03/02/2017

Something to Crow About: Ivanka Trump Visits Chinese New Year Party – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Chinese social media lit up Thursday over an appearance by Ivanka Trump and her daughter at a Lunar New Year celebration at Beijing’s embassy in Washington.

Photos and video went viral, showing Ms. Trump and 5-year-old Arabella being hosted at the Wednesday night event by China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai. On the Chinese microblogging site Weibo, the term #Trump’sDaughterVisitsChina’sEmbassy in Chinese quickly zoomed up to become the seventh most-searched item on Thursday.

Just as remarked, however, was the lack so far of Year of the Rooster wishes from President Trump.

“Trump’s daughter visits China’s embassy and wishes China a happy New Year! The daughter understands more than the father,” one Weibo user said.

The Lunar New Year — the most important holiday in China — is celebrated in several countries across Asia and by Chinese around the world. It has become an occasion for global leaders to offer up well wishes. In 2015, British royal Prince William wished China a happy Year of the Sheep in Mandarin in a video televised across the nation. When they were presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama issued Lunar New Year messages.

As the start of the Year of the Rooster officially came and went over the weekend, Chinese media noted the conspicuous absence of a similar tribute from Mr. Trump.

“Her father, the new U.S. president, has broken the tradition of sending New Year greetings to people of Chinese origin in the U.S. during their most important festival,” a China Daily slideshow of photos featuring Ms. Trump noted.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some social media posts gave Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt, saying the lack of new year’s greetings may not have been a deliberate snub, but the work of his advisers. Mr. Trump has vowed to get tough with China over its trade and currency policies, and his advisers have called for countering Chinese actions in the South China Sea with a naval blockade.

“To be honest, I think that Trump really maybe just forgot. He’s surrounded by anti-China people. There wouldn’t be anyone to remind him,” wrote another Weibo user. “Now it’s already too late, and to wish happy New Year under pressure from the media would mean losing face, right? So he just lets his daughter make an appearance.”

Video from the Chinese Embassy function featured Arabella and her mother being shown rooster paper cutouts and art made from melted sugar, as well as posing with costumed Chinese opera performers.

Arabella has previously endeared herself to the Chinese public after a video of her reciting Chinese poetry was widely circulated last year. On Thursday, social media users further amused themselves by analyzing her less-than-enthusiastic facial expressions captured at the embassy’s event. “She looks like I do when I don’t want to visit my relatives,” ran one.

“It looks like she’s angling for yasuiqian,” wrote another, referring to the red envelopes tucked with cash traditionally handed out to children over the holiday.

While Mr. Trump may have yet to formally extend his well wishes for the holiday Year of the Rooster, he has in other ways inspired the Year of the Rooster in China. A shopping mall in the central city of Taiyuan put up a large rooster sculpture with a Trump-like hairstyle in central China, inspiring balloons of similar design.

Source: Something to Crow About: Ivanka Trump Visits Chinese New Year Party – China Real Time Report – WSJ

01/02/2017

The Economist explains: What is India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine? | The Economist

LAST week India celebrated its 68th Republic Day, the highlight of which is an elaborate parade to show off India’s military might (pictured).

Soldiers goose-stepped and tanks rolled down Rajpath, New Delhi’s main ceremonial thoroughfare, as India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, and this year’s guest of honour, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, looked on. Fighter jets screeched overhead. The annual display was particularly pointed this year, coming barely three weeks after Bipin Rawat, India’s new army chief, acknowledged in an interview the existence of the country’s “Cold Start” military doctrine. What is Cold Start and why did General Rawat, who took office on December 31st, mention it in public?

Cold Start is the name given to a limited-war strategy designed to seize Pakistani territory swiftly without, in theory, risking a nuclear conflict. It has its roots in an attack on India’s parliament in 2001, which was carried out by terrorist groups allegedly used as proxies by Pakistan’s powerful intelligence services (ISI). India’s response to the onslaught was a flop: by the time its lumbering Strike Corps were mobilised and positioned on the frontier, Pakistan had already bulked up its defences, raising both the costs of incursion and the risk that it would escalate into a nuclear conflict. Cold Start is an attempt to draw lessons from this: having nimbler, integrated units stationed closer to the border would allow India to inflict significant harm before international powers demanded a ceasefire; by pursuing narrow aims, it would also deny Pakistan a justification for triggering a nuclear strike. Yet India has refused to own up to the existence of the doctrine since it was first publicly discussed in 2004. Nor was its rumoured existence enough to stop Pakistani terrorists from launching devastating attacks in Mumbai in 2008, killing 164 people.

One reason for India to keep its cards close to its chest is that it may not be capable of acting on Cold Start. Indeed, India’s army chief admitted to civilian leaders after the 2008 attacks that his battalions were “not ready for war” with Pakistan. It probably did not help that India’s political leaders never signed off on it either, as a leaked diplomatic cable from 2010 suggested. Yet things have taken a different turn since an assault last September on the Indian garrison of Uri in Kashmir, which left 19 dead. In a departure from India’s traditionally defensive posture, the government responded by authorising “surgical strikes” along the frontier, targeted at “terrorist launchpads” and “those protecting them”. By acknowledging the doctrine, which would demand a more potent retaliation than these commando operations, the army seems keen to signal that it has a range of strategic options, introducing an element of unpredictability in the seriousness of its response. Political leaders may have also come closer to embracing it. The government of Narendra Modi has shown keen interest in national-security matters, moving India into the world’s top-five defence spenders, addressing servicemen’s grievances and mulling a wholesale revamp of the armed forces’ structure.

Whether the strategy will prove effective remains to be seen. By pursuing Cold Start, the army may have reaped “the worst of both worlds”, says Walter Ladwig, a scholar at King’s College London. Should it come after a terrorist attack prepared with the ISI’s knowledge, India’s response would lack the element of surprise. That makes Cold Start a dubious deterrent. And Mr Rawat’s recognition of the doctrine’s existence provides further reason for Pakistan to develop “tactical” nukes—tiny warheads that could easily end up in inexpert or malevolent hands. The risk of overreaction on Pakistan’s side is heightened by India’s continued obfuscation about what exactly the concept means, making the whole premise seem misguided. Indeed, Pakistani officials have already threatened to use nuclear weapons, should India put Cold Start into action. In conventional war, confusing an enemy can lead to victory; when two nuclear powers are involved it is a surer step towards a disastrous draw.

Source: The Economist explains: What is India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine? | The Economist

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01/02/2017

India Budget 2017: Promise to boost rural spending – BBC News

India’s government has unveiled its annual budget, with promises to boost rural spending and pull more people out of poverty.

It comes months after the controversial withdrawal of high value banknotes which caused chaos in the economy, hurting farmers and the poor most.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated funds to bring more irrigation, roads, electricity and sanitation to villages.

Farmers would also have more access to credit, he said.

The government also plans to spend a record $7.09bn (£5.69bn) on a scheme which guarantees every rural household 100 days of work each year.

Overall rural and farm spending would be increased by 24% as part of the government’s plan to double farm incomes over five years, Mr Jaitley added.

Tax plan

The finance minister also revealed plans to halve income tax rates for people earning between 250,000 rupees to 500,000 rupees ($3700; £2945 to $7,400; £5888) annually, which Mr Jaitley said should also encourage more people to pay tax.

“The present burden of taxation is mainly on the taxpayer and the salaried employees who are showing their income correctly,” he told parliament.

“Therefore post-demonetisation, there is a legitimate expectation of this class of people to reduce their burden of taxation. Also an argument is made that if nominal rate of taxation is kept at a lower slab, more people will prefer to come in the tax rate.”It is not clear how many people the move would impact, but India has a long-running problem of collecting income tax.

In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, only 2% of Indians completed a tax return and only 1% paid tax.

Other proposals announced in the budget speech included:Cutting tax rates on small and medium-sized companies

Banning cash transactions for sums above 300,000 rupees ($4440; £3533)

Political funding reforms including a cap on the cash donated to a political party by a single source

Nothing for foreign investors: Analysis by Shilpa Kannan, BBC News, Delhi

Arun Jaitley had to do a balancing act between the need to stimulate India’s growth and ensuring that the country’s spending is under control.

But I’ve been at an event run by one of India’s biggest business groups, the CII, and the mood is one of general disappointment.

The finance minister had promised to gradually bring down corporation tax from 30% to 25% – but he didn’t do it last year and it didn’t happen this year either.

Many here are saying there was nothing in for foreign or domestic investors. They fear a flee of money from India.

‘Bright spot’

India’s economy is expected to grow by 6.5% in the year to March 2017, down from 7.6% the previous financial year, a key economic report revealed ahead of the budget.

However, the country was a “bright spot” in the world economy, Mr Jaitley said, adding that the impact on growth from the government’s cash crackdown would wear off soon.

He said the currency ban was a “a bold and decisive measure” and would leaded to larger GDP, more tax revenues and a cleaner economy.

The dramatic move to scrap 500 ($7.60) and 1,000 rupee notes was intended to crack down on corruption and so-called black money or illegal cash holdings.

But the Economic Survey, released on Tuesday and written by the government’s chief economic adviser, admitted the rupee withdrawal had been bad for economy. in the short term.

Source: India Budget 2017: Promise to boost rural spending – BBC News

31/01/2017

The Chinese man trapped in India for half a century – BBC News

In 1963 a Chinese army surveyor crossed into India and was captured, weeks after a war between the countries. Wang Qi has been unable to leave India ever since – and longs to see his family in China.

BBC Hindi’s Vineet Khare met him.

Tirodi village is a nearly five-hour drive from the nearest airport in Nagpur in central India.

I am here to meet Wang Qi, a Chinese army surveyor who entered India in 1963 but could never go back. For over five decades, he has been longing to see his family back home.

Sporting cropped white hair, black trainers and a body warmer, Mr Wang, who is now in his eighties, hugs me when we meet. We are about to try and make video contact with his family more than 3,000km (1,864 miles) away in China.

Together we go to the government office, which is the only centre equipped with internet for miles around.

He watches in anticipation as I dial and then his eyes light up as the image of his elder brother Wang Zhiyuan, 82, appears on the screen, seated on a sofa in Xianyang, a city in China’s Shaanxi province.

The two brothers are seeing each other after more than 50 years. The conversation in Mandarin lasts 17 minutes.

“I couldn’t recognise him. He looked so old. He said he was alive just for me,” Wang Qi, also known by his Indian name Raj Bahadur, tells me in strongly accented Hindi as his three Indian-born children gather around to comfort him.

Mr Wang’s story is a long and sad one.

Born to a farmer family in Shaanxi with four brothers and two sisters, he studied surveying and joined China’s People’s Liberation Army in 1960.

Mr Wang says he was “tasked with building roads for the Chinese army” and was captured when he “strayed erroneously” inside India’s territory in January 1963.

“I had gone out of my camp for a stroll but lost my way. I was tired and hungry. I saw a Red Cross vehicle and asked them to help me. They handed me over to the Indian army,” he said.

Mr Wang’s mother died in 2006 before he could go back and see her

Indian officials said Mr Wang “intruded into India” and gave “false background and the circumstances” about his whereabouts to the authorities.

He spent the next seven years in a number of different jails before a court ordered his release in 1969.

Police took him to Tirodi, a far-flung village in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. He has not been allowed to leave the country ever since.

It’s still not clear whether Mr Wang is a prisoner of war. But he has been denied official Indian documents or citizenship and also been denied permission to travel back. His family says Mr Wang needs a document to exit India.

Senior local official Bharat Yadav agrees that there have been “deficiencies” and a “lack of interest” in the case.

“There are no suspicions about his actions. If he wants to go back, we will try and help him,” he said.

An official at the Chinese embassy, which helped him secure a passport in 2013, acknowledged he was aware of the issue. A response to questions sent to India’s federal home ministry is still awaited.

It has been a long, excruciating wait for Mr Wang.

Wang Qi joined China’s People’s Liberation Army in 1960

Be it language, food or a vastly different society, Mr Wang has had to adapt every step of the way.

“I began by working in a flour mill. But I cried in the night as I longed for my family. I missed my mother,” he said.

“I wondered what I had got into.”

Mr Wang married a local girl, Sushila, under “pressure from friends” in 1975.

“I was livid with my parents for marrying me off to an outsider. I had trouble understanding his language. I tolerated him for a few months. Then I got used to him,” she says with a smile.

Mr Wang tried his hand at business but his undefined legal status meant visits by local police.

Mr Wang married a local girl, Sushila, under “pressure from friends” in 1975

“I remember Mr Wang being beaten by the police for not bribing them. He was an honest man,” says BB Singh, his neighbour for many years.

“He always talked about his home in China. His family lived in utter poverty. He would cycle for miles with no break,” another former neighbour Jayanti Lal Waghela says.

Mr Wang wrote letters home but received his first reply only in the 1980s. Family pictures were exchanged.

He spoke to his mother for the first time in more than 40 years on the phone in 2002.

“She said she wanted to see me as her last days were near. I said I was trying to return. I wrote letters to everyone who mattered to provide me with exit documents but nothing moved.”

She died in 2006.

Mr Wang’s family in ChinaMr Wang’s nephew met him when he came to India as a tourist in 2009.

It was he who helped him to get the necessary documents for his passport.It is still not clear whether Wang Qi will be able to go to China – and if he did, would he want to return to India?

“My family is here. Where would I go?” he says, playing with his granddaughter in his lap.

Sushila is worried though. “I hope he comes back.”

Mr Wang with his family

Image captionIt is not clear whether Mr Wang will leave his family and return to China
30/01/2017

Inside India’s first department of happiness – BBC News

On a crisp weekday afternoon recently, hundreds of men and women, young and old, thronged a dusty playground of a government high school in a village in India’s Madhya Pradesh state.

Hemmed in by mobile towers and squalid buildings, the ground in Salamatpur was an unusual venue for a government-sponsored programme to “spread cheer and happiness”.

Undeterred by the surroundings and egged on by an energetic emcee, children in blue-and-white school uniforms, women in bright chiffon saris, and young men in jeans and t-shirts participated in games and festivities all morning. Under a tatty awning, people sprawled and a DJ played some music over crackling speakers. People left some food and old clothes for donation near a “wall of giving”.

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On the field, children raced in gunny sacks. A dozen girls, hands tied to their back, sprinted to get their teeth into knotty jalebis, a popular sweet. Women, squealing with delight, competed in tug-of-war contests. Jaunty men from a dancing school vowed the crowd with hip-hop dance moves. A four-year-old girl provided a rousing finale with her Bollywood-style hip-swinging gyrations. At the end of it all, beaming participants received glossy certificates.

On the dais crowded with officials and village leaders, there was mirthful insistence that “happiness week” had kicked off well. Videos and pictures of festivities from all over the state poured into the phones of excited officials: these included grannies tugging rope and grandfathers running with spoons in their mouths, among other things.

A week-long ‘happiness week’ saw girls participating in jalebi races

…and older villagers running with spoons in their mouth

The fun and games were part of a week-long Happiness Festival, organised by the ruling BJP government in what is India’s second largest state, home to more than 70 million people. They also provided a glimpse of the rollout of what is the country’s first state-promoted project to “to put a smile on every face”.

“Even in our villages, people are becoming introverted and self-centred because of TV and mobile phones. We are trying to get people out of homes, come together, and be happy. The aim is to forget the worries of life and enjoy together,” said Shobhit Tripathi a senior village council functionary.

‘Positive mindset’

At the heart of this project is the newly-formed Department of Happiness – the first of its kind in India – helmed by the state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan himself.

The yoga-loving three-term 57-year-old leader of the ruling BJP believes the “state can help in ensuring the mental well being of its people”.

Under him a gaggle of bureaucrats and a newly formed State Institute of Happiness are tasked with the responsibility of “developing tools of happiness” and creating an “ecosystem that would enable people to realise their own potential of inner well being”. The department also plans to run some 70 programmes and develop a Happiness Index for the state.

Mr Chouhan, who taught philosophy in a local college before embarking on a successful career in politics, told me he had been thinking for a long time on how to “bring happiness in people’s lives”.

He then had an epiphany. Why couldn’t his government run programmes to help citizens have a “positive mindset”? One report said that he was prodded by a popular guru.

The tug-of-war games were keenly contested

Many village children participated in dances

There is more joy sometimes, Mr Chouhan told me, “being poor than being wealthy”.

But one wonders if people would be happy enough if the state was efficient in delivering basic services and be seen to be fair to all its people.

After all, Madhya Pradesh continues to be among India’s poorest states. More than a third of its people are Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and tribespeople, among the most underprivileged. The world’s worst industrial accident happened in the state capital, Bhopal, in 1984, killing hundreds of people, and thousands of survivors are still fighting for compensation.

Despite impressive strides in farming, infrastructure and public services in recent years, illiteracy, undernourishment and poverty remain major challenges. When Mr Chouhan announced his plan last year, critics warned that the state would have to first deal with several “unhappy areas to make people happy”.

Bureaucracy of happiness?

Mr Chouhan agreed that providing food and shelter remained the primary responsibility of the state. But he said he was also worried about “families breaking up, rising divorces, and the increasing number of single people”. He spoke about the anomie of modern life, and how unwieldy aspirations lead to “excess stress and result in high suicide rates”.

He said that the state, borrowing from religious texts and folk wisdom, can help spread the virtues of “goodness, altruism, forgiveness, humility and peace”.

“We need people to have a positive mindset. We will try to achieve this through school lessons, yoga, religious education, moral science, meditation and with help from gurus, social workers and non-profits. It will be a wide ranging programme,” he said.

I wondered whether all this would spawn another gargantuan bureaucracy of happiness and invite allegations of cultural indoctrination by a government run by a Hindu nationalist party.

n this picture taken, 04 May 2007, Indian malnourished child, Viru (R) is comforted by his mother outside their hut at a village in Shivpuri district some 113 kms from Gwalior.Madhya Pradesh is among India’s poorest states

Don’t worry, Iqbal Singh Bains, the senior-most official in the department of happiness assured me. He’s also the top bureaucrat in the energy department.

“This is not about officials delivering happiness. This is not about preachy governance. You cannot deliver happiness to people. You can only bring about an enabling environment. The journey will be yours alone, the government is there to lend you a helping hand,” he told me.

Lending a hand would be more than 25,000 “happiness volunteers” who have signed up with the government. Government workers, teachers, doctors, homemakers and assorted people will work in the state’s 51 districts, holding “happiness tutorials and programmes”. Some 90 of them have already been trained.

‘Inner demons’

Sushil Mishra is one of them. The 48-year-old school teacher, who lives and works in remote Umaria, has already conducted four hour-long happiness classes at a secondary school, a student’s hostel, and government offices.

The classes, as he tells me, essentially have turned into confessionals, where participants talk about their good and not-so-good deeds, and pledge to improve themselves. Mr Mishra says it’s a challenge to create a relaxing, informal environment, where people can “wrestle with their inner demons”.

“Then they can listen to the voice of their soul, they are in touch with inner feelings. Nothing is forced.”

Madhya Pradesh is not the first place to try to “spread happiness”. But the jury is out on whether the state can play the role of a philosopher-counsellor-evangelist and make citizens happy.

In this photograph taken on October 5, 2011, Chief Minister for the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan (R) poses with a child at a function to honour the 'girl child' in Bhopal

The ‘happiness programme’ is the brainhild of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Three years ago, Bhutanese PM Tshering Tobgay cast doubts on the country’s popular pursuit of Gross National Happiness (GNH), saying that the concept was overused and masked problems with corruption and low standards of living. In 2013, Venezuela announced a “ministry of happiness”, but it did not stop the country from descending into social and economic chaos. Last year, United Arab Emirates announced the creation of a minister of state for happiness to “create social good and satisfaction”.

Many like sociologist Shiv Visvanathan believe the state has no right getting into the business of spreading happiness. Happiness, they say, is no laughing matter and its relationship with ambition is complex.

“The state cannot start defining what exactly contributes to mental well being. The state cannot colonise the subconscious. What happens to dissenting imagination or civil society? Trying to impose something as abstract as happiness on its people is not only bizarre, but downright dangerous,” said Dr Visvanathan.

Mr Chouhan obviously believes otherwise. In November, 24 of his ministers were sent five questions to find out how happy they were. A score of less than 22 meant that the respondent wasn’t happy.

Nobody knows the answers yet.

Source: Inside India’s first department of happiness – BBC News

26/01/2017

Chinese man cycles 500km in wrong direction to get home – BBC News

The milk of human kindness flows through the veins of Chinese policemen.

“A man hoping to cycle home cross-country for Chinese New Year realised 30 days into his trip that he had been travelling in the wrong direction.

The young migrant worker from China was aiming for his home in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province, after setting off from Rizhao – over 1,700km away.

But he was stopped by traffic police 500km off course, in the central Chinese province of Anhui.

When they found out, the police paid for a train ticket to get him home.

The man had set off from Rizhao, in Shandong province, in December.

A report from the People’s Online Daily said the man had been living in internet cafes and was low on funds.

But he was determined to make it home so he chose to cycle the route.

The unnamed man could not read maps, meaning he had to rely on others for directions.

Police stopped him when he was riding on a highway, which cannot be used by cyclists.

After discovering his mistake, both police and people working at the toll station he was stopped at contributed to his ticket home.”

Source: Chinese man cycles 500km in wrong direction to get home – BBC News

24/01/2017

Xi Jinping portrays China as a rock of stability | The Economist

DELEGATES at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos often treat politicians as rock stars. But the fawning reception given to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, on January 17th was extraordinary.

He was the first Chinese president to attend the annual gathering of the world’s business and political elite. Even an overflow room was packed when he delivered, in his usual dour manner, a speech laced with literary references—rendered through bulky headsets into equally monotone translations. Mr Xi said little that was new, but the audience lapped it up anyway. Here, at a time of global uncertainty and anxiety for capitalists, was the world’s most powerful communist presenting himself as a champion of globalisation and open markets.

Mr Xi (pictured, next to a panda ice-sculpture) did not mention Donald Trump by name, nor even America, but his message was clear. “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,” he said, in a swipe at Mr Trump who has threatened, among other mercantilist acts, to slap heavy tariffs on Chinese goods. Mr Xi likened protectionism to “locking oneself in a dark room”, a phrase that delegates repeated with delight. His words seemed comforting to many of them after a year of political surprises, not least in America and Britain. Mr Xi quoted from Dickens to describe a “world of contradictions”, as he put it. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he said. Many foreign businesses complain about what they regard as a rise of protectionism in China, too—but no one could accuse Mr Xi of being out of tune with the Davos mood. China, Mr Xi assured delegates, “will keep its door wide open and not close it”.

The Chinese president also portrayed his country as a staunch defender of the environment. He said that sticking to the Paris agreement on climate change, which came into effect last year, was “a responsibility we must assume for future generations”. These, too, were welcome words to many listening: Mr Trump’s threat to reject the pact will make China’s commitment to it all the more crucial. The week of whose inauguration?

The timing of Mr Xi’s trip was fortuitous—according to the Financial Times his aides were working on it before Britain voted to leave the European Union and well before Mr Trump’s election victory. But he must have relished the points that those events enabled him to score at Davos. Mr Xi faces political battles of his own as he prepares for a five-yearly Communist Party congress in the autumn and a reshuffle right after it. He wants to install more of his allies in key positions. Standing tall on the world stage could help (and attending Davos will have reinforced the point to his colleagues that he is in charge of China’s economy, as he clearly is of every other main portfolio).

Mr Xi would have relished the occasion even had the predictions of many in the global elite a year ago proved accurate—that Britain would vote to stay in the EU and that Mr Trump would not win. The forum is one where embarrassing questions about China’s politics are seldom raised openly. Mr Xi could talk airily of China’s openness, with little fear of being asked why he is clamping down on dissent and tightening controls on the internet (last year this newspaper’s website joined the many foreign ones that are blocked). On January 14th China’s most senior judge condemned judicial independence as a “false Western ideal”.

Previously, the highest-ranking Chinese attendees had been prime ministers. In 2016 the vice-president, Li Yuanchao, who ranks lower than the prime minister in the party hierarchy, led the team. So why has Mr Xi waited until his fifth year as president to turn up? He may well have winced at the thought of doing so last year, when discussions were dominated by questions about China’s management of its slowing economy in the wake of a stockmarket crash and a sudden devaluation of the yuan. Many analysts still worry about China’s economy (not least its growing debt), but the West’s problems have loomed larger over the Swiss Alps this week.

And for all his uplifting talk, Mr Xi shows no signs of wanting to take over as the world’s chief troubleshooter, even if Mr Trump shuns that role. Mr Xi is preoccupied with managing affairs at home and asserting control in seas nearby (see article). “Nothing is perfect in the world,” the new Davos man sagely informed the delegates. But he is unlikely to take the lead in making the world a better place.

Source: Xi Jinping portrays China as a rock of stability | The Economist

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24/01/2017

5 Things Narendra Modi Will Be Listening For During His Chat with Donald Trump – Briefly – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to speak with U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday in a conversation that will set the tone for future relations.New Delhi hopes it can begin to decipher what the country’s top diplomat, S. Jaishankar, last week called a world in 2017 filled with “known and unknown unknowns”—a reflection on the rapidly-changing global landscape marked by Mr. Trump’s presidency in the U.S., turmoil in Europe and rising Chinese power.

Here are five things Mr. Modi will likely be listening for.

1 Pakistan

Mr. Trump has vowed to be tough on terror, a goal he shares with Mr. Modi. But it isn’t clear how that will shape the new U.S. administration’s views on Pakistan, India’s rival neighbor that Mr. Modi has called the epicenter of global terrorism.India’s security establishment will be watching to see if Mr. Trump puts greater pressure on Pakistan to stamp out terrorist groups on its soil and whether U.S. supply of aid and weapons to Islamabad, a long-standing thorn in India-U.S. ties, will diminish.Mr. Trump’s Pakistan policy will depend in large part on his approach to the conflict in Afghanistan, another big unknown Indians will be looking for more clarity on.

2 China

India is closely watching for clues on how Mr. Trump plans to tackle China, given the new U.S. president’s combative tone toward Beijing. A more-assertive China has in recent years driven closer U.S.-India collaboration on defense and security issues. In an address last week, Mr. Modi, without naming China, spoke about “rising ambitions and rivalries” in Asia as “visible stress points” and called for “predictable behavior rooted in international norms and respect for sovereignty.”But if U.S.-China differences spilled into a military confrontation, it is unclear how India, which is involved in territorial disputes with its more-powerful neighbor, will respond.

India will also be looking for signs of a different outcome analysts have predicted—a more inward-looking U.S. under Mr. Trump emboldening an ambitious Chinese leadership to expand the country’s power. Such a development could push India to play a bigger role in Asia and to further strengthen strategic ties with Japan, which is also wary of China’s rise.

3 H-1B visas

Indian officials are anxious to see if Mr. Trump moves to tighten visa rules that would affect the country’s outsourcing giants like Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. that send programmers and engineers to the U.S. on high-skilled worker, or H-1B, visas. Mr. Trump at times during the campaign criticized the program for supplying “cheap labor.”

4 Russia

Among the biggest potential shifts under a Trump presidency is closer ties between the U.S. and Russia. India, which has long-standing ties with Moscow, would welcome such a development. Analysts in India believe U.S.-Russia tensions under President Barack Obama pushed Russia closer to China. New Delhi will keep an eye on whether Mr. Trump considers easing U.S. sanctions on Russia.

5 NSG membership

India is counting on U.S. backing to help it become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group that controls trade in nuclear fuel and technology. Mr. Modi has made a big push for New Delhi’s entry, but has repeatedly been stymied by China. He will hope Mr. Trump finds a way to override Beijing’s objections.

Source: 5 Things Narendra Modi Will Be Listening For During His Chat with Donald Trump – Briefly – WSJ

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23/01/2017

China’s first aircraft-carrier bares its teeth | The Economist

FOR Admiral Wu Shengli, the commander of China’s navy since 2006, it must have been a sweet swansong to mark his imminent retirement. In November China announced that its first and only aircraft-carrier, the Liaoning, was combat ready.

On December 24th its navy duly dispatched an impressive-looking carrier battle-group with three escorting destroyers, a couple of frigates, a corvette and a refuelling ship. It sailed from the northern port of Qingdao down through the Miyako Strait, past Taiwan and into the South China Sea.

Three weeks later the Liaoning (pictured) was back in port having sailed home via the Taiwan Strait, thus completing a loop around the island. The point was not lost on the Taiwanese, who scrambled fighter jets and sent naval ships to monitor the group’s progress. The Chinese ships showed off their firepower, with Shenyang J-15 fighters staging a series of take-off and landing drills. That everything went smoothly was evidence of the navy’s transformation under Admiral Wu (his career perhaps destined by his forename, which means victory). He had meticulously prepared for this moment, which came just four years after the carrier, acquired as a partially built hulk from Ukraine in 1998, formally entered naval service.

China’s deployment of an aircraft-carrier is not a military game-changer. But it is a conspicuous symbol of the country’s ambitions as a maritime and global power. The Liaoning has been a crucial building block for the navy in its evolution from a coastal defence force into what is now a modern navy that China uses to assert its (contested) maritime claims in the East and South China Seas. Within the next 25 years China expects its navy to become a powerful blue-water fleet that can guard China’s sea lanes of communication against any aggressor, push the US Navy beyond the “second island chain” far out into the Pacific (see map) and protect the country’s far-flung commercial interests.

Scary, perhaps, but also easy to sink

To that end, probably around 2004, China made up its mind that it must have aircraft-carriers. A second, indigenously designed one, based on the Liaoning but with the latest radar and space for more aircraft, is nearing completion at the northern port of Dalian. Many analysts believe that a third such vessel, larger and more complex, is under construction in Shanghai. Andrew Erickson of the US Naval War College says Admiral Wu adopted a “crawl, walk, run” approach to developing a carrier capability, recognising the difficulties involved. Carrier operations are inherently dangerous—America lost 8,500 aircrew in the 40 years to 1988 on its way to reaching what Mr Erickson calls its current “gold standard” of carrier expertise.

 

Commissioning the Liaoning was a good way to start. Much modified and fettled by the Chinese, the ship is based on the Soviet Kuznetsov-class design. It is big, with a displacement of about 60,000 tons, but nowhere near the size of America’s super-carriers such as the USS Ronald Reagan, which is based in Japan. That Nimitz-class ship displaces around 100,000 tons.

In other ways, too, the Liaoning pales in comparison with America’s 10 Nimitz-class carriers. They can carry more than 55 fixed-wing aircraft. The Liaoning can only handle 24 J-15s (based on the Russian Sukhoi SU-33) and a handful of helicopters. Unlike the American carriers, it lacks a catapult to propel aircraft from its deck. Instead it relies on a “ski-jump” prow to provide extra lift. As a result, the J-15s have to carry a lighter load of weapons and fuel. Heavier, slower airborne early-warning and anti-submarine aircraft cannot take off from the Liaoning at all. That limits the type of missions the ship can perform and makes the vessel vulnerable when operating beyond the range of shore-based aircraft. The Liaoning also depends on a notoriously unreliable Soviet-era design for its steam turbines, which cuts its range and speed compared with the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class carriers.

The US Office of Naval Intelligence has dismissed the Liaoning’s ability to project naval power over a long distance. But the ship does have military value. It can provide air-protection for China’s fleet, and would be a major asset in disaster-relief or evacuation missions. Peter Singer of the New America Foundation, a think-tank, says that a Liaoning-led battle group would also seem pretty formidable to neighbours, such as Vietnam or the Philippines, should China feel like bullying them.

But the main value of the Liaoning is the experience that it is giving the navy in the complex choreography of carrier operations. Those skills will help in the eventual deployment of indigenously designed carriers. The Chinese have been training with catapult-launch systems on land. This has fuelled speculation that the carrier thought

Source: China’s first aircraft-carrier bares its teeth | The Economist

21/01/2017

Updated PAGES in Chindia Alert Weblog

Dear Follower – I only realised very recently that whereas my new or updated Posts (like this one you’re reading) is sent to you via email, LinkedIN, Facebook or Twitter, my updated Pages are not.

  1. Posts sit in the middle of your screen when you open my blog, but Pages are sort of hidden.  You access Pages through clicking on the tabs under the title banner.  For example, if you hover over the Home tab to the extreme left you will see two pages: Home: Why Chindia and Chindia sources.
  2. Since the New Year, I’ve updated the following Pages:

https://chindia-alert.org/social-cultural-diff/major-events-or-changes-in-china-social-cultural/

https://chindia-alert.org/social-cultural-diff/major-events-or-changes-in-india-social-cultural/

https://chindia-alert.org/economic-factors/recent-economic-situation-in-china/

https://chindia-alert.org/economic-factors/recent-economic-situation-in-india/

https://chindia-alert.org/political-factors/recent-chinese-politics/

https://chindia-alert.org/political-factors/recent-indian-politics/

 

If you are interested in the Pages, I suggest you review them once every six months or so.

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