The RSS | Asia Times http://www.atimes.com Covering geo-political news and current affairs across Asia Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:46:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Monday’s blockchain news, from Asia and beyond http://www.atimes.com/article/mondays-blockchain-news-from-asia-and-beyond-2/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:46:58 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291615 Tightening HK regulations, more Marshall coin, HTC shipping Exodus1, Ripple remittances to Asia and how Trump might build the wall, with a crypto Hong Kong to tighten crypto-currency rules: In the city’s ever-evolving digital currency scene, exchanges and traders will now be put under the oversight of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). Local media reports indicate investment funds with more than 10% of their assets made up of crypto-currencies will require a license. The SFC made some initial statements on this in November, but if confirmed, it would represent a ramp-up of regulatory rules.

More on Marshall Islands’ crypto-currency:
A report from Bloomberg classifies the Marshall Islands’ crypto project as both a speculative move against financial isolation and also a unique product of the country’s geopolitical situation. The controversial project, known as SOV or Sovereign, that almost led to a vote of no confidence for President Hilda Heine, is a desperate “get-rich-quick scheme to cope with rising seas.”

HTC Exodus1 blockchain phone sees first wave of shipments: Tech reviewers may have been rather underwhelmed by the HTC Exodus1 blockchain phone offering – although it does have plenty of novelty value – but HTC Exodus1 is now shipping its blockchain phone. Purchases of the phone can be made with Litecoin, Bitcoin or Ethereum cryptos and it comes with a Zion crypto wallet, runs dApps, along with cryptokitties. Last week, Korean competitor Samsung has already denied it will be doing something similar with crypto and its smartphones, despite reports to the contrary.

Ripple starts UAE-to-Asia remittances: According to Reuters, the UAE Exchange Finablr has partnered with Ripple to start cross-border remittances to Asia using blockchain. Asia reportedly received close to $613 billion in global remittances last year, with much of that coming through foreign exchange branches but a growing chunk is being transferred via websites and apps with a significant chunk arriving from the Middle East. The new Ripple initiative will commence in Q1 2019.

Wall coins, coming to a border near you?: An Ohio Republican congressman has reportedly offered to fund US President Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall using crypto-currencies. Ohio Republican Congressman Warren Davidson told NPR about his “Buy a Brick, Build a Wall” idea. “You could do with this sort of, like, crowdfunding site,” said Davidson. “Or you could even do blockchain, and you could have wall coins.” Where do we sign up?

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Domestic workers protest at overcharging, ill-treatment http://www.atimes.com/article/domestic-workers-protest-at-overcharging-ill-treatment/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:46:39 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291564 More than 30 workers marched to Hong Kong Government Headquarters to demand better protection Domestic workers in Hong Kong have called for the government to investigate and prosecute employment agencies that overcharge their clients, as will as preventing ill-treatment by employers.

More than 30 workers marched from Chater Garden in Central to Government Headquarters in Admiralty on Hong Kong Island on Sunday afternoon to publicize their demands for better protection of the rights of domestic workers, Oriental Daily reported.

The Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) said that although the government had amended the Employment Ordinance early this year to increase the maximum penalties for the offenses of overcharging commissions from job-seekers and the unlicensed operation of employment agencies, irregularities are still found.

A domestic worker named Urcia, who came to Hong Kong for the second time, said her agency required her to pay a fee of HK$6,700 (more than US$850). Hong Kong employment agencies are permitted to charge an amount not exceeding a sum equal to 10% of a maid’s first month’s wages. The current maximum is HK$452.

Urcia could only afford HK$1,500 at that time and the employment agency held her passport. After a long process of negotiation and with help from the labor union, she got her passport back.

Urcia criticized the agency as being unfair. She said domestic workers should be treated with dignity.

Another domestic worker named Hufana said her employer only offered her a bowl of congee or bread and coffee for breakfast, affecting her work performance as she didn’t get enough food.

She claimed she needed to purchase food with her own money.

She called on the government to protect domestic workers in Hong Kong better, creating a fair work environment for them.

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Firing of Tsai security official fuels talk of PLA infiltration http://www.atimes.com/article/firing-of-tsai-security-official-fuels-talk-of-pla-infiltration/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:32:58 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291514 Two officers also suspended from duties for alleged dating out of wedlock A military sergeant responsible for the security of the president and vice-president of Taiwan has been dismissed for “fraud and illegal gambling,” Taiwanese newspapers reported over the weekend.

But observers are keen to see if the embittered President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party just suffered a thumping rout in last month’s regional elections, feels insecure as rumors about Chinese agents infiltrating her security detail continue to fly.

The dismissed sergeant served in the Military Police Security Battalion tasked with protecting the president and vice-president as well as guarding their official offices and residences, including the iconic Presidential Palace in Taipei.

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The Presidential Palace in Taipei. Photo: Facebook

He is accused of betting on sports matches via unregulated gambling groups as well as fraud linked to illegal gambling, according to his indictment.

A local court has already convicted him on fraud charges and ordered him to pay a fine, but his commander was kept in the dark until the court sent an injunction this month demanding that the sergeant’s salary be withheld.

But it is said that the sergeant, an avid soccer fan and repeat gambler, could have been approached by betting groups from China who goaded him into spying for the Chinese military, especially details regarding Tsai’s security protocol and her communications and emergency arrangements.

It is believed that more dismissals can be expected when Tsai is forced to review security protocols and turf out untrustworthy aides and guards or those who may have been compromised by China.

Meanwhile, another extramarital-affair scandal has hit Tsai’s security battalion, after two officers were accused of adultery.

A married colonel who is the first female military officer to have served at the Presidential Palace is said to be involved with one of Tsai’s closest bodyguards, a man who is reportedly 12 years younger than the colonel.

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The female colonel (right) has accompanied Tsai on many occasions. Photo: Facebook
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A bodyguard of Tsai (right) has allegedly been found to be dating a married colonel 12 years older than him. Photo: Facebook

The exposé by Taiwanese papers includes their check-in records into motel rooms in a suburb of Taipei.

The two have been suspended from their duties pending investigation and disciplinary action.

The colonel was also the subject of a sexual-harassment complaint filed by another male bodyguard of the president.

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Rural Korean city all a-buzz with drone soccer http://www.atimes.com/article/rural-korean-city-all-a-buzz-with-drone-soccer/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:27:30 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291540 Drone soccer player numbers have doubled in one year in South Korea and it is taking flight globally. Is this a real-life Quidditch? First, there’s the sound of a giant beehive. Then comes the sensation of hundreds of bees rushing towards your face as wind blasts your hair.

But it is not an insect – it’s a big ball. In fact, it’s 10 big balls. Ten big, geometrical balls flying three meters high in an arena and colliding with each other in a futuristic, clashing flash of LED lights.

Visually, it’s a striking contrast between darkness and the blue, green, yellow, purple and red lights. Audibly, there’s occasional music – blaring through speakers – but more dominant is the buzz of the rotors.

The aim is simple: score points by sending a drone through the opposing team goal – a hoop hanging three meters high in the 13-meter long, 7-meter wide pitch. Among the five drones in play in each team, only one can go through: the “striker” drone, identified by two yellow papers attached to it.

Gooooaaal! When a striker drone enters the hoop, a goal is scored. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times
Gooooaaal! When a striker drone enters the hoop, a goal is scored. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times

The four other drones can do whatever they please – a conventional game plan is to have a goalkeeper, a defender, a midfield player and an assistant attacking with the striker. Things move fast: One round lasts three minutes and there are three rounds to a game. On the sidelines, anxious team members sit ready next to toolboxes spread out on benches.

Welcome to drone soccer, a wannabe game of the future that requires piloting, mechanical and strategic skills, team spirit – and plenty of high-tech carbon fiber.

“Usually, technological games are games you play alone,” said Kwang Jeong-ho an elementary school teacher attending the 12th Drone Soccer Competition in an adjunct building to the World Cup Stadium in Jeonju on Saturday. “With drone soccer, you build a community, you can play together and interact. We all shout at each other,” he adds while adjusting his team cap. “There’s a big atmosphere.”

In the heat of the action. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times
In the heat of the action. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times

Boom, crash, flash ‘n fiber

The game was born two years ago in 2016 in Jeonju – a sleepy rural city in southern South Korea best known for traditional architecture and cuisine, but also home to a thriving carbon fiber sector. It sprang from the mind of Lee Beom-su, an ex-soldier and fireman who then turned to research at CAMTIC Advanced Mechatronics Technologies Institute for Commercialization, a local tech research center.

“I wanted to make a game that would connect people,” he explained. “It wasn’t complicated at all. We were just trying to make something fun to play and to watch. Nobody imagined that drones could bump into each other, because they are high technology, fragile and expensive.”

These drones are certainly durable: They crash into one another, bounce on the ground and collide, sometimes repeatedly, with the goal hoop and the carbon fiber netting surrounding the arena.

The first step of the development was to find a way to protect the drones.

“There are many ways to do so, it’s just that no one ever thought to apply them to drones”, Lee said. The CAMTIC lab developed, with support from industry and government, a protective shell shaped like a ball.

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Team ready to play. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times

It’s made mainly out of carbon fiber – a core local industry – and a touch of plastic. “Plastic only would be too easy to break,” said Lee Ki-seob, the team leader of Drone Soccer Technology Development at the Jeonju Carbon Industry Division, adding that metal would be too heavy to fly.

No drone ball will last long in the arena if it can’t take a battering. The components – rotors, motors, sensors lights – are held together with thin cables; and shock can disconnect or displace any one of them. Some drone ball’s LED lights turn off after one bump and it’s nearly impossible for a team to keep all its players up and running for the whole game.

In addition to carbon fiber, various components – LED lights, sensors, motors, maneuvering mechanisms – are supplied by a range of companies, all Korean.

All this has a price. A drone football set goes for US$500 and around 200 stores carry them. “It’s expensive because every [part of the skeleton] of the ball has to be exactly the same so the game can be fair – right down to the number of carbon molecules,” said Lee Beom-su. Verification is done manually.

The rule is that if your drone is down, you have to notify the control center by crossing your arms and placing your remote control on the ground to show you’re out. In between games, all players and their supporters work frenziedly like Formula 1 pit crews to fix their drones for the next round, while at the same time discussing tactics.

The ball also has to be very light so it doesn’t obstruct aerodynamics or speed of flight: No drone can be heavier than 1,100 grams. That’s Kwang Jeong-ho’s favorite rule: “You can tune your drone whichever way you want as long as it’s under the limit,” he said. “You just have to be creative!”

Carbon fiber Quidditch for all?

Drone soccer has sometimes been compared to Harry Potter’s game Quidditch and there is something it in: flying balls go through circles to score points. But that never was an inspiration to the CAMTIC team.

The very first version was played like soccer – with an empty shell acting as the ball. The teams had to bounce it into the opposite team’s circle. But because the ball was so slow compared to the motorized drones, the game would always end up looking like 10 balls surrounding one – a fun challenge for the players but a terrible show for the audience. So the extra ball was ruled out and the game became what it is today.

Jeonju has been holding regular events for two years. For Saturday’s event, the 12th, six teams competed, watched by about 100 spectators. But this tourney was not the elite level, according to Jeong In-young: “This is the competition of losers! They all lost last time and came below 3rd place!”

Braving the cold in a thick coat, she had come to support her family and son Ryan Kim, 12, who helps a disabled team handle the drone balls.

The disabled team are assisted by young volunteers. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times
The disabled team are assisted by young volunteers. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times

One member of the disabled team is Lee Myung-cheol. The one-legged 79-year-old is passionate about drone soccer: “I saw it the first time one year ago at an inaugural ceremony and I thought: ‘Oh, this is great! This could be for disabled people since you only need a controller to play’.” He won funding from the government and the Jeonju Drone Association.

The game is only two years old, but it’s expanding rapidly. Korea counts more than 30,000 players, all amateurs, according to the Drone Association: 220 adult teams and 600 child teams. China, Japan, Malaysia and the UK have already joined the ranks, and Team USA is forming.

But Jeonju is thinking big: City Hall wants to hold a “World Cup” in 2025.

That sparks hope for 17-year-old Chwae Min-Sung. The high-schooler just passed the exam to get his Drone Soccer National Certificate two months ago and is working his way toward fixing the major technical problems his drone could encounter in competitions.

“It’s not possible yet,” he says. “But maybe one day I’ll be able to become a professional drone soccer player.”

Team members work furiously to fix a downed drone. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times
Team members work furiously to fix a downed drone. Photo: Ophelie Surcouf/Asia Times
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Inside Vietnam’s booming ivory market http://www.atimes.com/article/inside-vietnams-booming-ivory-market/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:18:59 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291482 NGO director says law enforcement must catch up with the trend A new report published by TRAFFIC, a non-governmental organization that monitors the wildlife trade, says illegally obtained ivory goods are widely available in stores and online in Vietnam.

Published with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), “From Tusk to Trinket: Persistent Illegal Ivory Markets in Vietnam” was based on surveys in 852 retail stores in 13 locations as well as coverage of 60 different sellers on 17 online marketplace platforms, Viet Nam News reported.

The report revealed that sellers are often in transition phases in their business operations. According to the study, 43% of the outlets had either only began selling ivory, stopped selling ivory or simply closed while the study was still being conducted. A total of 86% of online sellers showed the same signs of transition.

Physical retailers were found to be looking to expand into the online market.

The study observed that online sellers were linked to physical outlets, and that physical outlets also put their wares on social-media platforms and e-commerce websites.

Tourists from China are a prominent market for ivory. Multiple sellers pointed to Chinese nationals as significant buyers, and prices were often quoted in yuan as well as US dollars.

Sellers often claimed their ivory had originated in Vietnam, which seems suspicious given the large volumes of African ivory being seized in the country. Another important variable to consider is the fact that there are fewer than 100 wild Asian elephants left in the country.

Sarah Ferguson, the director of TRAFFIC in Vietnam, said the fact that the ivory trade is illegal in Vietnam, it has not proved to be much of a deterrent. She also said law enforcement must catch up with the trend or else the illegal ivory trade in Vietnam will continue to be one of the biggest in the world.

The report offered a number of viable methods to combat the ivory trade, including closing legal loopholes, funding and boosting enforcement, and reducing ivory demand and restricting its availability.

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一馬案針對納吉布和高盛的收網行動接近尾聲 http://www.atimes.com/article/atc-1mdb-dragnet-closes-in-on-najib-goldman-sachs/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:15:36 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291618 一馬案的法律程序正高速推進,務要把馬來西亞前總理送進監獄,並要求涉案的美國投資銀行就洗黑錢和欺詐行為負責,涉及金額達數十億美元 在調查人員向前馬來西亞總理納吉布(Najib Razak)和1Malaysia Development Berhad(1MDB)前總裁阿魯爾甘達(Arul Kanda Kandasamy)就關於篡改2016年政府審計的指控展開盤問後,馬來西亞檢察官上周再次對該名前總理提起新一輪的貪污指控。亞洲時報(ATimes.com)報導

根據12月12日在法庭上宣讀的指控表,納吉布在審計報告定下來之前作出修改,「以保護自己免於受任何關於1MDB的紀律行動、刑事及民事訴訟」。他對濫用權力指控表示不認罪,而阿魯爾甘達則對教唆和參與與前總理的犯罪陰謀否認控罪。

66歲的納吉布在今年5月被現任總理馬哈蒂爾(Mahathir Mohamad)率領的聯盟擊敗後,面臨貪污、濫用權力以及與1MDB相關犯罪行為的指控。他一直否認犯下不法行為,如果在明年初的審判中被判有罪,他可能會在獄中度過餘生。

馬來西亞警方於本月5日向劉特佐(Low Taek Jho)和其餘4名涉案人發出逮捕令,並提出新的刑事指控。但這些涉案人全部行蹤不明。

高盛前合夥人賴思納(Tim Leissner)和該行另一名前僱員吳羅傑(Ng Chong Hwa)與劉特佐同為面臨美國司法部(DoJ)提出刑事指控的被告。他們在這個涉及數十億美元的騙局中擔當了締造者、推動者和策劃人的角色。

高盛在為1MDB發行債券籌集資金方面發揮了作用,在2012年和2013年三次債券發行總額達65億美元。高盛收取高達6億美元的承銷費,即該宗交易總額的10%,美國檢察官把這筆回報列為「高於平均水平」。

與此同時,馬來西亞財政部長林冠英表示,大馬打算要求「全額退款」,以支付高盛通過幫助1MDB集資以及由此造成的損失,估計總額約6億美元。目前正在進行法律訴訟準備工作,但馬來西亞尚未具體說明其將要求賠償的金額。

如果馬來西亞尋求通過針對美國法院向高盛追討全數45億美元,那所尋求的賠償金額將大大高於現時預計的潛在罰款 – 從6億美元到25億美元不等。

自從阿布扎比國際石油投資公司(IPIC)於11月21日在紐約州法院入稟狀指高盛及兩名本月初已被美國控告的高盛前職員,涉嫌與劉特佐賄賂和誤導IPIC及其子公司Aabar Investments的高層後,高盛面對的問題繼續增加。

馬來西亞還試圖與阿布扎比達成一項單獨和解協議,根據倫敦仲裁裁決,馬來西亞必須在今年年底前償還阿布扎比12億美元,有關金額是1MDB於2015年7月接受IPIC提供的財務援助計劃的貸款和累積利息。

高盛發現自己處於中間位置,因為馬來西亞現正試圖擱置該仲裁裁決,而IPIC表示將採取措施重申和解的有效性。分析師認為,阿布扎比和馬來西亞尋求的賠償可能超過54億美元,相當於高盛過去3年的年均淨利潤。

隨著醜聞範圍擴大,分析師表示,高盛可能需要增加10億美元的法定儲備金,為潛在的處罰做準備。雖然1MDB的許多主要參與者仍逍遙法外,但這個已經成為道德缺失和貪婪代名詞的機構最終沒可能絲毫無損。

撰文:評論員Nile Bowie
原文:http://www.atimes.com/article/1mdb-dragnet-closes-in-on-najib-goldman-sachs/
更多:http://www.atimes.com/tag/atimeschinese
相片:AFP via Andalou Agency / Adli Ghazali

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Filipina wins Best Nanny award in UAE http://www.atimes.com/article/filipina-wins-best-nanny-award-in-uae/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:02:53 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291551 The domestic worker will receive a retirement fund equivalent to US$18,860 as her award A Filipino domestic worker in Dubai was named the United Arab Emirates’ Best Nanny for 2018, beating out 42 others who were shortlisted for the award.

Rosie Villa, 39, who has been working in the UAE for 17 years, was nominated for the award by her current employers of almost six years. On Friday, Villa won the award, the initiative of a financial-technology platform for migrants, which saw more than 2,000 nominations from families all across the UAE, Khaleej Times reported.

Villa will receive a retirement fund of 1 million Philippine pesos (US$18,860) as her prize, which will allow her to pay for her daughter’s college education. She said the money came at the time she needed it the most.

Villa started working after her husband left her and her one-year-old daughter, who is now 17. She decided to take a job in Dubai as she needed to finance her daughter’s education, as well as support her parents and siblings.

“My parents are bedridden and it is my sisters who take care of them. They also play the role of mother for my daughter. I am grateful to them,” Villa said.

Last year, Filipino domestic worker Melanie Manansala won the UAE’s Best Nanny award. Manansala worked in Dubai for 25 years and said the prize money she got would help her retire sooner and return home to the Philippines for good.

Read: Filipina to retire after getting ‘best nanny’ award in UAE

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杭州失聯背包客昨疑發現屍體 http://www.atimes.com/article/atc-lost_backpackers_found_dead/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:42:20 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291590 12月8日,杭州迎來一場大雪。兩名背包客相約一起去安吉登山賞雪後。這兩名背包客,一位為67歲的男性,一位為53歲的女性。他們已經是多年的背包客,曾相伴走過許多旅遊景點。此次,他們結伴從浙江湖州安吉縣續目村進山,計劃往安吉縣第二高峰赤豆洋方向遊玩,拍攝雪景。

當日下午4時左右,男背包客還給妻子打電話報平安,稱自己會趕回家吃晚飯。聽起來一切都很正常,沒想到就此之後二人就再也聯繫不上了。

當地公安,消防等單位在接到報警後立即組織了專門的搜救力量和民兵,進行無間斷搜救。可是由於氣溫暴降,山上積雪嚴重,山頂地帶存在著大量的冰凍現象,救援工作遇到很多困難。在搜救過程中,有11位救援隊成員受了不同程度的傷。

在二人失聯7天後,12月15日,他們的家人迎來不幸的消息。上午9時左右,救援隊在一處山坳發現疑似女性失聯者;10時50分,又在龍潭塢附近發現疑似男性失聯者。兩人被發現時均無生命體徵,兩具遺體相距50米。

很多背包客都喜歡避開遊客扎推的景點,挑戰一些不尋常的地方,真的要提醒這些不走尋常路的朋友,遊玩一定要注意安全。冬季去寒冷的山上必須做好充足的準備,穿保暖防水的專業衣物,攜帶食物、熟悉路線,否則就是拿自己的生命冒險了。本來出門遊玩賞景是開心的事,但誰會想到竟成了與家人的永別。

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Balochistan shocked over its poor share in CPEC projects http://www.atimes.com/article/balochistan-shocked-over-its-poor-share-in-cpec-projects/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:41:06 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291418 Only 9% of development work completed in about five years against the US$5.5 billion CPEC investment portfolio A study carried out with the technical assistance of the World Bank has shocked the leaders of the volatile Pakistani province of Balochistan, which feels deprived of its due share of investments pledged under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega-project.

The Balochistan cabinet, during a briefing last week, was informed that the investments thus far made in the province were dismally low while the ongoing development projects moved along at a snail’s pace.

The province’s legislative assembly termed Chinese investment a joke and exhorted Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani to take up the issue with the central Pakistani government for rectification, a demand that the federal Planning Ministry cannot possibly meet without first ratifying it with the China-Pakistan Joint Coordination Committee (JCC).

To make things worse for Chinese policymakers, the politicians of Balochistan, a heartland of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, feel ignored in the multibillion-dollar initiative after learning that a mere 9% of development work has been completed during the last approximately five years against CPEC’s total investment portfolio of US$5.5 billion.

The briefing, given by the World Bank-sponsored CPEC cell of the province’s Planning and Development Department, dwelt at length on the five-year performance overview of the CPEC projects. The cabinet was informed that there was no progress on the Western Route of the corridor as none of the roads that are part of the so-called “western alignment” have seen any work. Also, out of the minuscule share of the total allocated for Balochistan, only $1 billion has been spent during the last five years or so.

The lawmakers learned that China had shelved two of the big projects, namely Quetta Mass Transit and the pat feeder (canal) to the Quetta water supply, which the provincial government is believed to be financing through its own resources. The findings also show that the power deficit of the province remains 700 megawatts, despite the additional power-generation capacity with the commissioning of early-harvest projects of the CPEC.

Feeling the heat, the federal minister for planning, development and reforms (PD&R), Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar, rushed to Balochistan House in Islamabad on Thursday to meet with Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and try to put his concerns about the CPEC’s Western Route to rest. He assured the chief minister that the implementation of the projects would “open up” and Balochistan would be prioritized in the socio-economic development component of the CPEC.

However, an official of the PD&R Ministry, on condition of anonymity, told Asia Times that the chief minister insisted that he would not attend the forthcoming CPEC JCC meeting scheduled to be held next week in Beijing unless the federal government gets the agenda of the meeting revised.

Balochistan, he claimed, wanted to get its stakes secured in the CPEC portfolio with an assurance from Beijing that completion of existing projects will take precedence over the rest of the corridor’s activities.

He disclosed that the chief minister was informed that the responsibilities for slow execution and elimination of mega-projects rest solely on the province’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government and the present set-up would remove the grievances of Balochistan in this regard.

Khusro Bakhtiar did not respond to a call from Asia Times for comments despite repeated attempts.

The PML-N is, however, in a state of denial saying that neither the chief minister, Balochistan nor the provincial assembly issued any such indication that the province had been snubbed in CPEC-related funding. The whole issue, it claimed, was created by the anti-CPEC lobby to malign China and the PML-N government.

“In his recent interview with the BBC, Finance Minister Asad Umar disclosed that the chief minister of Balochistan during a meeting in Beijing [requested that the Chinese] make more investment in Balochistan. He was on board and fully committed with the developments,” Ahsan Iqbal, a former federal minister and a focal person for the CPEC initiative in the PML-N government, told Asia Times.

He said the elected representatives of Balochistan had not issued any statement to show their reservations on the pace of development or lack of funding under the CPEC umbrella. “Certain elements are busy feeding concocted stories to the press to create confusion and damage the friendly relationship between China and Pakistan,” he said, adding that the PML-N had never ignored Balochistan.

The official circles of Balochistan did air concerns on the CPEC projects. In a tweet last week, the chief minister wrote, “Balochistan shall work for its true share…. It’s sad in last 5 years we got only 5% of the overall share … and it’s sad to see how our governments proved incompetent in achieving … we missed the first 3 years where Balochistan could have gotten anything it needed.”

Balochistan is a belligerent and worrisome region for CPEC. The forces of Baloch radical nationalists have been waging a war against the Chinese penetration in the Global South. Baloch separatists have been opposing the project since its inception, fearing the circle of exploitation will further strengthen if the province collaborates with a foreign state. By carrying out targeted killings, abductions of Chinese workers and attacks on the Chinese installations and CPEC infrastructure, they have expressed anger over the Chinese involvement in Balochistan.

For the first time, the mainstream political circle of an estranged province of Pakistan has realized that all is not well with the CPEC and demanded greater share of the development pie.

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Forbidden City is the world’s most popular museum http://www.atimes.com/article/forbidden-city-is-the-worlds-most-popular-museum/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:28:50 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291538 The Palace Museum in Beijing has received 17 million visitors so far this year Despite its unwelcoming name, there was little surprise when it was learned that the Forbidden City had become the world’s most popular museum destination.

The Palace Museum that will celebrate its 600th year in 2020 clocked in a record high of 17 million visitors last week for the year 2018.

This was despite the museum, previously home to 24 emperors throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties (1420-1912), imposing a daily limit of 80,000 visitors during the peak season.

There were 76 days this year that the Palace Museum imposed visitor traffic control. Director Shan Jixiang explained that the number of visitors kept increasing as evidenced by the steady increase in the off-season. He said the museum is not too crowded in the peak season, but not too low in the off-season.

The number of visitors to the Palace Museum was up 6.25% in 2018. The number has been growing since recording its first 10 million mark in 2009. It has seen an average of 15 million visitors since 2012.

By comparison, the Louvre in Paris led the pack with some 8.5 million visitors in 2017, followed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum in London.

However, the Palace Museum was never on the same list with these western museums because of the difference in calculating visitors.

By its own calculation, the Palace Museum said 40% of its visitors were under 30 years old, while 24% were between 30 and 40, which means the museum is more attractive to the young generation.

The museum’s digitalization efforts and creative marketing strategy – on top of opening up more areas to the public in recent years – may be the major reasons for helping the museum engage younger audiences.

Over the last decade, the museum produced more than 10,000 cultural items featuring the imperial palace and its exhibits ranging from cultural products such as downloadable apps for children to the recent limited-edition lipsticks often cause a buzz on Chinese social networks.

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10歲男童失蹤被殺案疑犯落網 http://www.atimes.com/article/atc-10yrs_old_murder_case_solved/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:24:02 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291573 12月16日,河北獻縣公安局發出通報,該縣10歲男童被殺案告破,疑犯李某成已被刑拘。

此前,男童的案件牽動了很多人的心。11月4日中午,看到媽媽正在做飯,懂事的孩子主動下樓扔垃圾,出門時,媽媽對他說:「快去快回,回來咱們就吃飯。」然而孩子卻一直沒有回來,從此失蹤。

直到12月12日,男童失蹤已經38天,案件才有進展。但令人心碎的是,他沒有活著回到父母身邊,而是永遠離開了自己的家人。獻縣公安局發佈通報稱,有群眾報警,在十五級鄉小營村西北角窪地內發現疑似屍體。經家屬辨認,警方確認逝者為男童李某宇。

昨天上午,獻縣公安局再次發佈通報指男童被殺案告破,疑犯李某成已於12月15日被警方抓獲。經依法訊問,嫌疑人對其犯罪事實供認不諱。警方已對其採取刑事拘留強制措施。

男童的媽媽今日告訴新京報記者,疑犯是同村人。「住得和我們很近,此前不打交道,也沒有恩怨。」

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學生醉後癱瘓 法院判酒友賠20多萬 http://www.atimes.com/article/atc-drunk_turned_paralysed_fined_drinkingbudddies/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:10:05 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291561 近日,河南省許昌市人民法院對一宗15歲學生張某喝酒至癱案件做出最後判決。一同喝酒的另外6個學生被判賠償20多萬。

事情得從2016年講起。這7個孩子當時都是許昌某職業學院的學生。10月某天晚上,張某晚上沒有吃飯,想自己泡麵,但宿舍沒有熱水。於是他來到其他宿舍借水。碰巧,那個宿舍的6名同學剛從學校超市買了白酒及花生等零食。過來借熱水的張某吃完泡麵後便和他們一起喝酒。這一頓酒,一直喝到半夜,期間未有學校宿舍管理人員發現或阻止他們。該晚張某喝醉了,其餘的同學把他送回去,就各自散了。

沒想到,翌日張某仍然昏迷不醒,這可嚇壞了同學們。送醫後,張某先後輾轉了許昌市、鄭州市、西安市多家醫院,被診斷為脊髓炎並高位截癱。這個消息對他的家人來說當然是晴天霹靂。

張某共計住院一年多,除去醫保報銷10餘萬元,學校墊付10餘萬元,張某的家庭也花費了40多萬元。這對於一個普通家庭是一筆很大的負擔,令這個家庭彈盡糧絕。

鑑定機構認為,不能排除張某飲酒與傷殘之間的可能性。法院最終判定張某自己承擔15%的責任,學校由於管理不當,要承擔65%(80萬元)的責任。超市承擔5 %(6.7萬元)的責任,而其餘6名學生承擔15%的責任,共同賠償張某20多萬。

中國人說無酒不成席,不管是商場談生意還是朋友間聚會,都離不開喝點小酒。喝酒能助興,然而喝多了就會誤事,酒後駕車,酒後撒瘋都是常見的。對於未成年人,學校和家長就更應該加強戒酒方面的教育。

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New documentary sees the return of ‘Vietnamese Tarzan’ http://www.atimes.com/article/new-documentary-sees-the-return-of-vietnamese-tarzan/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:00:32 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291447 A follow-up to the 2016 documentary see 'Tarzan' taken to a deserted island, where he feels at home after spending 40 years in the jungle A Vietnamese man who lived in the jungle for more than four decades with his father is set to be featured in a new documentary coming up in 2019.

Ho Van Lang lived in the jungles of Quang Ngai province for more than 40 years and returned to civilization in 2013, earning the title “Vietnamese Tarzan”, the Viet Nam News reported.

Lang reportedly was avoiding the war with America and was not aware it had ended. Lang went back to the same area he grew up in with Spanish explorer Alvaro Cerezo in 2016, where they filmed a documentary about his lifestyle, after which Cerezo promised to take him to a deserted island, which sets the premise for the new documentary.

The documentary raked in five million views.

Cerezo took “Tarzan” to an island in the Pacific Ocean, where, according to Cerezo, Lang was happy and hyperactive. Cerezo also described Lang as “a little child in a theme park.” He also added that while he had met other wild people before, his experience with Lang was rather interesting.

The documentary about the “Vietnamese Tarzan” on the island will be released in early 2019 on YouTube.

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Cambodia quickly losing its beautiful beaches http://www.atimes.com/article/cambodia-quickly-losing-its-beautiful-beaches/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 08:41:50 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291509 It was once a paradise for backpackers and locals, but now Cambodia’s Ochheuteal Beach suffers from rapid development and poor planning Ochheuteal Beach, a once pristine stretch of sand in Sihanoukville near Cambodia’s only deep-sea port, is now polluted with waste from the massive influx of Chinese tourism. A video highlighting the problem has gone viral in Cambodia, but remains unreported in the local media.

Casinos, hotels and condos have sprung up along what was only recently an almost untouched coastline that was once voted one of the world’s most beautiful bays. But massive Chinese investment and development, with little if any infrastructure and lax enforcement of environmental laws, has left an indelible stain on one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful coastlines.

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Replica at US airbase an admission of J-20’s threat http://www.atimes.com/article/replica-at-us-airbase-an-admission-of-j-20s-threat/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 08:41:12 +0000 http://www.atimes.com/?post_type=article&p=291411 A US-made J-20 copycat is used for training, familiarization for Marine Corps airmen The sight of a highly convincing replica of China’s J-20 stealth fighter sitting on the apron of a US military base must be heartening to the numerous researchers and engineers who poured their energy and expertise into the making of the aircraft hailed as the cachet of the Chinese air force.

The fact that the US military has produced a J-20 lookalike to help its airmen become familiar with the People’s Liberation Army’s answer to the F-35 is indicative of the US taking more seriously the PLA’s new weapon for air supremacy.

The subtle message is that the J-20 is a formidable warplane to be reckoned with.

Screenshot 2018-12-17 at 4.18.01 PM
A J-20 replica is seen at a US airbase. Photo: Twitter via Theaviationist.com

Photos of the J-20 mock-up at a US airbase have been subject of much chatter online since they emerged this month, and on Sunday the South China Morning Post cited a source as saying that the replica “was built by marines for training purposes.”

The military training command at Savannah/Hilton Head Airport in the southeastern state of Georgia says it has been commissioned by the US Marine Corps and the Army Threat Systems Management Office to provide “full-scale, realistic aircraft and vehicle mock-ups for multiple Marine Corps bases,” according to Colonel Emmanuel Haldopoulos, the commander of the US Air Dominance Center. The airbase in Georgia is also home to the ADC.

A related statement from the command noted that the US-made J-20 copycat “was moved to ADC Savannah to evaluate the assembly and disassembly process, heat and light signatures, and [to] prepare for movement to the chosen training area in North Carolina,” but the fighter was not intended for flight training.

The Pentagon sounded the alarm in May in a congressional report that with its new jets the PLA had been “closing the gap with the US across a spectrum of capabilities and eroding US’ technical advantage,” according to The Associated Press.

Military superpowers across the globe produce copies of the weaponry of potential foes, either for training or development of their own counter-assets.

It has been open secret that the J-20 was conceived and designed through reverse engineering to rival the F-35 in the first place. Previously there were also reports about F-35-like models seen at PLA airstrips.

The twin-engine, multi-role J-20 can reach speeds of 2,100km/h for long-range air-to-air missions to engage aircraft such as air tankers and intelligence reconnaissance planes from the US as well as for precise and decapitation strikes.

But there is no indication that the J-20 manufacturer, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, has cracked the bottleneck to start mass production. The J-20 formally entered service with the PLA in March 2017 but is still hard to spot, with scant information about its actual deployment.

Read more: Why the PLA’s J-20 jet-fighter has been so hard to spot

China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet is versatile, but it’s not perfect

Beijing renews threats to send J-20 jets into Taiwan airspace

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