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Primaries of the Nur Otan party before the elections to the Mazhilis of the parliament of #Kazakhstan



For the first time in the history of Kazakhstan, the Nur Otan party primaries will be held on the scale of country-wide intra-party elections, after which candidates for the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) and Maslikhat (local representative body) deputies will be elected. The elections are due to take place next year.

As is known, the government of Kazakhstan has been actively implementing political reforms in the country over the past year. For example, the Law on Peaceful Assemblies has been amended to make it easier to organise and participate in assemblies. Furthermore, the National Council of Public Trust has been established by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to further facilitate the concept of a ‘listening state’. Amendments have also been made to the Law on Elections, including lowering the threshold for registration of political parties. The organisation of Kazakhstan’s first ever primaries is another step towards democratization and openness of the political process in the country.

There are a number of benefits to holding party primaries, both for the party and the country itself. Firstly, the process facilitates the democratic process of choosing potential future candidates, as each member of the party can cast a vote for the nominees. In addition, the process is more competitive as each candidate has to convince the members that they are suitable candidates and will perform to the highest standard if elected to the Mazhilis. This means that those who display the necessary attributes to become a deputy in Parliament are likely to be selected as candidates. Ultimately, this ensures that only the top candidates are selected.

Secondly, primaries ensure that new faces have the opportunity to participate in the process. This is especially important for Kazakhstan, which has been undergoing major transformations over the last few years, including the transition of power in 2019.

The First President of Kazakhstan – the Leader of the Nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, instructed to include at least 30 percent of women and 20 percent of young people under the age of 35 in the party lists for each Maslikhat and Mazhilis. In this regard, a unique situation this year is that for the first time in the history of Nur Otan, a certain number of women and youth will be added to the Nur Otan’s party lists.

These requirements were added to the rules for the primaries and approved by the political council of the party. The quota will empower women and their participation in political and civil processes. Kazakhstan already holds the second highest rate of female representation in parliament among the nations of the Eurasian Economic Union. This rule on quotas will further contribute to the involvement of women in politics and the decision-making process. In addition, opportunities have opened up for active and capable young people to make a career as a party member, and directly contribute to the ongoing modernisation and progress of Kazakhstan.

Today, all political parties, including Nur Otan, realise more than ever that young fellow citizens cannot just be considered as the electorate. They are also their main pool of candidates. But it is not enough to just understand this in theory. There should be new mechanisms for involving young people in the system of political governance.

One of these methods is the participation of young people in the preliminary party elections. Young members of Kazakhstan’s society are the future of the country, who will be responsible for its development and flourishment. It is therefore essential to include them in the political processes and elections as early as possible.

Initially, it was planned to hold the primaries from 30 March to 16 May. But due to the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine measures in the country, the intra-party elections were postponed. Voting for candidates among Nur Otan members will now be held from August 17 to October 3.

The primaries include five stages:

  1. Nomination and registration of candidates;

  2. Preparation of candidates for campaigning;

  3. Campaigning;

  4. Voting;

  5. Confirmation of selected candidates.

In order to participate in the elections, the candidate must meet the following requirements: be a citizen of Kazakhstan, 25 years old or more, and permanently reside in Kazakhstan for the last 10 years.

The Party Control Committee, as well as regional and territorial commissions of party control, will oversee the conduct of the primaries.

During the primaries, voters will listen to the speeches of the Nur Otan members, as well as learn about their proposed programs and projects. Public debates will be held at conferences of regional, district and city branches. Participation in public debates is mandatory for all candidates.

It is worth noting that the public debates will provide an opportunity for the candidates to address the most pressing issues impacting Kazakhstan’s society today, including economic rehabilitation and growth following the COVID-19 pandemic, standards of living of Kazakh citizens, support for small and medium-sized businesses, the development of civil society, and other key priorities. Debating these issues during primaries means that the members of the party, as well as the public, are able to learn about the position of the potential candidates on these important issues.

According to the rules, candidates will campaign at their own expense. Financing from legal entities with foreign participation or from foreign citizens or government agencies is prohibited. On the day of the voting, one observer from each candidate may be present at the polling station.

Ultimately, the organisation of primaries by the Nur Otan party is a demonstration that Kazakhstan is willing to modernise and reform its political system to ensure pluralism of opinion, open debate and free competition. This will be a new experience at this level for the party and the country.

Nevertheless, the fact that a decision has been made to organise these primaries demonstrates that the ruling party and the authorities are confident in its abilities and the readiness of Kazakhstan to introduce this new practice. This bodes well for the future of Kazakhstan and its democracy.




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#Kazakhstan proposes 15% tax on #Bitcoin mining to help combat #Coronavirus



Kazakhstan Proposes 15% Tax on Bitcoin Mining to Help Combat Coronavirus

Kazakhstan has proposed legislation that would see a 15% tax imposed on bitcoin mining firms. This is part of efforts to raise money to help with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Proposed by the country’s ministry of economy, the new tax plan requires bitcoin (BTC) miners to first file an application for registration with the authorities, according to a recent report by a local Russian publication.

After this, the taxpayer must then indicate the 15% tax on their annual tax calculations. The report notes that “the clause on registration makes the bill unique… the taxpayer working with cryptocurrencies stands apart from the very beginning of filing a tax return”.

Funds raised from the draft tax will be channeled toward building the infrastructure that is needed to combat COVID-19 while also giving the economy a boost. The disease has so far killed nearly 1,300 Kazakhs, with more than 100,000 infected, official data shows.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet state in central Asia, accounts for about 8% of the global bitcoin hashrate total, says crypto research company Bitooda. Together with Iran and Russia, the country boasts the world’s third-largest BTC mining industry.

Miners are typically drawn to Kazakhstan’s cheap electricity, which averages 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

In June, Kazakh Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Minister Askar Zhumagaliyev revealed that a total of 14 bitcoin mining companies were operating in the country’s north.

Over the next three years, the country is targeting up to $738 million of investment from crypto-related activities, particularly mining, he said.

According to the Russian publication, the Kazakh government is also planning to introduce legislation to regulate the cryptocurrency industry. The new laws are expected to set new electricity tariffs for the crypto mining sector.



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Fomenko’s Case: Europe should reconsider its policy on fake news distributors


The European Union must fight harder against the spread of fake news, which has become widespread in the digital age. Still, there are essentially no effective mechanisms in place for such a battle, said Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, a member of the European Parliament from Germany and Vice-Chairman of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, in a comment to journalists.

 

“The main instrument in the fight against misinformation is a highly educated society that can reveal and recognize fake news, what type of information it conveys, and how to fact-check it,” Cramon-Taubadel stated.

 

The MEP further revealed that it is still very difficult to defend legally against fakes and smear campaigns, especially when it comes to slander.

 

“The law is tied to the physical world, not the virtual one. Our prosecutors cannot keep track of all the cases which may be relevant and which could be brought before a criminal court – and that is a problem. Therefore, we need a better justice system, more prosecutors specializing in the digital environment, and an effective way to address such issues. We have to come up with a systematic approach to working with large digital companies and all social media,” said Cramon-Taubadel.

 

The European Union remains helpless in the face of smear campaigns using fake information. Meanwhile, the people behind such campaigns are becoming more creative and audacious – particularly those involved in spreading Russian propaganda.

 

“Concerning the systematic misinformation that often comes from Russia and its propaganda institutions, its main goal is destabilization. They cleverly designed these deceptive campaigns in various countries to make them appear not alike. In Ukraine, the used narratives entirely differ from those that appear in Germany, which, in turn, are completely unlike the ones in the Czech Republic, and so on. That is, in the EU, there are different forms of deceptive campaigns that are usually run by the Russian Federation,” explained Viola von Cramon-Taubadel.

 

Fake news distributors feel confident enough to target the main institutions of free Europe – the European Commission and the European Parliament. A striking example is a hoax created by Dmytro Fomenko, a businessman from Dnipro (Ukraine). He announced a roundtable to take place in the European Parliament on June 16, 2020. The event was supposed to be organized by the European People’s Party, and among the participants were well-known European parliamentarians – Viola von Cramon-Taubadel among them. Soon, it became clear that neither the European People’s Party nor the deputies knew anything about this roundtable. Ultimately, the event did not happen at all. As journalists later found out, it was a complete fake.

 

“In general, such events – with the co-organization of deputies – can come about. Having said that, it is quite appalling to steal and illegally use the logo of a party or political group and create a fake event,” stated Viola von Cramon-Taubadel.

 

Even before the roundtable supposedly took place, the MEP denied her participation in it, calling the event “fake news.” Fomenko later accused Cramon-Taubadel of working for the Kremlin and receiving bribes for denying her participation in the event.

 

“This person is not even worth mentioning. As I have said, Ukraine suffers from many significant problems: it is on the verge of an economic crisis; the country cannot properly deal with the pandemic as well. We have to talk about serious topics concerning Ukraine, which are plenty; not about this case of Fomenko, which I’m not going to discuss any further,” said Cramon-Taubadel.

 

Meanwhile, Fomenko’s case has proved once again that the EU needs to review its policy on organizers and distributors of fake news. In the digital age, information is capable of instant dissemination. And in some cases, it can lead to serious political, social or economic destabilization.

 

“I know that many member states are working on a more structured legislation. We are working on a digital database to combat hate speech, fake news and so on. But as far as I know, it is not over yet, and we will discuss it after the summer recess,” the MEP summed up.

 

 



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False reports of pneumonia in #Kazakhstan



Some Chinese media outlets are claiming that Kazakhstan has reported cases of unknown pneumonia, more deadly than coronavirus.  The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan officially states that this information is FALSE.

It should be noted that the WHO introduced codes for pneumonia in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), while COVID-19 is diagnosed clinically or epidemiologically, for example through the symptom of ground-glass opacity and affected lungs, and it is not laboratory confirmed.

Kazakhstan, in this regard, like other countries, monitors and keeps a record of these types of pneumonia, which enables timely management-level decisions aimed at stabilising the incidence and prevalence of the coronavirus infection.

At a briefing on July 9, the Minister of Health of Kazakhstan Alexey Tsoi spoke about the overall number of pneumonia cases in the country: bacterial, fungal, viral origin, including “viral pneumonia of unspecified etiology”, as per the ICD-10 classification.

Therefore, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan emphasizes that the Chinese media reports are FALSE.



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‘The ball is in the UK’s court,’ EU’s #Brexit negotiator says



Britain must send “clear signals” that it wants to seal a deal with the European Union on their relationship after Brexit, the bloc’s chief negotiator said ahead of more talks with London, adding a deal was still possible before the end of the year, write Gabriela Baczynska and Jan Strupczewski.

Michel Barnier (pictured) said Britain had so far not engaged with tentative openings floated by the EU side on state aid and fisheries in the previous negotiating rounds, which have mostly been held on video calls due to coronavirus safety restrictions.

“The ball is in the UK’s court,” Barnier told an online seminar on Wednesday. “I believe that the deal is still possible.”

He said he was “disappointed” with Britain’s refusal to negotiate on foreign policy and defence but that he was open to finding a “margin of flexibility” on thus-far conflicting EU and UK positions on fishing and the state aid fair play guarantees.

“As well as with fisheries and governance, we are ready to work on landing zones, respecting the mandate of the EU,” he said when asked how far the bloc could go towards Britain on the so-called level playing field provisions of fair competition.

They are among the chief obstacles to agreeing a new relationship between the world’s largest trading bloc and the world’s fifth-largest economy. Britain left the EU last January and its standstill transition period ends at the end of 2020.

Barnier said “the moment of truth” would come in October when the negotiating teams must finalize a draft deal if it is to be ratified by all the 27 EU member states in time for 2021.

Should talks fail, Barnier said the UK would be more severely affected than the EU if trade quotas and tariffs kick in, meaning that the bloc would not seal a deal at any cost.

“The level playing field is not for sale. It is a core part of the our trade model and we refuse to compromise to benefit the British economy,” he said.

Barnier added that, while Britain refused to sign up to the level playing field commitments in exchange for access to the single market, it was keen to retain very close ties on financial services and the electricity market.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a narrower trade deal with the EU, but the bloc is pushing for an alliance that would cover transport, fisheries, security and other areas.

Barnier named nuclear co-operation and internal security as areas where progress had been made but said agreeing a role for the bloc’s top court and sealing Britain’s commitments to the European Convention of Human Rights were still missing.

He pressed Britain to advance preparations for the sensitive Irish frontier as agreed under the EU-UK divorce deal last year.

London and the bloc have agreed to intensify negotiations, with contacts planned every week until the end of July and resuming on 17 August after a summer break.



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#Kazakhstan President Tokayev’s first year in office a success says EU



What happens in Kazakhstan also matters for the EU because the 27-member bloc is the number one investor in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s new president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (pictured), has marked his first year in office, with a pledge to forge ahead with more reforms. Tokayev won the presidential election on 9 June 2019 with 70% of the votes, running against six other candidate.  He is widely praised for introducing far-reaching reforms in the country, the eighth largest in the world though with a population of just 20 million.

In his first major speech, the president defined his policies in all fields of the economy and society.

In the state-of-the-nation address he promised to oppose ‘unsystematic political liberalisation’ and instead carry reforms ‘without running ahead’. Crucially, a large part of his one-hour speech was devoted to improving living standards for the Kazakh people.

He also emphasised his goal of having a strong president, an influential parliament, and an accountable government. This reflects the government’s continued focus on reducing inequality in Kazakhstan and improving Kazakh citizens’ quality of life.

At the same time, the president also focused on political and economic development, including supporting micro, small and medium-sized businesses.

While much of President Tokayev’s first year in office has focused on – successfully – delivering on these promises  prioritised domestic reforms, he has also paid heed to several foreign policy priorities for Kazakhstan.

Most recently, of course, the focus has been very much on combating the ongoing health pandemic.

Last month, he admitted that this “has not been easy for our country.”  He also warned, “the crisis has not yet been completely overcome. The epidemic has not completely disappeared. A pandemic is still dangerous to public health.”

Several key issues, he believes, still need to be resolved in the near future.

First. Improving the self-sufficiency of the Kazakh economy.

Second. Kazakhstan has allocated around 1 trillion tenge for the implementation of the president’s Employment Roadmap and, following the implementation of the projects, an analysis of their socio-economic efficiency will be carried out.

Third. the construction of affordable housing will give a powerful incentive for economic development, employment growth and social support.

Fourth. the time has come, he insists, to work out the issue of introducing a progressive scale of individual income tax in respect of wages and other types of income.

Fifth. Support for national business.

Sixth. The country should switch to working directly with each capital holder to boost increased competition for foreign capital.

So, what is the verdict on his first year?

Mukhtar Tileuberdi, the minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan, says, “The President has been quick to implement his ideas. In his first few months in office, he has shown his commitment to promoting the development of a multi-party system, increased political competition, and pluralism of opinions in the country”.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, said that in recent months “the breadth and depth of our relationship has progressed immeasurably.”

This is partly due to the fact that president Tokayev, in March this year,  signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, he said.  In doing so, Borrell notes it became the first country in Central Asia.

The Spanish official, a former president of the European parliament, adds “The European Union is the country’s biggest trade and investment partner, while Kazakhstan is by far the EU’s largest trade partner in Central Asia. What is more, we have invested heavily in strengthening governance, supporting its justice, social and economic reforms.”

Borrell says that, under the president’s tutelage, “We are turning the page and beginning an exciting new chapter.”

Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, the Chair of the EU-Kazakhstan Friendship group in the European parliament, is equally enthusiastic, saying “In Europe, the prevailing opinion is that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in fact, is building a social welfare state, where special attention is paid to reducing inequality, improving the quality of life of every Kazakh, and where priority is given to solving the day-to-day problems of the people.”

The ECR deputy adds, “In the field of foreign policy, Kazakhstan, as has been the case before, pays special attention to its partnership with the European Union. On 1 March 2020, the European Union-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement came into force. On the basis of this document, we expect that the parties will be able to fully reap the benefits of their partnership. As EU-Kazakhstan Friendship group chair I will do my utmost to further our relations to our mutual benefit.”

But the president has also overseen a whole raft of other changes, including abolishing the death penalty and reaffirming the need to strengthen the role of the Kazakh language as a state language.

He is spearheading a rapprochement between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union and also promoted freedom of expression for his country’s 20m citizens.

The president is also intensifying efforts to attract foreign direct investment, support farmers to market their products to foreign markets and support the activities of the Astana International Finance Centre.

He has also pledged to continue to support micro, small and medium sized businesses.

Shavkat Sabirov, director of the Institute for security and cooperation in Central Asia, says there has been a damaging lack of public confidence in political leadership around the world in recent time and this has many causes.

“But,” he notes,” perhaps none is more important than the widespread belief – fairly or unfairly – of citizens that their wishes, concerns and hopes are being ignored or taken for granted by those they have put in power.

It is a charge that Kazakhstan Tokayev has shown in his first months in office that he is determined to avoid.

Since his election last year, he has made his main priority reforming state and government services so they are more responsive to the needs and ambitions of its citizens.

He has wasted no time, either, in extending as he promised opportunity to all and increasing support to those who need it most.

It is a packed agenda – and President Tokayev is promising there will be no slow-up in reforms.

Fraser Cameron, director of the Brussels-based EU/Asia Centre, is a vastly experienced and respected expert on Asian affairs and gives a decidedly upbeat assessment of the country’s new head of state.

“President Tokayev’s ambitious reforms,” says Cameron, a former senior European Commission official,”should provide a solid basis to deepen cooperation between the EU and Kazhakstan.”

According to Willy Fautre, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, there is still room for improvement. He says, “In the field of human rights, the legacy of President Tokayev’s predecessor is very heavy and a lot of progress needs to be quickly achieved. Freedom of religion is one of those areas where some controversial laws should be revised and aligned to international standards as quite a number of peaceful Sunni Muslims have been unduly sentenced to very long prison terms. The US is putting in place a constructive policy in this regard with the establishment of the US-Kazakhstan Religious Freedom Working Group.

“Washington is also developing an Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue (ESPD) and has engaged Kazakhstan on a range of issues, such as human rights, labor and religious freedom. President Tokayev should not miss this opportunity to restore the image of his country.”

Looking to the future, there is still much more to do if the shared ambition of First President Nazarbayev and his successor of Kazakhstan joining the ranks of the world’s most developed 30 countries is to be achieved.

 

Kazakhstan/EU Factfile

  • The EU is Kazakhstan’s biggest trade partner, with almost 40% share in its total external trade.
  • Kazakhstan’s exports to the EU are heavily dominated by oil and gas which account for more than 80% of the country’s total exports.
  • Exports from the EU are dominated by machinery and transport equipment, as well as products within the manufacturing and chemicals sectors.
  • Imports from Kazakhstan greatly exceed EU exports to Kazakhstan.
  • Kazakhstan has a growing importance as an oil and gas supplier to the EU. Kazakhstan has benefited from strong foreign direct investment in recent years, largely to its oil and gas sector. Almost half of the foreign direct investment inflow comes from the EU.

 



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#Russia vs #China – EU Reporter : EU Reporter


Co-operation between Russia and China has deep historical roots, and its earliest manifestations can be found already during the Chinese civil war. It seems that both countries should be most united by their communist ideology, but the ambitions of their leaders and the willingness to be the first and the most powerful was in fact the dominating force. Relations between these nations have seen times of flourishing, as well as times of military conflict, writes Zintis Znotiņš.

The relationship between both countries are currently presented as friendly, but it is difficult to call them truly friendly. Even in the past, relations between the USSR and China were based on each nation’s calculations and attempts to play the leading role, and it doesn’t seem like something has changed at the present, although China has become a “smarter” and resource-wise richer player than Russia.

We will now look at the “similarities” between China and Russia, the ways they are cooperating and future prospects for both of them.

Russia is a semi-presidential federative republic, while China is a socialist nation ruled by the secretary general of its Communist Party.

Already we can see formal differences, but if we dive deeper both countries essentially feel like Siamese twins. There are more than one party in Russia, but only one party decides everything that takes places in the country – United Russia. Russia isn’t even attempting to hide the aim of establishing the said party, which is to support the course taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

China, too, has nine parties1, but only one of them is allowed to rule and it is the Communist Party of China which answers to the secretary general who is also the president of the state.

Therefore, there is a single ruling party both in Russia and China, and this party is responsible for implementing and executing whatever the president wishes, meaning that both countries are ruled by a rather narrow circle of people. Forecasting election results in Russia and China is as difficult as being able to tell that the day after Monday is Tuesday. To write this piece, I spent a lot of time reading about the history of China and Russia and the current events taking place in these countries, and for this reason I figured that we also have to look at the meaning of the word “totalitarianism”.

Totalitarianism is a political system in which a country is governed without the participation of its people and decisions are made without the agreement of the majority of the people; in a totalitarian regime the most important social, economic and political affairs are controlled by the state. It is a type of dictatorship where the regime restricts its people in all of the imaginable aspects of life.

Notable characteristics:

Power is held by a small group of people – a clique;

Opposition is suppressed and general terror is a tool for governing the state;

All aspects of life are subordinate to the interests of the state and the dominating ideology;

The public is mobilized using a personality cult of the leader, mass movements, propaganda and other similar means;

Aggressive and expansionist foreign policy;

Total control over public life.2

Are China and Russia truly totalitarian states? Formally, no, but if we look at the essence of it we see a completely different picture. We will look at all of the signs of totalitarianism in China and Russia, but we will not delve too deep into events and occurrences that most of us are already familiar with.

Can we say that the majority of Russian and Chinese citizens are engaged in decision making? Formally, sort of, because elections do take place in these countries, but can we really call them “elections”? It would be impossible to list all the video footage or articles that reveal how polling stations operate in order to provide the required election results. Therefore, we can say that the general public is involved in making decisions, it’s just that the results are always determined by those in power.

The last paragraph brings us to the first point: power is held by a small group of people – a clique. Both nations are ruled by presidents who appoint whoever they wish and dismiss whoever they wish. This is power held by a small group of people. The next point – suppressing the opposition and using general terror to govern the state. Media outlets have written enough about suppressing the opposition in both countries, and everyone has seen at least a video or two on this topic. To stop their political opponents and any events organized by them Russia and China use not only their police forces, but the army as well. From time to time, information appears that an opposition activist has been murdered in either of the countries, and these murders are never solved.

We will not even begin talking about criminal cases and administrative arrests of opposition activists. We can say that the point in question is completely true. Regarding all of the aspects of life being subordinate to the state and ideology – is there anyone who isn’t convinced by this? If Russia is engaged in restricting and “teaching” its citizens quite inconspicuously, China has no time for ceremony – the Communist Party of China has published new guidelines on improving the “moral quality” of its citizens, and this touches upon all of the imaginable aspects of one’s private life – from organizing wedding ceremonies to dressing appropriately.3 Is the public in Russia and China mobilized using the cult of personality, mass movements, propaganda and other means? We can look at 9 May celebrations in Russia and all of the surrounding rhetoric, and the events dedicated to the anniversary of founding the People’s Republic of China. I’m sorry, but it feels like I’m watching some Stalin and Hitler era montage but in a more modern fashion, and instead of Stalin and Hitler there are some new faces. What is left? Of course, aggressive and expansionist foreign policy. China has been very active in the South China Sea for many years now, which has aggravated tensions among the armed forces of its neighbours – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China is continuing to physically seize, artificially build and arm islands far from its shores. And in the recent years China has been particularly aggressive towards Taiwan, which the regime sees as being rightfully theirs.4 China is also willing to impose sanctions against those nations who intend to sell arms to Taiwan.

However, when it comes to armed aggression China pales in comparison to Russia, which isn’t shy to use armed aggression against its close and far neighbors in order to reach its goals. Russia’s aggression goes hand in hand with its nihilism. I am sure I don’t have to remind you about the events in Georgia, Ukraine and previously in Chechnya as well. Russia will use every opportunity to show everyone its great weaponry, and this also includes directly or covertly engaging in different military conflicts.

Maybe some of you will disagree, but as I see it China and Russia currently are totalitarian states in their essence.

History has shown us that up to a certain point even two totalitarian countries are able to cooperate. Let’s remember the “friendship” between Nazi Germany and the USSR, but let’s also not forget what this friendship resulted in.

It is also true that the economic sanctions imposed against Russia have pushed it to be more friendly with China, but it seems that China will come out as the winner of this relationship.

According to data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in 2018 the Chinese economy received 56.6 million USD in direct investments from Russia (+ 137.4%), meaning that by the end of 2018 the amount of direct investments from Russia reached 1,066.9 million USD.

In 2018, the Russian economy received 720 million USD in direct investments from China, resulting in a total of 10,960 million USD in direct investments from China by the end of 2018.

The main spheres of Chinese investments in Russia are energy, agriculture and forestry, construction and construction materials, trade, light industry, textiles, household electric goods, services, etc.

The main spheres of Russian investments in China are production, construction and transportation.We can see from the amount of investments that in this “friendship” China has far exceeded Russia. We also cannot ignore the fact that China has launched more large-scale investment projects in other nations than Russia has.

It should be noted that China’s procurement of military equipment has allowed Russian armaments programs to exist. Russia sold modern armaments to China, despite the concerns that China will be able to “copy” the received armaments and then improve them. But the need for money was much greater to worry about such things. As a result, in early 2020 it was concluded that China has surpassed Russia in producing and selling armaments.6

If we look at the ways Russia and China are attempting to shape public opinion in the long term, we can see some differences. Russia tries to do this using publications, demonstrative activities and attempts for its compatriots to become citizens of their country of residence while maintaining their cultural identity in order to establish an intellectual, economic and spiritually-cultural resource in global politics.7 China, in addition to all of this, has established Confucius Institutes that are subordinate to the Chinese Ministry of Education. There are a total of 5,418 Confucius Institutes or classes around the world. These institutes, named after the most known Chinese philosopher, have drawn sharp criticism globally for its foreign policy views – ones that avoid discussing human rights or believe that Taiwan or Tibet are inseparable parts of China. These institutes have been accused of espionage and restricting academic freedom.

“The Confucius Institutes are an attractive brand for our culture to spread abroad,” representative of the Communist Party’s Politburo Li Changchun said in 2011. “They have always been an important investment in expanding our soft power. The brand name “Confucius” is quite attractive. By using language tuition as a cover, everything looks logical and acceptable from the outside.” The leadership of the Communist Party calls these institutes a crucial part of its propaganda toolset abroad, and it is estimated that over the past 12 years China has spent roughly two billion USD on them. The constitution of these institutes9 stipulates that their leadership, personnel, guidelines, tuition materials and most of their funding is ensured by the Hanban institution which is under the Chinese Ministry of Education.10

Both Russian and Chinese citizens either buy or rent property abroad. Russians do this so they have somewhere to go in case the necessity arises.

Chinese citizens and companies slowly rent or purchase large swathes of land in in the Russian Far East. There is no precise estimate of the amount of land handed over to the Chinese, but it is said it could range between 1–1.5 billion hectares.11

What can we conclude from all of this? China and Russia are, in essence, totalitarian states with bloated ambitions. If Russia tries to reach its ambitions in an openly aggressive and shameless manner, then China is doing the same with caution and thought. If Russia often uses military means to reach its goals, China will most likely use financial ones. If Russia attempts to fulfill its ambitions arrogantly, then China achieves the same result with seeming kindness and humility.

Which country has gotten closer to its goal? I believe it is definitely not Russia. In addition, just as the USSR, Russia too believes it is better than China. But for those observing from the sidelines, it is evident that in many areas China has far succeeded Russia and is now even acquiring Russian land.

This brings us back to history – what happens when two totalitarian states share a border? One of them eventually disappears. For now, it seems that China has done everything in its power to stay on the world map.

1 https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D0%BF%D0%B8%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%BA_%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D1%85_%D0%BF%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%B9_%D0%9A%D0%9D%D0%A0

2 https://lv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalit%C4%81risms

3 https://www.la.lv/komunistiska-kina-publice-vadlinijas-pilsonu-moralas-kvalitates-uzlabosanai

4 https://www.delfi.lv/news/arzemes/devini-konflikti-kas-apdraud-pasauli-2019-gada.d?id=50691613&page=4

5 http://www.russchinatrade.ru/ru/ru-cn-cooperation/investment

6 http://www.ng.ru/economics/2020-01-27/4_7778_weapon.html

7 https://www.tvnet.lv/5684274/krievijas-am-tautiesiem-arzemes-jaklust-par-pilntiesigiem-mitnes-valstu-pilsoniem

8 http://english.hanban.org/node_10971.htm

9 http://english.hanban.org/node_7880.htm

10 https://rebaltica.lv/2019/08/kinas-maigas-varas-rupja-seja/

11 https://www.sibreal.org/a/29278233.html

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone, and do not reflect EU Reporter‘s political position.

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Iran’s anti #Coronavirus actions against #WHO advice


Iranian physicians and health workers in the APA International Medical Committee claim that the Iran regime is moving contrary to the world’s direction and WHO advice. On 4 March the spokesman for Iran’s Health Ministry declared a red alert on many of the country’s provinces and warned against resuming administrative and economic activities.

In a press release they say “On 5 March, Hassan Rouhani announced that schools would be permitted to open in so-called “white” provinces. He also set 11 April as the date when certain economic activities would resume. “Starting from next week, offices will begin to work with 2/3 of their employees, and only a third are allowed to stay at home,” Rouhani said. Over the past three months, the regime has unequivocally resisted quarantines, calling them “medieval” while promoting superstitious remedies as an alternate approach to confronting the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 4 March, Seyed Hassan Inanlou, deputy director of Health Management at Alborz University of Medical Sciences, warned, that if people pursue their ordinary livelihoods due to their financial circumstances, “The number of cases will be explosive, hospitals will be overloaded with patients, we will lose control, and won’t be able to manage the outbreak.” He also predicted that the death toll could reach a million.

Rouhani’s decision to resume social activity is cruel and reflects the entire regime’s failure to acknowledge any value for human life.

While there is worldwide concern about the peak of Covid-19 this month and many governments are asking their citizens to stay at home and shutting down the population movement to limit the transmission of coronavirus, Iranian authorities are moving in the opposite direction. This will have worrying consequences for the lives of Iranians as well the world population. The rapid rise in the number of fatalities in Iran, to at least 18,000, is a clear sign of this trend.

Physical distancing, workplace closures and encouraging the population to stay at home are necessary steps in confronting the spread of Covid-19, and the Director General of the World Health Organization has called on all governments worldwide “to put in place the social welfare measures to ensure that vulnerable people have food and otherlife essentials during this crisis.”

Most countries have dedicated special funds to financially supporting their populations, but Iran not only has no social welfare measures in place, but has left unpaid the regular salaries of many health care workers who are at the forefront of this battle against Covid-19.

We, as Iranian physicians, have been monitoring the situation in Iran for a long time. It is clear to us and to many Iranian citizens that the current situation is not related to the sanctions imposed on the regime but stems from mismanagement, from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s refusal to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars that are under his direct control in confronting the coronavirus, and from the massive institutionalized corruption within this regime.

During this crisis, the Iranian regime clearly has no sense of responsibility for its population’s health. It is endangering their lives and wellbeing by forcing them to get back to work early, thereby putting the economic burden of the battle against Covid-19 on workers’ shoulders.

As Iranian physicians and health workers in the APA International Medical Committee, we strongly condemn Rouhani’s announcement of an early return to work, and we warn that it will both endanger the lives of the Iranian population and increasing the infection’s prevalence.

This policy could easily cost at least one million Iranian lives in Iran. Therefore, we call on the WHO and UN Secretary General to intervene and compel the regime not to implement this policy but to utilize its trillions of dollars of available funds to safeguard the health of the Iranian people without delay.”

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More than 2 million rapid #Coronavirus tests ready to be deployed to Europe’s health-care system 


The 15-minute coronavirus test is now available to ease the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on health-care systems across Europe, which comes as world leaders look for solutions to combat the disease.

Using easy-to-collect samples, the tests detect the IgM and IgG antibodies response to the coronavirus, to identify if patients have contracted COVID-19 within minutes of testing.

The technology, which has already been used in China, will improve the detection rate of patients carrying COVID-19, allowing doctors to test suspected carriers as soon as 2 days after suspected exposure.

The antibody test, which was approved for sale in European markets last week, promises to ease pressure on labs by providing rapid point-of-care diagnostics.

This will assist healthcare professionals to clinically assess patients with and without symptoms, so they can provide vital care to those most in need even quicker.

Total coronavirus cases are set to surpass 240,000 worldwide today, and having been granted CE Mark certification, the tests can be made available immediately, with manufacturing being increased to meet demand over the coming weeks.

Yesterday (19 March), British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirmed interest in procuring COVID-19 tests which are as “simple as a pregnancy test, which can tell whether you have had the disease and in its early days, but if it works as its proponents claim, then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable.”

He continued: “Because obviously it has the potential to be a total gamechanger.”

The World Nano Foundation, through its partners, has formed a partnership with the Chinese developer of the test, to make them available across Europe.

The World Nano Foundation are offering these tests to Governments first, as they are best positioned to prioritise the application of the tests, rather than have the supply taken up indiscriminately by the market (minimum order 100,000 tests, price on application). These Rapid tests have already been used for Coronavirus in China and we now have CE Mark approval to deploy these tests in Europe immediately.

Use case examples:-
1. To relieve pressure on centralised testing methods that require laboratory machine which are already
overloaded.

2. To allow key workers forced into self-isolation due to contact to return to work if test negative.

3. To rapidly identify transmission events from contact lists of known positive patients.

For more information about the 15-minute COVID-19 tests, please contact Paul Sheedy, Co-Founder of The World Nano Foundation: [email protected]n.com





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#Kazakhstan bars entry to South Korean nationals due to #Coronavirus


Kazakhstan will bar entry to nationals of South Korea from March 8 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, deputy industry minister Berik Kamaliyev said on Thursday (5 March), writes Tamara Vaal.

Health Care Minister Yelzhan Birtanov told the same briefing that the Central Asian nation stood ready to deport foreigners who arrived from South Korea and other countries such as China from where it has banned nationals from entering Kazakhstan due to the virus.

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