Less than a week after Reuters confirmed a previous report from the Russian foreign ministry, that Islamic State head Aby Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed during an airstrike in Syria, conflicting reports have emerged about Baghdadi’s death, with the Iraqi interior ministry first cited by Al-Arabiya that the terrorist group head is “likely still alive and hiding near Raqqa”, and subsequently a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official echoing the same, and telling Reuters that “he was 99 percent sure that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed.”
“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview, adding “don’t forget his roots go back to al Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing.”
By now, however, it no longer matters whether the “leader” is alive or dead: after Iraqi security forces retook Mosul from ISIS control last week, and the group under growing pressure in Raqqa, ISIS is scattered and on the run. If anything, Baghdadi has become a liability to others and himself.
Recall that it was the Islamic State which originally reported Baghdadi’s death, perhaps as a means of easing the blow from the ongoing ISIS failure:
“Daesh organisation (IS) circulated a brief statement through its media in the (IS-held) town of Tal Afar in the west of Mosul, confirming the killing of its leader al-Baghdadi without giving further details,” Xinhua news agency cited Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News as saying. “Daesh called on the (IS) militants to continue their steadfastness in the redoubts of the caliphate and not being dragged behind the sedition.”
Still, Talabany said the Islamic State was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group. After defeat, Islamic State would wage an insurgency and resemble al-Qaeda on “steroids”, he said. Which likely means more unrest in Europe.
As Reuters also adds, the future leaders of Islamic State were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group’s strategy.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin which originally reported news of Baghdadi’s death now appears to be backing off, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the Kremlin has “no precise info on ISIL leader al-Baghdadi’s death”, adding that “conflicting reports on the matter keep coming.”
While it will hardly come as a surprise to China watchers who have for years mocked China’s cooked “data”, overnight the state-run People’s Daily reported that the severely impacted by the commodity crunch of the past 2 years rust-belt province of Liaoning fabricated fiscal numbers from 2011 to 2014, citing local officials have said, raising fresh doubts about the accuracy of China’s economic data just two days ahead of the release of China’s GDP report.
The city of Shenyang in Liaoning province of China
City and county governments in the northwestern region committed fiscal data fraud in the period, Governor Chen Qiufa said at a meeting with provincial lawmakers Tuesday, Bloomberg adds. Not surprisingly, the fabricated economic data was meant to show a state of economic strenght with fiscal revenues inflated by at least 20%, and some other economic data were also false, the paper said, without specifying categories.
Why paint a rosier picture? The same reason as alwasy: Chen said the data were made up “because officials wanted to advance their careers.” The fraud misled the central government’s judgment of Liaoning’s economic status, he said, citing a report from the National Audit Office in 2016.
The admission of fraud comes now because with growth now moderating, officials have “sought to improve the credibility of economic data” as diffusing financial risks becomes a key policy consideration, along with keeping growth ticking along at a rapid clip.
And while the outgoing Obama administration is cracking down on “fake news”, Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, has said China is focusing on preventing “fake economic data” as well as increasing the quality of its statistics. Naturally, incidents such as this one will make China watchers that much more skeptical.
Fake economic data may be the least of Liaoning’s worries which in recent years has seen an unprecedented purge of more than 500 deputies from its legislature Bloomberg reports. The deputies were implicated in vote buying and bribery in the first provincial-level case of its kind in the Communist Party’s almost seven-decade rule, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Former provincial party chief Wang Min, who led Liaoning from 2009 until 2015, was earlier expelled following corruption allegations by China’s top anti-graft watchdog.
As China’s debt-fueled economic impulse continues, if only for a few more months, we wxpect more such instances of fake data to swim to the surface.
Ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to India, China said that India should avoid ‘unnecessary entanglement’ in the South China sea dispute, to maintain the basic framework of China-Indian bilateral ties. Xinhua news agency a state-run Chinese daily said that it is ‘puzzling’ that India is interfering on matters of South China sea, and said that it can have ‘unnecessary side effects’ which can affect economic ties as well as the NSG bid. The question the agency asked was that if it is of any worth for India to deal into South China sea issue when it doesn’t have any territorial disputes there. It can only impact the co-operation among India and China. It also said that India’s attitude will not affect in anyway as many other countries support China’s claim in the South China sea region. Rather, according to the daily, India’s shift of focus from ‘geopolitical competition to economic issues’ can only decline exports to China, which is the second largest importer in the world.
After China stalled India’s Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) bid Wang’s visit is the first high-level visit between India and China. Recently, there was also an issue of Chinese troops transgressing into India-China border in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district. Wang Yi is on a three-day visit to India. If the title of the article ‘India should join China in rising above differences, forging closer partnership’ is any indication, Xinhua news agency’s commentary clearly indicates a juxtaposition of both the issues of India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the South China Sea (SCS) dispute. The article also said that the door is not yet ‘tightly closed’ for India’s NSG bid and that India must ‘fully comprehend’ Chinese concerns over the South China Sea issue, as China had already faced a setback after the international tribunal verdict asking the country to strike down expansions in the area.
As tensions mount between Beijing and New Delhi, a state-run Chinese paper has warned India against its recent provocations.
Last week, the Indian government expelled three journalists working with China’s Xinhua news agency, citing intelligence “concerns.” The move was condemned by Xinhua’s New Delhi bureau chief, saying that “no explanation has been given for the denial of visa renewal.”
In an editorial published on Sunday, China’s Global Times suggested that India’s moves are likely part of its opposition to Beijing’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
“If New Delhi is really taking revenge due to the NSG membership issue, there will be serious consequences,” the editorial reads.
The editorial also warned that refusing visas for Chinese journalists could have a disastrous effect on relations between the two countries.
“The act has sent negative messages and media communications between China and India will inevitably be negatively impacted,” it reads. “India has a suspicious mind.”
“The China-India bilateral relationship now is on a sound track, with a by and large tranquil border and steadily booming trade. The two in general are able to maintain neutrality with regard to international affairs that are related to the other side.
“But problems emerge when it comes to issues that the two are at odds.”
China’s foreign minister spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by telephone on Wednesday ahead of a key international court ruling on China’s South China Sea claims and warned Washington against moves that infringe on China’s sovereignty, Beijing’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
Xinhua said Wang Yi repeated China’s rejection of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Arbitration in a case the Philippines has brought against China’s claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, calling it a “farce” that should come to an end.
The court, based in The Hague, is due to give its ruling on Tuesday, raising fears of confrontation in the region. U.S. officials say the U.S. response should China stick to its vow to ignore the ruling could include stepped up freedom-of-navigation patrols close to Chinese claimed islands in what is one of the world’s business trade routes.
In the call initiated by Kerry, Wang “urged the United States to honor its commitment to not to take sides on issues related to sovereign disputes, to be prudent with its actions and words, and not to take any actions that infringe upon the sovereignty and security interests of China,” Xinhua said.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin on June 27.
Maybe it was a bit of a stretch for a ceremonial occasion drawing global attention. But Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared at the opening of an international conference hosted by the World Economic Forum in Tianjin on June 27 that the conference’s theme is “the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its transformational impact.”
The idea reminded participants, including government officials and business leaders from around the world, of “Industry 4.0,” a three-way project among industry, government and academia in Germany. Industry 4.0 aims to revolutionize manufacturing by connecting factories and offices via the internet. Public-private efforts to realize this have been underway in Germany since around 2011.
It is imperative for China to advance structural reforms, Li said in response to a question about how China would promote the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The new round of scientific and technological revolution is not just quietly taking shape or coming into being but it is gathering momentum in a very fast way, he said, adding this is a force everyone needs to reckon with. To realize the revolution, China is implementing policies to provide tax and financial help to foster new industries, Li said. Mankind has the wisdom of embracing and leveraging new hope, he added.
China’s Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued the ruling jointly as a supplement for the revised in 2015 Criminal Law, Xinhua news agency reported.
The death penalty may be changed to a life sentence without parole depending on a severity of case, the media outlet added. The new supplement to the Criminal Law also targets those who did not report their knowledge of bribery.
After assuming office in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a large-scale campaign against corruption, targeting primarily high-level officials in the Communist Party, the armed forces and state-run enterprises.
MNI with a heads up for a piece from Xinhua News Agency
Reporting on comments from Li Xinchuang, head of China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute:
Closing excessive steel-production capacity may result in 400,000 job losses
More jobs will be lost in associated upstream and downstream businesses
Large-scale job losses in the steel industry may threaten social stability
Social stability is a very big concern of the Chinese administration. Structural reform of the Chinese economy is creating costs like stability costs. I don’t know how Chinese authorities will deal with this. There are suggestions some displaced workers will return to rural areas.
I am not expert on this, but its a very scary prospect.-
Xinhua News Agency is the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China
China’s tax revenues increased by 6.6 percent in 2015, the State Administration (SAT) said, according to a report by the official Xinhua News Agency.
Tax revenues reached 11.06 trillion yuan ($1.68 trillion), following deductions for export rebates, the SAT said, according to the report.
The country’s services industry continued to gain clout, with the tertiary sector accounting for 54.8 percent of last year’s total tax revenue – and 80 percent of growth in total revenues.
Total revenue for the services sector in 2015 rose by 7.6 percent from the previous year.
Leasing and business services revenue increased by 23.8 percent, software and IT services revenue rose by 21.2 percent, while revenue from Internet and related services grew by 19 percent, the report said.
The Chinese capital’s authorities issued the red alert for the first time after on November 29 Beijing raised its air-pollution alert to orange, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
It is expected that the highest level of danger will last since 7 a.m. local time Tuesday (23:00 GMT Monday) till 12 a.m. Friday (16:00 GMT Thursday).
China’s extended use of coal for power generation has caused Beijing, as well as other cities, to suffer from small pollutant particles known as PM2.5. The particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause asthma, bronchitis and exacerbate other acute respiratory diseases leading to premature death.