Connect with us

Latest News

China to launch high-stakes crewed mission to space

Ariana News

Published

 on

Photo credit Reuters
(Last Updated On: June 16, 2021)

China will send three astronauts into orbit on Thursday in a high-stakes mission, the first of four crewed space flights to complete the country’s space station by the end of next year.

China will launch Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo into orbit aboard the spacecraft Shenzhou-12 at 9:22 a.m. (0122 GMT) on June 17 from Jiuquan in northwestern Gansu province.

Nie, 56, a former air force pilot, will be the oldest Chinese astronaut to go to space.

Shenzhou-12, meaning “Divine Vessel”, is the third of 11 missions needed to build China’s space station. Construction began in April with the launch of Tianhe, the first and largest of three modules.

The Shenzhou-12 crew are to live on the Tianhe, which means “Harmony of the Heavens”, a cylinder 16.6 m (55 ft) long and 4.2 m (14 ft) in diameter.

The three-month stay for Nie, Liu and Tang will be the longest for any Chinese astronauts, and one focus will be seeing how the men handle their relatively long time in orbit.

“The (mission) is longer this time, and not only do we have to set up the core module – this ‘home’ in space – we’ve to carry out a series of pivotal technical tests,” Nie told reporters in Jiuquan.

“This mission is more arduous and the challenges are greater.”

Shenzhou-12 will be Nie’s third space outing, the second for Liu, 54, and the first for Tang, 45.

On Liu’s Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008, his first, he almost did not get to perform a space walk to plant the Chinese flag on the exterior of the spacecraft.

Liu, with the help of another astronaut, used a crowbar to pry open the hatch after it refused to budge.

“We experienced some dangerous situations and encountered some difficulties on that mission,” Liu said on Wednesday.

“The amount of time spent outside the cabin on this mission is much longer, and there will be many rounds of extra-vehicular activity. The mission has thus become extremely complex and tough.”

Chinese astronauts have had a comparatively low international profile.

U.S. legislation bars NASA from any cooperation with China, and Chinese astronauts have not been to the more than two-decade-old International Space Station (ISS), which has been visited by more than 240 men and women of various nationalities.

The ISS may be decommissioned in 2024 if the project does not receive new funding, and China could end up being the operator of the only space station in Earth’s orbit.

“After the completion of the Chinese space station, in the near future, we will see both Chinese and foreign astronauts jointly participate in the flight of the Chinese space station,” said Ji Qiming, assistant director at the China Manned Space Agency, told reporters in Jiuquan.

China’s space launches drew intense international attention last month after remnants of the rocket that carried the Tianhe module into space fell back to Earth with no official forecast of their expected landing location until literally the final minutes.

“We’re willing to carry out more extensive international exchanges and cooperation with other countries on the issue of debris from spacecraft and in space,” Ji said.

Backup astronauts for the mission on Thursday are Zhai Zhigang, 54, Wang Yaping, 41 and Ye Guangfu, 40.

China’s last crewed flight mission was in 2016 when two men – Chen Dong and Jing Haipeng – were sent via the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft to Tiangong-2, a prototype of the space station where they later stayed for about a month.

Latest News

US ‘deeply troubled’ by attacks on civilians as Taliban sweep across Afghanistan

Ariana News

Published

on

(Last Updated On: July 28, 2021)

The United States said on Wednesday it was deeply troubled by reports of escalating attacks on civilians as the Taliban sweep across Afghanistan and Washington pulls out its last remaining troops and ends its longest war.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a visit to India, said the only path to peace in Afghanistan was through negotiations, which all parties must take seriously.

Taliban insurgents have captured districts across Afghanistan and seized vital border control points in recent weeks, as Washington withdraws its last troops after 20 years. The Pentagon now estimates that the fighters control more than half of Afghanistan‘s district centres.

The surge has raised the prospect that the militants could return to power. Millions of people fled their extreme violence during their last period of rule from 1996-2001, when they staged public executions of their foes, banned women from work and education and hosted Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

The Taliban say they will treat civilians well if they return to power, and will not allow the country to be used as a base for international terrorism.

Describing reports of attacks on civilians as “deeply, deeply troubling”, Blinken said: “An Afghanistan that commits atrocities against its own people would become a pariah state.

“There’s only one path, and that’s at the negotiating table, to resolve the conflict peacefully.”

The United Nations reported this week that civilian casualties had been surging in recent weeks, with as many killed in May-June as in the previous four months. The report did not cover casualties in July, when fighting has intensified further.

Afghans in government-held areas have been alarmed by domestic media reports in recent days of abductions and killings of civilians in areas where the Taliban have advanced. The Taliban deny they are carrying out revenge killings.

U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered all U.S. troops out of the country, fulfilling a policy pledge made by his predecessor Donald Trump, despite warnings from American generals of the potential for renewed civil war without foreign troops to protect the Kabul government.

Peace talks between the government and the Taliban in Qatar have largely stalled, with the Taliban showing little interest in negotiating while they are gaining on the battlefield.

CHINA HOSTS TALIBAN DELEGATION

Taliban delegations have visited neighbouring countries in recent weeks, gaining international standing for a movement that had been treated as outcasts and banned as terrorists for most of the past two decades.

The latest regional power to host them was China, whose Foreign Minister Wang Yi met a nine-person delegation led by Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar Akhund in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin during a two-day visit.

Wang said the Taliban were expected to “play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan“, according to a readout of the meeting from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Taliban delegations have also visited Iran and Russia in recent weeks. The group has an office in Qatar.

“Politics, economy and issues related to the security of both countries and the current situation of Afghanistan and the peace process were discussed in the meetings,” Taliban spokesperson Mohammed Naeem tweeted about the China visit.

“(The) delegation assured China that they will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against China,” Naeem said. “China also reiterated its commitment of continuation of their assistance with Afghans and said they will not interfere in Afghanistan‘s issues but will help to solve the problems and restoration of peace in the country.”

Moscow, which fought for a decade in Afghanistan in the 1980s, said it was beefing up the combat capabilities at its military base in Tajikistan, a small former Soviet republic that borders Afghanistan.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, visiting Tajikistan on Wednesday, said the security situation had rapidly deteriorated in Afghanistan during a “hasty” U.S. withdrawal.

Shoigu said Islamic State fighters were moving into Afghanistan from countries including Syria and Libya, describing their arrival as “quite seriously organised”.

“We are paying increased attention to strengthening the combat capabilities of our base and refining plans to jointly repel possible insurgent infiltration,” he said.

A senior Russian diplomat has said Moscow views Taliban gains in northern Afghanistan as having a security upside because the group is hostile to what Russia regards as more dangerous Islamist extremists.

Russia is set to hold military drills on Aug. 5-10 near Tajikistan’s Afghan border, involving more than 1,000 Russian soldiers as well as Uzbek and Tajik forces.

Continue Reading

Latest News

China says Taliban expected to play ‘important’ Afghan peace role

Ariana News

Published

on

(Last Updated On: July 28, 2021)

China told a visiting Taliban delegation on Wednesday it expected the insurgent group to play an important role in ending Afghanistan‘s war and rebuilding the country, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Nine Taliban representatives met Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin on a two-day visit during which the peace process and security issues were discussed, a Taliban spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that China had informed the government about the Taliban visit to China.

According to the Ministry, the visit reflects China’s concerns over the security situation in Afghanistan, the presence of foreign militants alongside the

Taliban, and the country’s support for peace talks and political agreements.

China has expressed its deep concerns over recent attacks of the Taliban, “which have resulted in the increasing killing of innocent people and the displacement of tens of thousands of people.”

China has also called on the Taliban to cut ties with “regional and international terrorists.”

Wang said the Taliban is expected to “play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan“, according to a readout of the meeting from the foreign ministry.

He also said that he hoped the Taliban would crack down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as it was a “direct threat to China’s national security,” according to the readout, referring to a group China says is active in the Xinjiang region in China’s far west.

The visit was likely to further cement the insurgent group’s recognition on the international stage at a sensitive time even as violence increases in Afghanistan. The militants have a political office in Qatar where peace talks are taking place and this month sent representatives to Iran where they had meetings with an Afghan government delegation.

“Politics, economy and issues related to the security of both countries and the current situation of Afghanistan and the peace process were discussed in the meetings,” Taliban spokesperson Mohammed Naeem tweeted about the China visit.

Naeem added that the group, led by Taliban negotiator and deputy leader Mullah Baradar Akhund, was also meeting China’s special envoy for Afghanistan and that the trip took place after an invitation from Chinese authorities.

Security in Afghanistan, with which China shares a border, has been deteriorating fast as the United States withdraws its troops by September. The Taliban has launched a flurry of offensives, taking districts and border crossings around the country while peace talks in Qatar’s capital have not made substantive progress.

“(The) delegation assured China that they will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against China,” Naeem said. “China also reiterated its commitment of continuation of their assistance with Afghans and said they will not interfere in Afghanistan‘s issues but will help to solve the problems and restoration of peace in the country.”

Continue Reading

Latest News

Universities to reopen once students and staff have been vaccinated

Ariana News

Published

on

(Last Updated On: July 28, 2021)

The Afghan Ministry of Higher Education said Wednesday that classroom-based lessons will resume at universities in 11 provinces within the next 10 days once all students and staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The ministry said this includes Kabul University.

Addressing a press conference in Kabul, the minister, Abbas Basir, said once all students around the country have been vaccinated, all universities will reopen.

“We call on all [staff and students at] public and private higher education institutions to be vaccinated over the next two weeks; and if the whole country is vaccinated within fifteen days, training can resume in all provinces by August 12.

“We have asked all universities and each province to implement the vaccine campaign within two weeks and students to use this opportunity,” Basir said.

Meanwhile, a number of students who have already been vaccinated have called on all non-vaccinated students to get their vaccines so that classes can resume as normal.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Ariana News. All rights reserved!