India rejects China’s claims on completion of disengagement
NEW DELHI, July 30: India on Thursday rejected China’s contention that disengagement has been completed at most locations along their disputed border, with New Delhi calling on Beijing to work sincerely for complete de-escalation and full restoration of peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava acknowledged there has been “some progress” towards disengagement and de-escalation along the LAC, though the process is far from complete. Senior military commanders from the two sides are set to meet for the fifth time to work out steps to complete the process, he said.
India’s stance is markedly different from the position taken by China, which said on Tuesday frontline troops had “completed disengagement in most locations and the situation on the ground is easing”.
“There has been some progress made towards this objective but the disengagement process has as yet not been completed,” Srivastava said during the weekly virtual media briefing.
“As we have stated earlier, the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship. Therefore, we expect that the Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas at the earliest, as agreed to by the Special Representatives,” he said.
People familiar with developments said the sizeable Chinese troop presence at friction points, particularly Pangong Lake and Depsang, remains a concern. The people, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chinese side is yet to deliver on understandings regarding disengagement reached during the July 5 phone conversation of the Special Representatives on the border issue and meetings of corps commanders.
The people said the next meeting of the corps commanders is expected to be held before the end of the week though a date is yet to be finalised.
Srivastava referred to the July 24 meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, which reviewed the situation in Ladakh sector, and said the two sides had agreed that “early and complete disengagement” of troops and de-escalation in line with bilateral agreements and protocols is essential for the smooth development of bilateral ties.
In Beijing, Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang stuck to the line that troops from both sides were disengaging at friction points on the LAC.
“At present, the situation on the ground is tending to ease, and the border guards of the two countries are gradually disengaging from contact,” Ren was quoted as saying in a statement.
Since the June 15 clash in the Galwan Valley, the two countries have had “effective communication and coordination through diplomatic and military channels”, Ren said.
He added: “We hope the Indian side and the Chinese side will meet each other halfway, in accordance with the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and always proceed from the overall situation of maintaining...China-India relations and regional peace and stability.”
The two sides should focus on “cooperation and properly addressing differences”, he said.
Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong, speaking at a webinar on the theme “India-China relations: The way forward”, sought to blame India for both the standoff and the June 15 clash that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and unspecified Chinese casualties.
He repeatedly accused Indian troops of crossing to the Chinese side of the LAC and of building infrastructure such as roads and bridges in the Galwan Valley since April. “The right and wrong of the Galwan Valley incident is very clear and I must make it very clear that the responsibility is not on the Chinese side,” he said.
Sun also accused Indian troops of breaking consensus reached by the corps commanders during their June 6 meeting and provoking the clash in the Galwan Valley. In response to a question on China not providing details of its casualties, he indicated this was part of goodwill from the Chinese side not to increase tensions.
The envoy also sought to imply that India’s position on interpreting the LAC could lead to new disputes. Noting the purpose of clarifying the LAC was to maintain peace in border areas, he said: “However, if one side unilaterally delimits the LAC as per its own understanding during the negotiations, that could create some new disputes and that will be a departure from the original purpose.”
Sun sidestepped most questions during the seminar, answered a query on why the Galwan Valley was in focus, even though both sides didn’t have a dispute in the area for decades, by giving details on Pangong Lake and made vague generalisations about “win-win cooperation”, consensus developed through the informal summits and civilisational contacts dating back thousands of years.
Strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney believes Beijing is trying to impose a new status quo along the LAC. “China’s intentionally false claim that ‘disengagement is complete in most places’ is part of its effort to impose the new status quo its aggression has created in five Ladakh hotspots: Pangong Lake, Gogra, Hot Springs, Galwan Valley and Depsang. The ball is in India’s court now,” Chellaney tweeted.
Pakistan indulging in activities to deflect attention from support to terror: India
NEW DELHI, July 30: As Pakistan plans to hold protests to mark one year of the scrapping of Article 370, India on Thursday said the neigbouring country indulges in such activities to divert international attention from its support to cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
August 5 will mark the first anniversary of India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian Constitution from Jammu and Kashmir and to bifurcate the state into two union territories.
“They indulge in activities to deflect international attention from support to cross border terrorism,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at an online media briefing, replying to a question on Pakistan’s planned activities to protest India’s action of scrapping of Article 370 on its first anniversary next week.
“As far as India is concerned, August 5 will be a historic day for us as on this day, we could remove the hurdles for overall development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” he added.
As per reports, Pakistan is planning to hold protests and reach out to several countries against India’s decision to scrap Article 370 that extended special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Disengagement of troops at most locations complete: China
BEIJING, July 28: Indian and Chinese frontline troops have completed disengagement at most locations at the border, China said on Tuesday, adding that preparation is on to hold the next round of military-level talks to settle the remaining issues.
The Chinese foreign ministry was seemingly giving an update on the disengagement of border troops following last Friday’s three-hour-long meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, which had met to review the situation in the border areas and the disengagement process in the western sector of the Line of Actual Control or LAC.
Differences between India and China on the disengagement process emerged after New Delhi asked Beijing to “sincerely implement” the understanding on troop withdrawals reached by senior military commanders of the two sides.
On Tuesday, responding to a specific query on whether Indian and Chinese soldiers had completed disengagement at Galwan Valley, Hot Springs and Gogra areas, spokesperson, Wang Wenbin said disengagement was completed in most areas.
“Recently, China and India have conducted intensive communication through military and diplomatic channels. We have held four rounds of commander-level talks and three meetings of WMCC,” Wang added.
“Now the frontline border troops have completed disengagement in most locations and the situation on the ground is easing,” he said.
“Now we are preparing for the fifth round of commander-level talks to study the settlement of the remaining issue. We hope India will work with China to implement our consensus and uphold peace and stability along our border areas,” Wang added.
Following last Friday’s WMCC meeting, a statement from the external affairs ministry had said that the two sides agreed “it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understandings reached between senior (military) commanders in their meetings till date”.
At the WMCC meeting, India focused on the need for China to completely withdraw its forces from key friction points in East Ladakh in keeping with commitments made at the meetings of the corps commanders and the July 5 phone conversation between the two Special Representatives on the border issue.
It is still not clear whether Beijing is looking at the disengagement of troops in the same way.
The Chinese statement on the same WMCC meeting, issued in Beijing in Mandarin, referred to “positive progress made by the frontline border defence forces of the two countries to disengage and ease the situation on the ground”.
Indian-origin politician Pritam Singh appointed Singapore’s first Leader of Opposition in Parliament
SINGAPORE, July 28: Indian-origin politician Pritam Singh was on Tuesday designated as the Leader of the Opposition in Singapore, the first such appointment in the history of the city-state.
The 43-year old Singh’s Workers’ Party won 10 parliamentary seats out of the 93 contested in the July 10 general elections held, making it the biggest opposition presence in Singapore’s Parliament.
Singh is the Secretary-General of Workers’ Party. Singapore’s legislatures have never had formally designated Leaders of the Opposition, and such a position is not provided for in the Constitution or the Standing Orders of Parliament,” the parliamentary offices said in its statement on Tuesday.
“Singapore’s legislatures have never had formal Leaders of the Opposition, not even in the 1950s and early 1960s when there were substantial numbers of opposition legislative assemblymen,” the Channel News Asia quoted the statement as saying.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ruling People’s Action Party won 83 seats in the general elections and his government was sworn in on Monday.
Singh will take on more duties and be accorded additional privileges in his role as the Leader of the Opposition, authorities said on Tuesday in a statement, laying out the details of the new post.
“Similar to other Westminster parliamentary systems, Singh will lead the Opposition in presenting alternative views in parliamentary debates on policies, bills and motions,” said the Office of the Speaker of Parliament and Office of the Leader of the House in a joint statement.
He will also lead and organise the scrutiny of the government’s positions and actions in Parliament, and be consulted on the appointment of opposition members to Select Committees, such as the Public Accounts Committee.
Singh, who is also a lawyer, will receive an annual package of 385,000 Singapore dollars (USD 2,79,025.98) as allowances for his new role.
Prime Minister Lee said on July 11 that Singh will be designated the Leader of the Opposition.
After his swearing-in on Monday, Lee said that the election results have shown a strong desire among Singaporeans for a greater diversity of views in politics and that the trend is here to stay.
“We have to give expression to it and evolve our political system to accommodate it while maintaining our cohesion and sense of national purpose,” said Lee.
“As with any new political appointment, the role of the LO (Leader of the Opposition) will evolve as our political system develops,” the statement from Parliament said.
“We look forward to working with the LO to create a robust but stable political system serving the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans,” it said.
The statement added that these duties and privileges have been conveyed to Singh, and the Leader of the House will make a statement in Parliament to formally set out these terms.
Singapore’s 14th Parliament will have its first sitting on August 24.
US warplane flew less than 100 km from Shanghai: China think tank
BEIJING, July 27: A US anti-submarine warplane came within 100 km from Shanghai in eastern China on Sunday, a Chinese think tank focused on the South China Sea has said in the backdrop of the tit-for-tat closure of consulates and escalating tension between the two countries.
A P-8A anti-submarine plane and an EP-3E reconnaissance plane entered the Taiwan Strait, flying near the coast of Zhejiang and Fujian on Sunday, a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) said Monday, quoting the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCS Probing Initiative or SCSPI in short), a Beijing-based think tank.
An American battleship, destroyer USS Rafael Peralta was sailing below the aircraft, the think tank said.
Quoting a tweet from the SCSPI, the report said the P-8A aircraft came within 76.5km (47.5 miles) of Shanghai – likely the closest any US plane has come to mainland China in recent years; another aircraft came within 106 km of Fujian’s southern coast.
The think tank, the SCMP report said, tweeted again Sunday night, saying the US Navy P-8A was operating near Shanghai, with the USS Rafael Peralta, a guided missile destroyer, following a similar route, asking “might be a joint operation?”.
Using satellite imagery, it tweeted on Monday early evening that a US warplane was “conducting close-in reconnaissance of Guangdong in southern China”.
The Chinese foreign ministry didn’t deny the development but did not respond to a request for a comment.
Incidentally, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is currently conducting a live-fire drill with “powerful ammunition” in the southern Guangdong province’s Leizhou peninsula, considered to be at the doorstep to the South China Sea (SCS).
The week-long drills will include anti-ship and anti-aircraft exercises by the PLA air force with the PLA’s navy and rocket forces joining in.
Writing for the SCSPI website on Monday, Wang Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS), said: “It (the US) has conducted six Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) so far this year, compared with four times in 2017, six times in 2018 and eight times in 2019. In addition, the U.S. military has conducted nearly 2,000 close-in reconnaissance operations on China from the air this year.”
According to the think tank, US air force E-8C surveillance planes have come within 185km or less of the southeast coast of Guangdong province on four separate occasions in the past week.
“At the moment the US military is sending three to five reconnaissance aircraft each day to the South China Sea,” the think tank said, adding the US military planes have come unusually close to mainland airspace several times since April.
In this context, Wang from NISCSS wrote that chances were “…growing for an accidentally triggered incident between China and the U.S. As the US intensifies its military operation in the South China Sea, China will adopt corresponding countermeasures, such as tracking and monitoring as well as warning and expulsion. The more intensifying US military operations, the more chances for accidentally triggered incidents.”
US warplanes flying close to China coincided with a tense week between the two countries in the backdrop of Washington and Beijing ordering the closure of consulates in Houston and Chengdu.
The US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu officially shut down on Monday morning within 72 hours of Beijing ordering its closure as a tit-for-tat shutting of its Houston consulate amid worsening ties between the two largest economies of the world.
The SCSPI says on its website that it is an “international research network and not affiliated with any institution, mainly funded by social donation and non-profit investment.”
The think tank’s director, Hu Bo, however, is also the director of the Centre for Maritime Strategy Studies and Research Professor at the Institute of Ocean Research, Peking University in Beijing.
China Holds First Joint FMs' Meeting with Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan
BEIJING, July 27: China on Monday urged Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan to forge “four-party cooperation” to overcome the Covid-19 crisis and continue work on projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Presiding over a virtual meeting with his counterparts from the three countries, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said the four states should work together to extend CPEC to Afghanistan.
The video conference, organised by Beijing ostensibly to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, was held against the backdrop of the months-long India-China border standoff. Given India’s currently strained ties with Nepal, the meeting is unlikely to go down well with the foreign policy establishment in New Delhi.
Wang, one of China’s senior-most diplomats with the rank of state councillor, said the four states should give “full play to geographic advantages, strengthen exchanges and connections between the four countries and Central Asian countries, and maintain regional peace and stability”, according to a statement in Mandarin issued on Monday night.
The four countries should also “actively promote the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the trans-Himalayan three-dimensional interconnectivity network, support the extension of [CPEC] to Afghanistan, and further release the regional interconnection dividend”, he said.
Even for China, it is rare to call for four-party cooperation in South Asia without involving India. But the move fits Beijing’s current narrative.
The statement from China’s foreign ministry indicated Beijing is looking at a more permanent cooperation mechanism with the three South Asian countries than just working together to counter the pandemic.
The meeting added to Beijing’s own narrative that it is ready to play a bigger role in war-torn Afghanistan’s peace process. For Nepal, it was an opportunity to send out a message about its increasingly snug ties with China amid the strained relations with India.
As for Pakistan, Wang himself cited the example of “iron brother” ties between Islamabad and Beijing. Emphasising that having good neighbours is “good fortune”, Wang called on Nepal and Afghanistan to follow the example of Sino-Pakistan cooperation to fight the pandemic.
Wang said learning from the Sino-Pakistan cooperation, Afghanistan and Nepal should expand four-nation joint prevention and control of Covid-19 and make arrangements for epidemic prevention, resumption of economic activity and personnel exchanges.
He said under the principle of anti-epidemic cooperation, the four countries should open up “fast channels” and “green channels” for personnel and logistics as soon as possible.
They should also strengthen joint prevention and control in border areas, and frame jointly recognised standard operating procedures for epidemic notification, prevention, management and control, he said.
As part of post-pandemic recovery and economic development, Wang said, the other countries should firmly promote the joint construction of BRI, promote the resumption of key cooperation projects, maintain the stability of industrial and supply chains, and create new economic growth points in the digital field.
The online meeting was joined by Pakistan’s foreign and economic ministers, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Khushro Bakhtiar, Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali and Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Hanif Atmar.
Positive progress made by soldiers to disengage, says China after border talks
BEIJING, July 24: Positive progress has been made by the border troops of both India and China to disengage and ease the situation on the ground, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday at the end of the latest round of diplomatic talks between the two countries.
The talks focused on both New Delhi and Beijing aiming at further “cooling” the situation at the border, China said.
“The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the recent Sino-Indian border situation and fully affirmed the positive progress made by the front-line border defence forces of the two countries to disengage from contact and ease the situation on the ground,” the foreign ministry said in a statement released Friday evening.
The statement was referring to the 17th meeting of the India-China Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs held online between senior diplomats from the two countries on Friday.
New Delhi and Beijing are closely monitoring each other’s disengagement process and levels of withdrawal as both countries cautiously attempt to resolve the latest – and the worst in decades – crisis in bilateral ties.
China is yet to reveal the PLA’s casualty figures but the Indian army lost 20 soldiers in a violent brawl between the border troops of the two countries on the night of June 15. Both sides have amassed large numbers of well-armed troops on their side.
Friday’s statement from China said both sides “…emphasised that they will maintain bilateral military and diplomatic dialogues and consultations in accordance with the important consensus reached by the two foreign ministers and special representatives on border issues, properly handle remaining issues on the ground, and promote further cooling of the border situation.”
The statement, issued in Mandarin, added that New Delhi and Beijing will continue to hold both diplomatic and military talks to calm the situation along the line of actual control (LAC).
“The two sides agreed that they will continue to hold meetings on the China-India border affairs consultation and coordination mechanism and the commander-level meeting of the border defence forces of the two countries to strengthen the building of confidence in the border area and jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the border area,” the statement said.
The WMCC meeting was co-chaired by joint secretary (East Asia) Naveen Srivastava of the external affairs ministry and director general Hong Liang of the boundary and oceanic affairs department of China’s foreign ministry.
Ahead of Friday’s talks, external affairs ministry spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava had spoken in New Delhi about the importance of maintaining peace along the LAC.
“As we have stated earlier, the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship. Therefore, it is our expectation that the Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas at the earliest as agreed to by the special representatives,” Srivastava said a day earlier.
Friday’s bilateral diplomatic interaction was the fourth round of WMCC talks between the two countries since the current tension at the LAC, which started in May – indicating the complex nature of the ongoing negotiations between the two neighbours.
The two sides have had four rounds of commander-level military talks as well.
Crucially, separate phone conversations have also been held between external affairs minister, S Jaishankar, national security adviser AK Doval with China’s Wang Yi, who has multiple designations including state councilor, foreign minister and China’s special representative for border talks with India.
Hundreds of protesters take to streets in Bangkok, demand Thai govt’s resignation
BANGKOK, July 18: Hundreds of Thais protested on Saturday evening, demanding the resignation of the government and the dissolution of parliament, defying a coronavirus ban on big gatherings in one of the largest street demonstrations since a 2014 military coup.
Those at the student-led rally near Bangkok’s Democracy Monument cited a litany of complaints against the year-old government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief who ousted an elected government six years ago.
Organisers issued three demands: the dissolution of parliament, an end to harassment of government critics, and amendments to the military-written constitution that critics say virtually guaranteed victory for Prayuth’s party in elections last year.
“How can we be OK with the lack of democracy like this?” student activist Tattep Ruangprapaikit told the crowds.
Police were on standby but did not move to stop the protest. The monument was cordoned off with signs reading: “No entry without permission. Maintenance in progress.”
Public opposition to Prayuth’s rule has been growing in recent months.
Since last year’s election, a court has dissolved the second-largest opposition party, giving Prayuth’s ruling coalition firmer control in parliament.
Prayuth’s Palang Pracharat Party campaigned on a vision of traditional Thai culture and loyalty to King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Thailand is officially a constitutional monarchy, but insulting the king is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and many conservatives view the monarchy as sacrosanct.
Some signs at Saturday’s protest made reference to the monarchy, including one banner reading “The People’s Party isn’t Dead” - a reference to the political party whose revolution ended absolute royal rule in 1932.
Democracy Monument is the most prominent memorial to that revolution, but others have been removed or renamed since King Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne after the 2016 death of his father, who had reigned for 70 years.
India slams Pak for not providing free access to Jadhav
NEW DELHI, July 16: A meeting between Indian officials and Kulbhushan Jadhav on Thursday ended inconclusively, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of breaching its assurance of providing unimpeded access to the former naval officer sentenced to death in Pakistan for alleged involvement in espionage.
Pakistan provided consular access to Jadhav for only the second time since he was detained in March 2016. But when two Indian consular officials went to meet him, they found Pakistani officials with “an intimidating demeanour” near Jadhav and a camera being used to record the conversation, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said.
The Indian officials met Jadhav to discuss filing a review petition in Islamabad high court against his death sentence by the deadline of July 20, and required privacy to talk about the matter.
“The consular officers could not engage Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
“In the light of these circumstances, the Indian consular officers came to the conclusion that the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, they left the venue.”
Srivastava said India had taken up Pakistan’s offer of consular access only after receiving an assurance regarding “unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access”.
Thursday’s developments added another twist to the case of Jadhav, 50, as only four days remain under an ordinance promulgated by the Pakistan government to file a review petition in the Islamabad high court.
Srivastava said India made more than 12 requests for consular access to Jadhav over the past year. “This consular access is of utmost importance, as it is the basis for a process of effective review and reconsideration ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July 2019 of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav by a Pakistani military tribunal,” he said.
The Pakistani ordinance, promulgated ostensibly to comply with ICJ’s order, envisages an Indian consular official filing the review petition. Any conversation between Jadhav and the consular officials “must necessarily take place in privacy and without the presence of any Pakistani official or recording by Pakistan”, Srivastava said.
It was evident Jadhav had been “intimidated repeatedly in the past, including in being made to express his alleged disinclination to seek a review”, he added.
India’s latest request for consular access included several conditions — Pakistan was asked to ensure the meeting was held in an “atmosphere free from fear of retribution”, without the presence of any Pakistani official, and without any video and audio recording.
“After extensive discussions, the Pakistan side conveyed that they were ready to organise consular access on July 16. We were assured this consular access would be unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional,” Srivastava said.
“Regrettably, however, neither the environment nor the arrangements of the meeting were in accordance with the assurances of Pakistan,” he added. Jadhav was “visibly under stress” and indicated this to the Indian officials.
Srivastava described Pakistan’s approach as “obstructive and insincere”. He added, “It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgment, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance.”
External affairs minister S Jaishanakr apprised Jadhav’s family of the developments even as the Indian side reiterated its commitment to ensure his safe return to India.
Consular access to Jadhav was first provided in September 2019, while his mother and wife had been allowed to meet him in December 2017.
Pakistan on Thursday reiterated its accusations that Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan province on March 3, 2016, and had “confessed” to his involvement in terror activities. India has already dismissed such charges and said he was kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence operatives from Iran’s Chabahar port, where he was running a business.
ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan had violated Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention, and stayed his execution while calling on Islamabad to take all steps for an “effective review and reconsideration” of his sentence, including “enacting appropriate legislation”.
India and EU share universal values like democracy, pluralism: Modi
NEW DELHI, July 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday addressed India-EU Summit via video conferencing. Taking to Twitter, the prime minister had earlier tweeted saying, “I am confident this Summit will further strengthen our economic as well as cultural linkages with Europe”.
The Summit is aimed at further broad basing ties on a range of areas including trade, investment and defence, officials of the 27-nation bloc said.
In his address, PM Modi said that India and EU are natural partners. Our partnership is also useful for peace and stability in the world. This reality has become even more clear in today’s global situation.
He said both India and EU share universal values like democracy, pluralism, inclusivity, respect for international institutions, multilaterism, freedom and transparency.
In the post-Covid world, Modi said there have been new challenges in the economic world globally. To solve this, democratic countries must come together.
The Prime Minister said "We’ve till date sent medicines to nearly 150 countries. We have also taken the initiative to create a joint operation against COVID in our region."
He said We invite the initiative of ‘accelerating the access to COVID tools’ taken by EU and its countries. India’s pharma companies are ready to contribute to this global attempt.
Today, he said both the health and prosperity of our citizens are facing challenges. "In such a situation, the India-EU partnership can play an important role in economic reconstruction and in building a human-centric and human-centric globalization," said Modi.
India, EU sign civil nuclear cooperation agreement
NEW DELHI, July 14: India and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement on the eve of a virtual summit, while Europol and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are negotiating a working arrangement to combat organised crime and terrorism.
The agreement between the European Atomic Energy Community or Euratom and Indian authorities will focus on cooperation between EU’s research programmes on new ways of using nuclear energy and similar activities on the Indian side, EU officials said during a briefing for journalists.
“The agreement is on research and development cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which was negotiated for 13 years and finally can be cemented by the summit,” said one of the EU officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The India-EU Summit, to be co-chaired on Wednesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, is expected to focus on strengthening multilateralism and global institutions in the face of the rise of an increasingly assertive China.
The leadership of both sides are expected to reiterate their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all forms during the summit, the EU officials said. The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation or Europol and CBI are negotiating a working arrangement that will support law enforcement authorities of EU member states and India to prevent and combat organised crime and terror, they said.
Asked specifically about the India-China border standoff, the EU officials described the recent incidents on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as a matter of considerable concern.
“We are pleased to see that since these very deadly clashes took place on the LAC, both sides have committed to show restraint, to engage in military de-escalation and to engage in dialogue,” one of the officials said.
Reports showed there has been a withdrawal of troops by both sides in key areas, and diplomatic and military efforts are having a “de-escalatory effect and we trust that both sides will continue dialogue to find a peaceful solution to their differences”, the official added.
However, the EU officials said two sides are “quite far apart” on the issue of a Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), negotiations for which were suspended in 2017. They were also critical of what they described as “protectionist” measures adopted by India and the termination of bilateral investment treaties with 25 EU member states.
The trade relationship was far below the potential, with India accounting for less than 3% of EU’s total trade, they said. They added EU wants an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement that brings in strong rules, removes barriers to trade in goods and services and investments and opens up human markets.
“India maintains a quite protectionist stance when it comes to negotiations on tariffs and on opening up its services sector, it goes backward in many areas, [such as] reducing access to the Indian procurement market for European companies,” one of the EU officials said. “At the moment, we are quite far apart in agreeing on joint operations we want to see in such an exercise.”
EU is looking forward to the launch of a high-level trade dialogue between the EU trade commissioner and India’s comer minister to address these issues, they said.
Besides the trade dialogue and a cooperation roadmap for the period till 2025, other deliverables expected from the summit are a joint declaration on circular economy and resource efficiency, the renewal of a science and technology cooperation agreement, the launch of a new maritime security dialogue, and the development of security and defence consultations and military contacts, the officials said.
China lied, people died: Tibetans
NEW DELHI, July 14: Tibetans held a protest against China outside the World Health Organisation office in Delhi.
They opposed China’s attitude regarding the scientific team visiting China to investigate the source of the virus which causes the Covid-19 disease.
The Tibetans wore apparel with slogans like ‘China lied, people died’ and ‘Free Tibet’. They demanded that the team be recalled by WHO since its aim was being misrepresented by the Chinese state.
New uniform, easier UK visa norms from January 1: Priti Patel
LONDON, July 13: A new points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens alike and creates new routes for talent and healthcare professionals to come and work in the UK was confirmed in a ministerial statement by home secretary Priti Patel on Monday.
The system will take effect from January 1, a day after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31. The statement confirms post-Brexit plans announced earlier by the Boris Johnson government, many of which are likely to be welcomed by Indian professionals.
Chair of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) UK India Business Forum, Jim Bligh said: “Indian businesses welcome the UK’s new points-based immigration. It’s positive that the UK is seeking to attract highly-skilled nationals from across the world, regardless of nationality”.
“Across all sectors, Indian businesses bring in highly skilled nationals from around the world to help UK plc grow and compete. From high tech to haute cuisine, engineering to drug design, a smooth, skills-focused immigration system should help Indian companies across the economy to flourish in Britain in the years ahead”, he added.
The immigration routes described by officials as “new, simplified”, include a new Health and Care Visa for key health professionals will make it easier and cheaper for health professionals to work in the UK; a new graduate route opening in Summer 2021 will allow international students to stay in the UK once they have successfully completed their studies: students who have completed undergraduate and master’s degrees will be able to stay for two years and those who have completed PhD can stay for three years; and the Global Talent Scheme will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.
Patel said: “The British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system. Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country’s full potential and implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system and deliver a new fairer, firmer, skills-led system from January 1, 2021”.
“Britain is open for business and ready to welcome the best and brightest global talent”, she added.
The details announced by the Home Office are expected to give British employers the time to prepare and the new immigration system will be implemented in phases to ensure smooth delivery.
The new system will require those applying via the skilled worker route to accrue points by meeting a number of relevant criteria, such as have a job offer at the appropriate skill level, the ability to speak English and meeting the salary threshold.
The system will also expand the skills threshold. An applicant’s job must be at the minimum skill level of A-level or equivalent, rather than degree level under the current system. This will provide greater flexibility and ensure UK business has access to a wide pool of skilled workers, officials added.
UK-China ties freeze over Huawei, Hong Kong
LONDON, July 12: Only five years ago, then-British Prime Minister David Cameron was celebrating a “golden era” in UK-China relations, bonding with President Xi Jinping over a pint of beer at the pub and signing off on trade deals worth billions.
Those friendly scenes now seem like a distant memory.
Hostile rhetoric has ratcheted up in recent days over Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong. Britain’s decision to offer refuge to millions in the former colony was met with a stern telling-off by China. And Chinese officials have threatened “consequences” if Britain treats it as a “hostile country” and decides to cut Chinese technology giant Huawei out of its critical telecoms infrastructure amid growing unease over security risks.
All that is pointing to a much tougher stance against China, with a growing number in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party taking a long, hard look at Britain’s Chinese ties. Many are saying Britain has been far too complacent and naive in thinking it could reap economic benefits from the relationship without political consequences.
“It’s not about wanting to cut ties with China. It’s that China is itself becoming a very unreliable and rather dangerous partner,” said lawmaker and former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. He cited Beijing’s “trashing” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration — the treaty supposed to guarantee Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy when it reverted from British to Chinese rule — and aggressive posturing in the South China Sea as areas of concern.
“This is not a country that is in any way managing itself to be a good and decent partner in anything at the moment. That’s why we need to review our relationship with them,” he added. “Those who think this is a case of separating trade from government … you can’t do that, that’s naïve.”
Duncan Smith has lobbied other Tory lawmakers to cut Huawei out from Britain’s superfast 5G network. Not only that: He says all existing Huawei technology in the UK telecoms infrastructure also needs to be eliminated as soon as possible.
The company has been at the center of tensions between China and Britain, as UK officials review how the latest US sanctions — imposed over allegations of cyber spying and aimed at cutting off Huawei’s access to advanced microchips made with American technology — will affect British telecom networks.
Johnson decided in January that Huawei can be deployed in future 5G networks as long as its share of the market is limited, but officials have since hinted that that decision could be reversed in light of the US sanctions. A new policy is expected within weeks.
Huawei says it is merely caught in the middle of a US-China battle over trade and technology. It has consistently denied allegations it could carry out cyber espionage or electronic sabotage at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party.
“We’ve definitely been pushed into the geopolitical competition,” Vice President Victor Zhang said Wednesday. US accusations about security risks are all politically motivated, he said.
Nigel Inkster, senior adviser to the International Institute for Strategic Studies and former director of operations and intelligence at Britain’s MI6 intelligence service, said the issue with Huawei was not so much about immediate security threats. Rather, he said, the deeper worry lies in the geopolitical implications of China becoming the world’s dominant player in 5G technology.
“It’s less about cyber espionage than generally conceived because, after all, that’s happening in any place,” he said. “This was never something of which the UK was lacking awareness.”
Still, Inkster said he’s been cautioning for years that Britain needed a more coherent strategy toward China that balances the economic and security factors.
“There was a high degree of complacency” back in the 2000s, he said. “There was always less to the ‘golden era’ than met the eye.”
Britain rolled out the red carpet for Xi’s state visit in 2015, with golden carriages and a lavish banquet at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II. A cyber security cooperation deal was struck, along with billions in trade and investment projects — including Chinese state investment in a British nuclear power station. Cameron spoke about his ambitions for Britain to become China’s “best partner in the West.”
Enthusiasm has cooled significantly since. The English city of Sheffield, which was promised a billion-pound deal with a Chinese manufacturing firm in 2016, said the investment never materialized. Critics have called it a vanity project and a “candy floss deal.”
Economic and political grumbles about China erupted into sharp rebukes earlier this month when Beijing imposed sweeping new national security laws on Hong Kong. Johnson’s government accused China of a serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and announced it would open a special route to citizenship for up to 3 million eligible Hong Kong residents.
That amounts to “gross interference,” Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said. Liu also warned that a decision to get rid of Huawei could drive away other Chinese investment in the UK, and derided Britain for succumbing to US pressure over the company.
Rana Mitter, an Oxford history professor specializing in China, said that the security law — combined with broader resentment about Chinese officials’ handling of information about the coronavirus — helped set the stage for a perfect storm of wariness among Britain’s politicians and the public.
Mitter added that Britain has careened from “uncritically accepting everything about China” to a confrontational approach partly because of a lack of understanding about how China operates.
Some have cautioned against escalating tensions. Philip Hammond, the former British Treasury chief, warned that weakening links with the world’s second-largest economy was particularly unwise at a time when Britain is severing trade ties with Europe and seeking partners elsewhere. Hammond also said he was concerned about an “alarming” rise of anti-Chinese sentiment within his Conservative Party.
Duncan Smith rejected that, saying concerns about China’s rise are cross-party and multinational. He is part of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a newly launched group of lawmakers from more than a dozen countries — from the US to Australia to Japan — that want a coordinated international response to the Chinese challenge.
“We need to recognize that this isn’t something one country can deal with,” he said.
Disengagement, de-escalation with China in progress: Jaishankar
NEW DELHI, July 12: External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Saturday described as “work in progress” the “disengagement and de-escalation” process with China in East Ladakh.
Discussing the India-China face-off in Ladakh at India Global Week 2020, organised by India Inc, a UK-based media house, Jaishankar said the process had been mutually agreed upon and just commenced. “What’s happened is that we have agreed on the need to disengage because the troops on both sides are deployed very close to each other.”
On-ground verification in East Ladakh has shown that Indian and Chinese troops have moved back from positions where they were in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation by at least 600 metres at the four stand-off points as well as all along the 1597 km Line of Actual Control in the western sector, top military and diplomatic officials said on condition of anonymity.
According to the officials, the two sides have decided to temporarily halt patrolling at the four friction points, Galwan, Gogra, Hot Springs and Pangong Tso — but without prejudice to their patrolling rights — so that temperatures are reduced on the border and any chance of an accident is avoided. This is not the first time that India and China have agreed to such measures, they pointed out; it was done at Finger 8 in Pangong Tso in 2008 and at Depsang Bulge in 2013 after similar stand-offs were resolved.
The officials denied that there was a buffer zone.
“There is no buffer zone. All we have done is that both sides have withdrawn to rear positions so that no accident or flare-up takes place. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is dismantling structures and moving vehicles back at the stand-off points in daylight to maintain transparency. It also wants Indian troops to move back the same distance as there is trust deficit between the two sides... it only requires a spark to catch fire and undo all the dialogue,” said a senior military commander.
During the third virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs on Friday, India and China said they would push forward efforts aimed at complete disengagement and easing of tensions along the LAC even as differences remained over issues such as Beijing’s insistence of claiming ownership of Galwan valley.
A date for the meeting of senior military commanders next week is being worked out, and the situation on ground reveals a complete disengagement at Galwan with neither of the forces sitting on or next to the LAC.
Jaishankar also emphasized that there is bipartisan consensus in the US to strengthen the relationship with India. “Think back of the last four US Presidents — Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton — and you would agree that you can’t find four people in world less similar.... Yet one thing on which they agreed is importance of India.... Maybe some of it is our charm but I think a lot of it is also their thinking. We have a very strong political, strategic, security, technology, economic cooperation and defence cooperation with United States,” he said.
By Deepak Arora
TAIPEI, July 9: East Asian and Pacific Affairs Director-General Baushuan Ger will become Taiwan’s representative to India in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), according to the latest personnel announcement made on Thursday.
Incumbent Taiwan Representative to India Tien Chung-kwang, who has been in the post for more than seven years, will replace Hsu Szu-chien as deputy foreign minister, per Up Media. Hsu was appointed as deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC).
Not only does such an arrangement convey approval for Tien’s performance as Taiwan’s representative to India over the past seven years, but it also suggests that the relationship with India is likely to become one of Taiwan’s most important diplomatic priorities in the future.
Canadian report flags ISI using pro-Khalistan elements for terror acts in India
TORONTO, July 9: A case relating to two Canadian Sikhs being placed on a no-fly list in the country has now been linked to an alleged Pakistan-based plot to use pro-Khalistan elements to conduct terrorist acts in India, according to a new report.
The details emerged as two men — Bhagat Singh Brar and his business partner Parvkar Singh Dulai — challenged being blocked from travelling by air.
According to the report from Stewart Bell in the Canadian outlet Global News, Brar was “promoting extremism, including the radicalisation of youth, with the aim of achieving Khalistan independence; and attack planning and facilitation, including weapons procurement, to conduct attacks in India,” as per supporting case documents filed by Canadian security agencies, including Public Safety Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the country’s spy agency.
Dulai was described as a “facilitator of terrorist-related activities and has shown an ongoing pattern of involvement within the Khalistani extremist milieu”.
The report said that Brar visited Pakistan in 2015 and collaborated with one Gurjeet Singh Cheema to plan an attack in India. These documents alleged that Brar collected donations for gurdwaras and “is suspected to have been diverting major part of the funds for anti-India activities”. He was also linked to Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI. Dulai has been described as a very vocal supporter of Khalistan.
Brar again visited Pakistan in 2018 to meet his father who happens to be Lakhbir Singh Rode, nephew of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and founder of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation.
To be clear, none of these allegations have been proven in any court nor have either Brar or Dulai been charged with terrorism. Both have also denied the allegations contained in the Canadian security documents in filings made by their lawyers in this case.
Shuvaloy Majumdar, a senior fellow with the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said that Bell’s explosive article exposed the “depth” of how Pakistan’s intelligence operations position themselves as community brokers. “This is a national security story impacting not one but two democracies, and has to be taken seriously as any other state sponsorship of terrorism.”
Officials at India’s high commission in Ottawa refused to comment on these revelations. However, Indian officials said New Delhi believes this instance buttresses their belief that Pakistan is intricately involved in pro-Khalistan activities in Canada, including attempted terror attacks in India.
Bhagat Singh Brar and Parvkar Singh Dulai are in the no-fly list Canada for facilitating terror; the former is the son of Lakhbir Singh Rode, nephew of slain militant preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
Missing Seoul mayor found dead
SEOUL, July 9: Seoul City Mayor Park Won-soon was found dead on Friday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, after his daughter reported him missing a day earlier.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency found his body at Mt Bugak in northern Seoul, near where his phone signal was last detected during a late night search, Yonhap said.
UK High Commissioner presents credentials to Prez Kovind
NEW DELHI, July 8: The United Kingdom’s new high commissioner to India, Philip Barton, on Wednesday gave us a glimpse into how he prepared before presenting his credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind during a virtual ceremony.
In a short video which he posted on his Twitter handle, Barton begins speaking with a ‘Namaste’ and goes on to explain that it is an exciting day for him as he takes up his new assignment. Introducing himself as the new British high commissioner designate to India, he goes on to describe the process of presenting his credentials to the head of state and what it literally translates into.
Letters of credentials are the letters signed by the Queen of England – the head of state of the United Kingdom addressed to the President of India asking him and the state of India to give credence (comes from a French word) to what the new designate says while discharging his official duties. The letters also urge the President to believe that the diplomat speaks on behalf of the United Kingdom during his stay in the country.
Barton gives us a peep at the original copies of the letter duly signed by Queen Elizabeth-II and addressed to President Kovind. The ceremony, which had to be carried out virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was nevertheless an important one for Indo-British relations.
Barton’s connections with India go back a long way. His new assignment is definitely not his first brush with the country. “We often speak of the ‘living bridge’ of people, ideas and institutions that tie the UK and India together. I, too, am a part of that bridge,” he says.
He goes on to elaborate that his mother happened to be born in Shimla and Barton was posted in national capital Delhi in the 1990s. He met his wife, Amanda, when both of them lived and worked in the country. They named their daughter ‘India’ – “not knowing I would return one day as high commissioner”.
Barton’s arrival in the country and the presentation of his credentials was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which broke out earlier this year. He succeeded Dominic Asquith, who served as high commissioner from April 2016 to January this year.
“The UK-India relationship is remarkable and we share an unparalleled breadth and depth of connection. There is a deep commitment across the British government, industry and civil society to develop that relationship even further,” Barton said in a statement.
He identified several key areas – developing the trade and economic partnership following the Britain’s exit from the European Union, tackling global challenges of climate change and green recovery, acting together as a force for good in the world, and working closely to keep both countries safe and secure.
Earlier, Barton also served as the UK’s high commissioner to Pakistan during 2014-16 and as acting chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee during 2016-17, acknowledged he had arrived in India at an “extraordinarily difficult time”.
Barton joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1986 and has previously served as the Director General (consular and security) in London and as deputy ambassador in Washington. Before arriving in New Delhi last month, he helped the UK government adapt its long-term planning to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Barton’s arrival, Jan Thompson, who served as acting high commissioner from February to June, has returned to her role as deputy high commissioner.
India-China ties in complex situation, says Beijing
BEIJING, July 6: China on Monday said the consensus reached with India to disengage troops at the border should be implemented as soon as possible, indicating cooling down of tension with India at the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC). India and China clashed earlier last month along the disputed border in Galwan Valley, resulting in death of 20 Indian soldiers and purported casualties of Chinese troops.
Acknowledging that current bilateral ties were facing a “complex situation”, Beijing said both sides should adhere to the “to the strategic judgement that they do not pose a threat to each other…”.
A statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry on a conversation between foreign minister, Wang Yi and India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval on Sunday said both New Delhi and Beijing welcome recent military and diplomatic talks to resolve the last month’s crisis at the border.
Wang was referring to the June 30 meeting – and two previous ones in June -- between delegations led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, and Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region.
“The two sides welcome the progress made in the recent military and diplomatic meetings between the two countries, and agree to continue the dialogue and consultation and emphasise that the consensus reached at the level of the two border defence forces’ commanders should be implemented as soon as possible to complete the process of disengagement of the front-line forces of the two sides as soon as possible," the statement in Mandarin released Monday evening read.
China’s statement comes on the same afternoon India released its statement agreeing that both sides “should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously” and also “ensure a phased and stepwise de-escalation” in the border areas.
India, in its statement, also said that Wang and Doval re-affirmed that both sides should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control, and that they should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquillity in border areas.
This was the first contact between the Special Representatives since the border standoff between the two sides began in May. The two countries have held discussions through diplomatic and military channels, including the corps commanders and the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs.
However, China in its statement, also made it clear who Beijing thinks was responsible for the standoff in Galwan Valley and then the violence at the border.
“What happened recently in the western part of the border between China and India in the Galwan Valley is very clear. China will continue to effectively defend its territorial sovereignty and maintain peace and tranquility in the border area,” said Wang, who is also state councillor told Doval, according to the statement.
It referred to the existing mechanisms between the two countries to resolve the long-standing 3488 km boundary problem – currently the longest land border dispute in the world.
“The two sides agreed to strengthen communication through the special representative meeting mechanism, the working mechanism for consultations and coordination on Sino-Indian border affairs, and constantly improve and strengthen confidence-building measures in border areas to avoid the recurrence of incidents affecting peace and tranquility in border areas,” the Chinese statement said, quoting Wang.
The relationship between India and China is complex and both sides should work to reverse it, Wang said.
“The two sides should always adhere to the strategic judgement that they do not pose a threat to each other and provide each other opportunities for development, attach great importance to the complex situation facing the current relationship between the two countries, and work together to overcome and reverse them as soon as possible,” the Chinese statement said.
Wang’s statement emphasised the importance of guiding “public opinion and public will” on the ties between the two countries.
“It is hoped that India and China will act in the same direction, correctly guide public opinion and public will, maintain and promote normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, avoid adopting practices that expand disputes, and jointly safeguard the overall situation of China-India relations,” the statement said.
Unlike India, China is yet to release the PLA’s casualty figures it sustained during the June 15 brawl.
A senior Chinese official had told foreign diplomats last month that one of the reasons Beijing hadn’t released official figures was because it did not want to stir sentiments.
The other reason, the Chinese official said, was because the casualty numbers were low for the PLA.
Taiwan says Dalai Lama welcome to visit
TAIPEI, July 6: Taiwan would welcome a visit by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, its foreign ministry said on Monday, a trip that would infuriate Beijing which views him as a dangerous separatist.
The Dalai Lama has not visited the Chinese-claimed, democratic island under the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, who first took office in 2016. He last came in 2009.
In a birthday message via video link to supporters in Taiwan on Sunday, the Dalai Lama said he would like to visit again.
“As the political scenario changes, it may be that I’ll be able to visit you in Taiwan again. I hope so. Whatever happens I’ll remain with you in spirit,” he said on his website.
Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said the government had not yet received an application for him to travel to the island but would handle it under “relevant rules” if one came.
“We will, in accordance with the principle of mutual respect and at a time of convenience for both sides, welcome the Dalai Lama to come to Taiwan again to propagate Buddhist teachings,” Ou added.
Beijing is deeply suspicious of Taiwan’s president, believing she wishes to push for the island’s formal independence. Tsai says Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name.
Taipei-Beijing relations have worsened further since Taiwan offered to receive Hong Kong people who wish to leave the city after China passed a new national security law last week, an offer Beijing has condemned.
The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
China accuses him of being a “splittist”, but he says he only wants genuine autonomy for his remote Himalayan homeland.
China ‘welcomes’ military talks working towards de-escalation
BEIJING, July 1: China on Wednesday said it “welcomes” the latest military commander-level talks between India and China, which had made progress to “disengage” border troops and deescalate the ongoing tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Beijing “welcomes” the progress made in the third round of talks, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a late- night comment.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said the India and China were continuing to implement the consensus reached in earlier talks.
Zhao was referring to two meetings between the third meeting between delegations led by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, and Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region held earlier in June.
“The two sides continue working towards implementing the consensus reached at the two earlier rounds of commander-level talks and made progress in effective measures by frontline troops to disengage and deescalate the situation,” Zhao said in a comment published by the Chinese foreign ministry on its website.
“China welcomes that. We hope the Indian side will work with the Chinese side towards the same goal, keep up close communication through military and diplomatic channels, and ease the situation and reduce the temperature along the border,” the spokesperson said.
Separately, quoting anonymous sources, nationalistic tabloid Global Times reported that the “two sides had a frank and in-depth exchange of views, discussed effective ways to resolve current differences in border control, and studied concrete measures to enhance mutual trust and maintain stability.”
Quoting the source, the GT report said the military commander-level’s meeting showed the two sides’ willingness to ease tensions on the border, and avoid further escalating the situation.
The latest meeting took place at Chushul on the Indian side of the LAC, while the previous two meetings were held at Moldo on the Chinese side.