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As Afghanistan stands at the crossroads, China is lending a helping hand

Qian Feng

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The Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan has been successfully held recently. Focusing on the situation in Afghanistan and its future, the meeting issued a joint statement covering five areas: political and diplomatic fields, economic and humanitarian fields, counter-terrorism and security, refugees, and institution building. This not only clearly demonstrates the determination of the neighboring countries to strengthen communication and work together to help Afghanistan achieve stable development, but also conveys the concerns and expectations of the international community for Afghanistan. In the current complex and volatile international situation, the meeting provides new ideas for addressing security problems, which is not only significant to Afghanistan, but also important for the international community as a reference.

The first Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan last September officially launched the coordination and cooperation mechanism for Afghanistan’s neighbors. At the time, the irresponsible withdrawal of the United States and its allies, coupled with the major changes on the Afghan political landscape, had left more than 30 million people in the country struggling to cope with multiple challenges, including, among others,  humanitarian crisis, economic difficulties, livelihood problems and the COVID pandemic. In response, the country’s neighbors came to the political consensus of working together to help Afghanistan, believing that they as neighbors have a unique role to play in providing a favorable external environment for the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan. This new mechanism is essential at this critical juncture when Afghanistan turns from chaos to peace.

In less than a year, Afghanistan’s neighbors have held three foreign ministers’ meetings, reflecting the great importance they attach to the Afghan issue. Under the mechanism, a lot of fruitful work has been carried out and many important consensuses reached. At the same time, it has maintained active communication with the interim Government of Afghanistan and cooperated with various international mechanisms on the Afghan issue to bring about positive development of the overall situation in Afghanistan. The efforts have been widely recognized by the international community.

Even as Afghanistan still faces severe challenges in many dimensions such as humanitarian crisis, economic recovery, counter-terrorism and national governance, what the United States does has aggravated the problems. In this February, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to “share” the $7 billion of assets deposited in America by the Afghan central bank, refusing to return them to the Afghan interim government. This move has been strongly criticized by Afghanistan and the international community.

More worryingly, Afghanistan seems to be forgotten by the Western world in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Today, more than 24 million people across Afghanistan need humanitarian support for them to survive, but the UN goal of providing $4.44 billion in humanitarian fund to Afghanistan has seen little progress. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while watching out for Ukraine, had to appeal to the international community for support to the Afghans to prevent another humanitarian crisis.

Therefore, this international meeting in China focusing on Afghanistan is ever more important and timely. This is a reminder to the international community that the Afghan issue is still high on the current international peace and security agenda. The world should not forget Afghanistan, and that the United States, the maker of Afghanistan’s problems, should not deliberately ignore and stay away from the Afghan issue.

It is better for the doer to undo what he has done. The US and the Western world should take up their primary responsibility for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, and return the property of the Afghan people as soon as possible. To truly help Afghanistan get through the difficulties, the more efforts to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis, the better, and the fewer unnecessary moves to create troubles, the merrier.

The Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan is another important contribution China makes to achieve enduring peace and stable development in Afghanistan. In order to make the Meeting even more productive, and promote the implementation of the outcomes of previous Meetings, China has been working for agreement to launch the mechanism for regular meetings among special envoys for Afghanistan of the neighboring countries, and establish three working groups on political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, and security and stability affairs. Foreign ministers from the Afghan interim government, Qatar and Indonesia were invited to the Meeting for the first time. And China presided over the meeting on the “China-US-Russia plus” consultation mechanism on Afghanistan. The world could see the diplomatic efforts China has made in this regard.

It fully shows that no matter how the international situation may evolve and change, China, as a responsible country and one of the neighbors of Afghanistan, will not change its foreign policy towards its neighbors, nor its diplomatic principle for upholding justice.

On the one hand, China acknowledges the efforts of the Afghan interim government from the perspective of history and development, and works with the international community to exert positive influence on the development of the situation in Afghanistan, and better integrate the country into the mainstream of the international community.

On the other hand, China opposes the abuse of sanctions, commits to resolving differences through dialogue and consultation, and takes the meeting as an opportunity for all parties to build consensus on the basis of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. China encourages Afghanistan to establish a more inclusive and open political architecture, take more moderate and steady internal and external policies, and combat terrorism effectively.

Afghanistan has been through a long, dark winter and is now embracing a hopeful spring. There is reason to believe that the successful convening of the third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan will bring new and greater hope for Afghanistan to get out of the current predicament and back on the track of sound development, and explore a development path that is in line with not only their own national conditions but also the trend of the times at an early date.

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Chief of Defence Force inducted into International Fellows Hall of Fame

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Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdulla Shamaal has been inducted into the International Fellows Hall of Fame at the National Defence University (NDU) in Washington, DC, United States (US).

Major General Shamaal received the award at the International Fellows Hall of Fame induction ceremony held at the Sydney Sheraton Grand Hotel. Lieutenant General Michael Plehn, the President of the NDU, presented the certificate and memento of induction into the International Fellows Hall of Fame.

Major General Shamaal is the first Maldivian to be awarded the honour. He and four others from four countries have been awarded the honour. He completed a Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies from the NDU in 2012 and was awarded the Distinguished Honour Graduate of the course.

The International Fellows Hall of Fame was established in 1999. The purpose of the programme is to provide a prestigious and visible means of honouring NDU graduates who have attained through merit the highest positions in their nation’s armed forces, service component, or government, or who have held an equivalent position in a multinational organisation. The members of the International Fellows Hall of Fame are recognised in a formal ceremony on the NDU campus. Their photographs are displayed in Marshall Hall in the Hall of Fame area.

 

Source: psmnews

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Media urged to highlight nations’ joint BRI efforts

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A senior official underlined on Tuesday the important role of media in boosting high-quality cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, urging international media outlets to tell about participating countries’ joint efforts to promote peace and prosperity, open, green and innovative development, and cultural progress.

Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remark in a video speech at the 2022 Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road, which was held in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

Huang said that jointly building the Belt and Road was a significant initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in line with the trend of global development and in answering the call of the times, with a view to advancing the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Since the initiative was proposed, infrastructure connectivity has advanced, the synergy of rules and standards has made progress and the bonds among people in countries involved in the initiative have been strengthened, Huang said.

The efforts to enhance Belt and Road cooperation have been deepened with fruitful results, and the initiative has become a global public good and a platform for international cooperation welcomed by the international community, he added.

Emphasizing the media’s important role in promoting the communication of information, enhancing mutual trust and building consensus, Huang said jointly building the Belt and Road is inseparable from the active participation of the media outlets worldwide as well as their sincere exchanges and pragmatic cooperation.

Looking forward, Huang expressed his hope that international media organizations will actively promote the perspective of civilization that features equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness, make the voices of win-win cooperation heard and contribute to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

The forum was held in both an online and offline format. It was jointly organized by People’s Daily, the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee and the Shaanxi provincial government. More than 120 media representatives from over 40 countries and international organizations attended the forum.

By the end of March, a total of 149 countries and 32 international organizations had signed cooperation documents with China on jointly building the Belt and Road.

From 2013 to 2021, the volume of trade in goods between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road amounted to around $11 trillion, and two-way investment exceeded $230 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

 

Source: China Daily

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Management plans to be implemented this year for two protected areas in Baa Atoll

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The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office has stated management plans will be formulated and implemented this year for two more areas in the atoll declared as protected areas.

Baa Atoll currently has 10 protected areas, of which three areas have a management plan. These three areas are Hanifaru, Olhugiri and Mendhoo region.

The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office revealed management plans are being formulated for two more areas, to be implemented this year. As such, management plans are to be implemented this year for the areas of Angafaru and Goidhoo Koaru.

Angafaru was declared protected on June 6, 2009. The protected area includes Dhonfanuthila, Dhiguthila and Mahaanagaa. The area used to be a breeding ground for both grey and white tip reef sharks. However, reef shark numbers have dramatically decreased from the site due to overfishing

Goidhoo Koaru, located on the northern side on the inhabited island of Goidhoo, was declared protected on June 5, 2011. This area has the highest biodiversity and largest mangrove forest within Baa Atoll. It is one of the largest mangrove ecosystems within the nation and has a high biodiversity population of mangrove associated vertebrates and invertebrates. This site is also a popular roosting site for migratory birds such as the Ruddy Turnstone and Northern Shoveler.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has declared Baa Atoll as a biosphere reserve for an additional 10 years. UNESCO has instructed the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office to formulate and implement effective management plans for all protected areas in the region.

 

Source: psmnews

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