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China opened its embassy on a small Pacific island that was isolated during a pandemic. This is why



Waves pummel the coast of Temwaiku, a village on the capitol island of South Tarawa, Kiribati.

The opening of the Chinese embassy in Kiribati, a country with 33 atolls and coral islands in the central Pacific, may seem strange – especially during a pandemic. Only three other countries have embassies in the island nation: Australia, New Zealand and Cuba.

But Kiribati is a place of increasing geopolitical competition.

Last September, it shifted diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. China regards the self-governed island of Taiwan as a breakaway province and has seized seven of its diplomatic allies since 2016.

And this week, pro-Beijing Kiribati President Taneti Maamau – who oversees the country’s diplomatic changes – won a closely watched election after campaigning for closer ties with China, defeating opposition rivals sympathetic to Taiwan.

Kiribati is the latest example of Beijing’s growing influence in the Pacific, which consists of a series of resource-rich islands that control vital waterways between Asia and America.
The beautiful islands have long been aligned with the US, which has a large military presence, and allies such as Australia, the region largest donor and security partner. But in recent years, many have developed closer relations with China because of Beijing’s diplomatic and economic outreach – creating fault lines for geopolitical tensions.

Now, as Canberra and Beijing deliver aid to the region, the possibility of a travel bubble between the Pacific Islands and Australia has given a new dimension to the competition.

Reach reach

In 2006, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was at that time the most senior Chinese official to visit the Pacific Islands. He guaranteed 3 billion yuan ($ 424 million) in soft loans to invest in resource development, agriculture, fisheries and other key industries, marks Beijing’s interest in the region.
Today, Beijing is the second largest donor – after only Australia, according to data compiled by the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank.

For the Pacific Islands, which have a combined GDP of around $ 33.77 billion – less than 1% of total Chinese GDP – China has been an important partner during the pandemic.

Chinese health experts have given advice on how to fight the corona virus video conference with their colleagues in 10 Pacific Island countries who share diplomatic relations with Beijing.
In March, China announced donation $ 1.9 million in cash and medical supplies to countries to help them fight Covid-19. They have also sent medical supplies, protective equipment and test kits, according to a statement from the Chinese embassy in the region.
Chinese medical teams are on the ground in countries including Samoa, helps local health authorities develop guidelines on how to control coronavirus. In Fiji, special military vehicles have been provided.
According to the World Health Organization, Pacific has reported 312 cases and 7 deaths, which is mostly located in US territory on Guam.

The islands so far have largely ward off the corona virus thanks to its remoteness and initial locking action. But local people could face devastating consequences if the virus would be affected, due to inadequate health care and lack of testing capacity, experts have warned.

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“China’s involvement in the Pacific today has been driven by opportunism, they are trying to get as much influence as possible,” said Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific island program at the Lowy Institute.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry denies this, the saying China’s assistance to Pacific Island nations is “authentic” and does not have “any political ties.”

But stronger ties can be useful when needed.

In May, when China faced a global reaction to its initial response to the coronavirus outbreak, it turned to the Pacific for support. A few days before the World Health Assembly meeting in May, ministers from 10 Pacific Island countries joined the video conference on Covid-19 organized by China.

The meeting ended with an affirmation of China’s coronavirus response.

“This is what the Chinese government needs,” said Denghua Zhang, from the Australian National University in Canberra.

In joint press release after the incident, Pacific Islanders praised China for “its open, transparent and responsible approach in adopting timely and strong response measures and sharing experiences of detention.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly blamed China for the pandemic, while Canberra angered Beijing with its call for an independent inquiry into the origin of the virus.

Australia entered

Chinese coronavirus aid for the Pacific, however, that means compared to financial support provided by Australia. Last month, Canberra the word it spent 100 million Australian dollars ($ 69 million) to provide “fast financial support” to 10 countries in the region, with money diverted from existing aid programs.
Australia too recently was announced that it will broadcast popular domestic television shows such as “Neighbors” and “Masterchef” to seven Pacific Island countries – a move widely seen as a push for soft power to counter China’s increasing influence.

“The Australian Government has clearly recognized that there is no room for the creation of a vacuum, (whether it is) hard power, soft power, the front of aid, or the medical front,” Pryke said.

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“They cannot back down from nothing for fear that China might fill it.”

This was on Australian radar before the pandemic. After taking office in 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched the “Pacific Step Up” initiative, which included increasing foreign aid and forming $ 1.5 billion infrastructure fund for the region.

Travel bubbles

One way the pandemic can affect geopolitical competition in the Pacific is to relax travel restrictions selectively between countries.

When Australia and New Zealand control the corona virus, their politicians talk about opening borders between one another, creating travel corridors – or “travel bubbles” – between the two countries.

Why China challenges Australia for influence over the Pacific Islands

Both countries have successfully leveled their coronavirus curves in late April, even though Australia is now facing a surge in cases in the state of Victoria.

Pacific Islands Countries including Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands has asked to join the plan.

So far, there have been no publicly reported plans between the Pacific Islands and China for a similar travel bubble. At the moment, China seems to focus on its neighboring borders – the southern province of Guangdong is in discussions with Hong Kong and Macau for travel bubbles.

Coronavirus locking has put enormous pressure on economies that are dependent on tourism in Pacific countries, and Australia and New Zealand are the main sources of tourists there. In 2018, the two countries accounted for more than 1 million foreign arrivals to the Pacific region, accounting for 51% of tourist arrivals, according to one report from the South Pacific Tourism Organization. In comparison, 124,939 Chinese tourists visited the Pacific Islands in 2018, a decrease of 10.9% from the previous year.

Some Australian politicians also want to see the trans-Pacific bubble.

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Dave Sharma, a lawmaker for the ruling Liberal party, wrote in an Australian newspaper last month that the inclusion would help the Pacific Pacific neighbors economically, and ensure that “they continue to see Australia as their first choice partner.”

“Strategic competition in the Pacific is still alive and well, with China and other countries trying to play a greater role. It is important that our influence and footprint in the immediate environment be seen,” he wrote.

While geopolitics is not the main motivator for travel bubbles – more precisely, the main driver is the drive to get the economy back on track, Pryke said – lifting travel restrictions between Australia and the Pacific Islands will secure some geopolitical benefits for Canberra and Wellington.

“On the one hand, Australia and New Zealand will be the gatekeepers for access to the Pacific while the pandemic continues throughout the world. So of course it will give Australia and New Zealand a further geopolitical advantage,” he said.

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Portuguese surfer to stop competing due to mental health issues



Portuguese surfer to stop competing due to mental health issues

O Surfer Vasco Ribeiro announced this Friday that he will not compete for some time. The athlete justified the decision with his own mental health.

Via social media, Vasco Ribeiro admitted that he had a tiring year when he was forced to seek help.

“I started competing when I was only nine years old and in the first race I started winning. In my career, everything happened very quickly, intensively and successfully, ”he began.

The athlete spoke about the exactingness to the result, which puts pressure on any athlete.

“As long as we’re winning, everything seems easy and we often don’t realize how difficult the life of a high-performing athlete is. one more to manage. I had little desire to do what matters most to me and so it was time to seek professional help to be able one day to fight for my dreams again,” he wrote.

“I decided that the most important thing right now is to focus and invest time in my mental health, because everything else starts with it: stability, family, friends, results, etc. This is my commitment and I have two beautiful daughters , which are my biggest drive and motivation for this new phase,” he added.

Vasco Ribeiro, aged 27, was national champion in various categories, European champion and junior world champion in surfing.

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Daymé Arocena launches samba in Portuguese produced by Kassin



Daymé Arocena

Daymé Arocena – Dancing and flying

The highlight of the new Cuban afro-jazz scene, singer-songwriter Daimyo of the Arocene dives into samba for the first time with a single entirely in Portuguese. “Dance and Fly” about freedom through art and produced Bag. This is the release from brownswood records.

Listen to “Dance and Fly”:

Watch the viewer “Dance and fly”:

Inspired by the desire to get closer to people during self-isolation, the song became a source of complete joy for the artist. “Dance and Fly” gave me the energy to be happy again, to be positive again, and I will always be grateful for this song. To be able to have this element to cleanse my soul of sadness, because music is like that, music has such power.”says the artist.

Produced between Puerto Rico and Rio de Janeiro, the composition Arocena learned from Cassin, one of the top Brazilian music producers of recent decades, who immersed himself in a samba ballad inspired by artists such as Javan, Lueji Moon, Ed Motta e Gal Costa. The group was formed by Kasin on bass along with great musicians: Danilo Andrade (keyboards), David Moraes (guitar), Alexander Siqueira (drums) and Daniel Conceicao (drums).

With four studio albums in his solo career, Daime, despite being only 30 years old, has already established himself as one of the main names of new Latin American jazz, using his music as an expression of his roots, faith and soul. Currently living in Puerto Rico and inspired by the Caribbean culture, the artist is preparing new releases.

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“The Portuguese real estate market is still very fragmented, complex and offline,” says Casavo VP Investment.



“The Portuguese real estate market is still very fragmented, complex and offline,” says Casavo VP Investment.

The real estate market is constantly changing, with increasingly demanding clients and an increasingly limited supply. New technologies have become indispensable tools for companies to use them to grow in this market, which, according to Duarte Ferreira dos Santos, vice president of investment in Lisbon at Casavo, “still remains very fragmented, complex and autonomous” .

In an interview with Executive Digest, Duarte Ferreira dos Santos believes that despite the momentum that the pandemic has given to the digitization of the real estate sector, the real estate industry is still characterized by traditional, autonomous and very dependent on bureaucratic and physical processes. In his opinion, the technological solutions that have emerged in recent years allow streamlining processes, making the real estate market faster, simpler and more uncomplicated, and improving the experience of all stakeholders, whether they are buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants or even real estate agents.

Portuguese real estate market.

“The Portuguese housing market, especially in the Lisbon metropolitan area, has an interesting transactional dimension as a result of the cultural preference to buy a house rather than rent it. In addition, the housing stock in the capital is very old and obsolete, the vast majority of houses were built before the 1980s,” he explains.

To respond to an aging supply, by renovating the houses that Casavo buys, they contribute to refurbishing old buildings in the city and making them more energy efficient.

“The Portuguese real estate market, like other markets in Southern Europe, continues to be very fragmented, complex and autonomous, despite the fact that the pandemic has accelerated the change in customer behavior towards the adoption of a digital channel.” Duarte Ferreira dos Santos believes that much remains to be done in this aspect, namely in the introduction of digital tools to make the market more transparent and improve interaction with buyers and sellers.

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400 million euros for business scaling

Casavo recently raised a new €400 million investment round, which includes a €100 million Series D round and a €300 million credit line.

“The total amount raised by Casavo will be used to scale the business and strengthen its leadership in Europe. This combination of equity and debt is a recognition of our strong growth and investor confidence in our long-term vision. This round will allow us to strengthen our leadership in Europe by growing in markets we already operate in, namely Portugal, Spain and Italy, as well as expanding into new markets where France is a priority.”

A tool that allows you to instantly evaluate real estate

In this context, the VP of Investment explains that Casavo provides a tool that allows sellers to instantly value their property. “Casavo can submit an offer in 48 hours and complete a purchase in a matter of days in a single visit… Through the use of a proprietary algorithm, Casavo ensures that the submitted offer is fair and based on objective criteria.”

On the other hand, for those who want to buy a house, Casavo presents a portfolio of ready-to-live-in properties with high energy efficiency and modern and attractive design, which can be found on the platform and viewed remotely using immersive technology. .

The future of the real estate market in Portugal

Looking to the future, Duarte Ferreira dos Santos believes that “due to the lack of supply of new construction and the high demand caused by the needs of families after the pandemic, we do not expect the market for refurbished homes to be significantly affected by the situation we are facing, especially in homes , prices for which correspond to the income of the Portuguese.

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However, he sees a slowdown that could be due not only to the rise in the cost of living for families associated with the current geopolitical context, but also to the increase in Euribor rates and the new rules that the Bank of Portugal has applied to housing. loans, which can contribute to an increase in the burden of households.

“In our view, it will be increasingly important to refurbish used homes that are outdated and dated to meet the needs of families,” he concludes.

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