World & Canada News - Mar. 9, 2017

IN THE WORLD

China proposes North Korea-U.S. de-escalation to avoid 'head-on collision'
The Associated Press/Mar. 7, 2017


China on Wednesday proposed that North Korea could suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt in joint military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi likened escalating tensions between the North and Washington and Seoul to "two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way."
"The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?" Wang told reporters. "Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains.
Wang said China proposes that as a first step to defusing the looming crisis, the North might suspend its nuclear and missile activities if the U.S. and South Korea halted their military exercises.
"This suspension-for-suspension can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table," Wang said, describing the approach as trying to address all parties' concerns in a "synchronized and reciprocal" manner.
China has also rejected accusations from U.S. President Donald Trump that Beijing could be doing more, saying the problem was ultimately between Washington and Pyongyang.
China has been stepping up pressure on North Korea, its once-close Communist ally, to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Last month, Beijing suspended all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year.
China is North Korea's largest source of trade and aid, and the move deprives the North of an important source of foreign currency. Beijing wants the U.S. in return to restart long-stalled negotiations with North Korea to ease regional tensions.
The missiles North Korea fired on Monday were unlikely to have been intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), South Korea said, which can reach the United States. They flew on average 1,000 kilometres and reached an altitude of 260 kilometres. Some landed as close as 300 kilometres from Japan's northwest coast, Japan's defence minister said earlier in the week.
Wang also urged South Korea to suspend deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system that he called a "wrong choice," saying it is the biggest problem hurting relations between Beijing and Seoul. On Tuesday, U.S. missile launchers and other equipment needed for the system arrived in South Korea.
"We urge some forces in South Korea not to keep insisting on taking this path, otherwise the result can only be damage to others and harm to yourself," Wang said.
Chinese scholars said Beijing has privately discussed their proposal with the countries involved but Wang's move to make it public could be a sign that China plans to take a more aggressive approach to the issue to prevent it from spinning out of control.
"China is becoming an utterly important victim of the turbulent situation on the Korean Peninsula, therefore it has unprecedentedly expressed its views in public," said Guo Rui, international relations expert at Jilin University.

 

AND IN CANADA

Canada named 2nd best country in the world…again, report finds
By Adam Frisk/Global News/Mar. 7, 2017


This may sound like a broken record but Canada has been named the second best country in the world yet again.
For a second year in a row, the Great White North was ranked second in the annual “Best Countries” survey from the U.S. News & World Report, in conjunction with Young & Rubicam BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Switzerland edged out Canada for the number one ranking, scoring a perfect 10 while Canada took in 9.7 in overall scoring.
The survey evaluated 80 countries in a variety of categories including economic influence, citizenship and quality of life. The survey was conducted after the U.S. election and more than 21,000 people participated in the second annual survey.
“We wanted to capture how tumultuous political change can affect a country’s perceived standing in the world,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News, in a statement. “Similar to what we have done with hospitals, universities and other institutions, the Best Countries portal pairs fact-based metrics with storytelling to help citizens, business leaders and governments better evaluate their countries and make sense of a range of important global issues.”
Switzerland made its debut in the number one spot, knocking last year’s best country Germany down to number four on the list.
Canada ranked first in the “Quality of Life” category, scoring a perfect 10 based on a variety of sub-factors including politics, economy and health care.
The report cited Canada as being a “high-tech industrial society with a high standard of living.”
“Trade agreements in the 1980s and 1990s dramatically bolstered trade with the U.S., and now the two countries are each other’s largest trading partner,” reads a summary of Canada’s ranking. While the service sector is Canada’s biggest economic driver, the country is a significant exporter of energy, food and minerals. Canada ranks third in the world in proven oil reserves and is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer.”
The United Kingdom was again named the third best country even post-Brexit. Germany slipped to number four on the list after dipping in “three important categories: open for business, citizenship and quality of life.”
 “The nation was rocked by a range of events - from growing public anxiety over an influx of refugees to a string of deadly terror attacks,” the report reads.
Rounding out the top five this year was Japan. The country moved up two spots on the ranking list from the inaugural survey. Japan excelled well in categories such as “entrepreneurship” and “cultural influence.”
Canada didn’t do so well in the “Heritage” category, scoring 2.5 overall and placing 41 in the rankings (Italy was ranked number one). As a country known for poutine, beaver tails and ketchup chips, Canada scored 0.9 in the “has great food” sub-category. We also scored 0.2 for having “a rich history” and nabbed two points for having “many cultural attractions.”
The report also noted the same concerns from last year’s survey.
“Canada faces domestic challenges related to the concerns of indigenous people and those in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec,” the report reads. “While constitutional guarantees allow the province wide-ranging cultural and linguistic autonomy, movements for complete independence come in waves.”