Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby nam » 14 Sep 2018 20:11

Doesn't matter about their reliability, as long as their component manufacturers open shop here and create a ecosystem.

Regarding their claim, that will only work if they are dead sure the Chinese don't fire off BM on their tiny island.

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby SSridhar » 16 Sep 2018 07:06

Doklam final report lauds government - Sobhana K Nair, The Hindu
A report by the parliamentary panel on External Affairs, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, has expressed concern that Chinese infrastructure built close to the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction has not been dismantled, but “commended” the overall handling of the Doklam crisis by the Narendra Modi government.

The committee was unable to table the report in the monsoon session of Parliament after protests from BJP members.

The members objected to reproduction of the testimony of the Foreign Secretaries verbatim since it could have revealed some deficiencies in the Indian approach.

Sections removed

To address the BJP members concerns, Mr. Tharoor met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and removed the contentious portions.

The tone and tenor of the report is distinctly different from the critical views expressed by many members during the deliberations. During the debate, the Congress members on the committee, including party president Rahul Gandhi, expressed concern that a setback has been spun by the government as a victory.

However, sources said, it was decided not to include these concerns in the final report. At least two members of the committee confirmed that the Opposition members on the committee had said that while the Army’s reaction to the crisis was laudable, Indian diplomacy failed to measure up to the task, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “no-agenda” meeting in Wuhan where he failed to even raise the Doklam incident.

The final report, however, pats the government for resolving the Doklam crisis.

“The Committee would commend the government’s overall handling of the crisis as it managed to send necessary signals to China that India will not acquiesce in its unilateral and forceful attempts to change the status quo at any of India’s territorial boundaries,” the report said. The panel also appreciated the “brave and timely” action of security forces for checking the PLA troops from continuing with their road construction.

Note of caution

It though adds a caveat by expressing concern that Chinese infrastructure built uncomfortably close to the tri-junction has not yet been dismantled.

“The Committee is concerned about the multiple reports which allude to Chinese presence around Doklam plateau and the statements from Chinese authorities about chances of similar happenings in future also, even after the stand-off ended,” the panel noted.

The committee said the government’s stand was “ambivalent” on construction activities in other areas on the Doklam plateau. The panel said the Indian government should not take the Chinese lightly at any point and “continue to monitor the Chinese activities along the border in general and the area in particular very intensely”.

The panel also suggested that military infrastructure, especially the roads on the Indian side, need to be improved. There is also an urgent need for high-technology gear to prepare our security forces to respond befittingly.

“Even if they have withdrawn their troops from Doklam for the time being, China’s strategic intentions should not be taken casually. The Committee would, therefore, urge the Government not to let its vigil down in order to prevent any untoward incident in future,” the panel warned.

Asked on which portions were removed from the report, Mr. Tharoor refused to comment. “The report speaks for itself and I have nothing to add,” he said.

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Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Peregrine » 16 Sep 2018 18:05

#MeToo reaches into the Monastery in China - Ian Johnson

BEIJING: Over the past two decades, religion in China has boomed, and no faith has benefited more than Buddhism. The number of temples has tripled, monks and abbots have become well-known public figures, and China has used the faith to build ties around the world, sending out nuns and monks on goodwill missions.

The person most closely associated with this revival is the Venerable Xuecheng, a charismatic monk who was fast-tracked for success. He became abbot of his first temple at 23 and head of the Communist Party-run Buddhist Association of China at 49.

His use of social media and emphasis on compassion attracted the sort of bright, white-collar professionals who once spurned traditional Chinese religions. Many rank him as the most important Chinese Buddhist reformer in a century.

But over the summer, all of these worldly successes vanished.

Accused of lewdness toward nuns and financial misconduct, Xuecheng, 52, has in recent weeks been stripped of his titles and banished to a small temple in his home province of Fujian. Government investigators now occupy the cleric’s main temple in Beijing, have purged his cadre of loyal monks and are scouring his books for financial wrongdoing.

That makes Xuecheng the most important national leader to be felled in China’s small but tenacious #MeToo movement, a rare case of a politically connected figure here falling to charges of sexual misconduct.

It has also prompted widespread discussion among Buddhists about whether their faith’s rapid growth has come at too steep a cost.

Many worry that Xuecheng’s model of a supercharged Buddhism that embraces social trends lacks the very spirituality that drew people to the faith in the first place. His downfall also presents a potential setback in the Chinese government’s efforts to push Buddhism as a kind of national religion that can win friends abroad and offer moral values at home.

“It’s impossible not to feel pained and sorrowful” at recent developments, two monks wrote in a 95-page report detailing accusations of sexual and financial misdeeds against Xuecheng. They asked the government to act quickly, or “we dare not imagine where Xuecheng will lead this group of Buddhists!”

Until recently, Xuecheng’s rise had seemed unstoppable.

Born in 1966, he graduated from the nation’s top Buddhist academy in Beijing in 1988 with top grades and experience studying in Sri Lanka. Two years later, he was abbot of Guanghua Temple in Fujian province. At the time, educated religious figures were rare, and the government’s national Buddhist leader, Zhao Puchu, defended appointing such a youthful abbot, comparing him to Communist guerrilla fighters who led troops into battle while still young.

This AFP photo taken on February 12, 2016 shows Xuecheng (R), praying during a ceremony held to raise donations for 2016 southern Taiwan earthquake, at Guangji temple in Beijing.

Around this time, biographers say, Xuecheng made a vow. Buddhism was strong in China’s prosperous south but had no major, socially active monasteries in the north. He pledged to change that, and in 2004 got his chance, taking over Longquan, or Dragon Spring, a largely ruined temple in Beijing’s western suburbs.

Within a few years, Longquan was one of the most active temples in China. Xuecheng tapped into a widespread desire among wealthy Chinese to give something back to society, taking over a charitable foundation and moving it into his temple, and reaching out to well-educated but spiritually adrift people in the university community in western Beijing.

Soon, Communist Party officials were visiting Longquan to learn how to do charity work. Although the party’s 90 million members are supposed to be atheist, they lauded the temple for its Communist-style selfless sacrifice.

Bespectacled, handsome and with a winning smile, Xuecheng was a compelling figure, able to woo graduates from China’s top universities with his vision of an altruistic society that helped the poor and weak.

He said little about Buddhism itself—theology seemed a secondary concern in his speeches and writings—but he was savvy at anticipating government policy. He set up an animation department at the temple that developed videos aimed at combating online violence and p*rn*graphy, adroitly launching the clips on the same day as a government campaign aimed at the same vices.

As a delegate to the annual session of a Communist Party advisory body in 2012, he gave an interview with The New York Times in which he questioned the ability of government-run cultural centers known as the Confucius Institutes to promote Chinese culture and China’s image to foreigners.

“The Confucius Institute only teaches Chinese language, which I think is far from being enough,” he said. “The influence of Confucius Institutes is limited.”

Instead, he said that China needed to promote Buddhism. Around this time, Longquan began opening branch temples and cultural centers in Los Angeles, Botswana, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Tanzania. This expansion came as Western critics began accusing the Confucius Institutes of being propaganda tools.

Sylvania Tragenani, who teaches contemporary Buddhism at Groningen University in the Netherlands, said Buddhism seemed to have been chosen over China’s other three legal religions — Islam, Christianity and Taoism — as the most appropriate to represent it abroad.

Islam and Christianity have too many ties to other countries, she said, while Taoism is an indigenous Chinese faith that foreigners often have difficulty understanding. Buddhism, by contrast, is familiar because of the popularity of Japanese versions, like Zen.

As with any official religious undertaking, the expansion abroad was approved by the government. President Xi Jinping , for example, singled out Buddhism as having been successfully integrated into Chinese cultures and traditions.

“Buddhism is the religious flag of China,” Tragenani said. “It’s like Catholicism used to be for Italy, France and Spain.”

It was this program of sending clergy abroad that led to Xuecheng’s downfall. Most of those sent overseas were nuns. Like Xuecheng, they had taken a vow of chastity. But unlike other clergy members, who are banned by monastic rules from using cellphones, these nuns were given phones so they could communicate when overseas.

Then half a dozen were summoned to meet Xuecheng for instruction.

Xuecheng began sending them explicit messages, according to transcripts reprinted in the 95-page report, such as asking one if she would be willing to be caressed and have intercourse. When she said no, he said she had to “break through” this kind of thinking. He started a conversation with another nun, asking her, “Who do you belong to?” Her answer: “The Master,” meaning Xuecheng, an exchange that made clear the power relationship between the two.

In late 2017, the nuns contacted two senior monks, who took up their cause. In their report, the monks also assert that donations to the temple were siphoned into Xuecheng’s personal bank account.

But — symptomatic of China’s top-down political system — the monks alleged that Xuecheng blocked their efforts to begin a formal investigation. In February, the monks forwarded their report to the government, and in August someone posted it on social media. Later that month, Xuecheng was stripped of his main titles and officials confirmed he had sent the messages.

Li Tingting, a prominent Chinese feminist activist now living in London, said the charges represent the spread of the Chinese #MeToo movement beyond relatively soft targets, such as figures in academia, the news media and nongovernmental organizations, who in China generally have little political clout.

Unclear, though, is why the allegations against Xuecheng were made public. One reason could be that the monks were worried the report was being swept under the carpet. (Efforts to reach the monks who wrote it were unsuccessful.)

But others say the report was intended to wake up the faithful to the dangers of Xuecheng’s embrace of social media and social elites.

A prominent scholar at Renmin University in Beijing who advises the government on religious policy said many people feel that temples are too commercial and just a way for people to make money. Asking for anonymity because of his work for the government, he said officials had begun cutting or eliminating entrance tickets and banning temples from engaging in business, adding: “Otherwise, it’s hard to argue that you’re offering an alternative to materialism.”

Many of Xuecheng’s followers think he has been given a raw deal and hope he will be back.

“Xuecheng did a lot of good things; he had great virtues,” said one, a 25-year-old who runs an inn for pilgrims near Longquan Temple and asked for anonymity for fear of government rouble. “You can’t deny him totally, even if he did it."

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Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Peregrine » 17 Sep 2018 03:07

Trump 'likely' to announce new China tariffs as early as Monday: Source – Reuters

WASHINGTON: US President Donald is likely to announce new tariffs on about $200 billion on Chinese imports as early as Monday, a senior administration official told Reuters on Saturday.

The tariff level will probably be about 10 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting people familiar with the matter. This is below the 25 percent the administration said it was considering for this possible round of tariffs.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The upcoming tariffs will be on a list of items that included $200 billion worth of internet technology products and other electronics, printed circuit boards and consumer goods including Chinese seafood,, furniture and lighting products, tires, chemicals, plastics, bicycles and car seats for babies. It was unclear if the administration will exempt any of the products that were on the list, which was announced in July.

On Friday, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump “has been clear that he and his administration will continue to take action to address China’s unfair trade practices. We encourage China to address the long-standing concerns raised by the Unites States.”

Trump had already directed aides to proceed with tariffs, despite Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s attempts to restart trade talks with China.

One observer in the business sector said the administration may have reduced its planned tariff level after hearing public comments, hoping companies would not immediately hike prices for consumer goods to pass along the costs. Still, the additional tariffs could complicate trade talks with China expected later this month.

Trump has demanded that China cut its $375 billion trade surplus with the United States, end policies aimed at acquiring US technologies and intellectual property and roll back high-tech industrial subsidies.

This week, the world’s two largest economies appeared to be making progress on trade. Treasury invited senior Chinese officials, including Vice Premier , for more talks.

The administration has already levied duties on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods following a study on China’s intellectual property practices released earlier this year.

On Sept. 7, Trump warned that he had further tariffs ready to go on $267 billion worth of Chinese imports beyond those that will be targeted this week. If all of the tariffs were invoked, total imports from China facing tariffs would exceed the $505 billion in goods that the United States imported from China last year.

This year, imports from China through July were up nearly 9 percent from the same period of 2017, according to US Census Bureau data.

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby SSridhar » 17 Sep 2018 07:00

I am psting this here for obvious reasons.

India needs to boost efforts as Bhutan polls spring a surprise - Indrani Bagchi, ToI
As Bhutan’s election threw up a surprise result by voting out the incumbent, India will have to work doubly hard to help its closest neighbour achieve its aspirations while securing its interests. The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of PM Tshering Tobgay found itself trailing at third position while a newcomer, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) surged ahead to first place, winning 92,722 votes out of 291,098 votes cast through postal ballots and EVM.

The opposition Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) was a close second with 90,020 votes. The DNT and DPT will square off on October 18 for the final round, as the Bhutanese constitution allows a runoff competition between two parties.
New Delhi has not spoken yet and is unlikely to do so until the final results are declared but sources said India would work closely with whoever wins the election.

Unlike in 2013, India was not a factor in the election campaigns this time, even after the Doklam issue shook both countries last year. Both the winning parties only had positive words on the India relationship. But Doklam also brought home to India that it cannot take relations with Bhutan for granted. India has had a rocky relationship with DPT which was in government between 2008 and 2013, largely because of the then PM Jigme Thinley’s interest in building ties with China.

India also goofed up by engineering a cooking gas shortage in Bhutan, hurting its own interests in the longer run. As Bhutan prepares for the final round, India is acutely aware that DPT may well score yet another upset. In the 2013 National Assembly primaries, then incumbent DPT had won 45% of the vote, with PDP at second place with 33%.

However, the PDP won the final round in an upset win. In a Facebook post after the results came in, Tshering Tobgay conceded defeat. “The people of Bhutan have spoken. And the People’s Democratic Party graciously accepts their decision. The will of the people must prevail in a democracy. I wish Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa all the best in the general election,” he said in the post.

While DNT won in 16 constituencies, DPT won in 22 this time. DPT won surprise victories in eastern Bhutan. PDP’s losses in that region may have cost it the election. DNT won the postal ballots this time, but DPT’s victory margins were higher. Therefore, the final results are still an open game next month.

DPT and PDP are slightly right of centre parties but DNT is an unknown quantity, having been formed six years ago by Lotay Tshering and two friends. The party is more left of centre in its outlook, with social issues, health and economy dominating its manifesto.

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby SSridhar » 17 Sep 2018 14:54

Nothing comes for free, says Army chief Bipin Rawat on aid from China - Sandip Dighe, ToI
Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said here on Sunday that countries which have taken financial aid from China will soon realise that "nothing comes for free".

He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the concluding ceremony of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) "Military Exercise 18" at the Aundh military station.

Speaking in the context of the growing proximity between Nepal and China, Rawat said, "Any country looking for its economic growth is bound to explore bilateral or multilateral ways of cooperation. China has got money and they are splurging it. But the countries taking such aid will soon realise that nothing comes for free. All these ties are temporary and are bound to change as per the change in the global socio-economic scenario.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said, “The best example of this is the US-Pakistan relations as it has not remained the same what it used to be 70 years ago. As such, we don’t need to worry about these temporary alliances. We need to make our country economically strong.”

Rawat said, “Countries like Nepal and Bhutan will have to be with India due to the geographical conditions which do not favour other countries. India is taking a conscious effort towards developing diplomatic relations with the neighbouring countries. India has been following the motto of ‘neighbourhood first and act east’ and the BIMSTEC is part of it. We are a big country. If we take initiative, other countries will follow suit.”

He said, “China is an emerging economic competitor of India. Both countries are competing with each other in order to establish dominance in the South East Asia region. The economic growth of India will help to reduce the menace of terrorism.”

. . .

Rawat said, “India has taken enough measures to thwart cyber threats. We have a proper system in place to counter cyber threats. The Army is gradually enhancing its capability to counter the future challenges related to the same.

Nepal’s army troops did not participate in the exercise but the country sent a team of observers. Minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre said, “There was a change in command in the Nepal army at the time when the exercise commenced but it still sent observers. We should not give room for any speculation.”

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby SSridhar » 17 Sep 2018 14:57

India not lowering guard on China border: Nirmala - PTI
India will not lower its guard along the Line of Actual Control with China, while maintaining border peace in sync with the “Wuhan” spirit, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.

Nearly a month after talks with her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, Ms. Sitharaman said both sides recognised that the broad decisions arrived at the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan should govern management of the border.

“Absolutely,” she told PTI when asked if India was still on guard and not lowering it despite the Wuhan spirit.

Doklam and after

At the Wuhan summit in April, Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi resolved to open a new chapter in ties, and directed their militaries to boost coordination along the nearly 3,500-km Sino-Indian border, months after the most serious military faceoff in decades between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in Doklam triggered fears of a war.

Asked whether the decision of Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi at the summit to issue strategic guidelines to their militaries to maintain peace along the border is working, she said, “I want to believe it is working.”

At the same time, she added that as Defence Minister of the country she was conscious of the fact that she would have to keep the border guards on alert. “Then I would also be, as Raksha Mantri, I would also be conscious that I have to keep [them] alert...Wuhan spirit, yes,” she said.

Asked if Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat’s comments earlier in the year that the time had come for India to shift focus to its northern border from the western frontier, she said, “I cannot afford to say, at the cost of one border, I will be more alert in another. A border is a border. I have to be conscious of both my borders.”

“I will also have be conscious of my sea. It is less talked about,” she said.

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby SSridhar » 18 Sep 2018 12:27

Nepal’s decision on BIMSTEC drill does not signal pro-China stance: official source - Atul Aneja, The Hindu
Nepal’s decision not to participate in the India-proposed military exercise of the Bay of Bengal group of countries, instead of a snub to New Delhi, signals that a new set of rules need to be evolved that will meld the collective interests of India, Nepal and China, official sources say.

A diplomatic source from Nepal, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu that there are certain decisions, such as conduct of bilateral military exercises, which are less complex, are easier to take. “We have no problem of holding a bilateral military exercise with India, China or a third country. Thus we are going ahead with a stand-alone military exercise with China,” the source said. India and Nepal also hold regular military exercises called Surya Kiran.

But the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) military drill could have been construed as having an anti-China slant. “Before we participate in such an exercise, it would be prudent if such proposals were channeled through the two-plus- one mechanism that China backs, after the Wuhan informal summit in April between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the source observed.

Nepalese officials acknowledge that the Chinese side proposed the “two-plus one” mechanism during their Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s visit to Beijing in June. “We welcome the two- plus-one format as we are confident that such a dialogue will be conducted in a spirit of equality and mutual respect,” Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Nepal’s Minister of Forests and Environment, earlier told The Hindu in Beijing.

Analysts say that under this mechanism China and India can achieve consensus on specific thorny issues and through consultations with the third country involved, arrive at a mutually acceptable trilateral decision.

“This is different from a trilateral mechanism. Under the Chinese proposal, China and India can jointly conduct a dialogue with a third regional country,” the source said.

The Nepalese official pointed out that there were other compulsions which forced Kathmandu’s hand on the BIMSTEC military-exercise decision. “It is a fact that there was no domestic consensus on the BIMSTEC military exercise decision, which restricted Prime Minister Oli’s room for manoeuvre,” he said.

Besides, the timing was also not conducive for a military exercise, as Nepal has been engaged in delicate negotiations with China, such as arriving at an important free trade deal. “In fact, we would like India also to join negotiations with China so that we can have a trilateral free trade area,” the source said.

Nepalese officials say that Kathmandu’s deep reliance on New Delhi is inevitable and irreversible. For instance, Kathmandu avidly needs New Delhi’s support for energy exports in the region, includingBang ladesh.

“Nepal will soon have surplus power, which we would like to export to regional countries such as Bangladesh. But we cannot bulk transit energy without India’s support,” says Roshan Khadka, media adviser to Nepal’s energy and water resources minister, Barsha Man Pun, in a conversation with The Hindu.

“Bangladesh will become a bulk energy market and under a 40 year plan, Dhaka will purchase 9000 megawatts of power from Nepal by 2040,” Mr. Khadka observed.

A Memrandum of Understanding (MoU) for this export has already been signed. The Kathmandu Post quoted Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as saying earlier this month that Dhaka’s attempt “to import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan is underway,” and a trilateral understanding among Bangladesh, India and Bhutan would be signed soon.

Separately, the daily reported that Bangladesh cabinet has already approved a MoU, signed last year during the Bangladeshi Prime Minister’s visit to India. Following the approval, Bangladesh will be allowed to import power from the Upper Karnali hydropower project, which is being developed in Nepal by an Indian company, through an Indian transit corridor.

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Neshant » 18 Sep 2018 14:40

Chini govt is going overboard with excessive state control of everything.

Habitual "crackdowns" on the most mundane things are going to drive their citizens crazy.

If I was a rich guy in that country, I'd be looking to move out right about now seeing what might be coming down the line.


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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Trikaal » 18 Sep 2018 17:03

Indian policy makers must be firm on Nepal. Don't allow a single unit of electricity produced by Chinese backed powerplants to enter our grids. We need to ensure Chinese investments in Nepal collapse and become an NPA. This is one place where we hold all the cards. I just hope our policy makers don't decide to fold the winning hand.

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Dumal » 18 Sep 2018 18:11

SSridhar wrote:Nepal’s decision on BIMSTEC drill does not signal pro-China stance: official source - Atul Aneja, The Hindu
[b]Nepal’s decision not to participate in the India-proposed military exercise of the Bay of Bengal group of countries, instead of a snub to New Delhi, signals that a new set of rules need to be evolved that will meld the collective interests of India, Nepal and China, official sources say.

Wow! Nepal is firmly under Chin control! This, discreetly offered to the Chindu, is rubbing massive amounts of salt on the festering India-Nepal relations. Two plus one model may be what China wants but not something we have even touched with a long pole! And looks like they have decided BIMSTEC is anti-China. The entire messaging here sounds like spoon-fed by China.

I hope there aren't any more BIMSTEC partners rushing into the Chinese bandwagon!

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby chetak » 18 Sep 2018 19:33

Dumal wrote:

Wow! Nepal is firmly under Chin control! This, discreetly offered to the Chindu, is rubbing massive amounts of salt on the festering India-Nepal relations. Two plus one model may be what China wants but not something we have even touched with a long pole! And looks like they have decided BIMSTEC is anti-China. The entire messaging here sounds like spoon-fed by China.

I hope there aren't any more BIMSTEC partners rushing into the Chinese bandwagon!

BIMSTEC has isolated the pakis and the cheenis, so the cheenis are using a willing proxy to do the dirty. The pakis need the SAARC for India visas and trade so they will try to force others to push India to agree to hold the SAARC summit in pakiland but I don't see India agreeing.

the lootyens traitors will support both aman ki ashas because then both sides of their bread will be buttered.

Very soon the hans will force their way in as "observers" in the BIMSTEC so that they then can piss inside the tent.

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Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Peregrine » 18 Sep 2018 22:05

Maldives’ Chinese debt and political risk could lead to trouble in paradise – Reuters

NEW DELHI: A victory for President Abdullah Yameen in a Sunday election in the Maldives could ramp up pressure on its finances, as the government stays the course on a Chinese-backed infrastructure boom that is in danger of swamping the economy.

The Maldives under Yameen has grown closer to China - to the alarm of traditional ally India - with China funding roads, bridges and an extension to the international airport as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of infrastructure projects in almost 70 countries from Mongolia to Montenegro.

But a Chinese takeover of a port in neighbouring Sri Lanka and problems in several other countries have led to fears the initiative is a debt trap to hook countries into China's sphere. China dismisses that.

Yameen is seeking a second five-year term in the Indian Ocean archipelago known for its sun-kissed tourist beaches and diving.

His main rivals have been jailed on charges ranging from terrorism to attempting to topple the government, leading to doubts abroad about the legitimacy of the vote.

The Maldives, a small economy heavily reliant on tourism, is one of the most at-risk countries of any involved with the BRI to the distress of debt, said the Center for Global Development, a Washington DC-based think-tank tracking the initiative.

The center, using publicly available information, estimates China’s loans to the Maldives at $1.3 billion – more than a quarter of its annual gross domestic product.

An exiled former prime minister, Mohamed Nasheed, who wants to renegotiate the deals with China, told Reuters in June the loans could be more than $2.5 billion, without citing his source.

Scott Morris of the Center for Global Development said China's loans gave it a dominant role.

"That raises concerns to have such a dominant role being played by another government,” Morris told Reuters.

“You have to think about what happens in a case of distress – who calls the shots in that situation. China is not bound by the kinds of standards that other major creditors are.”

The two ratings agencies covering the country, Fitch and Moody’s, both rate the Maldives as sub-investment grade, and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund see a high likelihood of distress if current spending continues.

Moody’s cut its outlook to “negative” in July, citing the boom in infrastructure spending as a cause for concern.

"They have a massive infrastructure programme and, as part of that, they have been raising debt,” Anushka Shah from the rating agency told Reuters.

“There has been a big increase in debt since the infrastructure projects started."

Fitch rates its outlook as "stable", but also cautioned over rising debt in its last update on the country in May.

Yameen has brushed off worries.

"The international community believes the Maldives can settle the debts,” he told a question and answer session organised by the Maldives National University on Sunday. “We are bringing foreign investment that is the biggest the country has seen.”

He declined to comment further when contacted by Reuters.

Political risk

The Maldives’ economy has grown by an average of 6 percent a year for the last five years, buoyed by tourism and construction, according to Fitch.

But both ratings agencies urged investors to be cautious in February after the Supreme Court freed political prisoners, against the wishes of Yameen, sparking a political crisis and leading several countries including China and the United States, to warm their citizens against travel there.

"We take into account fairly elevated political risk in our rating,” said Shah.

"Political tensions affect policy and could also have some spill-over into the tourism sector.”

The political tension had little impact on visitor numbers, the government said, reporting that arrivals rose more than 10 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2018 - though visits from China, its biggest market, fell by more than 8 percent.

The infrastructure boom is effectively a "bet" on being able to grow these numbers, said Morris.

"But in the meantime, they have to be able to service that debt as it comes due," he said.

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Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Peregrine » 18 Sep 2018 22:52

Alibaba's Jack Ma says US-China trade friction could last 20 years – Reuters

SHANGHAI: Alibaba chairman Jack Ma said on Tuesday that trade frictions between the United States and China could last for two decades and would be ‘a mess’ for all parties involved, citing weak trade rules.

Ma was speaking at an Alibaba investor conference hours after Washington said it would impose duties on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, drawing a warning from Beijing that it would retaliate.

Jack Ma to unveil succession strategy

Ma said trade tensions would likely impact Chinese and foreign companies immediately and negatively. He predicted that Chinese businesses would move production to other countries in the medium-term to get around the tariffs.

“You may win the battle, but you lose the war,” Ma said at the shareholder event in Hangzhou.

“Middle term, a lot of Chinese business will move to other countries,” he added.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma to step down in 2019, pledges smooth transition

Ma said new trade rules were needed over the longterm.

“Even if Donald Trump retired, the new president will come, it will still continue…We need new trade rules, we need to upgrade the WTO,” he said, referring to the World Trade Organization.

Ma made the comments in what he said was his last speech to shareholders as chairman of the Chinese internet giant.

He announced last week that he will step down within a year and hand the company reins to chief executive Daniel Zhang.

Alibaba, agree joint e-commerce venture

Ma met with US President Donald Trump last year in a high-profile meeting where he promised to create 1 million US jobs linked to small merchants selling items on Alibaba platforms.

Trade relations have since deteriorated between China and the US in a tit-for-tat escalation in tariffs

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby pankajs » 19 Sep 2018 00:11

pankajs wrote:As one esteemed member put it on this very forum, the Chinese thought they had de-coded/deconstructed Modi mentally and knew what makes him tick. As this member theorized, they thought massaging his ego by giving his a one on one with Xi they will be able to sew him up for good.

End result, India not only signed the LEMOA but also went on to sign up for COMCASA. Now the Chinese are confused. [Gobar whines | Dated 11-Sep-2018]
India playing wily game with US, Russia and China
Before the dialogue, many analysts thought the US demand to halt India's oil imports from Iran and India's purchase of Russian S-400 air defense system, especially the latter, would hinder the progress of the US-India strategic defense partnership. Unexpectedly, Washington made concessions on these issues. An important step forward, the US and India signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), and agreed to hold joint exercises involving the air force, navy and the army off the eastern Indian coast in 2019. The dialogue yielded a satisfactory result for India.


Although the dialogue was postponed twice due to personnel reshuffle in the US Department of State and some other issues in bilateral relations, that it was finally held demonstrates the urgent needs of both sides in deepening strategic defense cooperation. The Logistics Support Agreement, COMCASA, and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation are the three basic agreements that the US signs to form military alliances with other countries. Now only the third has yet to be signed between the US and India.


The past few months have seen a rapprochement in Sino-Indian relations and sound interactions between the two. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe concluded his India visit just several days before the US-India two plus two dialogue. But from the Indian side, this is just a tactical adjustment rather than a strategic one. {Who would have thunk ... after the Chinese had taken full measure of Mudi .. hainji?}

After the China-India Doklam standoff, India has been trapped in an awkward situation - relations with China and other neighboring countries deteriorated; moving closer to the US didn't exempt it from tariffs imposed by the Trump administration but led to an alienated India-Russia relationship. The diplomatic quagmire undoubtedly would negatively affect Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election next year. In such context, Modi recalibrated his diplomatic policy, holding an informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi respectively, and keeping a distance with the US at the Shangri-La dialogue. This won India diplomatic maneuvering room and prompted the US to make concessions over a series of issues in the US-India bilateral relations. India is playing games to gain benefits from all sides - China, Russia and the US. {Again, who would have thunk .. AFTER the Chinese had taken full measure of Mudi .. hainji?}

The author is a senior fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, a visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China and a distinguished fellow of the China (Kunming) South Asia & Southeast Asia Institute.

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Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby Peregrine » 19 Sep 2018 15:56

US-China trade war escalates, New Delhi must spot new opportunities in reshaped playing field

In its recklessness to flaunt its muscle, China disregards that higher tariffs on US items will hurt some of its manufacturing industries, which depend on imports from the US. On the whole, China does not have much in its trade war kitty to use against the US. It can try needling the US by increasing its activities in the South China Sea. But given President Donald Trump’s no-nonsense approach to foreign policy, it will have very little impact on the US decision to reset trade deals.

On the contrary, President Trump has increasingly felt emboldened to arm twist China for practices which hurt American businesses. This assertiveness has come from robustness of the American economy and slowdown in the Chinese. The choice for China here is to either cooperate and renegotiate terms with the US or face a slump, which will have a spiralling effect on the world economy and financial markets.

For the rest of the world, including India, this represents a major danger. But since India has little control over how global trade is being reshaped, it will have to be nimble and spot fresh opportunities in the reshaped playing field. It can, for example, capture markets where Chinese exports are hurt by elevated tariffs. If New Delhi can boost manufacturing exports, that would give its badly floundering ‘Make in India’ programme the boost it desperately needs.

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Re: Neutering & Defanging Chinese Threat (15-11-2017)

Postby chetak » 19 Sep 2018 17:19



Imran will turn on the charm to convince Modi, or at least Sushma, to attend a SAARC summit in Pakistan. Neither should and neither will.

17th September 2018

By Minhaz Merchant

Early mornings in the three-bungalow complex at Lok Kalyan Marg, which serves as PM Narendra Modi’s residence and personal office, are tranquil. There, Modi reflects on the day’s schedule, does yoga and devours the morning papers along with a light breakfast.

On his mind will be the packed international calendar: the UN General Assembly speech will again be given by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Modi has other priorities than the annual bickering at the UNGA between India and Pakistan that no one outside the subcontinent pays attention to. The PM’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in October is a more pressing engagement given the diplomatic tightrope India has to walk between Washington and Moscow.

But the real problems lie closer at home. Following a successful India-US 2+2 dialogue earlier this month, India has achieved three geopolitical objectives. First, naming Pakistani terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in the joint statement at the end of the dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of the two nations. The wording is significant: The US has for the first time used the term terror groups operating from areas “under Pakistan’s control” rather than “Pakistani territory”. The shift in nuance is not an accident. The US accepts that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is not sovereign Pakistan territory.

As the India-US joint statement pointed out: “The Ministers denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region, and … called on Pakistan to ensure that the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. … They called on Pakistan to bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri and other cross-border terror attacks. The Ministers welcomed the launch of a bilateral dialogue on designation of terrorists in 2017, which is strengthening cooperation and action against terrorist groups, including Al-Qaida, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, D-Company and their affiliates.”

This is also the first time an official US statement has been so explicit about Pakistan’s complicity in sponsoring proxy terror against India. Despite the US tilt towards India, the region’s problems will have to be solved by regional initiatives. A key shift in India’s regional strategy is allowing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to remain comatose. India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka boycotted the last SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan. The summit was aborted. Islamabad is desperately keen to host the abandoned summit in November 2018.

Pakistan’s new PM Imran Khan will turn on the charm to convince Modi, or at least Sushma, to attend. Neither should and neither will. Without India, a SAARC summit is a non-starter. Pakistan knows this. A second consecutive snub will play badly with Pakistan’s establishment that craves equivalence with and respect from India. It doesn’t qualify for the former and does not merit the latter.

Meanwhile, India has other irons in the fire. It is developing BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) as a substitute for the mothballed SAARC. The BIMSTEC comprises India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand. The first five are also part of the eight-member SAARC. The three SAARC absentees in BIMSTEC are Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Maldives. By giving Afghanistan special observer status, BIMSTEC can entirely replicate SAARC minus Pakistan and the Maldives.

There are precedents for giving non-contiguous countries observer status. For example, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a grouping headed by China and Russia and comprising a smattering of Central Asian countries, gave India and Pakistan observer status before admitting both recently as full members.

The presence of Afghanistan as a special invitee to BIMSTEC will send a terse message to Pakistan whose proxy terror war has turned ordinary Afghans into bitter critics of Pakistan. The appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as special US envoy to Kabul is significant. Khalilzad is an anti-Pakistan hawk. According to Khaled Ahmed, a columnist with the Pakistan edition of Newsweek: “If you are a non-Pashtun Pakistani in Afghanistan on a business trip, pretend to be from India or you will get roughed up, so offended are the Pashtun Afghans carrying the baggage of rage over the creation of Pakistan that divided the Pashtun nation. With Khalilzad helping President Ghani in Kabul, Pakistan is going to find it difficult to engage with Afghanistan on the lines it is familiar with.”

BIMSTEC is over 20 years old but has only now assumed geopolitical importance. Many of its members are targets of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. Some like Sri Lanka and Myanmar have noted Malaysia’s rebuff to China by cancelling OBOR infrastructure projects worth $22 billion. By using BIMSTEC as its primary regional forum, India can achieve two complementary objectives. One, isolate Pakistan regionally; two, build support against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (a part of OBOR) that violates sovereign Indian territory in PoK.

The BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu on August 30-31 has partially restored India’s relationship with Nepal’s China-leaning premier K P Oli. China’s recent decision to allow Nepal use of four Chinese ports has ended India’s monopoly though the 3,300-km distance from Nepal to the nearest Chinese port makes the arrangement impractical. Nepal’s hostility following India’s thoughtless blockade in 2015-16 has however mellowed.

India’s strategic defence partnership with the US gives it an edge regionally. BIMSTEC will allow India to further strengthen its Act East policy. The Indo-Pacific extends from the Middle East to the west coast of the US. India’s strategic impulse, as it prepares for a wider global role, is to have tactical options to both its east and west.

Minhaz Merchant

The author is an editor and publisher

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