Red Sea Attacks Foster Arab-Israeli Trade Link by Land

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia —  Houthi drone and missile attacks on Red Sea shipping have spurred the development of an alternative “land bridge” to carry cargo by truck from the Persian Gulf across Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Israel and Egypt. The project, which is already seeing dozens of trucks per day reach the Israeli port of Haifa, is seen as an early benefit of the 2020 Abraham Accords normalizing ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. It bodes well for future cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The United…

Analysts See Limits to China, Iran, Russia Collaboration With Taliban

washington —  Since the Taliban seized control in August 2021, China, Iran and Russia have been steadily courting Afghanistan’s de facto government for influence. The three countries have kept their embassies open in Kabul and were among the first to hand over Afghan embassies to the Taliban at home. Last month, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran were the most high-profile participants at the Taliban’s first conference on regional cooperation in Kabul. But what are the real prospects of China, Russia, Iran and the Taliban cooperating in the region? Analysts tell VOA…

Afghan Oil Production Jumps With $49 Million Chinese Investment

A Chinese energy company’s investment of $49 million in Afghanistan’s oil production has helped boost the country’s daily crude oil output to more than 1,100 metric tons, but the funding is just one-third of what Beijing originally pledged. One year ago, China’s Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co, or CAPEIC, signed a major oil extraction contract with Taliban authorities in Afghanistan. That 25-year contract requires CAPEIC to invest $150 million by the first year and a total of $540 million by 2026. According to a top Taliban official who…

China’s President Receives Afghan Ambassador; Taliban Seek Recognition From Russia, Iran

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday received the credentials of ambassadors from several countries, including neighboring Afghanistan, in what amounts to the first official recognition of the interim Taliban government by a major nation. Xi welcomed Bilal Karimi, the Taliban-appointed Afghan ambassador, in a formal ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, along with ambassadors from Cuba, Pakistan, Iran and 38 other countries. “China has understood what the rest of the world has not,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesperson, said Tuesday at an event on the social media…

Apprehensions in India as Chinese Survey Ship Heads to Maldives  

New Delhi —  A Chinese research ship due to dock in the Maldives has raised apprehensions in India, where concerns have been growing about the potential military use of the data collected by such vessels. The Maldives foreign ministry said last week that it has given permission to the ship, Xiang Yang Hong 3, following a request by China to “make a port call, for rotation of personnel and replenishment.” It said the ship will not be conducting any research in Maldivian waters. The announcement comes at a time when…

Global Study of Doping Cases Involving Minors Points to Russia, India, China

Montreal —  A 10-year global study of positive doping tests by children and young teenagers showed most were tied to Russia, India and China, and in sports like weightlifting, athletics and cycling, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday. Diuretics, stimulants and anabolic steroids were the most commonly found substances in more than 1,500 positive tests involving more than 1,400 minors since 2012. The youngest athlete tested was 8 years old, and the youngest sanctioned in a doping case was a 12-year-old, WADA said in the Operation Refuge study. “Operation Refuge…

Earthquake Hits China-Kyrgyzstan Border

Beijing —  A major 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck along the China-Kyrgyzstan border on Tuesday, the United States Geological Survey reported, warning of potentially widespread damage. Local TV channels in the Indian capital New Delhi reported strong tremors in the city, about 1,400 kilometers away. The quake was registered just after 2:00 am [1800 GMT Monday] at a depth of 27 kilometers in China’s Xinjiang region, 140 kilometers west of the city of Aksu. Shortly after, three more earthquakes were recorded in the area, at magnitudes 5.5 and 5.1 and 5.0. The…

Toy Manufacturers’ Shift From China Not Child’s Play 

london —  Toy makers grappling with surging costs in China are finding no easy options when it comes to shifting production to cheaper centers elsewhere. Six years ago, Monopoly maker Hasbro approached Indian durable goods and aerospace supplier Aequs to subcontract. “They said if you can get into toy manufacturing, now we’re looking to shift millions of dollars’ worth of product from China to India,” Rohit Hegde, Aequs’ head of consumer verticals, told Reuters. “We said: As long as we can get at least about $100 million of business in…

China Offers Help to Cool Pakistan-Iran Tensions

Regional powerhouse China offered to play a “constructive role” Thursday in easing tensions between Pakistan and Iran, which have reached a boiling point following reciprocal airstrikes across their shared border, leaving civilians dead and raising fears of further escalation. On Thursday, Pakistani airstrikes in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan provinces killed several people, including four children and three women, Iranian officials said. Pakistan justified the airstrikes as targeting “hideouts used by terrorist organizations” in Iran, a claim strongly rejected by Tehran. The strikes took place two days after Iran bombed targets…

VOA Immigration Weekly Recap, Dec. 17–24

Editor’s note: Here is a look at immigration-related news around the U.S. this week. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team: [email protected]. Chinese Still Largest Group of Foreign Students in US Students from China retained their position in 2023 as the largest group of international students in the United States. Despite a slight dip, China is still the leading country of origin for foreign students pursuing an education in the U.S. VOA’s immigration reporter Aline Barros has more. As Holidays Approach, Migrants Face Eviction From New York City Shelters…