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Kuwait Joins Growing List of Gulf Nations To Reject Anti-India Propaganda

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Kuwait has joined the growing list of Gulf nations who have not only rejected attempts to spoil ties with India through ‘foreign-sponsored’ social media handles and posts but have also reassured their sincere commitment towards friendship with New Delhi, reports ET.

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Kuwait has joined Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who all have rejected attempts to spoil ties with India after various fraudulent social media handles sponsored by ‘foreign entities’ tried to sow discord between New Delhi and Gulf nations.

The Kuwait Government’s response came in the backdrop of numerous social media handles that later turned out fake had accused India of demonizing Muslims during COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kuwaiti government’s response has won praises from New Delhi. In response to media queries, the official spokesperson Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Anurag Srivastava said, “We have seen certain references to India in non-official social media handles in Kuwait.

The Government of Kuwait has assured us that they are deeply committed to friendly relations with India. They also do not support any interference in the internal affairs of India.”

India recently deployed a Rapid Response Team in Kuwait and rendered valuable assistance in the training of medical staff and treatment of COVID-19 infected patients. “It is therefore important that the friendly and cooperative nature of our relations is accurately recognised and misuse of social media is not given credence,” Srivastava emphasised.

The historical basis of India-Kuwait ties was also pointed out by Kuwait’s Ambassador to India — Jassem Al-Najem who spoke about the shared foreign policy principles between India and Kuwait such as respecting UN Charter, non-interference in other countries affairs and respecting the sovereignty of nations.

Earlier, Ambassador of India to Qatar tweeted about how anti-India forces were using fake social media handles to create divisions within the Indian community and had urged Qatar’s Government to understand the reality and not allow such malicious attempts to vitiate the bond between New Delhi and Doha.

Tweets from fake handles purporting to be from members of Omani Royalty tried to impair the relationship between the Gulf region and India. For instance, a fake tweet quoting Mona bint Fahad, the assistant Vice Chancellor of Sultan Qaboos University for International relations and daughter of Oman’s Deputy PM Sayyid Fahd said that if Indian government failed to stop the persecution of Indian Muslims, then one million Indians in Oman may be expelled as a result.

Indian Ambassador to Oman Manu Mahawar thanked Mona bint Fahad on her official handle @MonaFahad13 for her clarification on the fake social media posts attributed to her and reaffirmed India’s commitment to work closely with the Government and people of Oman to further deepen their special relationship.

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“The friendly relations between India and Oman are underpinned by our shared values of tolerance and pluralism. Let us all commit to maintaining unity and social harmony at this critical juncture.

As PM Narendra Modi had stated, we are in this together. In these challenging times, it is important that we stay focused and united in our fight against COVID-19, and not get distracted by fake news on social media with malicious intention,” the Embassy in Muscat had tweeted.

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South Asia

Afghanistan, Pakistan, China Hold Trilateral Meet; Keen To Commence Intra-Afghan Talks

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Afghanistan, Pakistan and China held a trilateral virtual meeting and Pakistani and Chinese officials again urged the Taliban to decrease violence so that intra-Afghan talks could be initiated, Tolo News quoted the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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“On July 7, 2020, the 3rd round China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue was held via video link. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood co-chaired the dialogue,” Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to the statement, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China held comprehensive discussions and agreed to collaborate against COVID-19, the Afghan peace talks and trilateral cooperation.

The statement also reads – China and Pakistan praised the efforts by the Afghanistan government and relevant parties in facilitating the exchange of the prisoners to pave the way for the start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations and call for violence reduction and humanitarian ceasefire.

China and Pakistan will improve cooperation with the Afghan government in support of the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” peace reconciliation process, the launch of Intra-Afghan Negotiations at an early date, support the preservation of the gains since 2001, and looked forward to the early restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

“Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to further strengthen dialogue and work for continuous improvement of bilateral relations including through the effective implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). China will continue to play a constructive role in improving Afghanistan-Pakistan relations,” the statement said.

“The Afghan government should release the Taliban prisoners based on the peace agreement and avoid sabotaging the peace process,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

The Afghan government expects that the intra-Afghan talks can soon, but sources close to the Taliban have said that they do not see the possibility for talks unless the Afghan government guarantees the release of remaining 5,000 prisoners a per the pact signed between the US and the Taliban.

“With consideration of the measures taken by the Afghan government, the hope is that these talks start during July,” said Geran Hewad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

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Americas

Hong Kong Today, Taiwan Tomorrow – Hong Kong’s Security Law Could Be China’s Blueprint For ‘Taiwan Problem’

Hong Kong’s security law has laid down the new ‘normal’ for the city. Free speech is now limited, extradition to the mainland is legal and support for Hong Kong’s freedom anywhere in the world is a criminal offence.

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The implementation of the draconian national security law in Hong Kong has spread fears in Taiwan that it could be the blueprint to deal with the ‘Taiwan problem’. Hong Kong and Taiwan seem to be headed in the same direction, with the national security law clearly indicating what the future holds for Taiwan.

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Hong Kong’s security law has laid down the new ‘normal’ for the city. Free speech is now limited, extradition to the mainland is legal and support for Hong Kong’s freedom anywhere in the world is a criminal offence. But for China, the buck does not stop here.

Writing for the Washington Post, John Pomfret suggests that Hong Kong security law could be China’s blueprint to deal with the ‘Taiwan problem’. According to Pomfret, with the passage of the national security law on Hong Kong, China has arguably moved a step closer towards war with the island democracy that sits 90 miles off its coast.

China considers Taiwan a ‘renegade’ province and has denounced any country that supports its independence. China and Taiwan split in 1949 after nationalist forces lost a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists, fleeing to the island which Beijing has since vowed to seize one day, by force if necessary.

To make his point, Pomfret uses the example of Li Su, the president of the Modern Think-Tank Forum and a prominent hard-liner in Beijing. After the passage of the security law in Hong Kong, Li took to Chinese social media to hail the law as a critical step in “liberating Taiwan.”

Li is a staunch supporter of an armed solution to the ‘Taiwan problem’. Li never minces his words when it comes to Taiwan and was even barred from entering the country by Taipei for making speeches that advocated the use of force in April 2019.

In June 2019, when Li led a team of academics to the United States, not only did he assert Beijing’s intention to take over the island, he also predicted how China would launch its current crackdown in Hong Kong.

In his recent lecture on the social media application, Weibo, Li said he interpreted the Hong Kong security law as a “test case” on which China will model its takeover of Taiwan. “We will learn how to control Taiwan by experimenting with this law on Hong Kong,” he declared.

He asserted that China’s experiment in Hong Kong is a message for Taiwanese people that they will be forcefully united i.e., independence activists, democracy activists, students who cause trouble and bring them to the mainland to be sentenced. He concluded by asking “who would dare oppose us?”

Opposition to the national security law has already led to the arrest of pro-democracy and pro-independence supporters in the erstwhile British colony. According to SCMP, 10 people have been taken into custody and could face trial in mainland courts.

Prominent pro-democracy activists such as Nathan Law have fled the autonomous region altogether. Citing fear of arrest, Law said that he had left Hong Kong for an unknown destination. Others are expected to follow-suit and according to experts at EurAsian Times, Beijing seems to have weakened the pro-democracy wave to a great extent.

Hong Kong- A test Case For Taiwan

In the opinion of Pomfret, China has used Hong Kong as a test case for its dealings with Taiwan. The model of “one country, two systems” is a case in point. China proposed the same system to be used by Taiwan when the United Kingdom handed back control of Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997.

In Taipei, the idea of Taiwan unified with China has found no support amongst Taiwanese. In fact, a record 67% out of 23 million people in Taiwan now self-identify as “Taiwanese” instead of either Taiwanese-Chinese or Chinese, according to a poll conducted by the National Chengchi University.

However, this has not stopped the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from abandoning the threat of force to take over the island. Just last year, President Xi Jinping declared that China would “retain the option of taking all necessary measures” to absorb the island.

Taiwanese President Tsai-Ing Wen has become a thorn in the side for Beijing in recent times. Tsai views Taiwan as a de facto independent nation and not part of “one China” and has ramped up the military, economic and diplomatic support to counter increased Chinese pressure on the island.

There has been speculation amongst experts that that Xi wants to solve “the Taiwan question” sometime near July of next year when the Chinese Communist Party will celebrate its centenary. According to Li, the passage of the national security law in Hong Kong has confirmed this theory and has set the date for the ‘liberation of Taiwan’ to sometime around 2021.

While 27 countries including the US, UK, Canada, and Australia have condemned Chinese actions in Hong Kong, Li and other hardliners have played down the reaction. Li even mocked China’s enemies and referred to them as a ‘’group of dragons without a head.’’

Aiming primarily at Washington, Li questioned how the hooligan nation of America, making a reference to domestic unrest after the killing of George Floyd, can be a leader. ‘’America doesn’t even qualify to be China’s opponent. … What are they going to do, fight a war over Hong Kong?” he said.

Fear amongst the Taiwanese is justified. Although U.S. law requires the U.S. government to provide for Taiwan’s defence, the question remains whether Washington would send its troops to die for Taipei.

Armaan Srivastava

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Americas

Despite Chest Thumping, India Could Take Years To Reduce Economic Dependence On China – US Experts

Bilateral trade between India and China was estimated at $88 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year, but India recorded a massive $53.5 billion deficit with China — the biggest trade deficit India has with any nation.

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Anti-China sentiments in India are at an all-time high. Recently India banned 59 Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, while Chinese firms are being obstructed from participating in highway and other major tenders and projects. 

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The Indian hotel industry group also issued a blanket ban on Chinese tourists. “In view of the nefarious activities of China, it has been decided that no Chinese will be accommodated in Delhi’s hotels and guest houses from now onwards,” the Delhi Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association said in a statement in late June.

Reports suggest that goods from China are being delayed at Indian ports, and the Indian government are planning to impose higher tariffs and rigorous quality controls on shipments.

“Trade frictions, even symbolic ones, are obviously bad for business,” Pravin Krishna, professor of International Economics and Business at Johns Hopkins University, told DW. “As of now, it is not quite clear which goods are being held up at the ports and what the extent of the delay is.

The exact impact on businesses will clearly depend on their inventory positions and so on and this will vary quite widely across sectors and firms,” he said. “I imagine most businesses can manage delays, but perhaps not complete blockades.”

Bilateral trade between India and China was estimated at $88 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year, but India recorded a massive $53.5 billion deficit with China — the biggest trade deficit India has with any nation.

China is also India’s biggest source of imports and exports more than 3,000 products to India at very competitive prices. Moreover, India has become a major destination for Chinese investment with key Indian startups like Zomato, Paytm having received millions of dollars’ worth of funding from China.

The total planned and current Chinese investments in India are estimated to be about $26 billion, according to the US think tank Brookings. Experts say – there is no easy pathway for India to reduce its current dependence on China and decoupling from China will be a slow, gradual process.

Observers believe that a trade conflict will likely be costly for both sides, especially given the timing of the current tensions. Both India and China have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created massive challenges for both the governments.

Their economies are undergoing a sharp devaluation. In India’s case, the rigorous lockdown has resulted in severe economic losses and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) now expects India’s GDP to shrink 4.5% this year.

To counter the economic collapse, Indian PM Narendra Modi launched “Atmanirbhar Bharat,” a campaign for a self-reliant India that aids businesses to make products in the country instead of relying on imports. This is in addition to the “Make in India” initiative.

Sumit Ganguly, professor of Political Science at the Indiana University Bloomington told DW – “Frankly, I think it amounts to foolish, anachronistic and pointless sloganeering,” adding that this is a “populist cry” and “will amount to little or nothing.” “The initial emphasis on self-reliance was coupled with rampant protectionism and had terrible consequences for Indian industry not to mention the hapless consumer,” he argued.

After India gained independence, import substitution industrialization, a policy centring on displacing imported goods with domestically produced ones, was the guiding principle of economic experts in the country.

Successive Indian governments from 1947 to 1991 followed this inward-looking model of economic development, but it chained private organizations and eventually proved disastrous in turning India into an industrial and economic power.

As a balance of payments crisis in 1991 pushed New Delhi on the verge of bankruptcy and the Indian government was compelled to introduce significant reforms and liberalize the economy.

If ‘self-reliance’ is merely an appeal to organizations to become more resourceful — that is fine,” Krishna said. On the other hand, if it is an appeal for import substitution, I would be worried: India’s experience with this in the past has been calamitous.

“Regarding the dispute with China, I sincerely hope it is not used as a pretext for a generalized return to protectionism.”

Via: DW May Not Reflect The Views Of The EurAsian Times

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