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China, Russia hand-in-glove to derail India’s UNSC dream?

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New Delhi: A report appeared on Friday claiming that both China and Russia tried to scuttle the process of  the UN General Assembly which recently adopted a negotiating text by consensus for the long-pending Security Council reforms.

photo credit: defencetalk.net
photo credit: defencetalk.net

 

The report further said had the Chinese and Russian diplomats succeeded in their ‘stealth operation’, it would have diluted the entire negotiations on unnecessary technicalities which would have meant the UN would be negotiating UNSC reform for years and years without a decision in sight.

However, India, supported by a number of countries, got wind of the ‘stealth operation’ and vehemently opposed the move.

The group led by India even launched a protest at UNGA president, Sam Kutesa’s residence over the weekend, forcing him to remove the offending paragraphs.

The Chinese, however, were not ready to give up without a bigger fight.

The Chinese diplomats approached a number of national capitals to get the text amended before it reached the floor on Monday – the day when it was finally adopted by the UNGA.

Some countries even agreed to support the Chinese, but Bejiing eventually failed to get the numbers that India had.

Interestingly, when all this was happening, the US strangely remained silent – either to see whether could win on its own, or because they are keeping their powder dry to kill the process later, or because they silently supported the Sino-Russian move.

Due to India’s hard lobbying, it apparently became an India-China battle in those last frenzied moments in the UN.

However, seeing the Russians backing the Chinese, after supposedly supporting India’s case for almost half a century, came as a big shocker for New Delhi.

This week, Russia sent its deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov to meet Sujata Mehta in the MEA, after their performance in the UN.

A statement from the Russian embassy said, the two “exchanged opinions on the main aspects of intergovernmental negotiation process considering the current various options for the increase in the United Nations Security Council membership. The Russian Side reaffirmed the readiness to support the Indian candidature for the United Nations Security Council.”

However, India this time has taken the Russian betrayal hard.

As per the report, China and Russia are now planing to take the battle forward and the two are now said to be working on the Jamaican government to remove Courtney Rattray – the main brain behind the UNSC reform text.

If they succeed, Rattray will not be able to head the negotiations on the text and it can be given to someone unfamiliar with the history of the text. If this happens, it would come as a big blow to India.

The UNGA decision to negotiate UNSC reform succeeded on two counts. First, after 23 years there is a text on which the UN can negotiate a reform agenda. Second, in a fair fight, the 13-country group led by China and including Pakistan and Italy called United for Consensus could not drum up enough support for stalling the process.

(with inputs from Zeenews)

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Shanghai Airport Gets Check-In With Facial Recognition Machines

Increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

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Shanghai,
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate. VOA

It’s now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Similar efforts are under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.

Shanghai,
Face recognition tool was first launched in 2012

Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai’s system, which debuted Monday, is being billed as the first to be fully automated.

“It is the first time in China to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” said Zhang Zheng, general manager of the ground services department for Spring Airlines, the first airline to adopt the system at Hongqiao airport. Currently, only Chinese identity card holders can use the technology.

Spring Airlines, Shanghai said Tuesday that passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 percent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on Monday using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute and a half.

Shanghai,
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. VOA

Across greater China, facial recognition is finding its way into daily life. Mainland police have used facial recognition systems to identify people of interest in crowds and nab jaywalkers, and are working to develop an integrated national system of surveillance camera data.

Chinese media are filled with reports of ever-expanding applications: A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, where it’s possible to pay using facial recognition technology; a school that uses facial recognition cameras to monitor students’ reactions in class; and hundreds of ATMs in Macau equipped with facial recognition devices to curb money laundering.

Also Read: Facial Recognition Technology Catches A Person With Fake Passpost At The US Airport 

But increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.” (VOA)