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US-Russia ‘Ukraine Crisis’ Talks… Addition of 4 Years for Myanmar Shame Torture

This is ‘Global Village Today’, which delivers major news from various countries around the world.

Moderator) What news do you have today?

Reporter) The US and Russia held high-level talks to discuss the situation in Ukraine, but failed to reach a point of contact. A Myanmar court has sentenced state adviser Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison. As the Chinese government locks down some cities to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, economic concerns are growing.

Moderator) This is the first news from the global village today. First, let’s take a look at the news of the high-level talks between the US and Russia.

Reporter) Yes. In Geneva, Switzerland, the US and Russia held a high-level working-level meeting called the Strategic Stability Dialogue (SSD), but it ended with no results. The delegations of the two countries met on the 10th at the US delegation in Geneva.

Moderator) Who led the delegations of both countries?

Reporter) Yes. On the American side, Deputy Secretary of State Lee In-jain Wendy Sherman led the negotiation team, and on the Russian side, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov led the negotiation team. The two sides are said to have been negotiating for about eight hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time.

Moderator) But did you say that the two countries did not find any significant points of contact?

Reporter) Yes. Deputy Secretary Sherman said to reporters after the meeting that it was a very candid and direct discussion. However, the United States said it had resolutely rejected Russia’s so-called security proposals. Deputy Secretary Sherman pointed out that Russia’s security proposal was not initially acceptable. Deputy Secretary Sherman also opened up the possibility of dialogue in the future, saying that based on the now enacted Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement (INF) between the two countries, discussions on missiles with Russia could be held.

What did the Russian side say?

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov insisted that the US approached Russia’s proposal very seriously. Unfortunately, however, the two sides say they have revealed significant differences in their principled approach. He reiterated that Ukraine should never become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Moderator) Why is Russia opposing Ukraine’s accession to NATO?

Russia alleges that NATO is increasingly accepting former Soviet countries as member states, violating past treaties by deploying strategic weapons and troops near Russia’s borders, and jeopardizing its own security. Russia is demanding that Ukraine’s non-participation be guaranteed, saying that if Ukraine joins NATO, NATO’s nuclear missiles can be deployed in its face. It is also calling for the withdrawal of power already deployed by NATO in Central and Eastern Europe.

Moderator) What is the position of the US on Russia’s request?

Reporter) Yes. The United States is unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and states that sovereign states are free to choose their own alliances. At the same time, he emphasizes the importance of a diplomatic approach to alleviating the growing military tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Moderator) So, did the two countries have high-level contacts in Geneva from the beginning?

Reporter) Yes. Currently, Russia is mobilizing about 100,000 troops in the border area with Ukraine. The United States and Ukraine are concerned that Russia could invade Ukraine again. However, Russia denies the allegations and claims that it is conducting large-scale exercises against a military threat from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Moderator) Did the two countries contact each other the day before?

Reporter) Yes. The delegations of the two countries had a working-level dinner the day before (the 9th) before the official meeting on the 10th. At this dinner that lasted over two hours, the two sides had a conversation in full swing, but difficulties were foretold from the start.

Moderator) The outlook for the meeting was not very bright at first, right?

Reporter) Yes. Given the tightly different positions of the two sides, and the dynamic structure in which it is difficult to draw a clear conclusion from a single meeting, the prospect prevailed that it would be difficult to achieve any tangible results from this meeting. It is also observed that the war of nerves will continue for the time being, as both sides may face criticism if they immediately announce the abandonment of diplomatic means.

Host) U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blincoln also made a remark about it?

Reporter) Yes. In an interview with CNN and ABC on the 9th, Secretary Blincol said he didn’t think a breakthrough would come in the next few weeks. Secretary Blincoln said both sides would put all proposals on the negotiating table and see if there was reason to move forward. But as long as Russia continues to deploy 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, it will be difficult to see real progress, he said.

Moderator) Are there still related talks after the US-Russia meeting?

Reporter) Yes. On the 12th, a meeting between NATO and Russia will be held in Brussels, Belgium. The next day, the 13th, the European Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) meeting, which Russia and Ukraine are members, will be held. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on the 9th that we should strive for the best with hope, but also prepare for the worst.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s national advisor and foreign minister (file photo)

Moderator) Today’s Global Village is the next news. This time we are going to Myanmar. State adviser Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to prison again?

Reporter) Yes. A Myanmar court has sentenced state adviser Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison. The Nay Pyi Taw District Court on the same day sentenced Suu Kyi to prison for violating the Import and Export Act by illegally possessing a radio and violating measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This increases the sentence for shame torture to a total of six years.

Moderator) Shame torture was sentenced to prison before, right?

Reporter) Yes. In December of last year, the court sentenced him to four years in prison for the charge of sedition and the charge of violating the Natural Disaster Management Act by conducting a general election campaign in the midst of the corona virus. However, on the same day, the Myanmar military government reduced the sentence to two years as a pardon.

Moderator) I know that the trial was held privately at the time, but was it held private this time as well?

Reporter) Yes. This trial was also not disclosed to the media. The lawyers for shame torture are also prohibited from contacting the press or the public.

Moderator) Isn’t the shame adviser currently being charged with another charge?

Reporter) Yes. Suu Kyi is facing more than a dozen charges, including bribery of $600,000 in cash and 11 kg of gold, leaking state secrets, and misappropriation of government funds. Most of the charges are expected to be severe, and if found guilty on all charges, they could face up to 100 years in prison.

Moderator) Numerical advisors are quite old now, aren’t they?

Reporter) Yes. He is now 76 years old, and is effectively sentenced to life in prison. The international community and human rights groups see the military as a measure to block the political resurgence of shame torture through a formal trial process. Shame Torture denies all accusations.

Moderator) Where is the shame advisor now?

Reporter) Suu Kyi has been detained somewhere since the Myanmar military coup d’état in February last year. The military did not disclose where the torture torture was detained. However, Myanmar’s Supreme Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing said last month that Suu Kyi will remain at the same location during his trial.

Moderator) It’s already been over a year since the coup took place in Myanmar?

Reporter) Yes. Myanmar’s military claimed that the general election held in November 2020 was fraudulent, and on February 1, the following year, a coup d’état took place. Since then, the military has been criticized by the international community for bloody suppression of protesters against the coup. According to Myanmar’s Association for Supporting Political Prisoners (AAPP), about 1,400 people have lost their lives so far.

Moderator) Are you under suspicion of genocide of civilians recently?

Reporter) Yes. Last month, burnt vehicles and more than 30 bodies were found in Kaya Province, where many ethnic minorities live in Myanmar. Among the victims were women, children and local staff from international aid organizations. Myanmar’s military is claiming to have repulsed armed rebel terrorists. However, it is analyzed that the attack was aimed at a minority group engaged in an armed resistance movement by the rebels.

Moderator) How is the international community responding to this situation in Myanmar?

Last month, the UN Security Council issued a joint statement condemning the massacre of civilians and calling for the punishment of those responsible. However, practical joint countermeasures such as economic sanctions and arms export bans have not been prepared due to opposition from China and Russia.

Moderator) How are Asian countries moving?

Reporter) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to which Myanmar is a part, put pressure on Myanmar’s Supreme Commander, Min Aung Hlaing, by refusing to attend the summit in October last year. Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, the ASEAN this year’s chair country, also visited Myanmar last week to meet military leaders. However, there are voices of criticism that they are responding passively, such as not requesting an interview with the shame advisor during the visit.

Roads in downtown Xi'an, the capital of China's Shaanxi province, are quiet after the lockdown.  (data photo)

Roads in downtown Xi’an, the capital of China’s Shaanxi province, are quiet after the lockdown. (data photo)

Host) Global Village Today, let’s look at one more news. This is news about the novel coronavirus. The Chinese government is locking down some cities to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Reporter) Yes. Following the city of Xi’an, the provincial capital of Shaanxi province, last week, the Chinese government imposed full or partial blockades in Yuzhou, Henan, and Ningbo, Zhejiang. Also, in Tianjin City, which is called the gateway to Beijing, as of the 9th, there were 20 confirmed cases, and authorities are restricting entry.

Moderator) Wasn’t Xi’an city especially locked down?

Reporter) That’s right. It started on the 23rd of last month and has been locked down for over two weeks. Xi’an is a large city with a population of 13 million. The government’s lockdown measures not only cause great inconvenience to citizens, but are also concerned about the economic impact.

Moderator) Did you hear that foreign companies in Xi’an are reducing their business?

Reporter) Yes. Recently, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and US’ Micron Technology announced that they would cut production. These two leading semiconductor companies have been producing ‘Nand memory chips’ and ‘DRAM memory chips’, which are key components for smartphones and computers, at their local factories in Xi’an. Production is being disrupted as workers are banned from going out due to the authorities’ lockdown.

Moderator) How much volume is produced in Xi’an?

Reporter) Xi’an is known to produce more than 40% of Samsung’s NAND memory chip production and 15% of global supply. Currently, Samsung accounts for a third of the global NAND memory chip supply.

Moderator) Isn’t the world already experiencing a major chaos in logistics supply?

Reporter) That’s right. In addition, concerns are mounting that China’s partial lockdown on Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, since last week will further exacerbate supply chain bottlenecks.

Moderator) Ningbo is a famous port city in China, right?

Reporter) Yes, it is a port city in the south of Shanghai, which is a representative economic and commercial city in China. Ningbo Port is one of the world’s busiest ports. Ningbo implemented a partial lockdown after a series of confirmed cases and instructed not to go out except under special circumstances.

Moderator) So, there must not be enough manpower to handle cargo at the port?

Reporter) Yes. This could also lead to an increase in shipping costs. It is pointed out that ultimately, it could cause a supply chain backlog, which could have a not-so-small impact on the global economy.

Moderator) What is the current status of the novel coronavirus infection in China?

As of the 7th, the Chinese government announced that more than 170 new infections had been reported across the country. Of these, 57 were from Xi’an. Fifty-six cases came from Henan Province, where the city of Yuzhou is located.

Moderator) Isn’t that a remarkably low level compared to other countries such as the US or Europe?

Reporter) Yes. However, the Chinese government is implementing the so-called ‘zero corona’ policy and implementing intensive quarantine measures. ‘Zero Corona’ literally means that when a corona patient occurs in an area, the area is closed under the goal of not tolerating a single confirmed person.

Moderator) How will it affect the Chinese economy?

The Chinese economy is already showing signs of slowing. Experts are lowering China’s economic growth rate in the last quarter of 2021 to at least 3% compared to the same period last year. This is lower than the previous quarter. In the third quarter of last year, China’s economic growth was 4.9%.

Host) Global Village Today, I will listen up to this point.

* This article refers to ‘AP’ and ‘Reuters’.

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