VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 18th May, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Fata merger bill set to be tabled in National Assembly today: Dawn
May 18, 2018

In what may annoy two key allies of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the controversial Fata merger bill is set to be introduced in the National Assembly on Friday (today). Informed sources told Dawn that the federal cabinet, which met here on Thursday with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the chair, approved placement before the National Assembly of the Fata reforms bill proposing the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They said the bill would come into effect one year after its passage. The sources said that since the National Assembly was to be prorogued on Friday, an attempt would be made to introduce and get it passed the same day. They said an amendment to the Constitution would be required and a two-thirds majority needed to get the bill passed. Click here to read...

PML-N legislators wary of Nawaz’s belligerence: Dawn
May 18, 2018

The parliamentary party of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thurs­day reached the conclusion that the ruling party should not go into the coming general elections with Nawaz Sharif’s narrative of “confrontation with the establishment and the judiciary”. Sources privy to the meeting told Dawn that Shahbaz Sharif, who recently replaced the senior Sharif as PML-N president after the latter’s ouster from Prime Minister House, agreed that the former prime minister should soften the stance he had adopted after being disqualified from holding public office by the Supreme Court for possessing a UAE Iqama (work permit). The meeting, which was presided over by Shahbaz Sharif at Parliament House, was also attended by Prime Minister Abbasi. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
China views Afghanistan as a friendly neighbour: envoy: Pajhwok
May 17, 2018

The Chinese ambassador in Kabul on Wednesday hailed Afghanistan as a good neighbor of his country. Liu Jinsong, during a recent meeting with Afghan media representatives in China, said his country considered Afghanistan as a friend. China had made a lot of progress, the diplomat noted, saying the visiting Afghan journalists could see it. But still, he added, many Chinese were living in poverty but Beijing was striving to overcome the challenge. The ambassador acknowledged that Xinjiang province was face with security issues, but his government was trying to control the situation there. China never meddled in affairs of any country, especially in Afghanistan, he insisted. Beijing always respected the Afghan culture, traditions and religion, he said. China will host the next round of the strategic dialogue on cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan at the end of this month in Beijing. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Communist unity heralds ‘new era’: Kathmandu Post
May 18, 2018

Two major national left political forces--CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre)--merged to become the Nepal Communist Party on Thursday, 69 years after the communist movement gained momentum in the country with the establishment of a party by the same name. The development, hailed as “historic” by many, has created a single political party in the country with a strong hold in Parliament. The left alliance of the two parties formed in October garnered laudable public support in the federal and provincial elections held in December last year.UML Chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Maoist Centre chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal signed the merger declaration note at a Unification Declaration Programme held in Kathmandu. The atmosphere at the City Hall auditorium, where party cadres and well-wishers gathered to witness the ‘historic’ event, turned euphoric as Chairmen Oli and Dahal put themselves at par as co-chairs with a common goal of unifying the country’s communist forces. Click here to read...

MYANMAR
China is conflicted in Myanmar’s wars: Asia Times
May 17, 2018

With preparations underway for yet another round of peace talks between the Myanmar government, military, and ethnic armed groups, the country’s civil war is intensifying on nearly every front. The Myanmar army, or Tatmadaw, has recently unleashed a ferocious offensive against the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the north, while fighting has ramped up in areas of northern Shan State, including the Kokang area inhabited by ethnic Chinese. China, the only outside power that has any noteworthy influence over Myanmar’s ethnic rebels, could yet step in to help resolve the escalating crisis. On Sunday, it condemned fighting near its border that caused people to flee into its territory, according to news reports. Click here to read...

CHINA
Trump meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington: People’s Daily
May 18, 2018

US President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy and Vice Premier Liu He at the White House on Thursday. Liu arrived in Washington, DC, on Tuesday afternoon for economic and trade consultations with the US side at the invitation of the US government. Click here to read...

Nation aims for core tech breakthrough: People’s Daily
May 18, 2018

China will ramp up resources to develop core technologies such as artificial intelligence chips and sensors, as part of its broader push to integrate AI into the manufacturing sector, the nation's top industry regulator said on Thursday. Zhang Feng, chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said China is now the world's second-largest owner of invention patents and international scientific papers, with significant progress made in voice and image recognition, as well as natural language understanding. Click here to read...

Book published to teach Xi Thought: China Daily
May 18, 2018

Party organizations of all levels must arrange the study of a newly published book about Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the Party's top publicity authority said in a statement released on Thursday. The book, whose title translates as 30 Chapters about Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, was compiled by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. It covers 30 topics highlighting the significance, system, connotation and practical aspects of new era thought. Click here to read...

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