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Second High level China-Eurasia Conference Took Place at Yerevan State University

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Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia— The Second edition of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference was held on November 1-2, 2019. The conference was organized by “‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research” and Yerevan State University.

Mrs. Lena Nazaryan, Vice President of the National Assembly of Armenia, in her opening speech, has stated that Armenia gives an importance for strengthening its cooperation with China. She also mentioned that agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the PRC will provide an added impetus to develop economic relations in both bilateral and multilateral levels.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to Armenia Mr. Tian Erlong noted; “I am very pleased to attend the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia Conference” dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, which is organized by Yerevan State University and ‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research.” He added, that China and the World are experiencing unprecedented changes of the international pattern for the past 100 years. In response to various global issues and challenges and continuous improvement of global governance capabilities, China is willing to make efforts with countries all over the world, including the Eurasian region, adhering to the path of peaceful development, multilateralism, and to the strategy of mutual benefit, win-win and openness, against the hegemonism and power politics, to contribute in building a new type of international relations and community of human destiny.

In turn, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations of the Yerevan State University, Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan, said that deepening relations with China is one of the foreign policy priorities of Armenia. Yerevan aims to strengthen Armenia’s role in the Eurasian region by expanding relations also with China. He hoped that “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference will help in this work.

Director of “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research and founder of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference, mentioned that during the conference, which was organized by Yerevan State University and “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research the geopolitical, economic and security changes taking place in the Eurasian continent would be discussed. He added that the main aim of the conference is to focus on China’s pivot towards Eurasian continent through its Belt and Road initiative, the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, EAEU and EU integration projects in Eurasia etc. He stated that the Asia-pacific region stood the main center of economic developments of the world, it is already fact and all states must think about their own political and economic involvement with this region and of course, China, as a young superpower has its very important role here.

The following panels of the Conference followed the opening ceremony:

The first panel was “China, Eurasia and the New World Order”, where Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner(International Institute for Peace and University of Vienna, Chair of the Advisory Committee for Strategy and Security Policy of the Scientific Commission at the Austrian Armed Forces, Austria) delivered keynote speech on“Eurasia between Multipolarity and Multilateralism”. Prof. Dr. Süha Atatüre (Head of the Department of International Relations, Istanbul Gedik University, Turkey) joined the conference with the help of video call. His keynote speech was about “The Globalization, Our World and China Today”.Dr. Zheng Yuntian (Deputy Director of the World Socialism Institute, Renmin University of China, PRC)during his keynote speech told about the importance of building a Community with a shared future for mankind and the new international vision of the Chinese development model.Dr. Mher D. Sahakyan (Director, “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) introduced his research on China’s national security and Belt and Road Initiative.

The second panel was named “China and the Global Leadership”, where Dr. Anahit Parzyan (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) spoke about China’s cyber policy and introduced Beijing’s capabilities for Global cyber leadership. In turn, Dr. Sudhir Kumar Singh (University of Delhi, India) delivered a speech on challenges and opportunities between triangle relations of ASEAN-China. Alexander Korolev (Deputy Head, Eurasian Sector, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia) introduced his research, which was called “EAEU-China: Connecting Eurasia”.This panel was chaired by Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner.

The third panel was focused on China’s Belt and Road initiative and the world. This Russian language panel started witha keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Konstantin Kurylev (RUDN University, Russia), which was about the features of implementation and development prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative.Konstantin Tasits (Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia) continued the topic and spoke about China’s Policy in South Caucasus in the context of Belt and Road Initiative. Evelina Moravska (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland) introduced her research on China’s policy in the region of Caspian Sea.This panel was chaired by Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan.

The fourth panel was dedicated to China’s policy in Western Balkans, during which Prof. Dr. Boris Vukićević (Vice-Rector, University of Montenegro, Montenegro) introduced China’s policy in the Western Balkans as anew player in the strategic game.The panel was chaired by Dr. Zheng Yuntian.

The second day of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” conference started with the “China and Eurasia” panel.

Dr. Yu Tao (University of Western Australia, Australia) introduced his research on religions and China’s diplomatic endeavors in Eurasia (1979-2019). In turn, Yeghia Tashjian from American University of Beirut, Lebanon, dedicated his speech to China’s policy on Iranian nuclear issue and China’s Energy Security.Dr. Larisa Smirnova shared her thoughts about some differences between Russian and Chinese understanding of the meaning of “developing” and “developed” states during this panel.This panel was chaired by Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Assistant Professor, Yerevan State University/ Director, ARDI Institute, Armenia). During this panel speakers, chair and attendees discussed alsothe meaning of “Eurasia” term from the different schools’ perspectives.

The next panel was called “China, Policy, Subcultures and Information”. This Russian language panel started with a keynote speech byDr. Hovhannes Sargsyan (Head, Department of Political Science, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia). His paper was dedicated to cultural and civilizational foundations of Chinese strategic culture. In turn, Dr. Nadezhda Kotelnikova (Volgograd State Pedagogical University, Russia) delivered speech on Chinese city subcultures in the context of urban communication studies. The next speaker was Michal Marek (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland). He introduced his research on factors and events that shape the image of China in the Polish information space.Dr. Anton Evstratov (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) spoke about China’s policy in the Central Asia. Andranik Hovhannisyan’s (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) paper was titled “Russia and China ‘A New Big Game’ in the Central Asia”.Ruzanna Airapetova (PhD Student, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) delivered a speech on public diplomacy of China and Armenia.This panel was chaired by Dr. Hovhannes Sargsyan.

The seven panel was dedicated to China’s role in Shanghai Cooperation organization and its relations with NATO. During this panel Slobodan Popovic (PhD Candidate, University of Belgrade, Serbia) spoke about geopolitical role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the Belt and Road Initiative.Dr. Anna Zalinyan (Public Administration Academy of RA, Armenia) introduced her research on NATO-China Council relationship in political-military dimensions.Dr. Saren Abgaryan (Shanghai Jiatong University, PRC) changed the direction of the panel and introduced the new Foreign investment law of China from the viewpoint of foreign companies in China.The aforementioned panel was chaired by Dr. Anahit Parzyan.In the last panel thanks to technologies, by the help of video call Giulia Sciorati (University of Trento) raised and answered to the following question:“Is the Belt and Road Initiative under Siege?” In turn, Elisa Gambino (PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) introduced her research on Chinese participation in Kenyan Transport Infrastructure Projects.

During the conference an exhibition titled “Beautiful China” was also organized by the support of Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Armenia. Speakers also visited the history museum of Yerevan State University.

Among honorable guests of the conference were senior councilor of the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Aleksander Ananev, Councilor of the PRC Embassy in Armenia Mr. Zhou Hongyou, Councilor of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Armenia Miss. Asel Isimova, Ambassador Dr. Arman Navasardyan, Dr. Robert Ghazaryan (Vice Director, IOS, NAS), attachéof the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Dmitri Demkin  and other diplomats and scholars.

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Energy News

ADB, Gulf PD Sign Deal to Build 2,500 MW Power Plant in Thailand

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Gulf PD Company Limited (Gulf PD) today signed a $180 million agreement to build and operate a 2,500-megawatt (MW) combined cycle gas turbine power plant in the Rojana Rayong 2 Industrial Park of Thailand’s Rayong Province, about 150 kilometers southeast of Bangkok.

Gulf PD is owned by Independent Power Development, a joint venture between Gulf Energy Development Public Company Limited (GED) and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (Mitsui).

ADB’s support is composed of a regular loan of $50 million and a B loan of up to $85 million. ADB will also mobilize $45 million through the Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP), established in 2016 and supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. ADB signed the loan agreement with its cofinanciers—the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and 12 other international and local commercial banks—playing an anchor lender role in the project by catalyzing up to $764 million in commercial cofinancing. The B loan will be funded by Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation and Germany’s DZ Bank.

The agreement for the Eastern Economic Corridor Independent Power Project was signed by ADB Deputy Director General for Private Sector Operations Mr. Christopher Thieme and the CEO of GED Mr. Sarath Ratanavadi at a ceremony in Bangkok.

“The project will build the fourth-largest power plant and one of the largest combined cycle gas turbine power plants in Thailand, which will be key in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development plan, considered as the prime economic growth driver for the country until 2028,” said Mr. Thieme. “ADB is proud to play an essential role in this transaction, which will help provide reliable power to industry and households and boost Thailand’s economic growth and development prospects. We are particularly pleased to bring in additional cofinanciers to this transaction through our B loan program and LEAP, since the financing gap will be one of the major challenges for the success of the EEC development plan.”

The plant will be fully operational by 2024, delivering at least 16,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity to users. With the state-of-the-art combined-cycle gas turbine technology to be used at the plant, the project will mean 1 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide is emitted every year compared with current electricity grid emissions. The plant will be integral to sustaining Thailand’s energy security given that more than 8,500 MW of generating capacity—equivalent to about 20% of current national energy capacity—of aging power plants will be retired between 2020 and 2025.

Gulf PD was established in 2012 to develop, construct, own, and operate the 2,500 MW power plant. GED is a leading power generation company with the largest portfolio of contracted power purchase agreements in Thailand. Mitsui, established in 1947, is one of Japan’s largest trading companies involved in the development of more than 74 power projects globally.

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Human Rights

UNICEF reports uneven progress in 30 years of child rights treaty

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Although the world has made historic gains over the past three decades in improving children’s lives, urgent action is required if the poorest children are to feel the impact, a new UN report published on Monday warns.

The study by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) calls on countries to recommit to promises made under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted 30 years ago.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, noted that while increasing numbers of children are living longer, better and healthier lives, the odds continue to be stacked against the poorest and most vulnerable.

“In addition to the persistent challenges of health, nutrition and education, children today have to contend with new threats like climate change, online abuse and cyberbullying,” she said.

“Only with innovation, new technologies, political will and increased resources will we help translate the vision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into a reality for all children everywhere.”

Uneven progress, emerging threats

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly adopted international treaty in history, and has been ratified by more than 190 countries.

It acknowledges childhood, which lasts through age 18, as a special time in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity. 

UNICEF reported that since its adoption, the global rate for under-five mortality has dropped by around 60 per cent, while the proportion of undernourished children has almost halved.

The Convention has also influenced numerous constitutions, laws and policies that reflect its guiding principles, which include non-discrimination, the right to protection and acting in the best interests of the child.

However, the report shows that progress has not been even.

UNICEF said the world’s children continue to confront age-old threats while new hazards loom over their future.

The poorest children are still likely to die from preventable causes before reaching their fifth birthday. Millions of the most disadvantaged are still at risk due to poverty, discrimination and marginalization. At the same time, cases of the childhood killer measles are on the rise as immunization coverage rates have slowed down since 2010.

Progress in education also is dismal. The report reveals that the number of primary level children out of school has remained static for more than a decade.

“Many of those who are in school are not learning the basics, let alone the skills they need to thrive in today’s economy,” UNICEF added.

In recent years, young people have been speaking up and calling for action to address climate change. UNICEF said they are the ones most at-risk.

“Rapid changes in climate are spreading disease, increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, and creating food and water insecurity. Unless urgent action is taken, the worst for many children is yet to come,” the UN agency warned.

Inclusive dialogue planned

UNICEF believes that where there is political will and determination, children’s lives improve, as documented by the report, which has been released ahead of World Children’s Day on 20 November.

The study calls for more data and evidence to accelerate progress and advance child rights, alongside recommendations such as involving young people in creating solutions.

UNICEF will use the coming 12 months to promote an inclusive global dialogue aimed at making the promise of the convention a reality for all children.

As Ms. Fore, the UNICEF chief, stated: “The Convention stands at a crossroads between its illustrious past and its future potential. It is up to us to recommit, take decisive steps and hold ourselves accountable.”

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Environment

Kenyan students learn about environmental law

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photo: UN Environment

In our globalized world, environmental threats require effective responses that promote peace, justice, development and the fulfilment of environmental and human rights. This is the responsibility of everyone; and we all have the right to be involved. We are all the leadership that the planet needs.

That’s what a group of Kenyan students were told in October 2019 when they participated in a lecture at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on international environmental law.

UNEP promotes a shared sense of environmental governance by building the capacity of those who affect the rules, policies and institutions that shape how humans interact with the environment.

UNEP experts spoke to students on basic governance and enforcement of international environmental law. International environmental law can involve many countries, as it does with the Paris Agreement, or a few countries, such as a regional environmental treaty. Sources of international environmental law can cover varied goals, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, or be specific to a certain issue, such as the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. We need international environmental law because many environmental problems are transboundary, regional or global in scope, and solutions require international cooperation and the adoption of common standards.

The students and UNEP experts deliberated over the weaknesses and strengths of international environmental laws and discussed how students could get more involved in tackling the issues. Students described the lecture as very useful and said that they were challenged to think of new and different aspects of environmental law.

Topics discussed included the divergent responsibilities of various groups regarding environmental governance and biotechnology, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, and plastic pollution and lessons from the plastic ban in Kenya.

To ensure that this learning continues outside the lecture theatre, the UNEP team shared learning resources with the students.

James Nyaro, a lecturer at the Kenyatta University, said on behalf of the institution: “You let us ask you questions… and responded to them comprehensively… and we cannot thank you enough.”

What should I know about international environmental law?

When states work together to create and implement international environmental law, great things can be achieved. The ozone layer is currently on track to heal completely in our lifetime and this will save two million people each year by 2030 from skin cancer. This success is due to international environmental law through the Montreal Protocol: an environmental treaty.

As everyone has the right to be involved in environmental management, we should all have a basic understanding of the laws that govern us. Countries are individually responsible for deciding and applying international environmental laws, yet the average citizen can be far removed from the processes involved in their development and implementation. As citizens, we should influence the progression and enforcement of international environmental law to ensure that it effectively tackles the issues we face. UNEP encourages everyone to learn what international environmental laws apply to their states through InforMEA. Knowledge is the first step towards creating environmental laws that work for us.

On 23 October 2019, postgraduate students from the School of Security, Diplomacy and Peace Studies at Kenyatta University were introduced to international environmental law by UNEP experts.

UN Environment

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