Saudi Arabia, Grand Mosque, Hajj And Umrah, Mecca, Coronavirus İnfections, Pilgrims

Saudi Arabia, Grand Mosque

'Immunised' Muslim pilgrims in Mecca as Ramadan begins

Only immunised pilgrims are eligible for permits to perform the pilgrimage and to attend prayers in the Mecca's Grand Mosque during Ramadan this year.

14/4/2021 5:00:00 AM

Only immunised pilgrims are eligible for permits to perform the pilgrimage and to attend prayers in the Mecca 's Grand Mosque during Ramadan this year.

Pilgrims immunised against Covid-19 circled Islam's holiest site in Saudi Arabia 's Mecca city Tuesday as they performed the year-round umrah pilgrimage on the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan.

AdMachen Sie Ihre Träume wahr! Jeden Freitag befinden sich mindestens 10 Mio. € im Jackpot. Spielen Sie das Original – einfach und sicher bei LOTTO24.South China Morning PostEU says it won’t pay off Montenegro’s billion-dollar highway debt to China

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The European Union says it will not pay off Montenegro’s near-US$1 billion debts to China, rejecting the tiny Balkan nation’s repeated pleas for help. A spokesman for the EU told the South China Morning Post that it “does not repay loans of partners which they took from third parties”, although he did express concern “over the socioeconomic and financial effects of some of China’s investments in Montenegro”. He continued that Brussels was willing to work with the country, a candidate for EU membership, to put its debts on a sustainable footing.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. Montenegro’s finance minister Milojko Spajic on Sunday became the latest cabinet member to ask Brussels for help in repaying a dollar-denominated loan signed with the Export-Import Bank of China in 2014 to build the first section of a highway linking the country with neighbouring Serbia. “This is a small but easy win for them. It’s low-hanging fruit,” Spajic told the Financial Times in an interview published on Sunday. The loan was agreed under the previous government, with Spaijic making it clear that the new administration, which took over in December, wanted closer ties with Brussels than Beijing. “For infrastructure we’re currently relying on China … The situation is dramatic from a geopolitical standpoint,” he told the FT. Debt-trap diplomacy? Report finds China can cancel loans if displeased The unfinished highway project has often been cited as an example of the “debt-trap diplomacy” China is accused of deploying as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure drive to connect the global East and West. Beijing has rejected the accusations saying its loans to developing countries have no strings attached. The FT reported that with an estimated cost of US$23.8 million per kilometre, the highway is thought to be among the most expensive strips of road in the world, with the first repayments due in July. It has helped increase the public debt rate in Montenegro – which is seeking to join the EU – from 65.9 per cent to an estimated 80 per cent of gross domestic product once the loan is repaid, according to figures cited by the European Parliament. To absorb the costs, Podgorica has had to raise cash elsewhere, such as a 21 per cent value-added tax on non-tourism activities. In an address to the European Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs in March, Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic asked members to “help us replace the credit with [a loan from] some European banks”, adding that it would help stymie Chinese influence in the country. Peter Stano, the EU’s spokesman for foreign affairs and security issues, told the Post that the bloc is already the biggest provider of financial help to Montenegro, as well as its biggest investor and trading partner. China pins hopes on Balkans as gateway to Europe but faces growing scepticism “The EU will continue to support Montenegro on its path towards EU membership, and in this context work with the country to find financial solutions for its investment projects and to ensure the sustainability of its public debt,” Stano said. “But while every country is free to establish its investment objectives, the EU has concerns over the socioeconomic and financial effects some of China’s investments in Montenegro can have, which risk macroeconomic imbalances and debt-dependency,” he added. Concerns have been rising in Brussels about China’s growing influence in the Western Balkans, where it has strong ties with regional powerhouse Serbia. It is not clear whether Montenegro will be able to gain support from other sources and major European public funding outfits had previously turned their noses up at the first section of the Bar-Boljare motorway, which will run from the Adriatic Sea to the border with Serbia. A report by the Dutch Clingendael Institute, a think tank, said last year that two feasibility studies had been conducted in 2006 and 2012 respectively, with both the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank expressing “no interest” in the project. Coronavirus runs roughshod over debt-laden belt and road projects “Montenegro sees China as a rising global power that brings new economic and financing opportunities. Local institutions and actors in Montenegro are positively disposed and keen to develop and deepen bilateral relations,” the report read. “Expectations continue to prevail over critical attitudes because of a perceived imperative to address the country’s development needs.”This article EU says it won’t pay off Montenegro’s billion-dollar highway debt to China first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.

2 days agoSouth China Sea: Can PLA learn from US Navy tactics with mini-carrier strike group?As the world’s two biggest naval fleets engage in the Indo-Pacific region, China’s People’s Liberation Army can observe and learn from the United States Navy in adapting future tactical combined operations, according to defence analysts. They said the operators of China’s Type 075 amphibious assault vessels could examine the US deployment of an amphibious-ready group (ARG) to the South China Sea which was led by the USS Makin Island landing helicopter dock (LHD) and joined the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group on April 9 for exercises. The USS Makin Island is a 40,000-tonne Wasp-class amphibious assault ship able to carry a detachment of Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The LHD and two San Antonio-class landing platform dock (LPD) amphibious transport ships – the USS Somerset and USS San Diego – as well as several helicopter and assault craft units form the Makin Island ARG.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “The displacement size and functions of the Wasp-class LHD are similar to the PLA’s Type 075 LHD, while the San Antonio-class transport docks are similar to China’s Type 071 landing platform docks (LPD),” Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said. Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the PLA would learn from the experiences of its American counterpart in turning its LHD and LPD into mini-aircraft carrier strike groups, an effective cost-saving measure. “The US has studied how to operate their ARG in a more feasible and efficient way,” Li said. “For China, the key mission of their Type 075 and Type 071 will be defending the country’s territorial sovereignty in the East and South China seas, as well as overseas interests, meaning the ARG combination is a better option than aircraft carrier strike groups.” Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Tong said deploying both LHDs and LPDs indicated the US Navy’s capacity for tactical manoeuvres and joint cooperation on the high seas. “The combination of LHD and LPD is an integrated expeditionary strike group, which is worth the PLA learning from if they are going to better deploy their Type 075 and Type 071 amphibious warships,” Wong said. Philippines, US to start two-week joint military drills amid South China Sea tensions Beijing plans to own at least six aircraft carrier strike groups by 2035, but so far it just launched two. The third is expected to be completed later this year. China has launched three Type 075 LHDs, which were designed to each carry up to 30 attack helicopters and armoured vehicles, and eight smaller Type 071 LPDs with the displacement of 25,000 tonnes. The Type 075 is the world’s third largest amphibious assault vessel behind the USS Wasp and America classes. It is bigger than Japan’s Izumo class and France’s Mistral class. However, Song said that in addition to the amphibious ships, the most powerful weapon of the Makin Island ARG were the F-35B squadrons and detachments of multi-role helicopters suited to different types of sea warfare missions. “The most challenging problem of the PLA is a lack of new-generation fixed-wing carrier-based aircraft like the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jets,” Song said. “The F-35B helps the USS Marines grab air supremacy in both ARG operations, making its function like that of the mini-carrier strike groups … that means the US Navy owns nearly 20 carrier strike groups around the world.” To solve the current shortcomings, Song suggested the PLA install a catapult on the deck of the Type 075 LHD to upgrade the platform and allow it to operate the country’s carrier-based J-15 fighter jet. The US navy was reported to have tested the idea of smaller carriers, which would reduce the range, speed and capacity of its US$13 billion nuclear-powered supercarriers known as CVNs, but cost half as much or even less, Forbes reported in December. The ARG operation could be seen as testing a mini-carrier option, an exercise China could learn from, Song and Li said. More from South China Morning Post:China’s military tracks US warship traversing Taiwan StraitChinese Type 055 destroyer joins aircraft carrier group for first timeChinese military: fourth aircraft carrier likely to be nuclear powered, sources sayUS navy warns China ‘we’re watching you’ as destroyer shadows Liaoning carrier groupChina-Philippines Whitsun Reef dispute could get worse as US chips inThis article South China Sea: Can PLA learn from US Navy tactics with mini-carrier strike group? first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021. headtopics.com

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