Moscow and Beijing hope new bridge linking Russian metropolis of Blagoveshchensk to Chinese language metropolis of Heihe will additional enhance commerce as Ukraine conflict hits provide stream.
Russia and China have opened a brand new cross-border bridge within the Far East that they hope will additional strengthen commerce as Moscow reels from sweeping Western sanctions imposed over its actions in Ukraine.
The bridge linking the Russian metropolis of Blagoveshchensk to the Chinese language metropolis of Heihe throughout the Amur River – identified in China because the Heilongjiang – is about 1km lengthy and price 19 billion roubles ($342m), the RIA information company reported on Friday.
Amid a fireworks show, freight vehicles from each ends crossed the two-lane bridge festooned with flags within the colors of each international locations, video footage of the opening confirmed.
Russian authorities stated the bridge would deliver Moscow and Beijing nearer collectively by boosting commerce after they introduced a “no limits” partnership in February, shortly earlier than President Vladimir Putin despatched his forces into Ukraine.
“In at this time’s divided world, the Blagoveshchensk-Heihe bridge between Russia and China carries a particular symbolic which means,” stated Yuri Trutnev, the Kremlin consultant within the Russian Far East.
China needs to deepen sensible cooperation with Russia in all areas, Chinese language Vice Premier Hu Chunhua stated on the opening.
Russia’s Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev stated the bridge would assist enhance bilateral annual commerce to a couple of million tonnes of products.
Slicing journey time
The bridge had been underneath development since 2016 and was accomplished in Might 2020, however its opening was delayed by cross-border COVID-19 restrictions, stated BTS-MOST, the agency constructing the bridge on the Russian aspect.
BTS-MOST stated freight site visitors on the bridge would shorten the journey distance of Chinese language items to western Russia by 1,500km (930 miles).
Automobiles crossing the bridge should pay a toll of 8,700 roubles ($150), a value that’s anticipated to drop as toll charges start to offset the price of development.
Russia stated in April it anticipated commodity flows with China to develop and commerce with Beijing to succeed in $200bn by 2024.
China is a serious purchaser of Russian pure assets and agricultural merchandise.
China has declined to sentence Russia’s actions in Ukraine and has criticised the Western sanctions on Moscow.
Lampang, Thailand – With every cockerel’s kick, wisps of white down feathers float into the air above the densely packed spectators. The lads watching the combat leap out of their seats to shout odds, voices swelling like singing cicadas.
Among the many viewers on the cockfighting ring in Lampang province in northwestern Thailand, one face stands out.
With the ends of her lengthy hair curled with a flat iron and thoroughly pencilled eyebrows, Phromanas Jumpa appears like an idol or influencer. She is neither. Higher generally known as Mod, the 27-year-old is considered one of Thailand’s up-and-coming gamefowl breeders, rising to prominence as “The Angel of Gamefowl” after getting into Super100, a TV expertise present that allowed her to point out off her experience on birds.
Mod watches the combat from the entrance row, elbows propped on a plastic-coated delicate barrier, cracked and flaking from a historical past of clenched arms. Her hen is within the ring, and if it wins there may be critical cash to be made – not essentially from playing, however slightly extra from the gross sales of her champion’s offspring.
Cockfighting is a longstanding a part of Thai tradition. In contrast to some Southeast Asian nations, betting on the result of a combat is authorized at licensed venues and spurs on the hen’s legs are sometimes wrapped in tape to stop critical damage.
Whereas rings are ubiquitous throughout the nation, tournaments are largely in rural provinces the place family earnings is commonly additionally decrease than in Bangkok. Mod’s farm, positioned just a few hours from Chiang Mai, is surrounded by rice fields. Over the previous couple of years, the game has reworked from a farmer’s facet hustle into an entrepreneur’s major supply of earnings.
In a rustic with one of many widest wealth gaps on the earth, gamefowl breeding has change into a uncommon gateway to upward social mobility. Mod’s mom was a housekeeper, and the vast majority of the household’s neighbours are farmers.
“Chicken breeding didn’t use to have standing and solely just lately is it being thought-about a major career,” Mod advised Al Jazeera.
“As of late, hen breeders can have a automotive, home, and a much bigger earnings than individuals with abnormal jobs.” Her farm is residence to greater than 100 birds. Gross sales can attain 100,000 Thai baht (simply over $2,900) a month – way more than the 300 Thai baht ($8.70) a day Mod earned beforehand as a receptionist at a health gymnasium.
Fame is essential
A preventing hen can promote for between 3,000 Thai baht ($85) and 50,000 Thai baht ($1,450), however with the fitting publicity, gross sales can attain much more profitable heights.
“I make round 15 million baht ($435,000) monthly in income, and that doesn’t embody the prize cash from fights,” mentioned the aptly nicknamed ‘Chicken’ S Meesuwan, one other gamefowl breeder.
In January 2022, his champion cockerel Trickster received a match with a prize of 70.2 million Thai baht ($2m). Success at excessive stakes matches like these may seem to be the tip purpose, however for businessmen like Chicken, these are largely PR stunts. Promoting the offspring of his winners is the place the true cash is made.
Like Mod, Chicken recollects rising up poor; as a toddler, he would complement his household’s earnings by operating meals to spectators at his native cockfighting ring in Ayutthaya. In the present day, he’s the proprietor of considered one of Asia’s most profitable gamefowl farms.
“Even 15 years in the past, I used to be making 3,000 baht a day in gross sales, however now it’s 300,000… 500,000… and even one million per day,” he says, speaking over a buzz of notifications on LINE, an prompt communications app, from a number of smartphones in entrance of him.
Fame – curated by means of rigorously deciding on their fighters’ opponents – and relentless digital advertising are a number of the greatest components figuring out a farm’s success.
As soon as a cockerel has received its highest-grossing match, it’s unlikely to combat once more in order that the breeder can protect its worthwhile status. Breeders will take reservations for the offspring of high-stakes winners earlier than the chicks have even been born.
Chicken’s farm has about 250,000 followers on LINE and a lot of the chicks are bought to smaller-scale breeders who’re hoping for a genetic pay-off.
Some crossbreed their native birds with others within the area; several types of chickens are recognized to have completely different preventing kinds and strengths.
Like Chicken, Mod makes use of LINE to promote her gamefowl nationwide and overseas, transport them in wood containers to Laos, Malaysia, and Indonesia. She sees abroad consumers as an necessary option to increase her enterprise.
Breeding as a brand new monetary alternative has led to a gradual change within the sport’s demographic. Cockfighting is just not solely attracting extra low-income opportunists or ladies like Mod, but in addition social media-savvy entrepreneurs.
In Bangkok, businessman Thongprasert Luengsupapit has been rearing a handful of gamefowl for the final two years.
From an enclosure behind his development ironmongery store, he movies YouTube movies to offer troubleshooting recommendation to different small scale breeders. The pandemic might need slowed down the playing facet of the business, however Thongprasert feels monetary instability has contributed to an increase in curiosity in gamefowl breeding.
Households of low-income teams had been probably the most considerably affected by pandemic-related losses, with about 50 p.c of farming actions and non-farm companies shedding greater than half of their earnings. Since mid-2020, Thongprasert’s YouTube channel has gained greater than 10,000 subscribers.
Mod’s enterprise is likely to be on the up at this time, however she was not at all times met by help. Not least from her mom who was initially frightened the business wouldn’t present a steady earnings.
“To start with, my mom didn’t like this career for me; it’s nonetheless new in Thai society for girls to boost preventing chickens,” she mentioned.
The blood-sport status, majority male viewers, and preliminary enterprise start-up prices imply that it’s nonetheless uncommon to see ladies breaking into the business.
“Individuals typically look down on ladies who get into working environments with lots of males. However individuals are changing into extra accepting,” mentioned Mod.
Bussarin Choeybanditthakul, who has been breeding birds for 29 years and turned down a proposal of 20 million Thai baht ($57,800) for considered one of her Thai pedigree birds in 2018, famous that whereas hen breeding generally is a great way for men and women alike to make supplemental earnings, they need to strive it out first.
“There’s lots of soiled work behind a farm’s maintenance, and it’s removed from a glamorous career,” she mentioned.
Again on the ring, Mod’s hen has misplaced a watch.
In a short interval, Mod’s supervisor fusses over the cockerel like a Muay Thai boxer, wrapping its wings in plastic luggage to maintain them dry whereas draping a scorching towel over the hen’s head. One other member of her staff wafts steam from a bunch of singed lemongrass beneath its breast to assist revive it. Their efforts are in useless; within the subsequent spherical, the hen cowers and runs away 3 times in a row, thereby shedding the combat.
Unable to hedge her bets in time, Mod additionally loses 5,000 Thai baht and a bit of little bit of dignity.
As she carries the hen again to her truck, she passes promotional posters for different groups that includes photos of girls in lingerie posing subsequent to their greatest performing roosters.
Tomorrow, Mod’s birds will combat in Chiang Mai – at a much bigger stadium and with larger stakes.