA) - Diplomatic relations between China and Canada deteriorated further Monday after a Chinese court overruled an earlier decision and sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug smuggling.</p>  <p>Robert Lloyd Schellenberg filed an appeal, saying he was a tourist and was duped by criminals after he was sentenced to 15 years at an earlier trial for smuggling methamphetamines.</p>  <p>But Canada arrested Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou last month at the request of the U.S. government who wanted her to face fraud charges there. She is out on bail in Vancouver while awaiting an extradition hearing.</p>  <p>The arrest incensed China that called for her to be released.</p>  <p>Chinese authorities called for a retrial for Schellenberg last month, declaring the 15-year sentence was too lenient and Monday the court in northeast China ordered the death sentence.</p>  <p>Prosecutors told the court new evidence “highly suggests Schellenberg was involved in an organized international drug crime.” The retrial lasted one day.</p>  <p>Before the retrial, Schellenberg’s family expressed concern he would become a bargaining chip in a bid to have Meng released.</p>  <p>“He’s become a pawn,” said his aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones.</p>  <p>As well, since Meng’s arrest, two Canadians have been detained in China and charged with “endangering national security” although no details of the exact nature of the charges have been announced. The two Canadians are in secret detention.</p>  <p>Canadian officials have not yet commented on the Schellenberg sentence.

China: Coal mine collapse kills 21 workers

By Fuat Kabakci

BEIJING (AA) – At least 21 miners were killed after a coal mine collapsed in northwest China, with two trapped miners found dead on Sunday morning.

The accident happened on Saturday afternoon in northwest Shaanxi Province at the Lijiagou coal mine, reported Xinhua News Agency.

A total of 87 people were working underground in the mine at the time of the accident, 66 of them were managed to be rescued after the accident.

An investigation were launched to find the cause of the accident.

Game-changing Chinese missile to Pakistan a ‘deterrent’

                By Aamir Latif</p>    <p>KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - A new generation anti-ship Chinese missile, which Pakistan Navy is going to induct in 2021, will serve as a “deterrent” but simultaneously aggravate an already escalating arms race between the nuclear-armed neighbors, Pakistan and India, analysts said.</p>    <p>The CM-302 -- capable of flying at three times the speed of sound -- is supposed to be a primary weapon onboard the four new generation Type 054 frigates -- which Beijing is building for Pakistan Navy.</p>    <p>Type-054 A is an extremely potent and state of the art warship equipped with latest weapons, including long-range missiles and hi-tech sensors, capable to undertake operations in all domains of naval warfare.</p>    <p>In December 2018, the steel cutting ceremony of first warship of Type 054 was held at Hudong Zhonghua (HZ) Shipyard China.</p>    <p>Quoting Indian Navy officials and experts, Indian media earlier this week reported that the acquisition of the CM-302 missile will neutralize an advantage the Indian Navy had been enjoying since 2005 in the Indian Ocean because of its BrahaMos anti-ship cruise missiles.</p>    <p>Also, the Chinese missile -- dubbed as a “game changer” by the Indian experts -- matches both the supersonic speed and the range of the BrahaMos missiles that have been deployed on several front-line frigates and destroyers of the Indian Navy, India’s NDTV reported.</p>    <p>“This is true that the CM-302 missile will negate the advantage the Indian Navy has been enjoying over Pakistan Navy. But it will act as a deterrent,” Ikram Sehgal, a Karachi-based defense analyst, told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>“In fact, it will be good for peace because it will maintain the equilibrium between the two navies in terms of weaponry,” opined Sehgal, who is also editor of Defense Journal of Pakistan -- a reputable defense magazine.</p>    <p>“A sizeable imbalance in terms of conventional warfare might lead to nuclear threshold. Therefore, such developments, which actually balance the difference in conventional warfare, in which Pakistan certainly has a disadvantage, will serve as a deterrent,” he maintained.

– China – Pakistan defense ties

<p>Lt. Gen. (retired) Talat Masood, an Islamabad-based defense analyst, sees the development as “significant”, terming it another reflection of growing ties between Islamabad and Beijing.</p>    <p>“This is one of the current missiles, which are compatible to the Indian missiles. It will certainly boost the operational capabilities of Pakistan Navy, though it will take some time,” Masood, who served as a three-star general in Pakistan army from 1950 to 1990, told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>Another aspect of this development, he opined, was that China wanted Pakistan to engage India to foil its bid to take on Beijing.</p>    <p>“China wants to see India engaged in the region through Pakistan rather than becoming a threat to Beijing,” he maintained.</p>    <p>China has long been Pakistan’s largest defense partner with the latter’s growing reliance on the former in recent years following strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.</p>    <p>Pakistan sealed a $5 billion deal with China in 2016 for the acquisition of 8 Chinese Yuan-class type 041 diesel submarines by 2028 to “address force imbalance” with its arch-rival India.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Arms Race</p>    <p>The development, according to analysts, will further exacerbate the ongoing arms race between the two arch-rivals locked in a string of sea and land disputes and have fought three wars and a three-week long skirmish since 1947.</p>    <p>“Certainly, it will add up to the ongoing arms race because now New Delhi will look for an alternative to maintain its advantage over Pakistan,” Sehgal said, adding: “New Delhi’s possible endeavor to keep its advantage intact will undoubtedly propel Pakistan to go for further procurements.”</p>    <p>Masood shared a similar view.</p>    <p>“The latest development is part of an ongoing arms race between the two nuclear rivals, and it will continue in future as well,” he said.</p>    <p>Currently, New Delhi is spending $40 billion a year on defense, while Pakistan has earmarked $7.6 billion for defense expenditures this fiscal year.</p>    <p>India ranked eighth on the list of countries with the largest military expenditures, while Pakistan’s defense budget was five times smaller.</p>    <p>India boasts the world’s third largest army after the U.S. and China, with an active troop strength of over 1.3 million. Pakistan, meanwhile, stands eighth on the list with a 600,000-man army.</p>    <p>China represents Pakistan’s largest defense partner, followed by the U.S. -- Islamabad’s ally in the so-called war on terrorism.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Nuclear powers</p>    <p>Pakistan and India are among a small handful countries with nuclear arsenals. India joined the nuclear club long before Pakistan, in 1974, prompting Islamabad to follow suit.</p>    <p>Pakistan silently developed its own nuclear capability in the 1980s, when it was an ally of the U.S. in the first Afghan war against the crumbling Soviet Union.</p>    <p>It did not conduct any nuclear tests until India carried out a series of its own tests in 1999. Only three weeks later, Pakistan conducted six successful tests in the remote Chaghi district near the Afghanistan-Iran border, stoking fears of a nuclear war between the longtime rivals. </p>    <p>According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India currently possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan holds between 90 and 110.</p>