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Beijing Expanding Presence In Maldives Could Trigger Another Clash Between India, China?

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China and India, who have had a series of clashes along the line of actual control remain locked in a covert war despite the coronavirus pandemic. China’s efforts to increase its influence and presence in the Maldives has outraged the Indian government, reports the Sputnik.

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In another move that could severely impact ties between India and China, the latest satellite images of face-lifted Feydhoo Finolhu Island in the Indian Ocean have posed serious concerns for India.

A satellite image from January 2018 displays the actual size of the island which is approximately 38,000 sq. metres. The other image, from February 2020, displays land reclaimed by China following the destruction of the reef, which made the island 100,000 sq. metres. The image also shows ongoing construction of the reclaimed area.

The island, which is almost 600 km from India and close to Malé airport, was reportedly leased to a Chinese firm for 50 years in December 2016 by the Maldives.

In the strategically crucial South China Sea, China has constructed seven artificial islands after reef destruction in the Spratly Islands. It took enormous amounts of sand and coral reefs to add 1,300 ha to the islands. China’s ministry of defence said in 2018 that Beijing has a “natural right as a sovereign nation” to deploy military equipment in the Spratly Islands.

China maintains that it has sovereign rights over the relevant waters in the South China Sea where construction took place. As part of its One Belt One Road (BRI) initiative to increase its influence in the region, Beijing has been striving to construct infrastructure in the South-East Asian nations as well.

Both India and China have been aggressively engaged in strengthening their economic and military presence across the globe. While defence experts in India have accused China of creating “string of pearls” around India, China, on the contrary, has been working on to challenge reverse Indian “string of pearls”, which aims to surround China on all the sides.

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China Warns India Of Economical Repercussions If It Supports The US In Cold War Against China

China’s aim of upholding friendly ties with India hasn’t changed, so Beijing will still provide assistance to India by boosting bilateral partnership to help its economic recovery and expanding bilateral trade ties.

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As US-China tensions intensify, Chinese state media – Global Times writes that many experts are predicting that both nations are set to enter a Cold War and advises India to stay away from US-China rivalry.

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GT writes – with sentiment building in India, many experts have urged New Delhi to join the new Cold War and utilise the situation. Such senseless opinions are nothing but ridiculous and should not influence the Indian government’s position.

GT claims that India has little to gain from interfering in US-China dispute and Modi government needs to face the new geopolitical development objectively and reasonably. India needs to be cautious not to include the US factor in its approach with China.

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The same holds true in China-India border conflict and the offer of US arbitration is worthless as both China and India have the ability to resolve their problems bilaterally.

In a possible US-China Cold War, India must not favour the US or becomes a US pawn against China as it would deteriorate economic ties between both the nations and the Indian economy may not be able to take ‘financial hit’ at such time, GT cautions.

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China’s aim of upholding friendly ties with India hasn’t changed, so Beijing will still provide assistance to India by boosting bilateral partnership to help its economic recovery and expanding bilateral trade ties.

GT warns that China doesn’t want to see a situation where politics leads to financial consequences, so Modi government is encouraged to view the India-China ties with the practical mindset instead of being lured by nationalist sentiment.

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South Asia

Indian Diplomacy Fails As Nepal Set To Clear New Map To Include Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, Kalapani As Nepali Terrority

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Nepal’s major opposition parties have tilted towards PM Oli’s move to constitutionally update Nepal’s map to include the disputed territories of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani.

Nepal’s Law Minister, Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe has tabled the country’s new political map’s constitutional amendment in Nepal’s House of Representatives or Lower house of Nepali Parliament today on 31st May.

Post the passing of the controversial constitutional amendment by the Nepalese Parliament and then by the President, it will equip the country with a constitutional backing to the new map that depicts the alleged Indian territories of – Lipulekh, Kalapani, Limpiyadhura as Nepali territories.

The Amendment Likely To Be passed

Toeing the line further for worsening Indo-Nepal relations, Nepal chief opposition party, the Nepali Congress (NC) along with other minor parties like the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Samajbadi Janata Party Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal have decided to fully back PM Oli’s move to grant constitutional status to the updated map of Nepal.

After securing the crucial support of Nepali Congress, the Nepal Communist Party-led government will secure more than two-thirds majority in the parliament for getting the new map guaranteed constitutionally through the amendment.

It is reported that, since the issue has gathered an enormous nationalistic sentiment along with vast public support, therefore, overstepping the popular sensibility might become equalled to low electoral prosperity.

The TOI reports that an Indian official has observed that “these are issues that bind parties together irrespective of their ideological moorings. Senior Nepali politicians have been threatened by their cadres on this issue.”

Nepal’s new map

The new political map that Kathmandu had formulated earlier this month depicts Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani as a part of its territory, while the regions are also claimed by New Delhi as a part of the Uttarakhand state of India.

The spat with Nepal picked pace when India inaugurated an 80 kilometres long road which originates from Ghatiabgarh and terminates at Lipulekh Pass, a disputed region claimed both by India and Nepal.

Post the inauguration, hundreds of youths in different cities of Nepal began demonstrating against the alleged encroachment by India. The Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs also brought out a sharp objection, which mentioned that “In light of this development (the road), the Government of Nepal called upon the Government of India to refrain from carrying out any activity inside the territory of Nepal.”

A few weeks later after, Nepal came up with the new map officially including the disputed territories. Nepal has accused India of taking unilateral actions like building roads in the disputed Kalapani territory.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs had stated last week that, “India is open to engaging with all its neighbours on the basis of mutual sensitivity and mutual respect, in an environment of trust and confidence. This is a continuous process and requires constructive and positive efforts.”

 The Chinese connection

As EurAsian Times had previously reported, experts on the issue had called a leaf out of the Chinese books regarding the Indo-Nepal conflict.

It was reported that major defence experts including India’s Army General hinted at the involvement of China in Nepal’s politics as the road holds a strategic value for being the first road that provides connectivity to the Indian troops deployed on the Line of Actual Control.

However, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali had told Indian media that “Nepal would never allow any sort of interference in its internal matters. We have good relations with China that’s true, but that does not mean Nepal picks a side.

Nepal always pursued neutral foreign policy. We have good relations with two foreign neighbours. So, to attribute anything between Nepal and India to a China factor is completely wrong.”

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Indo-Pak News

Pakistan Invites ‘UN Military Observer Group’ To LOC To Verify Indian Aggression

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Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has prompted the United Nations in preventing any military escalation between India and Pakistan and reemphasised Pakistan’s offer to the UN Military Observer Group to visit the Line of Control.

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As part of Pakistan’s steadfast attempts, Qureshi has written another comprehensive communication to the UN Security Council President and the UN Secretary-General, notifying them of the latest situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

As per reports, Qureshi comprehensively briefed the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the deteriorating situation in Jammu and Kashmir. In his letter, he wrote about towards newly-notified “Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Order 2020” and “Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate Rules 2020” which Islamabad believes will change the demography of the volatile region.

Qureshi also underlined Modi governments exploitation of the ongoing pandemic to reinforce its military crackdown in the region and rejected Indian attempts to weaken Kashmiris’ indigenous fight against so-called Indian occupation and their brutalization by terming it as “terrorism.”

Qureshi also highlighted sustained Indian ceasefire violations at the Line of Control and the Working Boundary and intentional targeting of innocent civilians. Rejecting the groundless Indian allegations of terror “launch pads”, Qureshi reemphasised Pakistan’s offer to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to visit the sites to confirm the truthfulness of Indian claims.

He emphasised that the real Indian reason behind blaming Pakistan is to create a pretext for a “false flag” operation, about which Islamabad has been cautioning the global community.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister also demanded that India be urged to abstain from committing crimes against Kashmiri civilians which include extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detentions and confinements, use of pellet guns and live ammunition, burning and looting of the houses of people to inflict “collective punishment.”

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