PH still at bottom of COVID-19 economic resilience ranking #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40008079


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is still ranked last among 53 countries in the latest international COVID-19 report that measures the resilience of economies to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the second consecutive month the Philippines has ranked the lowest in Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking with a score of 40.5 — though slightly higher than the 40.2 it got in September.

The indicators used in the report include vaccination coverage, virus containment, the severity of lockdowns, quality of healthcare, progress toward restarting travel, and the overall mortality throughout the pandemic.

The report revealed that Southeast Asian countries remain at the low end of the list — with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines landing in the bottom six.

“While the region’s outbreak may have peaked and vaccination has progressed, especially in Malaysia, many of these export-reliant economies are still reeling from delta’s hit,” the report said.

“That’s spurring these nations to chart clearer paths to reopening, though it’ll take time for them to catch up to Europe and the US,” it added.

The report also showed that the Philippines had one of the lowest scores in vaccine coverage, with just 26 percent of the population covered, the lowest among Southeast Asian countries in the list.

Meanwhile, at the top of the list is Ireland, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, and Finland.

The United States ranks 26th, and China ranks 28th.

Singapore dropped 20 places to the 39th spot amid the reimposition and extension of some domestic curbs after record daily cases and deaths.

As of Oct. 27, the Philippines has 2,768,849 confirmed COVID-19 infections, including 2,676,349 recoveries and 42,348 deaths.

Earlier this month, the Philippines was also listed last among 151 countries worldwide in Nikkei Asia’s COVID-19 Recovery Index on Oct. 6.

By Zacarian Sarao

Published : October 28, 2021

By : Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chinese Premier calls for early RCEP formation #SootinClaimon.Com

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BEIJING – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will reach a threshold of entry into force soon, and countries need to hasten work for it to take effect as early as possible.

Li made the remarks Wednesday while attending the 24th ASEAN Plus China, Japan and ROK Summit. 

Countries need to hasten work for the agreement to take effect as early as possible, and continue to advance free trade and pursue higher-level integration, Li said. 

China will host capacity-building programs such as training of personnel and experience sharing on RCEP implementation for interested governments, business chambers or associations, and companies from ASEAN countries, said Li.

He said China will also organize a symposium for high-standard implementation of the RCEP next year and welcomes the active participation of all sides. 

Published : October 28, 2021

By : China Daily

Australia announces $126m support for Asean, seeks upgrade in ties #SootinClaimon.Com

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SINGAPORE – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday (Oct 27) announced a A$124 million (S$126 million) package supporting cooperation with Asean on security, climate and health efforts, as Canberra pushes for ties with the regional bloc to be upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Speaking on the second of three days of virtual meetings between Asean leaders and those of their key partners from the region, Mr Morrison added that the growth of Asean’s 10 member states underpins regional stability and Australia’s prosperity.

He told his counterparts at the Asean-Australia Summit that a comprehensive strategic partnership between both parties would be “more than just a label”.

“We want our cooperation to reach new heights,” Mr Morrison added. “We will back it with substance that positions our partnership to address complex challenges in the future.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore agrees in principle with Australia’s proposal to elevate relations with Asean, and encourages continued discussions on the matter.

PM Lee added that he is grateful for Australia’s steadfast commitment to post-pandemic recovery efforts in the region, through its Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative and Partnerships for Recovery policy.

Mr Morrison said Australia has shared almost four million vaccine doses with the region and expects to share another 10 million at least by the middle of next year.

PM Lee also said both sides could work to leverage opportunities in a growing global digital economy, noting that Australia has strongly supported the Asean Smart Cities Network through its own Smart Cities Initiative and Smart Cities Trust Fund.

They should also uphold Asean centrality, he added, saying: “Asean and Australia share similar strategic regional outlooks”.

The Australian PM also assured his Asean counterparts that the new three-way security partnership between his country, Britain and the United States, known as Aukus, does not change Canberra’s commitment to the region or to nuclear non-proliferation.

The pact will supply Canberra with nuclear-powered submarines, and has divided sentiment among Asean leaders over its potential to spark an arms race and escalate tensions between the US, its allies and an increasingly assertive China.

“Aukus does not change Australia’s commitment to Asean or the Asean outlook on the Indo-Pacific. It reinforces it. It reinforces the backing that we have for an Asean-led regional architecture,” said Mr Morrison.

“Aukus adds to our network of partnerships that support regional stability and security.”

PM Lee noted that Singapore welcomes new regional architecture formulations that support Asean centrality, deepen economic integration, and promote a stable and secure Asia-Pacific region and a rules-based order.

“We welcome Australia’s assurance that its Aukus partnership with the United States and United Kingdom will be consistent with these criteria,” he said.

Turning his attention to Myanmar – which has hogged headlines with its no-show at this week’s Asean meetings – PM Lee reiterated Singapore’s concerns and disappointment over the ongoing crisis and lack of resolution.

He called for the release of Australian national Sean Turnell, a Macquarie University professor and adviser to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Both, along with President Win Myint, who has been detained since a February coup that ousted Ms Suu Kyi’s government and ignited violent, deadly protests.

PM Lee thanked Australia for pledging A$5 million to the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).

“We also welcome Australia’s willingness to engage in constructive dialogue in support of the people of Myanmar and the country’s democratic transition,” he said.

By Justin Ong

Published : October 28, 2021

By : The Straits Times

Malaysia suggests Asean, Japan explore vaccine production in the region #SootinClaimon.Com

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KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Malaysia suggests that Asean and Japan explore the possibility of seconding expert researchers to the Asean Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases to work towards the production of vaccines in the region.

In making the suggestion at the 24th Asean-Japan Summit, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said this would help to address the regional shortage of vaccines and prepare for possible emerging diseases.

He said Japan’s contribution to the centre was important and its timely establishment was vital to assist Asean member states in dire need of assistance to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

“Looking ahead, Asean and Japan should enhance multi-disciplinary cooperation in health to better prepare the region to meet future health-related emergencies,” he said in his intervention at the summit on Wednesday (Oct 27).

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also attended the Summit, his first since being appointed to the country’s top post early this month.

Ismail Sabri said Malaysia appreciates Japan’s support and contribution towards the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and Japan’s vaccine contributions to Asean member states have contributed greatly to these efforts.

Touching on cybersecurity, Ismail Sabri said Asean and Japan should further consolidate cooperation through the Asean-Japan Cyber Security Capacity Building Centre.

He said Malaysia looked forward to Japan’s support in developing a digital security professional development and lifelong learning programme, aimed at developing capacity building in cyber security.

He also congratulated Japan for successfully hosting the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics during these challenging times.

He added that Japan has remained a steadfast friend of Asean since 1973 and the 10-member bloc appreciates Japan’s support and assistance over the years which has contributed to Asean’s community-building efforts.

“We look forward to further enhancing Asean-Japan dialogue relations. Malaysia welcomes Japan’s proposal to host an in-person special commemorative summit in Japan in 2023, to celebrate 50 years of dialogue relations,” he added.

The 24th Asean-Japan Summit was held on the sidelines of the three-day virtual 38th and 39th Asean Summits and Related Summits which began Tuesday (Oct 26) under the chairmanship of Brunei. – Bernama

Published : October 28, 2021

By : The Star

South Korea holds symposium to discuss future legislative administration #SootinClaimon.Com

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9th Asian Legislative Experts Symposium also explores how Asian countries should work together

Leading legislative experts from the Asian region gathered Wednesday to discuss the present and future of legislative administration at a symposium held in Seoul.

The 9th Asian Legislative Experts Symposium, organized by the Ministry of Government Legislation and Korea Legislation Research Institute, was held under the theme of “Legislative Administration of Each Asian Country and Cooperation Measures,” in a hybrid in-person and online conference.

The event comprised two main sessions: present and future of legislative administration of Korea and other Asian countries; and cooperation measures for the development of Asian countries’ legislative administration. The meeting was attended by legislative experts from six Asian countries, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Uzbekistan and South Korea.

In the opening remarks, Government Legislation Minister Lee Kang-seop said, “The ALES has been held every year since 2013 to discuss legislative solutions to various issues such as information and communications, urban development, transportation, safety management, administrative procedures, and prevention of infectious diseases. The symposium has provided precious opportunities for Asian countries to share their opinions on various issues.”

“Legislation is the process of making a bowl to hold national policies and making a fence around the society at large. Economic growth and social development of each country have been ensured based on legislation that is an institutional framework,” he said.

Lee hoped the legislative administration of each country and measures for legislative cooperation and exchange would be discussed at the symposium.

Kim Kye-hong, president of the Korea Legislation Research Institute, said, “Last year, we focused on legislation concerning the pandemic response and cooperation strategies in Asia in the post-coronavirus era. In the face of an unprecedented crisis, it was an opportunity to reflect on the importance of cooperation between countries in the Asian region.”

“Now is the time to respond to and overcome crises together and seek ways to achieve shared prosperity and stability through cooperation among Asian countries,” he said.

“To this end, each Asian country should prepare laws and systems that are reasonable and effective while meeting the peculiar conditions of their own countries.”

Hong Jang-pyo, president of the Korea Development Institute, said systematic modification of laws and systems that are the foundation for governing a state has significantly contributed to Korea’s economic development.

“Systematic modification of laws and systems is necessary to ensure the development of global economy and co-prosperity of an international society. The modification of laws and systems can be regarded as laying the groundwork for governing a state well,” Hong said.

Le Thanh Long, Vietnam’s minister of justice, said improving the country’s legal system to meet sustainable development goals has always been one of the top priorities and a long-term investment.

“After 35 years of renovation, the work of developing and improving Vietnam’s institutions has achieved many remarkable results,” he said.

“We look forward to and will continue to actively cooperate with Korea and other countries in the Asian region in the process of legal reform, together towards the goal of building an increasingly prosperous and developed Asia.”

During the first session titled “Present and future of legislative administration of Korea and other Asian countries,” participants presented exemplary cases of legislative administration.

Ryu Chol-ho, director of the ministry’s office for administrative legislation innovation, presented Korea’s general act on public administration. Ryu Jun-mo, director of the ministry’s legislative information division, introduced the nation’s legislative information system.

Kardwiyana Ukar, head of the bureau of government internal affairs from the Secretariat Cabinet of Indonesia, and Nguyen Hong Tuyen, director general of general affairs on legislative development from the Ministry of Justice of Vietnam, presented exemplary cases of their respective countries.

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : October 28, 2021

By : The Korea Herald

U.S. holiday sales to rise 8.5 pct to 10.5 pct despite supply chain disruptions: NRF #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/international/40008086


The figures, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, exceed the previous record in 2020 when holiday sales grew 8.2 percent to 777.3 billion dollars.

U.S. holiday sales during November and December are expected to grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to reach between 843.4 billion U.S. dollars and 859 billion dollars, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said on Wednesday.

The figures, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, exceed the previous record in 2020 when holiday sales grew 8.2 percent to 777.3 billion dollars.

“Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last few months of the year as income is rising and household balance sheets have never been stronger,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

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“Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand,” Shay said.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz noted that pandemic-related supply chain disruptions have caused shortages of merchandise and most of this year’s inflationary pressure.

“With the prospect of consumers seeking to shop early, inventories may be pulled down sooner and shortages may develop in the later weeks of the shopping season. However, if retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves and merchandise arrives before Christmas, it could be a stellar holiday sales season,” Kleinhenz said.

While e-commerce will remain important, households are also expected to shift back to in-store shopping and a more traditional holiday shopping experience during the upcoming holiday season, according to the NRF. 

Published : October 28, 2021

By : Xinhua

Putin urges closer anti-pandemic cooperation at 16th East Asia Summit #SootinClaimon.Com

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“We advocate the development of a procedure for the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates,” Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the creation of a regional mechanism aimed at promoting closer cooperation against COVID-19 among Russia and countries of the Asia-Pacific region at the 16th East Asia Summit on Wednesday.

“We suggest that a regional mechanism for anti-pandemic collaboration be established under the aegis of the East Asia Summits, and we will shortly submit specific considerations on this score via the expert channels,” Putin said during his speech.

Among the COVID-19 response initiatives introduced by the president was a proposal to expand training opportunities for epidemiologists from ASEAN countries.

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“We advocate the development of a procedure for the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates,” Putin said, adding that such a mechanism is necessary to ensure the free movement of citizens across the Asia-Pacific region.

“I would like to note that Russia is seeking to make a real contribution to efforts aimed at ensuring free and non-discriminatory access to vaccines against COVID-19 for citizens of all states,” he said.

Alongside anti-coronavirus cooperation, the Russian leader discussed economic relations and prospects for collaboration in the tourism sector.

He also pointed to the importance of joint efforts aimed at tackling climate change, including through coordinated approaches with regard to innovative solutions to decarbonization, and the development of low-emission industries.

The 16th East Asia Summit, which was chaired by Brunei, was held in the format of a video conference.

Published : October 28, 2021

By : Xinhua

28 UN civilian staff killed, 24 abducted in latest 18-month tally: report #SootinClaimon.Com

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The number of abductions of UN personnel drastically increased to 17 in 2020, from six in 2019. Another seven personnel were abducted in the first six months of 2021.

Acts of violence and safety-related incidents claimed the lives of 28 UN civilian personnel in 2020 and the first six months of 2021, according to a report released Wednesday.

Of the 28 fatalities, seven were as a result of acts of violence, and 21 were due to safety-related incidents, shows the UN secretary-general’s latest report, “Safety and Security of Humanitarian Personnel and Protection of UN Personnel.”

The number of abductions of UN personnel drastically increased to 17 in 2020, from six in 2019. Another seven personnel were abducted in the first six months of 2021.

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During the 18 months covered in the UN chief’s report, 153 personnel were injured due to acts of violence, and 157 others were injured due to safety-related incidents.

Overall, incidents relating to safety and security affected 2,217 UN personnel, compared with 2,162 in the previous 18 months.

During the latest reporting period, there were 45 attacks on UN premises, 164 attacks on UN vehicles and 177 intrusions into UN premises.

For the past 18 months, three major trends have persisted, with adverse effects on the levels and types of threats against UN and humanitarian personnel carrying out their critical work in volatile settings, says the report.

First, the role of non-state armed actors continued to gain prominence. Second, information technology, alongside its benefits, has posed threats associated with disinformation. Third, the expansion of violent extremism across continents continued, in particular in areas lacking employment opportunities for young people and basic state services such as security.

UN and humanitarian personnel continue to risk their lives to bring aid and hope to those in despair. They have prevented the worst outcomes in dire humanitarian situations. In the past 18 months, seven UN personnel and a reported 101 humanitarian personnel from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have lost their lives as a result of violence, says the report.

“I am deeply saddened by these deaths and express my sincere condolences to the bereaved families. I condemn, in the strongest terms, all forms of violence against United Nations and humanitarian personnel. The legacies of these fallen brave men and women live on in our commitment to continue to work, even in dangerous places, to create a better world,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the report.

He also voiced deep concern over the sharp rise in the number of abductions of UN and humanitarian personnel, with 17 abduction incidents affecting UN personnel in 2020, more than double the number of abductions in 2019. Similarly, the reported number of NGO humanitarian personnel abducted rose to 182 in 2020, compared with 127 in 2019.

During the 18 months, 27 uniformed peacekeepers died as a result of malicious acts — 12 in 2020, and 15 in the first six months of 2021. 

Published : October 28, 2021

By : Xinhua

First shots of U.S. COVID-19 vaccination drop to record low #SootinClaimon.Com

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The daily count of people getting dose 1 has been decreasing since mid-August, reaching a record low of 25,336 on Tuesday, according to latest data of the U.S. CDC.

The daily count of people receiving first shots of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States dropped to a record low since vaccines were available in the country last December, as experts stressed urgency for the vast unvaccinated to take the first step.

The daily count of people getting dose 1 has been decreasing since mid-August, reaching a record low of 25,336 on Tuesday, according to latest data of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The average number initiating vaccination each day is down 15 percent from last week.

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The slowdown came as the recent wave of the pandemic continues to show signs of easing in the country. New daily COVID-19 cases in the United States have fallen by nearly 60 percent nationwide since a peak in mid-September brought by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

But some northeastern states are starting to see new outbreaks, and the nation is still averaging nearly 70,000 daily cases and more than 1,000 deaths per day, according to CDC data.

About 191 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States as of Wednesday, accounting for 57.5 percent of the whole population. About 14.4 million people have received booster shots.

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday recommended authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. They found that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks for this younger population.

It is now up to the FDA and the CDC to make a final decision. If authorized, it would be the first COVID-19 vaccine for younger children.

Health experts said getting younger kids eligible for COVID-19 vaccines could impact the trajectory of the pandemic. However, to convince the vast unvaccinated population to take the first step remains key to ending the pandemic.

Published : October 28, 2021

By : Xinhua

Hong Kong passes film censorship law, curbing free speech again #SootinClaimon.Com

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Hong Kong has banned films that run contrary to the interests of a Beijing-drafted national security law, the latest crackdown on freedom of expression in the Asian financial hub.

The city’s opposition-free legislature amended the Film Censorship Bill on Wednesday, turning movie censors into gatekeepers of the security law with penalties as high as HK$1,000,000 ($130,000) and three years in prison for those who screen non-approved content.

Inspectors can search without a warrant a premises showing a film, including company offices or a private members’ club, and the Film Censorship Authority can demand more information about a screening under the new rules.

Questions hang over how the changes will impact streaming services such as Netflix Inc., which offers a documentary on student activist Joshua Wong in Hong Kong, for example. Netflix declined to comment, while Vimeo Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. didn’t reply to questions about the changes.

“It is a treacherous climate for businesses having to make content decisions,” Darrell West, senior fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, said of the law, which makes no mention of online content but has repeated references to videotapes.

The changes are part of a wider legal assault on the freedom of expression and information once prized in the former British colony, but severely reduced in mainland China. Since the security law passed in June 2020, the city legislature has adopted an anti-doxxing law, moved to limit information available in the companies registry, and curtailed the content of public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong, which has axed programs critical of the government.

The city’s leader Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Legislative Council had “delivered a brilliant performance” since all the political opposition had either been arrested, disqualified or resigned after Beijing mandated national security officials approve candidates. “They have done really well in terms of legislative amendments and proposals,” Lam said in a regular press briefing Tuesday.

Censorship had seeped into the industry even before the changes. In March, a local theater pulled the prizewinning documentary “Inside The Red Brick Wall” about 2019 anti-government protests. The film’s distributor, Ying E Chi, lost its government funding soon after.

Around the same time, the University of Hong Kong warned its student union that a screening of a documentary on the pro-independence activist Edward Leung could violate the security law.

Then in June, the government updated the censorship guidelines in relation to the security law, instructing censors to watch out for content “capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting such acts or activity.”

Baking such censorship into law were “dictatorial manoeuvrings designed to undermine a vibrant Hong Kong film culture,” said Joseph Lee, director of the Global Asia Institute at Pace University in New York, who has published two papers on Hong Kong cinema. After decades producing global movie stars like Tony Leung, who starred in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi” blockbuster hit this summer, some in the film industry worried the amendments signaled the “death of Hong Kong Cinema,” Lee said.

“It is hard to imagine how film directors, executive producers and actors could stay politically neutral because China’s definition of politics focuses narrowly on any opinion and action thought to be a security threat,” he said.

Published : October 28, 2021

By : Bloomberg