PAKISTAN STARTS FENCING BORDER THAT AFGHANISTAN DOESN’T RECOGNIZE

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Despite Afghanistan’s strong reservations, Pakistan has started the fencing work along the whole Pakistan-Afghanistan border or Durand Line. According to Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, DG, Inter-Service Public Relations and Pak army spokesperson, the work is part of Operation Radd ul Fasaad, Pak army’s countrywide anti-terror operation and has been ordered by Pak army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bahwa.

The whole work will be completed in two phases with high infiltration areas like Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber Agencies are being taken in the first phase. According to his Facebook post, besides building up the fence, the Pak army is also new posts and forts to further beef up the security measures.

Nothing looks wrong with it. It is, in fact, within a sovereign country’s rights to do all to secure its borders. But it is not so. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, known as Durand Line, is disputed and Afghanistan has vowed to never recognize it. Durand Line, drawn by Britain in 1893, is 2460 Kms long and arbitrarily divides the geographical areas inhabited by Pashtun and Baloch communities. Afghanistan contends that the validity of the British era document that imposed the Durand Line on Afghanistan expired with the collapse of the British empire from the sub-continent in 1947.

Earlier this year, when Pakistan had closed its border with Afghanistan citing terrorists’ infiltration, Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai had hit back using strong words, “the Government of Pakistan had no legal authority to dictate terms on the Durand line.” He added that “while we wish freedom for the people of FATA from FCR and other repressive measures, we remind the Government of Pakistan that Afghanistan hasn’t and will not recognize the Durand Line.” Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA is Pakistan’s north-western province that borders with Afghanistan. FATA was seen as a region beyond Pakistan’s control which regulates it now through repressive special laws known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and has announced to merge it with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

©SantoshChaubey

CHINESE MEDIA: B&R IS NOT A CHARITY PROGRAMME, CHINA SHOULD GIVE LOANS AT HIGHER INTEREST RATES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Though China terms baseless India’s worries that it is trying to establish foothold in India’s neighbourhood by trapping countries in a debt trap, its steps say otherwise.

India’s neighbourhood countries that China is eyeing are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar. Having a strong Chinese presence in these countries would give China strategic advantage over India. So, China, in the name of building economic corridors linking Asia, Africa and Europe, offers these countries huge loans for infrastructural projects at higher interest rates and when these economically poor countries are not able to repay the loans, China acquires controlling stakes in them, as high as 85 per cent.

China rubbishes all such claims and says in its One Belt One Road or Belt & Road (OBOR or B&R) is a venture aimed at mutual benefit for all in the region. But an editorial in Global Times, one of the official publications of China, has clearly stated that “it should be made clear that the B&R is not a charity program, and most projects under the initiative are reciprocal, rather than aid.”

Though the editorial is written in context of an Indian publication’s report that claims that China is trying to convert its soft loans to Bangladesh to commercial credit, it gives a hint of what the Chinese designs are going to be, especially in countries where China is investing heavily in projects under its One OBOR or B&R initiative.

Pakistan is the classic case here where China is establishing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with an estimated investment of $50 billion that could go up to $75 billion. Though Pakistan’s power elite sound bullish with CPEC as if it will miraculously transform Pakistan, protesters and activists in Pakistan rue that the mammoth infrastructural exercise, that passes through the disputed territory that India considers its own, will convert Pakistan into a Chinese colony.

China is already acquiring controlling stakes in projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. According to a Reuters report, China has demanded 70-85 per cent stakes in the projects funded by China in Myanmar including Kyauk Pyu, a strategic deep sea strategic on the Bay of Bengal. In Sri Lanka, China funded projects Hambantota Port and Mattala Airport, both strategically important, especially for India, have gone into China’s control. With Bangladesh, China signed projects worth $25 billion during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Bangladesh visit in October 2016. Earlier this month, Nepal signed a $ 2.5 billion deal with China to build the country’s largest hydroelectric dam. In May, Nepal and China signed a MoU on OBOR.

China, known for territorial expansionism and autocratic rule, is also an economic powerhouse now. It is now financially big enough to first pump its money in small, poor nations and then acquire controlling stakes in organizations as the nations fail to repay, be it the poor or financially weaker nations of Asia or Africa and the editorial narrative that “China needs to take a more sophisticated approach in clarifying its loan arrangements in overseas cooperation and should maintain its bottom line by avoiding interest rate competition in loan offerings” fits in the expansionist mindset of its one-party regime.

Soft loans come with symbolic interest rates of around 1 per cent or even less or in some cases with no interest rates and are given to the borrowers for development projects while commercial credit is given at much higher interest rates. The editorial argues that “there is no need for China to compete with other countries in offering competitive interest rates just to please partners or win contracts, to the detriment of its own interests” referring to India’s $7.5 billion line of credit to Bangladesh at a nominal interest rate.

Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, all these countries are in India’s neighbourhood. China is either funding huge projects there or has signed deals worth multiple billions of dollars. And as it intends to charge a much higher interest rate for its loans, something that may result in countries defaulting on Chinese loans and thus ceding the projects’ control to China, India has a valid reason to get worried, especially after the historically hostile attitude that China has harboured against India. China has always tried to encircle India by increasing its presence in the South Asian countries.

©SantoshChaubey

SELF-AGGRANDIZING CHINESE STATE MEDIA TERMS WESTERN DEMOCRACY A GRAND ILLUSION

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

In an act of self-aggrandizement, an editorial in China’s official publication People’s Daily has termed western democracy a grand illusion. Comparing situation in China with political chaos prevailing in the US with election of Donald Trump as the president and declaring China’s political system unique for lifting millions of Chinese out of poverty, the editorial has slammed western democracy saying it is always just one step away from tragedy.

The editorial questions the US model of democracy and writes that ‘China’s official argument is that the US elevates itself as a model of democracy in order to spread its interpretation of democracy to other countries in an attempt to make the world in its own image.’

It says the 2016 US presidential election has shown the perils of western democracy ‘revealing the dark side of so-called democracy in the US.’ Taking its agenda to show western democracies in poor light further, citing some studies in the way it suits its agenda, the editorial says that “the modern history of western democracy is one of decline and fall and most democracies failed and there is a growing dissatisfaction with western democracy itself, not just in America but around the world.”

Whereas the world knows how ruthless is the one-party autocratic rule of China. China is known as a country that massacred its own students in the Tiananmen Square incident for demanding political reforms. China is a county that crushes every voice of dissent including even artists and Nobel laureates. China’s human rights record is awfully horrible. Free and fair elections are undisputed hallmark of democracies, something that China has never seen under its communist rule.

Though the editorial rightly points to the ensuing political chaos in the US with Donald Trump’s controversial policy movements like replacing national health insurance policy unveiled by Barack Obama with his controversial health insurance plan that will leave millions of Americans out of its ambit or his controversial travel ban plan targeting Muslims or his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Deal, it forgets China’s own poor track record while painting an established model of democracy in a negative hue.

The editorial doesn’t mention Chinese crackdown on Uyghur Muslims of its Xinjiang province for demanding freedom to practice their religion. Ramadan is prohibited for them and so calling their children with religious Muslim names. The editorial doesn’t mention how China throws its millions of poor out of its megacities to build a world class Beijing or Shanghai. The editorial doesn’t mention that How Hong Kongers are vehemently opposing Chinese efforts to introduce mainland education system in the island city that was a British colony with British law and western education system. Though Hong Kong was transferred to Chinese control in 1997, the British-Chinese agreement says that China cannot interfere to impose its socialist system in Hong Kong for 50 years.

While talking of growing dissatisfaction with western democracies, the editorial very conveniently forgets to mention that how Donald Trump is seeing lowest approval ratings within few months of his inaugural because of controversies surrounding him, that how France elected an unknown Emmanuel Macron over far-right Marine Le Pen to preserve its democratic spirit, that how Britain rejected PM Theresa May’s inward looking policies by taking away her government’s majority in the recently held elections. A democratic spirit grows stronger with equal participation of people in its trial and error process that challenges throw, something that was never given to Chinese people.

Democracies are built on these founding principles, political and religious freedom, rule of law and legal equality, building blocks of a democratic society totally unheard of in one-party rule autocratic China. Chinese people have no political and religious freedom. Legal equality and rule of law is on mercy of Chinese power elite. It serves as long as they keep on squeezing their life within the strict norms laid out by the Chinese Communist Party. The editorial’s argument, “whether the shoes fit or not, only the wearer knows”, quoting Chinese president Xi Jinping, reflects the unilateral world view of Chinese power elite.

©SantoshChaubey

EUROPE IS SHUTTING ITS DOORS ON MIGRANTS, NUMBERS PROVE THAT

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations’ migration agency, has said in its latest release* that the number of migrants and refugees that entered Europe by sea routes has seen a drastic reduction this year. Data compiled till June 11 says 73,189 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 whereas the corresponding figure for January-June 11 was 211434, almost three times.

Deepening anti-migrant and refugee sentiments in the wake of terror attacks in many European countries and the US can be attributed to this drastic reduction second year in a row.

Britain has seen three terror attacks in last four months, in March, May and June in which dozens of people lost their lives. There have been two major terror attacks in France and one in Sweden in 2017.

The series of terror attacks in Europe that began with Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015 has continued unabated in France, Britain, Germany, Belgium and other European countries. Same is the story of the US where San Bernardino attack in 2015 left 14 dead, Orlando nightclub terror attack in 2016 left 49 dead and other bombings, stabbing and vehicle attacks left many injured. And the sad truth is migrants and refugees and their dependents have been found involved in most of them.

Something that is reflecting in the drastically reduced number of refugees and migrants. 2015 was a crisis year when over a million refugees from civil war ravaged countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria. According to the European Union (EU) claims, 2015 saw 1,321,560 asylum claims.

The rush of migrants and refugees in 2015, said to the biggest wave of human crisis since the Second World War, created a pressure on many European countries, especially the smaller and economically weaker ones. Though the hostile signs were visible quite early with countries like Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic showing strong reservations, the European Commission settled down with a plan to distribute and relocate refugees among the European countries and set September 2017 as deadline keeping in line with the European spirit. But, so far, only 21000 asylum seekers have been relocated even if the EU is threatening legal action against the erring countries.

But coupled with terror incidents being attributed to migrants and refugees and thus a rising hostility, 2016 saw a steep decline with 364000 people seeking asylum in Europe in 2016. Many European countries erected fences to prevent migrants. The Balkan route was closed down. The EU made a deal with Turkey to monitor and block the Aegean Sea route, the main route taken by asylum seekers to reach Europe via Greece. Turkey that happened to be the gateway for Syrian migrants to entry in Europe sealed its border with Syria. Brexit in the UK in 2016 saw emergence of Theresa May, who is blamed by her rivals to have ‘poisonous propaganda about immigrants’.

2017, it seems going to bring it further down. The first six months of the year has just over 70000 asylum seekers in Europe by sea route and by this rate, we can say the number is not going to be more than 150000 and can even be substantially lower than this, given the surge of recent terror attacks in Europe by Islamic militants.

Emergence of right wing and far right in many European countries and governments hostile to migrants and refugees have further exacerbated the crisis. France’s far right politician Marine Le Pen has emerged as the main political opposition in the country with 34 per cent vote where far right was almost non-existent in France some years ago. She is a strong critic of immigration. Germany’s right wing termed asylum seekers ‘compost’. British PM Theresa May is also not interested in refugees welfare. And to cap all of them, US President Donald Trump is a strong anti-immigration voice and has been trying hard to stop migrants and refugees entering from the US. And he is a vocal supporter of Theresa May and Marine Le Pen.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY DO ISLAMIC TERRORISTS ATTACK TARGETS IN WESTERN COUNTRIES?

When it can’t produce any effective outcome for their so-called, misplaced cause of spreading Jihad other than those localized aftermaths that only strengthen the resolve to fight back! Because terrorists want their fiefdoms.

It is sad but true that almost of the Muslim world is ruled by autocrats, despots and monarchs. There are very few democracies like Malaysia and Indonesia that can be said to have consistent pattern of democracy in recent times otherwise it is like Pakistan that, though claims to be a democracy, is ruled by its military.

The so-called regimes and rulers want to keep their constituencies intact, so as to exercise their power, even if their constituents (people) want to run away.

That is exactly the mindset of the terror warlords. And with terror groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban and Islamic State going transnational, the terrorist chieftains of these outfits have started dreaming about territories controlled by them where they can run amok. Though it cannot be compared to the rise of the Arab nation states where it was clans and tribes initially, which even used to fight among themselves and the global oil politics gave their rule legitimacy, the terror groups, too, are free to envision a future for them, where, they too, will be treated like the nation states, if they, too, come to control an asset like oil.

In order to do so, they need territories and they need people. Controlling territories will give the terror outfits access to resources and controlling people will give them the much needed sense of being powerful and ultimately the leverage to get sanction in case geopolitical changes throw opportunities, like it has happened with many military rulers in the Muslim world or like it happened with Taliban in Afghanistan. The Islamic State just tried to do it. Emboldened and going transnational, these terror groups may well think of snatching regimes from existing monarchs, despots and autocrats.

For that they need to keep the fight within. They need to push those western countries out of their way. And they need to restrict people leaving the territories they are eyeing. In the prevailing geopolitical circumstances, when the US says it will limit its intervention in the global affairs, draws roadmaps to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq and refuses to send troops in Syria, the terror groups see an opportunity. They see prospects of an independent territory under their control as the Islamic State or Boko Haram think, without bothering much for global policing, or they go for active collusion with existing regimes like many Islamic terror groups including Al Qaeda, Taliban and the Haqqani Faction.

But the more worrying development is their success to limit the movement of people. The incessant terror attacks in many European countries and the revival of the anti-terror discourse in the public psyche in the US with recent attack have effectively blocked the people movement from terror and civil war ravaged Muslim countries to European countries and the US. The UN Migration Agency in its report released today said the number of migrants and refugees trying to enter Europe has drastically come down this year, to almost one-fourth of what it was in the first six months of 2016. European countries and the US are clamping down on migrants and refugees, driven by the hostile public sentiments after spate of terror attacks.

©SantoshChaubey

“WATERED DOWN”? THAT’S WHAT DONALD TRUMP NOW THINKS ABOUT HIS OWN ADMINISTRATION’S TRAVEL BAN PLAN

It seems US President Donald Trump has just got up from a deep slumber of three months to realize that the reworked Travel Ban plan that bears his signature has been watered down to the extent that it is worthless and its original and a much tougher version is needed to be restored. Donald Trump had signed the “watered down” version on March 6. And like his earlier attempt to enforce a nation-wide travel ban plan targeting a particular community, this, too, was stayed by the US courts.

After the London Bridge terror attack on June 3 that left seven dead and dozens injured, Trump has slammed the re-drafted version of his administration’s Travel Ban order an attempt to be “politically correct”, in a series of tweets, he has said that “the US Justice Department should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to the US Supreme Court and the Justice Department should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – and seek much tougher version!”

It raises a pertinent question then – why Donald Trump allowed this watered down version to go through? Did he not study it before putting his signature or was he convinced that the modified version of Travel Ban kept his idea of travel ban intact, as the US courts later concluded?

On March 15, a Hawaii court blocked the Trump Administration’s second attempt to reintroduce the controversial Travel Ban plan saying it was biased and discriminatory. The ban was upheld by a Circuit Court of Appeals on May 25. Trump had signed the new executive order on March 6, weeks after the first futile attempt to ban immigration from some Muslim majority countries.

In the new executive order on Travel Ban, that, according to Trump is a watered down and politically correct version, three months after he signed it, the Trump administration had made some minor changes to the first version of the executive order which was issued on January 27 so that it could evade the courts. For example, the second order excluded Iraq from the list of countries facing the ban, i.e., Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, and featured exemptions for green card holders, permanent US residents and for those already having a US visa.

But the courts weren’t satisfied. Comparing both versions of the Travel Ban executive order, the judge of the Hawaii found “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the executive order and its related predecessor.”

Trump had termed the decision of the Hawaii court an “unprecedented judicial overreach.” When his first Travel Ban executive order was stayed, he had slammed “the opinion of the so-called judge which essentially took law-enforcement away from their country” and claimed that the “decision was ridiculous and would be overturned!” He has continued his tirade against the US judiciary which he finds is rigged and compares it with that of the third world countries.

While alleging the courts to be “slow and political”, he claims that in order to help keep the US safe, his administration is “extreme vetting” people coming into the U.S.

©SantoshChaubey

SCIENTIST ACCUSES TRUMP OF MISUSING MIT STUDY TO JUSTIFY US EXIT FROM PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

The article originally appeared on India Today.

An MIT scientist has accused US President Donald Trump of manipulation and misuse of an MIT study he co-authored to justify the decision of pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the first global climate pact with worldwide representation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The agreement signed by 195 countries in Paris in December 2015 has been ratified by 147 countries so far.

While Trump blasted the Paris Accord of being unfair to the US, at the same time, he tried to downplay the global agreement as ineffective in combating the climate change by quoting an MIT finding, though without naming it, “It is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100. Tiny, tiny amount.” But soon it emerged that Trump had picked up selective information to justify the rationale behind his decision.

According to an article in the MIT Technology Review, Donald Trump and his team quoted figures from an earlier MIT study which was done a year before the Paris Climate Agreement was signed and therefore could not factor in the emission pledges of all the signatories to the accord.

Erwan Monier, co-author of the study, “How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?”, and principal research scientist at MIT’s department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences says “It appears that the White House cherry picked the lowest number they could find among studies that explored the impact of the climate accord”. And as per Monier, the Trump administration didn’t contact the MIT team before quoting its findings.

The 2016 MIT study which took into account emission pledges of all the participating nations came to the conclusion that the Paris Agreement was the first step in the right direction and if the participating countries followed their pledges, it could “reduce the surface air temperature in 2100 between 0.6 and 1.1 C relative to the no climate policy case” and thus could slow down the global warming process.

The 2016 study also emphasized that tacking climate change and global warming needed much more. Monier says, “The Paris agreement is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is only a step. It puts us on the right path to keep warming under 3 C, but even under the same level of commitment of the Paris agreement after 2030, our study indicates a 95 percent probability that the world will warm by more than 2 C by 2100”. And in absence of any global climate control framework, the earth may warm up to 5 C or more, a Time report said quoting co-director of the MIT program John Reilly.

©SantoshChaubey

KABUL BOMB BLAST: AFGHANISTAN BLAMES HAQQANI NETWORK AND PAKISTAN’S ISI FOR ATTACK

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

Afghanistan has blamed Pakistan for this morning’s deadly blast in Kabul that killed 80 and injured over 300. Tolo News has tweeted quoting Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) that the blast was carried out by the Haqqani Network with direct help of the ISI. No terror group has taken the responsibility so far while Taliban has denied any role in the attack. Taliban, in fact, strongly condemned the terror incident.

The Haqqani Network is an Afghan insurgent terror outfit based in Pakistan’s Waziristan and has carried out many high-profile attacks on US forces, high ranking Afghan officials and foreigners in Afghanistan. The network has ties with Taliban and Al Qaeda and the US considers it a major threat to Afghanistan’s stability.

A report in Pakistan’s The Express Tribune also corroborated the news break quoting Dawa Khan Meenpal, deputy spokesperson of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who told the US Government’s Afghan initiative Radio Azadi that “investigation was underway but the initial evidence suggested the attack was planned by the Haqqani Network with the help of foreign circles in Pakistan”. News agency AFP also confirmed that NDS has blamed the Haqqani Network and Pakistan’s ISI for the attack.

General John F. Campbell, then Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, had said in his testimony before the US’ House Armed Services Committee in February 2016 that “Haqqani Network remains the most capable threat to the U.S. and Coalition forces”. Campbell’s assessment said the Haqqani Network was behind “planning and executing most high profile attacks in Kabul”. Pakistan’s continued patronage to the network has been testing the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and the US has warned Pakistan to act to dismantle the Haqqani Network or it will act alone to eliminate it.

The Haqqani Network’s most high profile attacks include April 2008 Hamid Karzai assassination attempt, December 2009 CIA’s Camp Chapman attack killing seven US agents, September 10, 2011 truck bomb explosion in Afghanistan’s Wardak province that killed five Afghans and injured 77 US soldiers, September 12, 2011 attack on the US Embassy and NATO bases in Kabul, plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai again in October 2011 and series of suicide attacks on the Afghan parliament and western embassies in Kabul’s diplomatic enclave.

Just days into Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the deadly explosion in Kabul this morning killed 80 in one of the worst terror strikes in the war-torn South Asian country. Bomb concealed in a water-tanker exploded near Germany Embassy in Kabul around 9 AM local time in the highly fortified diplomatic enclave of Kabul that houses many embassies and the presidential palace of Afghanistan. The blast happened on a busy street with shops, supermarkets and office during peak morning hours with rush of office going people, shoppers and students and was so massive that many embassies, including Germany, Pakistan, Turkey, France, Japan, Bulgaria and UAE have reported damages. Some officials of German and Pakistani embassies have got injured and the Germany has closed its embassy in Kabul till further notice.

TERRORIST VIOLENCE DURING RAMADAN

The Kabul blast today is the first big terror attack during the holy month of Ramadan and if we see it in the context of the terror attacks during last year’s Ramadan, it may just be the beginning. Muslim holy month of Ramadan usually sees a spurt in terror strikes by Islamic terrorists and going by the reports, Ramadan in 2016 was the bloodiest ever with Islamic State claiming to kill and injured 5200 during the month long fasting period. In terror attacks spread over many countries, i.e., Bangladesh, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, hundreds of people lost their lives during Ramadan last year.

©SantoshChaubey

US SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN CALLS FOR SOUTH CHINA SEA DRILL TO CHALLENGE ‘BULLY’ CHINA

The article originally appeared on India Today.

US senator John McCain has called China a bully nation. McCain who is in Australia said “he believed China had been throwing its weight around too much thanks to its development as an economic powerhouse,” a report in The Australian said.

Saying that “the challenge is that China is acting more like a bully” in the Asia-Pacific region, McCain who was the Republican Party nominee in the 2008 US Presidential Election, pressed on the need for the US and Australia to work together “when dealing with economic and strategic issues involving China”, The Australian further wrote. McCain, who is the chairman of the important US Senate Armed Services Committee, is in Australia for security talks and his remarks on China was part of a speech he delivered yesterday. Australia responded to McCain calls saying it would continue to follow “freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight” in accordance with the international laws.

McCain slammed China for its stand on the South China dispute. According to another report in the ABC News, he “called for naval exercises in the South China Sea to challenge Beijing”. McCain said that nations could come together for a multilateral exercise under the US leadership to resist Chinese advances in the disputed territory. “If the Chinese are able to stop us exercising freedom of navigation then that has severe consequences for the whole region”, the report quoted him saying.

Territorial dispute in the South China Sea involves seven countries, i.e., China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. A busy trade route passes through it and all other countries except China are in favour of keeping its status as free, international waters. China wants to control it as it imports most of its oil through this trade route and has built artificial islands in the sea. Doing so would enable China to establish hegemony in East and Southeast Asia that no other country involved in the dispute is capable of. Also, it would keep foreign military forces like the US away from the region.

The US Navy has a sizeable presence in the South China Sea and it routinely carries out patrols in the area to deter the Chinese efforts maintaining that the South China Sea waters remain free for international navigation. China doesn’t recognize these claims including the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) that has invalidated the Chinese claims on the South China Sea and says China exercises control over these areas since ancient times and if there is any dispute it should be resolved by the countries directly concerned through bilateral discussions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has compared Chinese acts in the South China Sea to the Russian aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. On May 24, China saw the first direct challenge to its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea by the Trump Administration when USS Dewey, a US Navy destroyer, sailed close to an artificial island built by China. China reacted furiously saying it “warned and dispelled” the US Navy destroyer. With this US act, it has become clear that there has been no change in the US policy of “performing freedom of navigation operations” in the South China Sea as opposed to the claims that Trump Administration was deliberately going soft on China’s claims over the South China Sea to bargain trade deals with China and to get Chinese help in controlling North Korea.

©SantoshChaubey

VERBAL DUEL ESCALATE TENSION BETWEEN US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AND GERMANY

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

First it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who gave indications that all was not well between Germany and its traditional allies Britain and America. She slammed the two countries saying Germany could no longer trust its “traditional allies”. According to a report in The Guardian, while speaking at an election rally in Munich, German Chancellor said “the times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over”. Elections in Germany are due in September 2017.

The recently concluded NATO and G7 Summits between the world’s most industrialized nations saw differences between the world’s most powerful and influential leaders coming out in open. The Guardian described the summits as “bruising meetings” while The Telegraph wrote that the impression after the G7 Summit was, “that, for the first time in decades, more divides industrialised Western powers than unites them”. Without naming Trump, Merkel described the Sicily G7 Summit as “six against one” saying as “the result of the talks was very difficult, if not to say very unsatisfactory”, The Guardian report said.

But Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel didn’t mince his words while taking on Trump. Following Merkel’s harsh words, he blamed Trump for “weakening the west”. “The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union (EU). The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker”, a CNN report quoted him saying. And the charge of “standing against the interests of the European Union” is not baseless. Donald Trump has been vocally anti-EU. Trump has also termed ‘Brexit a great development for the UK’.

How Donald Trump is becoming a controversial figure in Germany also becomes clear from the reaction of Martin Schulz, Merkel’s main political rival and a former president of the European Parliament. According to a report in The Hill, Schulz has slammed Trump, “The chancellor represent all of us at summits like these. And I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government. That is unacceptable.”

This was enough for Trump to react it seems. And he expressed his displeasure and anger through a tweet again reminding Germany of the “massive trade deficit” that the country has with the US and its “far less” NATO contribution than required and added that he was going to change it.

On May 25, Donald Trump had charged Germans for cornering business and jobs in the US. While blasting Germans, Trump had said, “The Germans are bad, very bad. See the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S. Terrible. We will stop this.” In response to Trump’s criticism, Sigmar Gabriel had quipped that the US automakers needed to come up with better cars. He termed products of American automakers “worse, weaker and more expensive”, an Associated Press report said.

And during the G7 Summit also, he behaved like he was acting unilaterally. While six G7 members, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Japan and Canada reiterated their commitment for the 2015 Paris climate deal, Trump remained non-committal saying he needed more time to think over it. Merkel was blunt in her criticism over Trump’s stand saying the developments say the US will not stay with the climate deal.

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Paris climate deal and he had promised to cancel the deal if he became the US President. And according to a Daily Mail report, Trump has “made up his mind to withdraw US from Paris climate deal”. The G7 Summit said it would fight against protectionism while protectionism has been a cornerstone of Trump administration.

©SantoshChaubey