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China blocks India’s bid to sanction Masood Azhar again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s decision to once again block the proposal to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist under the “1267 regime” has triggered a sharp reaction from India.China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move with a six-month technical hold followed by a three- month extension. Officials here say that India may have to apply again to the 1267 Committee with charge sheet details to press for its case as its present application will lapse following Beijing’s two technical holds.Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup termed Beijing’s decision as an “unfortunate blow” and a step that confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.India had approached the UN in February to include Azhar (for his link with al Qaeda) in the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list in the aftermath of the January 2 terror attack on the Pathankot air base by JeM terrorists. The resolution will now go into cold storage, till a fresh listing is demanded by a UN Security Council member.He said that the international community is aware that JeM, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks on India, including the one on Pathankot air base. “The inability of the international community to list its leader Masood Azhar is an unfortunate blow to the concerted efforts to effectively counter all forms of terrorism, and confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism,” he said.Swarup further said that China’s decision is surprising as it has been affected by the scourge of terrorism and has declared opposition to all forms of terrorism. “As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation,” he added. India had expected China to be more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism.Earlier also, India had expressed anger at the working methods at the UNSC, which is based on the principles of unanimity. Following the attack on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other associated groups in 1999, the Security Council passed a resolution known as “Resolution 1267” or “1267 Regime” under Article 41 of the UN, which established a sanction regime to cover individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda, Laden and/or the Taliban.The 1267 Resolution reads as follows: “The Security Council may decide what measures, not involving armed forces, are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”The resolution requires countries to immediately freeze funds, financial assets or economic resources of individuals and entities designated by the UNSC with terrorism and terrorist financing.China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold on India’s application.

Taiwan announces U.S. itinerary for president, upsetting China | Reuters

By J.R. Wu
| TAIPEI

TAIPEI Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit through Houston and San Francisco during a January visit to allies in Latin America, her office said Friday, prompting China to repeat a call for the United States to block any such stopover. Tsai’s office declined to comment on whether she would be meeting members of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s team, but the U.S. mission in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said the visit would be “private and unofficial”.Trump angered China when he spoke to Tsai this month in a break with decades of precedent and cast doubt on his incoming administration’s commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy.An adviser to Trump’s transition team said he thought “further high-level engagement for the foreseeable future is unlikely” when asked if any meetings were planned. The adviser did not want to be identified by name.China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province, ineligible for state-to-state relations.China’s Foreign Ministry repeated a previous call for the United States not to allow the transit and not send any “wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces”.

“We think everyone is very clear on her real intentions,” the ministry said, without explaining.The United States, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it.Tsai is transiting through the United States on her way to and from visiting Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. She will leave Taiwan on Jan. 7 and return on Jan. 15.Tsai will arrive in Houston on Jan. 7 and leave the following day. On her return, she will arrive in San Francisco on Jan. 13, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang told a regular news briefing.

The AIT said the transit did not contradict the “one China” policy.”President Tsai’s transit through the United States is based on long-standing U.S. practice and is consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan,” Alys Spensley, acting AIT spokeswoman, told Reuters.”There is no change to the U.S. ‘one China’ policy,” she added.

Spensley said Tsai’s transits would be “private and unofficial”. The U.S. State Department said AIT chairman Ambassador James Moriarty would greet Tsai in Houston and San Francisco.China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communist forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island.Speaking to members of China’s largely ceremonial advisory body to parliament on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said next year China would make “unremitting efforts” at unification and developing peaceful relations across the Taiwan Strait, state news agency Xinhua said.Taiwan had as many as 30 diplomatic allies in the mid-1990s, but now has formal relations with 21, mostly smaller and poorer nations in Latin America and the Pacific and also including the Vatican. (Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Nick Macfie and James Dalgleish)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 22:41 IST

‘Natural to have differences’: China hopes for better ties with India in 2017

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China hopes for better ties with India in 2017 by resolving differences over India’s admission into elite Nuclear Suppliers Group and listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as terrorist by the UN as the two nations signed off their most engaging year bogged down by the twin issues.”This year has seen a steady development of China-India relations, with the two countries marching towards the goal of building a more closely-knit partnership for development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said summing up Beijing’s perception of the outgoing year and its vision of Sino-Indian ties for the next year.”The leadership of the two countries have maintained frequent contacts” despite the differences, she said, referring to a number of meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at multilateral foras like G-20 and BRICS summit.
ALSO READ Won’t prejudge Chinese action on UN resolution on Masood Azhar: IndiaShe said that the dialogues and consultations have been going on in an orderly fashion at all levels and practical cooperation in various fields has been carried out steadily.”As close neighbours, it is natural for our two big countries to have differences, and we have been exploring ways to resolve them through diplomatic channels. The main theme of China-India relations remains friendship and cooperation,” she said, holding out hope for a more fruitful year for bilateral ties next year with the resolution of the two major issues.
ALSO READ UK reaffirms support to India’s bid for UNSC, NSG membership”For the year 2017, China would like to work with India for better implementation of the important consensus reached between the leadership, greater political mutual trust, wider mutually beneficial cooperation and properly management of differences so as to ensure a sustained and steady development of China-India relations,” she said.The strength of the deep diplomatic engagement between the two sides virtually begins with the New Year as China’s second “technical hold” on India’s application for listing Azhar as terrorist under UN’s 1267 Committee will expire on December 31, opening a new window for both the countries to address the issue which cast a shadow on Beijing s claim to fight terrorism in all forms as the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad is already listed by the UN as terror group.With the end of the second technical hold by China, India is expected to submit a fresh application backed by a charge sheet filed recently by the National Investigation Agency against Azhar for his involvement in the Pathankot terror attack.The charge sheet was expected to further reinforce India’s case for a UN ban against Azhar. Other members of the Committee including UNSC permanent members, US, Russia, France and UK had backed it earlier.Indian officials hope that the charge sheet provides strong basis for the case for China to take a relook as Beijing in the past argued that sufficient evidence has not been provided.”Listing in the 1267 Committee must be in line with the relevant resolutions of the UNSC and the rules of procedure of the Committee,” Hua had said, replying to question on Azhar’s issue days after NIA filed charge sheet.On India s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group too Indian and Chinese officials hope for a way out next year as China, after blocking India’s bid, began an exercise to work out a “non-discriminatory formula” to admit new members.It is unclear yet whether a formula can be worked out where the other members of the NSG will agree for admission of China’s close ally Pakistan, whose record in nuclear proliferation during the time of its disgraced nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan will be a stumbling block.China is advocating a two step approach for admission of countries who have not signed nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the NSG. As per the new stand announced by Beijing last month, it first wants to find a solution that is applicable to the admission of all non-NPT members followed by discussions to admit specific non-NPT member.Indian officials say it will make it another engaging year in Sino-Indian diplomacy on both Azhar and NSG fronts and hope that it would not be a futile exercise as happened this year.However, even after the resolution of the two issues, the larger issues like the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor remain. Modi himself raised this issue with Xi during their meeting at the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.Significantly, as the year draws to a close, Lt Gen Amir Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, asked India to “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the USD 46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.Chinese officials say Riaz’s comments are significant as they point to the backing of the Pakistan army.Hua said China is open for such a proposal and wondered “what is India s take on this whether this is a good sign from Pakistan”.While relations appears to have been bogged down over the NSG, Azhar and CEPC which involves Pakistan, officials on both sides say that 2016 was an year of deep engagement between both the countries covering almost all aspects of the relations including the military.

George Michael had his own cultural revolution in China | Reuters

By Cate Cadell
| BEIJING

BEIJING It was strangely muted when George Michael, as part of the British pop duo Wham!, took the stage at the Workers Gymnasium in Beijing in April 1985, recalled one of those who attended that now legendary first Western pop act in Communist China.Around 15,000 concert-goers watched Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley sing hits such as “Careless Whisper” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” – as police grimly stared at them.”I’d never seen so many police in my life,” Mao Danqing, a now well-known Chinese writer who attended the concert, told Reuters on Monday.     The security presence was so intimidating people were too timid to make any noise during the songs, Mao said.    “When you see that many police you feel terrified. Everyone sat in separate sections and each section had police lined up in front, facing the crowd,” Mao said.Michael, who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist with sometimes sexually provocative lyrics, died at his home in England on Sunday. He was 53.CHINA OPENING UP

    China maintained strict controls on Western music and film in the 1980s, just a few years after adopting historic economic reforms in 1978 following the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. The music of Wham! and their contemporaries remained banned and authorities tightly controlled reports of the concert.The group’s manager at the time, Simon Napier-Bell, said it took 18 months to negotiate the two performances on Wham!’s two-week tour – the other concert was in Guangzhou. Napier-Bell said in a book published on the 20th anniversary of the tour, “I’m Coming to Take You to Lunch”, that he undermined Queen’s candidacy for the tour by presenting Michael as a more “wholesome” alternative to Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury. The book’s title was a reference to Napier-Bell’s relentless wooing of Chinese authorities with lunch meetings.A film documenting the tour called “Foreign Skies: Wham! in China” is available on YouTube. It shows Michael and Ridgeley getting chased by photographers along the Great Wall, chatting about cricket at a British Embassy cocktail reception, touring a traditional market and playing an impromptu game of soccer.    Mao, the Chinese writer, received his concert ticket from his university – one of several that were given allocations of tickets for students studying literature.

  “We were like blank pages back then. I’d never seen anything like this before in my life,” said Mao, who said he was seated behind students from North Korea.”In front of me, the foreign students jumped up to dance, the police quickly came and told them to sit down,” Mao said.’HE CHANGED CHINA’

    Despite the tense atmosphere, the Beijing concert has since become legendary among China’s rock royalty.    “They certainly had an impact on China,” said Kaiser Kuo, the front man of a popular Chinese metal band in the 1980s called the Tang Dynasty. “Everyone knew Wham! songs, even people who would go on to play music that diverged starkly from pop.”    Chinese took to social media on Monday to mourn Michael, whose 1984 hit “Careless Whisper” was particularly popular in China.     “That performance marked the beginning of China’s opening up its gate (to Western music),” said one user. “He changed China!”Michael said in music video for the release of Wham!’s single “Freedom” in 1985 that “nobody had any idea what to expect from Chinese audiences”.”I did feel that although we were very privileged to actually be put in the position, that we were acting as ambassadors of a sort.” (Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Alex Richardson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 21:11 IST

China sticks to its stand on JeM chief Masood Azhar despite NIA chargesheet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s move to charge sheet Masood Azhar in the Pathankot terror attack appears to have not made much impact on China as Beijing today said any move by New Delhi to bring about a UN ban on the JeM chief must be in line with rules and procedures laid down by the Security Council.”On the question of listing in the 1267 Committee, I have expressed the Chinese position many times,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told PTI in response to a question on NIA listing Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad, as terrorist in the charge sheet on the attack on an air force base in Pathankot in January this year.”Listing in the 1267 Committee must be in line with the relevant resolutions of the UNSC and the rules of procedure of the Committee,” Hua said in a written reply here.
ALSO READ After Pathankot, JeM chief Masood Azhar owns up Nagrota attackNIA on Monday filed a charge sheet against Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the attack that killed seven personnel and injured 37 others.Hua’s reply came as China’s second technical hold in the UN blocking India’s move to list Azhar as a terrorist under the 1267 committee rules of the UNSC is set to expire towards the end of this month.
ALSO READ Pathankot airbase attack: NIA files chargesheet, names Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood AzharOn March 31, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move to impose a ban on Azhar under the Sanctions Committee of the Council.China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold on India’s application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.Officials here say that India may have to apply again to the 1267 committee with the charge sheet details to press for its case as its present application will lapse following Beijing’s two technical holds.The two countries have been holding talks on China’s blocking Azhar’s case as well as India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).The talks appears to have not made much headway as China on December 12 said there is no change in both the cases.”As for India s application for Nuclear Suppliers Group and listing issue pursuant to resolution of 1267 (to list Azhar as terrorist) China’s position remains unchanged,” another Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had said.His assertion that China’s stand remained unchanged in both NSG and Azhar’s cases was made while answering a question on Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s remarks last week at India-China think tank forum in New Delhi that China should not give a political colour to New Delhi’s efforts to access civilian nuclear technology, in reference to Beijing’s opposition to its NSG bid.Jaishankar had also expressed dismay over the two countries not being able to come together on the issue at critical international forums, a reference to China blocking the ban in the UN on Azhar.

India must respect ‘core interests to avoid disturbance in bilateral ties’: China on Dalai Lama’s meeting with President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China took strong exception to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan on Friday during a children’s summit, saying India must respect China’s “core interests” to avoid “any disturbance” to the bilateral ties.”Recently in disregard of China’s solemn representation and strong opposition, the Indian side insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian Presidential palace where he took part in an event and met President Mukherjee,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang told a media briefing here. “The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to that,” he said, replying to a question on the Dalai Lama’s presence in the opening session of the ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit’, organised by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation on December 10. “The Dalai Lama is in political exile and is long been engaged anti-China separatist activities with the attempt of separating Tibet away from China under the cloak of religion,” Geng said.The Chinese side firmly opposes any form of contact between officials of the other countries with him. “We urge the Indian side to see through the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai Lama clique, fully respect China’s core interests and major concerns, take effective means to remove the negative impact caused by the incident to avoid any disturbance to China-India relationship,” Geng said.Responding to China’s reaction Vikas Swarup, MEA, said, “India’s position is consistent.​His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected spiritual leader. It was a non political event which he attended.”China routinely protests world leaders meetings with the Dalai Lama. This is the second time that China objected to the Dalai Lama’s activities in India in recent months. Beijing in October this year objected to India’s permission to the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of southern Tibet.Early this month, China also objected to the visit of prominent Tibetan religious leader, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to Arunachal Pradesh, hoping that India would abide by consensus and refrain from taking any action that might complicate the boundary dispute. India also came under the criticism from Chinese official media over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Mongolia following which Beijing was accused of imposing a blockade of the land-locked country.While China besides criticising Mongolia for permitting the Dalai Lama reportedly blocked movement along the Mongolia-China border, Beijing was also livid over the Mongolian Ambassador to India Gonchig Ganhold’s appeal to New Delhi to help Mongolia to deal with China’s countermeasure against Ulaanbaatar.India has said Mongolia can avail the US $1 billion aid, which one of the Chinese newspaper Global Times termed it as a bribe. An article in the daily also warned Mongolia that it is “politically harebrained” to ask for New Delhi’s support as it will further complicate bilateral ties.

China protests Prez’s meeting with Dalai Lama, warns of disturbance to ties

Beijing: On Friday, China took strong exception to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan during a children’s summit, saying India must respect China’s “core interests” to avoid “any disturbance” to the bilateral ties.

“Recently in disregard of China’s solemn representation and strong opposition, the Indian side insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian Presidential palace where he took part in an event and met President Mukherjee,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing.

“The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to that,” he said, replying to a question on the Dalai Lama’s presence in the opening session of the ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit’, organised by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation on 10 December.

“The Dalai Lama is in political exile and is long been engaged anti-China separatist activities with the attempt of separating Tibet away from China under the cloak of religion,” Geng said.

Dalai Lama. PTIDalai Lama. PTI

Dalai Lama. PTI

The Chinese side firmly opposes any form of contact between officials of the other countries with him.

“We urge the Indian side to see through the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai Lama clique, fully respect China’s core interests and major concerns, take effective means to remove the negative impact caused by the incident to avoid any disturbance to China-India relationship,” Geng said.

China routinely protests world leaders meetings with the Dalai Lama.

This is the second time that China objected to the Dalai Lama’s activities in India in recent months.

Beijing objected in October this year to India’s permission to the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of southern Tibet.

Early this month, China also objected to the visit of prominent Tibetan religious leader, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to Arunachal Pradesh, hoping that India would abide by consensus and refrain from taking any action that might complicate the boundary dispute.

India also came under the criticism from Chinese official media over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Mongolia following which Beijing was accused of imposing a blockade of the land-locked country.

While China besides criticising Mongolia for permitting the Dalai Lama reportedly blocked movement along the Mongolia-China border, Beijing was also livid over the Mongolian Ambassador to India Gonchig Ganhold’s appeal to New Delhi to help Mongolia to deal with China’s countermeasure against Ulaanbaatar.

India has said Mongolia can avail the USD one billion aid, which one of the Chinese newspaper Global Times termed it as a bribe.

An article in the daily also warned Mongolia that it is “politically harebrained” to ask for New Delhi’s support as it will further complicate bilateral ties.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:21 IST

India set to test-launch Agni-V ballistic missile capable of reaching northern parts of China

India is preparing to test its Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Agni-V is capable of reaching the northern parts of China, reported The Times of IndiaAgni’s earlier versions, which have been inducted in the armed forces, can reach anywhere in Pakistan and parts of western China.

Reports suggest that testing of this missile is being done after a gap of few years. The missile was tested in 2012, 2013 and 2015 but was reported to have a technical glitch.

File photo. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had announced a glitch in the missile technology earlier this year. When asked about the much-delayed fourth test of Agni-V, DRDO chief S Christopher had earlier said in July, “The problem is solvable and the next test-firing of Agni-V is expected by the year-end.

About the delay, he had said, “It has been delayed because of a technical snag. There is a problem with the battery.”

There were also reports that the test was postponed due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to the US. Christopher had denied the reports, stating:  “The reasons for delay are only technical” IANS had reported

About the timeframe for the next test, the DRDO chief had said: “Our colleagues have said the issue can be resolved. We will do a test before the end of this year.”

This missile is strategically important as it is expected to keep a watch on China, said the reports.

Reports say that India will be the fifth country to possess this missile after America, Russia, China, France and England.

“This will be the final test of the three-stage Agni-V, which will be tested for its full range, before the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) begins its user trials,” a source told The Times Of India.

The Agni-V is the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) that started in the 1960s and was once overseen by APJ Abdul Kalam.

Agni-V is a three-stage missile designed to carry over one-tonne warhead. Its 5,000 km range gives it the farthest reach among all Indian missiles.

With inputs from IANS

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 15:07 IST

Exclusive – Standards council to investigate New Oriental after Reuters report | Reuters

By Steve Stecklow
| MIAMI

MIAMI A U.S. standards-setting body said it would investigate New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc (EDU.N) in the wake of a Reuters report that detailed allegations of academic fraud at the company.The American International Recruitment Council, which certifies agencies that recruit foreign students on behalf of U.S. colleges, will investigate the company in response to the report, said Jeet Joshee, AIRC’s president-elect. “It’s concerning, highly concerning,” he said of the allegations in the report.The article can be read here: reut.rs/2gHWbwZAIRC is a non-profit membership organisation comprised of 289 colleges and universities and 78 agencies that refer foreign students to U.S. schools often for a commission. It establishes best practices for international student recruitment and certifies agencies in a process that includes inspections.Joshee said AIRC certified New Oriental’s counselling division – Beijing New Oriental Vision Overseas Consultancy Co — about three or four years ago. He said AIRC could revoke the certification if the fraud accusations are confirmed.

Reuters reported today that eight former and current New Oriental employees had told the news agency that the Beijing-based company had helped to write college application essays and teacher recommendations, and had falsified a high school transcript. A New Oriental student contract reviewed by Reuters stated that its services included “writing or polishing” parts of applications. The contract also said New Oriental would set up an email account on behalf of the client for communicating with colleges, keeping sole control of the password. Several former employees said some students never even saw their applications.“It’s most concerning that they would actually handle the whole application for a student,” said Joshee, who chairs AIRC’s certification body. Joshee also serves as associate vice president for international education at California State University, Long Beach.

New Oriental denies condoning or wittingly engaging in application fraud. The publicly listed company, with annual revenue of $1.5 billion, is China’s largest provider of private education services.The company’s American Depositary Receipts, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, were down $1.02 Friday afternoon at $47.97 a share, off 2.1 percent on the day.

In addition to offering college counselling services to thousands of Chinese students seeking to study in the U.S., New Oriental has contracts with colleges including Arizona State University, the University of Cincinnati and Temple University. Those colleges pay New Oriental commissions when it refers students who enrol.Two New Oriental employees at AIRC’s annual convention in Miami told Reuters the company had “relationships” with about 100 U.S. colleges and universities. They declined to say how many of those schools pay commissions to New Oriental.Joshee said his school – California State, Long Beach – signed a contract this year with New Oriental, although it hasn’t provided any students to date. He said the university normally pays agents $1,500 to $2,000 for each student who enrols. He said his university would await the results of AIRC’s probe before taking any action. (Edited by Michael Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 00:30 IST

India taking ‘softer line’ towards Sirisena govt: Former Sri Lanka Prez Rajapaksa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has accused India of taking a softer line towards the Maithripala Sirisena government over its policies towards China, as he embarked on a week-long visit to Beijing to meet top Chinese leadership.Ahead of his trip to China on the invitation of the Chinese government, Rajapaksa while talking to reporters yesterday recalled the “tensions” his administration encountered with India.Recalling an incident where Chinese submarines had docked at the Colombo port, the former President said, “They (India) were furious when submarines docked at Colombo. From what I know, the Chinese inform the Indian embassy in Beijing before a submarines enters the Indian Ocean. But they made a huge cry about it.”On the contrary, he said, India is now silent as the present government of his successor Maithripala Sirisena handing over to China the port in Hambantota.China was Rajapaksa’s main international ally when it supported him at international fora and funded his mega development projects, mainly in his home district of Hambantota. “They (New Delhi) made a big issue about the submarines, but today even if you give the entire port (to China), it is not a problem for them (India). This shows the difference in diplomatic relations,” he said, accusing India of taking a softer line towards the Sirisena government. “The government is trying to give land from Trincomalee to India. To China from Hambantota. They are trying to give 1,000 acres to Japan to grow vegetables,” he said.During his week-long visit to China, Rajapaksa will meet the leaders of the Chinese Government on November 28 and is scheduled to stay in Guangzou and Beijing. He will visit the Dafo Monastery, free trade zones and the city of Shenzen. The former president is accompanied by Parliamentarian Lohan Ratwatte, former foreign minister Prof GL Peiris and others. Rajapaksa’s visit to China assumes much significance in the wake of a recent public spat between Beijing and Colombo.Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang called a rare press conference and criticised Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake for his statement that Chinese had lent money to Rajapaksa government at high rates of interest. Ambassador Yi said minister Ravi Karunanayake was asking for more Chinese loans after publicly criticising the Chinese funding as “expensive loans.”The Sri Lankan finance minister said he was happy to pay back Chinese loans at 2 per cent if the Ambassador says he would be happy to lower the interest rates.

Delhi pollution: ‘95% of China’s power plants have pollution filters; in India, 10% do’

By Alison Saldanha

Delhi’s smog may have made national headlines in early November 2016 – when air-quality levels exceeded by 40 times safe limits set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – and subsequently receded from public attention. But as IndiaSpend was interviewing Pallavi Aiyer, author of Choked, a new book that investigates Delhi and India’s air-pollution crisis, the air was unhealthy or worse in the majority of 17 cities where our sensors are installed. Aiyer, a journalist who’s lived and reported from some of the most polluted cities in the world, including Beijing and Jakarta, argues that many countries have been in India’s situation, and India would do well to learn from their experiences. For instance, China – long regarded as an example of what not to do in controlling air pollution – has rapidly and efficiently improved its policies and air quality.

IndiaSpend’s Alison Saldanha spoke to Aiyer.

1) Recently, Delhi and the region around the capital reported 24-hour average air pollution levels (over 900 µg/m³ of PM 2.5, fine, toxic particles that embed themselves in respiratory and cardiac systems) nearly 40 times above the WHO’s guidelines (25 µg/m³). How hazardous is this? What makes our situation unique and particularly dangerous?

It is hazardous, with most pollutants at several times the acceptable limits. Fine particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter has been linked to up to 16,200 premature deaths (and a staggering six million asthma attacks) per year in Delhi alone. There are reports that one of every four children in the Indian capital suffers from a serious lung disorder. Other constituents of air pollution such as Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone and Nitrogen Oxides are associated with a range of short-term and long-term health effects from reduced lung capacity, shortness of breath, to heart disease and even cancer.

But Delhi’s air pollution is not unique. India is a large, industrialising, populous, developing country and all countries in similar circumstances have undergone extensive episodes of polluted air.

Pollution is a multifaceted phenomenon that results from a combination of vehicular, industrial and household sources. The burning of fuels such as coal leads to noxious gases such as Sulfur Dioxide. Diesel engines spout huge amounts of Nitrogen Oxides. Construction dust contributes to coarse particulate matter. And all of these sources are responsible for finer particulate matter, what we call PM 2.5. The burning of trash and leaves in the winter, which is a common practice in northern cities, adds to the toxicity as does agricultural burning.

sourcessources

Based on an analysis by Eric Dodge & Rohini Pande at the Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School. First published here on IndiaSpend in January 2016

In addition to all these, Delhi also suffers from its geography. The Indian capital is landlocked, with few avenues for flushing toxic air out of the city unlike, say, Mumbai. It is also located in a highly polluted air-shed and badly affected by the industrial and agricultural activity across the northern plains of India.

2) PM 2.5 of over 250 µg/m³ can adversely affect even healthy persons, particularly posing a risk to infants and the elderly, says India’s Central Pollution Control Board. What makes these age groups disproportionately vulnerable?

Children are the most vulnerable because their respiratory defenses have not reached their full capability. They also breathe in more air per kilo of body weight than adults; so they take in more toxins per kilo of body weight than adults do. Moreover, children generally exercise outdoors more than adults.

The elderly are often frail and with failing immunity. They are also likely to have pre-existing medical conditions that can exacerbate and further complicate the effects of air pollution.

Source: World Health Organization’s 2016 report on ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease

3) Beijing no longer features in the WHO’s list of 20 most polluted cities. What are the lessons we can learn from their robust efforts to improve air quality? Could you elaborate on what they are doing that we aren’t, particularly with industries?

Although Beijing may still be a poster child for what not to do on the issue of pollution in the international imagination, China has actually undertaken far-reaching and difficult measures to ensure that the worst is over.

According to Nasa satellite data, the PM 2.5 levels across India got worse by 13 percent between 2010 and 2015, while China’s steadily improved. Last year was the worst on record for India in terms of particulate pollution and the best in China. PM 2.5 levels across China fell by 17 percent between 2010 and 2015, with quite a dramatic improvement towards 2015 (Beijing saw a 16 percent annual fall in PM 2.5 levels).

Source: Greenpeace India, based on data from Global Burden of Disease, A worldwide collaborative effort to measure the impact of health problems on people.

Source: Analysis by Greenpeace India, based on monthly Aerosol Optical Depth measurements from the NASA MODIS Aqua satellite.Note: Drag the slider to compare air pollution in 2011 and 2015.

China has instituted a broad, regionally coordinated system of air pollution monitoring, installed high-tech pollution abatement equipment on a majority of its power plants, as well as devised means to restrict car ownership in major cities. It has also developed a network of 1,500 air quality-monitoring stations in over 900 cities (India has only 39 such stations covering 23 cities). Significantly, China has instituted regional air quality regulations to ensure that air pollution is addressed jointly across city and state boundaries.

When it comes to industrial pollution, China’s biggest success has been the installation of basic pollution abatement equipment on a majority (95 percent) of its thermal power plants. In contrast, only 10 percent of Indian power plants have similar equipment. China’s coal use is also down and coal-fired power plants are increasingly efficient. Finally, the country has emerged as a leading producer of pollution-abatement equipment.

4) What are the systemic problems in implementation that need immediate attention to help India achieve better air quality nearly as soon as China has? (For example, staffing).

Setting deadlines for meeting national air quality standards, as well as five-year interim targets for reducing pollution at state and city levels is one measure. Regional action plans that cover entire air-sheds/regions and address all major sources of pollution, rather than focusing on just some, is another. More empowered and better-staffed pollution control boards are needed. India’s Central Pollution Control Board has 550 employees. The Delhi pollution control board has less than 200 staff. In contrast, the environmental protection bureau (EPB) of the city of Yantai in China’s Shandong province alone has 4,000 staff. We also need to develop more local-level environmental institutions to regulate and implement anti-pollution policies. India only has pollution control boards at the national and state levels. China has EPBs at national, provincial, prefectural, city or county, and district levels. It even has some EPBs at the multi-provincial level. Finally, it’s important to create a large network of monitoring stations in all major urban centres.

5) What are the notable international great smog events in history that Delhi seems to have paralleled this year after Diwali? What made these similar? And what makes Delhi different from those horror stories?

The path to clean air for even the countries that are today rich and safe is littered with horror stories. One example is the small industrial town of Donora, Pennsylvania, in the United States, which was engulfed by a putrid fog on 26 October, 1948. Unlike usual fogs, it did not dissipate, staying on the ground for five days. Twenty people died in Donora and 7,000 were hospitalised with respiratory problems. The cause was a weather anomaly that trapped toxic waste emissions from the town’s zinc smelting plant close to the ground. The Donora disaster brought air pollution into focus in the United States, and paved the way for the Clean Air Act of 1963 that was later strengthened in 1970.

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The air pollution levels in Lucknow, New Delhi, Allahabad, Chandigarh, Patna and Varanasi were 11 to 28 times above the World Health Organization’s guidelines when this story was uploaded at 8 PM on November 20, 2016, according to IndiaSpend sensors.

Similarly, in London, toxic smog trapped in a thermal inversion during a week in December 1952 is thought to have killed 4,000 people prematurely. This incident helped pave the way for England’s Clean Air Act in 1956.

Much closer to home, geographically and temporally, was last winter’s smog in Beijing which forced the city to trigger its first ever Red Alert, the highest tier of the four-colour smog warning system China set up in 2013. During this time, PM 2.5 levels in the Chinese capital exceeded 900-1000 µg/m³ in some parts of the city (the safe limit is about 50 µg/m³).

What makes Delhi’s fight against pollution today different from historic episodes is that research on the ill effects of dirty air is both more advanced and more widely disseminated. There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. Technologies including pollution abatement equipment, renewable energy and better-grade fuel exist, that did not a half-century ago. Moreover, we now have a substantial urban middle class for whom making a daily wage is no longer the driving force of life–allowing health to become a motivating concern.

6) In your book, you’ve talked about pollution in the industrialisation phase in developed countries. How did they improve their air quality to present standards and what solutions can we in India takeaway from those experiences?

There was no magic wand. Air pollution is a man-made problem with practical solutions available. In the wake of horrific pollution and growing citizen disenchantment with dirty air, countries such as the US and UK enacted environmental laws. The US Clean Air Act established a national programme with allocated funding to research techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution, as well as to enforce interstate air pollution regulations pertaining to vehicles and industry. It paved the way to the setting up of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an institution that consolidates pollution-related research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities into one body. The EPA has about 18,000 full-time employees.

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‘Choked’ by Pallavi Aiyar is exclusively available on the Juggernaut app.

The UK Clean Air Act introduced “smoke control areas” in some cities whereby only smokeless fuels could be burned. It helped shift homes towards using cleaner sources of heat such as electricity and gas, reducing smoke pollution and Sulphur Dioxide from household fires. The Act also included measures to relocate power stations away from cities.

7) Simply put, what should India’s to-do list be, when should action begin and how long do you think it will be before we see some improved air quality in the National Capital Region?

Concerted action should begin now for improved air quality to become a sustainable reality in about 15-20 years. It’s a long slog, but it will allow our children and grandchildren to stop choking and start breathing. The to-do list is long. Here are some essentials:

– Expanding the scope and quality of public transport.
– Stringent vehicular emissions norms and availability of high-grade fuel.
– Congestion charges and higher parking fees are steps to consider.
– Installing pollution abatement equipment on all power plants.
– Reducing coal usage.
– The development of a large network of monitoring stations in all major urban centers.

Since the general power grid regularly fails in Delhi and other Indian cities, wealthy residents, hospitals and businesses use diesel-generators in the city centre. A focus on making the grid more reliable will therefore also help slash ambient pollution during the summer months.

Finally, given the high percentage of PM 10 that originates from road dust, paving more roads to reduce the amount of dust is a must.

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8) What is your take on government air pollution monitoring sensors vis-à-vis the growing citizens’ movement of crowd-sourcing air pollution data from their own sensors, using laser eggs etc.?

The two should exist in conjunction. Government data can be usefully supplemented by crowd-sourced data. The former gives a broad overview while the latter can tell you what the situation in a specific location, at a given time, is. Laser eggs might not give the most accurate readings, but they give estimates that are good enough to base certain decisions on, like whether or not to exercise outdoors.

9) What is the to-do list for citizens in this movement toward better air quality?

Carpooling, composting and consuming with care. Avoiding polluting behaviours like trash burning or bursting firecrackers. Demanding change from elected representatives.

(The author is an assistant editor with IndiaSpend.)

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 17:11 IST

Kashmir dispute ‘hinders’ $46 billion China-Pakistan corridor: Chinese media

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Admitting perhaps for the first time that Kashmir dispute “does hinder” the US $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, a state media report on Friday said that this does not mean China should “appease” India to prevent it from playing “little tricks”.”The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan does hinder China’s efforts in pushing the (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) forward, but this does not mean China should ‘appease India’ to prevent the country from playing little tricks,” said the article in the Global Times – part of the People’s Daily group of the ruling Communist Party of China.It said “India should be aware that its ambition of becoming a great power won’t be realised if it contributes little to promoting regional integration and regional economic development.”The article was in response to a piece by US-based analyst Panos Mourdoukoutas in Forbes magazine yesterday criticising Beijing over the ambitious project. The Forbes piece has said that China has done “very little to appease India.” The daily has regularly carried articles critical to India for the past few months. Today’s was, however, a rare admission that the Kashmir dispute hinders the CPEC project, which runs through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).India has expressed reservations over the project that links western China to Gwadar Port in the restive Balochistan province in southern Pakistan. The project gives China easy access for trade to Central Asian states and European markets.China has defended the project, saying it is a commercial project aimed at improving people’s lives.In the Forbes piece, Mourdoukoutas said that “China should make peace with India for forget about the project”.He said China desperately needs CPEC. It’s part of China’s vision “to write the rules of the next stage of globalisation” and help its export and investment engines grow for years.”So far, China has done very little to appease India. In fact, it has done quite the opposite: repeatedly blocking India’s efforts to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he said.”And things could turn worse, if pro-Indian forces in Pakistan sabotage China’s CPEC route. That raises the possibility of an open confrontation between China and Pakistan on the one side, and India and its allies on the other,” he said.Countering Mourdoukoutas, the Chinese media article said, “India’s strategic suspicions toward China’s rising presence in South Asia may hobble its ambition to be a great power, even though some observers think otherwise.” The CPEC “does not target India, and we believe that China’s efforts to improve infrastructure in Pakistan have no intention of supporting the country’s dispute with India,” it said. It said China has made efforts to boost regional economic integration with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar.”However, as a strategic location connecting East Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia, India’s poor infrastructure is a challenge for Asian nations to become interconnected.Although China has offered an olive branch to India to help upgrade its infrastructure facilities, it seems that India is reluctant to participate in the initiative. Additionally, New Delhi’s suspicions toward China have left the country vigilant as Beijing strengthens ties with India’s neighbours,” it said.”Some neighbouring countries have not benefited significantly from India’s rapid economic growth. This will hamper New Delhi in improving its regional influence,” it said.”However, India cannot hinder China’s efforts in promoting regional integration. Additionally, Asian countries like Pakistan keep a positive attitude toward Chinese efforts to improve infrastructure in the region.””If India still holds suspicions toward China and excludes itself from the moves of promoting regional integration, the country will perhaps end up simply watching China’s influence among its neighbouring countries rise,” it claimed.

India’s NSG bid: China sticks to tough stand; calls for ‘non-discriminatory’, applicable solution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China, which has been blocking India’s NSG bid, on Tuesday maintained its tough stand on the issue and called for a two-step “non-discriminatory” solution to admit non-NPT members into the 48-member elite grouping.China’s remarks came as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at its meeting in Vienna November 11 discussed a formula acting on India’s application to join it.”We maintain that we should follow two-step approach. First we should find out a solution that is applicable to all non-NPT members applications to the NSG through consultations and discussions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here outlining China’s stand at the Vienna meeting.The second step is to discuss specific non-NPT (Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty) members’ admission into the NSG, he said.”We believe that the solution should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT members and it must not damage the core value of the NSG as well as the authority, effectiveness and integrity of the NPT,” he said.”We hope that we can enter into the second step after finishing the first step at an early date which is to talk about specific non-NPT members joining the NSG,” he said.China’s stand for a non-discriminatory criteria is regarded significant as Pakistan, a close ally of Beijing too has applied for the NSG membership along with India.China, which has blocked earlier India’s entry on the ground that India has not signed the NPT, has held two rounds of talks with India and Pakistan about their admission into the group.India has secured the backing of the US and majority of the NSG members based on its non-proliferation record in comparison to Pakistan which faced serious allegations of nuclear proliferation in the past specially with regard to its nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan.Geng said at the Vienna meeting of the NSG, members talked about the technical, legal and political matters relating non-NPT members accession to the NSG.He said this is the first time the group talked about entry of the new members.Earlier a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “It is the first time a discussion, not only since the Seoul Plenary, but also since the NSG’s inception in 1975, for the Group to formally take up the issue of non-NPT states’ participation in an open and transparent manner”.Geng said the discussion about the entry of new members is a “good start”.”We believe it is good start and we will continue to support the NSG in following through on the first step and explore the final solution at an early date,” he said.India has been maintaining that NPT membership was not essential for joining the NSG, as was the case with France.

Modi’s demonetisation move ‘bold’ but far from enough: Chinese media

Beijing: Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes as “startling and bold”, Chinese official media has said it is “far from enough” and India may “look at ideas” from China’s crackdown on corruption which has shown “efficiency”.

Modi in “a startling and sudden move” demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to “demonstrate that he is truly up for a fiercer fight against black money and corruption”, an op-ed article in the state-run Global Times said.

“Modi means well and his decision was made based on the reality in India, since most illegal business in the underground economy is cash-only, and 500 and 1,000 rupee notes constitute over 80 per cent of all cash circulation in India. Nevertheless, we can hardly count on the new rule to fully root out corruption,” the article titled ‘Beijing offers clues for Modi’s new anti-corruption moves’.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and PM Narendra Modi in a file photo. PTIChinese President Xi Jinping (left) and PM Narendra Modi in a file photo. PTI

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and PM Narendra Modi in a file photo. PTI

Since Modi assumed office, he has carried out a number of measures to crack down on black money, corruption and tax evasion. However, many of them are believed to be “without teeth and can’t begin to scratch the surface of the problems he faces”, it said.

India’s new policy to scrap high-value notes is considered a “risky, but a bold and decisive step”, it said.

“And yet, delivering a corruption-free country requires more than banning currency notes. The key should be reforming systems. In this regard, New Delhi might need to look for ideas from Beijing,” it said, referring to the massive anti-graft campaign carried out by President Xi Jinping in which over a million officials at different levels were punished.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party in 2012, during which Xi was elected as its general secretary, and taking over as the President and military chief launched the anti-graft campaign which also attracted criticism that he used it effectively to consolidate his power emerging as the most powerful Chinese leader after party founder Mao Zedong.

“Over the years, China promoted anti-corruption laws, improved the supervision system, deepened judicial system reforms and adopted measures to make sure the system is transparent,” it said without referring to criticism about the campaign.

“For instance, China’s foreign ministry has lately published information about the families of 12 senior officials on its website in an effort to fight against corruption through familial networks by improving transparency. These steps are taken to ensure that achievements made in the struggle against corruption can be consolidated by laws and systems,” it said.

China is still on its way toward building a comprehensive anti-corruption system. But “compared with India, Beijing’s method has already shown its efficiency”, it said.

“More time is needed to see whether Modi’s new policy will turn into a huge blow against corruption in India. The hard truth is that the corrupt and fraudulent won’t just conduct shady deals by using cash, but with gold, real estate and overseas assets.

“Corruption can be bred in a variety of ways. Blocking the circulation of large currency bills is without question far from enough,” it said.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 14:24 IST

Third time lucky? India to pitch for Masood Azhar’s placing on UN sanctions list to China again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India will take up with China the issue of backing New Delhi’s move for placing JeM chief Masood Azhar on the UN sanctions list against individuals and groups linked to terror groups al Qaeda or Islamic State and check illegal supply of arms to insurgents in the northeast.Home Minister Rajnath Singh will also tell Meng Jianzhu, a top aide of Chinese President Xi Jinping, to stop the practice of Beijing issuing stapled visas to people of Arunachal Pradesh and discuss ways of enhancing anti-terror cooperation when the two leaders meet in Delhi over dinner on Tuesday.Meng, Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Wednesday. “All our concerns will be raised before the Chinese leader, who is incharge of internal security of that country,” an official said.China has twice blocked India’s efforts to include Azhar, alleged mistermind of the terror attacks on Pathankot air base and an army camp in Uri, on the UN’s sanctions list containing names of individuals and groups linked to the al Qaeda or Islamic State. New Delhi had expressed concern in the past over the supply of Chinese arms and ammunition to insurgent groups operating in the northeast.India also strongly objected to the practice of China issuing stapled visas to people belonging to Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The Home Minister and the Chinese leader will discuss how to enhance anti-terror cooperation, issues related to liberalisation of the visa regime and other issues of mutual interest, the official said.On the other hand, if China raises the issue of the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India will tell the visiting side that the Tibetan spiritual leader is a guest and he is free to visit anywhere in India. Beijing has already objected to the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to the Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims is a disputed territory.

Art of war: Why India should not worry too much about Chinese incursion in Ladakh

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near,” or so said general Sun Tzu in his oft-quoted The Art of War.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

It may seem lazy analysis to keep going back to an ancient Chinese military treatise to explain the dragon’s myriad moves, but Sunzi’s work remains one of the key guiding principles of Chinese foreign policy even today. The face-off in Ladakh since Wednesday, where People’s Liberation Army crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and “forcefully” stopped the construction work of an irrigation canal, has been described in Indian media as yet another example of Chinese bullying.

But such an interpretation would be misleading.

The Ladakh incursion is neither an example of Chinese imperialism nor an indication of Beijing’s nervousness over a civil construction project, though that is exactly the impression China wants to cast. Rather it’s a disguised attempt to gain leverage points at the crucial National Security Advisor (NSA)-level talks on Friday between Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Hyderabad.

And that is also the reason why, despite reports emerging of an incursion and aggressive behaviour from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — around 55 of whom “took position” along the fuzzy LAC in Ladakh’s Demchok sector — the Indian army and the civil administration have sought to play down the incident.

The Chinese claim, that either side needs to take permission for construction work near the “disputed” border, is hogwash. Under the existing set of agreements and protocols nothing stops India from digging a canal and linking a hot spring to a nearby village under the rural employment scheme. New Delhi is also not obliged to share information with China over civil infrastructural projects.

The irony of China protesting against an alleged violation of agreement won’t be lost on anyone. From the “Nine-Dash Line” on South China Sea, construction of China Pakistan Economic Corridor through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir to building a host of civil-military infrastructural projects on the Tibetan plateau, China has shown scant regard for international rules, laws and arbitration.

Daily Mail points out that China is building a railway line by 2020 from Chengdu (Sichuan) to Lhasa which will reach the Indian border. Another railway line to Kyirong and Nepal probably to be continued till Kathmandu and Lumbini is on anvil. A second international airport in Lhasa, a new airport in Nagchu, a four-lane highway between Lhasa and Nyingchi (Arunachal border) are also coming up. “And finally the improvement of NH 219 between Tibet and Xinjiang, cutting across Indian territory in the Aksai Chin area of Ladakh. All these projects have serious strategic implications for India, as the infrastructure built on the plateau has a dual use: civilian and military,” says the report.

India has not been sitting idle either. The government informed the Parliament last July that 73 roads of operational significance are being built along the Sino-Indian border by 2020. Chinese commentators writing for Indian publications have pointed out that Beijing is “worried” about India’s show of strength along the border that includes deployment of 120 tanks in Ladakh, conveniently forgetting China’s persistent and aggressive arms buildup over the years.

Hence we find a senior Army officer telling Times of India that there was “no Chinese incursion across LAC. The issues relating to construction projects on both sides of LAC are being resolved in border personnel meetings and flag meetings”.

Not just that, later in the day MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup denied having any information of any incursion with a caveat that were such a thing to happen, it will be handled through “established mechanism”. He urged the media not to “sensationalise it”.

What’s happening here? The crux of the territorial tango is that both powers are fully aware of each other’s moves and with the deftness of ballerinas, are playing along the script.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Reuters

China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Reuters

But that doesn’t mean the incursion didn’t happen. It did. Therefore, the right question to ask is what leverages are the Chinese aiming for with such a manouvre? The answer lies in the recent quagmire that Sino-Indian relationship has fallen into, and the ongoing talks in Hyderabad between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi that are expected to address some of the fractious issues. Chinese reasoning is simple. If India raises contentious points it will be beneficial for China to hold as many cards as possible up its sleeves.

A series of measures and counter-measures has seen a loss of confidence between the two Asian giants to the extent that China recently removed the last fig leaf on blocking India’s NSG membership, making it quite clear that it won’t back New Delhi’s bid unless a rule to include other non-NPT members (read Pakistan) is formulated. It also remains adamant on not letting Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar be designated as a terrorist by the United Nations, a key Indian demand.

The Ladakh incursion is one move in the game of geopolitical chess that allows China the room to anticipate and blunt India’s points of dissidence. It also simultaneously escalates Beijing’s displeasure over India’s decision to allow The Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh and a popular movement in India to boycott Chinese goods.

When two nations as big and influential as China and India engage, the subtext is far more important than the printed lines.

NSG bid: India, China meet for ‘substantive and constructive’ discussions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and China on Monday held “substantive and constructive” discussions on India’s bid for NSG membership during the second round of talks between their top nuclear experts in Beijing. Following the first such meeting in New Delhi on September 13, India and China continued their discussions on the NSG issue in Beijing on Monday when JS (Disarmament and International Security) Amandeep Singh Gill met Director General of Department of Arms Control Wang Qun, sources said.”The talks were substantive and constructive. The engagement will continue as per the directive of the leadership,” sources said. During the talks, India once again asserted to the Chinese side that its implementation of Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) principles was “second to none”.Today’s talks come ahead of a possible informal consultations in next two months on India’s membership in a NSG panel, headed by Argentine Ambassador Rafael Grossi.In the June Plenary of NSG in Seoul, despite strong American support, China stonewalled India’s bid to get entry into the group on the grounds that it was a not a signatory to the NPT. Wang, who was the Chief negotiator for China in the South Korea meet, had told reporters that signing of the NPT “is a must”, maintaining that the rule has not been set by China but by the international community.Wang had also warned “if exceptions are allowed here or there on the question of NPT, the international non- proliferation regime will collapse altogether”.China has been maintaining that the question of the non- NPT states’ participation is, in essence, a multilateral issue, and can only be subject to multilateral solution by the Group. China also pointed out that the issue of the non-NPT states’ participation in the NSG raises new questions for the Group under the new circumstances, and the crux of the above question is how to address the gap between the existing policies and practices of the non-NPT states and the existing international non-proliferation rules and norms based on the NPT as the cornerstone.

India, China NSAs to meet next week to discuss bilateral ties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Security Advisors of India and China will meet next week to discuss measures to improve bilateral ties which are strained by differences over a host of issues including India’s admission into NSG and Beijing’s attempts to block UN ban on JeM Chief Masood Azhar.National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi will meet in Hyderabad in November first week for informal dialogue on the state of bilateral relations, specially the irritants bedevilling the development of ties, officials said.Besides blocking India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), China had put a second technical hold on India’s move to bring about a UN ban on Azhar. Also India has been protesting over the US $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).While India is concerned over the Pakistan factor creeping into India-China relations making the bilateral ties more complex, China too is airing its apprehensions over the movement to boycott Chinese goods in India as well the visit of US Ambassador to New Delhi, Richard Verma, to Arunachal Pradesh, which it considers as Southern Tibet and India’s permission to allow the Dalai Lama to visit the area.Chinese officials say Beijing is apprehensive about India moving closer to US and Japan broadening its strategic and defence ties with both the countries.Doval and Yang who are the designated Special Representatives of the India-China boundary talks, also periodically meet to discuss the whole gamut of the Sino-Indian relations.Yang was the former foreign minister of China before he was elevated to the rank of State Councillor of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) after President Xi Jinping took over power in 2013. In Chinese power structure, State Councillor is more powerful than the Foreign Minister on foreign policy issues.Both Doval and Yang have been meeting regularly to discuss the problems affecting the bilateral relations. Officials say that the Hyderabad meeting is not Special Representatives dialogue on border but an informal consultation in which all issues including those relating to the borders may figure.Their meeting is set to take place in the backdrop of the just concluded plenary meeting of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) which conferred the status of “core leader” on Xi, broadening his power base both in the party and military.On India’s admission into the NSG, both sides held in-depth talks over the issue. India has been pressing China to relent on its opposition saying that vast majority of the 48 member group back New Delhi s case.China, which is opposing India’s membership on the ground that India is not a signatory to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says the group need to work out a proposal on the accession on all the non-NPT countries meaning Pakistan’s admission too.After talks with India, Chinese officials also held talks with Pakistan on the same issue.On the issue of ban on Azhar, China has not reacted to Pakistan’s reported move to freeze his bank accounts and keeping him under house arrest. Beijing’s technical hold in the UN on Azhar s ban issue is due to expire in December.Doval and Yang were expected to touch on these issues as well as India’s concerns over the ballooning trade deficit which according to Chinese officials touched over US $51 billion last year in little over US $70 billion trade between the two countries.China has been promising to step up investments in India besides opening up markets for Indian IT and Pharmaceuticals.

Puerile to think China will not claim Arunachal, says Salman Khurshid

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over China’s objection to US Ambassador Richard Verma visiting Arunachal Pradesh, former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said it would be unwise to think that Beijing won’t claim Arunachal as its territory, despite the Indian government’s efforts to contain differences on the same.He said the government needs to be pragmatic and proceed forward in the best way possible.”There is a serious concern on how China approaches Arunachal. It’s kind of puerile for us to continue saying Arunachal is an internal part of India and nobody can question it. It is true there is no question about it, but there have been differences with China on this, and it has always been our effort to contain these differences, and, I think, we have successfully done that. If today they are surfacing once again, I think the Government of India needs to take a practical, pragmatic and honest view and proceed to follow in the best way possible, Khurshid told ANI.On Friday, Ambassador Verma posted photos of his visit to Arunachal Pradesh on his Twitter account, thanking Indian officials for their warm hospitality and calling the region a magical place.”Following the Tweet, China reprimanded United States for sending its ambassador to Arunachal Pradesh and warned that meddling by a third country would further complicate the territorial dispute between India and China.China claims more than 90,000 square kilometers of territory disputed by India in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.India, on its part, has claimed that China occupies 38,000 square kilometers of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west, and is also suspicious of China’s support for Pakistan.

Japan wants India to speak on South China Sea dispute: How prudent is it for New Delhi?

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi visited India before the G-20 summit and said that it was upto India to decide what position it wished to take vis-à-vis the issue of the South China Sea.

Wang’s visit could be seen as a subtle warning to India before the crucial G-20 summit. The need to warn India may have risen considering the gradually toughening stand of the country on the South China Sea ruling and Beijing’s suspicious activities in the region, which have had an impact on New Delhi’s key partners.

As Beijing defies norms and moves ships in the disputed region, Japan is looking at India as an indispensable partner in preventing China from altering the maritime status quo in South China Sea. A Times of India report quotes deputy director of Japan’s foreign ministry’s regional policy division which handles South China Sea Yuki Tamura as saying, “We are encouraging India to speak up on issues related to South China Sea because maritime security is important.”

According to Japan Times, China believes that the matter should be resolved only by the parties concerned and outsiders have no role.

Japan has repeatedly claimed that Chinese vessels have been moving into territorial waters around the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

In August this year, Japan noticed more than 200 Chinese fishing boats operating in the contiguous zone around Senkaku islands, according to the report in The Times of India. Tokyo had protested to Beijing after coast guard ships sailed into territorial waters and even summoned the Chinese ambassador. “The situation surrounding the Japan-China relationship is markedly deteriorating,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told Beijing’s envoy Cheng Yonghua.

Tokyo’s concerns come amid the growing aggression in the South China Sea following The Hague Tribunal’s ruling. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “Japan is seriously concerned about Beijing’s increasingly muscular claims in the South China Sea.” The possibility of the dispute spilling over from South China Sea to East China Sea makes Tokyo anxious and forces it to muster support from other regional powers to stop China.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Miniser Shinzo Abe. Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Miniser Shinzo Abe. Reuters

China had attempted to enforce an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in 2013 in the East China Sea, which included the Senkaku islands. ADIZ is an extension of a country’s normal airspace, providing the country an early warning system to detect and respond appropriately to foreign, and possibly hostile, aircraft, according to The Trumpet.

Tokyo’s insistence on India making a strong statement on the South China Sea dispute is possibly an evidence of India’s growing reputation as a regional power. It shows that India’s statement and stand on the issue will send a strong message to Beijing.

India’s stance on the dispute until now has somewhat been very vague. It has not made any concrete statement on the issue. From keeping mum on the dispute to issuing a joint statement with Japan asking all parties to avoid the use of force, India is gradually moving towards making stronger statements.

In January 2015, India’s joint statement with the United States affirmed the “importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea. “

In the joint statement issued in July by Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar and his Japanese counterpart, Gen Nakatani, the ministers expressed concern over recent developments in the South China Sea. They also called for all parties to ensure “freedom and safety of navigation and over-flight as well as unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters,” reported The Diplomat.

Now, the risk for India to come out and say something in this regard is high. A statement can tilt the stakes in any direction.

If India keeps following the trail of its actions, it will most likely disappoint the United States and Japan. They might not be too pleased with New Delhi for not speaking up. However, such a refusal is unlikely to affect the bilateral relations.

But if it does decide to speak up, it might endanger its own security in its own North east and provoke Beijing to take a harder stance against it. India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group membership was blocked primarily by China and its bid to put sanctions on Hafiz Saaed was also blocked by Beijing.

An irate China might also exploit its “all-weather friendship” with Pakistan to attack India. Subsequently, Pakistan may have carte blanche to aggravate the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and launch attacks on Indian soil.

Speaking out on the South China Sea India will likely exacerbate the security situation on its border by taking on China on this issue.

Will India take that risk? Only time will tell.

With inputs from AFP

India and China conduct joint military excercise in Jammu and Kashmir

Leh: Indian and Chinese armies on Wednesday conducted a day-long exercise focused on humanitarian aid and relief, where a fictitious situation of an earthquake was emulated, an official statement said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The statement called it a part of “ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China”, and added that it increased “trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh”.

The second such exercise to be held by the two countries, the joint exercise named “Sino India Cooperation 2016” was held under the provisions of Border Defense Cooperation Agreement, 2013.

The first exercise of the series was held in February this year in eastern Ladakh in Chushul-Moldo area.

The Indian team was led by Brigadier RS Raman and the Chinese side was led by Sr Col Fan Jun.

“The exercise was a great success and has not only refined the drills to provide succor to the border population in case of natural calamity but has also increased the level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh,” the statement said.

It also said the exercise complements the Hand in Hand series of the India-China joint exercises and the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquility along the border areas.

Exercise Hand in Hand series, which started in 2007, was held at Kunming Military Academy in Yunnan province of China in 2015.

The 12-day-long exercise was focused on counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations, along with humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.

How India can tackle China’s myriad mischief and increasingly assertive hegemony

It is not often that we get to hear voices from China on Sino-Indian relationship and various pulls and pressure that the intriguing pirouette between two neighbouring powers entails. It was therefore informative to go through Kai Xue’s column on The Times of India‘s edit page on Tuesday.

Most interestingly, the Beijing corporate lawyer starts by complaining about India’s ‘aggressive posture’ near its north-eastern border.

“India has recently deployed 120 tanks in Ladakh, cleared deployment of around 100 supersonic BrahMos missiles in Arunachal Pradesh, and within this year has reactivated and upgraded five advanced landing bases in Arunachal Pradesh. These actions are the culmination of a large scale multi-year arms buildup near the border with China that has included drilling of new bunkers and additional troops and artillery at the edge of the disputed line. China has during this time not moved new weapons to the border” and has merely “engaged in upgrading non-military transportation infrastructure in border provinces.” 

In an act of supreme victimhood, the author suggests that all of India’s actions were “unilateral”.

I have quoted the paragraph in full because it reflects somewhat the way China approaches the Sino-Indian relationship. Unlike Pakistan, whose enmity towards India is one-dimensional and replete with rhetorical flourishes (and hence, open to reception), Beijing’s moves are deceptive. It plays the aggressor and the victim at the same time. It provokes, needles and bullies New Delhi, yet does not hesitate to play the victim card when India reacts.

File image of Chinese president Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

File image of Chinese president Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

The author, for instance, magnificently ignores the weight of history, China’s frequent, unprovoked incursions into India’s territory and the way Beijing has traditionally treated Arunachal Pradesh, calling it ‘south Tibet’ and claiming it in full.

To jog the memory, in 2006, just a week ahead of former President Hu Jintao’s India visit, China announced that Arunachal Pradesh was “our territory”. It criticised Japan last year for calling the region a part of India and reportedly even went to the extent of lodging an official protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit, adding that the move was “not conducive” to developing bilateral relations.

This deft interspersing of dandabaazi and diplomatic sleight of hand was again on full display during the just-concluded Brics Summit. While Chinese obstinacy on not letting the names of Pakistan-based terror outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba be mentioned in the Goa Declaration was on expected lines, more surprising has been Russia’s ambivalence on terrorism emanating out of Pakistan.

Nobody was surprised by China’s umbrage at Modi’s ‘mothership of terrorism’ jibe against Pakistan but India’s discomfort was evident at Vladimir Putin’s silence on terrorism at the Brics Plenary. Firstpost had argued on Monday why the Brics Summit was actually a huge success for India despite Chinese machinations, but it did rankle Indian negotiators that Russia failed to do its bit in pushing more for Indian concerns while ensuring that the terror outfit with which it engages with finds mention in Goa Declaration.

It would be erroneous to attach too much important to Russia’s joint military exercise with Pakistan beyond an obvious attempt to provoke India into splurging on defence deals. More instructive would be to look at the Sino-Russian relationship in the wake of Moscow’s plummeting ties with Washington.

As Indrani Bagchi writes in The Times of India, “As the West has shunned Russia, slapped sanctions on it, Russia has moved East. To China. Chinese students go to Russia, as do Chinese tourists. Russia is now almost completely subservient to China… Indians have been alarmed at the depth and quality of the Russia-China relationship. Moscow is sharing military technologies with Beijing that would have been unimaginable earlier.”

It is not difficult in this context to interpret why Russia was forced to dump its “old friend” from the Cold War era and settle for a more pro-Chinese stance.

The lesson for India, therefore, is manifold. A nation’s geopolitical influence and its ability to bend the regional curve in line with its strategic interests depends almost entirely on its economic heft. Three decades of robust growth have given China unprecedented hard power and in President Xi Jinping, it has a president willing to wield that power to assert its hegemony, have a say in international relations and in the long run, even challenge the supremacy of the US.

India’s problem is that it shares China’s economic ambition but lags behind woefully on developmental scale, a point Kai Xue also makes in his aforementioned column where he says that “India… has withered under mediocre governance and slow-growth socialist economics.”

India wishes to have peaceful and friendly relationship with its neighbours but must somehow tackle China’s burning global ambition and its usage of various of levers (which includes using Pakistan’s nuisance value or heavy infrastructural spending aimed at throwing a military-strategic ring around India) to check New Delhi’s rise.

The extent of China’s belligerence under Xi can be gauged by taking a look at the most recent defence white paper, Chinese Military Strategy, published in May 2015. According to Richard A Bitzinger in Policy Forum, “the PLA will continue to de-emphasise land operations, all but abandoning People’s War (except in name and in terms of political propaganda), particularly in favour of giving new stress and importance to sea- and airpower.”

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What must India do to if not tackle, at least maintain a reasonable equilibrium against such an aggressive power with whom it runs a trade deficit of $52.7 billion?

For starters, it must invest in new ties as the prime minister has tried to do with the Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) initiative. The new conglomerate of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand and Myanmar may not be a Saarc substitute but provide a vital hedge against Chinese manipulation since many of these nations are themselves victims of China’s naked aggression. The investment gave a handy early return to India when it said in the outcome document that terrorists cannot be called “martyrs” which was a direct jab at Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s attempt to glorify Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani at the UN.

Two, India must develop its ties with Japan on a war footing. As The Financial Times noted (subscription required) during Modi’s 2014 visit to Japan when he famously gave Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe a bear hug, Modi’s decision to make Japan his first “foreign port of call” was “informed by hard-nosed calculations of how India and Japan can work together on undertakings of mutual interest and concern — reviving their respective economies, and grappling with Chinese expansionism”.

Much needs to be done on this front beyond a symbolic hug or a bullet train project. Commerce and industry minister N Sitharaman’s urge to Indian industry to make more use of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is important.

What must India do to if not tackle, at least maintain a reasonable equilibrium against such an aggressive power with whom it runs a trade deficit of $52.7 billion?

India must also get over its distrust of US and understand that for Washington, courtship of India isn’t an act of benevolence but a necessity to gain an Asia pivot against China. Towards that end, India must shed its coyness over the crucial Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with US that allows both militaries to work closely and improve logistical cooperation. If that paves the way for future pacts, India must not be defensive. Non-alignment as a foreign policy has expended its usefulness.

Of particular importance is Brazil’s acquiescence on India’s NSG membership. An outcome of a bilateral between Modi and Brazilian president Michel Temer on the sidelines of the Brics Summit, the development has far-reaching consequences. Brazil, as The Times of India points out, was one of the very few countries along with China to refuse a waiver for non-NTP signatory India in the NSG. However, as MEA secretary Preeti Saran noted: “Prime Minister (Modi) conveyed to Brazil India’s aspiration for joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and Brazil president conveyed its understanding of India’s aspirations and conveyed that he would work with other countries of the NSG in helping India to move towards its membership”.

This portends well for India. New Delhi cannot match Beijing’s economic heft and consequent influence in the medium to short term. But India’s action plan must include avoidance of direct confrontation and rhetoric, developing relations with powers not tied to China’s apron strings and initiating reforms and growth measures domestically.

Brics Summit: India, Russia rekindle old passion after brief strategic philandering

Their brief but an intense bit of adultery over, ancient partners India and Russia signaled on Saturday that they are ready to mend their philandering ways. In a tight embrace celebrated by three announcements and 16 agreements including three blockbuster defence deals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin looked to have rekindled the flame that once defined Moscow’s close relationship with New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the exchange of agreements ceremony after the 17th India-Russia annual summit meet in Benaulim, Goa on Saturday. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the exchange of agreements ceremony after the 17th India-Russia annual summit meet in Benaulim, Goa on Saturday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the exchange of agreements ceremony after the 17th India-Russia annual summit meet in Benaulim, Goa on Saturday. PTI

A part of this second honeymoon has been necessitated by realpolitik concerns, part by a genuine desire to stop the drift in a historic friendship, part by Russia’s clever manipulation of optics and part by New Delhi’s ambition to create a global order which isn’t necessarily anti-West but is catalytic to its ambition.

Fluidity and agility mark the ever-changing world of foreign policy. There are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent strategic interests. Even so, the recent intricate interplay between US, Russia, China and India — two global powers and two emerging economies — have seen rapid recalibration of ties, realigning of interests and new angles in staid relationships.

Moscow and Beijing have noted with concern India’s recent tilt towards America even as they themselves grew closer to each other due to a common need to counter US influence. Washington, its power already on the wane from the heady heights of the 80s and unquestioned supremacy of 90s, has similarly grown closer to India even as it seeks a pivot in Asia to contain China’s meteoric rise. It has also found a huge market in New Delhi who relies exclusively on imports for defence needs.

While India’s growing strategic proximity to the US has caused irritation in Beijing, it was seen as a positively alarming signal in Moscow who was supplanted by Washington as India’s largest arms supplier. For a commodity-based economy struggling with low oil prices, this was a huge blow. Russia had traditionally enjoyed a prime share of India’s defence market.

For India, this interplay posed a different problem. Even as the Narendra Modi government warmed up to the US to balance the increasing assertiveness of China in the region, it crucially left drift the relationship with its all-weather friend Russia.

If this was the realpolitik backdrop amid which Modi and Putin met in a closed-door bilateral on the sidelines of Brics on Saturday, the deals that followed the meeting were to some extent influenced by post-Uri developments in which Russia played no mean part.

As KP Nayar writes in The Telegraph, Moscow cleverly manipulated the optics to roar back into New Delhi’s defence balance sheet. “…the Kremlin has virtually forced India into catapulting Russia once again as this country’s main arms supplier. This has been done with Putin’s repeated threats to sell weapons to Pakistan and by holding military exercises with Rawalpindi — the seat of its Army General Headquarters — during precisely the time when terrorists who attacked Uri prompted India to cross the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.”

It would be unfair, however, to see Modi as the innocent victim of Russian manipulation. If he appears ready to be caught in Russian embrace, Modi would have ensured India’s strategic interests are respected by Moscow.

Towards that end, Saturday’ deals and joint statement are forged in a context that should please India. The terms of the deals will give a boost to his pet Make In India project and the joint statement carried enough indications to show that Russia has put its weight behind India when it comes to tackling cross-border terrorism.
The deals include five “game changing” surface-to-air missile defence systems which lies at the pinnacle of cutting-edge technology and military advancements. As a cost of $5 billion, the S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence systems can apparently tackle incoming airborne targets — including drones, fighter aircraft, and even missiles at ranges of up to 400 km.

According to The Hindu, China became the first export customer of the S-400 last year when it signed a $3 billion deal for six systems. The newspaper also flags two other strategically important deals including four stealth frigates and a joint venture to manufacture at least 200 Kamov-226T helicopters in India.

And in a final sweetener to the new, rekindled bonhomie, New Delhi appears satisfied that Russia’s brief flirtation with Pakistan does not reflect any long-term strategic shift.

Modi’s opening remarks (delivered in halting Russian) after the bilateral that “one old friend is better two new ones and his subsequent statement that “Russia’s clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own” gave enough indication that the laal topi once again adorns pride of place in India.

China in South Asia: India cannot match Beijing in its largesse, but it can create goodwill

With Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful visit to Bangladesh, plans for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have effectively encircled India. Multi-billion dollar, Chinese-financed infrastructure projects are planned in almost all of India’s neighbours, from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal to Myanmar.

President Xi Jinping on his visits to South Asia has brought grand infrastructure plans for his hosts — during his visits to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in September 2014, to Pakistan in April 2015 and more recently to Bangladesh. Xi’s visit to Pakistan resulted in the multi-billion dollar investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that connects China’s Xinjiang province to Gwadar port in Pakistan. Former Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli’s visit to Beijing earlier this year brought forth bountiful promises of infrastructure assistance. China’s involvement in Myanmar is of a longer standing, among several major infrastructure projects is a gas pipeline that transports natural gas from Maday port on the Bay of Bengal to China’s Yunnan province and a proposed rail line along the same route.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

India has had reservations about the Belt and Road Initiative, especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. But all its neighbours, with the sole exception of Bhutan, have welcomed the Chinese initiative with enthusiasm. India is however engaged in the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, which aims to connect Kolkata with Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province, passing through Myanmar and Bangladesh. The BCIM corridor is a long-delayed proposal which Beijing has now referred to as part of its BRI plans.

Bangladesh and China signed agreements worth $24.45 billion for 34 projects and programmes during Xi’s visit to Dhaka on Friday, reported Bangladesh’s largest-selling English daily, The Morning Star. While no details of projects were made available during the signing, they are expected to cover financing for infrastructure, energy, and communication projects. As the two sides elevated their ties to strategic partnership, Bangladesh expressed its support to China’s Road and Belt Initiative and the BCIM economic corridor. They also agreed to negotiate a free trade agreement. China is Bangladesh’s largest trading partner and supplier of defence equipment.

Sri Lanka was the first South Asian country to receive large investments in big infrastructure projects during the Mahinda Rajapakse regime. But when the Maithripala Sirisena government came to power in a surprise election victory in January 2015, it began a review of the controversial $1.4 billion Colombo port city expansion project. The Sirisena alliance had charged Rajapakse of turning Sri Lanka into a Chinese dependency and had vowed to review all major Chinese investments. However, the Sri Lankan government later cleared the new Colombo city project after changing some conditions in the deal. China offered to align its maritime silk road project with Sri Lanka’s development plans to enable the island nation to become a shipping hub in the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives, like Sri Lanka and Pakistan earlier, has faced international pressure over its policies. All three countries have found firm support from Beijing, which has helped them withstand the pressure. Earlier this week, the Maldives announced that it would quit the Commonwealth, the 53-member organisation of mainly former British colonies. The Maldives had been warned in late September by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) that it would be suspended if it did not take adequate steps to encourage political dialogue, release opposition leaders and improve democratic functioning in the country.

Large scale Chinese projects in the Maldives coincided with India’s troubles in Male. The contract for modernising and operating the Male International Airport, granted to a consortium led by the Indian infrastructure company, GMR Group was cancelled by the new government. International arbitrators ruled in GMR’s favour, but the contract for the expansion of the international airport was awarded to a Chinese company. A Chinese construction firm is building the $280 million China-Maldives Friendship Bridge that would connect the Hulhule island where the international airport is located to a suburb of Male. Other projects included large housing projects and other infrastructure assistance.

China is the largest foreign investor in Nepal with two large hydropower projects underway in the country. Among the projects that were discussed during the KP Oli visit were construction of cross-border transmission lines, an international airport at Pokhara, and extension of China’s Qinghai-Tibet rail line to the town of Jilong on the Nepal border and then to Kathmandu. The visit was marked by the fact that it was only the second time that a Nepali Prime Minister had chosen to visit China in his first foreign tour. However, a return visit by Xi in October had to be put off after the Oli government fell and the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist) leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda formed a new government in Kathmandu.

Till a decade or more ago, China’s involvement in the relatively under-developed South Asian region was limited. But in the past couple of years, Beijing with its large financial resources looking for a destination began making a major push for connecting to South Asian countries with its grand BRI plan. While India cannot match the Chinese largesse, greater generosity in its dealings with its smaller neighbours can win it more friends and create goodwill through the region.

Boycott of Chinese goods fails in festive season, sale hits record high

Beijing: Calls for boycott of Chinese goods in India following China’s opposition to a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar have failed as sales of Chinese products in the country hit a record high during the festive season, official media in Beijing said on Friday.

“Diwali, one of the most important Hindu festivals and one of the biggest shopping seasons in India, is coming at the end of October, but encouragement to boycott Chinese goods has been spreading in the last few days on Indian social media, and even a few Indian politicians are exaggerating facts,” an article in the state-run Global Times said.

“However, regardless of the passionate boycott in India and Indian media’s hysteric reports of a “doomsday” for Chinese products, Chinese goods have never been condemned by Indian government and are popular across the nation,” it said.

“The boycott has not achieved success. Sales figures for Chinese products on the top three Indian online retailers in the first week of October hit a new record. Amazingly, the Chinese mobile phone company Xiaomi sold half a million phones in just three days on the Flipkart, Amazon India, Snapdeal and Tata CLiQ platforms,” the article said.

Referring to the boycott calls over China’s technical hold on moves to bring about a ban on Azhar as well Beijing obstructing India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, (NSG), it said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Chinese products are often the victim when regional situations get tense, and this phenomenon has been existing for quite a few years. Now Chinese goods are on the stage again due to the Kashmir issue,” it said.

“The bilateral trade relationship is one of the pillars of the Sino-Indian relationship. The trade volume was over $70 billion in 2015, and China’s investment in India soared to around $870 million in 2015, six times what it was in 2014,” it said.

India has been expressing concern over the trade deficit which last year touched $46 billion.

“To some extent, the economic relationship is the barometer of the political relationship. There shouldn’t be huge fluctuation in terms of economic cooperation if the political relationship keeps steady between the two,” it said.

“For the dragon and elephant, enhancing economic ties would be a preferable way to promote the comprehensive bilateral relationship. The more economic cooperation exists, the more opportunities there will be for Chinese products to enter the Indian market.

“India is a big potential market, and people using smartphones and doing online shopping has become the irreversible trend in the new era,” it said.

The commercial cooperation between these two countries could also be focused on e-commerce, service and financial investment.

Another article in the same daily said India has to upgrade its industrial structures to address $46 billion trade deficit.

Official data during September showed India had exported goods worth $922 million to China, while importing goods worth $5.4 billion from China.

“The huge trade deficit with China has become an increasingly unharmonious factor in bilateral ties between the two countries, requiring China and India to take practical measures to narrow the trade imbalance when leaders of the two nations meet in India over the weekend for the Brics Summit,” the article said.

“The two countries have made concerted efforts to narrow the trade imbalance, including signing a five-year trade and economic cooperation agreement in 2014, but it seems that such moves have had only limited effects. What we need to do now is find out the root causes of the trade imbalance,” it said.

The major imports from China include electronic components, telecom instruments, chemicals and pharmaceutical products, while India’s major exports to China include ore, plastics and cotton.

“The imbalanced bilateral trade structure is actually a result of the fact that China and India are at different developmental stages in terms of industrialisation. It won’t be easy to reduce India’s trade deficit with China simply by relying on measures such as seeking greater access to the Chinese market for India’s raw materials and agricultural products – India also needs to upgrade its industrial structure,” it said.

“In other words, India seeking to solve the problem of the China-India trade imbalance cannot anchor its hopes on efforts such as persuading Chinese people to consume more Indian goods at a time when more and more Indian young people are keen to use Chinese-made goods such as smartphones,” it said.

“Efforts such as encouraging Chinese smartphone makers to set up production lines in India may be the most effective way to reduce the trade deficit, which is partly the result of a price gap between India’s imports of finished goods and its exports of raw materials,” it said.

“But sadly, it seems that India is not on the right path, as the  country is trying to reduce its trade deficit with China through trade protectionism,” it said, adding that there had been 322 anti-dumping cases in India so far, of which 177 cases involved Chinese products.

“Besides, a social media campaign urging people to refrain from buying China-made products has recently been building in India. Such moves will not help contribute to reducing India’s trade deficit, but could damage bilateral ties instead,” it said.

NSG issue: PM Modi’s diplomatic skill on test again with Chinese President Xi Jinping

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic skills will be put to test once again, when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week. Of late, Beijing has been taking increasingly hostile position regarding India’s bid to enter the critical Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as to introduce an international ban on terrorist Masood Azhar.President Xi will arrive in Goa on Saturday to attend the BRICS summit, before travelling to Cambodia and Bangladesh.China’s indication to discuss “possibilities” with India on its bid to become a full-fledged NSG member has brought some cheer here. Senior officials said there was a real possibility of a discussion on a “common criteria applicable to all non-NPT applicants”. But they said the inclusion of some additional elements into the new “criteria”, if they cross red-lines or force India to declare all its grid-connected reactors as civilian reactors, may not be acceptable.Last month, India said it held “substantive” talks with China regarding its attempt to join the NSG, a 48-member group of countries that trades in civilian nuclear technology. Modi is campaigning to join the NSG to back a multi-billion-dollar drive to build nuclear power plants in partnership with Russia, the US and France, and to reduce India’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels.Nuclear expert and senior fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), G Balachandran, said while there was no harm in discussing the additional criteria, they should not adversely affect India’s national security. But any criteria that strengthened international norms related to nuclear non-proliferation and that were are accepted by all NSG members should not pose any problem.But what foxed officials here is the statement of China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, defending his country’s move to stall a UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Azhar. “There should be no double standards on counter-terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism,” he said, in a veiled reference to India.India has blamed JeM for January’s attack on the air force base in Pathankot and last month’s terror strike on an army base in Kashmir’s Uri, in which 19 soldiers were killed. China has twice thwarted India’s attempt to get Azhar blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council.Soon after coming to power, Modi had invited President Xi to Ahmedabad. The bonhomie, however, evaporated soon when Beijing led a small group of countries in June to oppose India’s bid to become NSG member.Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, said India will raise the issue of Chinese veto in case of Azhar and would ask it to reconsider the stand. About the NSG, China’s Baodong said, “These rules are not to be decided by China alone. We are ready to continue consultation with India to build a consensus. On this issue, China’s position is consistent. That is why China has often said that international law must be observed.”India expects that counter-terrorism cooperation will figure prominently in the BRICS Summit. During their last meeting, BRICS foreign ministers had reached an agreement on counter-terrorism.China has also snubbed Indian media for raising the issue of blocking waters of the Brahmaputra river. Relations between China and India should not be affected by “imaginary water war”, an article in the state-run Global Times said, adding that Beijing was unlikely to use the river water as a potential weapon.

China ready for NSG talks with India but opposed to UN ban on Azhar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, China on Monday said it is ‘ready’ for talks with India on its entry into the NSG but defended extending a hold on India’s bid for a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar, saying Beijing is opposed to anyone making “political gains in the name of counter-terrorism”.Briefing media on Xi’s visit to India this week to take part in the BRICS Summit in Goa, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong again harped on the need to build consensus over the admission of new members in the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).Asked if any progress on the issue of India’s admission into NSG can be expected in the meeting between Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Li said NSG rules stipulate consensus among the members to admit new ones.”These rules are not to be decided by China alone. On the issue, China and India have maintained good communication and we are ready to continue consultations with India to build consensus and we also hope India can go to other members of the NSG as well,” Li said replying to a question on China’s reservations on India’s admission to the elite nuclear trading club.”In this aspect we are also ready for discussions with India to explore possibilities but things need to be in keeping up with procedures, norms and regulations of the NSG. On this issue, China position is consistent. That is why China has often said international law must be observed,” he said.Xi will travel to Goa to attend the BRICS Summit scheduled to held between October 15-16. The BRICS grouping consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.While India has blamed one country, without naming China, for stalling its membership in the NSG, both the countries held talks recently to iron out differences.After talks with India, China also has held similar talks with Pakistan, which also applied for membership in the influential grouping.Replying to a question on criticism about China’s move to stall India’s bid for a UN ban on Azhar – head of Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad, Li sought to justify Beijing’s recent technical hold in the matter, saying: “China is opposed to all forms of terrorism.” “There should be no double standards on counter- terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism,” he said in a veiled reference to India, which is pressing for the UN ban against Azhar over his role in the Pathankot terror attack.China had announced the extension of its “technical hold” on India’s bid to get Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN on October 1, days before it was to expire. The hold can continue for upto three months more.

China ready to join mechanism with India, B’desh to share Brahmaputra waters: Media

Beijing: Refuting reports of China joining water wars between India and Pakistan by blocking a tributary of Brahmaputra river, Chinese official media said on Monday that Beijing is ready to join a multilateral cooperation mechanism with India and Bangladesh to share the waters.

Relations between China and India should not be affected by “imaginary water war”, an article in the state-run Global Times said, adding that Beijing is unlikely to use Brahmaputra river water as a potential weapon.

The article said China is willing to have multilateral cooperation with India and Bangladesh to share the waters. The proposal is significant as China has no water treaty with India to share the river waters.

“It is easy to understand the anger of Indian people as they read recent news reports saying China had blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, which is a trans-boundary river flowing from Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region into the northeastern Indian state of Assam and later into Bangladesh, serving as an important water source for the regions,” it said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The move by China to temporarily blockade the tributary to construct a dam sparked widespread concerns in India, but people in the downstream country may be ignoring one thing,” it said, adding that the reservoir capacity of the dam on the Xiabuqu river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, is less than 0.02 per cent of the average annual runoff of the Brahmaputra.

“Frankly, there is no need for India to overreact to such projects, which aim to help with reasonable development and utilisation of water resources,” it said.

However, what is worrying is that some local Indian media outlets linked the blockage with India’s recent water dispute with Pakistan, trying to create the false impression that China may be interested in taking part in the “so-called water war between the two South Asian countries to give Pakistan silent support,” the article stated. “However, construction of the dam project on the tributary of the Brahmaputra started in June 2014,” it added.

“It is clear the blockade to construct the dam does not target India, and relevant countries should not read too much into the move,” the write-up maintained.

While it is understandable that India is sensitive to China’s water exploitation on the Brahmaputra as a downstream country, “China is unlikely to use the waters of the river as a potential weapon,” it said.

Pointing that China is the source of several trans-boundary rivers including the Lancang-Mekong River, which runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, it said, “If China blocked the Brahmaputra for political reasons, such a move would cause panic among the five Southeast Asian nations and therefore damage China’s relationship with them.”

The article said there are cooperation mechanisms for China and the five Southeast Asian countries that can help coordinate sustainable use of water resources in the Lancang-Mekong River and share information.

“We believe that China is willing to borrow from the experience of this mechanism when it comes to promoting cooperation among the Brahmaputra’s three major riparian countries. This will be the most effective solution to the water dispute between China and India,” it said.

“Realistically, people may need to make efforts to persuade India, rather than China, to accept a multilateral cooperation mechanism involving all of the Brahmaputra’s riparian countries,” it added.

At the same the article has accused India of “making increasing efforts to exploit the Brahmaputra River through various forms”, in a bid to develop the river’s water resources.

“Some efforts may have harmed the interests of downstream Bangladesh, but the lack of bargaining power for Bangladesh, whose economy is highly dependent on India, has resulted in limited public attention,” it said.

“India may feel reluctant to establish a cooperation mechanism among the Brahmaputra’s riparian countries because such a mechanism is likely restrain India from moves that might hurt Bangladesh’s interests,” it said.

No middle path for China on Masood Azhar, says BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Sunday that terrorism and bilateral relations cannot go hand in hand, and thus, China will have to choose between India and Pakistan. The BJP made this comment after Beijing tried to defend its second technical hold to prevent a United Nations ban on Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.”There is no middle path in the fight against terrorism and China will have to decide which side it is on. It will have to make up its mind whether it is going to side with terrorism just because they want to strengthen their relations with a particular country, and, how far is that going to serve humanity, and, how far is that going to serve Indo-China relations,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.On October 1, China had extended its veto on India’s move in the United Nations to blacklist Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar and with this, Beijing for the second time prevented India’s efforts. China defending its move yesterday said that there were “different views” on India’s application and that its move will allow more time for the “relevant parties” to have consultations even when China is the lone member among the 15-member UNSC to oppose the ban on Azhar.

India criticises UNSC for being indecisive about sanctioning leaders of terrorist entities

United Nations: India strongly criticised an “unresponsive” Security Council on Wednesday for being indecisive about sanctioning leaders of organisations it itself designates as terrorist entities after China extended its “technical hold” on India’s bid for a UN ban against JeM chief Masood Azhar.

File image of India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin. Facebook

File image of India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin. Facebook

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told the UN General Assembly that the 15-nation Security Council, the “principal organ” tasked with the maintenance of peace and security, has in a variety of ways become “unresponsive to the needs of our time and ineffective to meeting the challenges it is confronted with”.

Without naming China, Akbaruddin referred to its technical hold on India’s bid against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Azhar, saying the Council is a body that “ponders for six months on whether to sanction leaders of organisations it has itself designated as terrorist entities”.

“Then, unable to decide, it gives itself three more months to further consider this issue. One has to expectantly wait for nine months before the process is completed to know if Council members have decided on a single issue,” he said in the General Assembly debate on the Report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organisation.

On 31 March this year, China – a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council – had blocked India’s move to put a ban on Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council. China was the sole member in the 15-nation UN organ to put a hold on India’s application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the
1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.

The Chinese technical hold had lapsed on Monday, and had China not raised further objection, the resolution designating Azhar as a terrorist would have been passed automatically. However, Beijing on Saturday announced the extension of its “technical hold”.

“The extended technical hold on it will allow more time for the Committee to deliberate on the matter and for relevant parties to have further consultations,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had said in Beijing. Akbaruddin said in certain instances, the Council does not even begin the nine-month process of identification and listing of publicly announced leaders of listed entities.

“At best, it is now a body that can be described as an interesting and random mix of ad-hocism, scrambling and political paralysis. This global governance architecture now calls for comprehensive reform,” the Indian envoy said.

China speaks up against ‘cross-border terrorism’ but continues veto against India’s Azhar petition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after extending its blockade on India’s move to impose a UN ban on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar, China called for a stronger global response to curb cross-border movement of foreign terrorists.Speaking at a meeting on counter-terrorism in New York, Wu Haitao, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN said frequent cross-border flow of foreign terrorist fighters has caused ever greater harm to international security and stability, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.The report defined foreign terrorist fighters as individuals who travel to a state other than their states of residence or nationality for the purpose of participating in terrorist acts.”The UN and the relevant international agencies should set up counter-terrorism data bases as soon as possible and share intelligence so as to create conditions for effectively curbing the cross-border movement of foreign terrorist fighters,” he said.Wu’s speech against the cross border movement for foreign fighters followed Beijing extending the “technical hold” on India’s pending petition to ban Azhar for his involvement in the Pathankot terrorist attack.Announcing the extension of the technical hold on October 1, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, “China always maintains that on the listing matter, the 1267 Committee should stick to the principles of objectivity, impartiality and professionalism, base its judgments on solid evidence and decide upon consensus among the members of the Security Council”.China, a veto-wielding member had put a technical hold on the move to impose a ban on Azhar six months ago in the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council (UNSC) comprising of 15 members of the council including the five permanent members.China was the lone country which put the technical hold at the last minute which drew strong criticism from India.However China’s stand against movement for foreign terrorists could raise eyebrows in Pakistan as both Azhar and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed are Pakistanis.India has been highlighting the cross-border terror threat emanating from Pakistan and tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad are on the rise since last month’s Uri attack in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 19 Indian soldiers. Last month, India and China held their first counter- terrorism dialogue.

China blocks Brahmaputra tributary in Tibet to build dam, may cause concern for India

Beijing: China has blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet as part of the construction of its “most expensive” hydro project, which could cause concern in India as it may impact water flows into the lower riparian countries.

The Lalho project on Xiabuqu river, a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo (the Tibetan name for Brahmaputra), in Xigaze in Tibet involves an investment of 4.95 billion yuan ($740 million), Zhang Yunbao, head of the project’s administration bureau was quoted as saying by Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

Xigaze also known as Shigatse is closely located to Sikkim. From Xigaze, the Brahmaputra flows into Arunachal Pradesh.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Terming it as the “most expensive project”, the report said the project, whose construction began in June 2014, was scheduled to be completed in 2019.

It is not clear yet what impact the blockade of the river will have on the flow of water from the Brahmaputra into the lower riparian countries like India and Bangladesh as a result.

Last year, China had operationalised the $1.5 billion Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river, which has raised concerns in India.

But China has been maintaining that it has taken into consideration India’s concerns and allays apprehensions of restricting the flow of water, saying its dams are run of the river projects not designed to hold water.

The outline of China’s 12th Five Year Plan indicates that three more hydropower projects on the mainstream of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet Autonomous Region have been approved for implementation.

In March, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat said in a statement that India had expressed its concerns to China about the likely impact of the dams.

While there is no water treaty between the countries,  India and China established an Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on trans-border rivers and in October 2013 the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cooperation on trans-border rivers under which Beijing provides data to India on the water flows.

The blockade of the Brahmaputra river tributary comes at a time when India’s reported decision to suspend talks with Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty as part of its efforts to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang gave a guarded reply when asked on 27 September about India’s reported move.

“As a friendly neighbour to both India and Pakistan, China hopes that India and Pakistan can properly address disputes and improve relations through dialogue and consultation, maintain and enhance all-round cooperation and join hands to promote regional peace, stability and development,” Shuang told PTI.

Some of the rivers under the Indus Waters Treaty originate in China.

China ‘attaches importance’ to Pakistan’s Kashmir stand; wants relevant parties to resolve issue: Minister

Beijing: On Wednesday, China said it “attaches importance” to Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir but hoped that New Delhi and Islamabad resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation to “safeguard” peace and stability in the region.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said China wants “relevant parties” to resolve the issue through consultation.

Liu said this during an interaction with a special Pakistani delegation on Kashmir.

A file photo of Nawaz Sharif and Xi Jinping. PTIA file photo of Nawaz Sharif and Xi Jinping. PTI

A file photo of Nawaz Sharif and Xi Jinping. PTI

A brief statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website in Mandarin said Liu “listened” to the briefing by the special envoys on Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir situation.

Liu “emphasised that China pays attention to the recent situation in Kashmir and attaches importance to Pakistan’s relevant position”, the statement said.

“China believes that Kashmir issue is an issue left over from history and should be resolved by relevant parties through dialogue and consultation. China hopes that India and Pakistan can strengthen their communication and dialogue, properly handle differences, improve relations and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region,” it said.

The delegation was reportedly part of a move by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to send special envoys to brief foreign countries on the situation in Kashmir.

Significantly, the delegation had to meet the Chinese vice minister and not the Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Liu’s comments follow earlier remarks by Foreign Ministry officials here urging India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve their differences, declining to back reports from Islamabad about Beijing expressing its support to Pakistan.

On 26 September, China had snubbed Pakistan by declining to back the well-publicised reports in Islamabad that claimed Beijing’s support in the event of any aggression and for its stand on Kashmir.

India, China agree to jointly ‘deal with security threats’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India and China on Tuesday agreed to “jointly deal with security threats” and take measures to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism during their first dialogue on counter-terrorism and security here, amid Indo-Pak tensions following the Uri terror attack.Seen as a significant step forward in anti-terror cooperation following differences over India’s bid to get Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN, top intelligence officials from both sides held candid discussions about stepping up cooperation in counter-terrorism. “The two sides exchanged views on the international and regional security situation,” an Indian Embassy statement said of the talks.”They exchanged information on respective policies, systems and legislation to deal with terrorism, and further enhance their understanding on issues of major concerns to both sides,” the statement said.”The two sides had in-depth discussions on enhancing cooperation in counter-terrorism and security and on measures to jointly deal with security threats and reached important consensus in this regard,” it said. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said the two sides exchanged opinions on the international and regional security situation and their respective anti-terrorism systems, mechanisms and legislation.”They reached consensus on measures to strengthen cooperation and to jointly deal with security threats,” it said, citing a document issued after the meeting. The talks were held at high-level as the meeting was co-chaired by RN Ravi, Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee from India, and Wang Yongqing, Secretary General of Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of China. Significantly in his talks with Ravi, top Chinese Interior Ministry official Meng Jianzhu, who is the head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the ruling Communist Party, said that terrorism is a common enemy of the global community.He said that strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation between China and India was conducive to the interests of the people of both countries. He voiced hope that the two sides could put into action counter-terrorism collaboration and protect regional security and that of the two countries, the Xinhua report said, adding that he commended stable progress in Sino-Indian ties.The talks were a follow up to the decision reached during last year’s visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Beijing. Both sides had decided to form a Ministerial Committee and another by Joint Secretary-level mechanism to periodically meet and review the cooperation on terrorism, cyber security, cross border crimes and drug trafficking.Officials regard the talks on anti-terrorism significant as the dialogue was held in the backdrop of Beijing, a close ally of Pakistan, seeking to strike a balance between the two countries in the aftermath of the Uri attack.China has distanced itself from remarks made by Premier Li Keqiang backing Islamabad on Kashmir and its envoy meeting Pakistan’s Punjab province Chief Minister.

China’s hold on Masood Azhar’s UN terror listing to lapse soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The six-month validity of the technical hold imposed by China on India’s bid to get JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN will “lapse” soon and the Pathankot attack mastermind could be sanctioned if Beijing does not block the move again.On March 31 this year, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move to put a ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader under the Sanctions Committee of the Council. China was the sole member in the 15-nation UN organ to put a hold on India’s application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.Sources have said that the six-month validity of the technical hold is set to “lapse” in about a week-10 days time and unless China again seeks to bloc or veto the resolution on some pretext, the resolution could stand passed automatically, designating Azhar as a terrorist. The other 14 UNSC members have already supported India’s bid and the lapse of the technical hold, coupled with no further objection from China, will essentially mean that there is no opposition to the demand to get Azhar listed under the sanctions committee.Sources said that in the current environment of “growing global crescendo against terrorism”, “can China still stand up alone” and block the designation of an individual who heads an organisation that was listed as a terrorist group by the UN in 2001″. They said a possibility could be that after the lapse of the technical hold, China could seek more time on Azhar’s application, in effect allowing the technical hold to continue. However, China could be questioned by other UNSC members on such an extension, sources said, adding that other member nations in the UNSC could ask as to why Beijing needs more time even after getting a six-month time frame due to its technical hold. Sources said India is not alone in its bid to get Azhar listed as the US, UK and France had “co-sponsored” the resolution seeking Azhar’s listing.During the current UN General Assembly session, over 140 nations that have addressed the General Debate have voiced strong condemnation for the growing scourge of terrorism and vowed to combat it. Sources said against this backdrop can a nation (China) decide to go against the “global consensus” on ramping up efforts to fight terrorism by still going ahead and blocking the bid to get Azhar designated.

Climate Change: China welcomes India’s decision to ratify Paris agreement

Beijing: China on Monday welcomed India’s decision to ratify the Paris climate agreement, saying the move will be a driving force for the enforcement of the landmark deal.

“Climate change is a challenge faced by human society. No country would be immune from that so we should work together against climate change,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Chinese side welcomes India’s ratification of the agreement which will be another driving force for the enforcement of the Paris agreement,” he said. “The Chinese side will work with all relevant parties including India to press ahead with the implementation of the Paris agreement and strive for sustainable and low carbon growth of world economy,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced in Kerala that India will ratify the Paris climate deal made in Paris last year on 2 October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Earlier this month, the US and China, the world’s two largest emitters, formally joined the Paris agreement, which was adopted by 195 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change last December in Paris.

Modi’s announcement came as a surprise as India opposed pressure mounted by Beijing and Washington early this month at the G20 summit in Hangzhou over the issue.

At the G20 summit, India and few other countries as they need time to reorient their industrial development shifting away from coal to more sustainable energy options. The joint issues at the G20 summit had backed India’s stand for the need to give more time to ratify the climate deal.

Uri attack: India must call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff and weigh politico-military options

The Uri attack could be an inflection point for India, its relationship with Pakistan and the geopolitical future of south Asia. Or it could be just another deep cut inflicted by a rogue neighbour that enjoys provoking New Delhi secure in the knowledge that India shall remain forever trapped in the delusion of being a “great, responsible power” that in reality can do little beyond spewing empty rhetoric followed by routine pusillanimity.

There is little doubt that whichever outfit may have fronted it, the audacious terrorist strike on Sunday morning at the Indian Army headquarters in Uri — that claimed the lives of 17 soldiers and wounded another 19 — was carried out by the Pakistani deep state.

Initial reports emerging out of New Delhi confirm the suspicion. Army’s director general of military operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh was quoted as saying by Livement that “all four killed were foreign terrorists and had some items with them which had Pakistani markings… Slain terrorists belong to Jaish-e-Mohammed Tanzeem (militant group). Four AK-47 rifles and four under-barrel grenade launchers along with a large number of other war-like stores were recovered from them.”

The Army Brigade camp which was attacked by militants in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir. PTIThe Army Brigade camp which was attacked by militants in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir. PTI

The Army Brigade camp which was attacked by militants in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir. PTI

While Pakistani hand behind the terrorist attack isn’t surprising, the timing of the offensive certainly is. The act of war against Indian state comes at a time when heads of governments are scheduled to meet at the United Nations General Assembly starting on Monday. At first glance, Pakistan’s move to sponsor a terrorist attack on Indian soil when its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is raising Kashmir issue at UN may appear counter-productive. On the contrary, it is a brilliant move.

Islamabad, or more correctly Rawalpindi, is gambling on the well-considered possibility that the Uri attack will goad India into a knee-jerk response that it may then exploit to its advantage to go with its narrative of “Indian oppression in Kashmir”. Given the fact that the West would surely try to defuse the tension between the nuclear neighbours would mean that India would be at the receiving end of global pressure to “show restraint” and “act responsibly”. Advice to such effect was already being administered by United States commentators on Sunday evening.

With Uri and Pathankot, Pakistan has now launched two audacious operations against India in this year alone, apart from the regular infiltration attempts across LoC. These ops are part of its “zero-risk” strategy because the nuclear umbrella and India’s self-imposed ‘no first-use’ doctrine provide Pakistan with a secure cover from which it may cock repeated snooks at New Delhi’s superior military might.

So what shall be India’s response? The first thing to understand is that India has a wide range of options to retaliate against Pakistan and it need not be caught in the false duality of “restraint” or “war”. This is exactly what Pakistan is banking on and we must catch them on the wrong foot.

As a first step, India must call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff. For far too long have we allowed a demographically small, economically weak and a malicious, irresponsible, failed rogue state to hold us to ransom over the nuclear bogey. We have suffered repeated humiliations and debilitating injuries. Pakistan’s nuclear gambit revolves around a first-use threat. But the point is, Islamabad won’t dare to cross the final threshold because a retaliatory strike from India will simply wipe it away.

Therefore, India must take the strategic initiative away from Pakistan. We cannot afford to indefinitely defend ourselves against a nation that uses terrorism as state policy and has launched an unconventional, proxy war against us. In absence of an effective deterrent, we have opened ourselves to a never-ending assault. Fidayeen strikes like the one at Pathankot or Uri are notoriously difficult to prevent because there shall always remain a weak spot or two which the enemy can exploit. Hence the only way India can prevent future attacks from happening is by launching a coordinated politico-military offensive against a country which only understands the language of violence. History tells us that only when Pakistan gets a bloody nose that it learns to behave.

Hence the Indian action must be concentrated on these areas.

First, on the military front, take a proactive stance and launch counter-ops to demolish terror-training camps across the LoC using local intelligence inputs. If India doesn’t have the courage or conviction to act in self-defence then it will be foolish to expect that the world would respect our viewpoint. But this military option must be part of a larger diplomatic offensive.

India must isolate Pakistan globally, lobby hard to make it a pariah nation and call for debilitating sanctions. India must bring Pakistan to its knees. Why would the world sing along with us? They would because in this game of diplomatic offensive, India’s biggest weapon is its population and demography. This will be the only language the global powers will understand because, in the world of strategic affairs, decisions are taken based on domestic interests, not lofty ideals. Nobody would support India if we simply throw our arms around and call for sanctions. But if we were to tell the US that arms deals will be off if they don’t play ball with us, Uncle Sam would be more favourably disposed.

With Brexit, Britain is ripe for the picking for such pressure because it needs access to the Indian market. And this strategy may pay off, albeit with varying degrees of success, even with European nations. As Marianne Wade, Almir Maljevic write in their book War on Terror, “Since 2002 the European Union has systematically inserted anti-terrorism clauses into trade cooperation and association agreements with third countries”.

We may find resonance on economic blockade against Pakistan even from Islamabad-backers China if we leverage Beijing’s trade surplus with us. Asia’s great power uses Pakistan as a cheap deterrent against India’s economic ambitions. With Beijing heavily invested in Gwadar through CPEC, it wouldn’t want to risk a destabilisation of borders.

Additionally, we must bypass Pakistan in Saarc, diplomatically isolate them and have a blanket ban on all bilateral interactions. From a display of hard power to flexing its soft-power muscle, layered alternatives are available with India. Let’s junk this policy of turning the other cheek when slapped by Pakistan.

Olympians Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa: 3 inspirational faces that could become brand icons

Can PV Sindhu become the next sports brand icon in India? She has shown grit, performance and strength of character that has seen her get the elusive medal for India at the Olympics and the first silver medal in badminton. Will we see her selling products that resonate with this can-do-it attitude of hers?

Rio Olympic medal winners: PV Sindhu, Sakshi MalikRio Olympic medal winners: PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik

Rio Olympic medal winners: PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik

Harish Bijoor of Bijoor Consults says Sindhu has what it takes to be a `great’ brand icon. “She has won an Olympics medal and has shown tremendous grit while getting it.”

Concurring with Bijoor’s opinion, Piyush Pandey, Ogilvy & Mather says that Sindhu is a brand in her own right and any brand should be able to use her as long as she is featured in ‘dignified’ commercials. “I hope she does not sell toothpaste and washing soap,” he says.

In the past, we have had Abhinav Bindra, India’s sole gold medallist, who was instrumental in getting the nation to leap up in joy at the country’s first gold medal in any Olympics. Bindra won it for shooting at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. However, he was seen only in a few commercials. Many would find it hard-pressed to recall the advertisement Rajyavardhan Rathore, winner of India’s first-ever silver medal in an individual event — the men’s double trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics. That’s the short-lived glory of memory with regard to Olympics.

Alpana Parida, managing director, DY Works, a Mumbai-based brand strategy and brand design firm, says that when the country was willing to watch Sindhu play and root for her on Friday at the Olympics even as a test match India vs West Indies was on, it shows that a sport like badminton has also caught the eye of the nation. Though that match did not take place on the second day of the fourth test because of rains, the country was backing and hoping Sindhu would get the gold at the Olympics.

Parida says that Bindra’s sport is a lone sport while Mary Kom was widely known after a film was made on her. In the case of Sindhu, the game itself was the high point, says Parida. “You could see her competitive spirit and see her courage, strength of character against her opponent. These qualities become inspirational.”

The advertisements that will echo what Sindhu stands for then must focus on her strength of character and competitiveness, say brand specialists. Bijoor says products that are connected to sports would augur well for Sindhu.

Arun Pandey, founder, Rhiti Sports Management, a player management agency, believes even oil could be a good fit for Sindhu. “Anything that stands for health will work well with Sindhu. Like health drinks, for instance,” he says.

The public memory of an Olympic medal winner is ephemeral. It is thus important for these players to cash in on their image that is bright now.

Pandey of Rhiti Sports cites the instance of hockey. “There have been so many iconic players in hockey and yet how many of them are remembered,” he asks.

He says that it then becomes the responsibility of the sports management agency to make sure the player is represented in a wide range of commercials and get what they deserve.

“When I signed Saina Nehwal in 2011, I had to talk to a number of brands about how she could united a nation with her presence. Some corporates understood the message and signed her. Later, those who did not want to sign her, also came back to sign her. Hence, it is our responsibility as managers of players to communicate to corporates.”

Many believe that Sindhu and the other medal winners like Sakshi Malik and even Dipa Karmakar who came fourth can be the face of inspiration, and not just women’s issues.

“Dipa Karmakar is a great story and any brand should be eager to cast her. She is a woman who braved the odds in a sport that no one in the world expected an Indian in. And she missed the bronze by a whisker,” say an analyst.

Piyush Pandey believes the time has come for other sports to be in the limelight without being overshadowed by cricket. “Some of these players like Saina, Sania are known to India and the Rio medal winners and Dipa Karmakar too will remain in public memory. They are great role models if used meaningfully.”

China pitches for ‘mutually acceptable solution’ to issues with India

In a guarded response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments that India has a “whole lot of problems” with China, Beijing on Tuesday said it will be in dialogue with New Delhi to find a “fair, sensible and mutually acceptable solution” to the contentious issues.”We have noted the relevant report. China-India relationship is in a generally good state,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told PTI here in response to questions on Modi’s interview to a private TV news channel.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Common interests between the two countries far outweigh their differences. The Chinese side will work with the Indian side to steer the bilateral relations, and deepen cooperation in different fields,” Hong said. “As for problems in the bilateral relations, the Chinese side will stay in communication and dialogue with the Indian side to find a fair, sensible and mutually acceptable solution,” he said, referring to Modi’s remarks.Modi had said that “We have an ongoing dialogue with China and it should continue to happen. We don’t have one problem with China, we have a whole lot of problems pending with China. There are so many issues.”On India getting the membership of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) ahead of China, Hong said, “we have noted that some of the multilateral export control regimes have changed in one way or another. With that in mind, China is assessing the effectiveness of the MTCR in safeguarding the international non-proliferation regime.”China is yet to be inducted into the 34-member MTCR regime. India became 35th member on Monday. Reports say China, which blocked India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), is lobbying to become member of the MTCR group. The MTCR restricts the proliferation of missiles, rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles, or drones, and the technology for systems capable of carrying a payload of 500 kilograms for at least 300 kms.

Indians ‘self-centered and self-righteous’; blocking India’s NSG bid ‘morally legitimate’: China’s state media

Defending China’s opposition to India’s entry into the NSG as ‘morally legitimate’, a state- run daily today hit out at India saying the West has “spoiled” the country making it a “bit smug” in international affairs.In a hard hitting editorial, Global Times said it was rules not China that prevented India’s entry into the 48-nation elite nuclear trading body.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It said at least 10 countries, including China, have opposed the accession of non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) into the NSG.”India is not a signatory to the NPT, but is the most active applicant to join the NSG. Before the Seoul meeting, the Indian media played up the prospects of its bid. Some even claim that among the 48 members of the NSG, 47 have given it a green light, except China,” said the editorial titled ‘Delhi’s NSG bid upset by rules, not Beijing’.”…India wants to be the first exception to join the NSG without signing the NPT. It is morally legitimate for China and other members to upset India’s proposal in defence of principles,” said the tabloid, part of the ruling Communist Party of China’s publications.The daily known for its nationalistic postures said India is emerging as the “golden boy” of the West.”Recent years have seen the Western world giving too many thumbs up to India, but thumbs down to China. India is spoiled. Although the South Asian country’s GDP accounts for only 20 per cent of that of China, it is still a golden boy in the eyes of the West, having a competitive edge and more potential compared to China. The international ‘adulation’ of India makes the country a bit smug in international affairs,” it said.Criticising Indian media and public reaction on India’s failed NSG bid, it, however, said the Indian government has behaved “decently”.”Some Indians are too self-centered and self-righteous. On the contrary, the Indian government behaves decently and is willing to communicate. Throwing a tantrum won’t be an option for New Delhi,” it said.”India’s nationalists should learn how to behave themselves. Now that they wish their country could be a major power, they should know how major powers play their games,” the daily said.Taking exception to the US’ support to India for NSG entry, the editorial said, “US backing adds the biggest impetus to India’s ambition. By cosying up to India, Washington’s India policy actually serves the purpose of containing China.””The US is not the whole world. Its endorsement does not mean India has won the backing of the world. This basic fact, however, has been ignored by India,” it said.

PM Modi’s push for NSG inclusion is ’embarrassing’ the nation: Congress

New Delhi: Congress on Sunday dubbed as “event management” the Narendra Modi government’s push to get NSG membership and accused it of “embarrassing” the nation with its “misplaced euphoria”.

File image of Tom Vaddakan. Twitter @TVadakkan

File image of Tom Vaddakan. Twitter @TVadakkan

“There was no reason for our government to file the application. It was ill-advised – the desperation, which the Prime Minister showed and also the premature claims which he made when he went to Switzerland and Mexico as if everybody is endorsing us,” former Union Minister and senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.

“I want to reiterate. Diplomacy is not done by loud pronouncements, creating hype and expectations or misplaced euphoria that ends in embarrassment for the country,” he added.

Another party spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said there was no need for this “event management on NSG”. “There were huge celebrations that Switzerland and various other countries are supporting us. But eight to nine countries opposed us including Switzerland,” he said, alleging that the Foreign Minister of this country has “no role” in deciding issues of foreign affairs.

The Congress’ attack on the government came after India’s push for becoming a member of the NSG came a cropper at the plenary meeting of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group recently as divisions persisted over admitting non-NPT members with China leading the opposition to it.

Ahead of the meeting, India had pushed its case with a number of countries, with Prime Minister Modi leading the charge and also meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent urging him to take a decision on India’s membership on merit while seeking Beijing’s support.

Arun Jaitley discusses G20, BRICS with China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei

Beijing: India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met his Chinese counterpart Lou Jiwei in Beijing on Saturday and discussed economic cooperation between the two countries.

The global macroeconomic situation also figured in the meeting in which both the leaders agreed on the need to further coordinate in order to enhance economic growth.

The upcoming G20 Summit in Hangzhou and the BRICS Summit in India were also discussed at the meeting, said an Indian embassy official.

The two met on the sidelines of the Annual General Meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The formal meet is due on Monday.

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTIA file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

Jaitley, who is on a five-day visit to China, also met officials of Alibaba ANT enterprises, an affiliate company of the Alibaba Group on Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday, attending the meet of AIIB, Jaitley said: “India has undertaken reforms in FDI and initiated large investments in rural infrastructure, national highway, inland waterways, shipping, power sector and smart cities.”

“Notwithstanding the global headwinds, however, India continues to maintain a high growth rate at 7.6 per cent in 2015-16 compared to 7.2 per cent in the previous year,” he added.

Speaking on the role of AIIB, he said: “AIIB presents a much needed additional financing window dedicated to infrastructure projects and meeting the financing gap that may be beyond the capacity of the individual countries and the existing MDBs (Multilateral Development Banks).

“India has a huge unmet demand for investment in infrastructure and is preparing basket of projects worth $2-3 billion for AIIB funding in the areas of urban development (including Smart Cities), energy, urban transport, railways, inland waterways and water supply.”

Jaitley offered India’s support in establishing a regional office of AIIB in New Delhi to effectively cater to this potentially large portfolio and speed up the process of project development, monitoring and implementation.

Earlier in the day, in an interview to China’s English language television channel CCTV, Jaitley said: “We (India) grew by 7.6 per cent last year, we’ll certainly maintain that and with a good monsoon, hopefully improve upon that. It (growth rate) is sustainable for the reason that India still has lot of distance in terms of economic growth to cover.”

He said that India has been the second largest partner in China-led AIIB and these parallel institutions are developing because of the need of infrastructure finance.

“I think it is inevitable that irrespective of the theme of the conference, this issue (infrastructure finance) will dominate all economic discussions,” he said.

Jaitley on Sunday will attend the annual meeting of the board of governors’ of AIIB that was scheduled for June 24-25.

On 27 June, he will hold a ministerial level financial dialogue with Jiwei.

Jaitley arrived in Beijing on June 23 on a five-day official tour.

No decision on India’s NSG membership as China remains adamant

The plenary meeting of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ended on Friday with no decision on India’s membership bid as divisions persisted over admitting non-NPT members with China leading the opposition to it.China’s stand that India’s membership application cannot be considered because it has not signed the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was backed by nearly 10 other countries which effectively torpedoed India’s bid although it had the strong backing of the US, the UK, France and a majority of countries in the nuclear trading group. Earlier, the chief Chinese negotiator, Wang Qun continued to vehemently oppose India’s membership of NSG. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wang, Director General of China’s Department of Arms Control, told reporters that there was no consensus on the NSG membership of non-NPT countries like India. He insisted that for a country to be a member of NSG, signing of the NPT “is a must”. This rule has not been set by China but by the international community, he added.Wang warned “if exceptions are allowed here or there on the question of NPT, the international non-proliferation will collapse altogether”.Asked about reports that Beijing was blocking India’s membership, he said the NSG has so far not agreed to any agenda item on participation of non-NPT countries. Therefore, there was no point of China supporting or opposing India’s membership. The anti-India stand taken by China again today clearly shows that Chinese President Xi Jinping has not responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s urgings in Tashkent yesterday that Beijing should support India’s case.Seeking China’s support for India’s membership, Modi had urged Xi to make a “fair and objective” assessment of India’s application which is before the Seoul plenary as the two leaders met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

Not targetting India or Pak, we care about Non-Proliferation Treaty: China on NSG membership

A day after China said that India’s admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is not part of the agenda at the annual plenary in Seoul, it asserted that discussions are on among members over India’s entry into the elite club.”China said that discussions are on among NSG members over admission of India and other non-NPT countries,” reported PTI.Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “We did not target any country, India or Pakistan. We only care about non-proliferation treaty.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If the non-proliferation regime is changed how can we explain the Iranian nuclear treaty,” she added.Despite Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visiting Beijing a few days back, China had on Monday said that the inclusion of non-NPT members was never a topic on the agenda of NPT meetings. “In Seoul this year, there is no such topic.”
ALSO READ NSG membership: PM Modi to meet Xi Jinping on June 23 to win support for India’s bidPrime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday (June 23) in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent in an attempt to win Beijing’s support for India’s membership to the NSG.Meanwhile, China’s state media on Tuesday defended Pakistan’s nuclear record, saying it was AQ Khan who was responsible for atomic proliferation, which was not backed by the government and argued that any exemption to India for NSG entry should also be given to Pakistan.
ALSO READ Pak NSG bid: Pakistan only hurdle to Indian ‘hegemony’ in South Asia, says Sartaj Aziz India has been vying to join the 48-nation group, and has reportedly secured support from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and other world powers recently.China, however, stands as an obstacle to India’s application, arguing that it would enhance a nuclear competition in South Asia by isolating Pakistan. China wants the NSG to admit Pakistan as well, pointing out that both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons and had not signed the NPT.
ALSO READ Any exemption to India for NSG entry must also apply to Pakistan, says ChinaThe NSG is one of the main tools for controlling the exports and proliferation of materials that could potentially be used in making weapons of mass destruction. It also tracks the black market trade of nuclear technologies.

India’s NSG bid receives setback;China says issue not on agenda in Seoul meet

India’s hopes of making progress towards NSG membership at the plenary meeting of the 48-nation grouping which began in Seoul on Monday received a setback with China saying that this was not even on the agenda of the meeting.Nuclear Suppliers Group remains divided over non-NPT countries like India becoming its members, China’s Foreign Ministry said less than 24 hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had exuded hope that “we would be able to convince China to support our entry to the NSG.” Even as the 5-day annual NSG Plenary began in the South Korean capital, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying in Beijing said that India’s admission into NSG was not on the agenda.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We understand that non-NPT countries are concerned about their entry into the NSG. But since NSG is still divided about the issue, so it is still not mature to talk about the entry issue in the annual conference in Seoul,” she said. Beijing’s response came a day after Swaraj at a press conference in New Delhi had said “China is not opposing membership of India in NSG, it is only talking of criteria and procedure. I am hopeful that we would be able to convince China as well to support our entry to the NSG.” Officials in New Delhi sought to downplay the snub with the MEA Spokesperson saying that India remained “optimist”.The main meeting of the NSG Plenary on June 24 comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Tashkent for SCO Summit, which is also being attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Modi may meet Xi during which he is expected to raise the issue of India’s NSG membership but whether the discussions will lead to break in the logjam is a moot point. “China maintains that NSG should have through discussion on the joining of the non-NPT countries in a way agreed by all parties, so as to make a decision based on agreement. This position is not directed against any country and applies to all non-NPT states,” Hua said.India’s case for NSG membership is being strongly pushed by the US, which has written to other members to support India’s bid at the plenary meeting of the group in Seoul. While majority of the elite group members backed India’s membership, it is understood that apart from China, countries like Turkey, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand were not in favour of India’s entry into the NSG. China maintains opposition to India’s entry, arguing that it has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).However, it has been batting for its close ally Pakistan’s entry if NSG extends any exemption for India. India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.India is seeking membership of NSG to enable it to trade in and export nuclear technology. The access to the NSG, which regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for energy-starved India, which has an ambitious energy generation programme. India is looking at 63,000 MW energy requirement through nuclear programme by 2030.The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector. India has been reaching out to NSG member countries seeking support for its entry. The NSG works under the principle of consensus and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid.

Foreign Secy Jaishankar makes unannounced visit to China as Putin voices support for India’s NSG entry

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar made an unannounced visit to Beijing on 16-17 June to enlist support for India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which is being opposed by China. Jaishankar’s visit came a week ahead of the plenary meeting of the 48-nation atomic trading bloc scheduled to be held in Seoul on 24 June where India’s membership is likely to be discussed.

“Yes, I can confirm Foreign Secretary visited Beijing on 16-17 June for bilateral consultations with his Chinese counterpart. All major issues, including India’s NSG membership, were discussed,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Sunday.

China has been strongly opposing India’s membership at the premier club, arguing that it was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Meanwhile, Russian President, according to India Today, has said that he is positive about finding a solution to the objections raised by China against India’s application for NSG membership. Russia is one of the key supporters of India. Speaking to India Today, Putin said, “Russia has been cooperating with India on all nuclear issues but only within the limits of the international law. We believe that India with its huge population, has economic problems and lot of energy challenges apart from national security issues. And therefore, India cannot be put in the same league as other countries. While we must act within the international law, we must look at all the opportunities to ensure, provide and support India’s interests.”

When asked whether Russia had any discussions with Beijing on India’s inclusion as a member-country in the NSG club, Putin said that there are no secrets and the decision will be taken after consulting all the members.

Foreign secretary S Jaiashankar. Image courtesy: MEA website

Foreign secretary S Jaiashankar. Image courtesy: MEA website

Interestingly, an op-ed in the Global Times (14 June) titled ‘India mustn’t let nuclear ambitions blind itself’ gravely noted: “Beijing insists that a prerequisite of New Delhi’s entry is that must be a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, (NPT) while India is not. Despite acknowledging this legal and systematic requirement, the Indian media called China’s stance obstructionist.” This brief comment is the first semi-official articulation of China on the NSG and predictably obfuscates the issue.

In making this assertion about the NPT, Beijing is being characteristically innovative and artful in how it first distorts and then presents various facts specific to the nuclear domain. Having based its objection to India’s admission to the NSG on the charge that India is a non-signatory to the NPT , the op-ed (and by extension Beijing) glosses over the fact that there is a precedent which could be cited to advance the Indian case.

Apart from the NPT rhetoric, China has also encouraged Pakistan to apply for NSG membership so as to link New Delhi’s entry with that of Islamabad’s, knowing well that there will be few takers for Pakistan’s case. India has been trying to join the group since 2008, which essentially would give it a place at the high table where the rules of nuclear commerce are decided. India, as part of the NSG, would also mean its ability to sell equipment. Many countries, like Australia, that initially opposed its entry have changed stance and Mexico and Switzerland are the latest to voice their support. Russia too joined in. India’s membership in the group will be the final step of nation’s inclusion in ‘nuclear global order’.

Earlier this week, China’s official media said India’s NSG membership would “jeopardise” China’s national interests besides touching a ‘raw nerve’ in Pakistan. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had said a week back that members of the NSG “remain divided” on the issue of non-NPT countries joining it and called for “full discussions”.

India has been reaching out to NSG member countries seeking support for its membership of the bloc whose members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. The US has backed India and asked various NSG members to support New Delhi’s bid.

The NSG was conceived in November 1975 as a response to India’s peaceful nuclear explosion of May 1974 and the original seven participating governments (not members) were Britain, Canada, France, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United States and West Germany. At the time, France was not a signatory to the NPT though it was a nuclear weapons state but was part of the NSG. And, for the record, Paris formally acceded to the NPT only in August 1992.

The NSG operates as an informal group that has certain guidelines. The participating governments have identified five factors for those nations seeking to join the group. Being a signatory to the NPT is one of the factors and may be desirable but, as the example of France has demonstrated, it is no bar to admission.

It is understood that a number of countries including Turkey, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand were not in favour of India’s entry into the NSG. India had managed to secure support of NSG members Switzerland and Mexico during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s recent visit to these two countries as part of a five-nation tour. Mexico and Switzerland were known to have strong nuclear proliferation concerns and were not in favour of allowing NSG membership to countries which were not signatory to NPT.

The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid. India’s access to the NSG, a body that regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for India’s domestic nuclear energy programme.

India has been campaigning for membership of the bloc for last few years and had formally moved its application on 12 May. The NSG had granted an exclusive waiver to India in 2008 to access civil nuclear technology after China reluctantly backed India’s case based on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

India needs to recaliberate NSG stance ahead of Seoul meeting

China has just tipped its hand in relation to India ahead of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) plenary in Seoul on 24 June.

An op-ed in the Global Times (14 June) titled ‘India mustn’t let nuclear ambitions blind itself’ gravely noted: “Beijing insists that a prerequisite of New Delhi’s entry is that must be a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, (NPT) while India is not. Despite acknowledging this legal and systematic requirement, the Indian media called China’s stance obstructionist.” This brief comment is the first semi-official articulation of China on the NSG and predictably obfuscates the issue.

In making this assertion about the NPT, Beijing is being characteristically innovative and artful in how it first distorts and then presents various facts specific to the nuclear domain. Having based its objection to India’s admission to the NSG on the charge that India is a non-signatory to the NPT , the op-ed (and by extension Beijing) glosses over the fact that there is a precedent which could be cited to advance the Indian case.

indo-chinaborder

The ope-ed further avers that Beijing is convinced that the US “supply of nuclear technologies to enhance India’s deterrence capability is to put China in check”.

The NSG was conceived in November 1975 as a response to India’s peaceful nuclear explosion of May 1974 and the original seven participating governments (not members) were Britain, Canada, France, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United States and West Germany. At the time, France was not a signatory to the NPT though it was a nuclear weapons state but was part of the NSG. And, for the record, Paris formally acceded to the NPT only in August 1992.

The NSG operates as an informal group that has certain guidelines. The participating governments have identified five factors for those nations seeking to join the group. Being a signatory to the NPT is one of the factors and may be desirable but, as the example of France has demonstrated, it is no bar to admission.

The ope-ed further avers that Beijing is convinced that the US “supply of nuclear technologies to enhance India’s deterrence capability is to put China in check”. This again is counter-factual for the entire US-India nuclear cooperation agreement mooted in 2005 and completed in late 2008 is only about the civilian nuclear spectrum and is totally non-military in nature.

China’s artfulness and recourse to embroidered facts is embedded in the righteous anxiety it seeks to convey about an India-Pakistan nuclear arms race – an exigency that it posits as “a likely outcome” in the event India is admitted into the NSG.

The op-ed continues about the nuclear race: “This will not only paralyse regional security, but also jeopardise China’s national interests.” And the coup de grace that burnishes the Chinese halo of nuclear chastity is the allegation that India has little concern for regional security imperatives and that “South Asia is still facing the harsh reality that the region is mired in nuclear confrontation”.

Facts again point to another narrative. Asia was weaponised in a nuclear sense when China detonated its first atomic weapon in October 1964 – albeit with help from Moscow. At the time, Chairman Mao was disparaging of nuclear deterrence and boasted that even if the US were to use its weapons against China, there would still be a million Chinese citizens who would rebuild the country.

When the NPT was introduced in 1970, Beijing was dismissive of it and called it a useless piece of paper. It came on board only in 1992 – a little before France. In the interim, for reasons that remain mired in opacity – Beijing was a robust WMD (weapons of mass destruction) supplier and enabled both North Korea and Pakistan to acquire missile and nuclear weapon technology and material.

Specific to South Asia, in an unprecedented initiative, Beijing provided a fully-assembled nuclear weapon to Pakistan in the late 1980s and this was tested at an undisclosed site in May 1990. This was the seed of nuclear tension in the sub-continent that has been kept alive for 25 years by the Sino-Pak combine and has been exacerbated by the audacious link with terrorism.

Rawalpindi, the HQ of the Pakistani Army, has assiduously nurtured radical Islam with jihad as the ideological underpinning and encouraged certain groups to use terror as a tool to de-stabilise India. The covert nuclear weapon capability provided by Beijing is the firewall behind which Rawalpindi has successfully enhanced its ability to invest in terror – and the November 2008 Mumbai attack is illustrative. In essence, Pakistan refined the strategy of NWET – nuclear weapon enabled terror – with tacit Chinese support.

Beijing is not unaware of this chronology of events but has chosen to ignore these ‘facts’. The list of exclusions also extends to the extraordinary AQ Khan nuclear network that was nonchalantly swept under the carpet as the colossal greed of one man – even if the Pakistani Air Force was used to ferry the illicit material.

Thus, for China to pretend that it is an innocent victim of Indian perfidy flies against the facts on the ground. Yet Chinese diplomats, academics and analysts stubbornly refuse to acknowledge any of these inconvenient facts – despite considerable documentation on the subject in the public domain – and Beijing’s ostrich act continues. Hence it is moot to ask if China has ‘blinded’ itself with such tenacious obfuscation of facts even while pointing a finger at India.

For India to be admitted at the Seoul plenary (24 June), consensus among the 48-member NSG is required. This may not be forthcoming for Pakistan has also made a similar application with strong Chinese support. Many NSG members are extremely uneasy about the NWET-A.Q. Khan DNA of the Pakistan military and a decision on enhancing the group may be deferred.

China is unlikely to alter its current orientation about the South Asian nuclear framework – which is to keep India in extended disequilibrium. In the face of such cynical realpolitik, New Delhi will have to review its own approach to the NSG and the political capital it wishes to expend in the run-up to Seoul.

China transgresses Indian borders for the first time this year; NSG scuffle likely reason

In what the Chinese termed as “temporary transgression,” about 250 China’s Peoples Liberation Army soldiers entered Arunachal Pradesh’s east district of Kameng four days ago, defence sources said. The incident happened in Yangste, East Kameng district on 9 June is yet another instance of Chinese incursion.

The soldiers, however, went back within hours, said the defence sources. Incidentally, the Chinese crossing-over happened at a time when Beijing had hardened its opposition against India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). When Manohar Parrikar visited China in April, issues of strategic concerns and implementation of agreements to reduce tensions were discussed by the two governments.

Source: Ministry of Home AffairsSource: Ministry of Home Affairs

Source: Ministry of Home Affairs

This is the first known transgression by the Chinese army this year in the region, which China claims is part of its territory. The Chinese troops spent about three hours on this side of the border before going back to their territory, the sources said. In the past, however, China has on many occasions “transgressed” into the Indian borders. According to a BBC report, the Home Ministry claims that there have been “334 transgressions by Chinese troops over the Indian border” in 2014 alone.

According Harsh V Pant of BBC, such incursions tend to take place between the two countries before major bilateral meets. Indian officials have in the past reasoned China’s incursions as a “result of differing perceptions about line of truth,” according to Brahma Chellaney in The Sunday Guardian. However, he says that in the Indo-Chinese disputes, India has “always been on the defensive” and that Beijing’s “public language” signals Premier Zhou Enlai’s words, “to teach India a lesson..

DS Rajan in his paper, Chinese intrusions into India’s borders ever end? describes that the People’s Republic of China ups the intrusions during or close to periods of exchanges of high-level visits between India and China. With India doing everything it can to secure a membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), China is in stark opposition.

According to Jaideep Prabhu in an earlier article on Firstpost, China is insistent when the criteria for membership is clear, there should be no exceptions, including India because it would weaken the non-proliferation regime.

Prakash Nanda argued that the Chinese objection to India’s membership in NSG is “political” and that China cannot bear that India is emerging as a recognisable force and that for China, “India is part of the strategic periphery which China has historically sought to weaken, control, or diplomatically manipulate.”

Here’s a look at some of the serious intrusions made by Chinese troops in Indian borders:

with inputs from PTI

250 Chinese troops briefly entered Arunachal Pradesh four days ago

In yet another incident of Chinese incursion, about 250 China’s Peoples Liberation Army soldiers entered Arunachal Pradesh’s east district of Kameng four days ago, defence sources said on Monday. The “temporary transgression” by the Chinese patrolling party happened in Yangste, East kameng district on June 9, they said. However, the soldiers went back within hours, they added. Significantly, the Chinese crossing-over happened at a time when Beijing had hardened its opposition against India’s bid for membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is the first known transgression by the Chinese army this year in the region, which China claims is part of its territory. The Chinese troops spent about three hours on this side of the border before going back to their territory, the sources said.

India alerts citizens in China over ‘imposter’

India on Saturday issued an advisory for its nationals living in China to be cautious about an “imposter” posing as Embassy official to dupe them financially by threatening with deportation and arrest for providing false information in immigration formalities.”There have recent reports from some countries that an imposter posing as an official of the Indian Embassy has contacted Indian nationals and duped them into making money transfers through wire,” Embassy of India here said in an advisory put out on its official website.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The imposter contacted the victim over phone stating that the host government was considering deporting and arresting them for providing false information pertaining to immigration details. “He then urged the victim to make a money transfer to the account of the lawyer that the Embassy of India in that country had allegedly hired to assist the Indian national.”The Embassy of India, Beijing would like to alert all Indian nationals in China, that the embassy does not make calls seeking money through wire transfer. In case any Indian national receives such calls, they are advised to immediately report the matter to the embassy,” the advisory said.

When India and China can agree on CWC, then why not on NSG?

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully convinces the global community during his foreign visits that India should be allowed into the Nuclear Supply Group (NSG), given the country’s impeccable nonproliferation record and nuclear know how, China is doing its best to deny India the exalted status.

India applied for NSG membership on 12 May, 2016, and the fate of the application will be known when the extraordinary plenary meeting of the NSG is held on 9 and 10 June. The United States, Russia and other major powers support India’s contention. Switzerland, which was against the Indian bid, has now agreed to support – a major diplomatic victory that Modi scored in Geneva on 5 June.

President Pranab Mukherjee meets China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. File photo ReutersPresident Pranab Mukherjee meets China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. File photo Reuters

President Pranab Mukherjee meets China’s Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. File photo Reuters

The NSG comprised 48 nuclear supplier states that have voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology to non-nuclear-weapon states. It aims at averting nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. Its members are expected to forgo nuclear trade with governments that do not subject themselves to international measures and inspections designed to provide confidence that their nuclear imports are not used to develop nuclear arms.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to talk to Ambassador Rafael M Grossi, chairman of the NSG, during his visit to Delhi. Underscoring the importance of the NSG, he told me that global demand for clean nuclear energy is growing, notwithstanding what the critics may say (China has or proposes to have 30 Nuclear Power Plants (NPP). India wants to have eight or 10 of them. Bangladesh is building one. NPPs are under construction in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America and East Europe. And here, one is not talking of the already well established NPPs in the developed world). Hence, there is going to be more and more nuclear trade – fuel, machineries and technologies. And here comes the importance of non-proliferation and transparency. The NSG tries to ensure transparency in nuclear trade. The NSG guidelines require that importing states provide assurances to NSG members that proposed deals will not contribute to the creation of nuclear weapons. Potential recipients are also expected to have physical security measures in place to prevent theft or unauthorised use of their imports and to promise that nuclear materials and information will not be transferred to a third party without the explicit permission of the original exporter.

In addition, final destinations for any transfer must have International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards in place. The IAEA is charged with verifying that non-nuclear-weapon states are not illicitly pursuing nuclear weapons. IAEA safeguards are to prevent nuclear material or technology from being stolen or misappropriated for weapons include inspections, remote monitoring, seals, and other measures.

The guidelines comprised two parts, each of which was created in response to a significant proliferation event that highlighted shortcomings in the then-existing export control systems. Part I lists materials and technology designed specifically for nuclear use. These include fissile materials, nuclear reactors and equipment, and reprocessing and enrichment equipment. Part II identifies dual-use goods, which are non-nuclear items with legitimate civilian applications that can also be used to develop weapons. Machine tools and lasers are two types of dual-use goods.

In sum, Grossi told me, “The mandate of the NSG is to produce, export, import nuclear material and equipment; exchange information on export and import policies; prevent misuse or abuse of legitimate trade of nuclear goods for hostile use and offer technological expertise to countries seeking its assistance.”

Once a country is admitted as a member of the NSG, what benefits do accrue to it? Does it make access to technology, equipment and material easier? Does each transfer have to be approved by the NSG? Grossi’s answers were, “In today’s world, no country operates in isolation. Nuclear industry is a big industry and you must have international cooperation as well as the needed mechanisms. Here, the membership of the NSG helps in providing comforts both to the nuclear supplier and recipient. Once admitted, a NSG member (1) gets timely information on nuclear matters, (2) contributes by way of information, (3) has confirmed credentials, (4) can act as an instrument of harmonisation and coordination , and (5) is part of a very transparent process with regard to the material, equipment and technology. These advantages cannot be quantified, but these generate a very positive atmosphere.”

However, the NSG chairman made it clear that not each transfer of information related to the nuclear field has to be approved by the NSG. “The NSG is not a supra-national authority. It is only a mechanism for exchange of information; it provides a forum for consultation,” he said.

Importantly, Grossi was evasive on India’s prospects for joining the NSG. “India’s membership quest is a work in process. India is important. No member in NSG is against India. India is far more advanced in nuclear energy than many NSG members. You just cannot ignore India. India is a key nuclear power that has focused on developing its nuclear energy for use in the agriculture sector, in the field of medicine, in the development of its nuclear plants. It has an excellent reputation, an indisputable role, which will be much more in the future. The globalisation of India’s nuclear programme is something to be welcomed.

“But then, ultimately, it (decision on India’s membership) is going to be a political decision. The NSG functions on the premise of compatibility and consensus through established guidelines. If I were to talk about how India could contribute to strengthening the NSG, I would say, in a very general statement, that all countries active in the nuclear field have something to contribute. Nobody denies this fact. The important thing is to fine tune the process; where consensus can be achieved, to do it in a fair, concise and transparent manner.”

However, Grossi was hopeful that there would be a consensus on India. And he had a point when he said, “My role as the chairman of the NSG is to facilitate the process of consensus on India’s membership. As it is, without being a member of the NSG and without being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), India has already got some concessions from the IAEA in 2008 on nuclear trade. So in India’s case, we are no longer very orthodox and legalistic. My responsibility, therefore, is to tell everybody where we can meet half-way. I am playing the role of an honest broker on the question of India’s membership. In fact, my experience in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) tells me that we can find a consensus on India. If in CWC India, Pakistan and China could agree, it is not impossible to see India joining the NSG.”

I will like to emphasise the particular sentence of the NSG chairman – “So in India’s case, we are no longer very orthodox and legalistic.” But this is precisely what China is being, when it talks of blocking India on the grounds that it is not a member of the NPT. Even legalistically, China does not make any sense when it says that membership of the NPT is a prerequisite for NSG membership. When the NSG was set up in 1974, France, then a non-signatory to the NPT, became a member. Japan had not ratified the NPT when it became a member of the NSG. Neither had Argentina and Brazil.

The truth is that the Chinese objection to India’s membership in NSG is essentially political. Despite all its talks on the desirability of a multipolar world, China will never tolerate India emerging as one of these poles. In Beijing’s multipolar world, there is only one Asian pole, and that is China. For China, India is part of the “strategic periphery” which China has historically sought to weaken, control, or diplomatically manipulate. Pakistan is a pawn in this Chinese diplomatic game. There are, thus, obvious limitations to the “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers)” idea. And they constitute the biggest challenge to Modi in the realms of foreign policy.

President Mukherjee concludes ‘fruitful and productive’ visit to China

Beijing: China has conveyed its willingess to enhance cooperation with India on combating the menace of terrorism, including in the United Nations, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday winding up a “fruitful and productive” four-day visit to that country,

Mukherjee, who met the top Chinese leadership including President Xi Jinping yesterday, also expressed the hope that China will play a “positive and facilitative role” in ensuring a predictable environment for India in its pursuit of civil nuclear programme in bridging the huge power deficit the country faces.

His statement on the two issues in his interaction with the media on board Air India One aircraft on his way back home, assume significance in the context of China’s recent action in blocking a UN move to designat Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist and Beijing’s stand that India should sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) for gaining admission to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Chinese stand is seen as a bid to scuttle India’s membership of NSG and New Delhi has dismissed the Chinese proposition.

“Terrorism was an important topic which I covered in my meetings,” the President said. During his discussions with the Chinese leadership, he conveyed to them that there was universal concern over growing acts of terrorism.

Presdient Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

“India has been a victim of terrorism for around three and a half decades. There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist. Terrorism respects neither ideology nor geographical boundaries. Wanton destruction is its only aim.

“Comprehensive cooperation by all countries of the world is essential to tackle this global menace. The inernational community must engage in strong and effective action. As close neighbours, India and China should work together. The Chinese leadership agreed that terrorism was a menace to the entire human race. They conveyed their willingness to enhance cooperation, including in the UN,” he said.

Asked by a journalist whether the specific “current problem” with China, an apparent reference to the Masood Azhar issue, came up in his talks with the Chinese leaders, the President said “We don’t discuss any specific issue during President’s visit.

“We confine ourselves to overall policy issues and not confined to specific issues. This was decided when I was External Affairs Minister.”

On the nuclear issue, Mukherjee said he conveyed to the Chinese leaders that India faces acute energy shortage and was engaged in efforts to significantly expand power generation in the country.

India has announced a goal of 40 percent non-fossil fuel power generation capacity and it can be achieved only if we rapidly expand the generation of nuclear power.

“I conveyed that it was important for us to have a predictable environment in the above regard and hoped that China, as a close partner in the field of development as well as climate change, will play a positive and facilitative role,” he said.

Mukherjee said the two sides agreed that as neighbours it was natural for them to have differences from time to time.

“But what is important is that we should continue to advance our relationship while managing our differences.”

On the vexed boundary question, the Chinese leadership conveyed their resolve to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute at an early date.

“I agreed with the Chinese leadership that while we continue to engage in seeking an early resolution of the boundary question, we must improve border management and ensure peace and tranquility is maintained in border areas,” he said.

The President said his visit as well as discussions with Chinese leaders were fruitful and productive.

They expressed gratitude for the forward-looking approach adopted by India and willingness to take India-China relations to the next level through all-round exchanges as well as continued communication at high political level on important issues, he said.

The BRICS summit in Goa in October and the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou in September this year will provide the two countries opportunity to continue bilateral dialogue in this regard, he said.

Mukherjee invited Xi to pay a bilateral visit to India which he accepted

Noting that China was as keen as India to take the bilateral relations forward, he said he was returning home with the conviction that the two countries must jointly impart new momentum to this defining partnership of the 21st century, the President said.

Mukherjee said during his first visit as head of the state his interaction with the Chinese leadership was multi- faceted and comprehensive. It was conducted in a warm, friendly and cordial as well as candid manner.

Discussions were wide-ranging and covered various areas of mutual interest. All the four Chinese leaders including Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of the National People’s Congress Jiang Zengwei fondly remembered their recent visits to India and conveyed heir conviction that this state visit would would provide new impetus to the development of bilateral relations.

There was deep appreciation of the role played by high=level visits in enhancing mutual understanding and political trust. “We agreed on the need to build a solid foundation of goodwill between the two countries,” he said.

The President said he conveyed to the Chinese leaders that there was a national consensus within India on strengthening India-China ties.

“India attaches high importance to the relations with China. There was convergence of views that India and China as two major powers must have greater strategic communication and work together in an uncertain global situation where economic recovery was fragile, geo-political risks were growing and the menace of terrorism proving to be a threat to the whole world.

“We agreed that our relationship transcends bilateral dimensions and has regional and global salience. We emphasised the importance of close cooperation in all international fora. I conveyed that India and China should join hands not just in the interests of the people of our countries but also for the good of the whole world,” he said.

Mukherjee said India thanked China for its support for India’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Chines leaders welcomed India’s membership and conveyed that it would strengthen the SCO and contribute to regional stability.

Asked whether the membership of India in SCO is final, the President replied that there were some technicalities and they were being addressed by the ministers concerned.

Expanding bilateral and trade investment figured prominently in the discussions Mukherjee had with the Chinese leaders.

“I was briefed on steps being taken by them to bring better balance in bilateral trade, including facilitating greater import of agricultural and pharmaceutical products from India. I conveyed that while addressing the imbalance is important, we should continue to expand bilateral trade.

“I welcomed greater Chinese investment into India especially in our flagship programmes such as ‘Make in India’, “Digital India’, ‘Skill India, ‘Smart Cities, etc.

“The Chinese leadership conveyed their deep appreciation for India’s economic progress of recent times and for our efforts to maintain rapid growth. We agreed to engage in practical cooperation and identify possible areas for early harvests in sectors such as railways, industrial zones, smart cities, renewable energy, power, space, aviation, etc. The Chinese side expressed appreciation for the visa facilitation measures adopted by us, including introduction of e-visa,” the President said.

Pranab Mukherjee in China: President likely to discuss NSG membership and JeM chief Masood Azhar with Xi Jingping

China’s opposition to India’s membership in the elite NSG and its action blocking the UN move to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist are expected to figure prominently during President Pranab Mukherjee’s talks with the top Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping on Thursday. Mukherjee, who is making his first visit as head of state but has made a number of trips to China in various capacities during his long political career, is expected to convey India’s concerns on these issues and present India’s views on how it felt strongly on them, sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The President, who arrived in southern China’s Guangzhou city on the first leg of his four-day visit, will have one-on-one meeting with President Xi on Thursday besides holding delegation-level talks with him. He will also meet Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of the National People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang.Issues of mutual interest like the festering border dispute and ongoing mechanism to resolve the problem will figure in the President’s discussions with the Chinese leadership. New Delhi’s stand on the nuclear issue assumes significance in the context of the scheduled meeting of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in South Korea next month when it is expected to make its bid strongly for membership of the nuclear club.The sources said that India’s membership of the NSG was a logical culmination of its efforts in pursuing its peaceful objective of a civil nuclear programme and there could be no comparison with others.At the same time, India has no objection to Pakistan’s membership of the NSG but is opposed to China’s attempt to bracket the two countries together on the issue, Indian officials say.The sources said China was free to canvas for Pakistan in its quest for nuclear programme but it should not rake up any bogey in a bid to checkmate India.They also rejected Beijing’s new insistence on India signing the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty for gaining membership of the NSG or its dismissal of New Delhi’s stand that France had not signed the NPT when it became a member of the NSG.President Mukherjee being received by Mr. He Zhongyou, Vice Governor of GuangdongOfficials pointed out the NSG is a consensus-based regime and not a treaty.Officials said that the visit of the President was more than ceremonial or reciprocal because of the fact he carries some heft in view of his long political career and the different portfolios he had during that period including external affairs and defence portfolios.Also the President is expected to convey India’s concerns over China blocking the UN move on Azhar at a time when there was need for a collective fight against global terror.Sources felt that Beijing’s stand on these two issues could be seen as an attempt to placate it’s “all-weather” ally Islamabad.

Narendra Modi continues Vajpayee’s legacy of appeasement of China

There is something seriously wrong with the way the Modi government is appeasing China. After the avoidable ignominy over the issue of repealing visa to the Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa, the government has committed another faux pas by first accepting the invitation and then backtracking from sending two parliamentarians to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Taiwanese president-elect Tsai Ing-wen. The first female president of the island nation was sworn in on 20 May.

In fact, the government had already announced the names of DP Tripathi (of the Nationalist Congress Party) and Meenakshi Lekhi (of the Bharatiya Janata Party) for the event. But subsequently, it changed its mind and disallowed the two MPs from visiting Taipei.
One does not need to become a Nobel laureate to understand that it is the fear of China that has done the trick. As in the case of Dolkun Isa, this time too the Modi government realised its “folly” of antagonising Beijing particularly when President Pranab Mukherjee is all set to visit China on 24 May. The question thus is: If the government is so scared of China, then why does it unnecessarily initiate an action that displeases Beijing?

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Strange it may seem, but it is true that the BJP, a supposedly nationalist party, whenever in power in Delhi, has always disgraced the country while dealing with China. For instance, until 2003, India’s standard position on Tibet was that it is an autonomous region of China, meaning that India’s view on Tibet could change if Beijing takes away Tibet’s autonomy. But Atal Behari Vajpayee, during his visit to China in 2003, agreed unconditionally that “Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)”. And what is more important, such an agreement on Tibet was signed for the first time at the prime ministerial level.

It seems that this sordid history is being repeated under the second Prime Minister from the BJP, Narendra Modi. It is true that India follows the ‘One China’ policy and does not recognise Taiwan as a country. In the absence of formal diplomatic relations, India and Taiwan coordinate their relations through their respective Economic and Cultural Centers in each other’s capital. But within these broad parameters, it is to the credit of the previous Manmohan Singh government that New Delhi was successfully de-hyphenating its policy towards Taipei from its China-policy. In March 2011, India had announced to forge a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Taiwan, while denying the same to China. And ignoring China’s protest, India approved in December 2012 the opening of a branch office of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in Chennai.

In fact, this process of de-hyphenation was supposed to gain further momentum under Modi. But that does not seem to be happening. And that too at a time when for the first time a Taiwanese president on her inauguration day has specifically mentioned India in what will be her priority of developing a “South-bound policy” (towards Southeast Asia and India) to restructure the island nation’s economy by “bidding farewell to the single market phenomenon (meaning China)”.

Incidentally, it was again the Vajpayee government that had belittled Taiwan when, in 2001, the then Taiwanese vice-president Annette Lu was disallowed to visit the earthquake-affected people of Gujarat with relief material worth more than $ 1 million. And this was apparently due to the fear that the communist China would not like her visit to India. This was rather strange, considering the fact that China’s total relief-help for Gujarat was $60, 000, whereas the $1 million worth relief material that the Taiwanese vice-president was sending in her “personal capacity” was the gesture of a single voluntary organisation called ‘Love and Care’ whose chairperson happened to be Ms. Lu.

The small-sized island of Taiwan, with 23 million people, has emerged as a formidable economic powerhouse in the Asia-Pacific region. Taiwan is the world’s 16th largest economy and fifth largest economy in Asia (after China, Japan, India and South Korea). It has the world’s third largest foreign exchange reserves with more than $255 billion. It is the world’s fourth largest IC maker globally, and the second after the United States in IC design. Taiwan leads the world in market share output of 23 IT items, with the result that every 8 out of 10 computers in the world use some Taiwanese system or the other. Above all, Taiwan is one of the largest investors all over the world. Its per capita income of $15,000 is among the world’s highest.

It may be noted that Taiwan’s leading businessmen constitute the largest source of investments in China, the unofficial figure amounting to as much as $ 300 billion. Ironically, these huge investments by the Taiwanese in China have made them Beijing’s potential hostages. Naturally, Taiwanese policy makers want to diversify their economic interests. Besides, Taiwan is aware that technological and innovative edge is key to long-term sustained growth in an age of global economic interdependence. It risks losing its edge as its businessmen deepen their ties with a communist China that is weak in innovation and strong on cheap labour. So, Taiwanese businessmen want to establish strategic R&D alliances with global innovation centers.

And here, the prospect of collaboration between Taiwan’s computer hardware industry and India’s world-class software industry is said to be extremely promising. In fact, India’s Nascom and Taiwanese counterpart, named III, have been planning to collaborate in producing cheap computers in Tamil Nadu, which, incidentally, has emerged as the focal point of the Taiwanese business in the last few years, with many Taiwanese companies establishing their offices in the southern coastal state of India.

Of late, Taiwanese exports to India have been growing. For the first five months of May 2015, they stood at over $2 billion. The annual trade between the two countries is about $8 billion. This figure as well as the Taiwanese investments in India are expected to expand significantly upon the conclusion of an FTA between the two governments. In fact, Taiwan can be an important partner in strengthening the ‘Make in India’ programme. Taiwanese Foxconn has decided to manufacture Xiaomi mobile phones in Andhra Pradesh, and is also going to invest $5 billion over a period of three years in a manufacturing unit in Maharashtra. With a focus on make in India, the demand for Taiwan’s machine tools is also likely to increase.
India and Taiwan complement each other in terms of demographics. The latter has been experiencing below replacement rate fertility levels of around 1.6 (and declining) for many years. The average life expectancy is 77 years and is increasing. The elderly will make up 20 percent of the total population of Taiwan by 2020, and this will imply an increase in median age and a reduction in working age persons to total population ratio. In contrast, India is in a demographic gift phase, with rising working age to total population ratio till 2045. Even after that, its ratio will decline quite slowly, and the ratio will remain higher than for Taiwan.

Against this background, Taiwan can extend its economic space and cope with population ageing by taking advantage of India’s relatively young manpower through outsourcing and off-shoring of many activities. These may range from routine Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) types to those involving such KPO activities as research, and design. Many MNCs, including those from China, are basing their research and design centres in India. Taiwan’s participation in selected areas of research and design could provide with win-win opportunities. It is said in this context how a portion of Taiwan’s pension assets, which are estimated to be $150 billion, can be invested in India to obtain high returns. These in turn can assist in achieving financial security for the aged in Taiwan.

Secondly, there can be mutually beneficial exchanges of information between the intelligence agencies and militaries of India and Taiwan on a range of issues such as terrorism, cyber-hacking, navigation security and sea piracy. Similar exchanges take place between the Taiwanese agencies and their counterparts in the US, South Korea and Japan, to name a few. Even if one treats the interactions between Taiwan and the US as unique and quite complex, the fact that Tokyo and Seoul share strategic information with Taipei is interesting in the sense that they have much more at stake than New Delhi in maintaining friendly relations with Beijing, considering their quantum of trade with and investments in the mainland China, let alone their geopolitical links.

Beijing may not like such interactions, but then the overall national interests of a country in cultivating relations with another must not be made hostage to the Beijing factor. The point is if Japan and South Korea can do it, why not India?

In sum, despite being the world’s largest democracy, India has neglected Taiwan, the first Chinese society to reject authoritarianism in favour of democracy. India under the BJP is so sensitive to China’s reaction that it has always compromised both principles and pragmatism in its relations with Taiwan. It does not realise that developing a healthy relationship with Taiwan will not only further India’s strategic and economic interests but also checkmate China’s expansionist designs in the region.

China demands end to U.S. surveillance after aircraft intercept | Reuters

WASHINGTON/BEIJING Beijing demanded an end to U.S. surveillance near China on Thursday after two of its fighter jets carried out what the Pentagon said was an “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.

The incident, likely to increase tension in and around the contested waterway, took place in international airspace on Tuesday as the plane carried out “a routine U.S. patrol,” a Pentagon statement said.

A U.S. Defense official said two Chinese J-11 fighter jets flew within 50 feet (15 meters) of the U.S. EP-3 aircraft. The official said the incident took place east of Hainan island.

“Initial reports characterized the incident as unsafe,” the Pentagon statement said.

“It must be pointed out that U.S. military planes frequently carry out reconnaissance in Chinese coastal waters, seriously endangering Chinese maritime security,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei Hong told reporters.

“We demand that the United States immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance activity to avoid having this sort of incident happening again,” Hong said.

Speaking at a regular press briefing, he described the Pentagon statement as “not true” and said the actions of the Chinese aircraft were “completely in keeping with safety and professional standards.”

“They maintained safe behavior and did not engage in any dangerous action,” Hong said.

The encounter comes a week after China scrambled fighter jets as a U.S. Navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea.

Another Chinese intercept took place in 2014 when a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic maneuvers around a U.S. spy plane.

The intercept occurred days before President Barack Obama travels to parts of Asia from May 21-28, including a Group of Seven summit in Japan and his first trip to Vietnam.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Washington has accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea after creating artificial islands, while Beijing, in turn, has criticized increased U.S. naval patrols and exercises in Asia.

The Pentagon statement said the Department of Defense was addressing the issue through military and diplomatic channels.

China’s Defense Ministry said in a fax that it was looking into reports on the incident.

“DANGEROUS INTERCEPTS”

In 2015, the United States and China announced agreements on a military hotline and rules of behavior to govern air-to-air encounters called the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).

“This is exactly the type of irresponsible and dangerous intercepts that the air-to-air annex to CUES is supposed to prevent,” said Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.

Poling said either some part of China’s air force “hadn’t gotten the message,” or it was meant as a signal of displeasure with recent U.S. freedom of navigation actions in the South China Sea.

“If the latter, it would be very disappointing to find China sacrificing the CUES annex for political gamesmanship.”

Zhang Baohui, a security expert at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said he believed the encounter highlighted the limitation of CUES, and shows that Chinese pilots would still fly close to U.S. surveillance planes if needed.

“Frankly, we’re always going to see these kinds of incidents as China will always put the priority on national security over something like CUES whenever it feels its interests are directly threatened,” he said.

While the precise location of the encounter is not yet known, regional military attaches and experts say the southern Chinese coast is a military area of increasing sensitivity for Beijing.

Its submarine bases on Hainan are home to an expanding fleet of nuclear-armed submarines and a big target for on-going Western surveillance operations.

The Guangdong coast is also believed to be home to some of China’s most advanced missiles, including the DF-21D anti-ship weapon.

The Pentagon last month called on China to reaffirm it has no plans to deploy military aircraft in the Spratly Islands after China used a military plane to evacuate sick workers from Fiery Cross Reef, where it has built a 9,800-foot (3,000 meter) runway.

In April 2001, an intercept of a U.S. spy plane by a Chinese fighter jet resulted in a collision that killed the Chinese pilot and forced the American plane to make an emergency landing at a base on Hainan.

The 24 U.S. air crew members were held for 11 days until Washington apologized for the incident. That encounter soured U.S.-Chinese relations in the early days of President George W. Bush’s first administration.

Last month, the Pentagon said that Russia had intercepted a U.S. Air Force aircraft over the Baltic Sea in an “unsafe and unprofessional” way.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Greg Torode in Hong Kong, and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Tom Brown)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Chinese jets intercept U.S. military plane over South China Sea: Pentagon | Reuters

WASHINGTON/BEIJING Two Chinese fighter jets carried out an “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, drawing a rebuke from Beijing, which demanded that Washington end surveillance near China.

The incident, likely to increase tension in and around the contested waterway, took place in international airspace on Tuesday as the U.S. maritime patrol aircraft carried out “a routine U.S. patrol,” a Pentagon statement said.

The encounter comes a week after China scrambled fighter jets as a U.S. Navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea.

Another Chinese intercept took place in 2014 when a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic maneuvers around a U.S. spy plane.

The intercept occurred days before President Barack Obama travels to parts of Asia from May 21-28, including a Group of Seven summit in Japan and his first trip to Vietnam.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Washington has accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea after creating artificial islands, while Beijing, in turn, has criticized increased U.S. naval patrols and exercises in Asia.

The Pentagon statement said the Department of Defense was addressing the issue through military and diplomatic channels.

“ENDANGERING SECURITY”

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the U.S. statement was “not true” and that the aircraft had been engaging in reconnaissance close to China’s island province of Hainan.

“It must be pointed out that U.S. military planes frequently carry out reconnaissance in Chinese coastal waters, seriously endangering Chinese maritime security,” Hong told reporters at a regular press briefing on Thursday.

“We demand that the United States immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance activity to avoid having this sort of incident happening again,” Hong said, adding that the actions of the Chinese aircraft were “completely in keeping with safety and professional standards”.

“They maintained safe behavior and did not engage in any dangerous action,” Hong said.

China’s Defense Ministry said in a fax that it was looking into reports on the incident.

The Pentagon has yet to release the precise location of the encounter.

SIGNAL OF DISPLEASURE?

In 2015, the United States and China announced agreements on a military hotline and rules of behavior to govern air-to-air encounters called the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).

“This is exactly the type of irresponsible and dangerous intercepts that the air-to-air annex to CUES is supposed to prevent,” said Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.

Poling said either some part of China’s airforce “hadn’t gotten the message”, or it was meant as a signal of displeasure with recent U.S. freedom of navigation actions in the South China Sea.

“If the latter, it would be very disappointing to find China sacrificing the CUES annex for political gamesmanship.”

Zhang Baohui, a security expert at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said he believed the encounter highlighted the limitation of CUES, and shows that Chinese pilots would still fly close to U.S. surveillance planes if needed.

“Frankly, we’re always going to see these kinds of incidents as China will always put the priority on national security over something like CUES whenever it feels its interests are directly threatened,” he said.

While the precise location of the encounter is not yet known, regional military attaches and experts say the southern Chinese coast is a military area of increasing sensitivity for Beijing.

Its submarine bases on Hainan are home to an expanding fleet of nuclear-armed submarines and a big target for on-going Western surveillance operations.

The Guangdong coast is also believed to be home to some of China’s most advanced missiles, including the DF-21D anti-ship weapon.

The Pentagon last month called on China to reaffirm it has no plans to deploy military aircraft in the Spratly Islands after China used a military plane to evacuate sick workers from Fiery Cross Reef, where it has built a 3,000 meter (9,800 ft) runway.

In April 2001, an intercept of a U.S. spy plane by a Chinese fighter jet resulted in a collision that killed the Chinese pilot and forced the American plane to make an emergency landing at a base on Hainan.

The 24 U.S. air crew members were held for 11 days until Washington apologized for the incident. That encounter soured U.S.-Chinese relations in the early days of President George W. Bush’s first administration.

Last month, the Pentagon said that Russia had intercepted a U.S. Air Force aircraft over the Baltic Sea in an “unsafe and unprofessional” way.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Greg Torode in Hong Kong, and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Sandra Maler, Lincoln Feast and Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

No ‘border haats’ with China in Arunachal Pradesh: Kiren Rijiju

India on Tuesday ruled out setting up trading centres along its border with China in Arunachal Pradesh saying such an initiative could be taken only when Beijing agrees to it.”China has to agree. We can’t enforce anyone. There has to be mutual consent, then only ‘border haats’ can be set up,” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in Lok Sabha during the Question Hour. Rijiju’s statement came when Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh Ninong Ering asked why India can’t set up ‘border haats’ along the Sino-Indian border in the state. The Minister said without cooperation from the other country, no trade can take place in any ‘border haat’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Currently, India has a border trading post with China at Nathu La in Sikkim. Rijiju said India and Bangladesh have agreed to set up six more ‘border haats’ soon for promotion of trade along the international borders. At present, four ‘border haats’ — two in Meghalaya and two in Tripura — are functional along Indo-Bangladesh border and the four new ‘border haats’ — two in Tripura and four in Meghalaya –will be set up soon. “The establishment of ‘border haats’ is expected to promote the well being of the people in areas across the borders of the two countries, which in turn will maintain peace and tranquillity in the border regions,” he said.Replying a supplementary question, Rijiju said the Home Ministry facilitates safety and security of border areas so that proper trading could take place between the people of two nations. “We are not here to do business but to ensure safety and security of people and facilitate that proper trade could take place in border haats,” he said. The Minister said during two years of the Modi government, various efforts were taken for promotion of trade along the international borders.”But we are not satisfied with whatever we have done so far and want to do more. We are committed to do more,” he said. Rijiju said government has adopted multi-pronged strategy to secure effective management of Indian borders, curb insurgency as well as to maintain peace and security in the border regions. Adequate steps are taken to curb human trafficking like issuing advisories to state governments and sensitizing law enforcement agencies, he said.

Apple loses China trademark case for iPhone on leather goods | Reuters

BEIJING Apple Inc has lost a battle for the use of the “iPhone” trademark on leather goods in China after a Beijing court ruled against the world’s biggest technology company in favour of a local firm, state media reported.

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court said Xintong Tiandi can continue to use the phrase “iPhone” on its leather goods, according to the Legal Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Justice Ministry.

In a statement, Apple said it was disappointed with the ruling. “We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People’s Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights,” the company said.

The U.S. tech company has repeatedly found itself tangled in intellectual property disputes in China where the sheer number of companies means trademarks are often taken by little-known players.

Some enterprising firms are quick to snap up trademarks that are known overseas but not registered locally, in the hope of a pay-off down the line.

In 2002, Apple applied for the “iPhone” trademark for computer hardware and software in China, but that was only approved in 2013.

Xintong Tiandi created its trademark for leather goods in 2007, the first year Apple’s iPhone went on sale. The U.S. firm has been disputing the Chinese firm’s intellectual property rights since 2012.

The Beijing court dismissed Apple’s appeal, saying the U.S. firm could not prove the “iPhone” brand was well-known in China before 2009, when it first started selling the handsets on the mainland.

In 2012, Apple paid $60 million to end a protracted legal dispute over the iPad trademark in China, which had hampered some sales and delayed the introduction of a new iPad in the country.

Apple has been facing tougher times in Greater China – its second-largest market.

Last week, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said he had sold his entire stake in the firm. He cited risks to the stock because of the economic slowdown in the People’s Republic and worries about how the country could become more prohibitive in doing business.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in Hong Kong and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Ryan Woo and Alistair Bell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna Morning Must Reads: Major fire at FICCI building in Delhi; why India cancelled Chinese dissident’s visa; and more

Delhi: Major fire breaks out in FICCI building, National Museum gutted; two fire officers injuredA major fire broke out at FICCI building in Mandi House in Delhi in the wee hours on Tuesday. Read more herePresident’s proposed visit behind govt cancelling Chinese dissident’s visa?<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apparently deciding not to rattle President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Beijing next month, the government on Monday withdrew the visa granted to exiled Uighur-Chinese leader Dolkun Isa to participate in a four-day international conference of anti-Beijing activists at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh which was to start from April 28. Read more hereIOA plays Sachin Tendulkar card to placate protestersRattled by sharp attack from former and current Indian sportspersons for naming Bollywood actor Salman Khan as the goodwill ambassador of the Indian Olympic contingent for Rio Games, Indian Olympic Association has approached Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar and composer AR Rahman for the similar role in an effort to douse the controversy. Read more here. FinMin approves EPF interest rate at 8.7%; trade unions threaten protestThe Finance and Labour ministries appeared to be locked in a fight on Monday, over the rate of interest on EPF deposits for 2015-16 with the former pegging it at 8.7%, 10 basis points lower than what was decided by the EPFO. Read More hereMy arrogance was the reason for my flops: Ram Gopal VarmaRam Gopal Varma explains his absence from Bollywood and his return, his failures, and why he loves Karan Johar. Read More here

President’s proposed visit behind govt cancelling Chinese dissident’s visa?

Apparently deciding not to rattle President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Beijing next month, the government on Monday withdrew the visa granted to exiled Uighur-Chinese leader Dolkun Isa to participate in a four-day international conference of anti-Beijing activists at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh which was to start from April 28. The conference organised by the US-based organisation Citizen Power for China (CFC), at the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, has been cancelled. Some activists will now only meet behind closed doors in Dharamsala. Isa was earlier issued an electronic tourist visa. But the reason now being given by the External Affairs Ministry is that an electronic tourist visa does not permit a person to address any public meeting in India. He was advised to apply for a fresh visa under the appropriate category, but it may not come too soon to attend the Dharamsala conference.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Analysts here believe that it appears that a section in the establishment was testing diplomatic waters and Chinese reactions on permitting a dissident, labelled as a terrorist by the Chinese government to visit India, in a bid to reply and show resentment to Beijing blocking India’s bid to get a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar and other terrorists.President Mukherjee’s visit to China in May is seen as a signal continuing high-level engagement with Beijing after meeting between two foreign ministers and trips by defence minister and NSA amid Delhi’s growing ties with the US that would get further momentum with the PM’s trip to Washington June. Therefore, at the highest level, it was decided to keep Beijing engaged rather rattling it.Reacting to the Indian move, Isa said, “On April 23, I got a very short note by the Indian side that my visa is cancelled. There was no explanation.”In an e-mail from Germany, where he is based, he took exception to equating him with terrorist Masood Azhar. “It’s a very sad situation for us,” he said. He had also requested adequate security for the trip to Delhi and Dharamsala during which he wanted to meet Indian leaders and civil society activists.Granting of visa to the exiled leader had triggered a war of words between India and China . Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had described him a terrorist in red notice of the Interpol and Chinese police.”Bringing him to justice is due obligation of relevant countries,” she said, putting the onus on India to arrest Isa, once he lands in New Delhi. Isa also agreed in his letter to e-mail that India may have worked under Chinese pressureAs the executive committee chairman of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), I express my disappointment on Indian authorities cancellation of my visa to attend the conference, which remains a vital forum through which ethnic and religious communities in China related areas, as well as statesmen, scholars and activists are able to meet openly to discuss and exchange ideas, promote peaceful dialogue, and reinforce bonds between disparate communities,” he added.In September 2009, Isa was detained briefly and denied entry to South Korea while travelling to attend the World Forum for Democratisation in Asia. He also reminded friendly ties of his the Uyghur community with the Indian people. The Indian government hosted our late leader, Isa Yusuf Alptekin and Uyghur refugees after they fled China in 1949 and in 1959. Many of Uyghur’s still live in Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Several of them have reached to top positions in India, including in the civil services.Keeping Xinjiang or the Uyghur province, which is about 1/6th of the Chinese landmass, under tight control is an absolute strategic necessity for China. It borders eight countries and is also home of China’s nuclear testing facilities with s sustainable reserves of oil and gas and also a gateway to vast Central Asian oil and gas reserves.

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