CHINA’S ‘THINK-TANK DIPLOMACY’ IS GAINING TRACTION IN INDONESIA - The Daily Guardian
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CHINA’S ‘THINK-TANK DIPLOMACY’ IS GAINING TRACTION IN INDONESIA

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Partnerships between Indonesian and Chinese research institutes are an increasingly prominent part of Beijing’s “soft power” strategy to improve its image in the country. Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, a lecturer at the Universitas Islam Indonesia, writing in The Diplomat, said that Chinese strategy is of particular importance to its political and economic foreign policy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is important to note that there is a growing negative perception of China among Indonesians because of its assertiveness in the South China Sea, its policy toward the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region in western China, and its growing economic activities in the country. 

China mainly engages with Indonesian think tanks through its Network of ASEAN-China Think Tanks (NACT), which includes 10 Southeast Asian think tanks as members. NACT was first initiated by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2013, with the aim to “contribute scholarly work to the “diamond decade” of China-ASEAN strategic partnership.” The NACT holds regular meetings and seminars with its member think tanks in ASEAN countries to discuss the progress of China-funded projects and to identify potential future opportunities for collaboration. China has also often invited the representatives of these think tanks and other scholars to attend meetings in China at which Chinese officials push the government’s official narratives on issues like ASEAN-China Relations, global development, and disputes in the South China Sea, said Rakhmat. 

Wang Zhen, a PhD Candidate at the University of Albany, SUNY, has reported in detail on China’s engagement with think tanks across ASEAN. The coordinating institution for Chinese think-tank engagement in Indonesia is the ASEAN Studies Center at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta. A former researcher at the centre told the Diplomat that the think-tank has received funding from the Chinese government for capacity building and for the participation of its staff in short courses and workshops in China. 

Besides the ASEAN Studies Center, other Indonesian think tanks that frequently participate in activities with their Chinese counterparts include the Habibie Center, the Centre for Chinese Studies, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). CSIS Indonesia has carried out research for the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia and received funding from China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies to conduct research on fisheries and on peace in the South China Sea. 

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Twitter confirms Elon Musk’s buyout offer

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Elon Musk

Twitter on Tuesday (local time) confirmed that Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent a letter saying he will go through the deal he signed early this year to buy the platform for USD 44 billion.

“Twitter issued this statement about today’s news: We received the letter from the Musk parties which they have filed with the SEC. The intention of the Company is to close the transaction at $54.20 per share,” the official account of Twitter Investor Relations wrote. After the news broke, that the billionaire is proposing to continue with USD 54.20 per share to buy social media platforms, Twitter’s share price increased to 12.7 per cent before trading was stopped for the second time. On the contrary, Tesla’s shares dropped by about 3 per cent. Musk has been locked in a bitter legal battle with Twitter since announcing in July this year that he was pulling the plug on his USD 44 billion purchase of the company following a complex, and months-long courtship.

Musk had cancelled the deal, claiming that he was misled by Twitter concerning the number of bot accounts on its platform. These allegations were forthrightly rejected by the company. The latest report on the Twitter buyout deal comes ahead of the Delaware Court hearing on 17 October, where the two sides are expected to clash over the multi-billion dollar buyout deal. Earlier, Twitter had sought an order directing Tesla CEO to complete deal at $54.20 per share.

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Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, Barry Sharpless awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

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Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, Barry Sharpless awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Wednesday awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless.

Bertozzi from Stanford University, US; Meldal from University of Copenhagen, Denmark and Sharpless from Scripps Research, US have been awarded “for the development of click chemistry and bio orthogonal chemistry”.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2022 #NobelPrize in Chemistry to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and K. Barry Sharpless for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry,” the official Twitter feed of the Nobel Prize said in a tweet.

Barry Sharpless became the fifth individual to receive the Nobel Prize for the second time. He follows in the footsteps of John Bardeen, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Linus Pauling, and Frederick Sanger, all of whom received two Nobel Prizes.Prior to this, Sharpless was awarded the chemistry prize in 2001. Barry Sharpless and Morten Meldal have laid the foundation for a functional form of chemistry—click chemistryin which molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently. Carolyn Bertozzi has taken click chemistry to a new dimension and started utilising it in living organisms.

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Danish Queen Margrethe apologises for stripping grandchildren of royal titles

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Danish Queen Margrethe apologises for stripping grandchildren of royal titles

Danish Queen Margrethe II apologized for stripping four of her eight grandchildren of their royal titles.

The queen said that she was ‘sorry’ for stripping her grandchildren of royal titles. However, she is not changing her mind about the move. The 82-year-old monarch announced in late September that the children of her younger son, Prince Joachim, would no longer be known as prince and princess from next year.

Instead, they will only be able to use their titles of count and countess of Monpezat and will be addressed as excellencies, as their HRH titles will be “discontinued,” according to the royal household. Helle von Wildenrath Lovgreen, press secretary to Countess Alexandra, the former wife of Prince Joachim, said that Joachim and his children were “sad” and “shocked” by the decision, which Queen Margrethe views “as a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy,” according to a statement from the Queen.

“In recent days, there have been strong reactions to my decision about the future use of titles for Prince Joachim’s four children.

 “That affects me, of course,” the monarch said in the statement. “My decision has been a long time coming. With my 50 years on the throne, it is natural both to look back and to look ahead. It is my duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times. Sometimes, this means that difficult decisions must be made, and it will always be difficult to find the right moment,” she added.

The Queen said that she made the “adjustment” to allow the junior royals to lead more normal lives, while following a similar decision by other royal families to slim down the monarchy. 

“Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family,” she said.

Crown Prince Frederik, the Queen’s older son, is first in line to the throne. His oldest child, Prince Christian, is second in line. 

All four of Frederik’s children retain their titles. 
His younger brother, Joachim, lives in Paris with his wife Princess Marie, and has two children, Henrik, 13, and Athena, 10. 

The prince also has two older sons, Nikolai, 23, and Felix, 20, from his first marriage to Alexandra, the Countess of Frederiksborg. 

While Joachim’s children will lose their royal titles, they will maintain their places in the order of succession.

The monarch said, “I have made my decision as Queen, mother, and grandmother, but, as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected. 

That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry.”
She added, “No one should be in doubt that my children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren are my great joy and pride. I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation.”

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Pakistan defence sector continues to enjoy grants, subsidies despite economic crisis

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Pakistan defence sector continues to enjoy grants, subsidies despite economic crisis

As Pakistan always cries for funding in the name of development and disaster management, the so-called defence sector of the country continues to enjoy grants, subsidies and loans despite the financial crunches.

A Canada-based think tank International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), has highlighted the freebies to the elite military of the country. According to it, defence and debt servicing make up about 58 per cent of the budget for 2022-23, which is an increase of 24.3 per cent over the previous year.

While the funds for development expenditure have been cut in Pakistan and subsidies withdrawn for items like petroleum products and electricity, the defence sector continues to enjoy grants, subsidies and loan write-offs to the tune of PKR116 million in the current fiscal year.

The Pakistani Armed Forces also generate additional sources of income through their public sector enterprises and their business welfare models. These have been traditionally exempted from excise and taxation, as per the think tank.

Report says that in 2021-22 alone, PKR26 billion (USO 110 million) worth of tax exemptions were given to military-managed business entities. Apart from these direct expenditures, a large number of military related requirements are cross subsidized and met through funds allocated to other ministries.

IFFRAS reported that Pakistan which has been continuously plunging from one economic crisis to another, the deliberate opaqueness built into the defence expenditure needs to be addressed holistically to ensure economic security.

At present, Pakistan has been witnessing the devastating floods which impacted the country’s economic situation.

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USS Gerald R Ford, American aircraft carrier, deployed in Atlantic

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USS Gerald R Ford, American aircraft carrier, deployed in Atlantic

Five years after it was commissioned into service, the USS Gerald R. Ford left on its first deployment in the Atlantic region on Tuesday from Norfolk, Virginia. 

The US Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier will exercise with allies in North America and Europe in the Atlantic region. 

The USS Gerald Ford and the carrier strike group will operate with allies and partners in both the 2nd and 6th fleet areas of responsibility in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Mediterranean Sea, a US Navy official said. The deployment will be shorter than a standard six-month deployment, the official added. 

“This deployment is an opportunity to push the ball further down the field and demonstrate the advantage that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region, and to our allies and partners,” Carrier Strike Group 12 Commander Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman said in a statement.

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Armed forces to stay away from politics, says General Bajwa

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Armed forces to stay away from politics, says General Bajwa

Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa assured the nation on Tuesday that the armed forces have distanced themselves from politics and want to stay away from it in the future as well. While addressing the gathering during the lunch at Pakistani Embassy in Washington, Pakistan Bajwa said that he will leave after the completion of his second three-year term in two months, Dawn reported. He reminded the nation that reviving the country’s ailing economy should be the first priority of all segments of society, adding that without a strong economy the nation would not be able to achieve its targets.

“There could be no diplomacy either without a strong economy,” said the army chief in his address to an audience which included a large number of Pakistani diplomats. After lunch, Bajwa went to the Pentagon for a meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

According to Dawn citing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Bajwa called on retired General Lloyd James Austin III, Secretary of Defence; Jacob Jeremiah Sullivan, National Security Adviser; and Wendy Ruth Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State. During the meetings, matters of mutual of interest, regional security situations and bilateral cooperation in various fields were discussed. 

The army chief thanked the US officials for their support and reiterated that assistance from “our global partners shall be vital for rescue/rehabilitation of the flood victims in Pakistan”, as reported by Dawn. 

US had provided $56.5 million in aid to Pakistan for flood relief and humanitarian assistance this year.

During his meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had expressed his sorrow over the devastation and loss of life throughout the country caused by catastrophic flooding. 

“He reaffirmed the US commitment to the people of Pakistan, noting the nearly USD 56.5 million in flood relief and humanitarian assistance provided this year as well as the additional USD 10 million of food security assistance announced today,” read the US State Department press release.

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