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Doklam-2: First Big India-China ‘Face-Off’ In Aksai China After 1962 War

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The Indian Army deployed 250 soldiers in the Galwan Valley, Aksai China after reports emerged stating that Chinese troop count in the region had increased.

Galway valley has become the latest flashpoint between India and China after soldiers from the Indian and Chinese army had clashed at Pangong Lake and Naku La Pass earlier this month.

New Delhi has bolstered its defensive capabilities in the region after China claimed the region as its territory and deployed hundreds of People’s Liberation Army troops and erected more than 80 tents.

According to Economic Times, the standoff is now in its second week with both countries having brought in reinforcements and established defensive positions. This is the longest standoff between the two nations since the standoff in Doklam in 2017.

The situation in Galwan Valley escalated after Chinese media on Monday accused India of building “illegal” defence facilities in the Galwan Valley region of the disputed Aksai Chin area, which is under Chinese control but claimed by India.

A top military source spoke to Global Times and said that actions by New Delhi have seriously violated China and India’s agreements on border issues, violated Chinese territorial sovereignty and harmed military relations between the two countries.

“In a resolute response to India’s recent, illegal construction of defence facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region, Chinese border defence troops have made the necessary moves and enhanced control measures,” the report added.

Beijing says the area is located in the Hotan Prefecture of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) but according to New Delhi, the area comes under the Union Territory of Ladakh. This is not the first time both countries have clashed over the Galwan Valley.

In November 2019, Beijing had expressed its displeasure as Indian depicted the Aksai Chin area as part of Ladakh in newly printed maps. Sino-Indian tensions are on the rise and not only in the Himalayas but also the Indian Ocean as Beijing has stared to flex muscles, according to Indian experts.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LaC, with China claiming the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai China in Ladakh. Indian on the other hand claim these areas to be an integral part of the country.

For many, Garwan Valley brings back memories of the 1962 Sino-Indian war, the last time the two nuclear-armed states were engaged in an all-out war.

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China Jostling For Power & Influence In Myanmar – Another Country That Neighbors India

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While China aggressively promotes and defends its CPEC project (under BRI) in Pakistan administered Kashmir, Beijing at the same time is using COVID diplomacy to push its BRI initiative in neighbouring Myanmar via CMEC (China-Myanmar Economic Corridor).

In the present times, when the world struggles with the China-origin virus, Beijing still manages to find its way to strengthen its billion-dollar ambition – The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Launched in 2013, the BRI is also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt or the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road and is an attempt to build connectivity and promote international co-operation across six main economic corridors that consist of China, Mongolia and Russia; Eurasian countries; Central and West Asia; Pakistan, Myanmar and some other nations of the Indian-subcontinent and Indochina.

China Ignores India’s Objections

Earlier this month, Pakistan awarded a contract to a Chinese state-run firm to construct Diamer-Bhasha dam in the contentious region of Pakistan administered Kashmir. As EurAsian Times reported, the project is located in Gilgit-Baltistan and is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

India had been objecting to the BRI for long since the CPEC passes through Pakistan controlled Kashmir, a region claimed by India as part of Jammu and Kashmir.

When New Delhi shared its concerns with Beijing, the Chinese government brazenly dismissed it by saying “China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is consistent. China and Pakistan conduct economic cooperation to promote economic development and improve the well-being of the local people.”

COVID Diplomacy in Myanmar for BRI

In January this year, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visited Myanmar, the first time in about two decades. The prospects that Xi brought along included New Yangon City, Kyaukphyu Deep-Sea Port and Industrial Zone and the China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone that will strategically allow China direct access to the Indian Ocean.

Branded as three pillars of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), Xi had said that both sides will deepen “result-oriented Belt and Road cooperation” and move from “the conceptual stage to concrete planning and implementation” of building the CMEC.

Myanmar joined as a founding member of BRI in 2015 and it is reported that many MoUs had been signed with China and that the planning for BRI in Myanmar was underway until the coronavirus pandemic halted everything.

Since China publicly declared that it had controlled coronavirus, Beijing then began with COVID Diplomacy. “Chinese government started sending medical supplies and personnel across the world — including to Myanmar — to build goodwill and show global leadership in fighting the pandemic,” writes Shah Suraj Bharat, a Yangon-based transport infrastructure analyst.

Many of the Chinese provincial governments have taken the front seats on COVID diplomacy in continental Southern Asia. A closer look reveals that the Yunnan provincial government sent medical aid supplies and medical teams to Myanmar and Laos. While Pakistan received medical teams and emergency medical supplies from Uygur Autonomous Region.

“Myanmar has shown a degree of autonomy in its economic relations with China. Indeed, soft power is defined as the ability of a state to get what it wants through attraction rather than coercion, which some see China as trying to do via its COVID diplomacy” Shah writes.

Chinese Influence in Myanmar’s Politics

Since the elections in Myanmar are scheduled for November this year, some reports suggest the State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi is a trusted ally of Beijing.

Post the Northern Rakhine State clashes, Aung San Suu Kyi, once viewed as a peace icon, dramatically turned into a global outcast of human rights due to her refusal to condemn the genocide of the Rohingya minority in the region.

This led to limited aids and grants from the Western nations, however, it is reported that China has been opening its arms to Myanmar for assistance. Some reports suggest that apart from being a part of Myanmar’s official politics, Beijing has also been supplying arms to insurgents in the country.

Bertil Lintner writes that “China’s double-game in Myanmar, where it serves as both an armed conflict mediator and supplier of arms to insurgents, is a long-worn carrot and a stick approach to get what it wants, namely the CMEC and access to Myanmar’s rich natural resources including copper, gold, jade, amber and rare earth metals.”

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Asia Pacific

BUSTED: Xi Jinping Asks Army To Be ‘Battle Ready’ Againt India As China Evacuating Its Citizens

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India-China border tensions are increasing but Beijing has accused the Indian media of adding fuel to the fire by reporting fabricated news. China is planning to evacuate its citizens from India and the media have directly linked it to India-China border conflict, says Beijing. 

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The evacuation program should be seen as a regular service provided by the embassy to its citizens. Yet, some Indian news outlets have deliberately connected the evacuation to the border tension between China and India, fueling a new round of reckless speculation that China may be preparing for war, a report in Global Times says.

It is logical that Beijing would assist its citizens to return to their home country, given the challenges in the aviation sector. India stopped all incoming international flights in late March, and its ongoing coronavirus lockdown has stranded students, visitors and businessmen, explains the GT.

GT says the New Delhi should not misunderstand the evacuation move by China this time. After all, it was not long ago that the Indian government repatriated its citizens from various nations.

Still, any attempt to increase the confusion between the two nations is extremely incorrect at present. GT says that the Indian economy is now suffering from crippling lockdown while poor people are facing the threat of famine. China has no intention of heightening the border disputes with India, so its support to its citizens during Covid-19 should not be over-interpreted.

The Battle Of Drones: China Deploys Helicopter Drones Against Indian UAVs In Ladakh

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 26 called on the Chinese Army – PLA “to think about worst-case scenarios” and “scale up battle preparedness”. Xi commented during his annual meeting with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) representatives attending the National People’s Congress.

However, Xi’ had also referred to “battle preparedness” during his meeting with the PLA in 2019. This year, his speech centred on the post-pandemic situation, as he heard the PLA members of Parliament reporting on “strengthening training amid the epidemic, and accelerating capacity building on biosecurity defence”.

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President Xi said the Covid-19 epidemic “brought a profound impact on the global landscape and on China’s security and development as well”. He “ordered the PLA to think about worst-case scenarios, scale up training and battle preparedness, quickly and efficiently manage with all sorts of complicated circumstances and firmly protect national sovereignty, security and interests,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

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Asia Pacific

Hong Kong Has Become The Weakest Link In Chinese National Security, Must Be Defended – Officials

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Despite widespread criticism over the new security law proposed by China, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive said that the law will not threaten the civil rights of the semi-autonomous territory. “Hong Kong needs this piece of legislation for the bigger benefit of the great majority of Hong Kong people,” she said. 

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A similar sentiment was echoed by Former Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Tung Chee-hwa, who stated that the national security legislation only targets heavy crimes and illegal activities, therefore most Hong Kong people don’t have to fear it.

The draft legislation is set to outlaw the acts of secession, subversion and terrorism and provides for a jail term of 3 years. The bill is expected to be passed on May 28 which will authorise the National People`s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee to draft the law and impose it on Hong Kong, bypassing the city’s legislature.

The draft law has evoked large scale protest in Hong Kong as it is seen as an attack on the semi-autonomous status of the city. Tung has rubbished these claims as baseless and misleading. The rumours only intend to invoke panic and fear, he said.

He added that important principles of establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR are clearly stated in the draft decision, including upholding “One Country, Two Systems” and safeguarding the legal rights of Hong Kong residents.

He reiterated that the law will not affect the freedom of speech and press, and other freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law.

Basic Law is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution that protect rights like the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly, which don’t exist in mainland China. It also sets out a structure of governance in the city.

Citing the civil disturbances last year in the city, Tung observed that some anti-China radicals colluded with the anti-China forces from the west to “contain China’s peaceful rise.” “We can no longer tolerate how foreign forces have conspired with radicals in Hong Kong to put at risk China’s sovereignty, its authority and the legitimacy of the Hong Kong Basic Law. Hong Kong has a constitutional duty to safeguard national security,” Tung said.

According to the Tung, Hong Kong has become a “weak link” in the national security benefiting hostile foreign powers and thus the new law will be detrimental to such activities. “Hong Kong people are fed up with endless violence and illegal activities, and the legislation is to ensure the city’s peaceful way of life,” he said.

The Security Bureau of the HKSAR government and the disciplinary forces have also lent full support to the national security legislation. “I fully support the NPC’s draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security which allows Hong Kong to be back on track, ensuring its long-term prosperity and stability,” said John Lee, secretary for security of the HKSAR government.

He added that there has been a rise in terror activities in Hong Kong such as defending “Hong Kong independence”. Commissioner of Police Tang Ping-keung has maintained that such a law will help fight the forces supporting “Hong Kong independence” and restore social order.

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