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Beijing Ready To Fully Integrate Hong Kong With China – Washington Post

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China has made it clear that they are ready to bring Hong Kong under its full control and improve the system that has permitted the region to enjoy a level of autonomy for the last 23 years.

From Nepal, Pakistan & China; India Suddenly Feels The Heat From All Three Neighbours

We will ensure the long-term stability of ‘one country, two systems, Wang Yang, a top party official of the Chinese Community party said at the opening of the annual meeting of the country’s top political advisory body.

After gradually corroding Hong Kong’s freedom of assembly and expression and an independent legal system, the Chinese communist party now looks to amend the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

“We will ensure the long-term stability of ‘one country, two systems,’” Wang said. The meeting is the first part of the “Two Sessions,” which will continue till Friday with the opening of the National People’s Congress.

“We will continue to promote the development of the implementation of the systems and mechanisms of the constitution and Basic Law,” Wang said in his “Work Report” to the meeting.

Wang did not clarify on what “improve” meant and also referred to the Chinese territory of Macao whose leaders had given in to Beijing’s’ demands. Experts said it was clear that China wanted to snatch Hong Kong’s freedom and its democratic, autonomous status.

Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has aggressively limited the freedom of Hong Kong which it enjoyed under the UK.  The situation has deteriorated in the last year since violent protests erupted against Chinese interventions.

China has placed obstinate officials in Hong Kong who are keen to promote ‘patriotic education’ to inject more loyalty towards China and support a bill that would make it a felony to disrespect Chinese national anthem.

A Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress has recommended that China must execute a package of national security laws by issuing a formal reinterpretation of Hong Kong laws, rather than attempting to pass it through the territory’s legislature.

Wang said that China fully-backed the Hong Kong officials’ attempts to “avoid violence in Hong Kong and to restore order.”

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington was “closely watching what’s going on” in Hong Kong, adding that pro-democracy legislators had been “manhandled” while trying to stop a procedural irregularity by pro-Beijing legislators.”

Wang lambasted the US for its demand to respect Hong Kong’s status and the appeals for democratic change. “As to the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress and their actions, like the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act… we have made solemn statements to refute such lies,” he said.

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Americas

Trump’s Mediation Offer ‘Naive’; US Actually Wants India To Challenge Chinese Dominance: Russian Experts

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As Trump’s offer to mediate the India-China border conflict has publically failed, experts argue that “Washington’s policy-makers, who seek to pit the Indians against the Chinese, maybe as naïve as Trump”.

The fierce military standoff between China and India that has been in the headlines for over a month now started in early May when clashes erupted between the troops of both the nuclear nations, that left scores of soldiers injured from both the sides driving a steady build-up of troops in the border region.

The US President, Donald Trump had recently offered to “mediate and arbitrate” the conflict, however, the offered was duly refused by both the involved countries.

Artyom Lukin, an associate professor of international relations at Far Eastern Federal University in Russia opines that Trump’s mediation offer “was perhaps inspired by his recent success in bringing about an OPEC+ deal that ended a brutal oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.”

In April this year, with Trump’s apparent mediation, the oil giants Saudi Arabia led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russia led by President Vladimir Putin with 21 other countries as a part of the OPEC+ agreement collectively agreed to reduce oil output by 9.7 million barrels per day between May and June, in an attempt to combat the drop in international demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pentagon on Trump’s offer

It is reported that Pentagon and experts in Washington do not share the same perspective as Trump’s on the issue of mediation. Lukin believes that “they understand that a rising and ambitious India is the only realistic counter-balance against China.

There are just no other candidates for this role. Russia is in cahoots with China. Japan is a declining and militarily weak power.”

It is widely understood that to maintain control over the whole Eurasian region, “the US needs to keep this super-continent divided against itself, which means never allowing a true rapprochement between Asia’s two biggest powers, India and China.”

Trump’s failure to mediate the Sino-Indian conflict

Lukin puts forward two primary reasons for Trump’s failure to intervene in the Sino-Indian conflict. “Firstly, it is difficult to be an effective mediator or arbiter in international politics if you don’t have leverage over the parties in question.”

He believes that in the case of India and China, “it is not clear what rewards or penalties the US has in reserve for China and India. Most likely there are none.”

Secondly, the scholar in international relations claims that “the best mediator is one that is perceived as unbiased and impartial. On this count, the White House has an obvious handicap, since the US views India as a crucial associate and friend, while China is considered a competitor and rival.”

The Blame on China

US’s rivalry with China has been taken into account by many international critics. Apart from the trade war and technology rivalry, Washington blamed Beijing for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and has also pointed at China for playing aggressively in the disputed Himalayan region.

It is reported that Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, called China’s behaviour “aggression, the constant attempt to shift the norms, to shift what is the status quo, that has to be resisted whether it’s in the South China Sea… or whether it’s in India’s own backyard, both on land as well as in the Indian Ocean.”

On the flip side, Indian defence experts like Lt Gen H S Panag believes that China’s is ultimately protecting its own “status quo,” that is continuously been threatened by India’s strategic growth in the contested territories along the border.

Since New Delhi seeks to maximize its benefits from the partnerships that it shares with the US, it strategically refrains from being involved in American-led efforts to contain China. “In this sense, Washington’s policy-makers, who seek to pit the Indians against the Chinese, maybe as naive as Trump with his peace-making initiatives” concludes Lukin.

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Asia Pacific

Philippines wants continued, strong military partnership with the US: DFA

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Manila, June 3 — Manila seeks to continue its strong military partnership with the United States as it suspends the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday.

“We look forward to continuing our strong military partnership with US even as we continue to reach out to our regional allies in building common defense towards enduring stability and peace, and continuing economic progress and prosperity in our part of the world,” he said in a speech.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in a diplomatic note dated June 1, informed the US embassy about the suspension of abrogation for half a year. Following notification in February 2020, the accord was originally set for the termination in August.

Defending President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision, Locsin said the suspension was in line with the developments in the region and the Philippines’ national interest.

“In the vast and swiftly changing circumstances of the world, in a time of pandemic and heightened superpower tensions, a world leader must be quick in mind and fast on his feet for the safety of our nation and the peace of the world,” he said.

He also assured that the action “alarms no country in Asia and the rest of the world” as it even “greatly assures everyone”.

Covid-19, SCS among factors

In a separate interview Wednesday, Philippine Ambassador in Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said the decision was influenced by several factors, including the coronavirus pandemic and recent developments in the South China Sea.

“Obviously, the situation as far as the pandemic is concerned is a major concern as far as the Visiting Forces Agreement. As a matter of fact, many of the Balikatan exercises had to be moved or cannot be obviously be implemented because of the pandemic so that’s one,” he said in an ANC interview.

“The political reason, obviously, is there’s quite a number of things that are happening right now in the South China Sea, very clearly we see that and so because of security issues and many things that are happening in the world, both I think our governments have seen that it would be prudent for us to just simply suspend first any implementation of the termination,” he added.

Although surrounded with “many issues”, the VFA in itself is a vehicle to implement exercises between Washington and Manila under the context of the Mutual Defense Treaty.

In the long run, Romualdez said the Philippines has to find some form of mechanism to continue with the defense pact.

“The President has always said that he has no intention of abrogating our Mutual Defense Treaty which was signed in 1951, that in itself is already an indication that we have to have some mechanism on how we can continue with that defense treaty,” he said.

“The VFA was obviously a vehicle for which we will be able to implement many of these exercises but it has been under review for many years even before President Duterte, there are many issues, of course, that need to be resolved… In the long run we need to have some form of agreement to be able to implement our defense treaty with the US,” he said.

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Asia Pacific

India-China Border Clash: Russia ‘Worried’ About Standoff Between Two Great Allies

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After the US, Russia has expressed anxiety over the border clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and urged India and China to address the issue through established bilateral dialogue mechanisms.

India-China Conflict: Chinese Army Conducts ‘Surprise Attack’ Drills To Capture Enemy Territory

“Of course we are worried with the current situation at LAC, reported the Economic Times.

However, as we know, there are specified mechanisms developed by both the nations including hotlines, special representatives dialogue, and informal summits. We are positive that India and China would be able to to find a solution. We would encourage every attempt in this regard,” Russian Deputy Ambassador to India Roman Babushkin told ET.

This is the first statement by Russia since the border clash first broke out between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh region along the LAC.

Earlier, both India and China also pledged to use the bilateral mechanism to solve the raging border conflict. Referring to SCO-RIC mechanism Babushkin said – We think it is vital to improve Russia-India-China (RIC) dialogue as well as SCO-based coordination as essential for regional security and boosting mutual trust.” Russia presently holds the SCO chairmanship.

Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, US president Doland Trump had reiterated his offer to mediate between India and China over the border dispute between the two nuclear-armed nations.

Trump has said that he talked with Indian PM about the “big conflict” and asserted that the PM Modi s not in a “good mood” over the latest flare-ups.

Speaking with the reporters in the White House on Thursday, President Trump said a “big conflict” was going on between India and China. “I like your prime minister a lot. He is a great gentleman,” the president said.

“Have a big conflict …India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people (each). Two countries with very powerful armies. India is not happy and probably China is not happy,” he said when asked if he was worried about the border situation between India and China.

Trump had earlier offered to mediate between India and China to resolve the border conflict and had tweeted – “ready, willing and able to mediate” between the two countries. Responding to a question on his tweet, Trump repeated his proposal, saying if called for help, “I would do that (mediate). If they thought it would help” about “mediate or arbitrate, I would do that,” he said.

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