China and Cambodia Hold Their Biggest Military Exercise Yet

The latest iteration of Exercise Golden Dragon is yet another sign of their deepening military cooperation.

Last week, China and Cambodia kicked off what amounts to the biggest iteration of a bilateral military exercise seen between the two countries yet. The engagement was just another demonstration of the significance of the defense ties between the two sides and Cambodia’s greater drift toward China as the ruling party under Prime Minister Hun Sen looks to further consolidate its power following an election victory.

As I have observed previously in these pages, Cambodia has a long and strong defense relationship with China, with Beijing being the Southeast Asian state’s largest donor of military aid. In providing such aid, China asks few of the questions that some Western countries, including the United States and Australia, have over Cambodia’s worsening rights record. Over the past few years in particular, Cambodia has been expanding ties with China even further in this realm while downgrading military ties with Western states. Cambodia and China have unveiled new exercises and engagements amid scrutiny of some aspects of their relationship, including rumors of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia (See: “What’s in the China-Cambodia Military Base Hype?”).

One of these engagements has been Exercise Golden Dragon, which, though originally billed as focused on areas such as natural disaster relief, has gradually expanded to include other areas as well. The last iteration, held in March 2018, featured around 500 soldiers and lasted a little less than two weeks. Though small in size and scale, that was nonetheless the largest and longest engagement of its kind between the two sides, according to figures quoted by Cambodian officials.

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Last week, China-Cambodia defense ties were in the headlines again with the kicking off of the third iteration of the China-Cambodia military exercise. The third Golden Dragon military exercise began on March 13 after weeks of rehearsals by the two sides, featuring a mix of personnel as well as equipment including helicopters, guns, tanks, and other heavy combat equipment and ammunition.

Per information disclosed by the Cambodian defense ministry, the exercise, which is expected to last around two weeks, features around 252 Chinese soldiers and 382 Cambodian soldiers along with some 2,200 other personnel, including paramedics. This year’s iteration is focused around issues such as counterterrorism, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and is focused around Chum Kiri Military Shooting Range Training Field in Kampot province’s Chum Kiri district. Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Deputy Commander-in-Chief Ith Sarat told reporters during the opening ceremony last week that this year’s exercise saw the largest number of personnel thus far involved in any Cambodia-China exercise.

The significance of the exercise, and its expansion relative to previous iterations, ought to be seen as just another manifestation of Cambodia’s growing relationship with China. While Cambodian officials have been careful to communicate that this ought not to be seen as directed at any other nation, it is yet another indicator of the extent to which Cambodia has tilted toward China, even amid broader adjustments in its domestic and foreign policy, including normalizing ties with the United States.

To be sure, the exercise is just one manifestation of the wider China-Cambodia relationship, which, according to Cambodian officials, is set to continue into next year as well. But amid broader questions about Cambodia’s own perceptions of itself and its approach to the world amid wider trends, including rising U.S.-China tensions, Phnom Penh’s approach toward Beijing will continue to be important to watch in 2019 and beyond.

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What would (and should) a city of autonomous cars look like?

A UNIQUE opportunity exists for infrastructure investment in Australia as transport as we know it faces disruption from autonomous vehicles.

Disruption is not a dirty word. Traditional transport models are being transformed for the better by savvy young upstarts: the taxi industry by Uber, for instance, and even bus services by on-demand provider Bridj in parts of Sydney.

How do we manage this rapidly evolving technology, and what is the role of local government?

Autonomous vehicles will soon be a familiar sight in bush and city landscapes. In New South Wales the transport minister, Andrew Constance, predicted in 2017 that public transport might not be needed in future, certainly with no drivers, because autonomous cars will handle everything.

I don’t think this will happen. The car is a good servant, but a bad master in shaping our city, even autonomous ones.

SEE ALSO: Will autonomous vehicles reduce car ownership? Probably not

What will a city of autonomous cars look like?

A fully car-based approach to autonomous vehicles would involve cars driving around suburbs day and night, searching for people to pick up on demand. These vehicles would move into corridors, main roads and freeways, travelling at high speeds with just a metre or so between them.

Increased road capacity, safety and the very real prospect of solar-powered cars are undeniable benefits.

But what kind of city would we have? We would see more urban sprawl, possibly worse congestion and a departure from walkable cities.

We would lose an opportunity to reclaim pleasing city grids and urban centres. These spaces, which our city planners intended for pedestrians, have often been devoured by cars but are now returning to their rightful place as meeting spaces.

The case for trackless trams


Vehicles zip through the Warringah freeway heading to North Sydney during rush hour. Source: Shutterstock

Autonomous transit vehicles with a collective benefit to society offer us a chance to continue to reclaim these spaces by providing rapid shared mobility where it doesn’t exist today. This is why I like the trackless tram: it has the high quality of autonomous transport like light rail, but at a tenth of the cost.

Trackless trams give us the capacity to not only catch up on years of under-investment in transport infrastructure, but also fund ambitious urban regeneration projects that will shape our future cities. This is what is driving trackless tram studies in Townsville, Sydney’s inner west, Wyndham in Melbourne and Perth.

SEE ALSO: How 5G will change the automotive industry?

It’s also possible to use trackless trams to create new opportunities on the edges of our cities, like the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. There, Liverpool City Council wants to maximise the benefits of the new airport through transport connectivity back to the city’s CBD. Dr Tim Williams, Australasia cities leader at ARUP, declared Liverpool to be the surprise star of Australia’s future city planning for this reason.

Liverpool’s CBD is less than 18km away from the new airport site now under construction, but it might as well be a world away given the narrow roads and rural lands that currently separate the two.

NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley has committed A$10 million towards preliminary work on a rapid transit link between the airport and Liverpool should he become premier after the March 23 election.

And Liverpool Council is investing significant resources to find out what these upgrades should be. This is an opportunity to embrace autonomous vehicles like trackless trams to create a strong link between the new airport and aerotropolis.

The role of city councils

Historically, councils have often been the passive recipients of state and federal investments. But councils like Liverpool are recognising their role in championing infrastructure investment that will support high-quality future growth.

Councils are also identifying that they can control many of the mechanisms, particularly planning controls, that could be useful to minimise value leakage and maximise value capture for the common good.

SEE ALSO: Will we be riding in driverless cars by 2020?

Developers are telling us that if we can give them up-front certainty on quality and timing of infrastructure and associated land development opportunities, then they can be willing partners in co-funding new transport connections like a trackless tram.

The challenge is to create partnerships with all levels of government, developers and the community, to focus the opportunities from current levels of infrastructure investment and enable bold rather than risk-averse approaches to the future.

New technology brings new challenges, but also new opportunities. For the sake of future generations, we need to get in before the window closes.

By Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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71 killed in ferry sinking incident in Iraq’s Mosul: interior ministry

Up to 71 people died and 55 others rescued on Thursday as a ferry sank in Tigris River in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, the Interior Ministry said.

“The latest report said 71 people died in the sinking ferry incident in Mosul, while 55 others were rescued, including 19 children,” Saad Maan, a ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

Many women and children were among the casualties, Maan added.

“Investigation is underway, and apparently the capacity of the ferry was below the number of passengers aboard,” he noted.

Earlier, Sayf al-Badr, spokesman of the Iraqi Health Ministry, said at least 55 bodies were recovered and 30 others rescued in the incident.

He said 33 of the recovered bodies were women, 12 were children and 10 were men.

Earlier in the day, a civil defense source said dozens of people, mostly children and women, drowned in the Tigris River when a ferry, owned by a tourism office, was carrying passengers from the bank of the river to a tourist island in the river in northern Mosul.

The ferry was overloaded with more than 100 people, the source said, adding that the ferry was originally designed to carry some 30 people.

The civil defense, police and civilians were still searching for victims in the river until the sunset, according to the source.

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China chemical plant explosion kills six in Yancheng

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Media captionSix killed in Yancheng chemical plant explosion

Six people have been killed in a blast at a chemical plant in Yancheng, eastern China, local authorities say.

Thirty people were also injured in the explosion, which took place at about 14:50 local time (06:50 GMT) at the plant run by Tianjiayi Chemical.

The blast was caused by a fire at the factory, which makes fertiliser, officials told local press.

China’s earthquake administration reported a tremor equivalent to 2.2-magnitude at the time of the explosion.

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Getty Images

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Dozens were injured in the explosion, which was reportedly started by a fire at the plant

Images on social media showed a fireball exploding at the site, billowing clouds enveloping the area, injured people and damage to buildings.

Officials quoted by Reuters said: “At present, on-site rescue is still going on… The cause of the accident is under investigation.”

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Getty Images

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The cause of the accident is under investigation

State news agency Xinhua said shockwaves from the blast had brought down nearby factory buildings, trapping workers.

Tianjiayi Chemical, founded in 2007, has received six government penalties in the past over waste management and air pollution, according to the South China Morning Post.

Several chemical plants operate in the nearby area, according to local press.

Industrial accidents are common in China due to poorly enforced safety regulations, and authorities have pledged to improve standards.

More than 160 people died in 2015 after two massive explosions in the port of Tianjin in northern China.

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Media captionThe Tianjin blasts in 2015 took place at a warehouse which held several hazardous and flammable chemicals

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Racism black people is still racist. Do black people eat KFC and watermelon for Thanksgiving? : Sino

Not much of a peep from trolls the last week. Lame. See you clowns in June.

We think no one sub can serve every capacity. So we support subs with the right people who focus on various topics. (bottom of sidebar) We can’t do everything ourselves, so we are offering up some subs we have to partners. Right now these are the subs.

r/Chinesediaspora, r/chineseamerican, r/overseaschinese (intended for overseas focus, one that prioritizes Chinese identity before race, gender and politics)

r/Hong_Kong, r/HKer, r/HongKonger, r/HeungGong (intended for Hong Kong people focus, not place)

r/ChineseChristian, r/ChineseChristians, r/ChineseChurch (intended to evaluate the current status. How Chinese view the religion, the churches role in the Chinese community, if any.) Msg r/ChineseChristian mods if you want to get involved with this.

If you have a vision, make a text submission and get some interested people, when you have something msg us (pm or mod message). (with supporting links and information)

with r/India, r/Pakistan, r/Newsokur, r/Russia, r/Europe, r/Lebanon

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Vehicle sales post meager growth in Nov

An employee works at an electric car factory in Nantong, Jiangsu province. [Photo by Xu Congjun/For China Daily]

Vehicle sales posted a meager 0.7 percent year-on-year growth in China during November to 2.96 million units, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers on Monday.

Car sales in the first 11 months of the year totaled 25.85 million units, a 3.6 percent growth from a year ago. Although a decent figure if put in the global context, the growth rate is 10.5 percentage points lower than the year-on-year growth figure for January to November 2016.

Xu Haidong, an assistant to the CAAM’s secretary-general, said the overall sales growth this year would “definitely fall to below 4 percent”, beating the organization’s estimate of 5 percent growth at the start of the year.

The lower sales numbers are due to a number of factors ranging from a purchase tax discount that is gradually losing its effect and the overall economic conditions in China.

The tax discount, which stood at 50 percent when introduced in 2015, has been halved from January this year and will expire by the end of this month. “The trend is clear. Growth will slow down even further next year,” he told China Daily, without giving an estimate.

Passenger cars, which account for bulk of the car sales, saw even slower growth than the overall figure. A total of 22 million passenger cars were sold from January to November, a 1.9 percent growth year-on-year.

Even that meager growth would have been impossible without sports utility vehicles, whose sales grew 14.5 percent year-on-year to 9.09 million units while sedan sales dipped 2.3 percent. Sales of multi-purpose vehicles fell 16.5 percent, while that of minivans slumped 20.1 percent in the same period.

New energy cars, which consist of electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars, however, saw solid growth.

A record number of 119,000 units were sold in November, surging 83 percent year-on-year. Sales in the first 11 months reached 609,000 units, a 51.4 percent growth year-on-year.

“Their development is in line with our expectations. It is now almost certain that their sales this year would reach our whole-year estimate of 700,000 units,” said Xu.

“We are confident in new energy cars and see no problems in their sales reaching 1 million units in 2018.”

Charging networks for such vehicles have also been growing rapidly, with a total of 431,800 charging poles built by the end of November, according to the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance.

Commercial cars, including buses and trucks, also reported a decent sales performance. In November, 368,000 vehicles were sold, a 7.3 percent rise from the same month last year.

That brought sales in the first 11 months to 3.75 million, up nearly 15 percent year-on-year, 11.2 percentage points higher than the industry’s average.

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China to achieve coal capacity cut target next year

China is likely to achieve its goal of reducing coal capacity by 500 million metric tons well ahead of the planned three to five years target, according to a top industry official.

Jiang Zhimin, vice-president of China National Coal Association, said the country will meet the coal capacity reduction goal next year. By the end of this year, the number of coal mines in China will drop to about 7,000 from 10,800 in 2015, he said at a forum hosted by the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute recently.

In 2016, China cut coal capacity by more than 290 million tons. This year’s target was 150 million tons, which was accomplished in November, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“China now has more than 1,200 coal mines with annual production capacity exceeding 1.2 million tons, accounting for more than 75 percent of the country’s total coal capacity”, Jiang said.

The country has also cut its steel capacity by more than 115 million tons, close to upper limit of capacity reduction target of 150 million tons set for the steel sector during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), according to Xu Wenli, head of the Iron and Steel Division at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

“The country will continue to cut outdated steel capacity and prevent shuttered or illegal steel mills from returning to the market”, said Xu.

China has phased out production of 140 million tons of low-quality steel made from scrap metal by the end of June, according to the NBS.

More than 65 million tons of steel production capacity was eliminated in 2016. The country met the 2017 capacity reduction goal of 50 million tons by the end of August.

China will, however, see increased iron ore imports in 2018, as the country closes small polluting mines to improve air quality, according to Lei Pingxi, chief engineer at the Metallurgical Mines Association of China.

“Iron ore imports are expected to rise by 5.5 percent year-on-year to 1.08 billion tons in 2017 and by a further 3 percent to 1.12 billion tons next year,” said Lei.

“The country will eliminate about a third of its iron ore mining licenses, mostly belonging to small polluting mines,” he said.

Over 1,000 mining licenses will be canceled under a government-led crackdown on smog and outdated steelmaking capacity, accounting for 15 to 20 percent of the country’s total iron ore capacity, according to Lei.

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The Latest: Mississippi ‘heartbeat’ abortion law signed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on the signing of (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

Mississippi’s governor has signed one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill Thursday outlawing most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy.

The Center for Reproductive Rights calls the bill “blatantly unconstitutional” and says it will sue Mississippi to block the bill from taking effect July 1.

Mississippi is one of several states where Republican leaders are considering abortion-restriction bills this year. Abortion opponents are emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court and are seeking cases to challenge the court’s 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Bryant tweeted that he will fight for “innocent babies, even under the threat of legal action.”


6 a.m.

Gov. Phil Bryant says he’s not worried about lawsuits as Mississippi prepares to enact one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

The Republican governor is scheduled to sign a bill Thursday to outlaw most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy.

The Center for Reproductive Rights calls the bill “blatantly unconstitutional” and says it will sue Mississippi to block the bill from taking effect July 1.

Mississippi is one of several states where Republican leaders are considering similar bills this year. Abortion opponents are emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court and are seeking cases to challenge the court’s 1973 ruling the legalized abortion nationwide.

Bryant tweeted that he will fight for “innocent babies, even under the threat of legal action.”

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Facebook fixes glitch that exposed millions of user passwords to employees

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Thursday it has resolved a glitch that exposed passwords of millions of users stored in readable format within its internal systems to its employees.

The passwords were accessible to as many as 20,000 Facebook employees and dated back as early as 2012, cyber security blog KrebsOnSecurity, which first reported said in its report.

“These passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them,” the company said.

KrebsOnSecurity, citing a senior Facebook employee, said the an internal investigation by the company so far indicates that between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text.

Facebook said the issue was discovered in January as part of a routine security review. Majority of the affected were users of Facebook Lite, a version of the social media app largely used by people in regions with lower connectivity.

The social network is also probing the causes of a series of security failures, in which employees built applications that logged unencrypted password data for Facebook users, the report said.

“We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users,” the company said.

Reporting by Shariq Khan and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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