INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS


Monthly Current Affairs January 2016 “INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS” key points to Remember.
China creates three new Army units to modernise military
China has created three new military bodies as part of reforms to modernise its military and improve its fighting capacity. State television showed on Saturday President Xi Jinping giving military flags to the leaders of the three new units — a general command for the People’s Liberation Army, a missile force and a strategic support force. Mr. Xi and PLA officers and soldiers sang the national anthem at the inauguration ceremony. Mr. Xi said the three new units had been created as part of a modernisation reform and “to realise the Chinese dream of a strong military”.
China starts first nuclear reactor in ethnic minority region
The first nuclear power plant located in one of China’s ethnic autonomous regions has began commercial operations of its first reactor that will cut coal burning and CO2 emissions and can create upto 64,0000 jobs annually. The first reactor of the Fangchenggang Nuclear Power Plant in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region can supply 24 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a day, catering to the needs of a medium-sized city, said Gong Guangchen, the plant’s spokesperson.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan agree to expand FTA
Sri Lanka and Pakistan have agreed on the inclusion of services and investment in the bilateral free trade agreement. This would help companies of the two nations to form joint ventures for exports to other nations. When the FTA came into effect in June 2005, Pakistan’s exports to Sri Lanka were to the tune of $150 million. In 2010- 11, they went up to $332 million but dropped to $260 million in 2013-14. Under the agreement, Sri Lanka’s exports to Pakistan were valued at about $52 million, accounting for around 70 per cent
of the country’s total exports to Pakistan, states a document of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. The MoUs covered a number of areas, including trade promotion and curbing money laundering and terrorism financing.
North Korea conducted ‘successful’ hydrogen bomb test
North Korea has announced that it had successfully carried out its first hydrogen bomb test, a development that, if confirmed, would marking a stunning step forward in its nuclear development. The surprise test was personally ordered by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and came just two days before his birthday. Only last month, during remarks
made during an inspection tour, Kim had suggested Pyongyang had already developed a hydrogen bomb — although the claim was greeted with scepticism by international experts.
Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Iran
Saudi Arabia has cut off diplomatic ties with Iran following the storming of its embassy in Tehran. Iran’s envoy has been given 48 hours to quit the Saudi kingdom. The escalating row between the rival Middle East powers over Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Muslim Shia cleric has caused alarm in the US and triggered a jump in the price of oil. It’s feared the diplomatic rupture between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shia-ruled Iran may snowball across the Middle East where the two powers back opposing sides in many destructive wars.
China’s domain “.cn” becomes world’s largest
China’s country code domain ‘.cn’ has become the world’s most commonly used in the internet with 16.36 million users, surpassing Germany’s ‘.de’ domain. According to the data released by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), which manages the domain, ‘.cn’ had 16.36 million users by the end of 2015. The ‘.cn’ domain is also world leading in domain resolution service, security and the ratio of benign uses, said CNNIC head Li Xiaodong. As China began to require real—name registration in 2009, the ‘.cn’
domain is able to protect users’ interests and reduce online theft, phishing and fraud, Mr. Li said. In the past, Germany’s ‘.de’ domain had the largest number of registered websites.
Saudi Arabia is Third Happiest Country
According to the poll carried out by WIN/Gallup International, Saudi Arabia is the third happiest country in the World. What’s shocking is the list which features almost no European Country. Despite condemnation from human rights groups, and being in a region torn apart by religious and regional strife, the Saudi Kingdom has only been pipped to top position by Fiji and Colombia. At an average temperature of about 26C in January, the beautiful Fiji islands have an evident advantage – but Colombia, which suffers from drug-related gang wars and rife government corruption, was the country which came in first out of all 68 surveyed.
World’s most wanted drug lord ‘El Chapo’ captured in Mexico Mexico recaptured the world’s top drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in a predawn shootout and chase through drains,
returning him to the same prison he escaped from six months ago, in a boost for the beleaguered government. The head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel was captured in a car wearing a filthy vest after fleeing through tunnels and drains from a raid on a safe house in the city of Los Mochis, in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa.
Burkina Faso’s president named Paul Kaba Thieba as Prime Minister Burkina Faso’s president named economist Paul Kaba Thieba as prime minister. Thieba, who has little political
experience, is charged with forming President Roch Marc Kabore’s government as the country continues with a democratic transition after 27 years under leader Blaise Compaore, who was overthrown in October 2014. Thieba, 56, worked for many years as an economist for the West African central bank, BCEAO, in Ivory Coast.
South Korea denounces DPRK’s fourth nuclear test
South Korea’s parliament has passed a resolution, denouncing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s fourth nuclear test, urging the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear program. The resolution was passed unanimously through the National Assembly two days after Pyongyang announced its first successful test of a “hydrogen bomb”.
Sri Lanka government proposes new constitution
Sri Lanka’s new government has presented its plan for a new constitution aimed at devolving power and preventing the sort of ethnic tensions that led to a long and bitter civil war that ended in 2009. The move comes as reformist President Maithripala Sirisena’s administration takes some steps to promote post-conflict reconciliation and address alleged war crimes committed during the 26-year conflict between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.
Nepal elected as UNICEF’s executive board member
Nepal has been elected a member of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) executive board, representing the Group of AsiaPacific States for 2016-18. Nepal’s Permanent Representative of to the UN,Durga Prasad Bhattarai, was also unanimously elected vice-president to the Bureau of the Executive Board of the UNICEF for 2016, representing the Asia-Pacific region. With this election, Nepal is availed yet another global stage to contribute to the work of the UN.
Beijing to shut 2,500 firms this year to fight pollution
Beijing will close 2,500 small polluting firms this year in its latest effort to combat pollution. Pollution is a sensitive topic in China, with thousands of protests sparked every year by concerns about environmental degradation, particularly from factories. Four districts in the capital, which has been hit by bouts of choking smog this winter, will be required to shut down 2,500 companies by the end of the year. Last month Beijing issued its second ever “red alert” over heavy air pollution, closing schools and banning outdoor construction.
China reshuffles military headquarters in major revamp
In a major military reform, Chinese President Xi Jinping has reorganised four army headquarters by replacing them with 15 new agencies under the Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by him, tightening his control over the world’s largest force. The new structure includes new commissions such as discipline inspection, politics and law and
science and technology and general office. The reform includes formation of five more divisions, administration, auditing, international cooperation, reform, organisational structure and strategic planning.
Narendra Modi is World’s Seventh Most Popular Leader
Based on the recent ‘International World Leader Index’ survey, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been voted as the seventh most popular leader in the world. In the survey, people from across 65 countries across the world were asked to vote and Modi got a favourable view from 24 percent of people. However, 20 percent people did not vote in favour of him. US President Barack Obama has topped the list with a score of +30 percent with a massive 59 per cent in his favour and 29 per cent unfavourable.
South Korea appoints Yoo Il-ho as finance minister
South Korea appointed Yoo Il-ho as its new finance minister, the presidential Blue House putting him in charge of Asia’s fourth-largest economy amid slow growth and low inflation. Yoo, a scholar-turnedpolitician and former land minister, replaces Choi Kyung-hwan, who will be running in parliamentary elections in April. In speeches and a parliamentary hearing, Yoo said South Korea’s biggest problem was slowing potential growth brought on by delayed structural reforms,and vowed to continue Choi’s efforts for
change.
Israel gets fifth German-made nuclearcapable submarine ‘INS Rahav’
Israel has took delivery of its fifth German-built submarine, an advanced Dolphin-class vessel said to be capable of remaining submerged for up to a week. Speaking at an official welcome ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the undersea fleet allows Israel “to deter enemies who seek to destroy us.” The new arrival is named
“Rahav” after a biblical sea monster. Israel is the Middle East’s sole of undeclared nuclear power, refusing to confirm or deny it has such weapons. Its five German-made submarines will be used to protect its shores and carry out spying missions against its arch-foe Iran. A sixth submarine is to be delivered in two to three years although defence analyst Yossi Melman, writing in Maariv newspaper, has said it is likely to be cancelled for budgetary reasons.
State Bank of India opens first branch in South Korea
India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has opened its first branch in South Korea. The Seoul branch is expected to play an important role in strengthening economic partnership between the two nations, the bank’s Managing Director B Sriram said in a statement. With over 135 branches across many geographies, SBI has the largest presence in foreign markets among domestic banks. The branch will offer a range of services to corporates in trade finance, bilateral and syndicated loans and corporate deposits etc, apart from retail banking.
Aadhaar ID saving Indian govt about $1 billion per annum: World Bank
The World Bank has said that India’s Aadhaar ID will save the government $1 billion annually by curbing corruption. India’s Aadhaar digital identification system has already reached close to one billion people enabling many of the poor to access services more easily and making it possible for government to deliver welfare services more easily. India
is close to registering its entire 1.25 billion population usingAadhaar ID, the World Bank said.
WHO declares world’s worst ever Ebola outbreak over
The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged west Africa for two years was over after Liberia, the last affected country, received the all-clear. One of the most feared diseases in the world, Ebola killed more than 11,000 people across west Africa after it surfaced in southern Guinea in December 2013. At its peak, the tropical haemorrhagic virus devastated Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, scything lives and dealing a hammer blow to weak economies and fragile health systems.
Taiwan opposition leader Tsai wins presidential vote
Taiwan’s independence-leaning opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen has won the island’s presidential election after the ruling party admitted defeat. Tsai will be thrust into one of Asia’s toughest and most dangerous jobs, with China pointing hundreds of missiles at the island, decades after losing Nationalists fled from Mao Zedong’s Communists to Taiwan in
the Chinese civil war. She will have to balance the superpower interests of China, which is also Taiwan’s largest trading partner, and the United States with those of her freewheeling, democratic home.
Xi launches Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in which India and 56 countries have joined as founding members was formally opened by President Xi Jinping. An Indian delegation headed by Dinesh Sharma, additional Secretary in the Ministry of Finance attended the opening ceremony. In all 57 countries have joined as founding members while the US and Japan have stayed out. The US-backed Asian Development Bank has started identifying potential co-financing projects with AIIB in such areas as transport, renewable
energy, urban and water.
YouTube returns to Pakistan
After over three years of being told to ‘Surf Safely’, Internet users in the country were able to access the popular videosharing website, YouTube, following orders from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) that the website be unblocked. However, digital rights groups and other stakeholders, who had originally opposed the blocking of the website, still have concerns over the deal – struck between the government and Google – which may empower the former to censor content on the website.
WhatsApp is now Free and Ads-free
WhatsApp is dropping its subscription fees to access the popular messaging service. WhatsApp introduced the fees a few years ago, forcing new users to pay an annual 99 cents subscription after the first year. WhatsApp has always been free to download and use for the first year. In fact, original users of the app, who joined WhatsApp when it started out six years back, were given a free lifetime service. But in recent years, the company introduced a subscription fee of 0.99 cents after the first free year.
France declares economic emergency
French President Francois Hollande has declared what he called “a state of economic emergency” and says it’s time to redefine France’s economic and social model. The first measures he proposed are relatively modest, and he said they would not “put into question” the 35-hour workweek. He did not seek to assume any new emergency powers. The measures
included a loosening of some workerfriendly measures to encourage companies to hire, and new training for half a million workers.
China’s economic growth slowest in 25 years
China’s economy grew by 6.9% in 2015, compared with 7.3% a year earlier, marking its slowest growth in a quarter of a century. China’s growth, seen as a driver of the global economy, is a major concern for investors around the world. The news comes as the International Monetary Fund said it expected China’s economy to grow by 6.3% this year and 6% in 2017. Beijing had set an official growth target of “about 7%”. The growth rate is a far cry from China’s spectacular expansion in recent decades, but it broadly matches
the government’s 7% target.
IS holds 3500 slaves in Iraq : UN
The United Nations has revealed details of the “staggering civilian death toll in Iraq” over the past two years and estimated some 3500 Iraqis continue to be held captive as “slaves”, since the Islamic State’s insurgency flared at the beginning of 2014. In a new report this week, the UN said the jihadists’ captives included many women and girls from the persecuted Yazidi sect who have been abducted and forced into sexual slavery. The report found nearly 19,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the last two years, while some 3.2 million Iraqis have been displaced.
UN signs up Lionel Messi to help beat poverty
Lionel Messi was recently named the best footballer on the planet. The Barcelona star Lionel Messi has set his sights on an even bigger prize – the end of poverty. The Argentine and Colombian singer Shakira head a list of 17 well-known names recruited by the United Nations to promote its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The world body’s objectives
include the eradication of poverty by 2030, the fight against climate change and universal access to education and health. Messi and Shakira are already goodwill ambassadors for UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund.
ISIS has destroyed Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery
Satellite images confirm that th oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been destroyed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS). St Elijah’s stood on a hill near the northern city of Mosul for 1,400 years. But analysts said the images, obtained by the Associated Press, suggested it had been demolished in late 2014, soon after IS seized the city. A
Catholic priest from Mosul warned that its Christian history was “being barbarically levelled”.
Singapore the second most ‘up-andcoming’ country globally
In a global survey of more than 16,000 people, Singapore was named the second most “up-and-coming” economy among 60 countries, after top-ranked India and ahead of China in third. This was one of the findings of the 2016 Best Countries rankings, produced by the US News & World Report in collaboration with brand strategy firm BAV Consulting and the
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
World Economic Forum meeting begins
The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting has started in Davos, Switzerland with participation of political leaders and business persons from around the world. The Annual Meeting in DavosKlosters remains the foremost creative force for engaging the world’s top leaders in collaborative activities focused on shaping the global, regional and industry agendas. The agenda also includes the outlook of the global economy and measures to fight terrorism.
Brazil Zika outbreak: More babies born with birth defects
New figures from Brazil show a further rise in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads to mothers infected with the Zika virus. There have been 3,893 cases of microcephaly since October, when the authorities first noticed a surge, up from 3,500 in last week’s report. Zika is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which
also spreads dengue and chikungunya.
Toyota keeps top global automaker crown
Toyota has kept the title of world’s biggest automaker for the fourth straight year after saying it sold 10.15 million vehicles globally in 2015, driving past Volkswagen and General Motors. Dented by a pollution-cheating scandal, Volkswagen earlier logged sales of 9.93 million vehicles worldwide, while Chevrolet and Cadillac maker GM moved
9.8 million last year. Toyota shares jumped 3.80 percent to end at 6,881 yen ($58) in Tokyo, boosted by reports it is in talks with Suzuki over a partnership to build compact cars for emerging markets, including India. Strong North American demand drove Toyota’s figures as total sales slipped 0.8 percent from 2014, largely owing to a slowdown in Japan where a weak economy hit demand.
French Lawmakers Approve Terminal Sedation, Not Euthanasia
France’s Parliament has approved a bill that will let doctors keep terminally ill patients sedated until death comes but stops short of legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide. After years of tense debate over the issue and a long journey through Parliament, the bill was passed by the country’s lower house and Senate. The new law will allow patients to request deep, continuous sedation altering consciousness until death” but only when their condition is likely to lead to a quick death. Doctors will be allowed
to stop life-sustaining treatments, including artificial hydration and nutrition. Sedation and painkillers will be allowed. The bill will also apply to patients who are unable to express their will, following a process that includes consultation with family members.
Tom Hanks is America’s favourite movie star
Tom Hanks is officially America’s favourite Hollywood star. The Bridge of Spies actor topped the annual Harris Poll which drew the results from a survey of over 2,200 adults. His closest competitor was actor Johnny Depp who most recently starred as real-life mobster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. Reigning champion Denzel Washington – this year’s recipient of the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille award – fell two places to third, while the top five was rounded out with Western icon John Wayne (the only deceased actor in the top ten) and Harrison Ford.
31 countries sign Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement
As part of continuing efforts to boost transparency by multinational enterprises (MNEs), 31 countries have signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) for the automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports. The signing ceremony marks an important milestone towards implementation of theOECD/G20 BEPS Project and a significant increase in cross-border cooperation on tax matters. It was jointly developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G20 to provide governments with solutions for modernising international tax rules.
Airtel and Axiata to merge Bangladesh operations
Axiata Group Berhad (Axiata) and Bharti Airtel will merge their telecom operations in Bangladesh. Both companies have signed a definitive agreement to merge their subsidiaries in Bangladesh — Robi Axiata Limited (Robi) and Airtel Bangladesh Ltd (Airtel). Upon completion, Axiata will hold 68.3 per cent controlling stake in the combined entity, while Bharti will hold 25 per cent. The remaining 6.7 per cent will be held by the existing shareholder, NTT Docomo of Japan.
The Most Corrupt Countries in the World
In order to identify the 15 most corrupt countries in the world. The lowest 15 index scores from Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index of 168 countries.
Nations were assessed by experts as part of a variety of data sources. National economic data came from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). GDP per capita figures are based on purchasing power parity. Literacy rates, Gini index scores, and poverty rates are from the World Bank. All data are as of the most recent period available.