| |3. India gets an opening to regain influence in South Asia amid Sri Lanka crisisЧт, 11 авг[-/+]
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has resulted in a serious political and socio-economic impact on its residents. But for India, analysts regard this situation as an opportunity to regain lost ground in the island nation.
Sri Lanka is currently experiencing its worse socio-economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948. Amidst debilitating power shortages and a lack of critical resources, the country’s once robust healthcare system is now teetering on the edge of collapse.
The decline has severely impacted sexual and reproductive health services, including maternal healthcare and access to contraception.
Writing for the Diplomat magazine, Sameer Patil and Don McLain Gill argued that the unfolding situation may impede China’s intent to increase its regional strategic influence and power projection.
They argued that critical indicators of the strategic influence of an extra-regional power lie in its ability to sustain bilateral military exercises and operationalize defence cooperation with regional states.
“While China has emerged as a major arms exporter to the region (primarily Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar), it has not been able to expand military exchanges and other facets of defence cooperation with South Asian states,” Patil and Gill said in a joint write-up.
Citing India’s growing material capabilities and its geographic proximity, the regional experts said most South Asian states too have found it prudent to not overtly engage in actions with extra-regional states that may directly upset the regional balance of power.
“Therefore, China’s attempts to convert its growing presence into strategic influence to offset India’s leadership role in the region received a setback,” they said.
Patil and Gill also highlight how Chinese investments led to economic crises and subsequently to questions on the effectiveness of China’s role as a development partner in the region.
They also point to the growing global pushback to Chinese investments and continuing scepticism over its economic growth, putting India in an advantageous position.
“Therefore, India has the potential to offset China’s growing but still limited influence in the region (barring perhaps Pakistan) by not only illustrating the gaps in China’s approach but, through economic assistance, also highlighting India’s approach as a better, people-centric and a viable alternative,” they said. (ANI)
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|↑|4. Not “worried” but “concerned”: Biden on Chinese military drills near TaiwanВт, 09 авг[-/+]
US President Joe Biden on Monday said that he is “not worried” but “concerned” about Chinese military exercises near Taiwan, as he expressed concern over the scope of the drills.
“I’m not worried, but I’m concerned that they’re moving as much as they are,” Biden said while interacting with reporters today. “But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more than they are,” he added.
Biden’s remarks come a week after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the self-governed island, over which China claims sovereignty.
China is conducting a number of military exercises in the wake of Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan which angered the Asian powerhouse.
Earlier in the day, the Chinese military said it will continue drills near Taiwan focused on anti-submarine and air-to-ship strikes, according to the state media.
This comes as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting joint drills in at least six areas around the island from August 4 to 7.
China is irked with the US over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which occurred last week despite warnings from Beijing.
Beijing claims Taiwan as a “breakaway province,” and sees visits to the island by foreign officials and dignitaries as a provocation, and a violation of the “one-China” policy.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has appealed for international support for the self-governed island. The President said that the government and military are closely monitoring the situation.
“Our government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations, ready to respond as necessary. I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and halt any escalation of the regional security situation,” the Taiwanese President tweeted.
A number of countries, including the United States, Australia and Japan, have condemned China’s launch of ballistic missiles and urged China to immediately cease the military exercises.
They reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. (ANI)
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|↑|5. Sri Lanka confirms talks with China over deferring visit of ‘spy’ ship to Hambantota portВт, 09 авг[-/+]
Sri Lanka on Monday confirmed that it has communicated to China to defer the visit of Chinese vessel Yuang Wang 5 to Hambantota port.
In a statement, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said the Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5 was scheduled to dock at Chinese-leased Hambantota port on August 11 for refuelling and leave on August 17.
“The Ministry has communicated to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Colombo to defer the visit of the said vessel to the Hambantota port,” it read.
The Foreign Ministry further stated it wishes to reaffirm the enduring friendship and excellent relations between Sri Lanka and China which remain on a solid foundation, as reiterated most recently by the two Foreign Ministers Ali Sabry and Wang Yi at a bilateral meeting in Phnom Penh on August 4.
“At this first meeting between the two Foreign Ministers, Minister Sabry referred to Sri Lanka’s firm commitment to the one-China policy which has been a consistent principle in the country’s foreign policy,” the statement read further.
Meanwhile, reacting to the media reports over the vessel, the Chinese foreign ministry said that Beijing “always exercises freedom of the high seas in accordance with law and fully respects coastal countries’ jurisdiction over scientific research activities in waters under their jurisdiction.”
China also urged “relevant parties” to see its marine scientific research activities in a rational light and stop disrupting normal exchange and cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.
“It is completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called “security concerns” to pressure Sri Lanka,” it said.
India had expressed its security concerns over the docking of the vessel at Hambantota as it was shown as a research vessel while the spy ship can map the ocean bed which is critical to anti-submarine operations of the Chinese Navy.
Designated as a research and survey vessel, Yuan Wang 5 was built in 2007 and has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tonnes.
During this significant visit to the key Sri Lankan port, it could conduct satellite research in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean region, prompting security concerns for India.
Hambantota port, located around 250 kms from Colombo was built with high-interest Chinese loans. The Sri Lankan government struggled to repay the debt they had taken from China following which the port was handed over to the Chinese on a 99-year lease. (ANI)
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|↑|6. Hackers plant China’s flag on Taiwan government websitesВт, 09 авг[-/+]
In response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Chinese hackers planted the flag of China on the websites of several local government agencies across Taiwan.
While China’s live-fire drills encircling Taiwan were taking place from Thursday, Chinese hackers covered a Kaohsiung government website with a China flag picture for over 10 hours from late Friday to Saturday morning, reported Taiwan News.
On Friday morning, it was admitted the website of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs crashed for a few hours on Aug 2, 4, and 5.
The ministry explained there was a brute force attempt to crash the server, with up to 17 million times per minute access attempts from numerous Chinese and Russian IP addresses, reported Taiwan News.
As a result, central government agencies were told to stay on high alert for malicious internet activities.
People familiar with the matter told Taiwan News that central government agencies have been ordered to keep tabs on websites and report problems up the chain of command to the Cabinet, every hour from Friday to noon on Monday (August 8).
Emergency response guidelines issued by the Cabinet on Friday say a website has to be taken down immediately if it has been hacked.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Education informed schools nationwide of its own emergency response guidelines to ensure cybersecurity, in which 24-hour security monitoring of each school website and an hourly update is required until next Monday, reported Taiwan News.
As the tensions in the Twan strait heightened soon with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has been increasing its military activities.
Multiple Chinese planes and ships were detected around Taiwan Strait, simulating an attack on its main island, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday adding that some of them have crossed the median line.
According to the Ministry of National Defense, the armed forces responded to such a situation accordingly with surveillance systems, CAP aircraft, naval vessels and missile systems.
“Multiple PLA craft were detected around Taiwan Strait, some have crossed the median line. Possible simulated attack against HVA. #ROCArmedForces have utilized alert broadcast, aircraft in CAP, patrolling naval vessels, and land-based missile systems in response to this situation,” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence tweeted today.
Yesterday, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said that 68 Chinese military planes and 13 warships crossed over the median line to participate in drills.
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang blasted what he called “the evil neighbour” after China encircled the self-ruled island with a series of huge military drills that were condemned by the United States and other Western allies.
China is holding threatening military exercises in six zones off Taiwan’s coasts that it says will run through Sunday. Missiles have also been fired over Taiwan, defence officials told state media. The speaker is the highest-ranking US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
China opposes the self-governing island having its own contacts with foreign governments, but its response to the Pelosi visit has been unusually vociferous. (ANI)
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|↑|7. Shouldn’t hold global concerns hostage: Blinken on China post Pelosi-visitВт, 09 авг[-/+]
US State Secretary Antony Blinken on Saturday said that China should not hold cooperation on matters of global concern hostage because of its differences over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“We should not hold hostage cooperation on matters of global concern because of differences between our two countries. Others are rightly expecting us to continue to work together on issues that matter to the lives and livelihoods of their people as well as our own,” Blinken said during a press conference with Philippines counterpart Enrique Manalo in Manila.
Moreover, State Secretary Blinken expressed displeasure over China’s irresponsible decisions and said, “Since their missile launches, Beijing has taken an irresponsible step of a different kind: They’ve shut down eight different areas where our two countries (US and China) have been able to work together.”
He noted that almost half the global container fleet, nearly 90 percent of the world’s largest ships, pass through the Taiwan Strait this year.
“Those include several military-to-military channels which are vital for avoiding miscommunication and avoiding crisis, but also cooperation on transnational crime and counternarcotics, which help keep people in the United States, China, and beyond safe,” State Department press release said quoting Blinken.
US State Secretary added that China has also suspended all climate cooperation with the United States. “The world’s largest carbon emitter is now refusing to engage on combatting the climate crisis. Suspending climate cooperation doesn’t punish the United States; it punishes the world, particularly the developing world.”
Blinken also said that the talks with Philippines was related to the security partnership between the countries. He reiterated the ironclad commitment to the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty and reaffirmed that an armed attack on Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S mutual defense commitments under that treaty.
“In addition to working with the Philippines to help secure its maritime domain, we also partner with Filipino fisherman and scientific researchers to preserve and protect the Philippines’ precious maritime resources, which are under threat from illegal fishing and environmental destruction by outside actors,” he added.
State Secretary asserted that US always stand by their partners. He said that it is important to underscore this because of what’s happening in the Taiwan Strait.
He mentioned that since China launched nearly a dozen ballistic missiles toward Taiwan two days ago, US has been hearing from allies and partners across the region who are deeply concerned about the destabilizing and dangerous actions.
“Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is vital, not just for Taiwan but for the Philippines and many other countries. What happens in the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region. In many ways, it affects the entire world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway.”
The Philippines knows how alarming this is – as a nation of thousands of islands, they’re especially vulnerable to climate change, he continued saying at the conference.
“China walking away from climate talks could have lasting consequences for the future of the region – the future of our planet,” Biden said expressing concerns over the Chinese agressive behavior in the South China sea.
“Our allies and partners across the region have told us in no uncertain terms that they are looking for responsible leadership right now. So let me be clear. The United States doesn’t believe that it’s in the interest of Taiwan, the region, or own national security to escalate this situation.”
Blinken noted that US will keep its channels of communication with China open with the intent of avoiding escalation due to misunderstanding or miscommunication.
In the days to come, the State Secretary said, United States will remain steady. “We’ll stand with the Philippines, with all our allies and partners. We’ll work through regional organizations like ASEAN to enable friends in the region to make their own decisions free from coercion. And we’ll continue to support Taiwan and cross-strait peace and stability because we know that a free and open Indo-Pacific demands it. (ANI)
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|↑|8. Bangladesh hikes fuel price from record amountСб, 06 авг[-/+]
Bangladesh’s retail fuel prices have been hiked to levels not seen since the country’s independence in 1971.
The Bangladeshi government on Friday night hiked the fuel prices by up to 51.7 per cent with effect from Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to a price notification from the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, a liter of octane now costs 135 taka ($1.43), which is 51.7 per cent higher than the previous rate of 89 taka.
The prices of diesel and kerosene have been increased by 42.5 per cent to 114 taka per liter.
Also, each liter of petrol now costs 130 taka, a rise of 44 taka or 51.1 per cent, said the notification.
Officials said the latest price hikes at the retail level were inevitable to reduce the subsidy burden on state-run distribution companies.
Also, fuel prices in the international market are much higher than that in Bangladesh.
Experts said the fuel price hike would worsen inflation, which increased to 7.56 per cent in June, the highest rate in about nine years. (ANI)
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|↑|9. US speaker lands in Taiwan despite China warningВт, 02 авг[-/+]
U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan on a visit that could significantly escalate tensions between the U.S. and China.
Beijing claims the self-ruled island as its own territory.
China has vowed to retaliate if Pelosi becomes the highest U.S. elected official to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years, but has given no details.
Speculation has centered on threatening military exercises and possible incursions by Chinese planes and ships into areas under Taiwanese control.
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|↑|10. GIFT City: India’s upcoming economic and financial hubВт, 02 авг[-/+]
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The country needs to expand its economic and strategic activities globally and GIFT City, an emerging global financial hub and India’s first operational smart city, has a pivotal role to play in achieving this vision.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, back in 2007 as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, conceptualised the idea of GIFT City. His vision was to create a globally-benchmarked financial centre that can compete with the renowned financial centres in London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Singapore and Dubai. Since its conceptualisation, GIFT City has made rapid progress.The support that GIFT City has received from the central and Gujarat governments has acted as a catalyst in accelerating its growth.
Spread over 886 acres in Gandhinagar, GIFT City consists of a multi-service Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which houses India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and an exclusive Domestic Tariff Area (DTA). About 261 acres have been demarcated as SEZ area whereas 625 acres have been marked as DTA. The plan is to develop 62 million sq ft of built-up area, consisting of commercial space (67 per cent), residential space (22 per cent) and social space of 11 per cent.
The social infrastructure in the city includes a school, medical facilities, a proposed hospital, GIFT City business club with indoor and outdoor sports facilities. It also includes integrated well-planned residential housing projects making GIFT City a truly “Walk to Work” City. GIFT is a smart city in every sense with various first-in-the-country initiatives in the field of urban infrastructure.
India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) has been operationalised in GIFT City. An IFSC enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centres by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches/subsidiaries of financial institutions (FIs) to India by offering a business and regulatory environment that is comparable to other leading international financial centres like London and Singapore. It would provide Indian corporations with easier access to global financial markets. IFSC would also complement and promote further development of financial markets in India.
GIFT IFSC provides services related to capital markets, offshore insurance, offshore banking and asset management, aircraft and ship leasing, and ancillary services. It houses two international stock exchanges with a combined average daily trading volume of over $11 billion. Soon, an international bullion exchange is also going to be launched.
As the dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs requires a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination within the financial sector, the IFSCA has been established as a unified regulator with a holistic vision in order to promote ease of doing business in IFSCs and provide a world-class regulatory environment. The main objective of the IFSCA is to develop a strong global connection and focus on the needs of the Indian economy as well as to serve as an international financial platform.
The pro-business regulatory regime and a conducive ecosystem have made GIFT City an ideal place for investments and over 300 units are already operational in GIFT SEZ and DTA.
The Government of India’s recent announcement to permit campuses of foreign universities in GIFT IFSC, free from domestic regulations, has created a buzz globally. Many Australian, UK and US-based universities have shown an interest in establishing their presence in GIFT IFSC.
Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic globally, GIFT City continued to attract domestic and international players.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for GIFT City has already started taking a concrete shape. In the years to come, GIFT City will be a force to reckon with in the field of financial technology, data security and finance, which will make not just Gujarat but the entire country proud. (Indian Express)
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|↑|11. India’s military spending in 2021 ranked third-highest in world: CentreВт, 02 авг[-/+]
India’s military spending for the year 2021 was ranked as the third highest in the world, the government said citing data collated by Stockholm-based defence think-tank SIPRI.
“This (defence) ministry does not maintain expenditure data of other countries,” Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said, replying to a question in Lok Sabha.
“However, as per data available on Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) website, India’s military spending for the year 2021 is ranked as third highest in the world,” he said.
Bhatt was asked whether India’s military spending is ranked third highest globally.
According to the details provided by Bhatt, citing data from SIPRI, the US ranked first with the expenditure of USD 800,672.20 million, followed by China’s USD 293,351.90 million while the figure for India was USD 76,598.00 million.
Asked whether more than 50 per cent of defence equipment has been imported from 2017 to 2021, he said “no”.
“During 2017-21, the percentage of foreign procurement (both revenue and capital) made for the purchase of stores/ defence equipment has been in the range of 33.97 per cent to 41.60 per cent,” he said.
To a separate question, Bhatt said coastal monitoring and surveillance is being carried out on a real-time basis by the Indian Coast Guard around the country’s coastline through a “chain of static sensors (CSS) consisting of 46 radar stations.” He said the infrastructure has been put in place under the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN).
“Coastal surveillance system through chain of coastal high definition surface warning radars is one of the means through which coastal security is being implemented,” he said.
“The radars have been installed since 2011 and there is no known harmful effect on the environment,” he added. (PTI)
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|↑|12. Which economy bounced back fastest from Covid? The answer’s surprising, and India isn’t far behindВт, 02 авг[-/+]
Which large economy has performed best during the pandemic, the subsequent recovery, and the period beyond — i.e. starting from 2020, stretching to this year (2022), and incorporating the outlook for 2023? That interesting question finds somewhat surprising answers in the data presented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the latest quarterly update of its World Economic Outlook.
The outstanding performer, in terms of economic growth after the pandemic hit, is a surprise — the country now known as Turkiye. Surprise because Turkiye usually hits the headlines for its plunging currency and a zany monetary policy. But it turns out that, if you take its macro-economic performance in 2020 and 2021, and the IMF’s forecasts for 2022 and 2023, Turkiye averages annual growth of 5.1 per cent — which beats everybody else for those four years.
According to the IMF’s data set for 30 highlighted countries, China is next-best to Turkiye with average growth in 2020-23 put at 4.55 per cent, followed by another surprise: Egypt, with 4.3 per cent. India comes fourth with 3.9 per cent, followed by (and you will really have difficulty swallowing this) the crisis-hit Pakistan, with 3.6 per cent. With Bangladesh already an outstanding performer on the growth and some development parameters, it would seem that the Islamic world has produced quite a few winners. For good measure, Saudi Arabia will be the fastest-growing economy in 2022 (think oil prices).
The big question concerns China, which is almost certainly at an inflection point, given the poor demographic of a shrinking working-age population. The IMF projects average Chinese growth this year and the next at under 4 per cent, which would be a multi-decade low. The accumulated problems in the real estate and financial sectors may be beginning to affect macro-economic performance. Also, a diplomatically hostile Western world makes continuation of export-led growth difficult as Chinese firms face crackdowns and roadblocks of one kind or other.
As for India’s record, it did poorly in the first pandemic year (fiscal 2020-21), having already slowed sharply in the previous year. But it achieved among the fastest recoveries subsequently. And taking the IMF’s projections for the next two years, the economy is set to be the fastest-growing among the institution’s select list of 30 countries. Average growth this year and the next is put at 6.8 per cent. The IMF’s optimism is shared by many multilateral and private forecasters. Some domestic analysts have gone so far as to project medium-term growth as high as 7-8 per cent.
The way to avoid getting caught up in possible group-think is to question the assumptions. There are only two five-year periods when India recorded rapid growth. The first was in the fiscal years from 2003-04 to 2007-08, when the global economy was on steroids and India benefited from rapid export growth. The second was 2014-19, when there was a growth bonus in the form of falling and low oil prices. Both periods were followed by sharp slowdowns, caused in the first case by a financial crisis and this time by the pandemic. India’s growth in the last three financial years has averaged just 1.9 per cent.
It is natural, in a way, to project rapid growth from this low base. Crucial to that would be the assumption that the economy has suffered no lasting damage from the pandemic, and further that the investment in the transport infrastructure and digitisation will deliver productivity growth. That first assumption is open to question, given evidence of the impact on small and medium businesses and on employment, with more people switching to farming when the shift should be the other way.
Also, the global environment is less than hospitable, with possible stagflation in countries around the North Atlantic, a never-say-die virus, and, not least, military conflict with the attendant supply disruptions. Equally real are three domestic constraints: Close to double-digit fiscal deficits (Centre and states together) in relation to GDP, a growing current account deficit, and high levels of public debt when interest rates are rising. These factors make expansionary fiscal and monetary policy difficult. One should therefore tinge the optimism with some caution. (The Print)
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|↑|13. China’s economy at risk with banks witnessing rise in non-performing assetsЧт, 28 июл[-/+]
Chinese bank depositors, who are protesting against their inability in getting their frozen funds back, are now boycotting the mortgages payment which in turn is increasing the non-performing assets (NPA) of the banks giving a major blow to the country’s economy.
The balance of NPAs of commercial banks was 2.95 trillion yuan at the end of the second quarter, and the loan ratio stood at 1.67 per cent,” a US-based publication Financial Post said.
Numerous Chinese citizens are boycotting mortgages because they are not getting possession of their accommodation units on time.
The primary cause behind the housing crisis is that house buyers are not confident and don’t trust that their housing units will be completed.
The housing sector is an essential sector of the Chinese economy as new home purchases constitute over 80 per cent of China’s property industry.
Chinese developers have only delivered 60 per cent of pre-sold homes between 2013 and 2020, and mortgage loans increased by 26.3 trillion yuan during the same period, as per the estimates of Nomura, a Japanese financial holding company.
It is crucial to note that the real estate loans increased by 200.3 billion yuan in June, the publication reported citing Global Times.
There was a 3.3 trillion yuan increase in manufacturing loans and a rise of 1.6 trillion yuan year-on-year during the first half of the year. The high-tech manufacturing loans witnessed a rise of 28.9 per cent year-on-year.
“The disposal of non-performing assets was 1.41 trillion yuan in the first half of the year, along with an increase of 219.7 billion yuan year-on-year,” the publication said.
During the first half, entrusted loans and trust loans fell by 380.6 billion yuan, it said citing media reports.
China’s interbank wealth management declined from over 6 trillion yuan at its peak to around 10 billion yuan by the end of June, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) deputy director-general Liu Zhongrui said.
“Small and medium-sized banks have handled non-performing loans worth 594.5 billion yuan (about $87.8 billion) in the first half of this year, up 118.4 billion yuan over the same period last year,” the article read.
It is expected that CBIRC will establish credit policies for each city, and lessen the risks in the real estate sector.
Analyst Tian Yun said that the improvement of the real estate industry is important for the “recovery of investment and consumption, which will be the driving forces of economic growth in the second half of the year,” it reported citing media reports. (ANI)
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|↑|14. Sri Lanka crisis: Chinese spy vessel’s expected Sri Lanka entry keeps India on its toesЧт, 28 июл[-/+]
India is keeping a close watch across its southern neighborhood following a report that a Chinese scientific research vessel ‘Yuan Wang 5’ will enter Hambantota port on August 11 for a week to allegedly conduct satellite control and research tracking in the Indian Ocean Region.
What has raised eyebrows here is the timing of the docking of the vessel at the port built by China, probably taking advantage of the political crisis in the island nation, ET has learned. New Delhi is examining the level of local political and military support that China has received for the proposed plan, ET has learned.
India has long been worried about dual-use facilities of Chinese infrastructure projects spanning Myanmar to Eastern African states in what comes as a direct challenge to New Delhi’s interests.
The ship is expected to depart Hambantota on August 17 after replenishment. The ship could conduct satellite control and research tracking in the north-western part of the Indian Ocean region, according to Y Ranaraja, Director, Belt & Road Initiative, Sri Lanka (BRISL).
This is the first time since 2014 that such a Chinese naval vessel is visiting Lanka. In 2014, a Chinese submarine had docked at Colombo drawing India’s ire and the matter was raised at the highest level.
“China’s Yuanwang-5 space-tracking vessel conducting a space-ground information exchange and specially provide significant data support to Zhongxing-2E satellite’s
determination and entry. Now the vessel is sailing pass Taiwan towards Hambantota in Sri Lanka,” Ranaraja tweeted.
China has a major say in the Hambantota Port area and much of its activities in the area remain under wraps, according to critics both local and foreign. Sources explained that Yuan Wang 5 is also potentially violating innocent passage requirements in territorial seas as per UNCLOS. The vessel, according to experts, has a capability to snoop on a coastal state.
Yuan Wang 5 is the third-generation tracking ship of the Yuan Wang series and entered service in 2007. Built by Jiangnan Shipyard, Yuan Wang 5 has a displacement of 25,000 tonnes and can withstand wind scale up to 12. It is important to note that the Yuan Wang class is not a single class of identical design, but a group of different designs under the same series that share one name. (Economic Times)
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|↑|15. China seeks to influence Indo-Pacific region through investments in Sri LankaЧт, 28 июл[-/+]
China is seeking to increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific region by bolstering its investments in debt-ridden Sri Lanka along with aligning with “corrupt” politicians of the island nation, media reports said.
Former Sri Lankan Prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had deepened his influence in the country when a 26-year-long civil war with ethnic Tamil separatists came to an end but that only became possible when China stepped in, the Maldives Voice reported.
Sri Lanka started depending heavily on China for economic support, and military equipment and also took loans in bulk for various development projects.
China infuses billions not only to help Sri Lanka but also for corrupt politicians like Mahinda Rajapaksa.
When the word was spilt out to the United Nations about the use of heavy weapons and atrocities by the Sri Lankan military against the Tamil Tigers, it was China who blocked the UN statements warning against attacks on civilians in the island country.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was in office from 2005 to 2015.
The Maldives Voice citing a New York Times article, which was published in 2018, alleged that China Harbour, the company that had built the Hambantota port, was involved in financing the Rajapaksa brothers’ campaign during the country’s 2015 parliamentary election, from funding cash to clothes for supporters.
During both the 2015 and 2018 elections in Sri Lanka, China invested in the Rajapaksas’ campaign, the Maldives Voice reported.
Not only Sri Lanka, but China also had tried to lure the Maldives into their debt trap. In September 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an official visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen had a very optimistic outlook for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) because the loans provided by the Chinese were easy money for unfeasible projects with the aim of gaining control over assets.
The Male-Hulhumale bridge conceived in 2007, was constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company at a cost of USD 210 million. Similarly, Beijing Urban Construction Group completed the stalled Male international airport expansion project at Hulhumale in 2018.
The overall debt accumulated through loans taken from China amounts to USD 1.5 billion. This includes USD 600 million in loans taken directly by the then government, while the remaining are loans taken by companies that the government issued sovereign guarantees for.
According to a report in Singapore’s Strait Times, the Maldives owes over USD 1 billion in debt to Beijing while its total debt stands at USD 5.6 billion, according to the World Bank.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis had triggered protests all over the country. On July 9, a revolutionary moment for Sri Lanka, the people forced then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with no option but to flee the nation and resign. For a country that has treated the Rajapaksas as kings, especially Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is no less than a deity for many Sri Lankans, they had to quit their posts.
The country is facing a severe shortage of fuel and other essential supplies and is in the throes of its worst-ever economic crisis with soaring inflation. The oil supply shortage has forced schools and government offices to close until further notice.
Reduced domestic agricultural production, a lack of foreign exchange reserves, and local currency depreciation have fuelled the shortages. (ANI)
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|↑|16. India will host the G20 Group: President Droupadi Murmu in maiden speechСр, 27 июл[-/+]
President Droupadi Murmu today said that deliberations on global issues to be held under the leadership of India will help direct the G20 through the next decade.
“In the coming months, India is also going to host the G-20 Group under its chairmanship. In this grouping, twenty big countries of the world will brainstorm on global issues under the chairmanship of India,” President Murmu said.
In her maiden speech, President Droupadi Murmu said, “I am sure that the conclusions and policies that will emerge from this brainstorming in India will determine the direction of the coming decades.”
She also stated that the international community has high hopes from India in ensuring global economic stability, ease of supply chain, and peace.
It is pertinent to mention that India will hold the G20 presidency from December 1, 2022, and will convene the G20 leaders’ Summit next year for the first time.
During its presidency of G20 or Group of Twenty, India will hold a large number of G20 events at different levels across the country, said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a weekly media briefing that G20 Summit will be preceded by a large number of meetings – like ministerial meetings, working group meetings, and special initiatives that each country might do at various levels.
“India will assume the presidency of G20 in December 2022. Apart from the Summit which we will hold next year whose dates are yet not finalized, a large number of G20 events at different levels will be organized across the country during our presidency. There is no need to speculate at this stage on these things,” he said.
India has been a member of the G20 since its inception in 1999. India will be holding the G20 Presidency from 1 December 2022 and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2023 for the first time.
Droupadi Murmu took oath as the 15th President of India at a ceremony in Parliament’s Central Hall in New Delhi today. President Murmu, who is the first tribal and second woman to hold the country’s highest constitutional office, was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice of India NV Ramanna.
She succeeds Ram Nath Kovind, whose five-year term ended on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the former Jharkhand governor, on July 22, registered a historic win over her rival Yashwant Sinha in the Presidential election, becoming the first woman tribal candidate and the second woman in the country to take charge of the highest office in the country.
The NDA’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu was officially declared as the 15th President of the country after the conclusion of the counting of votes on Thursday.
President Murmu received 2,824 votes with a value of 6,76,803 while her opponent Yashwant Sinha secured 1,877 votes with a value of 3,80,177. A total of 4,809 MPs and MLAs cast their votes in the polling that took place on July 18.
Secretary General of Rajya Sabha and the Returning Officer for Presidential Election 2022, PC Mody handed over the certificate to President-elect Droupadi Murmu at her residence in Delhi.
Soon after the completion of the third round of counting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president JP Nadda met President Murmu at her residence in the national capital and extended greetings for her victory.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Droupadi Murmu on her election as new President of the country and said she has emerged as a ray of hope for citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized, and the downtrodden.
Outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind also extended his best wishes to Droupadi Murmu who will succeed him in the highest office of the country. Wishes poured in from the political fraternity across party lines on the victory of President Murmu who will be India’s first tribal president.
Odisha’s Rairangpur village, the native place of President Droupadi Murmu erupted in celebrations in anticipation of her victory. A large crowd gathered outside BJP headquarters in Delhi earlier to celebrate her victory.
Born in a Santali tribal family on June 30, 1958 in Uparbeda village coming under Mayurbhanj district in Odisha, she had her education from Bhubaneswar and went on to work first as a junior assistant in the State Irrigation and Power Department from 1979 to 1983. After this short stint as a clerk, she became a teacher at Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre at Rairangpur till 1997.
President Murmu commenced her journey in the field of politics in 1997 by joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She was first elected as the councilor of the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat and then went on to become the chairperson of the same panchayat in 2000. Later, she also served as the national vice president of the BJP Scheduled Tribe Morcha.
In 2015, Ms Murmu became the first woman governor of Jharkhand. She also became the first woman tribal leader from Odisha to be appointed as the governor of a state.
President Murmu devoted her life to serving society, empowering poor, downtrodden, and marginalized sections of society. She has rich administrative experience and an outstanding gubernatorial tenure in Jharkhand.
President Murmu has made a special identity in public life by spreading awareness about education in tribal society and serving the public for a long time as a public representative. (NDTV)
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|↑|17. Through Indian telescope, astronomers spot mysterious birth of stars in distant dwarf galaxiesСр, 27 июл[-/+]
A team of astronomers from India, the US, and France, led by Pune’s Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), has observed the formation of new stars in the outer regions of distant dwarf galaxies. These galaxies, known as ‘Blue Compact Dwarf’ (BCD) galaxies, have also exhibited evidence of the new stars migrating inwards towards its centre, adding to the galaxies’ mass and volume.
The team detected these star formation regions in eleven BCDs using the Ultra-Violet Imaging Telescope of AstroSat, India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space telescope aimed at studying celestial sources. Their findings, which have been peer-reviewed, were published in the scientific journal Nature last week.
The findings indicate “extended star formation” in the material that’s coming together to form a dwarf galaxy. This is significant, considering it is otherwise very hard to observe the formation of these early BCD galaxies as they are too small and faint and distant.
AstroSat was able to observe these galaxies in both visible and ultraviolet (UV) light. This is the first time extended far-ultraviolet (FUV) disks have been observed in distant dwarf galaxies, according to the study.
“We are now able to observe how dwarf galaxies in the comparatively early universe are acquiring their stellar content and are on their way to evolve into present-day dwarf galaxies,” said Anshuman Borgohain, astronomer from Tezpur University, Assam, and lead author of the paper, in an email to ThePrint. “This will help bridge the gap of understanding in the diverse dwarf galaxy population that we see around us in the present day.”
BCDs and star formation
AstroSat observes distant objects on the other end of the electromagnetic spectrum compared to the other space telescope that’s making news, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. While Webb studies faraway galaxies in various parts of the infrared wavelength, AstroSat observes objects in ultraviolet (UV), X-ray, and visible light. NASA’s Hubble space telescope also uses UV, visible as well as near-infrared regions.
The light from distant objects is ‘red-shifted’ because of the expansion of the universe — which means that the further away an object moves, the more the visible light from it shifts towards the red end of the spectrum.
In contrast, young stars that are just forming emit a majority of their energy in UV. Thus, galaxies that contain large clusters of young, hot, and massive stars, appear to be blue in colour, and are thus named Blue Compact Dwarfs.
BCDs have been hard to study and understand as they are extremely compact and also very faint.
Just like Webb, AstroSat is also capable of peering into the past; that is, observing light sources as they were billions of years ago when the light was emitted. The galaxies that were observed in this study have a ‘lookback time’ of 1.3–2.8 billion years.
The team also noticed that the UV disk extending from the centre of the galaxy exceeded that of the optically visible disk of accreting material.
“Galaxies grow progressively faint as we go from inner to outer regions. So, to be able to detect emission in such regions, we require long observation hours,” explained lead author Borgohain. Even Hubble’s deep observations failed to yield data on star-forming regions in visible wavelengths.
“The detection of these star forming regions in UV suggest they contain young stars because such stars emit predominantly in the UV wavelength regime. Also, since we don’t see anything in the optical, it means that there are no old stars in the outer regions,” Borgohain said, adding: “Star formation seen in outer low-density environments is puzzling because the gas in these regions is inefficient to form stars.”
Missing reservoirs of neutral gas
Only the most recent, outermost star-forming regions emit energy in far-ultraviolet.
“These extended FUV disks are tell-tale signatures of galaxy disks that are accreting neutral hygrogen gas from the surrounding environment, referred to as the intergalactic medium,” explained Borgohain.
Another phenomenon that could likely occur here is passively existing reservoirs of neutral gas, according to Borgohain. Over billions of years, instabilities in the outer parts of this gas disk lead to localised collapse of gas, igniting the region to form new stars.
But these large reservoirs of neutral gas have not been detected around galaxies, especially with modern-day powerful telescopes capable of detecting them. It is likely that present-day dwarf galaxies around us have evolved enough to have exhausted the gas reservoirs, or that interactions with nearby galaxies would have destroyed it, speculated Borgohain.
The clumpy structure of this less dense region also indicates that it is not gravitationally stable or uniform, and is getting swept up in the rotating galaxy’s forces and sucked towards its centre.
The findings provide a key step in understanding the evolution of BCDs, and the next step will be to understand how low-density star formation regions occur around these dwarf galaxies and what drives them.
“We don’t know whether our findings are special cases or a common phenomena,” said Borgohain. “We are planning a survey for these kinds of galaxies to build their statistical significance and also to find if we could have missed out on something.” (The Print)
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|↑|18. India raises concern over resurgence of terrorist activity in LibyaСр, 27 июл[-/+]
India on Monday (local time) raised concern over the resurgence of terrorist activity in Libya at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
In a briefing at UNSC on Libya, Charge d’affaires at India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Ambassador R Ravindra said, “We remain concerned at the resurgence of terrorist activity in Libya, and we reiterate that terrorist groups and affiliated entities must not be allowed to operate unchallenged in Libya.”
However, he welcomed the progress that was made when the Presidents of the House of Representatives and High Council of State met in Geneva late last month (June 28-29, 2022).
“It is imperative that all outstanding political issues are resolved peacefully by the parties concerned, keeping in mind the larger interests of the Libyan people,” said the Indian envoy.
Highlighting the importance of holding Presidential and Parliamentary polls at the earliest, he said, “We hope all parties work together to maintain peace & stability in Libya. An immediate priority for Libya is to hold Presidential and Parliamentary polls at the earliest in a free, fair, inclusive and credible manner.”
“We look forward to an early consensus between the Libyan parties on the constitutional basis for holding the elections,” he added.
Libya has been suffering violence and unrest ever since the fall of the late leader United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL’S) regime in 2011.
Libya has been suffering escalating violence and unrest ever since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
The country is currently divided between a government that was appointed by the House of Representatives in March, and the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity that refuses to hand over office except to an elected government.
Libya failed to hold general elections in December 2021 as previously scheduled, due to disagreements over election laws among the Libyan parties. (ANI)
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|↑|19. India adopts US’ joint statement on cooperation of global supply chainsПн, 25 июл[-/+]
On behalf of partner economies including India, US State Department on Wednesday (local time) released a Joint Statement of the 2022 Supply Chain Ministerial Forum, focussing on the global challenge which includes — the COVID-19 pandemic, wars and conflicts and climate change.
“The shocks to global supply chains from pandemics, wars and conflicts, extreme climate impacts, and natural disasters have put in stark relief the urgent need to further strengthen supply chains, to work to reduce and end near-term disruptions, and to build long-term resilience. This is a global challenge we intend to approach resolutely and cooperatively,” the joint statement read.
The partner economies include Australia, Brazil,Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
According to the statement, for building collective long-term resilient supply chains based on international partnerships, all the partner countries aimed to follow various global supply chain principles including transparency, diversification, security and sustainability.
“We intend to promote transparency in consultation with the private sector, civil society, different levels of government, and other relevant stakeholders, consistent with Participants’ domestic laws and international obligations, in order to strengthen the resilience of supply chains,” the joint statement read.
“We aim to promote diversification and increase global capacities for multiple, reliable, and sustainable sources of materials and inputs, intermediate goods, and finished goods in priority sectors, along with logistics infrastructure capacities, increasing the resilience of supply chains to make our economies less vulnerable to disruptions and shocks,” it read further.
The joint statement added that the partner countries encourage Participants to undertake this cooperation in partnership with industry, labor and civil society, and other relevant stakeholders, pursuant to domestic laws, to better understand and manage security risks to supply chains.
“We intend to encourage global sustainability and responsible business conduct across supply chains, as well as objectives set out in relevant multilateral environmental agreements to which we are parties, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement,” it read.
All the countries also welcomed all economies and invite all industries, businesses, women, workers, officials from different levels of government, labour and civil society, and other stakeholders to join us in pursuit of resilient supply chains, guided by these principles.
“We acknowledge the key to resolving the next global supply chain crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place” the statement said. (ANI)
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|↑|20. Indian government has a Rs 80000 crore plan to decarbonise public transport and cut emissionsПн, 25 июл[-/+]
State-controlled company Convergence Energy Services Ltd. plans to launch a $10 billion tender for 50,000 electric buses, which will help advance India’s plans to decarbonize public transport and help achieve its zero-emissions targets.
CESL Managing Director Mahua Acharya said such tenders are starting to look like infrastructure projects and local production of electric buses is expected to grow along with demand.
“This country is moving forward very, very quickly with its electric vehicle ambitions,” Acharya told Bloomberg Television. “Therefore, funding remains a challenge because it provides opportunities.”
CESL was established in 2020 to manage the solar and electric vehicle leasing business of its parent company, Energy Efficiency Services Ltd., which is an enterprise of four state-owned energy companies. These are the key firms playing a major role in India’s plan to reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030 as part of its goal of reaching zero emissions by 2070.
India, the world’s third-largest emitter, needs to build charging stations, improve network capacity, and redesign depots to accommodate electric vehicle adoption, Acharya said. She also cited the constant shortage of batteries as a problem.
According to Acharya, India can electrify all two-wheelers currently on the roads and complete the electrification of public buses in five to seven years. Earlier this year, CESL was awarded a contract to supply 5,450 electric buses on behalf of five state governments.
CESL is still seeking investors for its distributed solar business, which is currently funded internally, Acharya said. (Economic Times)
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