Archive for ‘Good news’

11/07/2014

India to Spend $2.2 Billion on Water Supplies, Ganges – Businessweek

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government today pledged 131 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) in spending on water projects to improve supplies and the condition of the Ganges, India’s largest river.

Ganges .. India

Ganges .. India (Photo credit: Nick Kenrick .)

Asia’s third-biggest economy will develop watersheds, build more pumping stations and start to clean the Ganga, blighted by raw sewage along much of its 2,525-kilometer (1,570-mile) route, as India endures a year of “unpredictable” monsoons, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

The government will use 36 billion rupees to improve drinking supplies for about 20,000 villages and small towns affected by arsenic and fluoride contamination, Jaitley told Parliament in the minister’s annual budget speech. About 21.42 billion rupees will be spent on watershed development and 20.37 billion rupees on Ganga upgrades. About 42 billion rupees will go to developing inland waterways in the plan.

via India to Spend $2.2 Billion on Water Supplies, Ganges – Businessweek.

09/07/2014

World Review | China and India ignore border tensions to forge economic ties

CHINA and India have been attempting to ‘reset’ their bilateral relationship for years.

China and India ignore border tensions to forge economic ties

While the countries stand to gain much from improved cooperation, political animosity and territorial disputes dating back to the 1962 Sino-Indian Border Conflict have undermined progress, writes World Review guest expert Vaughan Winterbottom.

But just weeks after India’s newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office, he has set in place plans to forge closer ties with neighbouring China.

This indicates that decades of cool relations may thaw between the world’s two most populated nations and realise Mr Modi’s election promises of reviving a flagging economy.

Early signs, however, indicate that New Delhi will continue its hard-line approach to territorial disputes with China.

Both countries are keen to separate business and politics and, as they pursue different agendas for diversifying their economies, bilateral trade may grow significantly.

In the 1950s, Beijing and New Delhi positioned themselves as leaders of the developing world. They jointly penned the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence’ in 1954, a set of lofty doctrines which the two countries’ leaders saw as guiding post-colonial diplomacy.

But in 1962, the neighbours engaged in a fierce, month-long conflict over disputed mountain borders drawn by the British. China came to administer Aksai Chin, which India claims as part of Jammu and Kashmir, while India held Arunachal Pradesh, which China asserts is a region of Southern Tibet.

The 1962 war has had a profound impact on subsequent Sino-Indian ties.

India remembers it as a national humiliation, and has been suspicious of Chinese strategic intentions ever since.

For China, the war is less significant to the national psyche, though India’s continuing to host the Tibetan government in exile is viewed as interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs.

Skirmishes along the Line of Actual Control, a de facto border negotiated by the two countries in 1993 and 1996, continue to this day.

Despite tensions, hopes for a cooperative relationship remain. The two countries inaugurated a ‘Year of Friendship’ in January 2014, and proposed initiatives to boost economic, cultural and people-to-people links.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Beijing held a conference in June 2014 to mark the occasion. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee attended. They spoke of the importance of the Principles – and completely ignored the territorial disputes.

Beijing responded enthusiastically to the electoral victory of Narendra Modi in May 2014. However, old sticking points remain: just days before the Five Principles anniversary conference, four Chinese People’s Liberation Army speedboats crossed into the Indian-controlled side of Pangong Lake in Jammu and Kashmir. The boats were pushed back by Indian troops.

On the day of the anniversary conference, China published a new map which shows Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territory and a large area of Jammu and Kashmir as part of China.

Even assuming these incidents are aberrations on the path to closer ties, early signs from Mr Modi do not suggest a China-policy rethink.

Mr Modi told a rally in Arunachal Pradesh in February 2014, ‘China should give up its expansionist attitude and adopt a development mindset… No power on earth can take away even an inch from India.’

Mr Modi’s National Democratic Alliance plans to spend US$830 million to settle areas close to the contested border in Arunachal Pradesh were announced on June 20. The region’s governor, Nirbhay Sharma, said that without greater settlement along the border, ‘a gradual assimilation of our area by China is on the cards’.

Given Mr Modi’s record of support for India’s territorial claims and his openly nationalistic politics, a Sino-Indian rapprochement is unlikely.

However, Mr Modi has presented himself as a pro-business leader keen to reform India’s stagflating economy.

On this point, he may find common ground with Beijing, which is no stranger to separating economics from politics in its dealings with foreign governments.

Mr Modi has already outlined a vision to turn India into a knowledge-based society with a large service sector.

A positive sign for future economic cooperation between India and China emerged at the end of June 2014 when Mr Modi’s cabinet approved a plan to set up Chinese industrial parks in five Indian states.

In the long run pharmaceuticals, IT, medical equipment and tourism may hold greater promise as export stalwarts.

As China’s economy edges up the value chain, India could move in to pick up the labour-intensive manufacturing slack. Doing so would require tackling India’s bloated bureaucracy, corruption and vested interests in order to free up land and labour. The task defeated former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

via World Review | China and India ignore border tensions to forge economic ties.

01/07/2014

Army chief Bikram Singh to begin rare China visit tomorrow – The Times of India

Chief of the Army Staff General Bikram Singh r...

Chief of the Army Staff General Bikram Singh received by Director for General Staff Duties Sanjeev Chopra (Photo credit: UN Women Asia & the Pacific)

Operationalisation of a new border defence agreement to deal with recurring troop incursions along the LAC besides improving defence ties, is expected to top the agenda of General Bikram Singh as he starts a rare visit by an Indian Army chief to China from tomorrow.

“Currently India and China maintain exchanges and cooperation at various levels. This is very significant for the two countries,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said here today.

“The visit you mentioned will be an important event in military to military exchanges between China and India,” he said commenting on Singh’s visit at a media briefing.

“We wish full success of this visit so that the mutual trust between the two armies can be enhanced,” he said.

To deal with tensions arising out of the incursions by both sides, India and China signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) last year.

Singh’s visit was aimed at implementing a number of steps incorporated by BDCA on the ground, officials said.

The Indian Army chief’s four-day visit is taking place after a gap of nine years.

via Army chief Bikram Singh to begin rare China visit tomorrow – The Times of India.

30/06/2014

Who Needs Science? China Province Orders Water Pollution ‘Swim Test’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Zhejiang Province is administering a swim test for its cadres, but not for the purpose you might think.

The coastal province is trying to get officials to jump into local rivers as part of an effort to battle China’s notorious water pollution.

“The public doesn’t get to know what water standards are from data, but from using it. Swimming can be used to judge this, (and) leading officials should do the test,” Zhejiang People’s Congress deputy director Mao Linsheng said at a recent meeting (in Chinese).

It’s not clear exactly what the province hopes to accomplish with the new initiative. There’s a rich political symbolism associated with leaders swimming in rivers in China thanks to Mao Zedong, who took a famous dip in the Yangtze River in 1966, accompanied by a team of bodyguards and 5,000 admirers, to prove he was still robust on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. But the destruction wrought in the decade following the Great Helmsman’s swim makes it a dubious template for today’s officials.

There’s also the question of whether Mao would be willing to swim in any of China’s rivers were he still alive today. Nearly 60% of China’s water is either moderately or seriously polluted, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources’s annual report released this April.

Pollution in Zhejiang appears particularly problematic. Last year, CCTV reported that more than 80% of the waters just off the coast of Zhejiang Province were polluted, threatening the local fishing industry. In March, a river in the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang caught on fire as a lit cigarette set alight chemical residues floating on its surface.

via Who Needs Science? China Province Orders Water Pollution ‘Swim Test’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

30/06/2014

China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters

China’s supreme court has appointed a senior judge to handle environmental cases as the environmentally challenged country bids to get tough on polluters and improve the way its laws are enforced, an official newspaper said on Monday.

China Environmental News, published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.

The tribunal was formally established just two weeks ago.

Beijing, hit by a series of pollution scares and scandals, has vowed to reverse some of the damage done by three decades of untrammeled economic growth, but it has traditionally struggled to impose its will on big industrial enterprises and the local governments that protect them.

The report said the new state tribunal would give “unified guidance and coordination” to the 134 specialist environmental courts that have been set up by local governments, noting that the procedures used to handle such cases was “very informal”.

Litigators have long complained that lawsuits launched against polluters have been routinely rejected or even ignored by local courts, many of which lack the capacity and the independence to take on powerful government-backed firms.

China has promised to create legal channels allowing members of the public to take action against firms that break the law, but environmental officials say they lack resources and are already overwhelmed by the number of cases.

 

Earlier this year, China passed amendments to its 1989 Environmental Protection Law, giving local governments greater powers to fine, shut down and even imprison violators.

via China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters.

23/06/2014

Shenzhen to pump one billion yuan into building new Xinjiang university | South China Morning Post

Shenzhen will pump one billion yuan (HK$1.26 billion) into a new university to be built in Xinjiang’s southern Kashgar city, on top of the region’s own one billion yuan of investment.

uygur-uni.jpg

Shenzhen was contributing to the university in support of education in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Xinjiang Daily reported on Monday.

“Building Kashi University will provide strong human resources to the industrial restructuring in southern Xinjiang and improve the local livelihood,” said Kenjiang Tulahong, a member of the region’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

Plans to build the university were announced by the State Council after a Xinjiang working group meeting in May. It was an important strategic approach, the newspaper said.

Xinjiang, in the northwest and home to the Uygur ethnic minority who are mostly Muslims, has been the focus of a security crackdown after recent violent attacks in the region and elsewhere on the mainland that the central government has blamed on terrorists and separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

President Xi Jinping, who chaired the second Central Work Conference on Xinjiang on May 19, stressed the importance of ethnic unity, education and economic development. Officials at the conference pledged to promote bilingual education and interaction between ethnic groups in the region.

On Monday, Xinjiang party chief Zhang Chunxian, speaking at the region’s party committee meeting, vowed to safeguard social stability and the Central Committee’s authority and political discipline on major issues opposing separatism.

The same day, Korla Evening News reported that police in Korla city, western Xinjiang, had busted an underground group that was teaching the Koran to children. Two men were arrested on suspicion of abusing two children and forcing them to study the Koran, on top of running illegal religious activities. The two pupils were then sent to local kindergartens and assigned guardians, the newspaper reported.

Kashi University, when completed, would give Uygur students more opportunities for higher levels of academic training in future, Kashgar officials said.

“Kashi University will have comprehensive departments and disciplined teachers to train a wider range of talents,” Kashgar Normal College dean Aierken Wumaier said.

The university plans to provide curriculums in the liberal arts, science, art, engineering, management, economics and medicine, among others, he said. The institute aimed to recruit 13,000 students by 2015, he added.

via Shenzhen to pump one billion yuan into building new Xinjiang university | South China Morning Post.

19/06/2014

China, ASEAN to have South China Sea talks – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China is willing to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote a code of conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday.

Map of the South China Sea

Map of the South China Sea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hua’s comment came ahead of the 11th joint working group meeting between China and ASEAN on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea. The meeting will be held from next Tuesday to Wednesday in Bali, Indonesia. “China is ready to work with the ASEAN for comprehensive and effective implementation of the declaration and steadily push forward consultations on a CoC,” Hua said. Maritime cooperation on navigation security and joint search and rescue will be discussed during the meeting, Hua said. She called for favorable conditions for the implementation of the DoC and formulation of a CoC to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. China and ASEAN officials met in March in Singapore for the 10th joint working group meeting on the implementation of the DoC. via China, ASEAN to have South China Sea talks – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

17/06/2014

Top China diplomat to visit Vietnam in possible thaw over oil rig | Reuters

China’s top diplomat will visit Vietnam on Wednesday in a sign the two countries want to ease tensions over China’s deployment of an oil rig in the disputed South China Sea, but experts said there were many obstacles to healing the ruptured relationship.

Map of the South China Sea

Map of the South China Sea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The visit by State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, will be the highest level direct contact between Beijing and Hanoi since a Chinese state oil company parked the rig in waters claimed by both countries on May 2. Yang would attend an annual meeting on bilateral cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing. Vietnamese officials said Yang would meet Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as well as the head of the country’s ruling communist party. “We hope that Vietnam keeps its eye on the broader picture, meets China halfway and appropriately resolves the present situation,” Hua said, without directly mentioning the rig. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said the rig would be discussed. Ties between the two neighbours have been largely frozen since early May, with both sides constantly accusing the other of inflaming the situation. Dozens of Vietnamese and Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels have repeatedly squared off around the rig, resulting in a number of collisions. via Top China diplomat to visit Vietnam in possible thaw over oil rig | Reuters.

11/06/2014

Nawaz hopes to resolve unsettled matters with Modi – Pakistan – DAWN.COM

In a letter written to Indian premier Narendra Modi on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he looked forward to working him in harmony to resolve all unsettled matters in the interest of the two nations.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) and Indian premier Narendra Modi (R). — File photo

The premier also expressed satisfaction over his visit to India.

“I have returned satisfied with meaningful exchange of thoughts over regional issues and matters of mutual interest,” Sharif said.

“Million of people living in poverty in both countries deserve our foremost attention and their future is integrated with our common economic destiny,” Sharif said.

The premier further said that prosperity could be brought to both nations with concerted efforts.

He also said that he hoped that mutual endeavours by both countries would brighten their futures.

Sharif was invited to Prime Minister Modi’s swearing-in ceremony after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious in the general elections held in the world’s largest democracy during the course of two months. The invitation was accepted after a series of consultations that the premier held with his close aides.

Sharif had also phoned Modi to congratulate him on his party’s win in the elections.

via Nawaz hopes to resolve unsettled matters with Modi – Pakistan – DAWN.COM.

11/06/2014

China Tries to Woo India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – Businessweek

China is courting Narendra Modi. The Indian leader became prime minister last month after his Hindu nationalist party won a landslide victory, and in his campaign he promised to take a tougher stand toward China. India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (about 15,000 square miles) of its territory in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. China says no, India is the guilty party because 90,000 sq. km. of land in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh are actually Chinese.

China Tries to Woo India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi

China made progress toward settling the dispute under Modi’s predecessor, the Congress Party’s Manmohan Singh. Following Congress’s humiliating defeat in the elections, the Chinese need to work harder to prevent relations from deteriorating anew.  Hence the glowing words from Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday in New Delhi. “China-India cooperation is like a massive buried treasure waiting to be discovered,” he said, telling reporters the two sides are close to a deal on the border. “We are prepared to reach a final settlement,” said Wang.

Any deal would provide a much-needed diplomatic victory for China. With Chinese and Vietnamese ships ramming one another in the South China Sea and Chinese and Japanese planes confronting each other in the skies over the East China Sea, the Chinese government has enough territorial disputes threatening to escalate into full-blown crises. Yesterday, China appealed to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon regarding what the Chinese called “Vietnam’s provocation” against a Chinese company’s offshore oil rig. China wants “to tell the international community the truth and set straight their understanding on the issue,” deputy permanent representative Wang Min said.

via China Tries to Woo India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – Businessweek.

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