MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 01 MARCH
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Flames and smoke billowing from Mount Etna tower over the city in Sicily.
Guns fall silent on India-Pakistan border
The extraordinary joint statement last Friday at the level of the Director-Generals of Military Operations [DGMO] of India and Pakistan came like a bolt from the blue. It triggered speculations. Of course, it is preposterous to contemplate that the Indian Army went out on a limb without political directive, or that some “grand bargain” involving India, China and Pakistan is unfolding. From such a premise, what needs to be understood is as regards the Indian calculus. The government is taking time to voice an official opinion on Friday’s development even after Pakistani Prime Minister’s tweets earlier on Saturday. But actions speak better than words and three things must be noted.
India's move to recruit cyber volunteers prompts concern over surveillance of public
A recent Indian government move to recruit "cyber volunteers" who will police the Internet for illegal content has prompted concerns over mass surveillance of citizens as well as the deleterious effect it could have on freedom of speech online. According to the government, the scheme is intended to bring together "Good Samaritans" who wish to help authorities fight cyber crime. Categories of content that may be flagged include not just those related to child pornography or terrorism, but also those that concern "radicalisation" or "anti-national" activities, among others.
Diplomacy will be a high-wire act as resistance to military regime hardens in Myanmar
Nearly one month after the coup in Myanmar, commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing has a problem: Neighbouring countries are tiptoeing around anything that can be construed as legitimising his regime. His foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin travelled to Thailand on Wednesday (Feb 24), meeting Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok. The Thai leader later denied the discussion implied endorsement of the junta in Naypyitaw. Apart from hobbling health, banking and rail services as well as threatening fuel supplies with their civil disobedience movement, they have also set up parallel authorities to rival the regime's. They pore over every word uttered online and offline, ready to pounce on any act that confers recognition to the junta.
A year to Doha accord - Afghan Taliban urge US to ‘honour end of bargain’
In a statement issued on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Doha Agreement's signing, the Afghan Taliban called upon the United States on Sunday to honour its promises made in the peace agreement. "This agreement is a historic accord between the people of Afghanistan and the people of America because it is aimed at ending the twenty-year imposed war. We congratulate everyone specifically our beloved compatriots and valiant Mujahideen on the first anniversary of this momentous agreement." the statement read.
China-India demilitarized zone upsets defense officials in Delhi
After the deadliest fighting in decades, India and China are setting up demilitarized areas along their Himalayan border -- a move that has rankled some members of India’s security establishment. Soldiers from both countries for now will no longer patrol a nine-kilometer (six-mile) stretch on the north bank of Pangong Tso, a glacial lake some 14,000 feet above sea level where troops clashed last year, according to two Indian officials aware of the developments. The agreement would result in India pulling back from strategic high ground occupied in a stealth operation last August, they said.
China-Australia relations: Chinese investment in Australia plummets in 2020 amid tensions
Chinese investment in Australia fell by 61 per cent in 2020 to the lowest level recorded by the Australian National University in six years, coinciding with a worsening diplomatic dispute. The annual tracking study from the university’s East Asian Bureau of Economic Research recorded A$1 billion (US$783 million) of Chinese investment in 2020, consisting of real estate (45 per cent), mining (40 per cent) and manufacturing (15 per cent) deals. The fall was bigger than the 42 per cent decrease in foreign direct investment globally measured by the United Nations amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said Shiro Armstrong, the bureau director.