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China to train 5,000 security personnel from developing countries over next 5 years

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China plans to train 5,000 security personnel from developing countries over the next five years in a move that is expected to boost Beijing’s global security influence.

The announcement, which appeared in a paper on Beijing’s Global Security Initiative (GSI) published on Tuesday, comes as China’s overseas security footprint has worried its rivals.

The initiative, seen as an alternative to the Western-led security order, was first proposed by President Xi Jinping during the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference last April.

According to the GSI paper, Beijing plans to create more international platforms for exchange and cooperation to address security challenges in areas such as counterterrorism, cybersecurity, biosecurity and emerging technologies, with a view to improving governance capacity in non-traditional security.

China would also encourage more exchanges and cooperation among university-level military and police academies, the paper said.

It also said China was willing to provide 5,000 training opportunities for professionals from other developing countries over the next five years to help them address global security issues.

Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), said the plan for training and exchanges in non-traditional security fields, especially anti-terrorism, showed Beijing felt a responsibility to address global security challenges.

“[China] used to train anti-terrorism police officers and officials in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now it will expand the scope of this cooperation. The training and exchanges aim to strengthen efficiency in bilateral and multilateral cooperation, such as in the anti-terrorism field,” Li said.

China’s efforts to boost multilateral and bilateral security training programmes have expanded in recent years, spreading to countries in the Middle East, the Pacific Islands and Central Asia.

Last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China would train 2,000 law enforcement personnel from Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member countries over the next five years and set up a training base focused on anti-terrorism. Xi made the comments at a summit of the security grouping led by China and Russia.

In December, China offered to train 1,500 police and cybersecurity officials from Arab states.

Since January 2022, Beijing has helped train police in the Solomon Islands to improve their “anti-riot capabilities”. The Solomon Islands’ police force also sent 32 officers to China for a month-long training course in October.

Western countries have been closely watching these moves, which have sparked concerns about Chinese police practices and are seen as an attempt by Beijing to gain overreaching influence in these regions.

Li, the anti-terrorism expert, argued that the training activities were “normal” and intended to counter common threats facing multiple countries that could not be solved by one country alone.

“As a member of the international community, we have the responsibility to work with other countries for anti-terrorism and other security cooperation,” he said, adding that the issue should not be viewed from an ideological perspective

Wang Hongwei, a public policy professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said talent was a key resource for implementing security policy, and the initiative was helpful for boosting ties.

“The focus of the 5,000 training opportunities would be in the field of non-traditional security, including anti-terrorism, cybersecurity … and climate change, which would improve developing countries’ ability to counter those threats,” he said.

“Of course, it could help to promote close relationships between China and developing countries.”

(South China Morning Post)

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8 killed and dozens injured after Mumbai billboard collapse

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A least eight people have been killed and about 60 injured after a giant billboard collapsed during a sudden storm in the Indian city of Mumbai, authorities said.

The billboard, measuring 70m by 50m according to the police, fell onto houses and a petrol station in the city’s financial district on Monday.

About 20 to 30 people are still feared to be trapped with a rescue operation under way, emergency services said.

The billboard fell after a rain and dust storm hit the city of Mumbai, ripping up trees and causing travel chaos and power outages.

Footage on local news channels shows the huge billboard swaying in the wind before giving way and crashing into the buildings near a busy road in the city’s eastern suburb of Ghatkopar.

Video posted on social media appears to show the immediate aftermath at the petrol station, with vehicles crushed under the fallen advertisement hoarding.

In photos from the scene, emergency teams can be seen working through the wreckage. dramatic video footage also shows rescue workers pulling out a victim from under the fallen billboard and using power tools to cut the metal.

In a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said “speedy winds” caused the collapse and that several agencies including police, fire and national disaster response teams were involved in the rescue operation.

Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra state, said a “high-level inquiry has been ordered into the incident.”

She adde that the state government would provide financial assistance of 500,000 rupees (£4,767) to the families of those killed and wounded in the incident.

Flights were temporarily suspended at the city’s international airport during the storm with at least 15 planes diverted, local media report.

Mumbai is one of several cities in India prone to severe flooding and rain-related incidents during the monsoon season – which is usually between June and September.

(BBC News)

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Former Indian envoy to Sri Lanka, enters politics

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Former Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu has joined India’s ruling BJP and is contesting the elections. After Sri Lanka, he also served in the United States.

He is a BJP candidate from the Amritsar seat and on Friday he declared his total assets worth Rs 39.92 crore, according to his poll affidavit, the NDTV reported.

Sandhu, 61, on Friday filed his nomination papers in Amritsar for the June 1 Lok Sabha polls.

According to his affidavit, Sandhu declared moveable and immovable assets owned by him and his wife to be Rs 10.88 crore and 29.04 crore, respectively.

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New rocky planet with thick atmosphere, detected

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A thick atmosphere has been detected around a planet that’s twice as big as Earth in a nearby solar system, researchers reported Wednesday.
The so-called super Earth — known as 55 Cancri e — is among the few rocky planets outside our solar system with a significant atmosphere, wrapped a blanket of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The exact amounts are unclear. Earth’s atmosphere is a blend of nitrogen, oxygen, argon and other gases.

“It’s probably the firmest evidence yet that this planet has an atmosphere,” said Ian Crossfield, an astronomer at the University of Kansas who studies exoplanets and was not involved with the research.

The research was published in the journal Nature.

Super Earth refers to a planet’s size — bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. The boiling temperatures on this planet — which can reach as hot as 4,200 degrees Fahrenheit (2,300 degrees Celsius) – mean that it is unlikely to host life.

Instead, scientists say the discovery is a promising sign that other such rocky planets with thick atmospheres could exist that may be more hospitable.

The exoplanet 41 light years away is eight times heavier than Earth and circles its star Copernicus so closely that it has permanent day and night sides. A light-year is nearly 6 trillion miles (9.7 trillion kilometers). Its surface is encrusted with magma oceans.

To identify the makeup of its atmosphere, researchers studied Webb Space Telescope observations before and after the planet passed behind its star.

They separated the light emitted from the planet versus its star and used the data to calculate the planet’s temperature. There’s evidence the planet’s heat was being distributed more evenly across its surface – a party trick atmospheres are known for.

Gases from its magma oceans may play a key role in holding its atmosphere steady. Exploring this super Earth may also yield clues to how Earth and Mars might have evolved first with magma oceans that have since cooled, scientists say.

“It’s a rare window,” said Renyu Hu, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was part of the research. “We can look into this early phase of planet evolution.”

(The Washington Post)

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