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In today’s bulletin: US & Australia affirm their positions on South China Sea, Washington considers a travel ban on Chinese Communist Party officials, gruesome killing of Bangladeshi tech entrepreneur in Manhattan shocks New York, China’s GDP growth surges but remains fragile, India faces a key challenge in battling Covid-19, and more.

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US TO BACK REGIONAL CLAIMS IN SOUTH CHINA SEA; AUSTRALIA BACKS FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION

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The United States and Australia showed their commitment to doing their parts in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, at separate press briefings.

Days after rejecting China’s claims over the South China Sea, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington that the United States will support countries that believe China had violated their legal territorial claims or maritime claims in the South China Sea, through all means. 

But he suggested that he would do so through diplomatic rather than military means. 

China claims 90 per cent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it.

Meanwhile, in Canberra, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia will continue to advocate “very strongly” for the freedom of navigation through the South China Sea.

Read also: 

US Correspondent Charissa Yong: US stance on South China Sea may pave way for stronger responses

Malaysian Foreign Minister says no Chinese vessel intrusions in last 100 days, but ex-minister rebuts him

US WEIGHS SWEEPING TRAVEL BAN ON CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERS

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The Trump administration could be considering a ban on travel to the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party as well as limiting travel to the US by members of the People’s Liberation Army and executives at state-owned enterprises, according to a report quoting sources.

However, there were those who believed President Donald Trump would reject any such move. Besides, there were practical issues as well. The Chinese Communist Party alone has 92 million members. 

The report comes ahead of elections in the United States and increased tensions in ties between Washington and Beijing.

Meanwhile, China said today that it will stick to the Phase 1 trade deal it reached with the United States earlier this year but warned that it will respond to “bullying” tactics from Washington, as relations continue to deteriorate.

BANGLADESHI ENTREPRENEUR’S DECAPITATED, DISMEMBERED BODY IN MANHATTAN LEAVES MANY SHOCKED

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The grisly killing of a Bangladeshi entrepreneur in a Manhattan apartment this week has attracted global attention, with the victim’s connections spanning three countries and the motives for the murder still not clear. 

Police found the victim Fahim Saleh’s decapitated, dismembered body,  with parts wrapped in plastic bags, on Tuesday and believe the killers stopped dismembering his body when the victim’s sister entered the apartment to check on him. 

Saleh, 33, was the son of Bangladeshi immigrants and had founded ride-hailing companies in Bangladesh and Nigeria as well as a venture-capital fund in Manhattan. The tech entrepreneur grew up in New York and graduated from Bentley University in 2009 with a degree in computer information systems.

CHINA REGAINS GROWTH BUT ANALYSTS SAY RECOVERY IS FRAGILE

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China’s economy beat forecasts to return to growth in the second quarter despite travel and business restrictions imposed due to the surge in coronavirus infections. But economists cautioned that the recovery was still fragile.

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3.2 per cent in the second-quarter from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. This was higher than the 2.5 per cent predicted by a group of analysts a few days ago in a Reuters poll. 

Still, observers were quick to highlight that it is still the weakest expansion on record, with domestic consumption and investments still to recover. Demand for Chinese products will also be impacted by US-China ties turning sour and several countries still battling coronavirus infections.

China contributes to about 30 per cent of global growth.   

Also read: 

Global Affairs Correspondent Goh Sui Noi: China’s ‘people first’ economic rescue plan

Global Affairs Correspondent Benjamin Kang Lim: The politics of reviving China’s street vendor economy

INDIA’S CORONAVIRUS CHALLENGE: EXPLAINING THE PANDEMIC IN 22 LANGUAGES AND 19,500 DIALECTS

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India’s diversity is coming up as a challenge as the nation fights surging coronavirus infections that are close to one million now. The country has 22 official languages, and people speak more than 19,500 dialects across the country. But nearly all academic scientific material is in English. Click here for India Correspondent Rohini Mohan’s report.

IN OTHER NEWS

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THAI PM’S CABINET RESHUFFLE: Thailand’s much anticipated Cabinet reshuffle began in a messy fashion on Thursday with the government’s economic team quitting while Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was away on a provincial trip, writes Indochina Bureau Chief Tan Hui Yee. Those who resigned were finance minister Uttama Savanayana, energy minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, higher education, science, research and innovation minister Suvit Maesincee and deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs Kobsak Pootrakool. 

SEOUL TO PROBE NORTH KOREAN LEADER’S SISTER: Seoul prosecutors have opened an unprecedented probe into North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister over Pyongyang’s blowing up of a liaison office last month. The move is likely to infuriate the nuclear-armed North. 

That’s it for today. Stay safe and we’ll be back with you tomorrow.   

Shefali

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