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PA and UN perceptions of Friday’s riot

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The balance of the Palestinian demonstration that took place on Friday along the Israeli-Gaza border is at least 16 Palestinians killed and hundreds injured, the Palestinian envoy to the UN spoke of over 1400 people, by Israeli security forces as they tried to face tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along the 65 km fenced border. According to army estimates, 30,000 took part in the event, but the conditions for its peaceful development with the passing of the day were not followed, in fact, hundreds of young Palestinians ignored the calls of the organizers and the Israeli army to stay far from the border, where Israel soldiers across the border watched that people did not try to damage the security fence. The militias reported that blows were fired only on those who tried to sabotage the infrastructure, while Palestinian officials said Israeli forces used firearms against demonstrators, as well as tear gas, also launched with a drone, and rubber bullets.

The United Nations Security Council was informed of the violence in Gaza at the request of Kuwait; the Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an independent and transparent investigation and asked “those concerned to refrain from any action that could lead to further victims and in particular any measure that could put civilians in danger”. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that Israel was responsible for the violence and declared a national day of mourning on Saturday. The United States declared itself “deeply saddened” by what happened, inviting all those involved to take steps to reduce tensions and reduce the risk of new confrontations.

 

Wang Yi “China’s reform and opening up is in line with the interests of the Chinese people”

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China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking at a business conference as part of the Greater Mekong Subregion Summit in Hanoi, in Vietnam, said China wants to share its development opportunities with other countries, but protectionism will mean closing the door into China. “China’s reform and opening up is in line with the interests of the Chinese people, and will also benefit other countries” Wang said, adding China will provide an even better investment environment for foreign companies, but he also added “Opening up should work both ways. China opens itself to other countries and hopes others will be open to China”.

Wang also said the country’s reform and opening up policy will neither be changed nor be affected by any external factors, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s move last week to slap up to $60 billion in tariffs on some Chinese imports.

Gao Feng, “The practices of the United States are like opening Pandora’s Box”

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China’s commerce ministry, said the U.S. approach on trade sets a bad precedent that could trigger a domino effect, so the United States must stop its wrong actions and withdraw from its unilateralism. Ministry spokesman Gao Feng also told the U.S. trade measures on China were typical trade protectionism and reflected a Cold War attitude. “The malicious practices of the United States are like opening Pandora’s Box, and there is a danger of triggering a chain reaction that will spread the virus of trade protectionism across the globe” the spokesman added.

China in fact would take all possible steps to protect its interests and was confident in its ability to counter any trade and investment protectionism. Itcould target a broad range of U.S. businesses from agriculture to aircraft, autos, semiconductors and even services if the trade conflict escalates.

‘Strong possibility’ North Korea’s Kim Jong Un made surprise Beijing visit

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An armoured green with yellow horizontal lines train arrived in Beijing on Monday night. This event, including tightened security outside the train station, and tourists being ushered out of the capital’s Tiananmen Square, which usually signals a high-level meeting in the Great Hall of the People there, fed rumours that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Beijing. Assuming it actually took place it was Kim’s first visit to a foreign country since succeeding his father, Kim Jong-il, as supreme leader of North Korea in December 2011 and it was a clear message sent to the world that despite rumours to the contrary, Beijing and Pyongyang remain close allies.

Although the details of the visit remain a closely guarded secret, Kim is believed to have met Chinese President Xi Jinping and possibly other top Communist Party leaders, including Premier Li Keqiang while in the city. There has been no official comment from North Korea, while China’s foreign ministry said it had “no information for the moment”, but more would “be published in due course”.

Chinese military jets once again enter Taiwanese airspace

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Taiwan Defense Ministry said it sent aircraft to shadow China air force fighter jets as they flew through the Bashi Channel to the south of the Island. China sent an unspecified number of Xian H-6 bombers, Su-30 fighter jets and Y-8 transport aircraft over the waterway on their way to the West Pacific Ocean; they were followed by Taiwan jets until the mainland aircraft returned to base.

Meeting New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu in Shanghai on Monday, the newly appointed head of China’s policy- making Taiwan Affairs Office, Liu Jieyi, said China was clear in its opposition to Taiwan independence. China hopes both sides of the Taiwan Strait can work together for the peaceful development of relations and “jointly promote the process of the peaceful reunification of the motherland”, Liu told Chu. While China insists it has no hostile intent, its military exercises and patrols around Taiwan, and in the busy South China Sea waterway, have touched a nerve in the region and in the United States.

Philippines: ‘No specific threat’ during Holy Week but security measures in place

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Malacañang said on Saturday, March 24, that all the necessary security measures are in place to ensure a peaceful and solemn observance of Holy Week. “There is no specific threat monitored for the Holy Week but the AFP will not put its guard down. We will continue to conduct appropriate security measures where needed to safeguard vulnerable communities,” the AFP said in a statement on the eve of Palm Sunday, which ushers in Holy Week. The military urged the public to be on full alert during the holidays to be able to “detect, deter, and frustrate any more by criminals and terrorists.” As of noontime Saturday, March 24, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) monitored a total of 82,161 outbound passengers the country’s ports, harbors and piers and it activated its Passengers Assistance Centers (PAC) on Friday in preparation for the nationwide in observance of Holy Week. In a press briefing on Thursday, March 22, PCG chief Rear Admiral Elson Hermogino said pre-departure inspections to ensure safety and security of commuters traveling during the Holy Week will be done while Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) personnel will board ships for the inspection of passengers.

Japan crude steel output drops year-on-year, the new Asian measures

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The government and industries in Japan have raised a sense of caution over measures invoked by the United States on Friday to restrict steel and aluminum imports. Although many experts say the direct repercussions on Japanese companies will be limited, some say this could be a blow to Japanese steelmakers, among others, if products that they become unable to export to the United States wind up flooding the market, driving prices down dramatically. Many Japanese car makers have factories in the United States. If additional tariffs are imposed on steel or aluminum when they procure these materials from abroad, there is a possibility that it will lead to an increase in production costs. However, the measures are applied to a wide range of countries.

Toyota Motor Corp. said that effects would be limited as 90 percent of its materials, including those for car bodies, are locally purchased. Only seven steel exporters, including Canada and the European Union, are exempted from the  tariffs. The government intends to continuously ask the United States to exempt Japanese products from the measures. The procedure for exemptions from the measures by product has begun in the United States, and Japan’s public and private sectors continue to seek exemptions.

Korea’s denuclearization, South Korea’s preparing for a summit next month

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South Korea is preparing for an inter-Korean summit next month on hopes for “progress” in developing its ties with North Korea and resolving the nuclear issue. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon also suggested that the two Koreas may be able to hold more summits during the five-year term of President Moon Jae-in. “The government is preparing for the summit, hoping for better results in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue, along with an improvement in inter-Korean ties,” Cho told a forum with South Korean servicemen at the Gyeryongdae military complex in the country’s central South Chungcheong Province.

For North Korea’s denuclearization, Cho raised the need for a “comprehensive” strategy that includes the provision of a security guarantee for the North’s regime and the promotion of economic cooperation.

Chinese ships sighted in Japan’s waters

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Japan’s Coast Guard says 3 Chinese patrol ships temporarily entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Friday. Coast Guard officials said the 3 vessels entered the territorial waters off Uotsuri Island in Okinawa Prefecture at about 10:30 AM. They said the ships stayed in the area for about 90 minutes before moving to the contiguous zone just outside the territorial waters.This is the 6th day this year that Chinese government vessels have entered Japanese waters off the Senkakus. The previous incursion was conducted on March 2nd. Japan controls the Senkaku Islands. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. China and Taiwan claim them.

 

Nuclear refugees build new lives after giving up hope of returning

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After seven years, most of Japan’s nuclear refugees from Futaba, the scene of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown, have resigned themselves to the fact that they must build new lives elsewhere and will never be able to return home. Nevertheless, they cling to memories of the past while officials remain optimistic a future still exists where people, jobs and lessons learned from the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant will bring the town back to vibrancy. For over three decades, the nuclear power complex in Futaba supplied electricity, mainly to Tokyo, about 230 km south, without using any itself. Like nearby small municipalities, by hosting the plant, the town benefitted from the central government’s subsidies to support its poor revenue from rural farming. Now almost all of the nearly 7,000 Futaba citizens have scattered across the country due to the nuclear disaster, and 96 percent of the town is still off-limits for habitation. Nearly two-thirds of Futaba’s citizens are aged 60 or older. According to an annual survey released in February, 61.1 percent of all citizens have decided “not to return”. Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa aims to attract firms such as those for nuclear technology research and development into the area to create jobs and help citizens explore opportunities to return, but the Fukushima prefectural government predicts that the scheduled decommissioning of the plant will require 30 to 40 years to complete.

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