1 China industrial profits reverse falling trend (Straits Times) Chinese industrial sector profits rose 2.6 per cent in April, in their first annual rise since last September, National Bureau of Statistics data showed, in a sign that the central bank’s easing measures may finally be filtering into the real economy.
Profits were still down 1.3 per cent for the year to date, reflecting the extreme weakness of growth in the first quarter. With China’s credit and money supply data in April missing expectations on the one hand, and some signs of a bottom in the real estate sector on the other, analysts have been watching closely for any signs of a turnaround in the industrial sector.
2 Hopelessly adrift in Europe, Asia (Mahir Ali in Dawn) There are differences as well as similarities between the refugee crises that have lately been brewing simultaneously in the unforgiving waters off southern Europe and Southeast Asia.
The most obvious parallel is that in both cases they relate largely to segments of humanity desperate enough to risk their lives in a quest for safe havens. Other parallels are to be found in the motivations and behaviour of the parties that demand top dollar for arranging the passage, as well as the fact that some of those embarking on these high-risk journeys are seeking to escape economic despair rather than existential threats.
In the Asian case, the latter dichotomy divides Rohingyas, faced in Myanmar with a situation increasingly seen as verging on genocide, from Bangladeshis seeking a better life in Malaysia. The authorities in Myanmar, meanwhile, refuse to countenance any usage of the term ‘Rohingya’, classifying the Muslim residents of Rakhine state as Bengalis and denying them citizenship or civil rights.
With thousands of Rohingya (and Bangladeshi) refugees adrift in the Andaman Sea, Myanmarese officials agreed some days ago to participate in emergency talks in Thailand. Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to accept some of the asylum-seekers on a temporary basis, while the Philippines has responded to the crisis with greater generosity and even the US has offered resettlement on a small scale. But the prime minister of the richest country in the region, Australia, has gone to the other extreme by decreeing that no Rohingya will set foot on his nation’s soil.
Tackling the root causes of the various forms of despair that trigger the mass-migration impulse can only be a long-term objective, with few indications in most cases of what can be done. What are the practical pathways to restoring peace in Syria, for example? Or rooting out entrenched racism in Myanmar?
It is also vital to realise that regional conflicts, the consequences of climate change and, more broadly, glaring economic disparities in an increasingly unequal global order can only exacerbate the tendency for substantial segments of humanity to seek refuge in other lands. Ultimately, the world’s ability to cope may depend on its willingness to change the course of history.
3 In 5 years, poachers kill half of Mozambique elephants (Johannesburg Times) Poachers have killed nearly half of Mozambique’s elephants for their ivory in the past five years, the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society said yesterday.
A survey showed a dramatic 48% decline in elephant numbers from just over 20,000 to an estimated 10,300, the conservation society said. Northern Mozambique, which includes the Niassa National Reserve, was the hardest hit, accounting for 95% of elephant deaths, reducing the population from about 15,400 to an estimated 6,100.
The figures can be explained by the arrival of poachers from Tanzania, according to Alastair Nelson, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Mozambique. Elephant tusks are prized in Asia, where they are carved into ivory statuettes and jewellery. Across Africa, up to 30,000 elephants are estimated to be killed illegally each year to fuel the ivory trade.