12/06/2023, 09.40
ASIA TODAY
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Moody's agency downgrades Beijing's debt

Today's news: 462 Chinese citizens arrested in Laos. Freedom of the press is increasingly squeezed in Malaysia. Taiwan tries again to join the CPTPP. Afghanistan gets the release of some funds from the World Bank. There is an ongoing measles epidemic in Russia. The New Zealand government wants to abolish the use of the Maori language

CHINA

The rating agency Moody's has lowered China's "debt rating outlook" from A1 "stable" to A1 "negative". The main reasons for the decision are the debt accumulations contracted by Beijing for having saved some local governments in crisis , several state-owned companies and for trying to intervene in the ongoing housing crisis.After decades in which its economy expanded by more than 8% a year, China will grow at a maximum of 5.4% in 2023. However Growth is likely to slow to 3.5% by 2028, according to the International Monetary Fund's forecast.

LAOS

The Laotian authorities escorted 462 Chinese citizens, arrested in the country for various crimes - including human trafficking - from the Golden Triangle special economic zone in the north of the country, effectively a Chinese colony on the territory of Laos. They were all arrested on Nov. 28 during a raid on the tourism and gambling center in Bokeo province, a statement posted on the Lao Public Security Bureau website said.

MALAYSIA

“Malaysia's civil liberties are increasingly being hampered,” says a new “People Power Under Attack” report on rights and freedoms in the Asia-Pacific by civil rights group Civicus. The report points to a growing increase under the last five different prime ministers in restrictions particularly on press freedom. “In June 2023, the MalaysiaNow news portal was made inaccessible. While in August this year, the government blocked some users from accessing the news sites UtusanTV.com and TV Pertiwi."

AFGHANISTAN

The financing of some international projects interrupted following the capture of Kabul by the Taliban will be completed by April 2024. "As a result of our biennial negotiations with the World Bank - said Ahmad Wali Haqmal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance of the current government Afghan -, the World Bank is committed to resume support for projects that have remained incomplete. The bank will begin by paying 24 million dollars to complete the construction of houses called CASA-1000". The initiatives that will be supported will concern the construction of roads, houses, healthcare, energy and agriculture.

TAIWAN - CANADA

Canada's presidency of the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership) next year represents an opportunity for Taiwan to try to overcome China's veto on its entry into the international organization, Lin Mei-cheng (林美呈) said. deputy director of the department for international cooperation and economic affairs of the island's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mei has already established informal communication channels to maintain extensive relations with other member countries such as New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan: the aim is to obtain their support for Taiwan's entry into the CPTPP.

RUSSIA - CENTRAL ASIA

After having affected several Central Asian countries, the measles epidemic is also rapidly spreading in Russia, exceeding 8,000 infected people in recent months, mostly children. The disease spreads from schools and even to universities. Epidemiologists are not on alert for now given that the pressure on hospitals is still within limits, but concern is growing among the population.

NEW ZELAND

Thousands of demonstrators across New Zealand protested against the new government's plans to reverse policies that were strengthening indigenous rights. The new right-wing administration of Prime Minister Chris Luxon wants to review existing agreements with the indigenous people and abolish the use of the Maori language. The main marches were held in Auckland, where two people were arrested.

GEORGIA

The opposition in Georgia have proposed a law to "limit Russia's socio-economic and political influence" in the country. Request rejected in parliament by the majority with the slogan "we are not crazy", in the face of proposals to limit visas for tourism and work to Russian citizens, the ban on selling land and properties to Russians, and the total ban on Russian TV channels .

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