Archive for ‘India alert’

09/07/2019

China and India eye joint military drills as sides seek thaw after face-off on Himalayan border

  • Relations between the Asian giants had been strained after a 73-day military stand-off at their disputed border last year
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Beijing. Photo: EPA
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Beijing. Photo: EPA
China and India aim to hold joint army drills in China before the end of this year, China’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday, as the two countries continue a rapid rapprochement.
Relations between the Asian giants were strained last year over a 73-day military face-off in a remote, high-altitude stretch of their disputed Himalayan border.
Chinese ‘tourists’ face 7 years in Indian jail over shahtoosh shawls made from endangered antelope
But the neighbours have over recent months been working on mending ties and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in August.
Speaking at a regular monthly news briefing, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said that the joint exercise was planned for before the end of this year.
China and India are aiming to hold joint army drills this year as part of an ongoing rapprochement. Photo: EPA
China and India are aiming to hold joint army drills this year as part of an ongoing rapprochement. Photo: EPA

The two countries would meet in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu next month to discuss the arrangements, he added, without giving other details.

India and China fought a war in 1962 and the unresolved dispute over stretches of their 3,500km (2,200 miles) border has clouded relations ever since.

But the two big Asian economies share similar positions on a host of issues including concern about US tariffs and Chinese President Xi Jinping and Modi agreed in April to improve relations.

Source: SCMP

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09/07/2019

Xi Jinping says China, Russia and India should take ‘global responsibility’ to protect interests

  • Chinese president also called for the three nations to uphold multilateralism in talks with Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi in Osaka
  • In a separate meeting with other BRICS leaders, he said Beijing opposed ‘illegal and unilateral sanctions’ and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’
(From left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday. Photo: EPA-EFE
(From left) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday. Photo: EPA-EFE
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on the leaders of Russia and India to take “global responsibility” to safeguard the three countries’ interests and uphold multilateralism, as Beijing seeks to rally support amid its protracted trade war with Washington.
Xi made the remarks during a trilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the annual 
Group of 20

summit of world leaders in Osaka, Japan.

The trilateral meeting was part of the Chinese leader’s efforts to marshal international support ahead of his 
high-stakes meeting

with US President Donald Trump, seeking to reach a truce on the year-long trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies.

“The rise of protectionism and unilateralism has severely affected global stability and economic growth, as well as the existing international order which emerging economies and developing countries have relied on,” Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV.

“China, Russia and India should take on global responsibility to safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of these three countries and the world,” he said.

Xi also called for the nations to promote “a more multipolar world and the democratisation of international relations” – meaning with less reliance on a US-led world order.

During a meeting with leaders of the other BRICS countries – major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – Xi also said Beijing opposed what it saw as “illegal and unilateral sanctions” and “long-arm jurisdiction”.

The efforts to forge closer ties among China, Russia and India come as all three nations are locked in disputes with the United States.

New Delhi, a key strategic ally in Washington’s Indo-Pacific policy to contain China’s rise, has been upset over tariffs imposed on Indian goods by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, geopolitical rivalry and the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in US elections has strained relations between Moscow and Washington.

Beneath the smiles and handshakes, tensions simmer as world leaders meet for G20

Wu Jianghao, director general of the Chinese foreign ministry’s Asian affairs department, said the trilateral meeting laid out a framework for future cooperation.

“The three countries have spoken with one voice on some major global issues, helping stability and injecting positive energy to the current international situation – which is filled with instability and uncertainties,” Wu said at a briefing on Friday.

Wu said that the leaders did not talk about Huawei Technologies or 5G networks, but that the three countries had maintained good communication on telecoms issues and would continue to cooperate.

Washington has banned US companies from selling American technology to Huawei and put pressure on its allies to block the Chinese tech firm over security concerns.

(From left) US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo before their meeting. Photo: AP
(From left) US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo before their meeting. Photo: AP

Meanwhile, the United States is also seeking to build ties with India, with Trump holding trilateral talks with Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale described that trilateral meeting as “very good”, saying it was “short but very productive”.

“The main topic of discussion was the Indo-Pacific, about how the three countries could work together in terms of connectivity, infrastructure and ensuring that peace and stability is maintained, and working together to build upon this new concept so that it would benefit the region as a whole and the three countries,” Gokhale said.

On the Modi-Trump bilateral meeting, he said the two leaders had “a very warm discussion”. They also briefly discussed 5G, with the focus on business cooperation between the two countries to leverage their technology and the potential of the Indian market, according to Gokhale.

He said the discussion of how to develop 5G networks was “in terms of business, not in terms of governments”. “It’s an exciting new area that India and the US can work together [on],” he said.

Source: SCMP

09/07/2019

Rights violations in contested Kashmir continue unchecked, U.N. report says

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Tensions in disputed Kashmir after a deadly suicide bombing earlier this year are having a severe impact on human rights in the region, a United Nations report released on Monday said.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, who both rule it in part and have fought two wars over the territory. They came close to a third in February after the suicide bombing of a convoy claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group killed 40 paramilitary police.

India accuses Pakistan of funding these groups, who want independence for Indian-administered Kashmir, a claim Islamabad denies.

The report, by the U.N. Human Rights Council, says that arbitrary detentions during search operations by Indian troops are leading to a range of human rights violations.

Despite the high numbers of civilians killed in the vicinity of gun battles between security forces and militants, “there is no information about any new investigation into excessive use of force leading to casualties”, it said.

The report was also critical of special legal regimes used by India in Kashmir, saying accountability for violations committed by troops remains virtually non-existent.

The report says that in nearly three decades that emergency laws have been in force in Jammu and Kashmir, there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government in a civilian court.

It called for the repeal of special powers protecting troops from prosecution.

The United Nations also flagged a spike in hate crimes against Kashmiris in the rest of India following the February attacks, calling on India to do more to prevent the violence.

In response, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the report presented a “false and motivated narrative” on the state of the region.

“Its assertions are in violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ignore the core issue of cross-border terrorism,” Kumar added in a statement.

Though the majority of the allegations in the report pertain to Indian-administered Kashmir, it was also critical of Pakistan for detentions of separatists in its portion of the region.

A spokesman for the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Reuters

08/07/2019

Bus crash kills 29 in northern India

Onlookers and Indian police gather around the crumpled remains of a bus that crashed on the Delhi-Agra expressway, near Agra on July 8, 2019.Image copyright AFP
Image caption The bus was carrying about 50 people and travelling from Lucknow to Delhi

At least 29 people have been killed after a bus they were travelling in went off an expressway in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The crash happened early on Monday near the city of Agra, 336km (208 miles) from the state capital, Lucknow.

The bus was carrying about 50 people and travelling from Lucknow to the Indian capital, Delhi.

Road accidents are frequent in India, with one taking place every four minutes.

Locals rushed to the spot to help and rescued 20 injured passengers.

Reports said that the driver fell asleep and lost control of the double-decker bus before it went off a highway and plunged into a drain below.

The 165km (100-mile) Yamuna expressway from Delhi to Agra is one of India’s longest six-lane motorways.

Source: The BBC

07/07/2019

China says briefed by U.S. on latest Trump-Kim meeting

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has received a briefing from the United States on the latest meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, in a call between two senior diplomats.

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday when he met Kim in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui and U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun discussed that meeting in a telephone call on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a short statement.

“Biegun introduced the meeting between the U.S. and North Korean leaders at Panmunjom, and said the U.S. side is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the Chinese side on the peninsula issue,” the ministry added.

Luo told Biegun the recent “positive interactions” on the North Korean issue by all parties had important meaning for the peace talks process, the ministry said.

“China supports U.S.-North Korea exchanges and dialogue and hopes that the two sides will meet each other halfway and follow the consensus of the leaders of the two countries to resume consultations at the working level as soon as possible,” it added.

Trump’s meeting with Kim came around a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Kim himself during a state visit to Pyongyang.

While China has not officially announced it, Luo is likely China’s new special envoy for the North Korea issue, after predecessor Kong Xuanyou became China’s new ambassador in Tokyo in late May.

Luo was also involved in a briefing to Chinese reporters on Xi’s visit to North Korea before Xi went, according to state media.

Luo is an urbane career diplomat who speaks good English, according to diplomats who have met him.

He previously served as China’s ambassador in Canada, Pakistan and India, and also worked in the Chinese embassy in Washington from 1996-2000.

Source: Reuters

06/07/2019

New Delhi and Beijing cannot let differences turn into disputes: India’s ambassador to China

  • Ambassador Vikram Misri has called on China to balance its US$60 billion trade deficit with India ‘before the issue becomes politically sensitive’
  • He also says India will not take sides over its use of US-blacklisted Huawei, as ‘any decision taken over this will only be taken in our national interest’
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri says that while the countries’ differences will not derail ties, there are still thorny issues to grapple with. Photo: CGTN
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri says that while the countries’ differences will not derail ties, there are still thorny issues to grapple with. Photo: CGTN
India and China must actively manage their differences

so they do not get in the way of the Asian superpowers working together for global stability, India’s top diplomat in China said on Friday.

To emphasise his point, Ambassador Vikram Misri listed eight long-standing and new bilateral issues that required attention, including 
India

’s almost US$60 billion trade deficit with China, cooperation on counterterrorism and a

peaceful resolution to their border dispute

.

“This trade imbalance is not economically sustainable in the long run,” said Misri at an Asia Society event in Hong Kong. “It is in our mutual interest to find workable solutions before the markets react in unpredictable ways and the issue becomes politically sensitive.”
Frosty ties between two of the world’s largest economies have thawed in the past year following a 73-day 
military stand-off in the Himalayas

in 2017, with Beijing seeking to forge closer ties with New Delhi amid its ongoing trade and tech war with the United States.

Ivanka Trump, the unlikely messenger of India-US relations
In May, Beijing dropped its long-held objections towards United Nations sanctions on

Masood Azhar

, the founder and leader of terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was behind the suicide bombing of Indian soldiers that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war earlier this year.

Analysts said this would pave the way for a better relationship between India and China.
Misri said both countries enjoyed a “full-spectrum relationship” of economic, commercial and people-to-people ties, and this was reinforced by the “strong personal bond” Indian Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

and Chinese President

Xi Jinping

had, despite the “elements of competition”.

The leaders of the two nations met four times last year and twice in 2019, with Xi set to visit India later this year. Both men share an understanding that “our rise can be mutually reinforcing” and a mutual interest in “preventing differences from turning into disputes”, the ambassador added.

But while Misri, a career diplomat posted to Beijing at the start of this year, stressed that differences would not derail ties, he made no bones about the thorny issues both sides are grappling with.

Will Modi’s snub of Xi’s belt and road derail China-India ties?
Both nations are still engaged in the second of a three-stage process to settle their border dispute – the world’s largest in terms of area, he said.
The first stage was an agreement on the political parameters for a boundary settlement in 2005. The current stage involves agreeing on a framework for a boundary settlement, which Misri said would be translated “into a delineated and demarcated boundary” in the final stage.
Communication over water and shared rivers has also been a key area of cooperation for the two nations.
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri speaking at the Asia Society in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Society
Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri speaking at the Asia Society in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Society

They have established channels for information sharing on cross-frontier rivers, which last year enabled the Chinese side to warn the relevant Indian authorities of a landslide which would send a large amount of water to India. While in this instance the two sides were able to avert a loss of life, they can do more to broaden cooperation, Misri said.

He alluded to how China and India are vying for influence in the Indian Ocean, saying it was an area where both had “contiguous zones of maritime interest”.

The two sides need to work together to preserve peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region – which stretches from the Indian Ocean to the central Pacific Ocean – and ensure transparent economic and commercial cooperation, infrastructure and connectivity, he said.

As China, India and Russia draw close, has Trump overplayed his hand?

Misri, who served as the private secretary to Modi as well as former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and I.K. Gujral, said there were three areas of mutual interest for India and China.

Besides a “peaceful periphery”, they should cooperate to ensure there are open international systems regarding trade and technology, and that global governance is reformed so the voices of nations such as theirs can be heard.

The Russia-India-China trilateral meeting on the sidelines of last month’s 

G20

summit in Osaka, where leaders discussed issues ranging from energy security to climate change, was an opportunity to discuss alternative viewpoints on changing international issues.

This was crucial amid the economic instability caused by 
US-China trade tensions

, that were causing “generalised damage” to the global economy, Misri said.

In the question and answer session with the event’s 112 attendees, Misri was asked if India was feeling the pressure to choose in the face of US efforts to get its allies to reconsider using or ban Chinese tech firm 
Huawei

from their superfast 5G networks.

Washington says Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for spying and the US Commerce Department has placed the company on its entity list, effectively banning US companies from selling equipment and components to it.
When US President 
Donald Trump

and Xi met at the G20 summit, Trump announced American companies could resume sales to Huawei as long as the products involved did not threaten national security.

Misri referred to this, and said: “Let’s see how it shapes up.”
He added the issue was far from decided for India as it had only achieved 4G connectivity recently and was not yet ready to build out its 
5G

infrastructure.

Still, he said, “there’s no question on taking sides over this”. “Our leadership is very clear that any decision taken over this will only be taken in our national interest.”
Source: SCMP
04/07/2019

Sri Lanka could help Chinese manufacturers offset trade war impact

  • Development minister leads high-level investment forum in Beijing
  • Points to free trade agreements and preferential duty deals to offset trade war pressures for Chinese factories
Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Simon Song
Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Simon Song
Sri Lanka is wooing Chinese manufacturers, urging them to make use of its preferential duty-free treatment by the US and Europe as a way to offset the growing tariff pressure of the trade war.
The country’s development minister, Malik Samarawickrama, was in Beijing on Wednesday as part of an investment forum at the Sri Lankan embassy attended by dozens of Chinese businesspeople.
“China has invested heavily in infrastructure and they are assisting us to invest in ports, roads, railways, water supplies and so on. Now we would like China to get involved in setting up their manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka, primarily for the purpose of exports,” he said.
“They can make use of the preferential market access we have – we have duty free access to the European Union countries and we have free trade agreements with Pakistan, Singapore and India. And, since the cost of manufacturing in China is going up, we would like the Chinese to look at Sri Lanka for their manufacturing and we want it to be exported back to China.”
Sri Lanka, bruised from Easter bombings, seeks US$1 billion loan from China
Along with trade officials and diplomats, Samarawickrama, one of Sri Lanka’s most senior government ministers, was also keen to boost investor confidence following the deadly Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo which killed 253 people.
“Let me assure you, absolutely, Sri Lanka is safe for investment,” he told the dozens of representatives from Chinese state-owned and private companies who attended the forum.

“We must bring to your notice that none of the industries have been affected as a result of the bombings and none of the export orders were cancelled or delayed. This is a testament to the resilience of the economy.”

China is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners and – sometimes controversially – the largest financier of its booming new infrastructure. Other big lenders to the island nation are the Asian Development Bank and Japan.

Earlier this year the Sri Lankan government signed a US$989.5 million loan agreement with China’s Export-Import Bank for a major new motorway project. And last month Sri Lanka’s finance ministry confirmed it was in talks with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for a further loan of nearly US$1 billion for energy and motorways.

Did Japan and India just launch a counter to China’s Belt and Road?
The surge of Chinese investment has raised concerns that Sri Lanka could become caught up in the rivalry between China and India as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Last month, Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India and Japan to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Port of Colombo, which some observers said could become a competitor to the China-funded Hambantota Port, and was perhaps a sign that the island nation was seeking to neutralise the growing influence of China.
Samarawickrama denied claims the involvement of Japan and India in Sri Lanka’s biggest port project was to counter China’s influence.
Under the agreement, he said, the terminal was owned by Sri Lanka Port Authority, with a 51 per cent stake, while Japan and India would develop the remaining 49 per cent.
“We need the expertise from Japan,” Samarawickrama said. “We need the Indians to get involved in the operation because 75 per cent of the transshipment cargoes in the Colombo port come from India and India is extremely important to us.
“They are the operators of the terminal and they are not building any ports.”
Source: SCMP
02/07/2019

Heavy rains in India kill 27, cripple financial capital

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Monsoon rains caused wall collapses that killed 27 people in India on Tuesday, as a second day of bad weather disrupted rail and air traffic in the financial capital Mumbai, prompting officials to shut schools and offices, though markets were open.

During every monsoon season, which runs from June to September, India experiences fatal incidents of building and wall collapses as rainfall weakens the foundations of poorly-built structures.
Heavy rain brought a wall crashing down on shanties built on a hill slope in Malad, a western suburb of Mumbai, a fire brigade official said, killing 18 people.
“Rescue work is still going on,” the official added. “So far we have rescued more than two dozen people.”
Three people died when a school wall collapsed in the city of Kalyan, 42 km (26 miles) north of Mumbai.
In the nearby western city of Pune, six people were killed in a wall collapse on Tuesday, a fire brigade official said, after a similar incident on Saturday killed 15.
Mumbai is looking to turn itself into a global financial hub but large parts of the city struggle to cope with annual monsoon rains, as widespread construction and garbage-clogged drains and waterways make it increasingly vulnerable to chaos.
More than 300 mm (11.8 inches) of rain fell over 24 hours in some areas of Mumbai, flooding streets and railway tracks, forcing the suspension of some suburban train services, which millions of commuters ride to work each day.
About 1,000 people stranded in low-lying areas of the city were rescued after a swollen river began to overflow, municipal authorities said.
As weather officials forecast intermittent heavy showers and isolated extremely heavy rainfall, authorities called a holiday for government offices and educational institutions.
“Rain is expected to remain intense even today,” city authorities said on Twitter. “We request you to stay indoors unless there’s an emergency.”
Financial markets were open on Tuesday, though trading volumes were expected to be lower than normal. Many firms asked employees to work from home.
The main runway at Mumbai airport, India’s second biggest, was closed from midnight after a SpiceJet flight overshot the runway while landing, an airport spokeswoman said.
The secondary runway is operational, but 55 flights were diverted and another 52 were cancelled due to bad weather, she said.
In 2005, floods killed more than 500 people in Mumbai, the majority in shantytown slums home to more than half the city’s population.
Source: Reuters
28/06/2019

India arrests after women’s heads shaved for resisting rape

The two women had their heads forcibly shavedImage copyright ANI

Two people have been arrested in India’s Bihar state after a group of men shaved the heads of two women as “punishment” for resisting rape.

The group, which included a local official, ambushed the mother and daughter in their home with the intent of raping them, police said.

When the women resisted, they assaulted them, shaved their heads and paraded them through the village.

Police say they are searching for five others involved in the incident.

“We were beaten with sticks very badly. I have injuries all over my body and my daughter also has some injuries,” the mother told the ANI news agency.

The women also said that their heads were shaved in front of the entire village.

“Some men entered the victims’ home and tried to molest the daughter,” a police officer told local media, adding that her mother helped her fight off the men.

The state’s women commission has also condemned the incident, saying that “further action” will be taken.

This is not the first time such an incident has occurred in the state.

In April, a teenage girl was attacked with acid for resisting an attempted gang rape.

Public outrage over sexual violence in India rose dramatically after the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.

The issue became a political flashpoint again in 2018, after a string of high-profile attacks against children.

However incidents of rape and violence against women continue to be reported from across the country.

Source: The BBC

28/06/2019

India gets 24% below-average rainfall this week – weather office

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s monsoon rains were 24% below average in the week ended June 26, the weather office said on Thursday, as the seasonal rainfall was scanty over central and western parts of the country.

The rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth as about 55% of the south Asian nation’s arable land is rain-fed, and the farm sector makes up about 15% of a nearly $2.5-trillion economy that is Asia’s third-biggest.

The below-average rainfall has delayed sowing of summer-sown crop such rice, soybean and corn and threatens to curtail crop yields.

Monsoon has delivered 36% lower-than-normal rainfall since the start of the season on June 1, due to a delay in the onset of monsoon rains, according to data compiled by India Meteorological Department.

Monsoon rains arrived in the southern state of Kerala on June 8. However, Cyclone Vayu developed in the Arabian Sea drew moisture from the monsoon and weakened its progress.

Source: Reuters

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