Tag: Malaysia

The global war for sand- The World Reviews
Geopolitics

The global war for sand- The World Reviews

War for Sand: From the 1960s, Singapore has expanded by about 20%, thanks to a drainage system that has allowed the country to recover land from the sea and additional sands use. The need to expand the land area derives, for Singapore, from the population growth and the consequent need to find new areas available for the construction of residential buildings. But also, to expand the infrastructure and transport system. In recent years Singapore has entered into a dispute with neighboring countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia, over allegations of illegal sand trafficking from the two countries’ beaches to Singapore.

Malaysia, along with Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam, has placed a ban on the export of sand. Since this practice is considered harmful to the conservation of its natural heritage. According to multiple reports and local testimonies, thousands of tons of sand are taken by traffickers who, with small boats, reach the nearby Malaysian and Indonesian coasts, smuggling them into Singapore.

Sand is an extremely important non-renewable resource. Its use in the construction sector has made the war for sand a global phenomenon. In America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, unscrupulous contractors take sand from our beaches to build skyscrapers and luxury hotels. In Miami, the mayor confirmed a paradoxical situation. While millions of tourists choose Florida for its sandy beaches, the continued construction of resorts along the coast has meant that these beaches are disappearing today. 

Even in Morocco, the inhabitants of Agadir say that traffickers exploiting low-cost local labor are taking tons of sand, causing damage to the entire ecosystem. The United Arab Emirates also uses sand skyscrapers building, although many Burj Khalifa apartments are empty today. A European construction company has asked the EU Commission to remove the ban on French waters in Marseille, towards the English Channel to extract sand from the seabed. The news sparked the local fishermen’s ire. They raised their voices for the EU to continue to protect the seabed in that area.

According to a research published in the journal Nature Climate Change, half of the world’s beaches could disappear by the end of this century.  as a result of climate change-induced coastal erosion and rising seas. The scientists used satellite images to measure how coastlines have evolved over the past 30 years. They then used projections of sea-level rise to imagine how beaches and shores could change in the future. According to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, average global sea levels could rise by 0.95 feet to 3.61 feet by the end of this century. But it’s not just climate change that puts our beaches at risk. Man is, once again, the most predominant risk factor.

 Oceans usually move the grains of sand from ashore to another, but the ever more frequent construction of artificial barriers by States to protect their coasts blocks this process irremediably. The sand takes millions of years to reach the sill, through the path of the rivers. Streams carry with them during their journey the debris of rocks and stones, depositing on the coast. The dams continued global construction not only stops river water but also the sand ends on the walls of these artificial systems, without reaching the sea. All that is accelerating the disappearance of our beaches, already at risk from rising sea levels due to global warming.

Marine biologists have already warned of permanent damage that emptying sand from the seabed is an inhumane practice as it takes away millions of being. It also doesn’t give any results as it is not possible to stop the sand. The construction industry has begun to appreciate the use of glass sand in recent years. Glass sand is obtained by processing glass remains that are not recycled. This process has a cost, while the sand is free. The mafias have entered the sand trade, and until governments take measures to protect our shorelines, few will buy glass sand. The beaches are not ours. We can enjoy them today and then leave them to our children, from generation to generation. We must protect and respect them.

China’s COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy failing in ASEAN: Report
Geopolitics

China’s COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy failing in ASEAN: Report

China’s COVID-19 vaccine: As China tries to boost its image with COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy, ASEAN is looking for alternatives

As countries across the world are working diligently to develop a viable vaccine against COVID-19, China has been making efforts to restore its image through its vaccine diplomacy in response to widespread criticism over its mishandling of the pandemic outbreak. 

However, Beijing has faced a major setback in its strategy after ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members including Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines signed various deals for procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine with pharmaceutical companies from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Notably, China’s delay in providing crucial information related to the genetic components of Coronavirus hampered the efforts of other countries to develop a potential vaccine to tackle the virus. Coronavirus had originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in November 2019 and spread across the world within months, affecting the lives of billions of people. 

With access to all information about the virus, China benefitted from a head start in developing a potential vaccine. As soon as it achieved success in developing a vaccine against COVID-19, China offered it to other countries in a bid to bolster its diplomatic engagement, exert geopolitical influence and pursue its broader regional objectives. 

A number of senior Chinese leaders visited Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, assuring them priority access to the vaccine. Countries like Indonesia and Malaysia had also signed deals to work together with Chinese state-owned drug makers to develop the vaccines. At a time when advanced nations such as the US, UK and Australia were busy developing potential vaccines prioritising domestic needs, China stepped up its efforts to provide vaccine development and distribution assistance to ASEAN nations.

However, as per media reports, ASEAN countries have been asked to extend support to Beijing at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in barter for the vaccine in a bid to revive its goodwill. According to an Economic Times report, a reporter from China’s state-run Xinhua news agency had posted on his Weibo account that Premier Li Keqiang had made it a prerequisite for ASEAN countries to support China at the WHO for its support in combating the virus. 

Amid this development, ASEAN countries have grown cautious of Beijing’s strategy to influence the region. On Friday, Thailand and the Philippines reportedly secured millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. At the same time, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also announced that the country has signed a deal with US drug maker Pfizer to procure its COVID-19 vaccine for 20 percent of its population amid efforts to combat the pandemic.

Notably, the vaccine race has now grown into a proxy war for dominance between China, the US and Russia, amid a global dissociation on the critical issue. The provision of a Chinese vaccine will have significant geopolitical implications. Significantly, Beijing has already offered a $1 billion loan to Latin America and the Caribbean for access to its COVID-19 vaccine. 

Meanwhile, over 150 countries have joined the COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility) initiative launched by a collaboration of the WHO, vaccine alliance Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. It aims to speed up the development, manufacturing and equitable distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 among member countries.

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