VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 21 Feb 2018

Pakistan gets reprieve on FATF watchlist, says Asif: Dawn
21 Feb, 2018

Pakistan has been given a three-month reprieve by a global watchdog over a US-led motion to put the country on a terrorist financing watchlist, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said late on Tuesday. Member states of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have been meeting this week in Paris, where it was expected that they would decide on a US motion — backed by Britain, France and Germany — to have Pakistan added to the so-called ‘grey list’ of countries not doing enough to comply with terrorist-funding regulations. Mr Asif tweeted that Pakistan’s “efforts have paid (off)” during a Tuesday meeting on the US-led motion, suggesting there was “no consensus for nominating Pakistan”. He also suggested the meeting proposed a “three months pause” and asked for the Asia Pacific Group, which is part of FATF, to consider “another report in June”. Click here to read...

Construction Of Afghan Section Of TAPI To Start This Week: Tolo News
20 Feb, 2018

Local officials on Tuesday said all necessary steps have been taken to start construction work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline in Herat province. High level officials from the four countries are expected to attend a ground-breaking ceremony in Herat on Friday to launch the first phase of the construction process. Local residents have said that the eventual implementation of the multi-million dollar project will help the country boost its economic growth and prosperity. Meanwhile, residents and a number of scholars called on the Taliban not to attempt to sabotage the project. They said TAPI is a national asset. According to experts the successful implementation of TAPI in Afghanistan will be followed by three more mega projects in the war-ravaged country. Click here to read...

PM Oli’s Cabinet may have 18 ministers: Kathmandu Post
21 Feb, 2018

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is preparing to appoint 15 to 18 ministers to his Cabinet in total. With the new constitution limiting the size of Council of Ministers to 25-strong including the prime minister, the new governing team could be limited to 18 members including three state ministers, according to UML sources. A formal decision on the matter is yet to be taken.

According to UML leader Pradeep Gyawali, Cabinet expansion is likely to take place on Wednesday. “A few Maoist ministers will be joining the Oli government tomorrow,” said a leader involved in power-sharing negotiations. Speaking at a programme organised in Kathmandu on Tuesday, Gyawali said: “Our taskforce has recommended that the government form a 15-member Cabinet. Some of the [existing] ministries will be integrated and others scrapped.” Ishwor Pokhrel, Gyawali, Rabindra Adhikari, Raghubir Mahaseth, Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal and Padma Aryal are the probable ministerial candidates from the UML.Click here to read...

Belt and Road road corridors put half of Myanmar’s population at risk: Myanmar Times
20 Feb, 2018

The Belt and Road Initiative puts Myanmar’s natural capital and the lives and livelihoods of 24 million people - half of the country’s population - at risk, according to a report from World Wide Fund for Nature in Myanmar. Road projects proposed as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative would provide transport infrastructure to areas of the Ayeyarwady River Basin and surrounding mountain areas, which are home to approximately 24 million people – almost half of Myanmar’s national population. These people rely on natural capital, including forests, rivers, land and biodiversity, for a range of benefits, such as potable water and natural disaster mitigation. Click here to read...

‘China deploys warships in Indian Ocean’: The Hindu
20 Feb, 2018

A Chinese naval contingent has been deployed in the East Indian Ocean for more than a week at a time when the Maldives is undergoing a political crisis, a Chinese website has reported. The website,, has linked the deployment of the warships, including an amphibious vessel that can transfer troops from sea to land, to the evolving situation in the Maldives. “At present, the Indian Ocean region is not peaceful and the political situation in the Maldives continues to be turbulent,” says the post. The article flagged on Sunday pointed out that the Chinese Navy’s ‘Blue 2018A’ fleet has been training in the East Indian Ocean for a “week or so”. However, Indian defence sources denied any movement of Chinese ships near the Indian Ocean island nation. Click here to read...

India has nothing to worry about China-Bangladesh ties, says Sheikh Hasina: Indian Express
21 Feb, 2018

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday asked India not to worry about Dhaka’s growing ties with China, asserting that the cooperation with Beijing was meant only for the country’s development. Hasina said her government was only concerned about the development and is ready to cooperate with any country that helps Bangladesh’s growth. “We want investment and cooperation from whoever offers it. We want development of the country…We have to think about our people as they are the beneficiaries of the development,” Hasina told a delegation of visiting Indian journalists at her official residence. She said India, China, Japan and even the Middle Eastern countries were coming to Bangladesh for cooperation. Click here to read...

China's tech industry catching up with Silicon Valley "faster than expected": economist: People's Daily
21 Feb, 2018

For example, China's venture capital funding was less than 10 percent of the United States' five years ago. But the latest data shows it to be more than 80 percent. China's artificial intelligence papers cited by third parties grew to some 90 percent of that of the United States, a sign that it's catching up in hard science, the report noted. China's e-commerce transaction level was already neck and neck with that of the United States five years ago. According to latest data, it's about 175 percent of the United States'. Click here to read...

Xi picks team of problem solvers to head China’s economic portfolios: South China Morning Post
21 Feb, 2018

For the thousands of China watchers, economists, executives and diplomats gathered at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss hamlet of Davos last month, Liu He was likely to have been a star attraction. Liu, chief economic adviser to the Chinese government and one of the 25 most powerful people in the Politburo, was there to deliver a speech on the way forward for China’s economic programme over the next five years. Click here to read...

China Decides the Australian Dollar's Fate, Not U.S. Treasuries: Bloomberg
21 Feb, 2018

The Australian dollar’s strength despite Treasury yields eclipsing those on local government debt for the first time since 2001 has perplexed some observers. It shouldn’t, says Macquarie Bank Ltd. Click here to read...

China secretly talking to Baloch militants to protect CPEC: Report: Economic Times
20 Feb, 2018

China has been quietly holding talks with Baloch militants in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province for over five years to protect its USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative, according to a media report. Click here to read...

US risks retaliation with defence talks on Taiwan, Chinese analysts warn: South China Morning Post
20 Feb, 2018

Another potential flashpoint for Sino-US relations is looming with plans for Taiwan to host a conference with American defence industry representatives for the first time in 16 years, mainland Chinese analysts have warned. Click here to read...

China upgrades airspace defense in west to counter threat from India: military specialist: Global Times
20 Feb, 2018

China is upgrading its Western Theater Command in order to confront any threat from India, a Chinese military specialist said after photographs of a J-10 jet flying over the high-altitude plateau in western China were released by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the Spring Festival holiday. The pictures posted on the English version of the PLA website show a J-10 fighter jet and J-11 fighter jets conducting aerial combat training exercises in Western China on February 13, two days before Spring Festival. The jets are attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theater Command, the post said. Click here to read...

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