New satellite images of China indicated that Beijing might be preparing for the deployment of massive unmanned subs in the South China Sea, however, the intention is still unclear, a media report said.
The new images showed two of China’s extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicles (XLUUV) at Sanya Naval Base on Hainan Island, which geographically juts into the contested South China Sea, Asiatimes reported citing Naval News. According to the report, two vehicles were present all-time at the base since March and April 2021, but have been spotted now.
It also mentions that the two XLUUVs have been seen near an area where China has previously based its midget submarines, indicating trials or testing.
Elaborating about the XLUUV, defence analyst H I Sutton in Naval News said that the underwater vehicle is around 16 meters long and two meters across.
Regarding operational use, Sutton says in Naval News that XLUUVs are capable of performing ISR missions. In addition, their larger size translates into longer sea endurance, which enables them to be used for offensive operations such as minelaying, anti-submarine warfare and special operations.
According to Asia Times citing an August report from the US Congressional Research Service (CRS), the potential for miscalculation and escalation with unmanned vessels, mentioning that they make tempting targets.
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US to provide more aid to flood-devastated Pakistan
It was announced on Tuesday that the United States will provide Pakistan USD 10 million more in assistance to tackle the devastating floods that affected more than 33 million people in the country.
“The fresh assistance was announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington after meeting with Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari”, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
In addition, the Washington has already announced financial assistance of USD 56.1 million.
In his conversation with Blinken, Bilawal informed him of the destruction brought on by the catastrophic floods, which forced more than 33 million people to flee their homes. According to Pakistan, the tragedy has resulted in damages worth USD 28 billion.
He praised the government and people of Pakistan for their relief efforts and thanked the US government for its support, stating that no nation could handle a disaster of this proportion on its own.
The US private sector would prefer to invest in Pakistan, he added, notably in the country’s energy industry, given its enormous potential.
Bilawal emphasised the historical and expanding significance of the Pakistan-US relationship in fostering regional peace, security, and economic growth.
Bilawal emphasised that Pakistan would continue to collaborate with the international community to bring about peace, development, and stability in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of assisting Afghanistan to prevent the humanitarian crisis.
Secretary Blinken expressed his gratitude to Pakistan for helping with the evacuation of Afghanistan.
Specifically in the fields of commerce and investment, he emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to strengthening and enlarging its relations with the US.
China’s economic clout forces African countries to turn blind eye to Xinjiang
While the recent report of United Nations Human Rights on China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region has brought global condemnation, most of the African countries were silent on it due to Beijing’s heavy economic clout in the second-biggest continent.
Cobus van Staden, a China-Africa expert at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said that because of China’s economic clout, most African countries simply don’t want to “pick a fight” over Xinjiang, which, to many, seems far away, reported allAfrica. “We’ve seen most African countries side with China, and this includes a lot of majority Muslim countries. … In terms of how the African partners will vote on the human rights council (if there is a vote), I tend to fear that they will probably vote with China,” he said.
There are reasons for this, he said. China is Africa’s biggest trade partner, far outstripping the West, and a lot of African countries “tend to be quite suspicious of separatist movements and quite suspicious of hardliners or political Islam.”
Nigeria, for example, has been plagued by hardliner Islamist groups, reported allAfrica. The report, published by then-UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on her last day in office in August, said China’s actions against Uyghurs and others in the Xinjiang region “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” citing abuses such as arbitrary detention in camps, torture and sexual violence.
However, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Chen Xu, delivered a joint statement on September 13, during the 51st session of the Human Rights Council, saying the Xinjiang assessment was “based on disinformation and draws erroneous conclusions.” The statement was signed by 28 other countries, with close to half of the supporters from African countries such as Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Zimbabwe, reported allAfrica.
Interpol issues diffusion notice against rape accused Nepal former cricket captain
A diffusion notice has been issued by Interpol against Sandeep Lamichhane, the former Nepali cricket team captain who is facing rape accusations.
The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) issued the notice at the request of the Nepal Police registering him as one of the fugitives on large. The Interpol department of the National Central Bureau (NCB-Kathmandu) confirmed that a diffusion notice was issued on Friday against Lamichhane. On Sunday evening, Lamichhane reiterated that he would return to his home country soon.
Taking to Facebook for the second time since the filing of a case of sexual assault by a minor, the former national cricketer reiterated to return back to Nepal “at an appropriate time.” It has been 19 days since an arrest warrant was issued against him by Kathmandu District Court.
“It is my good fortune to be included in the national cricket team at the age of 16. It was not something that my little hard work could earn. I have always moved forward with the desire to keep Nepal’s name high in the cricket world. I feel proud to make the name of Nepal known through my hard work,” he said.
Further adding, Lamichhane claimed “I came to know about the complaint filed against me and the false accusation of rape. This has not only affected and damaged my mental health but physical health as well.”
Talking about his mental distress, he stated that he is currently in isolation without mentioning his whereabouts, “All these things affected me mentally on the one hand and, on the other hand, I had to go through physical illness. Therefore, I decided to keep myself in isolation for some time,” he said.
However, Lamichhane is not in touch with both the police and the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) lately. The warrant issued in his name and the complaint against him that became public mentally exhausted him, he has said.
Death toll in Bangladesh boat capsize rises to 50
The death toll of Sunday’s deadly boat capsize in Panchagarh has reached fifty as 26 more bodies were discovered on Monday.
The Daily Star reported quoting the additional deputy commissioner, Dipankar Roy confirmed the death toll from the control room at Mareya Union Parishad. Among the victims, there were 25 women and 13 children most of whom were going to the Bodeshwari Temple to celebrate Mahalaya. The incident was reported from the Aowlia Ghat in Marea Union on Sunday afternoon, Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner Jahirul Islam confirmed, the Daily Star reported.
A team of divers from Dhaka was scouring the river to look for more bodies, as thousands of people crowded the river banks to watch the search efforts.
Boat accidents in Bangladesh are common due to laxity in safety standards and overloading.
As Bangladesh lies on the lower course of mighty rivers – the Ganga, and the Brahmaputra, the country is crisscrossed by 230 rivers. Notably, around 37 persons drowned in December last year after a passenger ferry hit a cargo ship and sank.
At least 85 people drowned in November when an overloaded triple-decker ferry capsized off Bhola Island in the country’s south.
A week later another boat sank leaving 46 people dead. So far this year, dozens of people have been killed in several smaller boat accidents in Bangladesh.
Naval officials have said more than 95 per cent of Bangladesh’s hundreds of thousands of small- and medium-sized boats do not meet minimum safety regulations and millions of people in Bangladesh rely on boats and ferries to travel to the capital or the delta nation’s major cities, The Daily Star reported.
Sri Lankan fishermen oppose Chinese exploitation of maritime resources
Local Sri Lankan fishermen in the northern part of the island nation come forward to oppose the Chinese exploitation of maritime resources in their waters.
Led by several Chinese corporations and entities, Beijing has launched a campaign to gain dominance in the sea near Sri Lanka, according to Mawrata News. Beijing appears to be eyeing the cultivation of sea cucumbers, which is one of the island nation’s primary economic activities, the report said.
Media reports indicate that Sri Lanka shipped approximately 336 tonnes of sea cucumbers to China, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2021. “Consequently, breeding and exporting the aquatic creature like a sausage that is considered a delicacy in China and Southeast Asia is a profitable market for Chinese businesses,” the report said.
This comes as Colombo is pursuing a Cabinet-authorised plan for large-scale commercial sea projects in Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, and Kilinochchi. After the Sri Lankan cabinet plans were made public, a Macau-based Chinese firm offered to establish a large-scale sea cucumber farming operation in the Puttalam and Jaffna districts. According to Mawrata News, this 10-year project looks to include more than 36,000 acres of water to yield 8.6 million kilograms of sea cucumber.
Due to fear of possible marine depletion, locals are reportedly opposed to the project under discussion.
Annalingam Annarasa, the President of the Jaffna Fisheries Federation, was quoted as saying in local media that the proposed project will bring more harm than benefit to locals.
Even as Sri Lankan government continues to promote these sea projects, the fishermen believe that this would lead to lasting damage to the local marine ecology and hurt their livelihoods in the long run.
Earlier, a similar Chinese project in the Kilinochchi district faced stiff opposition last year from local fishermen who objected to the fencing of the land adjoining the sea.
NASA’s DART mission successfully crashes spacecraft into asteroid
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – the world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration – successfully impacted its asteroid target on Monday, the agency’s first attempt to move an asteroid in space.
“IMPACT SUCCESS! Watch from #DARTMIssion’s DRACO Camera, as the vending machine-sized spacecraft successfully collides with asteroid Dimorphos, which is the size of a football stadium and poses no threat to Earth,” NASA tweeted, taking to Twitter. Termed humanity’s first test of planetary defence by NASA, the main objective behind the mission was to redirect the asteroid closer to Didymos, which it orbits, CNN reported.
The asteroid system was the perfect target to test kinetic impact, which may be needed if an asteroid is ever on track to hit Earth.
As per CNN, the process took place when a briefcase-size CubeSat hitched a ride with DART and three minutes after impact, it flew by Dimorphos to capture images and video which will be streamed back to Earth in the coming weeks and months.
The mission is known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), according to NASA.
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