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India or China: Who Will Russia Support In A Possible Clash Between India & China?

This visit of India Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to Russia is taking place at a time when India is engaged in a deadly conflict with China in the Ladakh region. 

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India-China border clashes and a possible war-like situation has grabbed global media attention. Russia is a common ally to both India and China and many netizens are wondering whom would Moscow support in case of a possible clash between India and China?

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India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is on a three-day visit to Russia. Singh will hold talks with the high military officials of Russia and will participate in the grand military parade organized to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the second world war.

This visit of Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to Russia is taking place at a time when India is engaged in a deadly conflict with China in the Ladakh region.

Before leaving for Moscow, Rajnath Singh tweeted – Leaving for Moscow on a three-day visit. The visit to Russia will give me an opportunity to hold talks on ways to further deepen the India-Russia defence and strategic partnership. I shall also be attending the 75th Victory Day Parade in Moscow.

Senior officials of the Indian Ministry of Defense believe that despite the tensions on the border with China, Singh did not postpone the visit to Russia as India has historical military ties with Russia and the meeting between high-level India and Russian official will further increase military cooperation between the allies.

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This visit of Indian minister is being seen in the media as an attempt to increase India’s military capability and shore-up military hardware. But analysts believe that the Indian government has woken up late, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will now take more time than ever before to acquire arms and defence systems from Russia.

Defence Deals Delayed From Russia?

Experts believe that India has been dodging many important defence deals for a very long time. Sometimes it is said that there is no money, sometimes some other reason is given. Like in the case of multi-utility helicopters, Russia said that 60 helicopters should be ready and 140 helicopters will be built in India. And they have not been decided on since 2014.

“If India had these helicopters ready, then the soldiers who died due to lack of medical help in the Galwan Valley could have been saved easily”.

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It is not only the helicopters, there is also an agreement to make rifles with Russia and various other joint projects which are trapped in the bureaucracy.

Sukhoi and MIG aircraft are the backbone of the Indian Air Force, but their buying process is also stuck. And until the trouble comes, they remain stuck. The issue has been put in front of the current government of India from Russia and investors have also raised questions on the seriousness of the government. So the delay is due to the Government of India, experts argue.

S-400 Defense System

India is expected to urge Russia to expedite the delivery of the S-400 missile defence system during defence minister Rajnath Singh’s to Russia.  The S-400s are one of Russia’s most sophisticated long-range surface to air missiles and arguably the most versatile in the world with over half a dozen types of surface to air missile each specialised in intercepting different types of targets at different ranges.

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But why is there a delay in acquiring these defence systems? Experts believe that the US had threatened  India if they agreed to buy air defence systems from Russia. This scared the Indian banks, especially the ones whose money is engaged in trade with America. This wasted a lot of time and the advance payment of S-400s was delayed.

Experts also mentioned that Russia has sold the S-400 missiles to China, but it is not the system it is going to give to India. Russia says that China has given the S-400 to protect itself from the US, their range is short. But India will be given the longest-range missiles of the S-400.

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India-Russia Ties

According to experts — “The visit of the Defense Minister is also an opportunity to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries, apart from the India-Russia defence partnership”.

A common understanding of relations with Russia in India is that ‘there are historical relations between the two countries and if India has a dispute with any country, Russia will come to help India’.

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However, according to defence experts – ‘Russia has a good understanding that India is a democratic country, whereas China is a totalitarian or, say, a country with a kind of dictatorship, so Russia considers its ties with India more friendly based on historical relations. However, the situation has changed in the last decade as Russia and China have bonded really well, despite differences, to counter the US hegemony.

The situation is not less challenging for Russia either. The population is less than Pakistan and the area is much more which extends from Europe to Asia. Then the US builds base around the region to encircle  Russia. There is such a large area to be protected with the help of technology and Moscow cannot afford any atmosphere of enmity around its borders. Moscow does not want tension at the eastern border with China and in such a situation, Russia also has limited options.

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Additionally, China and Russia are close to each other. That is why negotiations between India and Russia are very important. India would also like Russia to put some pressure on Beijing to keep China calm in Ladakh and move back to original positions, experts believe.

Another expert says – Russia is a weak power now, which desperately needs China’s help to stand up. Russia’s economic condition is bad, in which it needs help from China. In such a situation, India knows and understands that Russia cannot outrightly support India and if the tensions escalate, the US is the only country which is capable and willing to tame the dragon.

Asia Pacific

Chinese App Ban: Weibo Users Ask Indian PM Narendra Modi To Return $750M Loan Granted By China

The Indian government banned a total of 59 Chinese apps including the teen favourite TikTok. India’s IT ministry has announced the banning of 59 Chinese apps that include giants like ShareIt, UC Browser, Likee, WeChat, Weibo and Bigo Live.

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Indian PM Narendra Modi’ move to quit Weibo, after the Chinese app ban was announced hasn’t gone down well with its users. With comments like ‘shut the door on your way out’ and ‘some people leave and you never even knew they were there’, most of the users seem to be either unaffected or critical of the move.

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Another popular comment on Weibo was that India should return the $750-million loan, recently granted to assist the government in responding to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a bank headquartered in Beijing.

As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, the Indian government banned a total of 59 Chinese apps including the teen favourite TikTok. India’s IT ministry has announced the banning of 59 Chinese apps that include giants names like TikTok, ShareIt, UC Browser, Likee, WeChat, Weibo and Bigo Live.

The Indian ministry called the Chinese-owned applications as “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order.” The Indian Cyber Crime Coordinate Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these “malicious apps”.

This marks the end of the “Weibo diplomacy” with China that started in 2015 as a means to directly communicate with the people of China before Modi’s first visit there. His first message said, “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo”. He had 2.44 lakh followers on the application.

“Prime Minister Modi had 115 posts on Weibo. It was decided to manually delete them and after much effort, 113 posts were removed,” said a source.

“There were two posts left where PM Modi and these are posts with photos with President Xi. On Weibo, it is difficult to remove posts with the photo of the Chinese President. Which is why, two posts still remained,” said a source. A government official said that for reasons best known to the Chinese, there was great delay in granting this basic permission.

“Some believe Modi should have been a little thicker skinned, comparing his action to that of the U.S. ambassador to China who maintains his Weibo page despite being the subject of longstanding criticism from Chinese netizens,” wrote CX Tech.

The state-run, Global Times described the ban as “deliberate interference in practical cooperation” between the two countries. It slammed the move stating “a lacklustre explanation for the nonsensical move”.

“If India’s sovereignty can be damaged by a handful of apps, just how vulnerable is it?” the paper said. “It was not long before Indians realised that turning nationalist rhetoric into action is more difficult, as there are no available and affordable alternatives to Chinese-made products such as smartphones, chemicals, automotive components and many other items… It seems that not only has the Modi government failed to rein in the rising nationalism among Indians, it has also yielded to domestic pressure and even encouraged such a boycott to escalate.”

It also warned of a dip in investment as the paper said that it surveyed experts who “predicted Chinese overseas direct investment (ODI) into India will drop sharply in 2020, with two experts forecasting a more than 50 per cent cut.”

“Bad feelings go both ways, and the chance for China-India relationship to pick up in the short-term is slim. Chinese investors are on the edge with risk-aversion instinct kicking in,” Qian Feng, director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.

China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said that India’s app ban could have possibly violated the World Trade Organization’s rules and commitments. “We hope that India can immediately correct its discriminatory practices against China and Chinese enterprises”, Feng added.

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Americas

Dominican Republic Goes To Poll; Results Will Decide The Fate Of US, China

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On Sunday, the Dominican Republic will hold elections as the Central American nation looks to elect their next President and renew the totality of senate (32) and deputy (190) seats.

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Elections were originally scheduled to take place on May 17 but had to be postponed due to an upsurge in coronavirus cases. Domestically, the election could lead to a change in government and end the decade long run of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).

Internationally, the winner of the Presidential election decides the future of the Dominican Republic foreign relations with regards to the United States and China.

The Candidates

To win the election, a candidate must get 50%+ 1% of the total votes. If none of the contestants is able to win a clear majority, a second-round runoff is held between the two candidates with the highest votes on the first round.

While a total of 6 candidates are hoping to serve as the next the President, according to experts, the outcome of the election will be determined by the three leading candidates from the PLD, Force of the People party (FP) and Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM).

The PLD has occupied the presidency for 20 of the past 24 years. Incumbent President Danilo Medina will not seek a third consecutive term ( his decision to do so was met by domestic resistance) and instead, Gonzalo Castillo, the former minister of public works and communications, will be contesting for the PLD.

Elections in the Dominican Republic will be monitored by 80 observers from the Organization of American States (OAS). Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, Dominican authorities ensure that all necessary precautions have been taken care of. Image source: Facebook

Those including to oust PLD include Leonel Fernández and Luis Abinader of the FP and PRM respectively. Fernandez, a three-time President of the Dominican Republic, quit the PLD after losing the PLD primary run-off against Castillo in 2019. Displeased with the defeat, Fernandez formed his own party and announced his decision to seek election for the fourth time.

A businessman by profession, Luis Abinader has no previous experience in public office. Abinader was a close associate of former President Hipólito Mejía. When Mejia quit the PRD in 2014, Abinader decided to join him at the newly formed PRM. According to poll predictions, Abinader is either close to or will outright win in the first-round election. Much of the rise can be credited to the rift between Medina (PLD) and Fernández (FP).

Even if Abinader does not win the election, he and Fernández have agreed to a deal for the run-off election. In November 2019, both formed an electoral alliance, agreeing that whoever between them captured the most votes in the presidential election would, in turn, receive the other’s political backing in the event of a runoff election. They also agreed to nominate joint candidates for mayor and Congress in 24 of the 32 provinces.

US-China to Closely Follow Elections

The Presidential elections in the Dominican Republic are being closely monitored by both the United States and China. In 2018, much to the shock of US an Taiwan, Danilo Medina broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established ties with China instead.

This was followed by Medina travelling to Beijing and inking 18 bilateral agreements including on agriculture, culture and tourism. Experts predict Chinese investment in the Caribbean nation will reach US$10 billion in the coming years.

For China, PLD remaining in power is essential for Sino-Dominican relations. Although PLD presidential candidate Castillo’s foreign policy platform makes abstract reference to the need to “deepen, diversify, and expand bilateral and multilateral relations,” one presumes he would maintain diplomatic and commercial relations with China.

Fernández and the Abinader, on the other hand, understand the importance of the US as an ally and will likely scale down ties with Beijing. Both candidates even declined invitations from the Chinese government to visit.

For the US, Abinader winning the election would be the perfect scenario. The 52-year-old is keen on strengthening strategic relations with the US, recognizing that it is the Dominican Republic’s main commercial partner, were about two million Dominicans or those of Dominican origin reside and were about 40 per cent of tourists who visit the Dominican Republic come from.

Regardless of who wins, the elections in the Dominican Republic will be interesting to watch. Elections in the middle of a global pandemic is a challenge in itself and the people of the Dominican Republic will surely be excited to see new faces in the country’s politics.

Written by- Armaan Srivastava. Views Personnel

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Asia Pacific

After Japan Backs India At LAC, Chinese Navy Intrudes Into Japanese Territorial Waters

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Days after Japan extended support to India and antagonizing China, patrol ships from the Chinese Navy entered Japanese territory twice this week. Japanese Coast Guard confirmed the presence of Chinese patrol ships in the territorial waters of Japan. 

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The latest intrusion by China comes days after Japan had supported India and called for a peaceful resolution, opposing any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in Ladakh.

As per media reports, two Chinese patrol ships entered the waters of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Thursday before re-entering the area again.

The Chinese ships even approached a Japanese fishing vessel inside the territorial water and the Coast guard said it was the longest intrusion into the territorial waters by Chinese ships. Despite repeated calls to leave the area, the vessels stayed inside Japanese territory for nearly 30 hours before leaving on Friday.

The Senkaku Islands, as japan calls it, have been contested by China and Japan for nearly a century. Located 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometres) southwest of Tokyo, the islands have been administered by Japan since 1972.

Since April, Japan has reportedly spotted at least 67 Chinese ships near Senkaku islands. Japan has already deployed its missiles towards its border facing China amid its several maritime incursions.

To avoid any confusion, Ishigaki City Council in Japan’s Okinawa approved legislation to change the administrative status of the Senkaku islands by changing its name from “Tonoshiro” to Tonoshiro Senkaku” in June.

Chinese aggression could also be retaliation against Japan as they grow closer to each other in an effort to contain China, expert talking to EurAsian Times state. Japan is also looking to sign an intelligence-sharing pact with India, Australia and the UK to track Chinese Navy vessels in the region.

The ongoing feud at Ladakh has helped India and Japan to strengthen their ties even further. On Friday, Satoshi Suzuki, Japanese Ambassador to India, said that he had a “good talk” with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla in this regard.  The Japanese Ambassador took to twitter to express appreciation for the briefing on the situation along LAC and hoped for a peaceful resolution.

With regards to the Chinese intrusion into Japanese waters, Tokyo has lodged strong protests with China. The disputed islands are also claimed by Taiwan.

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