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China denounces US decision to restrict visas for officials linked to Muslim repression.

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Beijing on Wednesday decried a US decision to restrict visas for Chinese officials linked to the repression of Xinjiang Muslims, and called on Washington to withdraw the measure.

The United States has stepped up its criticism of China’s treatment of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the western region, where rights group say more than one million are held in internment camps.

Washington earlier this week announced the blacklisting of 28 Chinese entities involved in rights violations in Xinjiang, which China has said was based on “groundless” claims.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the visa curbs on Tuesday, urging China to cease its “campaign of repression” in the region and release those interned.

China had until recently denied the camps existed, but later described them as “vocational education centres” where people learn Mandarin and job skills as necessary counter-terrorism measures.

The US is “disregarding the facts, slandering and smearing China on Xinjiang-related issues,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press conference Wednesday, where he said the US actions were guided by “sinister intentions”.

Geng also took issue with the European Parliament for nominating Ilham Tohti — a Uighur scholar serving a life sentence on separatism charges for advocating the rights of Uighurs — to a shortlist for the Sakharov Prize for human rights.

“Under the pretence of human rights, this institution is whitewashing such a separatist supporting violent and terrorist acts,” Geng said.

Last month the Council of Europe awarded its Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to Tohti for “giving the entire Uighur people a voice”, drawing bitter criticism from the Chinese authorities, who said that even nominating him was effectively “supporting terrorism”.

– ‘Completely futile’ –

In 2017, Xinjiang authorities passed sweeping “anti-extremism” regulations that banned a wide range of behaviours and customs — formalising a regional crackdown on certain Muslim practices.

Growing “abnormal” facial hair was included in the government’s list, as well as wearing robes that cover the whole body and face.

An AFP investigation in June found that at least 30 mosques and religious sites have been destroyed in Xinjiang since 2017.

And in just two years, dozens of cemeteries have been destroyed in the northwest region, according to a new AFP investigation with satellite imagery analysts Earthrise Alliance.

Pompeo in his statement also criticised “pervasive, high-tech surveillance” as part of “highly repressive” Chinese policy in the region.

Xinjiang authorities have rolled out a sweeping surveillance system in the region.

A mobile app called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform collects information from multiple sources, including facial-recognition cameras, wifi sniffers, and home visits in the region, according to Human Rights Watch.

The entities sanctioned by the United States include video surveillance company Hikvision and artificial intelligence firms Megvii Technology and SenseTime.

The blacklist also includes 18 public security bureaus in Xinjiang, a police college and eight businesses.

Geng called the US moves “completely futile” and warned China would take “firm” action against violations of its sovereignty.

He also said China’s commerce ministry would “soon” release its own entity list, which has been in the works for months.

China’s policies are “widely supported by the 25 million people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang”, Geng said.

The heightened US pressure on China’s policies in Xinjiang comes at a tense time for the two countries, which have been locked in a trade war for more than a year.

Trade talks are set to resume on Thursday, with Beijing’s top trade envoy Liu He due to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Asked whether the visa restrictions could impact the talks, Geng said: “We hope that the US can work together with China, meet halfway with us, and push forward consultations in order to make progress, on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.”

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Buhari says if the government get infrastructure right, Nigerians will not care about governance.

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said that if the Federal Government was able to put in place the right infrastructure in different sectors of the economy, Nigerians would not be so concerned about “who’s in government.”

Buhari, who said this via his verified Twitter handle, added that his government was doing its best to provide infrastructure within the available resources

He said that he believes that with the right infrastructure, Nigeria would prosper.

The president tweeted, “I firmly believe that if we get infrastructure right in Nigeria, our roads, rail, ports; Nigerians will mind their businesses, many people will not even care who is in government. A country like ours, full of entrepreneurial energy and potential, will prosper.

“This is why Infrastructure will continue to be one of our primary focus areas. We must & will rewrite the story, for this dear country of ours. I wish we had even more resources, and we are working on this, but we are doing our best within the resources currently available to us.”

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Russia eyes Africa business -Oil, diamonds, nuclear power.

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While Russia has traditionally focused on arms and grain exports to Africa, it is now looking to broaden its activities and influence.

Here are four sectors likely to be discussed at the Russia-Africa Summit set for next Wednesday and Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.—

– Oil and gas –
Russia is one of the world’s top hydrocarbon producers and exporters through energy giants like Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil.

But with 65 per cent of its territory covered with permafrost, exploration and extraction are costly, so Russia is eyeing up promising reserves in Africa.

Gazprom is working in Algeria, where it has discovered three gas fields, as well as in Libya, though its activities there have largely stalled since the war in 2011. The group is also interested in taking part in a project to build a gas pipeline linking Nigeria to Europe via Algeria.READ ALSO: Banditry: ‘How military, NSCDC officers were nabbed’

Lukoil recently discovered a number of oil and gas deposits in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Egypt.

For its part, Rosneft is investing in Egypt’s huge Zohr offshore gas field and is set to be involved in some 20 projects with Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum energy group.

– Nuclear –
Africa is almost entirely lacking in atomic energy, with just one nuclear power station on the whole continent, in South Africa.

Russian-built nuclear power stations have a price advantage over Western competitors and its nuclear agency Rosatom offers, attractive financing deals to customer countries.

It has already signed preliminary agreements on nuclear projects with Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Uganda.

So far only Egypt has signed an agreement to build a station, one with four reactors at Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast by 2028 or 2029.

The cost of $10 million (nine million euros) to $20 million per plant could be prohibitive, but Rosatom says countries including Rwanda are showing “great interest” in smaller-capacity, less expensive nuclear power stations.

– Diamonds –
Rich in mineral resources, Russia has significant expertise in extraction that could be deployed in other countries.

The world’s top diamond producer, Russia’s Alrosa, founded the Catoca mine in Angola in 2003. The Russians even built a hydroelectric power station to provide electricity for its operations. Since 2014 Alrosa has also been searching for new deposits in the country.

Alrosa this year announced it will also start mining activities in Zimbabwe.

Aluminium giant Rusal, formerly a target of US sanctions, is meanwhile mining bauxite in Guinea and has decided to reopen an aluminium refinery there closed since 2012.

Groups such as Norilsk Nickel, Severstal, Nordgold and Ferrum Mining are present in Madagascar, Guinea, South Africa and Burkina Faso.

– Education –
A massive slump in Russia’s birthrate after the breakup of the Soviet Union has decimated the number of young people looking to study or join the workforce.

As it looks to fill empty seats in universities, Africa could provide a steady stream of students.

Charles Robertson, the chief economist at Renaissance Capital, estimates that the number of Russian students has fallen by 40 per cent in the last decade.

“There are no young Russian people any more, so how do you fill up those universities? You bring in African students.”

This will also bring Russia “a very subtle long-term benefit” in business dealings with Africa, he said.

“People are more willing to do trade deals with a country that they know, that they’ve been to.”

Although the number of African students at Russian universities, at around 5,000, remains much lower than during the Soviet era, it has doubled in the last 10 years and is expected to grow.

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JAMB tells UTME candidates to report fraudulent workers.

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board on Thursday asked the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination candidates to provide the details of any of its workers, who is involved in financial transactions with them.

The board said all fees should be paid by candidates into the board’s Treasury Single Account, while also insisting that candidates must register for the National Identification Number as a prerequisite to take the 2020 examination.

The board stated this on its Twitter handle on Thursday, adding that candidates should visit the nearest NIMC office to have their data captured.

JAMB said, “All payments on JAMB services are made directly to the board’s TSA. Please be informed that the board frowns on any form of financial dealings between candidates and workers.

“Therefore, candidates involved in any financial transaction with a staff of the board should notify the board immediately and also provide any useful information about such staff for necessary action.

“All candidates wishing to take the 2020 UTME must have the National Identification Number. Prospective candidates are urged to visit the nearest NIMC office for their capturing. The board would only register candidates with NIN.”

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