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China plans to build 30,000-tonne nuclear-powered ship

Europe deeply divided over Brexit and UN says there is a ‘major humanitarian crisis’ after cyclone Idai batters Southeast Africa

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China to build nuclear powered-ship, a stepping-stone towards developing nuclear-powered aircraft carriers

China’s state-owned enterprise, China General Nuclear Power Group, has invited bids to build nuclear-powered vessels, akin to Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreakers. The plan is to build a 30,000-tonne nuclear powered ship that has been called an “experimental platform” in the tender document.

The country does not yet possess a “nuclear-propelling surface vessel”. Analysts see the development of these vessels similar to that of Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreakers.

Currently, Russia is the only country to possess such icebreakers and now China possessing them will allow the latter to step up its game in the Arctic region.

Military analysts also argue that the technology involved here is quite similar to the one required for developing nuclear aircraft carriers. Thus, it could act as a stepping-stone for developing nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Europe divided over Brexit

After the UK parliament speaker prevented the third Brexit bill vote to take place, the government is preparing to ask the European Union (EU) for an extension. But the EU is far from united.

EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier articulated the official EU’s position, “An extension will be something that extends uncertainty and that uncertainty has a cost. We can’t do it without having a good reason for it.”

The European Council (EU’s key intergovernmental body) president Donald Tusk has, however, toured various European capitals making the case for extending the deadline.

The French government seems to be apprehensive about the never-ending Brexit saga. A senior French official told the Financial Times, “There is nothing obvious or automatic about an extension. We are at the eleventh hour.” On the other side, the German government seems to be less demanding about extending the deadline.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May was preparing to write a letter to Tusk, seeking an official extension. But the whole thing fell apart after her cabinet colleagues could not agree over the precise wording.

‘Major humanitarian crisis’ after cyclone hits Southeast Africa

With every passing day it is becoming clearer that that the scale of the humanitarian crisis triggered by cyclone Idai is massive. The UN said in a statement that the cyclone could have potentially affected 2.6 million people in Southeast Africa and is quite likely one of the worst cyclones in the history of the Southern Hemisphere. The cyclone has had devastating effects in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Herve Verhoosel, senior spokesman of the UN World Food Program said, “This is a major humanitarian emergency that is getting bigger by the hour.”

Kazakhstan’s leader steps down after three decades

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev will step down after staying in power for three decades. His term will end in 2020 and an interim president will replace him, before the Presidential elections take place.

Kazakhstan is an authoritarian state and Nazarbayev is the last Soviet-era leader of the country. He will, however, continue to head the all-powerful Security Council and have substantial influence over the country’s external and internal policies.

In Other News:

Al Jazeera published an in-depth report on which countries will vote in 2019 and how their voting systems differ

Financial Times has a long-read on how the European Union has a newfound realist foreign policy towards China

Italy recently became the first western European country to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. South China Morning Post has reported that now Italy is preparing to open up four of its ports to Chinese investments

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