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Why China is seducing Afghanistan | ticker VIEWS

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Afghanistan holds the key to an untapped trove of minerals the world needs, worth $1 trillion

Under Afghanistan soil sits an untouched quantity of minerals including copper, iron ore, lithium, and rare bauxite. These minerals could power the world’s transition to renewable energies, but the precious minerals remain unearthed.

Shortly after the capital fell to the Taliban, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry expressed willingness to build relations. Insisting Beijing is “ready to develop friendly cooperation” with Afghanistan.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan’s Taliban, July 28, 2021.

Untouched minerals

A report by the US Geological Survey has proven the valuable minerals hidden within the Afghanistan mountains are more valuable than anywhere else in the world currently.

Copper is valuable in making power cables, and prices are sitting at more than $10, 000 per tonne. Lithium is a vital element that helps to make electric car batteries, wind farms, and solar panels.

Now, with the world transitioning to net-zero emissions targets the demand for Lithium will only increase. The International Energy Agency is predicting it will grow by over 40 times by 2040.

These untapped minerals have been estimated at over $1 trillion by the US Geological Survey, but Afghanistan values it three times this amount. The country also mines coal, iron, and marble.

Over the last 20 years, the Taliban hasn’t had enough power or financial support to tap into these highly sought-after minerals. This could set them high on the world’s economic chart.

Now, as they resume power, questions need to be raised over China’s interest in building a relationship and willingness to do business with the Taliban.

The state-owned China Metallurgical Group Corporation won rights to lease the giant Mes Aynak copper ore deposit in Afghanistan for 30 years. This allows them to extract 11.5 million tonnes of the commodity.

The project hasn’t started operations yet because of safety issues.

China’s diplomatic and economic motives in Afghanistan

While the rest of the world is shocked and frightened of the Taliban takeover, questions remain over China’s economic motives and diplomatic interests in the region.

“Afghanistan has a large supply of rare earth elements, China wants to secure these.”

Dr. John Coyne, The Australian Strategic Policy Institute

“Already 80% of the global market of rare earths is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, so it’s critical for the Chinese Government to secure this supply.”

Dr. John Coyne, Australian Strategic Policy Institute 

“China and Russia are looking at Afghanistan as a gold rush but it’s also going to be a continuing counterterrorism threat”

Oz Sultan, Counterterrorism analyst

Building an alliance

Another reason for China’s interest in building relations, its to protect itself from future terror attacks.

Dr. Teagan Westendorf from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, questions whether China will take the risk and step up as the main financier, now that the US has withdrawn.

Becoming a vital financial aid to the region, could build a strong alliance and prevent future terror groups or attacks spilling onto Chinese soil.

A shared regional problem

Dr. Westendorf says Afghanistan is a concern for all of its neighbouring countries including Russia, India, and China.

“Afghanistan has become a shared regional problem and it’s something that I don’t think that any of these countries will be able to wash their hands from it. It will affect them geostrategically.” 

Dr. Teagan Westendorf, Australian Strategic Policy Institute

 

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Without drastic change, global IT outage will hit again

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Elements of Friday’s global IT outage have occurred before and until more contingencies are built into networks, and organisations put better back-up plans in place, it will happen again.

A widespread Microsoft outage is affecting Australia’s supermarkets, banks, telecommunications companies.

There are also reports of outages in Japan and the United States.

The ongoing widespread outage is reportedly related to US-based cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike. Its ‘Falcon sensor’ is installed on many business computers to gather security data.

In a statement to Ticker News, StickmanCyber said:

“Multiple StickmanCyber security engineering and our 24×7/365 security operations teams across the country support reports that this outage is related to a CrowdStrike update. 
 
“It is our understanding that any business running versions 7.15 and 7.16 are affected by the outage, but 7.17 seems to be ok. We are waiting on official advisory from CrowdStrike on these findings but doing our best to help affected customers. It’s a lesson to always update your software, but obviously this is an extreme example. IT security tools are all designed to ensure that companies can continue to operate in the worst-case scenario of a data breach, so to be the root cause of a global IT outage is an unmitigated disaster.
 
“Crowdstrike support is offering a workaround to customers. It claims users may be able to fix the issue by booting windows in safe mode or in the Windows Recovery Environment and deleting a file named “C-00000291*.sys”.   

“CrowdStrike is aware of reports of crashes on Windows hosts related to the Falcon sensor,” the company said in a statement on its website.

“Symptoms include hosts experiencing a bugcheck\blue screen error related to the Falcon sensor. Our engineering teams are actively working to resolve this issue and there is no need to open a support ticket.

“Status updates will be posted below [on the Microsoft websit€0 as we have more information to share, including when the issue is resolved.”

Laptops down

Thousands of users across the world reported problems with Microsoft services to Downdector.com, a website that tracks service disruptions.

Microsoft laptops suddenly restarted across Australia on Friday afternoon.

Outage website Downdetector shows issues across companies including NAB, Bendigo Bank, Telstra, CBA, Google.

Microsoft response

As users take to social media to complain, Microsoft reported a service outage for its Microsoft 365 apps and services, affecting businesses and users across the world.

“We’re investigating an issue impacting users ability to access various Microsoft 365 apps and services,” Microsoft 365 Status said on X early Friday.

Microsoft didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

Frontier airlines

 

The outage forced low-cost airline Frontier to cancel some flights. “Our systems are currently impacted by a Microsoft outage, which is also affecting other companies,” Frontier said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience.” The carrier said it would offer refunds to affected passengers.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Frontier asked it to pause the airline’s departures across the U.S. Thursday night. The ground stop was later lifted. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It said it is “observing a positive trend in service availability” as it continues to mitigate the problem.

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