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Rethinking China’s Rise under the Governance of the CPC

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“Rethinking China’s Rise under the Governance of the CPC: Achievements, Initiatives and Prospects Conference” International Conference was held on July 2, 2021. The conference was organized by ‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research in partnership with the Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences. It was supported by the embassy of China in Armenia.

The President of Armenia Dr. Armen Sarkissian has stated that Armenia gives great importance to the further development of relations with China in different spheres. Both sides created trustful and respectful relations after establishing diplomatic relations, which is good fundament for strengthening cooperation.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to Armenia Mr. Fan Yong noted; “I am very pleased to attend the “Rethinking China’s Rise under the Governance of the CPC: Achievements, Initiatives and Prospects” dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, which is by ‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research in Institute of Oriental Studies, NAS.” He added that the people’s stand is the fundamental political stand of the Communist Party of China, and seeking happiness for the people is the original mission of the Communist Party of China. From the beginning of the founding of the party, the Communist Party of China has always put people in the highest position. After arduous and struggle, the lives of the Chinese people have undergone earth-shaking changes.

In turn, Ms. Zheng Wei, General Secretary of The Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, noted that the Chinese Communist Party is concerned about the future and destiny of humanity and works hand in hand with all progressive forces in the world. China has always been and will remain the builder of world peace.

Dr. Mher Sahakyan, Director of “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research and the main initiator of the “Rethinking China’s Rise under the Governance of the CPC: Achievements, Initiatives and Prospects”, mentioned that during the conference, which was organized by the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research at the Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences, Chinese external and internal relations would be discussed. He added that it should be noted that due to skillful management, the Chinese leadership has managed to make the country one of the leaders in the field of science, technology and industry in just a few decades.

Dr. Robert Ghazaryan, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of RA, noted that one of the most important pages in the modern history of China is the path of the Chinese Communist Party. To get a clear idea of ​​the political, economic, scientific and educational processes taking place in China, it is necessary to conduct a retrospective analysis of the Party’s past. With its unique, well-developed political line, the Party fulfills its great mission in the modern history of Chinese civilization, ensuring its sustainable development at the present stage.

Following scholars delivered speeches during the conference: Dr. Zheng Yuntian (Director of the World Socialism Institute, Renmin University of China, PRC), Mr. Ebrahim Hashem (Strategist, Consultant and Scholar, UAE), Dr. Bin Ma (Associate Professor at the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, PRC), Dr. Sanja Arezina, (Counselor with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Research Associate-Assistant Professor at Belgrade University, Serbia), Dr. Anahit Parzyan (“China-Eurasia” Council for political and Strategic Research, Armenia), Ms. Raisa Epikhina (Lecturer and Researcher, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia), Dr. Konstantin Kurylev (Deputy Head of the Department of Theory and History of International Relations, RUDN University, Russia), Dr. Ruben Elamiryan (Chair of the Department of World Politics and International Relations, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia), Dr. Aram Abajyan (Researcher, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia), Dr. Vakhtang Charaia (Head of TSU Center for Analysis and Forecasting; Affiliated prof. at Business and Technology University, Georgia), Dr. Mher Sahakyan (Director, China-Eurasia Council for political and Strategic Research, Armenia; Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong, PRC), Dr. Artur Israyelyan (Vice-rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations of Yerevan State University), Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Assistant professor, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Yerevan State University, Armenia).

During the conference an exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC was also organized by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Armenia.

The conference hosted distinguished guests such as the acting minister of the Ministry of Labor and Social affairs of Armenia, Mr. Narek Mkrtchyan, President of National Academy of Sciences Dr. Ashot Saghyan, President of the AGBU-Armenia Mr. Vasken Yacoubian, Chargé D’affaires of the UAE Embassy in Armenia Ms. Ahlam Al Salami, Councilor of the PRC Embassy in Armenia Mr. Zhou Hongyou, Premier secretaire of Embassy of France in Armenia Mr. Eric Debenath, Dean of the Faculty of Oriental Studies Dr. Ruben Melkonyan, Head of the Department of Asian and Pacific Region of MFA Mr. Mnatsakan Safaryan, Director of Yerevan School of Political Studies Mr. Armen Zakaryan, Head of the Department of Regional Studies, Ministry of Defense Dr. Davit Manasyan and other diplomats and scholars.

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Rush for new profits posing threat to human rights

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The finance industry’s demand for new sources of capital worldwide to satisfy investors, is having a serious negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights, a group of UN-appointed independent rights experts have warned

Among the rights at risk from increasing speculation in the financial markets by hedge funds and other investment funds, are the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, food, adequate housing, development, and a healthy and sustainable environment, among others.  

Exploiting the marginalized 

In a statement, the independent Special Rapporteurs and other experts, expressed their concern over the gradual encroachment of financial speculators into new areas of the economy, putting human rights at risk

They highlighted in particular, trading in areas essential for the enjoyment of human rights of marginalized, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant and peasant communities, persons with disabilities and persons living with Albinism, as well as those living in areas of conflict. 

The experts also pointed out that so-called financialisation – the growth in new financial instruments since the 1980s managed by new financial services – has a disproportionate impact on the enjoyment of their rights by women and girls, who are systematically victims of discrimination. The impact on older people was also highlighted. 

Effect on housing 

According to a former Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, in recent years massive amounts of global capital have been invested in housing as a commodity, as security for financial instruments that are traded on global markets, and as a means of accumulating wealth. 

However, when the 2008 global financial crisis hit, many houses suddenly lost much of their value, and individuals and families were made homeless overnight. 

The expert also pointed out that in the Global South, informal settlements in Southern cities are regularly demolished for luxury housing and commercial development intended for the wealthiest groups of the population

This process of financialisation of assets, has only been reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the expert said. 

‘Speculative food bubble’ 

In agricultural markets, the experts described how the same big international banks responsible for the global financial crisis, invested billions of dollars in food futures, generating an increase in the prices of raw materials such as wheat, corn and soybean, which doubled and even tripled in a few months, creating a new speculative food bubble

According to the World Bank, between 130 and 150 million more people were pushed into extreme poverty and hunger, mainly in low-income countries depending on food imports to feed their populations. 

The experts highlighted how the financialisation of housing and food has exacerbated inequalities and exclusion, disproportionately affecting heavily indebted households and those on low incomes. 

Applying speculative logic in these areas violates the human rights of people in poverty, exacerbates gender inequality and aggravates the vulnerability of marginalized communities, they said. 

Commodifying nature 

The growing monetization and commodification of ecosystem services, such as carbon storage, were also noted by the experts. 

They warned that it threatens the sustainability of ecosystems, marginalizes natural and cultural values that have no apparent economic value, and weakens the control of indigenous peoples and local communities over their territories

The right to pollute and destroy nature is gradually being legitimized and commercialized, they said. 

They also pointed out that addressing the climate emergency often ignores both the impacts on people in poverty, and undermines the human rights and livelihoods of the poorest. 

The eviction of indigenous peoples from forests or the replacement of complex old-growth forests with monocultures of fast-growing non-native tree species was highlighted as an example of this. 

Treating housing, food, or the environment, as assets to be traded by hedge funds and other financial actors in financial derivatives markets, represents a direct attack on people’s exercise and enjoyment of human rights such as the right to housing, to food, to a healthy environment, or to drinking water and sanitation, the experts stated. 

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Iraq: An Urgent Call for Education Reforms to Ensure Learning for All Children

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A girl student in Basra, Iraq, who benefits from a UNICEF/WFP education stipend programme. UNICEF

Learning levels in Iraq are among the lowest in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region and are likely to decline even further because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on education service delivery, including prolonged school closures.

These low learning levels are putting the future of Iraqi children and the country at risk. A new World Bank report says that while, now more than ever, investments are needed in education to recover lost learning and turn crisis into opportunity, these investments must be accompanied by a comprehensive reform agenda that focuses the system on learning outcomes and builds a more resilient education system for all children. 

The World Bank Group’s new report, Building Forward Better to Ensure Learning for All Children in Iraq: An Education Reform Path, builds on key priorities in education recently identified in the Government of Iraq’s White Paper and the World Bank Group’s Addressing the Human Capital Crisis: A Public Expenditure Review for Human Development Sectors in Iraq report, and provides actionable reform recommendations to boost learning and skills.

Human capital is essential to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth. However, according to the World Bank’s 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI), a child born in Iraq today will reach, on average, only 41% of their potential productivity when they grow up. 

At the heart of Iraq’s human capital crisis is a learning crisis, with far-reaching implications. Iraq’s poor performance on the HCI is largely attributed to its low learning levels. COVID-19 has led to intermittent school closures across Iraq, impacting more than 11 million Iraqi students since February 2020. This report highlights that, with schools closed over 75% of the time and opportunities for remote learning limited and unequal, Iraqi children are facing another reduction of learning‑adjusted years of schooling. Effectively, students in Iraq are facing more than a “lost year” of learning. 

Iraq can use lessons learned from the current health crisis, turn recovery into opportunity, and “build forward better,” to ensure it provides learning opportunities for all Iraqi children especially its poorest and most vulnerable children” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “The World Bank is ready to support Iraq in building a more equitable and resilient post-COVID-19 education system that ensures learning for all children and generates the dividends for faster and more inclusive growth”.  

The report Building Forward Better to Ensure Learning for All Children in Iraq: An Education Reform Path puts forward for discussion sector-wide reform recommendations, focusing on immediate crisis response as well as medium and long-term needs across six key strategic areas:  

1. Engaging in an Emergency Crisis response through the mitigation of immediate learning loss and prevention of further dropouts.

2. Improving foundational skills to set a trajectory for learning through improved learning & teaching materials and strengthened teacher practices with a focus on learning for all children.

3. Focusing on the most urgently needed investments, while ensuring better utilization of resources.

4. Improving the governance of the education sector and promoting evidence‑based decision‑making.

5. Developing and implementing an education sector strategy that focuses on learning and “building forward better”.

6. Aligning skills with labor market needs through targeted programs and reforms.

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More Funding for Business and Trade to Help Lao PDR Recover from Pandemic

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The World Bank and the Government of Lao PDR have agreed to scale up a Competitiveness and Trade Project that will improve the ability of businesses to recover from the economic effects of COVID-19 as part of the government’s emergency response to the pandemic. The additional financing will provide a US$6.5 million grant through the Lao Competitiveness and Trade Multi-Donor Trust Fund supported by Australia, Ireland, and the United States.

The extra funding follows a request by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce for additional resources to help the government and private sector respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and related restrictions. The Lao economy, which had already been slowing since 2018 following floods, drought and crop disease outbreaks, has been hit badly by the pandemic since early 2020, causing poverty to rise by an estimated 4.4 percentage points.

This additional financing complements the government’s approach of providing rapid and direct relief to vulnerable firms and to adjusting government services to the effects of COVID-19. Helping viable businesses to survive and grow will help them maintain and create jobs, thereby driving economic recovery.

The ministry has been implementing the original Lao PDR Competitiveness and Trade Project since late 2018 with $13 million of credit and grants from the World Bank and the trust fund. The project works to improve the processes required to start and operate a business, and to reduce the costs of doing business in Laos. Measures to lower trade costs and facilitate trade flows include streamlining regulations to reduce the time that goods spend at borders. Business Assistance Facility grants are available to help companies improve their competitiveness, while the project also supports improved policy making and transparency, along with stronger public-private policy dialogue.

According to H.E. Somchith Inthamith, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, “the new financing will be used to scale up and extend activities under the original project, such as decreasing the time required for goods to clear customs, and increasing the ability of our producers to connect to markets. Additional resources will be used to help new Lao firms set up, and aid existing companies seeking grants to mitigate the impact of COVID-19”.

Mariam Sherman, Country Director for the World Bank in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, said that over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has faced significant economic stress, especially considering the effects of the crisis on important trade partners. “This project has been prepared with urgency”, she said. “It can help the Lao government accelerate policy changes and regulatory reforms that will improve the ease of doing business, facilitate trade, and support company competitiveness. Such reforms will help Lao firms weather shocks, increase their ability to do business on the ground, and provide access to international markets for necessary inputs and outputs”.

The Lao Competitiveness and Trade Multi-Donor Trust Fund is a continuing effort to improve the efficiency of development assistance for trade in the Lao PDR, by pooling resources from the World Bank, Australia, and Ireland for increased efficiency of implementation, reduced transactions costs and greater impact on-the-ground.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has committed over $125 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history. The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also providing $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.

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