NORTH KOREA: CHINA CALLS US LED MEETING ILLEGAL AND A COLD WAR VESTIGE

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Just a day after Donald Trump and Xi Jinping phone conversation over North Korea, China has strongly objected to a US led meeting in Canada’s Vancouver that called for strict implementation of sanctions imposed on North Korea.

Calling the meeting illegal and a Cold War vestige, a spokesperson of China’s Foreign Office said, “It will only drive a wedge among the international community and undermine the concerted efforts to seek proper settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.”

The US and Canada hosted Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula on 16th January. The meeting was aimed at “the Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Denuclearization of North Korea”, as the US State Department summed it.

Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, said the purpose of the meetings was to improve the effectiveness of the maximum pressure campaign and combat North Korea’s attempts to evade sanctions.

China raised objections over meeting and its participants, the 20 countries of the United Nations Command (UNC) that supported South Korea during the 1950s Korea War, “We all know that the so-called UN Command, as a product of the Cold War era, has long lost its relevance. As initiators of the meeting, the US and Canada co-hosted the meeting under the banner of the so-called UN Command sending states. That is Cold War mentality pure and simple.”

The meeting that excluded China and Russia was attended by 20 nations including the US, Canada, South Korea, Japan, France, Britain, the Philippines, Sweden and Australia and none of them had any trade relation with North Korea last year.

China argued that when no major parties of the Korean peninsula issue were present in the meeting, expecting any solution through it was a futile exercise, questioning the ‘legality and representativeness’ of the meeting.

China also countered the tough message of the military option that the US led meeting sent to North Korea. China’s Foreign Office said on the move, “Only through dialogue, equally addressing the reasonable concerns of all parties, can a way to an effective and peaceful resolution be found.”

Tillerson had warned that the ultimate responsibility for producing a new future lies with North Korea and it can only be achieved by abandoning its current path of pursuing missile and nuclear weapons technologies.

But if the North doesn’t do so and diplomacy fails, it may trigger military confrontation, “We have to recognize that the threat is growing and that if North Korea does not choose the pathway of engagement, discussion, negotiation then they themselves will trigger an option,” Tillerson had added.

The daylong meeting concluded with a joint announcement that a nuclear-armed North Korea was not acceptable and if the country desired a future, it must follow the path of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.

In spite of the international sanctions against its missile and nuclear weapons programme, North Korea successfully test fired many missiles last year including nuclear capable inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and detonated a hydrogen bomb as well.

The country has now declared itself a nuclear power, threatening the world with its recent military advances and its acts like firing missiles over Japan or threatening the US military base at Guam in the Pacific, coupled with its no holds barred war rhetoric, have escalated the tension like never before.

©SantoshChaubey

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US IS BLAMING PAKISTAN TO COVER ITS OWN FAILURES IN AFGHANISTAN: PAKISTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

The United States policy in Afghanistan is framed by defeated US generals and can never succeed with the baggage of defeat it carries, Pakistan has said blaming the US for singling out Pakistan to cover its own failures in the war ravaged south Asian nation.

“The US generals who faced defeat in Afghanistan in the last 15 years have formed the structure for the policy for this region,” remarked Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif* while speaking on the floor of the country’s senate today, adding that “no objective policy can be formed when it is baggage of defeat” and is bound to fail, a Geo News report said.

The report further quoted Asif saying “when the US holds Pakistan responsible, it, in fact, tries to brush its own defeat under the carpet.” Asif also informed the senate of Pakistan that he told this to the US in unequivocal terms, both during his visit to the US in September and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Pakistan visit on October 24, first by a senior US government official after US President Donald Trump unveiled his Afghanistan centric South Asia policy on August 21 where he blamed Pakistan for being a safe terror haven and harbouring terrorists who hurt US interests in Afghanistan, especially the Haqqani Network.

During his visit, Tillerson had reminded Pakistan that it needed to eradicate militants and terrorists operating from its soil, something which had seen strong reactions from Khawaja Asif and the Pakistani parliament.

Blaming the US and other international forces fighting in Afghanistan of being inept, Asif then had hit back saying it was indeed the central reason behind the prolonged Afghanistan crisis. He had further added that the “terrorist attacks were not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil and there were no terrorist safe havens in the country,” be it the Haqqani Network or others while its senate chairman had called Tillerson’s remarks unacceptable, “Tillerson’s statement seems like that of a viceroy’s before they visit a country.”

Pakistan has also dismissed the US threats of curtailing economic and military aid. “Pakistan only receives “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US and does not get any military hardware from them and Pakistanis are not like in the past when they were American’s proxy,” Asif recently said in an interview, even if the facts say otherwise. According to a USAID report, the US aid to Pakistan till 2012 stood at $60 Billion. Also, in the last five years alone, since 2011, Pakistan has received some $15 Billion in aid from America, including military and financial assistance.

After US President Donald Trump called Pakistan a treacherous nation and a safe haven for terrorists, engaged in double-dealings, harbouring and protecting the very same terrorists who attack the US interests in Afghanistan, while unveiling his South Asia policy, the US has increasingly been putting more pressure on Pakistan to honour its commitment.

Last month, when Pakistan was patting its back for its so-called brilliant rescue operation to liberate a US-Canadian family who was in Haqqanis’ captivity for five years, the terse response from Trump was, “the Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, a cornerstone of Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.

©SantoshChaubey

PREET BHARARA JOINS BOB CORKER IN MOCKING TRUMP FOR THREATENING NEWS NETWORKS

The article originally appeared on India Today on October 12.

Preet Bharara, former US Attorney and a known critic of US President Donald Trump, mocked him for trying to threaten news networks. Bharara was appointed by Barack Obama as US Attorney for Manhattan where he served for many years before being fired by Trump this March, a fact that Bharara has mentioned in his Twitter bio.

While replying to a tweet where Trump indicated he might challenge broadcast license of media houses, Bharara quipped, “Adult day care shift alert, please report for duty”, in an apparent reference to Republican Senator Bob Corker, a supporter-turned-critic of Trump, who has called the US president a political novice whose outbursts have become so routine that the White House has become an adult day care centre.

Bob Corker heads the powerful US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and has been a strong anti-Trump voice on issues like Trump Administration’s handling of the North Korean nuclear crisis and the changes Trump is trying to make to the US tax regime. Trump and Corker are engaged in a bitter war of words these days and they routinely exchange barbs.

Bharara also questioned if it was possible to a get a ruling it happens so tagging Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that regulates the media and communications industry in the US.

Earlier in the day, Trump had blasted the NBC News alleging it for producing a fake story which said Trump had asked for tenfold rise in US nuclear arsenal in a meeting with national security officials earlier this summer after which Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, had termed him a “moron”.

While dismissing the row if Tillerson really called him a moron, Trump said in an interview yesterday, “I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.” And today, in a series of tweets, he complained that the NBC report was “pure fiction, meant to demean.

©SantoshChaubey

IRKED BY REPORT, DONALD TRUMP ASKS: WHEN IS IT APPROPRIATE TO CHALLENGE NEWS NETWORKS’ LICENSES?

The article originally appeared on India Today on October 11.

US President Donald Trump asked when it would be “appropriate” to challenge the licenses of American media outlets like the network NBC, which he accused of carrying a fake story about him.

Quoting three sources, the NBC report in question said Trump told the US’ “highest-ranking national security leaders” that he wanted “what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase” in America’s nuclear arsenal.

It also said Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was heard calling his boss a “moron” after the meeting.

On Wednesday, Trump complained in a tweet that the report was “pure fiction, meant to demean.”

Trump says that since he won last year’s presidential polls, media outlets have run several fake stories targeting him.

He routinely blasts networks running stories he finds uncomfortable – be it CNN, the New York Times or the Washington Post.

In March, Trump threatened to end White House Press briefings after a row over the ouster of former FBI director James Comey, even thought it was his press office that was at fault.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was then the White House’s deputy Press Secretary, first said Comey’s firing wouldn’t affect the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election.

Then, she said Comey’s removal would hasten the investigation. But Donald Trump himself later said he’d fired Comey to ensure that “the Russian meddling investigation is done absolutely properly.”

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP THREATENS TO CHALLENGE LICENSE OF NEWS NETWORKS CRITICAL OF HIM

US President Donald Trump is threatening media outfits again, this time raising a possibility that he in fact can challenge their broadcast license in future.

Blasting a NBC News investigation that said Donald Trump wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear stockpile, Trump wrote on his Twitter handle, “NBC News made up a story that I wanted a “tenfold” increase in U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!”, declaring the whole piece fake.

The meeting with highest ranking national security officials of the US where Trump made the comment took place this summer. NBC News also reported that after Trump’s remarks, Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State, termed him a moron, something which was also called a fake news piece by Trump. While dismissing the row over Tillerson’s moron jibe, Trump, in fact, went on to say that even if Tillerson said that, he was ready for an IQ test.

While blasting NBC News, Trump further said that media networks producing fake stories was bad for country and questioned when and “at what point was it appropriate to challenge their License.”

Trump says since he won the Presidential polls, media outfits have run multiple fake stories targeting him and he routinely blasts networks running stories uncomfortable to him, be it CNN, the New York Times or the Washington Post or any other one.

In March, Trump had threatened to stop the White House Press briefings after row over FBI director James Comey’s ouster even if it was his press office that was at fault.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy Press Secretary of the White House then, first said Comey’s firing would not affect at all the investigation into the Russian meddling in the US presidential election last year. Then she said Comey’s removal would hasten the investigation. But all of this was latter dumped by Donald Trump himself who said he fired Comey to ensure that “the Russian meddling investigation is done absolutely properly.”

Also, before it, several White House officials sent out messages that Comey’s firing was for mishandling the email leak issue of Hillary Clinton and was, in no way, related to the investigation into Russian hacking. The White House press briefings have been a tradition since 1929 when the first White House Press Secretary George Akerson was appointed by President Herbert Hoover.

©SantoshChaubey

CHINESE MEDIA HITS BACK AFTER TRUMP’S SECRETARY OF STATE REX TILLERSON’S SOUTH CHINA THREAT

The article originally appeared on India Today.

China has hit back through its state media after the next US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatened Beijing to block it from the South China Sea.

Continuing the dismissive tone taken by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kong, a Global Times editorial has termed Tillerson’s remarks during his confirmation hearing an indignant talk with little effect and questioned whether it was a bluff for the US Senate. Global Times is the official mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party and represents the country’s official line on issues.

Rex Tillerson, former ExxonMobil CEO and US President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for his ‘Secretary of State’, had told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that China would not be allowed to build more islands in the South China Sea and at the same time, would not be allowed access to those islands it has already built.

TILLERSON’S VIEWS SELF-PROCLAIMED

Terming Tillerson’s remarks ‘self-proclaimed’, the editorial wrote that ‘China has enough determination and strength to make sure that his rabble-rousing will not succeed and unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish’.

While saying that the US has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea, the editorial says that the remarks made by Tillerson are the most radical of all the US statements towards China so far.

The editorial expects that Tillerson’s words on South China Sea are aimed at merely securing his confirmation from the US Senate and will not translate into policy priorities of the Donald Trump administration or else ‘the two sides had better prepare for a military clash’.

EDITORIAL MOCKS TILLERSON’S CREDENTIALS

Mocking Tillerson for his credentials, the editorial says probably he just had oil prices and currency rates on his mind as former ExxonMobil CEO when he made those remarks. Bragging of China as being a big nuclear power, the Global Times piece opines that ‘Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories’.

In its initial response yesterday, China had dismissed Tillerson’s claims. Lu Kong had said that what Tillerson said was ‘hypothetical’ while asserting the Chinese supremacy over the South China Sea.

©SantoshChaubey

REX TILLERSON, TRUMP’S SECRETARY OF STATE, SAYS WOULD BLOCK CHINA FROM SOUTH CHINA SEA

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil CEO and US President Elect Donald Trump’s pick for his ‘Secretary of State’, has told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that China will not be allowed to build more islands in the South China Sea and at the same time, will not be allowed access to those islands it has already built.

During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson said that ‘he is going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed’, a Reuters report said.

He compared Chinese acts in the South China Sea to the Russian aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. The Reuters report quoting him said that Tillerson considered China’s South China Sea activity “extremely worrisome” and that it would be a threat to the “entire global economy” if Beijing were able to dictate access to the waterway.

CHINA DISMISSES TILLERSON’S REMARKS

The spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kong, has dismissed Tillerson’s words ‘as hypothetical’ in his initial response while asserting the Chinese supremacy over the South China Sea. Lu Kong said that the situation in the South China Sea has cooled down as countries in the region have come round to the agreement. We hope that countries outside the region will respect such an agreement that serves the common interests of the region and beyond.

BUT CHINESE EXPERTS WARN THE US

While Lu Kong said that Tillerson’s words didn’t matter, Chinese experts have warned that China is going to retaliate heavily to any US attempt to block China access to the South China Sea.

South China Morning Post wrote ‘what’s been built has been built’, quoting Wu Xinbo, head of American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University. It quoted another expert as saying “China is not Cuba, and the South China Sea is not the Caribbean. The South China Sea is not under the US sphere of influence, it’s China’s territorial waters.”

South China Morning Post is a prominent English language newspaper of China and is now controlled by Hangzhou based e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. And we know that nothing appears in the Chinese media, especially on international policy matters like this, without the state approval.

SETTING A CONFRONTATIONAL TONE?

Though analysts have pointed out that it may be Tillerson’s personal opinion and he would have said so to hide his inexperience in diplomatic affairs, when we see it in the context of what Donald Trump has been saying about China, Tillerson’s words well may be the indication of the things to come.

Trump has been targeting China pre or post his election, especially on trade imbalances and the loss of US jobs to China. He quotes Russia and China when he makes pitch for military and nuclear expansion of the US. He became the first US President-Elect in decades to defy the US policy of following One China norm and called the Taiwanese President angering Beijing. China considers Taiwan as its renegade province.

DISPUTED WATERS

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. 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) 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 as Lu Kong said in his press briefing today.

©SantoshChaubey