Archive for ‘Politics’

24/03/2015

China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters

China and India have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along their Himalayan border while they work on resolving a long-festering boundary dispute, China’s foreign ministry said after talks in New Delhi.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval shake hands during a photo opportunity before their meeting in New Delhi March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The talks are aimed at fixing a dispute over the border that divides Asia’s largest nations, part of a push to make progress on the festering row before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China.

China’s foreign ministry said in a statement released on Monday both countries would build on the results of previous negotiations and push forward in “the correct direction”.

“Both sides reiterated the appropriate management and control of the dispute and joint maintenance of the peace and tranquillity of the border region before the border issue is resolved,” the ministry said.

As major neighbours and developing countries, the development of relations is good for both peoples as well as for regional and global peace and development, it said.

“Both sides ought to work together to push for practical cooperation in all areas, and further increase coordination on global and international issues.”

The talks are the first since Modi took office. The nationalist Indian prime minister is keen to resolve a dispute that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links. Any progress would throw a positive light on his expected visit to Beijing in May.

However, there is no simple solution to a conflict that largely dates back to British colonial decisions about Tibet.

The disagreement over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962 and involves large swaths of remote territory.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi.

via China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters.

23/03/2015

India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian and Chinese officials are meeting in New Delhi this week for talks on a border dispute that has for decades strained relations between the neighbors — the first such negotiations since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office last year.

The two Asian countries are separated by a nearly 2,200-mile border whose exact location is a subject of bitter dispute. China claims India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls southern Tibet. India claims a Chinese-controlled region it calls Aksai Chin as part of its northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir.

India periodically accuses Chinese troops of “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control. Officials on both sides say such incidents are likely to continue – and perhaps escalate as India further develops its border lands – until the boundary is properly marked and settled.

The dispute cast a shadow over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year – and on Mr. Modi’s efforts to improve relations with China. As Mr. Xi held his first official talks with Mr. Modi in September last year, their countries’ armies were locked in a tense face-off in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Roughly 1,000 troops were called in on both sides, making it the biggest border confrontation between the two nations in decades.

Such episodes have interfered with the two countries’ efforts to deepen commercial relations as India seeks foreign investment to modernize its infrastructure. Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit China in May as part of those efforts.

Talks this week between China’s representative on the boundary question, Yang Jiechi, and India’s national security advisor, Ajit Doval, are aimed at giving momentum to the border talks.

Indian analysts say China may be more willing to negotiate given Mr. Modi’s steps to strengthen India’s ties with the United States. Mr. Modi visited the White House last year and U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to India to review a symbolically important military parade in January, signaling a willingness on India’s part to move closer to Washington.

But, Indian officials said, it won’t be easy. “It is an incredibly difficult problem if you look at the amount of real estate at stake and the length of the border,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry, who declined to be named.  The Indian government’s approach, the official said, is “let’s not let it drift.”

via India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ.

21/03/2015

Top South Korea, Japan, China envoys agree to work for a summit soon | Reuters

The foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan and China agreed on Saturday that a summit meeting of their leaders, on hold for nearly three years because of tensions over history and territory, should be held soon to mend the countries’ ties.

(L-R) Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi make a toast during a banquet at the South Korean Foreign Minister's residence in Seoul March 21, 2015. REUTERS-Kim Hong-Ji

The ministers were meeting, also for the first time in three years, in a bid to restore what had been a regular forum to discuss cooperation until it collapsed over what Seoul and Beijing saw as Japan’s reluctance to own up to its wartime past.

“Based on the accomplishments achieved through this meeting, the three ministers decided to continue their efforts to hold the trilateral summit at the earliest convenient time for the three countries,” a joint statement after the meeting said.

via Top South Korea, Japan, China envoys agree to work for a summit soon | Reuters.

14/03/2015

Mahatma Gandhi gets London statue near nemesis Churchill | Reuters

Britain will unveil a statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi on Saturday in London’s prestigious Parliament Square, a space packed with monuments to men who defended the British Empire which Gandhi helped destroy.

In an ironic twist, Gandhi’s likeness will sit close to that of Britain’s former wartime leader Winston Churchill, a man who strained to thwart Indian independence and who despised Gandhi and everything he stood for.

Churchill famously called Gandhi “a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace.”

But almost seven decades after India won independence from Britain in 1947, in large part thanks to Gandhi’s peaceful civil disobedience campaign, relations between the two countries are strong with both nations keen to boost economic ties.

via Mahatma Gandhi gets London statue near nemesis Churchill | Reuters.

13/03/2015

India seeks edge over China as Modi visits Sri Lanka | Reuters

When Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena received India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an ocean-front colonial building on Friday, the two looked out over a $1.4 billion Chinese real estate project halted days ago after criticism from New Delhi.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

The vista will have pleased Modi, whose government strongly opposed the land reclamation project inaugurated by China’s President Xi Jinping last year under a deal that gives China ownership of a patch of land overlooking a strategic port.

Modi’s was the first bilateral visit by an Indian premier in 28 years, a sign of a friendship that has warmed rapidly since a January election ousted a leader whose close ties with China had left Sri Lanka’s larger neighbour feeling unloved.

India and China are increasingly jostling for influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s decision to let Chinese submarines dock in Colombo port and the real estate deal were very worrying for New Delhi.

via India seeks edge over China as Modi visits Sri Lanka | Reuters.

13/03/2015

India in pacts to develop infrastructure in Mauritius, Seychelles | Reuters

Curious: India not known for its own infrastructure is offering to help its neighbours!

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured agreements to develop islands in Mauritius and Seychelles in an early success for his drive to wrest back influence in the Indian Ocean from China.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the inaugural session of Re-Invest 2015, the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo, in New Delhi, February 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

China has invested millions of dollars in recent years building seaports and highways in countries stretching from the Maldives to Sri Lanka that lie on vital shipping lanes through which much of its energy supplies and trade passes.

India, alarmed at the prospect of China building a network of friendly ports in a “String of Pearls” across the Indian Ocean, has stepped up its diplomacy, offering a range of civil and military assistance.

On Wednesday, as Modi toured Mauritius, officials signed an agreement to upgrade sea and air links on the remote Agalega islands, offering India a foothold in an area hundreds of miles from its coast.”

via India in pacts to develop infrastructure in Mauritius, Seychelles | Reuters.

11/03/2015

Ideology: Class struggle | The Economist

IN THE first week of March university students in China will return from a break of six weeks or more. They will find a new chill in the air. While they have been away, officials have been speaking stridently—indeed, in the harshest terms heard in years—about the danger of “harmful Western influences” on campuses, and the need to tighten ideological control over students and academic staff.

Universities have always been worrisome to the Communist Party; they have a long history in China as wellsprings of anti-government unrest. The party appoints university presidents. Its committees on campuses vet the appointment of teaching staff. Students are required to study Marxist theory and socialism. They are not allowed to study politically sensitive topics such as the grievances of Tibetans or the army’s crushing of the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

There is no sign of an anti-party campaign developing on campuses (students are signing up for party membership in droves, believing it to be a path to career success). But since Xi Jinping took over as China’s leader in 2012, the party has been trying to reinforce its control in numerous areas. In the army it appears that Mr Xi has been leading the effort personally (see article). In the academic realm, his involvement in the crackdown now unfolding is less certain. But he has shown no sign of resisting it, and some of the rhetoric warning of the dangers of Western values echoes his own. Mr Xi is certainly no liberal. In his rule he has tightened controls over the media, and there have been numerous arrests and trials of civil-society activists.

That officials have begun to turn their attention to campuses became evident on January 19th, when Xinhua, a state-controlled news agency, published a summary of a document issued secretly by the central authorities in October. It directed universities to “strengthen” their efforts to spread the party’s propaganda and promote its ideology. It told them to educate students better in the history of the party, as well as about the “Chinese dream” (a pet idea of Mr Xi’s). The document also urged educators “firmly to resist infiltration by hostile forces”. It was suffused with the same sense of a party under assault by Western liberal thinking that permeated a secret directive issued in 2013, known as Document Number Nine. That spoke of the threat posed by ideas such as universal values, civil society and press freedom—positive mention of which had occasionally surfaced in some Chinese newspapers and still occurs frequently in university classrooms.

An old-style propaganda campaign is now unfolding. On January 29th Yuan Guiren, the education minister, declared at a conference that “textbooks promoting Western values” would not be allowed in classrooms, nor would “slandering” of the party leadership. Officials at the same meeting echoed his views, including the party chiefs of Peking University and Tsinghua University, the country’s most prestigious colleges. On February 6th a commentary in the People’s Daily, the party’s main mouthpiece, quoted the party chief of Renmin University in Beijing as saying that Marxist thinking must “enter textbooks, enter classrooms and enter brains”.

via Ideology: Class struggle | The Economist.

11/03/2015

China’s Risky Mao-Style Focus on the Personal Life of President Xi Jinping – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinese media’s relentless focus on the achievements and personal life of President Xi Jinping represents a sharp break with recent leadership practice in China, which has studiously avoided the personality cult that surrounded Mao Zedong. WSJ’s Andrew Browne traveled to Liangjiahe, the cave village in northern China where Mr. Xi was banished during the Cultural Revolution, to answer a question: Is it all about personal aggrandizement? Or is it a media-driven effort by the troubled Communist Party to capitalize on an immensely popular president?

It may be both. Just over two years into his term, three major anthologies of Mr. Xi’s speeches and writings have rolled off the official printing presses. The Chinese characters for “China Dream,” Mr. Xi’s catchphrase for national rejuvenation, are plastered across subway stations, bus stops and billboards. Party newspapers extol the “Spirit of Xi Jinping.”

There’s an irony, of course, in Mr. Xi taking a leaf from Mao, who persecuted his father. But Mr. Xi’s main goal is to save the Party. That means preserving Mao as a symbol of Communist rule.

via China’s Risky Mao-Style Focus on the Personal Life of President Xi Jinping – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

09/03/2015

Kashmir fight adds to hurdles for Modi’s reform push | Reuters

A ruckus over the release from prison of Masarat Alam Bhat, the man who led the most serious revolt in decades against the Indian military in Kashmir, is adding to mounting problems for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he tries to push economic reform through parliament.

Masarat Alam Bhat (2nd R), a Kashmiri separatist leader, speaks on his mobile phone at his residence in Srinagar March 9, 2015. REUTERS-Danish Ismail

The Lok Sabha was temporarily adjourned on Monday after opposition parties demanded to know why the separatist leader was released at the weekend by Kashmir’s state government, which Modi’s nationalist party supports.

“I am angered and condemn the release, just like other lawmakers,” Modi said in parliament. “I can assure you that my government was not informed about the decision by the state government and neither were we consulted.”

Modi swept to office ten months ago promising rapid economic transformation but disparate opposition parties have united to block his agenda, forcing the government to rely on executive orders called ordinances to pass unpopular policies.

With two weeks remaining of the current session of parliament before a recess, the government needs to win support for ordinances, including those raising the foreign direct investment limit in the insurance sector, or they will expire.

via Kashmir fight adds to hurdles for Modi’s reform push | Reuters.

09/03/2015

China says progress being made on India border talks | Reuters

Progress is being made on drawn-out border talks with India, China’s foreign minister said on Sunday, likening the process to climbing a mountain that becomes harder the closer to the summit you get.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures as he speaks at a news conference at the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's parliament, in Beijing, March 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The neighboring giants have had numerous rounds of talks over the years without making much apparent process, in a dispute which dates back to a brief border war in 1962.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the problem as one “left over from history”.

“After many years of hard efforts, the border talks continue to make progress, and the dispute has been brought under control,” Wang told reporters on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament.

“At the moment, the boundary negotiation is in the process of building up small and positive developments,” he said. “It’s like climbing a mountain: the going is tough, and that is only because we are on the way up.”

China lodged an official protest last month when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited one of the border regions in dispute.

via China says progress being made on India border talks | Reuters.

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