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Chinese Military Base in Djibouti: Beijing Explains Reason For Its Presence In Africa

Why did China create a military base in Djibouti? Why are the US and India apprehensive of a Chinse naval base in Djibouti. China Explains!

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Chinese Military Base in Djibouti has perturbed both the US and India. The Chinese government, in an editorial in its state media, attempted to explain the need for China to have a military base in Djibouti and put an end to all fears and apprehensions.

The editorial explains that January 8 marks the 40th anniversary of the commencement of diplomatic ties between China and Djibouti.

With China’s reform and opening-up over the past four decades, boosting relations with African countries like Djibouti is a natural result of Beijing’s integration into the world. A closer look at the dynamics of China-Djibouti relations provides insight into how China has influenced the African continent.

China-Djibouti Relations

Collaboration between China and Djibouti has sailed smoothly over the past 40 years. As political trust intensifies, bilateral ties have been continuously evolved. The two countries agreed to establish a strategic partnership to strengthen all-round cooperation in 2017, leading in a new era in China-Djibouti relations.

The Horn of Africa nation has amassed attention from Western nations with the establishment of a support base by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) there. Linking it to the so-called Chinese ambition of overseas military influence expansion, they portray the base as a military outpost for China to vie for influence in the Indian Ocean. But more than one year since its establishment, it has been proven that the base is mainly used to provide logistical supplies for China’s escort taskforces in the Gulf of Aden.

Chinese Military Base in Djibouti

Given the strategic importance of Djibouti, the country is also home to Western military bases such as the US and France. However, the rent from hosting these bases didn’t bring the people of Djibouti a good life. Western countries have eyed it more to give effect to their military plans than for its development potential.

China has come with a different approach. In the prevailing Western narrative, China is expanding its footprint on the African continent for its abundant resources and market potential for China-made products. But what has happened in Djibouti, a country with few natural resources, tells a different story.

Chinese investment and assistance have brought great changes to the undeveloped country. Economic growth has exceeded 5% in recent years and reached an estimated 6.8% in 2017.

According to an IMF report, a surge in investment in infrastructure projects that started in 2015, most of it financed by loans from financial institutions from China, has been a major driver of growth.

The 4,800 hectares, $3.5 billion China-invested Djibouti International Free Trade Zone opened its first phase in July. At completion, it will be the largest free trade area in Africa, boosting Djibouti’s position as a hub and expected to create more than 50,000 jobs for locals by 2025 and 100,000 by 2045.

Chinese Vision 2035

Vision 2035 clearly sets out the scope of the Horn of Africa nation’s ambition. Djibouti aims to transform itself into a middle-income economy and a regional transport and logistics hub akin to Singapore or Dubai.

This corresponds to China’s strategy of expanding investment in Africa and the Belt and Road route. Djibouti is located along China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Many Djibouti officials say the Belt and Road initiative is the best opportunity for the two countries to deepen cooperation that will help fulfil the African country’s development dream.

China’s investment and assistance to Djibouti are based on local development needs. The China model has brought tangible benefits to Djibouti and other African countries. China’s ideas and approaches so far have proven acceptable and are increasingly welcomed by Africans. The achievements China has made through 40 years of reform and opening-up have brought hope to African countries longing for development.

China should and will act more actively in assisting Africa’s development. China’s influence on the continent will inevitably expand, but it’s a result of enhancing economic cooperation and political trust. China-Africa engagement is win-win.

More News at EurAsian Times

As Reported in the Chinese Global Times

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Hagia Sophia: Turkey turns iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia into mosque

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

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The iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque. Hours after a landmark court ruling Friday (July 10), the Turkish government confirmed that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia will be reopened for worship after an 85-year hiatus.

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The nearly 1,500-year-old architectural gem will be transferred to the state Religious Affairs Directorate under a presidential decree, according to a Friday announcement in the Official Gazette.

Earlier Friday, ruling on a petition filed by an Istanbul NGO, Turkey’s Council of State overturned a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

After centuries of use as a church under the Byzantine Empire, in 1453 Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Mehmet II following his conquest of Istanbul. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Posting his decree on social media today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed best wishes for the change, which he has long advocated.

While details of the change are not yet known, Turkish officials have pointed out that many famed houses of worship, such as Paris’ Notre Dame and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, are also open to visitors.

“Opening up Hagia Sophia to worship won’t keep local or foreign tourists from visiting the site,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency in an interview this week. Turkey is home to people of many faiths who can freely exercise their religions, he added.

World Reacts To Decision On Hagia Sophia

The Russian Orthodox Church expressed shock at Turkey’s decision to withdraw the museum status of Hagia Sophia, blaming it of disregarding voices of millions of Christians. “The concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida stated.

“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,” Legoida said.

UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status, saying it was “regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialogue nor notification beforehand”.

“UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialogue without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session,” the UN’ cultural body said in a statement.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides tweeted –  Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations”.

Christodoulides said Turkey’s “escalating, flagrant violation of its international obligations is manifested in its decision to alter the designation of Hagia Sophia, a World Heritage Site that is a universal symbol of the Orthodox faith”.

Later, Greece called Turkey’s move an “open provocation to the civilised world”. “The nationalism displayed by Erdogan … takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

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Indian Air Force Receives Complete Delivery Apache, Chinook Helicopters

Boeing India also tweeted: Thank you, @IAF_MCC, for your partnership. We’re happy to have completed the deliveries of the 22 #AH64-E Apache and 15 #Chinook helicopters to India.

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the delivery of all AH-64E Apache and CH-47F(I) Chinook helicopters today. The final five of the 22 Apache attack helicopters were handed over to the IAF at Air Force Station, Hindon.

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Earlier, Boeing had handed over the last five of 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the Indian Air Force, read a statement. India is one of 17 nations to select the Apache and has opted for the most advanced version of the attack helicopter.

“Customer centricity, commitment to the modernization and mission-readiness of India’s defence forces are key values to our partnership with India,” said Surendra Ahuja, Managing Director, Boeing Defence India.

“With this delivery of military helicopters, we continue to nurture this partnership and are fully committed to working closely with India’s defence forces to deliver the right value and capabilities to meet their operational needs,” Ahuja added.

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COVID-19 Exposes India, Philippines To Higher Risk Of Cancer; Australia, Malaysia Safest – Index

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge. 

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As people living in Asian countries get richer and lead to sedimentary and unhealthy lifestyles, cancer is predicted to increases. However, countries such as Australia, Malaysia and South-Korea are well prepared to battle cancer while countries such as India and the Philippines are ill-prepared.

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge.

The EIU has warned of a mini-tsunami of cancer cases as the coronavirus subsides and patients feel safe to visit hospitals. Out of fear of catching the coronavirus, cancer patients have avoided getting treatments done at hospitals.

Even hospitals put cancer treatment on the back burner as a top priority was given to curing COVID-19 cases. In the Philippines, for instance, cancer patients who were no longer able to attend advanced medical facilities were simply discharged into the wider community without any continuity of care.

The index measured the preparedness of 10 Asia-Pacific countries using 45 indicators and created a scorecard for each country, with 100 being most prepared.

Australia led the ranking with a score of 92.4, followed by South Korea with 83.4, and Malaysia with 80.3. All three have rigorous vaccination programs, including for hepatitis B which is linked to liver cancer, and HPV which can cause cervical cancer.

These countries tend to be aggressive in gathering information about individual cases at a national level so policymakers can understand the scale of the problem and design effective responses.

The rankings indicate that the three countries mentioned above have managed to keep the mortality rate down. This indicates that they are either detecting cancers at an early stage and/or are able to treat their patients effectively. Cancers that are more advanced are difficult to cure.

Unhealthy Habits a Cause of Concern

Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, are all rapidly growing economies whose populations have developed bad habits such as smoking. For example, nearly 40% of Indonesians aged 15 and older smoke.

Similarly, obesity amongst children in Thailand and Indonesia, countries where medical services are harder to access, could become a problem in the near future.

The EIU suggests that governments could support low-income groups by subsidizing health care costs and that patients should not have to pay more than 20% of their medical bills. 62.4% of medical expenses are still paid by patients in India, 53% in the Philippines, 45.3% in Vietnam and 36.1% in China.

Presently, governments Government health care expenditure is also low in these countries, at just 3.4% of total expenditure in New Delhi, 7.1% in the Manila, 9.1% in Beijing and 9.5% in Hanoi.

In terms of service affordability, accessibility to cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and cancer research, Japan tops the list. Tokyo has prioritized tackling the disease ever since it became the leading cause of deaths from 1981.

However, Japan has a poor track record for data collection, an issue that also became clear during the coronavirus crisis and is slow in introducing vaccination programs. The EIU also noted “a concerning prevalence of modifiable risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption in Japan,” and urged the government to promote healthier lifestyles.

Despite having advance medical facilities and superior services, cancer patients in Japan have a higher mortality rate than patients in Australia and South Korea.

Cancers are caused by damage to genes and such genetic errors tend to increase with age, obesity and bad habits, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise. Half of the cancer patients in the world currently live in Asia. By 2030, cancer cases are expected to rise by 35% in the region, even as its population is expected to grow just 9%.

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