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China plans patriotism classes for intellectuals

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Beijing :China HAs announced plans for a campaign to “enhance patriotism” amongst the country’s intellectuals. The move is seen as an attempt to counter discontent amongst academicians, some of whom have criticised President Xi Jinping recently.
The campaign will be “launched mainly among young and middle-aged intellectuals at schools, research institutes, enterprises and public institutes,” according to a notice released by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee’s Organisation Department and the Publicity Department last week.
China’s top economic official will visit Washington next week to resume trade talks with the Trump administration, the White House said on Monday, after discussions in Beijing last week yielded no agreement on a long list of U.S. trade demands.
The key aspect of the initiative will be to strengthen the “political guidance” of intellectuals and bring their “ideological and political identification” in line with the party’s overall goals.
The campaign has been called “Carrying forward the spirit of patriotic striving and building up establishment in the new era”.
It will include special symposiums to study Xi’s thought, special training for intellectuals, and mobilising intellectuals to conduct activities in poor and remote areas. Xi has recently been tested with the escalating trade war with the US and a fake vaccine scandal leading to some degree of domestic discontent.
This seemed to have boiled over when Xu Zhangrun, a professor at the Beijing-based Tsinghua University, wrote an essay that was widely shared on social media. The article titled “Imminent fears, immediate hopes” talked about tightened ideological control, China’s excessive international aid and the constitutional revision which allows Xi to rule for life. Xu had called for the reversal of this amendment and also suggested that under the present leadership, China was being pushed towards the Maoist totalitarianism.


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International

Multiple blasts rock Afghan polling stations

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Kabul: Multiple explosions rocked polling centres across Kabul on Saturday, as voters cast their ballots in long-delayed legislative elections.

Voters were seen fleeing a school in the north of the Afghan capital after a blast, an AFP correspondent said, with witnesses reporting explosions at other polling centres.

A man told AFP “he was trying to vote but then had to run for his life after the blast” at the school that had been turned into a polling centre.

He saw several casualties evacuated.

Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi confirmed another two explosions near polling centres.

There were no casualties because voters were inside the buildings, he told AFP.

At least one official said there were “fatalities and injuries” from the explosions.

The blasts come after the Taliban warned voters on Saturday to boycott the “sham and theatrical process to protect their lives”.

Around 70,000 security forces have been deployed to protect polling centres across the war-torn country.

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Woman asked to shun hijab at workplaces in Pakistan

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Karachi: A woman worker of a software firm in Pakistan was told to either stop wearing hijab at workplace or resign, in perhaps the first incident of its kind in the Muslim-majority country.

The incident caused an uproar on social media, leading to the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Jawwad Kadir of the Creative Choas company.

She was told that she could keep her job only if she took off her hijab by her line manager who said that wearing hijab would spoil the company’s image as an “all-embracing” workplace.

The woman said that she was offered alternative jobs in two Islamic banks if she left.

Kadir initially tried to downplay the incident by issuing an apology.

“Yesterday, a senior member of our staff asked a colleague to resign on unprofessional and unethical grounds. She was told that her obligations may come in the way of her performance,” Kadir said.

“Not only is this action disgraceful but shows extremely poor moral judgement by her hiring manager. I take full responsibility for this failure and am deeply ashamed that a colleague was put through distress and trauma,” he said.

Kadir said the victim has been asked to withdraw her resignation and resume her job.

A Facebook post detailing the trauma faced by the hijab-wearing woman caused a hue and cry with majority of people terming it as discrimination against the woman.

The software firm in a Facebook post later said Kadir had been asked to step down “for workplace discrimination”.

In an email sent to the board members and associates, titled “My apology is not enough”, Kadir said he was resigning as the CEO of the software house.

“I have crossed a line which I deeply regret,” he wrote in the email, a copy of which was available on social media.

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World’s largest amphibious plane completes maiden flight test

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Beijing: China’s indigenously designed and built amphibious aircraft AG600, touted as the world’s largest, successfully carried out its first take-off and landing tests on Saturday.

The aircraft, developed and built by the state-owned aircraft firm Aviation Industry Corporation of China, took off and later landed on the water in Hubei province’s Jingmen, state-run China Daily reported.

The seaplane took off from the Zhanghe Reservoir at 8:51 am (local time) and stayed airborne for about 15 minutes, said the report which also accompanied the videos of the aircraft’s take off.

The aircraft code-named Kunlong was piloted by four crew members.

Early this month, it completed its first water taxiing trials at a high speed of 145 kilometres.

Designed to be the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, AG600 is powered by four domestically-built turboprop engines and has a range of 12 hours.

It will be mainly used for maritime rescue, fighting forest fires and marine monitoring, according to an earlier report by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The aircraft has passed a series of tests since its maiden flight last December. It successfully finished eight taxiing tests on water at a speed of 80-kilometre per hour and 120-kilometre per hour.

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