World this week
China's new foreign minister warned Washington of "conflict and confrontation" if it fails to change course in relations with Beijing, striking a combative tone amid conflicts over Taiwan, COVID-19 and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Qin Gang's language appeared to defy hopes China's new leaders might abandon confrontational "wolf warrior" rhetoric. It followed an accusation by Chinese leader Xi Jinping that Western governments led by the United States were trying to encircle and suppress China.
Washington's China policy has "entirely deviated from the rational and sound track," according to Qin, who took questions during the annual meeting of China's ceremonial legislature. China's relations with Washington, as well as Japan, India and others have increasingly drifted towards confrontation, as Western governments in particular rally behind holding on to the current 'rules-based order of international relations', instituted under Washington's leadership post-World War II. "If the United States does not hit the brake...no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing and there surely will be conflict and confrontation," Qin said.
Extremists killed at least 25 fishermen during an attack in northeastern Nigeria's Borno state. The rebels attacked the fishermen in the remote Mukdolo village of Borno where the years-long extremist violence is concentrated, local police chief Abdu Umar told the Associated Press. Mukdolo was long abandoned, but the villagers from Dikwa still went there to fish. "Unfortunately this time, Boko Haram surrounded the place and killed 25 of them and nine escaped," the police chief said. Locals reported more than 30 killed in the attack.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and largest economy, continues to grapple with a 14-year-old insurgency in the northeast by Islamic extremist rebels of Boko Haram and its offshoot, the Islamic State West Africa Province. More than 35,000 people have died and over 2 million have been displaced by the extremist violence, according to the U.N. Development Program. In the last two weeks, dozens of the rebels have either been killed or arrested while more than 1,300 surrendered.
Georgia's governing party was forced to withdraw draft legislation that opponents - and tens of thousands of protesters who swarmed the capital - warned could stifle dissent, curtail media freedoms, and usher in 'Russian-style repression'. The bill would have required media and nongovernmental organisations that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as "agents of foreign influence." Opponents argued the bill was inspired by a similar law in Russia that is used to silence critics, and could hinder Georgia's aspirations of one day joining NATO and the EU.
Protests against the bill began last week in the capital, Tbilisi, but swelled in recent days and were met with tear gas and water cannons. The Interior Ministry said 133 demonstrators were arrested, although Georgian police later announced they had released all who face administrative charges and not criminal prosecution, without specifying how many. The governing Georgian Dream party and its allies said they would withdraw it.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to be airlifted on Thursday to the country's main international airport for an official overseas trip after throngs of cars and protesters prevented him from driving there. The demonstrations were part of nationwide protests underway for more than two months against Netanyahu and his government's contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary. Demonstrators had made blocking Netanyahu's route to the airport a centrepiece of their efforts, and the the optics of the Israeli leader having to make alternate travel plans were a win for the protest movement.
The protests also disrupted a visit by US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin, whose schedule was rearranged to keep his engagements close to the airport. Austin briefly waded into the Israeli domestic turmoil during a news conference, where he repeated President Joe Biden's recent comments that the "genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances and on an independent judiciary."
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