Geopolitics

Coronavirus in the world, between vaccine chaos and contagions new records
Geopolitics

Coronavirus in the world, between vaccine chaos and contagions new records

Another 664,036 infections and 11,798 deaths in the last 24 hours in the world, from 6.30 yesterday morning to the same time today according to the authoritative database of Johns Hopkins University. Overall, since the onset of the disease, the disease has caused 128,822,735 infections worldwide, of which at least 2,815,166 proved fatal. According to WHO data, yesterday Europe totaled 45% of daily infections (230,467), followed by North and South America (149,102) and Southeast Asia (63,837).

“Vaccines are our best way out of this pandemic. However, the rollout is unacceptably slow and is prolonging the pandemic,” WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge said in a statement. Who then expressed concern about the current peak of cases in Europe: “It is the most worrying in months.” The German Permanent Vaccination Commission (Stiko) advises people under 60 who have received the first dose of AstraZeneca to have a different vaccine injected for the second dose. This is what we read in a “draft decision” presented late last night by the German vaccination authority.

The quality control process “identified a batch of active ingredients that did not conform to quality standards at Emergent BioSolutions in the USA. This batch never went through the filling and finishing stages of our manufacturing process. This is an example of the rigorous quality control applied to each batch of active ingredient “. This was announced by Johnson & Johnson after the blocking of a batch of anti-Covid vaccine at Emergent. The issue “was identified and addressed with Emergent and shared with the US FDA. Quality and safety continue to be our top priority.”

“The United States may not need AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, even if it gets approval,” Anthony Fauci, the virologist who leads the US task force, tells Reuters. The vaccine has been authorized for use by dozens of countries, excluding the United States. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the White House, said that “the United States has sufficient contracts with other vaccine manufacturers to vaccinate the entire population, and perhaps even for boosters in the fall.”

Asked whether the US will use AstraZeneca doses, he said: “Nothing has been decided yet. My feeling is that given the contractual relationships we have with several companies; we have enough vaccine to satisfy all of our companies. needs without resorting to AstraZeneca.”

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Late last year, the drug manufacturer and the University of Oxford released data from an earlier study with two varying degrees of vaccine efficacy for a dosing error. Then, in March, more than a dozen countries temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after it was linked to a rare blood clotting disorder. Also, in March, a US health agency said the company’s data provided an incomplete picture of its effectiveness. Days later AstraZeneca published results showing reduced, though still strong, efficacy. Fauci said that “If we calculate the number (of doses) we will receive from J & J, from Novavax from Moderna and we bargain for more, it is likely that we can manage the vaccination campaign, but I cannot say for sure.”

The entire American adult population, aged 16 and over, can be vaccinated. With the announcement of Arkansas, the latest that had not yet made a decision, all fifty states have approved vaccination for even the youngest, covering the last portion of the adult population. The first to begin with the distribution of doses to 16-year-olds was Alaska on March 9, followed by Mississippi, West Virginia, Utah, and a part of Arizona. Between Monday and Thursday, it was the turn of twelve other states, including Texas and Connecticut. New York has announced the start of the administration to children from April 6. California starts on April 15th. The last, on May 1, will be Oregon, South Dakota, Nebraska, Hawaii, Alabama, and New Jersey.

2020 marks highest world’s forest cover destruction in 20 years
Geopolitics

2020 marks highest world’s forest cover destruction in 20 years

2020 has been a year of destruction and losses. Keeping Covid-19 apart, the other catastrophic development has been huge destruction of world’s green cover. The year has recorded sharp increase in forest loss, with approximately 42,000 sq km of tree cover in critical tropical zones being lost.

To equate it differently, the loss in 2020 has exceeded the average of past 20 years with 2020 being the worst, as put up by University of Maryland and Global Forest Watch, an online monitoring platform.

The forest loss has exponentially occurred primarily in humid tropical primary forests like Amazon, Congo and forests in South-East Asia. The forests are essential to reduce carbon levels and also to support the existing ecosystems. These forests loss has equated to 4.2 million hectares of green cover loss, leading to increase in global carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Brazil has recorded the worst level of forest destruction with loss of 1.7 million hectares. This is an increase of quarter from last year. Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency has witnessed massive rounds of fires that swept the Amazon at unmatched rates, despite banning use of fires to clear trees. The recent round of destruction is after period of improvements to reduce deforestation.

Apart from Brazil’s Amazon, the other forest cover of Brazil that is concerning scientists is the South American country’s Pantanal, world’s biggest tropical wetland. One third of wetlands succumbed to fires by people attempting to manage agriculture land. This was also accompanied by the most severe spell of droughts in 40 years. The damage can take decades to recuperate.

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The Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to have a direct impact on green cover loss globally with no evident seismic shifts. But the economy collapse due to pandemic led lockdowns resulted in people moving to rural areas, worsening the load on forests and agriculture lands. The impact of this shift can be seen in greater proportions in the future.

Frances Seymour, a distinguished senior fellow at WRI said, “Unless we offer alternatives, it is likely that governments will try to recover on the back of forest loss, [particularly] governments facing high levels of debt. The longer we wait to tackle deforestation, the more likely it is that these carbon sinks will go up in smoke.”

Climate collapse is also leading to forest loss, drying out the wetlands. The dried out trees are easier to catch and spread fires, forming a vicious cycle.

UN Cop26 is being hosted in November led by UK, which will chalk out global partnerships and plan of action in this direction. President of Cop26, Alok Sharma said that in order to support the poor nations to bear climate collapse, wealthy countries must step up. He said, “The people who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are suffering the most. This is a searing injustice. And so developed countries have a particular responsibility to support the response of communities which are most vulnerable to climate change. We are running out of time.”

The Ever-Given blocked half-world goods, the case demonstrates the “geopolitical crisis of the Straits”
Geopolitics

The Ever-Given blocked half-world goods, the case demonstrates the “geopolitical crisis of the Straits”

It was not a simple maneuver, but the situation has finally unlocked. The Ever-Given container ship, which stopped the world traffic of goods with its 400 meters, was ‘freed’. So, after six days in the Suez Canal, the navigation of the 321 ships waiting after the cargo had run aground on the sandy bottoms resumed.

The huge boat started moving around 3 pm This morning the owner had made it known, after the first manoeuvres with the help of ten tugs, that the ship was not yet floating. Then the turning point and the long-awaited movement. The manoeuvres were stopped and resumed when the water rose to its maximum height: this made it possible to completely shift the direction of the ship to the center of the sea route. The rescue team began to drag the cargo, which then resumed moving with its engines sailing at 1.5 knots, towards the Great Bitter Lake, a large body of water halfway between the north and south ends. of the Suez Canal, where the boat will undergo a technical inspection.

Egypt claims to have done most of the work that led to the release of the giant container ship, which ran aground on the sandy bottoms of Suez. Following the speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Twitter, the president of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) also said that Egyptian efforts accounted for 98 percent of all efforts to bring the cargo. Rabie explained that 15 Egyptian units belonging to the SCA participated in the operations, including 12 tugs and two dredgers.

Suez Canal, one of the main arteries of world trade obstructed by the gigantic container ship Ever Given, which ran aground on one of its banks on Tuesday, proceeds but appears to be in trouble. New attempts to free the “beached whale” with its 400 meters in length and 219 tons of cargo have failed. And the 321 ships stopped at the entrance of the two sides of the canal, which move almost 10 billion dollars a day, are still waiting. And there are shipowners who, to get around the blockade and the consequent traffic jam of hundreds of cargoes, are considering changing course, opting for the longer and more expensive circumnavigation of Africa.

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It is the revenge of geography. The thoughtlessness of a helmsman is enough and the whole world goes into a chain crisis. That port container placed sideways, mockingly wedged between the two edges of the Suez Canal to temporarily prevent navigation is more eloquent than any geopolitical treaty. Because with its ungainly and rusty bulk, Ever Given is there to remind us that no new technology, no sophisticated device, no transaction in the immaterial world of the Web can replace the crucial importance of those straits that have entered the history of empires and powers. and who have built fortunes on them, declared wars, sacrificed human lives and political ambitions. Suez, Bab el-Mandeb, Malacca, Hormuz, Panama, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, Gibraltar, Oresund between Norway and Denmark.

They are the infamous chokepoints – some also aptly call them “bottlenecks” – those obligatory passages through which the world communicates by sea and from which 80% of the planet’s goods and 54% of wheat and fertilizers transit. Masters of the sea, already two hundred years ago the British supported the empire that spread to the four corners of the world with a shrewd policy of the straits, which ensured the court of St. James’s virtual control of the vast colonies and the most important maritime hubs of the world.

Suez – which the British crown lost in 1956 when President Nasser decided to nationalize the canal – is a striking example: currently, almost 10% of world trade, 9% of crude oil, 8% of liquid gas passes through it. An unstoppable and impetuous river of men, goods, ships, products. So much so that it induced China to finance Egypt to double a part of it and make the canal area a privileged hub for Beijing’s goods and a formidable bridgehead in the Mediterranean Sea. Followed closely by Moscow, very active in the construction, also in Egypt, of a Russian Industrial Zone, similar to the Chinese one. But the grounding suffered by the busiest waterway is there to demonstrate how the straits, with their forgotten iconostasis, still separate worlds and put them in communication. It depends on them and who governs them.

The price of crude oil is an ultra-sensitive antenna for their health: the freeze-frame of Ever Given, with its 21,000 containers and 220,000 tons, produced a 5% increase in prices in a few hours, bringing it to around 60 dollars a New York and over $ 62 for Brent, exactly as happens every time there is some accident or attack on commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf, where 17 million barrels a day pass through.

But every hour of late delivery is a spark that can ignite consumer prices. Those of freight rates have already grown: circumnavigating Africa as it happened a century and a half ago would involve delays and significant damage, especially in electronic components. That is, the one that keeps the world connected. And it is precisely the straits that guarantee that continuous circulation where transport by sea remains predominant: every day the seas are crossed by a million ships between commercial and military.

And to testify that the geopolitics of the Straits has not faded at all, Putin’s reaction to the Suez traffic jam was as quick as predictable: from Moscow the Severny Morskoy Put, the infamous North-East Passage, the Nordic route, was relaunched. mirroring the historic (and objectively too expensive) Northwest Passage that would save 7,400 kilometers from the Kara Sea east of Novaya Zemlya to the Bering Sea along the Arctic coast of Siberia. A time that was prohibitive even with the aid of icebreakers, but which has become practicable despite some risks or because ofglobal warming which has reduced the extent of Arctic ice.

The Belt Road Initiative itself, the Chinese Silk Road, is the plastic earth response to Beijing’s dependence on the Strait of Malacca, the second world gateway after Hormuz, which Washington virtually controls. Just close it a month and the Chinese economy is being throttled. It is no coincidence that it is called “geopolitics of the Straits”.

Suez Canal blockage impacts Syrian oil supplies
Geopolitics

Suez Canal blockage impacts Syrian oil supplies

The stricken Ever Given container which has been stuck in the narrow strip of Suez Canal for six days now, has started to worry Syrian government as the authorities foresee a huge shortfall of oil supplies ahead of them. The blockage which is costing the trade industry millions of dollars every day, has left Syria with only one option, fuel rationing.

Syrian government has anticipated major delay in its fuel supplies. The war-torn country which has been scarred by years of conflict and frequent bouts of battles was already battling severe economic crisis. The current scenario just added to its troubles.

Syrian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said the blockage caused by the giant ship had “hindered the oil supplies to Syria and delayed arrival of a tanker carrying oil and oil derivations to Syria.”

On Saturday, the state-run SANA news reported that the Middle Eastern nation has resorted to fuel rationing with respect to “the available quantities of petroleum derivatives mainly diesel and benzene to ensure their vital availability for the longest possible time.”

The news agency quoted ministry saying that the step was taken “in order to guarantee the continued supply of basic services to Syrians such as bakeries, hospitals, water stations, communication centers, and other vital institutions.”

It added that the country would continue to ration oil supplies until “the return of normal movement of the navigation via the Suez Canal, which may take an unknown time.”

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On Saturday, the Suez Canal Authority chief, Osama Rabie, said: “Strong winds and weather factors were not the main reasons for the ship’s grounding, there may have been technical or human errors.” Rabie’s Saturday’s statement stood in complete contrast to his earlier statement in which he claimed that wind gusts were the cause of the Ever Given’s stranding.

Amidst the lack of a high tide, the rescue teams have resorted to dredging, digging and tugboat push in order to make the diagonally struck vessel refloat. Rabie said, “We managed to move the ship from the bow side by 4 meters, and likewise from the stern side. The dredging operations led to the ship moving, albeit a slight move, but it is a positive development, because in the first two days the ship was not moving at all.” The Leth Agencies, the Suez Canal’s service provider, reported that the blockage caused a massive backlog of ships waiting to pass the passage, with their number reaching up to 327.

Africa’s much-touted healthcare on verge of clogging amid third wave of COVID19
Geopolitics

Africa’s much-touted healthcare on verge of clogging amid third wave of COVID19

World Health Organization’s regional office in Africa has warned that rising cases of Covid-19 indicating a possible third wave might choke the much hyped healthcare structure of the African sub-continent.

Healthcare framework and infrastructure in majority of the continent is already in dilapidated state. But with rising number of Covid-19 cases, the global health body is raising concerns. World Health Organization said that the infection rate is on a rise in at least 12 African countries, including Ethiopia, Cameroon, Guinea and Kenya.

Healthcare framework in Africa, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are stretched to the threshold as this week witnessed cases crossing 4.1 million mark. This was a sharp surge in cases as compared to the 2.7m cases recorded in December end. South Africa is leading with over 1.5m cases and over 52,000 deaths.

Tragically, just 7 million people have been so far vaccinated across Africa that has a population of over billion.

Compared to the first wave of Covid-19, the second of infections that rose in 2020 end was far more aggressive and catastrophic for the continent. One of the reasons could be implementation of fewer and less severe public health measures than imposed in first wave, said The Lancet this week. By 2020 end, Africa bore share of 3-4% of global cases of Covid-19. But considering the vast underestimation of true scenario, experts fear that detection of variants can be distorted.

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With Kenya recording a surge of 20% cases of Covid-19, experts have warned public of difficult days ahead. Kenya’s health ministry tweeted, “We are in the third wave of this virus, and it’s a wave that threatens to erase all the gains we have made as a country in fighting the pandemic over the last one year.” Kenya’s all intensive care unit beds have been occupied with doctors themselves getting infected with the virus.

WHO authorities in Africa said that with inadequate healthcare facilities in continent, including those for testing and isolation of Covid-19 cases, the healthcare personnel are bearing the brunt if pandemic now with “work overload, poor infection prevention and control measures”. In a tragic toll, 3.5% total cases in Africa are among healthcare professionals.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union said in a statement, “The acute shortage of doctors across the country is detrimental to health services delivery amidst the pandemic. This month has recorded an increase in healthcare workers’ infection, there are currently 10 doctors admitted in various facilities across the country and this indicates the need for extra precaution by members of the public.” The union further urged people to follow all the precautionary measures and be cautious when visiting a doctor or any medical facility.

“Covid-19 has heavily jolted the health workforce in the African region. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 267 health worker infections have been recorded on average every day, translating to 11 new health worker infections per hour,” said the WHO.

Joe Biden is not looking for a confrontation with China and warns North Korea
Geopolitics

Joe Biden is not looking for a confrontation with China and warns North Korea

US President Joe Biden said he is not seeking a confrontation with China, pointing out that the competition will be fierce between the two superpowers. Biden added that the United States will respond appropriately if North Korea intensifies its missile tests, describing also his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as an authoritarian ruler who doesn’t have an atom of democracy.” But Biden stressed to have personally told Jinping on several occasions that Washington is not looking for a fight, but the competition will be very intense. “We are consulting with our partners and allies,” he added at his first White House press conference. There will be reactions if North Korea decides to continue.” President Biden said, adding that he is ready to establish some form of diplomacy with North Korea, but it must be conditional on the outcome of nuclear disarmament.

North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the Sea of ​​Japan overnight. According to the Japanese government, the test of ‘two unidentified bullets took place shortly after 7 am local time, and the missiles landed in the water, just outside the exclusive economic zone of Tokyo.  This is Pyongyang’s second launch in nearly a year and the first of its kind since the administration of US President Joe Biden took office.

The developments come a few days after the military exercises carried out in the area by the US command in collaboration with South Korea and the visit of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken together with the Minister of Defense, Lloyd Austin, first in Tokyo and then in Seoul, to strengthen relations with allied countries.

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During diplomatic meetings, Blinken stressed the importance of a process of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Statements that have been called “raving theories of a North Korean threat, based on baseless rhetoric” by Pyongyang’s Deputy Defense Minister, Choe Son Hui. Washington intends to re-establish negotiations with the hermit country but has reported that initial attempts at a confrontation have so far been ignored. Biden does not hesitate: “We are consulting with our allies and partners: there will be an answer if Pyongyang chooses an escalation,” US President Joe Biden told CNN.

The North Korean regime confirmed yesterday that it had launched the two missiles, defined as “guided tactics of a new type”. The official ‘KCNA’ news agency reported that the North Korean Academy of Defense Science performed the test with “great success”. The rockets, underlines the ‘KCNA’, hit their targets in the waters 600 kilometers from the coast. The new carriers can carry a warhead weighing 2.5 tons. Yesterday was the second launch carried out by Pyongyang in the last week. On Sunday – according to the South Korean news agency ‘Yonhap’ – North Korea had launched two cruise missiles from the west coast.

CFR says US needs to re-strategies its investment initiatives to combat China’s global influence
Geopolitics

CFR says US needs to re-strategies its investment initiatives to combat China’s global influence

A recent study indicated that US administration despite its hardline approach towards China has not been able to do much to counter its increasing influence all over the world ranging from economic, political, diplomatic to defense arena. Analysts also hinted at laid-back approach followed by the previous US administration, under Donald Trump, which contributed to US falling off the track.

According to the report, which was put out by the Council on Foreign Relations, “U.S. inaction, as much as Chinese assertiveness, is responsible for the economic and strategic predicament in which the United States finds itself. U.S. withdrawal helped create the vacuum that China filled with BRI.”

The report, which was released on Tuesday, added, “Although the United States long ago identified an interest in promoting infrastructure, trade and connectivity throughout Asia and repeatedly invoked the imagery of the Silk Road, it has not met the inherent needs of the region. Its own lending to and investment in many BRI countries was limited and is now declining.”

Beijing has been able to pace ahead of Washington with its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which focuses on financing massive infrastructure projects all across the globe, including roads, railways, power plants and telecommunications. With regard to the Chinese multi-million dollars project, David Sacks, a research analyst at CFR and one of the report’s co-authors, said, that the “unbound geographical” nature of the project led to its exponential growth.

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In a bid to re-strategise its move to counter China, the new US administration, under Joe Biden, has decided to focus on strengthening its old alliances and forming new ones especially with smaller nations, which otherwise could be an easy target for Chinese regime to mount pressure on. In this regard, Biden administration launched the Small and Less Populous Island Economies (SALPIE) Initiative.

The initiative was designed to directly fight back Chinese predatory investment practices, especially to provide a lucrative alternative to island territories located in the Caribbean, North Atlantic and Pacific regions.   Sack said that it was too early to say if SALPIE would be able to beat China’s BRI. He said, “Blue Dot (which was launched during Trump era) was not resourced and it remains to be seen whether this new initiative [SALPIE] is resourced. What we need is not only kind of a declaratory policy and to go out publicly and say, ‘We want to compete, we want to be the partner of choice,’ but we need actual funding and resources behind it.” 

The geopolitics of anti-covid vaccines between Big Pharma, Sputnik, AstraZeneca, and others
Geopolitics

The geopolitics of anti-covid vaccines between Big Pharma, Sputnik, AstraZeneca, and others

Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war. It is not the usual conflict we are used to. But the vaccine race is clearly delineating a conflict, or rather the dynamics of the geopolitics of medicine, on a global level. The USA, Israel, and the United Kingdom have for now the primacy of the diffusion of vaccines among all the countries of the world.

Facing each other in this war, at the moment there are also China, Russia, and India. In this game or Risiko, in which not only human lives are at stake but also the pace and States’ economic recovery consistency, what matters is not only have developed a vaccine but also have helped to finance it. And being able to produce it in massive quantities, as India is doing. The following is an analysis of the spread of vaccines administered in 132 countries, equivalent to 85% of the world population.

With three vaccines in the field, the US is the real superpower. They left in time, thanks to substantial public and private funding and the best researchers, identified even outside their borders. This is the case of the German spouses of Turkish origin Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, founders of BioNTech. It is the company, specialized in the research of immunotherapies against cancer, to which the American Pfizer has offered a rich agreement for the development of a vaccine against Covid-19, also financed by the German state and the Bei (the European Bank of investments). T

his explains the favor reserved for it by the EU and by Germany in particular. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already administered today in 77 countries, often coupled with Moderna (present in 32 countries): in addition to the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it has been chosen by all European countries, including those of Eastern Europe. , except Moldova and Ukraine which only use AstraZeneca, and San Marino which has chosen the Russian Sputnik. This vaccine has also reached the Holy See.

On the other hand, it is absent in the African continent, except in Rwanda, together with AstraZeneca and Moderna. Turning to the Middle East, Israel has chosen it with that of Moderna, while it is the only vaccine in Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar. As well as in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Little present in Central America (in Mexico there is but with AstraZeneca and Sputnik), in South America it has not conquered the largest countries, except Colombia. As for the islands, it is the exclusive choice of Bermuda, Cayman, and Turks and Caicos. 

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The recent authorizations for the third US vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, see its use at the moment only in the United States and South Africa, but many countries have authorized it, including France and Italy. Developed by the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford, produced and distributed by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the British vaccine is currently the most widely used in the world, thanks to its lowest price. Among the 78 countries that are already using it, there are almost all Europeans, including from the East. Unlike the Americans, AstraZeneca is highly optioned in Africa, where it has conquered seven of the 13 countries that have vaccinations underway, including Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco with the Chinese Sino Pharm, Rwanda, and Uganda. It is not very present in the Middle East, except in Saudi Arabia with Pfizer-BioNTech, and in Bahrain and the Emirates, which have optioned all the major vaccines. In Asia, it has been adopted in India, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Mongolia. Among the islands, Antigua, Barbados, Maldives, Mauritius.

The Russian Sputnik was the first vaccine in the world registered against Covid-19 in August 2020, thanks to the research that the Gamaleya Center had already done on Ebola and MERS. Sputnik has currently been authorized in nearly 50 countries but is only operational in 18. The European Authority (EMA) has not given it the go-ahead: politically there is no will to fund Vladimir Putin’s regime. At the moment it is injected not only in San Marino but also in Montenegro, Serbia, and Hungary, the only country in the world where all the vaccines in circulation are used. There are many countries with authoritarian regimes that have chosen it: Algeria and Tunisia, Iran and Venezuela.

It is also present in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Italy is the only European country that has signed an agreement for the production of ten million doses of Sputnik. This break in the anti-Russian front was received coldly by the major EU countries. The 10 billion dollars that Russia would squeeze from the hypothetical sale of one billion doses worldwide is disturbing, considering that they almost equal the value of its arms exports of the same period. Meanwhile, the Siberian Vektor laboratory has registered the second Russian vaccine: the EpiVacCorona. 

Turkey, Egypt, Hungary. These three states, which have welcomed the Chinese vaccines SinoPharm and SinoVac, would be enough to give the measure of how China moves by offering alliances to key countries in strategic quadrants. In South America, exports concern giants such as Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. In its area, it has conquered the Philippines, en route to its US ally for not having received the promised doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, and Indonesia, another disappointed US partner, alongside Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. The offensive is such that the United States and Japan are ready to finance a billion doses, to be produced in India and distributed from Australia throughout Southeast Asia.

The Philippines slams China’s militarisation of the South China Sea with 200 vessels
Geopolitics

The Philippines slams China’s militarisation of the South China Sea with 200 vessels

The Philippines criticized China’s militarisation of the disputed waters in the South China Sea by stationing 200 vessels in order to forcefully claim the region. Manila’s maritime forces noticed the vessels beings docked at Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls Julian Felipe, on March 7. The country’s National Task Force, which guards the West Philippine Sea, released pictures of the vessels lying side by side, highlighting the communist nation’s “provocative action”

On Sunday, Philippines’ defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana released a statement objecting to Chinese intervention in its territorial waters. Lorenzana, upholding his country’s sovereign rights over the region, said, “We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory.”

Southeast Asian nation’s task force, which reported against Beijing’s military manning 220 vessels lined up in the disputed waters, said in a statement, “Despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night-time.” It added that the presence of Chinese ships was “a concern due to the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment, as well as risks to the safety of navigation”.

Manila’s foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin, said that the country filed an official report late on Sunday against China’s arbitrary move. The contested region is a boomerang-shaped, shallow coral region about 175 nautical miles (324km) located the west of Bataraza town in the western Philippine province of Palawan. Manila’s government watchdog claimed that it was the country’s exclusive economic zone, over which the Philippines “enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources”.

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The Philippine military chief, Lieutenant General Cirillo Sobejana said the military’s “utmost priority remains to be the protection of our citizens in the area, particularly our fishermen, through increased maritime patrols”.

So far Chinese embassy has remained silent over the issue. But critics in the Philippines have blamed President Rodrigo Duterte, for adopting the non-confrontational approach and developing friendly ties with Beijing despite its stepping into the Philippines’ territory. In his defense, about two years ago, Duterte said, “When Xi says ‘I will fish,’ who can prevent him?” He added, “If I send my marines to drive away from the Chinese fishermen, I guarantee you not one of them will come home alive”.

N Korea to sever ties with Malaysia in view of US extradition ruling
Geopolitics

N Korea to sever ties with Malaysia in view of US extradition ruling

State media reported, on Friday, that North Korea would cut off diplomatic ties with Malaysia after a court verdict that a North Korean man could be extradited to the U.S to face money-laundering charges.

Its foreign affairs ministry warned Washington that it would “pay a price”, in a statement released by the state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The North Korean statement didn’t name its citizen, but in the earlier days of March, Malaysia’s apex court ruled that a North Korean man, Mun Chol Myong, could be deported.

Myong had lived in Malaysia for nearly a decade and was caught in May 2019 after US authorities had requested his extradition. Malaysia’s government accepted the request, but Mun challenged the bid.

In his affidavit, Myong denied accusations by the US that he took part in supplying prohibited luxury items from Singapore to North Korea as a clear violation of UN sanctions while he worked in the city-state before leaving Malaysia in 2008.

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He also denied that he was involved in the laundering of funds through front companies and that he issued forged documents in support of illicit shipments to his country. 

He, in his affidavit, said that he was the sufferer of “politically motivated” extradition requests that were aimed at pressuring North Korea to halt its missile program.

The North Korean external affairs ministry called the extradition a very “nefarious act and unpardonably heftycrime” by Malaysian authorities, who had “named our citizen as a sacrifice of the US antagonistic move in defiance of the widely acknowledged international laws.”

Malaysia’s actions had tarnished “the entire crux of the bilateral relations based on respect for sovereignty,” it said.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry, in a statement on Friday, said that it “deeply regrets” North Korea’s step to cut ties.

“Malaysia condemns the decision and calls it unfriendly and unconstructive that disrespects the spirit of good neighbourly relations and mutual respects among members of the international fraternity,” the ministry said.

It said that the decision was “unwarranted, clearly disproportionate and very disruptive towards the promotion of stability, peace, and prosperity of the region”.

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