The significance of Myanmar’s Russia, Peru’s new president and Enjin to the UN Global Compact

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Jack Devine, Former Acting Director of the National Secret Service of the Central Intelligence Agency

Russia’s multifaceted support for Myanmar is a microcosm of its Southeast Asian strategy.

In the months since the February military coup in Myanmar, Russia and China have been the most powerful allies of the military government, but Russia has used regional instability to position itself as the third way between China and the West. Although China’s relationship with the previous government of Myanmar is closer than that of the military, it is also concerned about the government’s relationship with the West and potential interference with its development efforts, especially the “Belt and Road” initiative. On the other hand, Russia does not rely on the stability of Southeast Asia like China, but can use warring factions. Last month, the leader of the Myanmar military government, Min Aung Lai, visited the surrounding areas for the first time since February, going to Moscow to meet with senior Russian defense officials, instead of going to Beijing. According to reports, Hlaing has visited Russia seven times in the past ten years and previously stated that more than 6,000 Burmese military officers are studying at the Russian Military Academy. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), from 1999 to 2018, Russia accounted for nearly 40% of arms sales to Myanmar, second only to China. SIPRI’s data further shows that Russia has been the largest weapons supplier in Southeast Asia for the past 20 years, with Vietnam and Laos being the largest customers. But Russia is not only providing weapons to the region, and has pledged to Myanmar to provide 2 million Covid-19 vaccines and assist the country in its own vaccine production. Russia has also been trying to expand its free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Southeast Asian countries, the most recent being for Indonesia to sign the agreement. In order to further strengthen its soft power, the Russian Foreign Minister met with the foreign minister of Bangladesh last week and agreed to encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to engage in dialogue on the Rohingya crisis.

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The leftist and former teacher Pedro Castillo was declared the president of the divided Peru, and it is expected that economic growth may benefit him.

Peru, like many of its neighbors, has been fighting the triple threat of Covid-19, social unrest and severe economic recession. But in the past few years, Peru has also faced the challenge of serious differences in executive and legislative powers. In November last year, Peru’s unicameral legislature voted to impeach then President Martin Vizcarra on the grounds that it had mismanaged the pandemic and corruption, a move that angered thousands of people. The June presidential election is equally worrying. Castillo’s right-wing competitor, Keiko Fujimori, was also under investigation for corruption and suspected election fraud. Peruvians launched a six-week investigation and finally found that Castillo was the legitimate winner. The European Union, the United States, and 14 electoral colleges considered this election to be legal, and the United States called this election a “model of democracy” in the region. Castillo had previously served as a primary school teacher, never held a public office, and will be welcomed by a political institution that almost completely opposes him. There are also serious differences among Peruvian citizens. According to reports, many urban elites have transferred funds overseas out of fear of Castillo’s economic policies. But Castillo’s Peruvian Liberal Party has less than 40 of the 130 seats in the legislature, and Castillo has recruited several moderate advisers. In addition, he no longer talks about nationalizing Peru’s lucrative multinational mining, oil, gas, and hydrocarbon companies, but instead promises to increase taxes on mining companies. Copper and gold are Peru’s two most important export products, and their prices remain high. It is expected that trade barriers related to Covid will be eased in the coming months. Although he is not sure how effective Castillo will be or in which areas he will eventually be affected, positive forecasts of Peru’s export-oriented economy may be beneficial to him.

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Enjin became the first blockchain platform recognized by the United Nations Global Compact, marking the company’s extensive efforts in sustainable development.

On Tuesday, Enjin, an innovative blockchain technology company focused on non-fungible tokens (NFT), became the first such company to join the United Nations Global Compact. In an interview, Enjin stated that it hopes to use NFTs to promote sustainability and equality, in line with the UN agreement to encourage global companies and companies to adopt more environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices. NFT has been very popular in the past two years. According to reports, in the first quarter of 2021, NFT sales exceeded US$2 billion. Essentially, NFT is a method of proving the ownership of unique virtual items. It is a unit of data stored on a blockchain or digital ledger that is used to prove the exclusive ownership of digital documents ranging from photos to sports trading cards. Singapore-based Enjin focuses its NFT work on games and apps. According to reports, it can operate with a lower carbon footprint than Bitcoin due to a streamlined verification model that requires less energy. This week, the United Nations Global Compact not only listed Enjin as a member, but also awarded the company the highest membership level, demonstrating its interest in promoting this environmental protection effort by crypto and blockchain entrepreneurs. In the case of Enjin, it said it hopes to adopt the technology in carbon capture companies to deal with climate change in the process. The head of the United Nations Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics said that in the global fight against the epidemic, we should use new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to better equip ourselves for the future.

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