Posts tagged ‘politics’


India Still Has Work to Do on Rule of Law, Report says – India Real Time – WSJ

India is making progress on the openness of its government but it needs to improve security and reduce political violence, a new report on the rule of law says.

The latest “Rule of Law Index,” released Thursday by World Justice Project, a Washington-based nonprofit, ranks India 66th among 113 countries.

The report, based on a survey of 1,000 people and local experts, looked into Indians’ dealings with their government, the police, courts and other state institutions in their day-to-day lives.

Compared with the same countries included in the study last year, India’s rank improved three places in 2016. However, once 11 more countries were added for this year’s survey, India slipped seven places to 66th. The 2016 survey compared 113 countries over six subject areas, including “constraints on government power,” “order and security” and “fundamental rights,” among others.India’s average score for “open government” improved from 0.53 in 2014 to 0.66 in 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made communication with citizens a priority, launching the engagement portal in 2014, which allows citizens to make suggestions on key government programs.

India also scored better than last year in “constraints on government powers”–measuring the effectiveness of institutional checks on government power by the legislature, judiciary, and independent auditing and review agencies.

But the South Asian nation’s score declined for “order and security,” where it ranked in the “bottom tercile” with Uganda, Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan for “conventional crime, political violence, and violence as a means to redress personal grievances.

”India also did poorly compared with last year in safeguarding fundamental rights, including “effective enforcement of the right to life, rights of the accused and fundamental labor rights,” among others, said the report.

In South Asia, Nepal came 63rd, three places ahead of India. Pakistan was ranked 106th in the bottom eight of the global rankings. The country was judged to have the worst access to civil justice and to be the least orderly and secure out of the 66 countries ranked in the index in 2011.

The rule of law is important to the progress of countries, said Alejandro Ponce, chief research officer of The World Justice Project.“In broad terms, a lack of rule of law discourages investment and economic growth,” said Mr. Ponce.

Source: India Still Has Work to Do on Rule of Law, Report says – India Real Time – WSJ

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Unwanted model | The Economist

MARCHING by the thousands this week in stifling heat through their small coastal village, residents of Wukan carried Chinese flags and shouted out slogans in support of the Communist Party. That was just to protect themselves from retribution by the riot police, who watched them closely but did not intervene. Their real message was in other chants: “Give us back our land!” and “Free Secretary Lin!”

The secretary in question was their village chief, Lin Zulian, whom they elected in 2012 in what was widely hailed at the time as a breakthrough for grassroots democracy. Mr Lin had led Wukan in a months-long rebellion against local authorities. Villagers kicked out party officials and police from their offices in protest against the alleged seizure of some of Wukan’s land by corrupt officials who had lined their pockets with the proceeds of selling it. Police responded by blockading the village, turning it into a cause célèbre—including in some of the feistier of China’s heavily censored media. In the end the government backed down: it allowed Wukan to hold unusually free elections and it promised to sort out the land dispute. The “Wukan model” became Chinese reformists’ shorthand for what they hoped would be a new way of defusing unrest.

They have been disappointed. Villagers did not get their land back, or the money some wanted in lieu of it. Mr Lin, who won another landslide victory in elections two years ago, announced plans on June 18th to launch a new campaign for the return of the land. That was clearly too much for the local government: Mr Lin was promptly arrested on charges of corruption. Angry residents took to the streets again.

Villagers in China often stage protests over land rights; local authorities usually deal with them either with force, or by promising concessions and then rounding up the ringleaders. Restoring calm to Wukan will be tougher. Because of its fame, journalists have poured in, especially from nearby Hong Kong. Local officials may be reluctant to resort to the usual thuggish tactics in front of such an audience.

In an effort to undermine support for Mr Lin, the government has tried blackening his name. On June 21st officials released a video showing him confessing to bribe-taking. But that merely stoked the villagers’ anger. His wife, Yang Zhen, says she is certain the confession was coerced. His halting delivery in substandard Mandarin, she believes, was his way of letting villagers know this. “They are trying to deceive everyone, but no one believes it,” she says. Dozens of furious villagers went to a local school where nervous officials had barricaded themselves behind metal doors and barred windows; they kicked the doors and shouted abuse. As The Economist went to press, Wukan was preparing to embark on its sixth consecutive day of protest.

Many residents say they have lost all faith in the local government, and that only the central authorities in Beijing will be able to find a fair solution. “They took our land. My father and grandfather farmed it, and now I have nothing. No work and no other path forward,” says a 39-year-old villager. “We have a black government, all corrupt. They cannot trick us again with more talk of the ‘Wukan model’. We need our land back,” he fumes.

But the central government will be reluctant to cave in to the protesters’ demands. “Handling the Wukan problem well means much to the rest of China,” said Global Times, a pro-party paper in Beijing. But it warned that if the “drastic actions” of Wukan’s villagers were copied by others, China would “see mess and disturbance” at the grassroots. In a country where many seethe with grievances similar to Wukan’s, officials do not want the village to become a model for revolt.

Source: Unwanted model | The Economist


China rejects bending rule for India to join nuclear club | Reuters

China maintains its opposition to India joining a group of nations seeking to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling access to sensitive technology, said the head of the arms control department in China’s Foreign Ministry.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met this week in Seoul, but China said it would not bend the rules and allow India membership as it had not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.

“Applicant countries must be signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT),” Wang Qun, the head of arms control department in China’s Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying in Seoul on Thursday night.

“This is a pillar, not something that China set. It is universally recognized by the international community,” Wang said according to a statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry on Friday.China is leading opposition to a push by the United States to bring India into the NSG which aims to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation by stopping the sale of items that can be used to make nuclear arms.

The issue of India’s membership was not formally discussed at the NSG meeting this week, Wang said on Friday.

The United States, which has a nuclear cooperation deal with India, considers it a nuclear power that plays by the rules and is not a proliferator, and wants to bring Asia’s third largest economy into the 48-member group.

India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington.

On Friday, on the sidelines of the plenary meeting of the NSG, Wang stressed China considered it important to handle new memberships under a consensus and that there was no move yet to allow a non-NPT state to join.

“International rules will have to be respected, big or small,” Wang told Reuters. “Big like NPT. Small like the rules and procedures of this group.”   “The important question of which we are concerned, is how to deal with the question of participation of countries within the group of non-NPT states. It’s a formidable task.”Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue on Thursday at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a regional summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but there was no breakthrough.

One diplomat at the NSG plenary in Seoul said the group’s outgoing chairman, Argentinian diplomat Rafael Grossi, would act as a “facilitator” to continue to search for an accession deal.

Opponents argue that granting India membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate India’s rival Pakistan, an ally of China’s, which has responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own.Pakistan joining would be unacceptable to many, given its track record. The father of its nuclear weapons program ran an illicit network for years that sold nuclear secrets to countries including North Korea and Iran.

Source: China rejects bending rule for India to join nuclear club | Reuters


China’s Xi says to commit 8,000 troops for U.N. peacekeeping force | Reuters

China will contribute 8,000 troops for a United Nations peacekeeping standby force, China’s President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, a move that could make it one of the largest players in U.N. peacekeeping efforts.


Xi’s pledge comes as China is trying to show it is a responsible international player amid concern over its growing military might and territorial disputes in the Asia-Pacific region. During a state visit to Washington on Friday, Xi agreed with U.S. President Barack Obama that both countries would increase their “robust” peacekeeping commitments. They are among leaders from more than 50 countries who pledged some 40,000 troops and police, as well as equipment or training for U.N. peacekeeping missions during a U.N. summit chaired on Monday by Obama.

“China will join the new U.N. peacekeeping capability readiness system, and has thus decided to lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police squad and build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops,” Xi said. He also said China would provide $100 million in military assistance to the African Union in the next five years to support the establishment of an African standby force and to boost its capacity for crisis response.

At the later summit, Xi said part of a new 10-year, $1 billion China-U.N. peace and development fund set up by China would be used for peacekeeping operations. China would give “favorable consideration” to future U.N. requests for more Chinese engineering, transport and medical staff, but operations’ “exit strategies need to be timely formulated and executed”, Xi said.

Obama, who held tense summit talks with Xi last week in Washington, shook his hand vigorously as he left the podium on Monday.


The U.S. military told dozens of U.N. ambassadors and military advisers in New York in July that the U.N. needed rapid response forces, equipment and training. Washington pays more than 28 percent of the $8.2 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget, but Beijing says it contributes more personnel to peacekeeping missions than each of the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.

The top five troop- and police-contributing countries are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda, according to August data from the U.N. website. China now provides around 3,000 of the more than 106,500 U.N. troops, police and advisers deployed by all countries, making it the ninth biggest contributor of peacekeeping personnel. Its largest contingent is in South Sudan, where it has played a growing diplomatic role and is a major investor in the oil industry.

Experts have noted that China’s expanding peacekeeping role in recent years parallels its desire to expand its military’s capabilities farther abroad and could provide logistical and operational experience. “They clearly want to create a more international armed force so they can operate in more challenging environments,” said Douglas Paal, director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

During his earlier address to the General Assembly, Xi tried to allay concerns that his country’s growing influence was a threat. “We are committed to peaceful development. No matter how the international landscape may evolve and how strong China may become, China will never pursue hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence,” he said.

Source: China’s Xi says to commit 8,000 troops for U.N. peacekeeping force | Reuters

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Google’s Sundar Pichai Welcomes India’s Modi to Silicon Valley – India Real Time – WSJ

Before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touches down in Silicon Valley at the weekend, one of his country’s most-successful sons has welcomed him to the U.S. tech hub.

Sundar Pichai, the Indian-born Google CEO, says in a video message that “there is tremendous excitement” about Mr. Modi’s arrival in the valley “among all Googlers” a shorthand for people who work at the search engine giant.

Mr. Modi will meet with Mr. Pichai and other Indian-born CEOs, including Satya Nadella of Microsoft Corp., during his valley visit and tour Google’s headquarters where he will look at inventions in healthcare and smartgrid technology. His visit comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping held a roundtable in Seattle with U.S. and Chinese CEOs including Tim Cook of Apple Inc. and Jeff Bezos of on Wednesday.

“The bond between India and Silicon Valley is strong. India has long been an exporter of talent to tech companies,” Mr. Pichai says in the two minute clip.

Raised in the southern city of Chennai and attending the legendary Indian Institute of Technology, Mr. Pichai became CEO of Google in August having started out at the company in 2004 as a semiconductor engineer after gaining a graduate degree from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. More In Google Who Is Google’s Sundar Pichai? Why Indian Managers Are Succeeding in Tech’s C-Suite Sundar Pichai to Lead Google, Now a Subsidiary of Alphabet, After Restructuring Tech Giants Help Track Nepal Earthquake Survivors as Communications Are Hit Google Executive Dan Fredinburg Killed in Everest Avalanche After Nepal Earthquake

“The products built by Indian graduates from IIT and other institutions have helped to revolutionize the world,” the Google chief adds.

But it is India that is now undergoing its own revolution, he continues. Mr. Pichai touches on Mr. Modi’s plans to digitize India and get 600 million people in remote areas connected to the Internet.

“We at Google as well as many others around the world are passionate about playing our part, there is no more important role for tech companies today than helping to connect the next billion Internet users,” he adds.

The prime minister’s Digital India plan is stuttering however. Up to June only 1% of the villages in the program had been connected to broadband via fiber optic cables.

The slow pace of the rollout of the Internet in India is among the main subjects raised for Mr. Modi in his upcoming Q&A at Facebook Inc. on Sunday.

Meghna Agarwal has asked how Facebook can help India in reaching remote areas “so that each one of the Indians has a voice of their own thus promoting equality and bridging the gap between the rich and the poor?”

Sumit Dhawan asked what Mr. Modi is doing to bring high speed broadband Internet to India.

In Mr. Pichai’s video, the CEO predicts that in the next few years, 50 million women and 20 million small businesses will get online for the first time. He promises Google will help India with products that work on low bandwidth and even offline as well as with investments in core infrastructure to help the Indians among them.

Source: Google’s Sundar Pichai Welcomes India’s Modi to Silicon Valley – India Real Time – WSJ


Politics Gets in the Way of Modi’s India Overhaul – India Real Time – WSJ

Political calculations and parliamentary gridlock are putting the brakes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s already-incremental plans for economic revitalization 15 months after Indian voters gave him an overwhelming mandate for change.

Following nearly a month of partisan bickering, lawmakers ended a parliamentary session on Thursday without passing a centerpiece of Mr. Modi’s agenda—a constitutional amendment to replace a thicket of differing state taxes with a more business-friendly nationwide levy.


The Indian leader, worried about political opposition and a backlash from rural voters, also effectively abandoned efforts to win approval for another development measure—legislation that would have made it easier for the state to acquire land for infrastructure and industry, government officials, some ruling party and opposition lawmakers said.

Mr. Modi shot to prominence with a landslide electoral victory and impassioned vows during visits to world capitals to reset India’s economy. But blocked by the opposition and reluctant to take risky political steps, his liberalization project is languishing.

“The slowdown in the reform momentum has taken away the type of optimism we saw when Modi was elected in 2014,” said Chua Han Teng, an India specialist at London-based BMI Research. “It hurts investor confidence.”

via Politics Gets in the Way of Modi’s India Overhaul – India Real Time – WSJ.


China unveils plans for V-Day parade|Politics|

China on Tuesday announced plans for this year’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II, including inviting militaries of other countries to participate in a parade on Sept. 3.

China unveils plans for V-Day parade

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will attend the event and deliver an important speech, an official said at a press conference on Tuesday.

At the event, Xi will award medals to veterans and generals who participated in the war and family dependents of the deceased.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. It will be the first time for the country to hold a special parade to commemorate the victory.

Japan signed the formal surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, and China celebrated its victory the following day. September 3 was declared Victory Day.


via China unveils plans for V-Day parade|Politics|


How Modi Has Moved Into Kejriwal’s Space – India Real Time – WSJ

The capital of the world’s largest democracy, which has been under president’s rule for the best part of a year, is set for a fresh election.

There’s no firm date yet for the high-stakes Delhi polls, but for one man the stakes are higher than for most.

Arvind Kejriwal, former chief minister and anti-corruption activist, has what some analysts describe as one last chance to unite his fractious, young party and revive his own flagging political fortunes.

Mr. Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party, which stormed Delhi’s political scene last year with its anti-graft slogans and innovative grass-roots campaign, has struggled to remain relevant since national elections in May, in which it won just four out of 543 parliamentary seats.

In part, analysts suggest, this is because his common man calling card and campaign for a corruption-free India have been appropriated by the leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leaving the AAP headman little space to distinguish himself.

Despite their wide economic and ideological differences, Mr. Modi does appear to have encroached on Mr. Kejriwal’s political ground in recent months.

Let’s look at the evidence.

First, the broom. Mr. Kejriwal’s party made the tool of India’s army of sweepers a weapon in his political arsenal.  As AAP’s symbol, the broom was a visual metaphor of the party’s aim to clean up politics in India.

Mr. Modi has taken the metaphor and made it literal. With a broom in hand last month, he promised to literally clean up India. Everyone from Bollywood stars to opposition politicians has taken up brooms to join him in the sanitation program.

via How Modi Has Moved Into Kejriwal’s Space – India Real Time – WSJ.


China Tries to Track the Corrupt Officials Fleeing Abroad – Businessweek

China’s government estimates that the number of corrupt officials who have moved abroad to sidestep the law and safeguard personal fortunes ranges from 4,000 to 18,000 people. The government charged with corruption nearly 7,000 officials whom it suspected were plotting to flee the country from 2008 to 2013,  according to Cao Jianming, vice president of the Supreme People’s Court.

Cao, the People's Republic of China's top prosecutor and investigator

Government data in an online report from the People’s Daily names the U.S. and Canada as the top destinations–dubbed “corrupt paradises”–for emigrating officials. Records from authorities in Toronto and Vancouver show that Canadian customs officials seized $13 million in undeclared cash from arriving Chinese emigrants and tourists from April 2011 to June 2012.

In July, meanwhile, China launched “Operation Fox Hunt” in an effort to locate and prosecute corrupt officials who have moved abroad. Beijing does not have an extradition treaty with Washington. “We face practical difficulties in getting fugitives who fled to the U.S. back to face trial, due to the lack of an extradition treaty and the complex and lengthy legal procedures,” Liao Jinrong, an official at China’s Ministry of Public Security, earlier told China Daily.

via China Tries to Track the Corrupt Officials Fleeing Abroad – Businessweek.


To No End: Why China’s Corruption Crackdown Won’t Be Stopping Soon – China Real Time Report – WSJ

One major question hovering over China’s anti-corruption campaign – already the longest the country has ever seen — is when it’s going to wind down.

According to anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan, who briefed fellow officials on the campaign last week (in Chinese), it won’t be any time soon.

And the major reason for that may well be that Beijing hasn’t yet figured out how to end it.

Wang laid out the anti-corruption strategy in unusual detail during these meetings, supplying a road map that outlined where the campaign had been and where it’s now headed (in Chinese).

Beijing’s anti-graft crusade isn’t just a one-off initiative, but an extended battle which began last year, taking down, as President Xi promised, both high-ranking “tigers” and lower-level “flies.”

And it’s accelerating.  According to an analysis that appeared on the website of the People’s Daily earlier this month, from January to May this year, Wang’s inspection teams disciplined 62,953 people, an increase of 34.7% over the same period the previous year (in Chinese).

In his briefing last week, Wang conceded that the campaign didn’t start all that well.  Indeed, in the early stages of the campaign, Wang said, the sense among his inspection teams was that corruption was buried so deep within China’s political marrow that it couldn’t be defeated, only deterred from growing.  Party officials were only too comfortable with political business as usual, where bribes and personal connections overrode considerations of actual talent when it came to selecting and promoting cadres.

“Some localities and departments, as well as some party organizations saw the pursuit of honest government as not their main responsibility,” Wang said, adding that the only option at that point was to “not allow corrupt elements to gain a foothold” in the few institutions where corruption was not already omnipresent.

The tide turned, he said, when cadres were finally given political cover by Beijing to report on their comrades engaging in corruption, especially those selling access to government officials and offering bribes for promotion.  That routine had become worrisome to Beijing because unqualified and immoral officials were becoming policy-makers.

Moreover, Wang argued, by focusing on specific areas known to be rife with graft—such as land development and real estate projects, mining rights, and public welfare funds—inspectors showed skeptics and potential targets that this campaign was a serious effort to rollback misconduct.

So what’s next?

That’s the tricky part.  Punishing corruption is one thing; preventing its reemergence could be a far-greater problem.  As one Chinese analyst admitted despondently in the pages of the People’s Daily (in Chinese), unless the system is thoroughly reformed, there’s a good chance that “the rot will come back.”

Continuing to press hard against corruption seems to make sense if Beijing’s expanding fight against graft is finally starting to show success and developing the party’s legitimacy as a problem-solver on issues that matter to the masses. But there’s also concern about just how much longer the campaign can be maintained when, as the analysis above notes, there is “a danger of overdoing something, leaving some people in a constant state of anxiety.”

Fear is evidently freezing some officials from becoming more actively engaged in supporting Xi’s call for changes in how the government operates—a passivity that has led to complaints in the Party media (in Chinese).

And there’s a greater danger:  That this effort to tear down corruption is simply dealing with the existing problems and not doing anything about building a new way of decision-making.

As a leading Chinese commentator on the current leadership’s policies put it in the same People’s Daily essay, the real need is “to create a good political environment, allowing officials to devote oneself, heart and soul, to do things, and not focus on the small circle of relationships one has with one’s superiors, doing always what one is told to do.”

That’s an attractive vision, but one that would require a major restructuring of politics in China.

via To No End: Why China’s Corruption Crackdown Won’t Be Stopping Soon – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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