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FILE - Journalist take pictures outside the venue of a summit at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 15, 2017. VOA

The United States will not send high-level officials to attend China’s second Belt and Road summit in Beijing this month, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday, citing concerns about financing practices for the project.

China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, said on Saturday that almost 40 foreign leaders would take part in the summit due to be held in Beijing in late April. He rejected criticisms of the project as “prejudiced.”


The first summit for the project, which envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with massive infrastructure spending, was held in 2017 and was attended by Matt Pottinger, the senior White House official for Asia.

There are no such plans this year.

“We will not send high-level officials from the United States,” a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said in answer to a question from Reuters.


The first summit for the project, which envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with massive infrastructure spending, was held in 2017 and was attended by Matt Pottinger, the senior White House official for Asia. Wikimedia

“We will continue to raise concerns about opaque financing practices, poor governance, and disregard for internationally accepted norms and standards, which undermine many of the standards and principles that we rely upon to promote sustainable, inclusive development, and to maintain stability and a rules-based order.

“We have repeatedly called on China to address these concerns,” the official added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative has proven controversial in many Western capitals, particularly Washington, which views it as a means to spread Chinese influence abroad and saddle countries with unsustainable debt through non-transparent projects.

On Saturday, Yang called such criticisms “prejudiced,” saying China has never forced debt upon participants and the project was to promote joint development.

On Saturday, he did not name the 40 leaders he said would attend, but some of China’s closest allies have already confirmed they will be there, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.


President Donald Trump poses for photos with G7 leaders at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina during the G7 Summit, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. VOA

The United States has been particularly critical of Italy’s decision to sign up to the plan this month, during a visit by Xi to Rome, the first for a G7 nation.

Washington sees China as major strategic rival and the Trump administration has engaged Beijing in a tit-for-tat tariff war.

The world’s two biggest economies have levied tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of bilateral trade since July 2018, raising costs, disrupting supply chains and roiling global markets.

ALSO READ: Explore America’s Newest ‘Indiana Dunes National Park’ on the Shore of Lake Michigan

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday said the countries “expect to make more headway” in trade talks this week, while the top U.S. business lobbying group said differences over an enforcement mechanism and the removal of U.S. tariffs were still obstacles to a deal. (VOA)


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Dia Mirza champions sustainable fashion

Actor and environmental activist, Dia Mirza, who is also the National Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was showstopper for Indian designers Abraham & Thakore at the recently held LFW X FDCI event. The designer duo who are pioneers of slow fashion and sustainability in the Indian fashion landscape showcased a timeless sustainable collection.

IANSlife spoke with Mirza on sustainable choices when it comes to fashion.

Read Excerpts:

Q: Did you enjoy the on-ground fashion event and the energy that came with the physical show and appearance?
A: Yes absolutely. It was just so refreshing and wonderful to finally be back from a virtual audience. Last year we did a digital show and the energy was just not there, this is an interactive experience and we draw so much from real people.

Q: The outfit that was chosen for you, how did it complement your style?
A: It's a garment that I think involves and is reflective of what I stand for, I deeply care about sustainability and I love the fact that the garment has been made with repurposed material, used and created with a hundred per cent post-consumer bottles, and made by the waste generated from the pieces of fabric that we discard while creating other garments. So it was a very special garment that really and truly celebrated repurposing and reusing and upcycling.

Dia Mirza is an Indian model, actress, producer, and social worker who predominantly works in Hindi films. Mirza won the title of Miss Asia Pacific International in 2000. IANSlife spoke with Mirza on sustainable choices when it comes to fashion. | Wikimedia Commons

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Delhi to get new QR-based driving livenses and registration certificates.

In a step towards digitisation of the system, Delhi Transport Department will soon issue QR based Smart cards for driving licenses (DLs) and registration certificates (RCs).

As per a statement, the new driving licence will have an advanced microchip with features like Quick Response (QR) code and Near Field Communication (NFC). The new RC will have the owner's name printed on the front while the microchip and the QR code would be embedded at the back of the card.

The cards earlier had embedded chips, but chip reader machines were not available in the required quantity with both the Delhi Traffic Police and the Enforcement Wing of the Transport Department. Moreover, chips were designed and implemented by the states concerned, which resulted in difficulties in reading the chip and retrieving information, especially in case of defaulters.

"Now with the QR based smart card, this issue is resolved. This will enable unification in linking and validating one's information to smart cards with Sarathi and Vahan, the two web-based databases of all driving licenses and vehicle registrations," the release added.

The QR is also being implemented nationwide, the QR code reader is easily procurable and will do away with the requirement of any manual intervention altogether. The new cards will also allow two specific materials for their card manufacturing -- PolyVinyl Chloride or PVC, or PolyCarbonate which is slightly more expensive but more durable. (Card Size - 85.6mm x 54.02 mm; Thickness minimum 0.7 mm)

An October 2018 notification of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had made changes to the Driving License and Registration Certificate. The new Smart card based DL and RC, will have chip based/ QR code based recognition system. At the same time, documents such as driving license or registration certificates in electronic formats on DigiLockers and mParivahan were also made valid in place of physical documents and treated at par with original documents.

The QR code also has an added advantage of acting as a safety feature on the smart card. The department will be able to retain records and penalties of the DL holder for up to 10 years on the VAHAN database as soon as a driver/ owner's Smart card is confiscated. The new DLs will also help the government in maintaining records of differently-abled drivers, any modifications made to the vehicles, emission standards and the person's declaration to donate organs. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, Driving License, Registration License, Digitisation.


voa

In this handout photo provided by Sotheby's Auction House, the auction for Banksy's "Love is the Bin" takes place in London, Oct. 14, 2021

LONDON — A work by British street artist Banksy that sensationally shredded itself just after it sold at auction three years ago fetched almost 18.6 million pounds ($25.4 million) on Thursday — a record for the artist, and close to 20 times its pre-shredded price.

"Love is in the Bin" was offered by Sotheby's in London, with a presale estimate of 4 million pounds to 6 million pounds ($5.5 million to $8.2 million).

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