BRICS brings relief to Indo-Sino crisis

Asian geopolitics has been at the forefront in recent times with China and India being the major players in the space of negotiations. The two countries were a highlight of the recently held 9th BRICS Summit at Chinese coastal city of Xiamen between September 3 and 5.

The talks at Xiamen looked difficult due to the hostility that Beijing and New Delhi had shown in the backdrop of the Doklam standoff. However, August 26 marked a landmark date for the Asian giants as it put an official end to the two and a half months long standoff in Bhutan between the two countries. 70 days of the Indo-China crisis ended a week before the BRICS summit when the Asian powers decided to join hands in diplomatic talks to end the crisis. Negotiations yielded results when India withdrew its troops from the Doklam region of Bhutan and China and ceased its road building activities in the border.

Given the importance of the BRICS’ card for China, it was not surprising that Beijing pulled back its activities ahead of the summit. China has always been an active member of BRICS. Shanghai’s primary role in the New Development Bank could be one of the major reasons for explaining the steps taken by Beijing for participating in international dialogue. Additionally, overt international support for India from the USA, UK and Japan meant a common message for Beijing.

As far as the Indian narrative is concerned, she withdrew her forces after the Chinese side stopped the construction at the valley in Bhutan. However, if the activities resume, India has option to do the same. New Delhi took the decision after Beijing initiated negotiations to settle the dispute.  International support for India also paved the way for talks and negotiations and a stronghold in the global arena.

In the backdrop of the political crisis, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese premier Xi Jinping have agreed to bring in the spirit of the “Astana consensus” to which they had agreed upon earlier in June this year at the Kazakhstan capital. Upholding similar spirits at Xiamen, both countries have agreed to work towards consensus building in agreeing to prevent differences from turning into disputes.

 

Sources: Indian Express, Livemint

 

China has the confidence to defeat all invasions: Xi Jinping

“The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions. We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form,” President Xi Jinping at the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the founding of People’s Liberation Army.

Speaking at the Great Hall of the People, Xi did not direct his message to any single country. However, with the standoff between India and China near the Sikkim sector, his comments become crucial.

The border clash ruptured over a disputed plateau which India calls Doklam and China recognizes as Donglang. The plateau, lying at a junction between China, Sikkim and Bhutan, is disputed between Beijing and Thimphu. India, being a close ally of the latter, deployed troops to obstruct China’s road project, which led to accusations on India for trespassing on Chinese soil. Officials say such transgressions are numerous, since both sides have varied perceptions of the Line of Actual Control.

Amidst the border face-off, there were no signs of strained ties at an event in New Delhi to mark the 90th anniversary of China’s army, which was attended by representatives from India, Bhutan and China.

Sources on both sides have suggested that talks are on to find a diplomatic solution to the standoff. Channels of communication are on as was seen by the participation of the Indian representative at the PLA event.

 

Sources: Reuters, NDTV

Dragon snarls, India refuses to budge

China is constructing road near the disputed area of Doka La which is claimed by India, China, and Bhutan as well. The Royal Bhutanese Army opposed the construction of the road at Doka La; India, in turn, intervened its army and halted the Chinese march ahead. The reason why this standoff is different from the past standoff between the two armies is due to the strategic location of Doka La. If China is able to make its road, it would be closer to the “chicken’s neck”, i.e. the narrow 50 km long Siliguri corridor which is the solo route connecting India with its North-East region.  If a war breaks out in future, it would give China the upper hand in cutting out the north-east region from the rest of India.
The tension does not seem to subside after 18 days of standoff between both the armies, China has repeatedly asked India to retreat their troops and the Chinese media has also been very critical and mentioned that “India should have learned lessons from the 1962 war”.  The Chinese have also stopped the Indian pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar through Nathu La pass in Sikkim. Indian Defence Minister sharply replied to the Chinese media statement by mentioning that “If they are trying to remind us, the situation in 1962 was different and India of 2017 is different”.
Sikkim is one of the few regions where the Indian army has the upper hand in case of a conflict. India also has a brigade stationed inside “Ha Valley” in Bhutan, which would lead to the Chinese Army being trapped in a “funnel” in case a war breaks out. However, the construction of this road would seriously alter the status-quo. Indian Army would be stretched thin across the 4057-kilometer long land border if the Chinese army increases its ante near the area of Doka La.
Also at the strategic level, it comes at a time when India refused to join the Chinese initiative of developing a modern Silk Route i.e. OBOR (One Belt One Road) and Indian Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Washington. If Indian troops retreat, it would be a global embarrassment for India, as it has always taken the stance against the Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea and is unable to face China across its own borders.
Indian Army General Bipin Rawat has also visited the region, in order to assess the situation. Additional troops have been deployed by both the sides in case a war theater pops up.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of G 20 summit in Germany, and this standoff would surely be a part of their discussion. Interestingly, the Malabar exercise between India, USA, and Japan is going on with all the three navies incorporating their biggest ships in the war games in the Indian Ocean. Tension needs to be doused down soon, however; in the near future, it looks unlikely with the Indian army refusing to move.

China backed candidate sworn in as Hong Kong’s new leader

Hong Kong marks 20 years of Chinese rule as Carrie Lam has been sworn in as Hong Kong’s chief executive by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

According to the Guardian, Lam who served as the deputy to her predecessor Leung Chun-Ying, beat John Tsang, former financial secretary, and Woo Kwok-Hing, a former judge.

“I’m facing the biggest call of my career,” Lam said after taking her oath in Mandarin Chinese instead of the local Cantonese on June 30 amid scattered protests.

“In the next five days, I’ll be speaking to my team and making sure I do not let the central government or the people of Hong Kong down.”

As per Al Jazeera, many pro-China groups cheered loudly and waved flags in the victory while scores of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters were taken away by police. They have been protesting against China’s increasing encroachment on the city’s freedom in the wake of the “one country, two systems” arrangement.

“Lam’s victory despite her lack of representation and popular support reflects the Chinese Communist party’s complete control over Hong Kong’s electoral process and its serious intrusion of Hong Kong’s autonomy”, Nathan Law, pro-democracy legislator, said after the vote.

China’s preferred candidate won 777 votes out of the 1,194 eligible to be cast to become the city’s first female leader. She further went on to say that she will not attempt to restart discussions on political reforms, “The ultimate aim is the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage.”

“We shall start with connecting to resolve the simpler, less controversial issues,” she told the Guardian. Lam hugely benefitted from the lack of open elections and would have probably lost if Hong Kong citizens were given a “one person, one vote” system.

Sources: The Guardian, Al Jazeera

Image Source: Reuters

China hosts G20 summit, world leaders converge

The G20 Summit, an annual global forum, was hosted by China for the year 2016. As is the norm, leaders from twenty growing world economies were invited to be a part of the conference. From Brexit to India’s stand on terrorism, the G20 Summit this year provided a platform for prolific discussions on the current problems of global governance.

Held in Hangzhou, the first day of the Summit (September 4) witnessed the unfolding of important dialogues where the agenda of the global leaders was to focus on developing a more interconnected world economy. Apart from focussing on larger issues like usage of sustainable energy, climate, eradication of poverty, development of better connectivity, infrastructure and nutrition, the aim was to discuss more specific issues like trade barriers, global terrorism, impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union, the global steel crisis and world economy.

Apart from Narendra Modi, the Summit was attended by popular global leaders- Barack Obama and Theresa May (for whom this was the last and first Summit, respectively) Vladimir Putin, Francois Hollande and Jean Claude Juncker. In a statement at the conference, PM Modi said that “We meet at a time when the global situation faces complex political and economic challenges. G20 needs an action oriented agenda of collective, coordinated & targeted action.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping made the effort to not only invite non G20 members like Egypt, Kazakhstan and Thailand for the conference, but also encouraged more fruitful talks amongst world leaders: “Against risks and challenges facing the world economy, the international community has high expectations of the G20 in the Hangzhou summit.” Besides this, China and Russia held special talks to develop better and stronger relationships.

The second day of the Summit witnessed Modi making an intrepid statement against Pakistan by establishing it as a terror hub- “Indeed, one single nation in South Asia is spreading these agents of terror in the countries of our region.” While on one hand, India-Pakistan rivalry ensued, Obama and Putin made special efforts to discuss sensitive issues like Syria, cyber-attacks in US and the hostility concerns regarding Ukraine.  Another important development took place when Australia agreed to enter into a free trade deal with Britain, post its exit from the EU.

The G20 Summit 2016 proved a commonplace for discussions that will have deep and lasting impacts on the changing global scenario regarding merging economies, trade deals, as well as terrorism.

Read more at: BBC 

China gets nod to set up industrial parks in the country

New Delhi: The Indian government on Wednesday gave a green signal to its northern neighbour China to set up industrial parks in the country. The move comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meet with China’s Premier Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit to be held in July.

Vice President Hamid Ansari. AFP
Vice President Hamid Ansari. AFP

The Cabinet approved in principle a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between India and China to set up industrial parks in order to boost relations and pump up the manufacturing sector growth. According to Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, “Cabinet today has approved in-principle an MoU with China with regard to establishment of industrial parks. The details and the contours of the MoU would be given once it is signed.”

The MoU is expected to be finalised when Vice-President Hamid Ansari visits China between June 26-30 along with Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Signing of the MoU with China will help India improve a $40 billion trade deficit and reduce imports of Chinese goods. Through this agreement the new Modi-led government aims to grow the manufacturing sector of India in order to revive the county’s economy.

Earlier the UPA government had not cleared the MoU partly because of security concerns about Chinese firms setting up plants and industries inside the country and also as the general elections were just around the corner.

In 2013 during the fifth India-China strategic dialogue both nations had recognised five states- Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka where the parks could possibly be set up.

Read more at: http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/chinese-industrial-parks-get-approval-

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