National security wrap

The beat

Arrests made during Melbourne coronavirus protest

Ten protesters were arrested and a police officer was injured during an anti-lockdown demonstration in Melbourne on the weekend. More than 100 people gathered outside the Victorian Parliament to protest social distancing as well as 5G, vaccination and other things linked to coronavirus by what Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy called ‘very silly misinformation’ circulating online. A police spokesperson confirmed that most of the arrests were for failing to comply with coronavirus lockdown directions.

Police chiefs hold coronavirus meeting

Interpol has facilitated a remote meeting of police chiefs from dozens of countries across the Middle East and North Africa to discuss the challenges they face in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal of the meeting was to develop strategies to address the crisis and establish mechanisms to work on them with Interpol. The meeting was part of Interpol’s wider strategy of building interagency collaboration to more effectively fight transnational crime.

CT scan

Crack Taiwanese troops provide CT training to Middle Eastern soldiers

An undisclosed Middle Eastern country has reportedly been sending troops to Taiwan to receive counterterrorism training from Taiwan’s Military Police Special Services Company, otherwise known as Night Hawk. The changing security situation in East Asia has seen Taiwan increase its military cooperation with the US and Middle Eastern countries, and its special forces are one of the few units in Asia capable of providing high-level counterterrorism training.

Spanish police arrest alleged IS extremist

A follower of the Islamic State terror group has been arrested in Barcelona by Spanish police working with the FBI and Moroccan intelligence officers. Two weeks earlier, a wanted IS militant was arrested in Spain in a separate investigation. Authorities in Europe have seen an increase in terror attacks by lone extremists during the pandemic, despite calls from IS for its followers to avoid the continent.


Clashes on China–India border

On Sunday, Indian media reported a border fracas between Indian and Chinese troops in the Himalayan region of Sikkim. Seven Chinese soldiers and four Indians were injured, according to the report. Sikkim has been a site of tension since 1962, when war broke out between the two countries over territorial disputes that remain unsolved. The latest stand-off took place in 2017, when China attempted to extend a road through the contested region. India has also had a longstanding border dispute with Nepal, which was recently reignited when India opened a new road between New Delhi and the Tibetan plateau.

Tensions in the South China Sea

Japanese authorities say a Chinese vessel pursued a fishing boat in Japanese waters off the Senkaku Islands. The uninhabited archipelago is at the centre of a territorial dispute between Japan, China and Taiwan. Beijing claims sovereignty over what it calls the Diaoyu Islands, and it has deployed China Coast Guard vessels to patrol there, igniting several clashes with Japan over the years.

First responder

Russia records world’s second highest tally of coronavirus cases

A surge in cases of Covid-19 has taken Russia’s total to the second highest in the world, surpassing Italy and the United Kingdom. Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be taking a back seat in dealing with the pandemic and has delegated the work of easing restrictions to regional governors, who have opted to extend lockdown measures. Putin’s approval ratings have fallen since the virus hit his country.

India announces Covid-19 stimulus package

While India has so far avoided a large number of deaths from coronavirus infections, its economy has been hard hit by stringent nationwide lockdown measures. In response, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an economic rescue package equivalent to about 10% of India’s GDP, or $404 billion, to help struggling businesses and workers. The country’s lockdown is set to expire next week and Modi says when it does a new set of rules will come into force.