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China's most popular messaging app has been blocked in Russia.
Moscow's communications regulator has added WeChat to its list of prohibited websites, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
The messaging app ran afoul of laws requiring companies that distribute information online to register with government authorities in Russia.
Operated by tech giant Tencent (TCEHY), WeChat has about 900 million monthly active users, the vast majority of whom are in China.
Tencent said in a statement Monday that it's "in discussions with relevant authorities regarding the situation" in Russia. WeChat has been blacklisted since at least Friday, according to the TASS report.
Russian authorities are increasingly viewing the internet as a serious political threat and are trying to copy China's model of internet control, according to recent analysis from New America, a Washington-based think tank.
Last year, the architect of China's vast online censorship apparatus, known as the Great Firewall, was invited to speak at a forum on internet safety in Moscow. In 2015, Russia passed a law requiring companies to store data about Russian citizens in the country. That law appears similar to Chinese regulations preventing data collected in China from leaving the country.
As for WeChat, the messaging platform is no stranger to censorship, though it's usually on the other side of the restrictions.
In China, WeChat messages containing keywords mentioning sensitive topics like the Tiananmen Square of 1989 massacre or Tibet are blocked and censored.
In Russia, WeChat is just the latest casualty in Moscow's clampdown on international social media platforms. Last week, the communications regulator blocked Line (LN), Blackberry (BBRY, Tech30) and Imo messengers, according to Russian news outlet RT. In November, it banned LinkedIn, the social network for professionals that's owned by Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30).
Line, one of Japan's biggest messaging apps, said in a statement that it's investigating the situation. The company also appeared to take a veiled swipe at Russia's law on data collection.
"Line is committed to protecting user privacy, according to Japanese law," it said.
HOHHOT, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The first high-speed railway in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region started test runs on Sunday to prepare for the beginning of regular use by the end of July.
The high-speed train ran at a speed of 250 to 275 km per hour on a section from Ulanqab to Hohhot, capital of the region, during Sunday's trial, according to Hohhot Railway Bureau.
The section in Inner Mongolia is part of the high-speed railway that links Hohhot to Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, the co-host city of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. When it is operational by the end of July, the travel time between Ulanqab and Hohhot will be shortened to 35 minutes from the current one hour.
The 286.8 km-long Zhangjiakou-Hohhot high-speed rail, with a designed speed of 250 km per hour, will be a major high-speed rail in north China upon completion.
It is expected to be completed and put into service in 2018. At that time, the Zhangjiakou-Hohhot high-speed rail will be connected to the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed rail, which is under construction. The travel time from Hohhot to Beijing will be reduced from the average nine hours to within three hours.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ On May 8, today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil held a press briefing about the ongoing official visit of the Vice President of Vietnam Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh. The latter is accompanied by more than 20 businesspeople. Two countries’ business representatives will explore cooperation opportunities at the business forum to commence tomorrow, May 9, noted the FM.
Three main issues were touched on during the official talks between Vietnam’s Vice President and Prime Minister of Mongolia, he said. “The first issue was the promotion of bilateral cooperation in defense and between the institutions of special function. Vietnam has a population of 95 million, ranks at the 14th place in the world by the size of its population. Vietnam has remained a key partner of Mongolia in the Southeast Asia since establishing diplomatic ties in 1954. The role of Vietnam in the region has been increasing as its economy has been growing rapidly in the recent years. For this year, Vietnam is chairing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Mongolia has been requesting Vietnam to support Mongolia’s efforts to strengthen ties with APEC”, said the Foreign Minister.
“The second issue was promoting the commercial and economic cooperation. Trade turnover between Mongolia and Vietnam reaches only about USD 45 million. The Agreement on Veterinarian and Quarantine Cooperation, signed in April, opened a possibility for Mongolia to export meat and meat products to Vietnam. As a tropical country, the Vietnam’s side is interested in importing goat meat, which is more suitable in warm climates, from Mongolia. In 2017, Mongolia will pilot-export 20 tons of goat meat to Vietnam. If this goes successful, the number can be increased up to over 200 tons. Our side is also studying feasibilities to import frozen sea products”.
“The third issue was promoting tourism. As of today, a little over 60 Mongolian students are studying in Vietnam, and 30 Vietnamese students are studying in Mongolia. The sides agreed that it is time to increase the size of government grants for exchange students”, concluded FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil.
Millions of people across the globe observe World Press Freedom Day on May 3 each year, to raise awareness about the importance of the freedom of the press, to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression and to evaluate press freedom worldwide.
President of Globe International NGO Kh.Naranjargal delves into the significance of the freedom of the press in the following interview, in observance of the 27th World Press Freedom Day, which was held under the theme “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies”.
Looking at this year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day, it seems that the media will face an uphill battle for viability. How is the freedom of the press in Mongolia?
This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies”, which is linked to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. It’s a fact that the media is in need of critical minds now that the media and press across the globe are facing a critical time.
Many fake news stories were spread during opinion polling for the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum vote and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, which put the media at risk. Some researchers are describing this time as the “post-truth era” and most of them believe that journalism is at risk and facing a crisis.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Representative for Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information made a joint declaration on freedom of expression, “fake news”, disinformation, and propaganda. The declaration focuses on taking note of the growing prevalence of disinformation and propaganda in the media, and reestablishing independent journalism by encouraging media professionals to be responsible and follow media ethics. This issue applies to Mongolian journalism too. In particular, slander and insults have been hot topics for political news. Articles related to freedom of expression have been strengthened considerably under the new Election Law.
During last year’s parliamentary election, 11 news websites were shut down for 24 hours following a complaint being made by one of the candidates. In general, the Mongolian media and press are too easily influenced by politicians, and the owners of most media organizations are high-ranking politicians. Due to this, policymakers and researchers are racking their brains to find a solution to develop free, independent, and pluralistic media in the future.
Media professionals stirred up controversy over Member of Parliament Ts.Garamjav’s proposal to apply high penalties for journalists and media organizations for defamation and insult. Can you share your opinion on this?
Mongolian law and policymakers attempted to distort the media by applying too much censorship to the freedom of expression through the law. The joint declaration I mentioned before shows that this is not an issue to be determined by the law. The Constitution states that Mongolia will comply with the universally recognized norms and principles of international laws and mechanisms when passing a new law.
The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group examined Mongolia’s human rights conditions and made recommendations for the freedom of expression in May 2015. The working group recommended making legislation on the freedom of expression consistent with international standards; to omit articles related to defamation and insult in the Criminal Code and to incorporate them into the Civil Law, and to provide an environment where journalists and human rights advocates can work peacefully and safely. Omitting articles related to defamation and insult from the Criminal Code and incorporating them into the Civil Law was previously included in the UN Human Rights Council’s 2011recommendations.
It’s obviously wrong to slander others, but imposing a penalty or punishment for doing so will turn into political censorship. Mongolia made progress by transferring articles from the Criminal Code to the Law on Conflicts, but this brought my attention to two things. First, lawmakers are discussing imposing too high a fine for committing such violations. Other countries ensure that fines are not so high that they would affect the independence of the media. If media organizations had to pay a fine of 100 million MNT for defamation or insults, as was discussed during a recent government session, the Mongolian media would be put under economic censorship.
Second, it’s unclear who will determine and impose such penalties. Exactly who this “authorized person” they’re talking about is and how cases of defamation will be proven is vague. This eventually turns into political censorship, as such articles on defamation and insult are used by powerful people to silence publications that are harmful to them and to change public opinion. The Law on Media Freedom, enacted in 1998, prohibits all forms of censorship.
Why is it important to protect the freedom of the press?
I will not say that journalists are “white doves of peace” who don’t do anything wrong and that everyone else are “crows”. So far, I haven’t even expressed my own opinion – I’ve only talked about international standards and legislation. The reason why the freedom of the press needs to be protected is because it’s a matter of people’s freedom. We all know that having a free and independent media is one of the key principles of democracy. Unlike what some people are saying, we’re not defending immoral and unethical journalists who work for others. Starting with the right to protect the confidentiality of their sources, journalists have various rights and privileges.
Journalists are referred to as watchdogs because they get information through the trust they gain from the public and report the information to a wider audience. However, it’s clear that media organizations, like us, are unable to operate independently since most of these organizations are connected to politicians and have high editorial censorship. Even so, media organizations self-regulate such things rather than having it regulated by the law. This means that media organizations have an “immunity system” to protect themselves from external influence.
How many violations of the freedom of expression were recorded last year? Has Mongolia’s ranking for press freedom gone up or down in recent years?
Mongolia slipped by nine ranks to 69th place out of 180 countries in the 2016 Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Globe International has been monitoring violations of the freedom of expression since 2005. During this time, 519 violations of the rights of journalists and media organizations have been recorded. This doesn’t fully represent Mongolia’s situation, as these violations are just ones that were reported to our organization or revealed to the public.
Last year, we received 63 reports of violations, most of which – specifically 57 percent – were offenses involving high-ranking politicians or government officials. In addition, 27 percent of these journalists received some kind of pressure from the court or a legal body, while 19 percent were sued and jailed.
I’d like to share another piece of information. A total of 16 cases of defamation and insult were recorded between 2002 and 2011, whereas, from 20012 to 2016, there were 22 cases of a media organization or professional being punished for this type of violation. As you can see, these cases are increasing every year. The public needs to understand that these sorts of challenges faced by journalists also concern the rights of media consumers and individuals.
Can you tell us more about the self-regulation of media organizations?
Even though free and independent press organizations are companies like any other, it’s important for them to remain transparent, open, and ethical, because media is a business related to the rights of individuals to seek and receive – as well as to impart – information and ideas of all kinds. No one should take advantage of it for their own self-interests. A democratic society must ban any form of censorship and guarantee the freedom of the press. But even a media organization can’t escape supervision, so it should have a self-regulating system. Newsrooms should have internal governance rules and a mechanism that enables them to internally resolve issues and complaints. They should at least have a policy on the publication and broadcasting of paid materials to meet the standards of ethical media. Next, media organizations should unite and establish a media council to remain independent from political influence. Our organization has founded this type of council. There’s also a way to allow the public to monitor and supervise media outlets. Mongolians don’t know about this at all.
The number of people receiving information from social media has been rapidly growing in recent years. Due to this, there have been attempts to find and punish people who try to mislead the public with fake news, disinformation, and propaganda. However, other democratic countries pay attention to improving people’s knowledge to prevent them from being deceived by fake news. In other words, it’s important to educate the public at all levels so that they don’t immediately believe something they read or see, and instead, think critically. Mongolian policymakers need to pay attention to launching international programs for this....
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Council on Mongolian National Brands has been established in accordance with a direction of the Prime Minister. The council is chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr J.Erdenebat. Head of the Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat acts as the deputy chairman and some cabinet members, as vacant members of this council.
The national brand council convened for its first meeting and approved its rules and action plan for 2017 on May 5.
Its duties will be regulating policies toward promoting the value of Mongolians and presenting national products to the world, submitting proposals on state policies for national brands, evaluating and issuing recommendations on policy implementation.
Oyu Tolgoi has announced the appointment of Armando Torres as Chief Executive Officer of Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
Armando Torres has been a member of the Oyu Tolgoi Board and as Rio Tinto Managing Director – Oyu Tolgoi since 2016. Mr Torres will continue as a member of the Oyu Tolgoi Board.
Mr Torres assumes the role from Stephen Jones, who held the role of acting Chief Executive Officer. Mr Jones moves into the role of Chief Operating Officer for the business.
Mr Torres has been a senior leader with the Rio Tinto Group for the past six years, joining as Chief Operations Officer of the Bauxite & Alumina business unit in Rio Tinto Aluminium, overseeing operations in Australia and Canada before moving into the role of head of operations and Transformation Lead for Rio Tinto’s alumina businesses.
Batsukh Galsan, Chairman of Oyu Tolgoi’s Board of Directors, said: “The Board of Directors is pleased to appoint Armando Torres as the company’s CEO. Armando has a proven track record of delivering successful business transformation while strengthening local capability, communities and diversity and the Board is confident that he will provide the Company with the leadership and drive to continue Oyu Tolgoi’s journey and strong performance. The Board would like to thank Stephen for his significant and continuing contribution and strong leadership, which provides a robust foundation for the next phase of Oyu Tolgoi’s journey.”
The euro has risen after pro-EU Emmanuel Macron won France's presidential vote by a large margin.
The single currency strengthened 0.2% against the dollar as investors were reassured over the future stability of the European project.
The reaction was muted, however, as investors were expecting Mr Macron, a former investment banker and an economic liberal, to prevail.
He has proposed cutting corporation tax and changes to the labour market.
"Voters elected for Emmanuel Macron's pro-business policy proposals, which have the potential to unlock long-held-back investment and stimulate French markets," said Stephen Mitchell at London-based fund manager, Jupiter Asset Management.
His opponent in the race for the presidency, Marine Le Pen, is a critic of globalisation and had proposed withdrawing France from the single currency.
Mr Macron, who was economy minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande, has tried to define himself as neither left nor right politically.
He has proposed a range of policies combining budget cuts and more labour market flexibility, with public investment and an extension of the welfare state.
However, his relative lack of political experience, and parliamentary elections in June, mean scope remains for market uncertainty.
"I see significant risks of an inexperienced politician and technocrat not being able to execute properly well-intended policies," said Stephen Jen, chief executive of Eurizon SLJ Capital, which is also London-based.
"We will see. It is important to give president Macron the benefit of the doubt."
The first results from Erdene Resource Development’s (CN:ERD) 2017 drilling at Bayan Khundii in southwest Mongolia have carried on from where the previous year’s programme left off.
Looking to connect and extend the Midfield and Striker zones at the project, the company has hit some serious mineralisation worthy of follow up.
The standout hit was a 131.5m intercept averaging 3.86g/t Au from 39m depth, which came within the Midfield-Striker area. This also contained an 80m hit grading 6.03g/t Au from 42m depth.
What this hole and others in the 2017 programme have confirmed is that gold mineralisation at these zones extends down dip to the south. They have also gone some way to endorsing the idea that the Striker and Midfield zones, the two most prominent zones identified at Bayan Khundii, connect.
Erdene is working on generating a resource at the project this year. These intercepts on top of hits like 116m grading 2g/t Au from surface have seen the company’s share price rise more than 350% in the past year.
US airline Delta is facing a public-relations problem after a family claimed they were kicked off a flight for refusing to give up a child's seat.
"This is a federal offence and then you and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be in foster care," a crew member can be heard telling the family.
A YouTube video of the incident has clocked up more than two million views.
Delta said it was "sorry for the unfortunate experience" and would compensate the family.
The incident follows the case of passenger Dr David Dao, who grabbed global headlines when he was injured while being physically removed from a United Airlines flight last month.
He settled in court last month for an undisclosed sum.
The latest incident happened on a flight from Maui in Hawaii to Los Angeles on 23 April, but only came to light when the video was posted online.
The eight-minute video shows Brian Schear arguing that he has paid for the seat, while crew members try to convince him to give up the seat, on a flight Mr Schear claims was overbooked.
Mr Schear said he had originally booked the seat for his older son, who had taken an earlier flight to make sure one of his other children would have a seat.
One crew member initially told him that his other son owned the seat so the toddler could not sit there.
His two-year-old was sitting in a child safety seat, which crew members then claimed was banned under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and said the child would have to sit in an adult's lap.
That is at odds with Delta's published advice, which says that for children under two years "we recommend you purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat". The company's advice says an infant under two may be held in a parent's lap if they choose.
The FAA's website also "strongly urges" parents to put young children in a safety device in their own seat.
An airline employee then told Mr Schear "the plane is not going to move... we can all sit here all night if that's what you guys want to do".
Despite Mr Schear later relenting and agreeing to hold the child, the crew member tells him the family was being removed from the plane because "it's come too far".
When he responds that there is nowhere for his family, including two infants, to go and no more flights, the crew member can be heard saying: "You guys are on your own."
The family eventually left the flight, and Mr Schear said their seats were filled by four other passengers waiting with tickets.
Later, he told CBS News: "The bottom line is, they oversold the flight."
His wife, Brittany, who recorded the video, told NBC News that she was upset they were threatened with prison.
"When you're a mother and you have your one-year-old and your two-year-old and they threaten to take your kids away from you, I mean whether that's possible or whether that's, you know against the law, it just, it made my heart drop," she said.
On Thursday evening, a day after the video was posted, Delta released a statement about the incident.
"We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta, and we've reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation," the company said.
"Delta's goal is to always work with customers in an attempt to find solutions to their travel issues. That did not happen in this case and we apologise."
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ In connection to the ongoing nomination of presidential candidates, Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party held its convention today, May 4 at its headquarters.
The convention addressed the issue of the party’s nominee and action plan for the upcoming Presidential Election. Prior to the convention, the party’s Executive bureau met and resolved to nominate the party’s Chairman Enkhbayar Nambar.
During the convention, majority of the convention’s participants supported the bureau’s proposal, thus the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party nominates former President N.Enkhbayar for the June 26 election.