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Philippines army battles IS-linked group in southern city

Philippines troops backed by tanks and helicopters battled on Friday to retake a southern city of 200,000 people overrun by militants linked to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) earlier this week.

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Pakistani military feeling the Trump pressure

A significant reduction to the military aid will see Pakistan receiving $100 million for the 2018 fiscal year, but the White House has left it to the State Department to decide whether it should be given in the form of a grant or a loan. The current 2017 fiscal would end on September 30.

Last year, the US assistance to Pakistan under the State Department budget was $534 million, which included $225 million in foreign military funding.

"The Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for Pakistan would be provided in the form of a loan guarantee," said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management of Budget in the White House.

Mulvaney added that in its maiden budget, President Donald Trump's administration proposed to convert its FMF program to many countries from aid to financial loan. Pakistan is one of them.

"Whether the funding is provided through grants, or as a subsidy for a guaranteed loan, is an option the State Department can exercise to ensure our foreign assistance best supports our national interests," the White House said.

Pakistani military feeling the Trump pressure

Trump did not acknowledge Pakistan as a frontline state in war on terror in his Saudi Arabia speech

In addition to State Department's financial assistance, Islamabad also receives reimbursement from the US for its expenses toward US' Afghanistan operations.

Despite these cutbacks, Pakistan continues to be the second-largest recipient of US aid in South Asia, next only to Afghanistan. But it is evident that Trump's administration is changing its terms of engagement with Islamabad - a crucial departure from former President Barack Obama's policies toward the Islamic country.

Counterterrorism

At the heart of the problem is Washington's dissatisfaction with Islamabad's counterterrorism efforts in the region, or the lack of it. US officials accuse Pakistan's military establishment of providing logistical and military support to militant groups like the Taliban to destabilize Afghanistan and increase their clout in the war-torn country. Pakistan denies these allegations.

"Pakistan views Afghanistan or desires for Afghanistan some of the same things we want: a safe, secure, stable Afghanistan. One addition, one that does not have heavy Indian influence in Afghanistan," Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a recent congressional hearing.

"They (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organizations so that if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan interest," Stewart underlined.

Pakistani military feeling the Trump pressure

The US is massively investing in the capacity building of the Afghan National Army

US-Pakistani ties have deteriorated considerably in the past few years, with Pakistan drifting closer to its longtime ally China. Aijaz Awan, a Pakistani defense analyst and former military official, told DW the financial reductions would force Pakistan to find new allies, such as Russia .

"The options are open for Pakistan. Russia wants to support the Taliban to keep 'Islamic State' (IS) at bay. Moscow is also looking to minimize US influence in southern Asia. It works for Pakistan," Awan said.

"The US

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Tokyo Motor Show losing its luster

When the curtain came down on the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, organizers vowed that the next edition of the biennial event would attract more exhibitors from around the world and bigger crowds to the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center.  

When they announced the dates of this year's event earlier this week - the show will run from October 27 to November 5 - it was clear that the effort to convince more foreign manufacturers to display their latest models had fallen short.

The 2015 event attracted 160 carmakers, suppliers and related organizations, but that number for this year's show will come down to 150.

A number of global brands will also be conspicuous by their absence. None of the "Big Three" US automakers - General Motors (GM), Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles - will be present, with GM and Ford absent for four consecutive shows. Similarly, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Seat, Kia, Daihatsu and other well-known names from the international auto sector are also skipping Tokyo this year.

Tokyo Motor Show losing its luster

The 2015 event attracted 160 carmakers, suppliers and related organizations, but that number for this year's show will come down to 150

Falling importance

Analysts say an event that used to be the most important showcase for new vehicles and the companies that built them, ranking alongside similar shows in Detroit, Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris, has in recent years slipped down the pecking order and is now firmly a second-tier event for non-Japanese companies.

Tokyo's event has been eclipsed by shows in Shanghai and Beijing as the Chinese market for cars has boomed, they say, and it will be difficult for Japan to ever recover its former prestige.

"The two Chinese events have taken over as the premier motor shows in Asia and Tokyo has slipped to a tier-two event as international brands focus on the Chinese market and Chinese and South Korean brands make impressive inroads into the international auto market," said Peter Lyon, author of the car book "Flashing Hazards" and presenter of the "Samurai Wheels" television program for Japanese national broadcaster NHK.

"A lot of European companies are tying up with Chinese firms to get a foot in the market there because it is growing so rapidly.

"I also feel that while Japanese cars are extremely impressive from an engineering perspective, they are a lot less stylish than some of the cars that are coming out of Korea, for example," he told DW.

Tokyo Motor Show losing its luster

Peter Lyon says he feels that Japanese cars are a lot less stylish than some of the cars that are coming out of Korea

Best of East and West

"I was recently at the New York International Auto Show and I was very impressed by the models on the Kia stand," Lyon said. "They appear to have been able to blend the very best of Europe and Asia in their designs and I just feel that Japan's manufacturers have missed the boat a bit."

Japan's car firms clearly have a major stake in the Tokyo

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Hong Kong rejects credit downgrade over links to China

Hong Kong on Thursday criticized a decision by Moody's to cut the city's credit rating, just hours after

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Sieren's China: All for love

"Where's my iPhone 7?" says 17-year-old Chen Ting from Shanghai to her boyfriend. She's not looking for her phone though; she's asking about her Valentine's Day present. An iPhone 7 would mean her boyfriend really loves her.

She's not alone among the generation aged between 17 and 37. The cheapest version of the iPhone 7 costs 700 euros and often the millennials' expectations do not end there. In China, a relationship costs money - to paraphrase the old adage that a relationship means work. You need deep pockets to keep the flame of eternal love burning. 

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In stark contrast to a few years ago, when most 16-year-olds would not have been allowed to go on dates or think about relationships, no one wants to be without a boyfriend or a girlfriend now. Not so long ago, good grades at school and career prospects were much more important at that age. However, these did not leave much time for socializing or romance. So a whole generation of successful men and women in their late 20s emerged who had little experience of romance.

Sieren's China: All for love

Yet, the social pressure remained - if as a woman you're not married by 30, you're on the shelf. You can stop expecting expensive gifts.

"I love you"

There's another reason for giving expensive gifts. These replace the open expression of feelings. It's not common for Chinese men to actually say the words "I love you". Imagine, if these were not reciprocated? That would mean losing face.

Sieren's China: All for love

DW's Frank Sieren is a China-based best-selling author

In principle, it's expected that young men hoping to woo a young woman should be willing to spend about a quarter of their monthly salary on gifts. Some young men might do this for about six months, spending on average 10,000 yuan (1,300 euros, $1,460) without knowing if their "investment" in a woman will get them to their goal.

China's equivalent of Valentine's Day is May 20. Instead of chocolate, flowers or cards, the most common gift is a red envelope containing 520 yuan. If you say the figures 520 aloud, they sound like the words "I love you". Thus, it becomes a romantic action to give money!

Used to wealth

This generation is used to receiving love in the form of money. That's how their parents and grandparents showed them their love. Nothing was too expensive for these small tyrants.

They were born when the country opened up economically. They know nothing of the hardships that their parents and grandparents suffered. Moreover, if they are middle-class and urban, their life is easier than that of their counterparts in the West. They do not have to pay off student loans, buy an apartment or build a house. Their grandparents or parents finance them. When a man gets married, he's expected to have an apartment already.

The millennials are a generation

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