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China dominates at 10th Asian Junior Wushu Championships

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China dominates at 10th Asian Junior Wushu Championships

Championships

China’s SAR Macao placed second with seven gold, nine silver and four bronze medals, while Iran was third with seven gold, five silver and 11 bronze medals.

The championships featured 398 athletes and officials from 16 countries and regions, vying for golds in 72 events.

However, the host country, Brunei, had its best collection of four golds, two silvers and one bronze to place ninth in the medal tally.

YI/AIB

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Former UK consulate employee says Chinese secret police torture him

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A former employee of Britain’s Hong Kong consulate said Chinese secret police beat him, deprived him of sleep and chained him as they pressed him for information about activists leading the pro-democracy protests, the BBC and Wall Street Journal reported.

Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen, who worked for the British government for almost two years was detained for 15 days on a trip to mainland China in August.

“I was shackled, blindfolded and hooded,’’ the 29-year-old told the BBC.

He told the Journal that he was questioned repeatedly about the role his interrogators presumed Britain was playing in fomenting the unrest.

In fear, Cheng said he disclosed the passwords for his phone and social media accounts, named two British consular officials he thought had military and intelligence backgrounds and gave details about some people involved in the protest.

British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, condemned China’s treatment of Cheng, which he said “amounts to torture’’.

He has summoned the Chinese ambassador to express “outrage” at Cheng’s treatment.

“I have made clear we expect the Chinese authorities to investigate and hold those responsible to account,’’ Raab told the Journal.

China’s ambassador to London on Monday accused foreign countries including the U.S. and Britain of interfering in Chinese internal affairs through their reactions to the violent clashes taking place in Hong Kong.

The Asian financial hub, which was handed over to China by the former colonial ruler, Britain in 1997 but enjoys a degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula, has been plunged into chaos for almost six months.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said Western countries were meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

AIB

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Two U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash – U.S. military

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Two United States service members were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

“The cause of the crash is under investigation, however, preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire,’’ the statement said.

The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter, which it said crashed in Logar province south of the capital, Kabul.

“U.S. Chinook helicopter shot down and completely destroyed last night while trying to raid Mujahideen (Taliban) position in Pangram area of Sarkh, Logar,’’ Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a tweet.

It was not possible to independently verify the group’s claim.

The Taliban often claims responsibility for accidental crashes but the Afghan government ruled out their involvement.

“There was no involvement of the enemy fire in the helicopter crash and no Afghan security force member is hurt,’’ said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan Defence Ministry.

The crash comes a day after the Taliban swapped two Western hostages for three of its commanders held by the Afghan government, raising hopes of a thaw in relations between the militant group and coalition forces.

AIB

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Ethiopia’s Sidama vote on autonomy in latest test for restive regions

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Polls opened on Wednesday for Ethiopia’s Sidama people to vote on self-determination in a referendum closely watched by other ethnic groups also seeking more autonomy since reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed shook up the national power balance.

The special vote for the Sidama, mostly based in the south and comprising about 4 per cent of Ethiopia’s 105 million people, comes ahead of a general election next year and has brought fears of renewed violence.

At least 17 people died in clashes in July between security forces and Sidama activists after the government delayed the poll by five months.

Voters lined up before dawn at a polling station in Hiteta, a neighbourhood in the city of Hawassa, women carrying babies, elders wrapped in white, handwoven blankets, the gabi, and young men with traditional Sidama scarfs tied around their heads.

Many waived their voting cards in celebration as they waited to cast their ballots when polling stations opened at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT).

“I arrived early to vote as I want my own region,” said Emnet Telahun, 22, holding her one-year-old daughter Mirtinesh.

For Yerusalem Kabiso, 48, who lost her 24-year-old brother in the July clashes, the vote meant the end of decades of struggle.

“I consider witnessing this day as if I was born again,” said Kabisao, who was wrapped in a pink bathrobe.

“We lived our whole life under oppression, as a child I remember chopped heads of Sidama people displayed at the market, I will never forget the head of my brother in law,” she said.

If the referendum passes as expected, the Sidama will control local taxes, education, security and laws in a new self-governing region that would be Ethiopia’s tenth.

The Horn of Africa nation’s regions are emboldened by a more open political climate – and a weaker ruling coalition – since Abiy took office in 2018 and eased the iron rule of his predecessors.

However, that has also brought a surge of long-repressed rivalries between Ethiopia’s more than 80 ethnic groups, forcing more than 2 million people out of their homes and killing hundreds, according to the United Nations and monitoring groups.

“Should there be irregularities and should autonomy not be declared, that would be a danger for Ethiopia itself because of course there will be violence,” said Dukale Lamiso, head of the Sidama Liberation Front, an activist group.

About 2.3 million voters are registered at nearly 1,700 polling stations, the national electoral board said.

Polling stations close at 6 p.m. (1500 GMT); preliminary results are due on Thursday.

More than a dozen other ethnic groups are considering or already campaigning for region status.

The vote will also be closely watched for its tone in the run-up to next year’s general election, which Abiy has promised will be free and fair.

Previous elections going back to 2005 were marred by irregularities, violence and clampdowns by security forces.

A potential Sidama homeland would be carved out of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) region, the most ethnically diverse part of Ethiopia, a rural region of about 20 million people that borders Kenya and South Sudan.

The Sidama people want the multi-ethnic Hawassa, 275 km (170 miles) from Addis Ababa, to be their capital.

The city, on a lake and surrounded by farmland, is home to the country’s first industrial park, opened in 2017, where Western and Asian companies are producing clothes for export as part of Ethiopia’s ambitious industrialisation drive.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Ismail Abdulaziz

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Trade between Egypt, COMESA up 32.2% in 2018, says statistics agency

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 Trade exchange between Egypt and member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) hit 2.952 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, up 32.2 per cent year on year, Egypt’s statistics agency said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics said that exports to COMESA countries amounted to 1.908 billion dollars in 2018, up 17.2 per cent from 2017.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s imports from COMESA countries reached 1.44 billion dollars in 2018, an increase of 72.6 per cent year on year, it added.

Egypt’s economy has been battered by years of turmoil following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

However, the country has recently shown signs of economic improvement amid strict economic reforms, including tax hikes and energy subsidy cuts recommended by the International Monetary Fund that supports Egypt’s economic reform plan with a 12-billion-dollar loan. (Xinhua/NAN)

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Sudan gov’t agrees to delay peace talks with armed groups to Dec. 10

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The Sudanese government has agreed to delay Thursday’s peace talks with the armed groups to Dec. 10, after a request from the host country South Sudan.

Sudan’s Higher Peace Council said this in a statement by its spokesperson Mohamed Al-Hassan Al-Taishi on Tuesday.

South Sudan’s capital Juba had been scheduled to host a new round of peace talks on Thursday between the Sudanese government and the armed groups from Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions.

“The government has agreed to delay the peace negotiations to Dec. 10 at the request of the mediation,”  Al-Taishi said.

On Oct. 14, Juba hosted a round of peace talks between the Sudanese government and the armed groups.

Sudan’s Justice and Equality Movement, the Sudan Liberation Movement /Minni Minnawi faction, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/northern sector took part in the talks with the government. (Xinhua/NAN)

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Kenyan economist roots for adoption of yuan as reserve currency in Africa

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African countries should hasten the adoption of the yuan as a reserve currency amid increased bilateral trade with China, a Kenyan economist said.

Bernard Ayieko, a Nairobi-based economist said in a commentary published by the Business Daily newspaper that the adoption of the yuan would boost the ability of African countries to attract new investments and trade favorably at the global market.

“The Chinese growing influence and the increase in Sino-Africa relations have brought to the fore a debate on the African countries’ need to adopt the renminbi as a currency reserve,” Ayieko added.

He said that the internalization of yuan, or renminbi, would boost globalization and foreign trade that Africa could leverage to propel growth.

“The call to internationalize the renminbi continues to reverberate across the world.

“African countries are mulling the need to use the renminbi as a reserve currency and a medium of exchange in international settlements,” Ayieko said.

The internationalization of yuan reached a milestone in 2016 when it joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) basket of reserve currencies alongside the U.S. dollar, the Euro, Japanese Yen, and the British Pound.

“Premised on the increased trade, loans and grants to Africa from China, there has been an incessant debate in Africa that time is nigh for African countries to adopt the yuan as a reserve currency.

“The growing China-Africa trade has increased the yuan’s convertibility in settling financial transactions between countries.

“ yuan as a reserve currency, African countries will trade smoothly at both bilateral and multilateral levels because it will be easier to make international transactions between many countries that require diverse currencies for financial settlements,” Ayieko said.

(Xinhua/NAN)

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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