, ,

National Assembly dedicated 8% agenda to CPEC, foreign affairs, anti-terrorism issues

ISLAMABAD: The last National Assembly took up China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), foreign affairs and anti-terrorism issues by dedicating 8 per cent of agenda during its five-year tenure that ended on May 31.

The 14th Assembly preferred these issues on the government-sponsored and supplementary business items over private lawmakers’ interventions, said a press release by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) issued here Wednesday.

Pakistan witnessed crucial foreign relation challenges during last five years, including increasing tensions with neighboring India and Afghanistan, various conflicts in the Muslim world and strained ties with the United States (US) amidst warming relationship with Russia and the development of CPEC.

Despite the urgency warranted by many of these issues, the government avoided proactive deliberation on foreign affairs in the National Assembly. In fact, some efforts by private lawmakers, particularly by the Opposition members, to take up these issues in the House were stalled.

On the anti-terrorism front, the government formulated the National Security Policy 2014-18, the National Action Plan 2015 (NAP) and the National Security Policy 2019-2023. The development of these policies did not involve debate or deliberation in any parliamentary forum. The debate occurred only on the National Security Policy 2014-18 after it had been formulated.

Parliamentary business on foreign affairs accounted for nearly five per cent of the regular agenda tabled in the House during the Assembly’s term, of which almost 85 per cent was addressed during House proceedings while the remaining lapsed.

Agenda related to foreign affairs included 24 Calling Attention Notices (CANs), 55  resolutions, 27  Motions under Rule 259, 671 questions and a private member’s bill which did not proceed beyond committee’s deliberation.

Lawmakers raised matters concerning Pakistan’s relations with Muslim countries, particularly in the context of Middle Eastern crises, with India in the context of the Kashmir issue and with the US in the backdrop of the War on Terror and the Pakistan Foreign Office’s performance in facilitating overseas Pakistani citizens, especially workers and prisoners in jails abroad. More than two-thirds of the resolutions on foreign affairs were moved as supplementary agenda i.e. they were not included on the House’s Orders of the Day.

Through these resolutions, the House expressed its opinions and recommendations to the government regarding various matters in the ambit of foreign affairs.

The House, in a resolution, recommended that the government should consider suspending diplomatic ties with the US following President Trump’s statement deriding Pakistan’s role in and contributions to international anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan. However, the fate of this resolution, among others, remains unknown. Lawmakers underlined similar issues through CANs; of 24 notices, 83 per cent were successful in drawing responses from the government whereas the remaining 17 per cent were not addressed.

Moreover, only 30 per cent of the Motions under Rule 259 moved on foreign affairs issues were discussed in the House.

The majority of the Motions discussed were initiated by the government whereas similar Motions by private lawmakers were largely ignored during the Assembly’s five years.

Through a private member’s bill, the Opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) proposed that the government should be bound to seek parliamentary approval prior to entering into any international agreement. However, the bill did not return to the House after its first reading and subsequent referral to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Lawmakers also sought clarifications on several foreign affairs matters from various Ministries during the Question Hour and 90 per cent questions received responses.

The Assembly’s business on issues regarding terrorism and anti-terrorism constituted only about one per cent of the House’s total agenda.

The House addressed 61 per cent of these agenda items whereas the remaining 39 per cent remained unaddressed. The agenda included 3 percent CANs, 8 per cent resolutions, 16 6 per cent Motions under Rule one per cent questions and 16.8 per cent government bills.

Through these agenda items, lawmakers expressed reactions to various incidents of terrorism in the country and formulated a collective response on anti-terrorism measures to be suggested to the government. Militancy in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were recurring themes in these agenda items.

In a bid to strengthen the anti-terrorism regime in the country, the 14th Assembly passed laws that included extending the jurisdiction of military courts to civilians.

These included amendments in the constitution and other relevant laws. Additionally, the Assembly introduced changes in the laws governing the registration of foreigners in the country and the functioning of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA). However, a resolution tabled by a PPPP lawmaker on measures to improve NACTA’s effectiveness was rejected by the majority due to the Treasury’s opposition.

The House held discussions on government-sponsored Motions under Rule 259 following every major terrorist attack in the country. All such discussions were centered on the Opposition urging the government to activate NACTA and the government reiterating its commitment to eradicate terrorism from the country.

The National Security Policy 2014-2018 was also discussed in the House, however, private lawmakers’ Motions to discuss the law and order situation, the NAP, attacks on polio-vaccination workers and cross-border terrorism were ignored by the House. Moreover, lawmakers sought information from the government on terrorism-related matters through 131 questions, of which 61 per cent received responses during the Assembly’s term.

Business concerned specifically with CPEC included one CAN and 116 questions only, which account for roughly one per cent of the total questions asked during the Assembly’s five-year term. Lawmakers sought information on various CPEC projects, CPEC routes and security provisions for projects and personnel.

SOURCE:https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/06/28/na-dedicated-8-agenda-to-cpec-foreign-affairs-anti-terrorism-issues/

, ,

SECURING THE CPEC (Threats from India)

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation. The CPEC is located at the hub of the BRI and is a pivotal component of its 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It can fetch unprecedented and unconditional prosperity and peace dividends for the entire South and Central Asian region and scores of the 60 plus BRI countries. As part of the CPEC, the Gwadar port can offer indirect benefits to many of the 32 littoral states of the Indian Ocean that may not be part of the BRI. Regrettably, some powers are opposing this progress for their own perverted and trivial reasons. They are creating overt and covert hurdles in its implementation and are displaying competitive, rather than cooperative reactions. Rival projects like the US sponsored  ‘New Silk Road package’,  in partnership with India and Afghanistan and the ‘Indo-Pacific Freedom Corridor’ proposed by India and Japan, have  been prompted by the CPEC. Similarly, Indian investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar is intended to contest with growth of Gwadar port.  China and Pakistan have rightly not shown any aversion to the competition, though India has already started misusing the Chabahar project for aiding, abetting and sponsoring RAW terrorist networks to disrupt the CPEC. Of greater concern are the numerous efforts and international conspiracies, engineered by India and supported by others, to sabotage the CPEC. Indian hostile activities in Pakistan intensified within days of the inauguration of the CPEC shipments. Attempts include numerous Indian terrorist activities in Balochistan in collaboration with Afghanistan that are mentioned in the confessions of Commander Jhadav.

Frequent disinformation campaigns about CPEC have also simultaneously been launched inside Pakistan. All these highly provocative actions are part of a well thought and integrated, international conspiracy that is   tantamount to an undeclared war, as they pose a direct threat to the national interests of not only China and Pakistan but many other countries that could benefit from the BRI and the CPEC.  US support to India on the matter, under this environment is very short sighted indeed.

Though challenges to CPEC appear daunting but they can be surmounted. The Pakistani Foreign Office has taken note of some of more serious developments and has initiated appropriate action to condemn and reject hostile measures against the CPEC, calling them as an infringement of the UN Charter and impingement of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, this has been done somewhat cautiously and at a rather low level, so far. There   is a need to concomitantly and officially communicate our concerns, at the highest level, to the heads of the foreign governments that are opposing the CPEC. This should be done jointly and severally by Pakistan and China, in consultation with the other countries that are part of the BRI.  Our response should include manifold collective remedies and counteractions, to compel the antagonists of the CPEC to desist from hurting our economic interests. The BRI has recently been written into China’s constitution. Being a vital interest, the Pakistani government must also provide constitutional protection to the CPEC. Negative propaganda against the CPEC must be dispelled through Sino-Pak state and private media, ensuring transparency of planning, as well as execution and arranging seminars and workshops.

While the government has raised special security force for the protection of the CPEC, this must be augmented with a Pak-China CPEC intelligence organization, satellitemonitoring and enhanced maritime collaboration. Another multinational organization, led by China, must be formed to respond to the threats posed to the BRI, through coordinated political, diplomatic, economic, security and surveillance measures.

Despite heavy odds, many CPEC projects are already up and running. This is a clear message about the resilience and determination of the Chinese and the Pakistani people, who are committed to its success, not only for their own benefit, but also for others to diversify and develop their economies. This should inspire everyone to support, rather than oppose the CPEC.

SOURCE:https://pakobserver.net/securing-the-cpec-2/

, ,

CPEC: the governance challenges ahead — II

Pakistan faces both internal and external security threats. The monster of modern terrorism, however, is a post-9/11 phenomenon. When General-cum-President Pervez Musharraf supported the US-led War on Terror (WoT) against the Taliban, the latter, in reaction, started targeting the Pakistani society and state. Resultantly, more than thirty thousand civilians and law enforcement officials have lost their lives in multiple acts of terrorism since 2003. Nevertheless, the overall number of causalities have dropped since 2014 owing to some legislative and executive measures taken by the government, but suicide bombers are still a real threat. Finding opportunity, any terrorist organization can strike. The country’s security apparatuses are the most tempting targets, while minorities are the most vulnerable.

Most of the people who died in terror attacks were ordinary Pakistani citizens, both Muslims and non-Muslims. But foreigners have also been targeted. For example, an American national was kidnapped and later killed in Karachi some years ago. Iranians have also been targeted.

Similarly, the Islamic State (IS) abducted, as per media reports, two Chinese nationals who were Christian missionaries, near Quetta in 2017. The couple was eventually killed. This seemed like an attempt on the part of the terrorists to malign China-Pakistan relations, in general, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, in particular. Moreover, another Chinese national was also killed in Karachi, reportedly by extortionists. The deceased Chinese citizen, according to Pakistani officials, was working for a non-CPEC firm called Cosco Shipping Lines Pak (Pvt) Ltd, which has been doing business in Pakistan since the early 1990s. If analysed objectively, in both cases, the Chinese nationals were residing or working in Pakistan in their private capacity. Furthermore, they were not related to CPEC in any capacity. Noticeably, the missionary couple and the private-firm employee were provided due security by the government. However, in both incidents, the Chinese citizens seemed to have violated security protocols, which cost them their lives.

The overall number of terror-related casualties has dropped since 2014 owing to some legislative and executive measures taken by the government, but suicide bombers are still a real threat. Finding opportunity, any terrorist organisation can strike

Recently there have also been reports of some Chinese citizens involved in financial crimes such as ATM skimming. Such cases remain under investigation. In addition, in April 2018, a number of Chinese workers were filmed assaulting some personnel of the Punjab police in the Noor Pur camp (Khanewal, Punjab). Video footage of this shameful incident went viral on social media. At one point during the scuffle, the country project manager of the concerned company stood arrogantly on the bonnet of the police van with the Pakistani flag visible beside his shoes — this was not the first such incident.

Here, it is pertinent to mention that on December 8, 2017, the Chinese embassy in Islamabad issued a press release that read “the Chinese embassy has received some information that the security of the Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan might be threatened.  This Embassy would make it clear that Pakistan is a friendly country to China. We appreciate that Pakistan has attached much importance to the security of the Chinese institutions and personnel”. The preceding is a reflection of China’s growing security concerns vis-à-vis its CPEC related citizens. Even, the number of non-CPEC related Chinese nationals — working, for example, as journalists — have crossed fifteen thousands. Physical security of the Chinese residing and working in Pakistan has, therefore, emerged as a legitimate concern, which the Pakistani authorities need to take into policy consideration.

However, despite the mentioned cases of Chinese citizens being killed by terrorists, the fact of the matter is that CPEC has, thus far, not been targeted by a major terrorist attack on its infrastructure, machinery and work force. However, this should not discourage or devalue the significance of security enhancement on the part of Pakistani authorities. Rather, impending security threats ought to be responded to diligently. This will be easier said than done because it raises questions on the legal, institutional and administrative capacity of the government.

For example, is it the prerogative of the local, provincial, regional or federal government to provide material and physical security to, for example, transportation infrastructure (or to the proposed Special Economic Zones) and the Chinese work force and machinery involved at different stages of construction? If it is a combined arrangement on the part of the provincial and federal government, who will be responsible for implementing the security measures? Which government and at what level, will bear the financial and logistical cost of security? Moreover, if the provision of security is the responsibility of the provincial government, will the province be able to manage it logistically and institutionally? Significantly, will the Chinese companies and human resource be satisfied with the security arrangements provided by Pakistani authorities? These are some major security challenges that Pakistan will have to deal with for the sake of CPEC, which has been termed by both China and Pakistan, as a crucial component of contemporary bilateral relations. I will provide policy input, in this respect, in the upcoming articles in this series.

SOURCE:https://dailytimes.com.pk/255100/cpec-the-governance-challenges-ahead-ii/

, , , , , ,

CPEC — a solution to the Kashmir issue?

In December 2017, China offered the Afghan government a chance to become part of their ambitious $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). At the same time, they made it clear that the project was not in any way directed against India and that no third party should be concerned with its progress. This came after India complained that the corridor passes through Gilgit-Baltistan (GB)in Pakistan-administered Kashmir which is a territory claimed by both India and Pakistan.

After negotiating a border stand-off at Doklam Plateau (China-Bhutan disputed border) both India and China indicated that they wanted to build peaceful relations by solving their bilateral disputes through diplomacy instead of armed conflicts. Pakistan wants to follow the same path, and open a dialogue with India in order for CPEC to develop without any problems. However, another solution could be that the government of Pakistan could instead refer to the people of this region. The Kashmiris and the people of GB could also be brought into the loop. They could finally have the plebiscite that was promised these people by the UNCIP resolution so many years ago.  But this will never happen.

Pakistan fears the outcome of the plebiscite. Why do you think Pakistan has been so reluctant to grant GB provincial status? The usual response from Islamabad is that its due to its disputed nature yet the reality is quite different.

After the 18th amendment was passed under Asif Ali Zardari’s government, provinces were granted a semblance of autonomy. However, if GB was given provincial status, it would control its own economic and administrative polices and could claim a larger share of the benefits from CPEC. Another reason was their small population size of only two million people. If they were granted provincial status then the people of FATA, Southern Punjab, the Potohar region and Karachi could also end up demanding provincial status and full autonomy. Thus, by issuing Order 2018, Islamabad has made certain that the centre continues to enjoy the economic benefits and administrative powers that would’ve instead been under the control of the people of GB themselves.

In case of Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Islamabad amended the Interim Act of 1974. The legislative, monetary and administrative status of the Kashmir Council has been reduced to an advisory role, with all powers reverted to the office of the prime minister. By reinforcing Section 7 of the Interim Act, and adding an additional clause, the government has essentially restricted the freedom movement in AJK and disillusioned the locals.

In October 2017, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani categorically said that his country would join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) only if Islamabad allows connectivity between India and Afghanistan. Mentioning sovereignty issues raised by India, Ghani also warned that if Afghanistan was not given transit access to Wagah and Attari for trade with India via Pakistan, then Kabul would also restrict Islamabad’s access to central Asia. When Pakistan and India both reluctant to sit down for a civilised talk, China decided to use backdoor channels to open a dialogue with India and convince them to cooperate with Pakistan. As a result, an Indian delegation was spotted at a March 23 parade in Islamabad, and later the same year at the Shanghai Co-operation Summit.

“What the region needs is a strong group of leaders who are not afraid to take on the collective might of the Indian and Pakistani governments, in order to fight for the disenfranchised people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir”

Now there is an interim government in charge. They have limited powers and this provides the establishment a freehand. As a first step the ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) on May,29 2018 (soon after the announcement of interim PM) tweeted the first sign of the establishment’s anticipated strategy to calm tensions with India. The director generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries agreed to a ceasefire agreement on the border, including the LOC in AJK. India for their part realise that the only time relations with their neighbours to the West got better, was under Musharraf’s rule, which is why they believe talking to the establishment will lead to better results with respect to CPEC. If this turns out to be true, then India will be given the green light to join CPEC in the coming weeks. It would benefit them greatly as it would open up markets in central Asia, and, at the same time, ease tensions with Pakistan.

 

In the end, CPEC seems like a great opportunity for all countries involved yet there is one important community that is being ignored in all of this, the people of GB and AJK. If there had been a strong and unified leadership in the region then perhaps they could have used this opportunity to pressurise Pakistan, and India in to giving them more autonomy and letting them be in charge of their own fate.

However, current leaders are not brave enough to make these sacrifices and are, instead, happy to take whatever scraps Islamabad throws at them. What the region needs is a strong group of leaders who are not afraid to take on the collective might of the Indian and Pakistani governments, in order to fight for the disenfranchised people of GB and AJK. Only then can the years of oppression they have suffered through finally come to a stop and its citizens get the freedom they have craved for so long.

SOURCE:https://dailytimes.com.pk/250530/cpec-a-solution-to-the-kashmir-issue/

, ,

China provides ‘high-performance tracking system’ for Pakistan’s missile programme

China has sold Pakistan a powerful tracking system in an unprecedented deal that could speed up the Pakistan’s missile programme and military’s development of multi-warhead missiles, according to South China Morning Post.

News of the sale to Islamabad – and evidence that Beijing is supporting rapidly developing Pakistan’s  missile programme – comes two months after India tested its most advanced nuclear-ready intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range long enough to hit Beijing or Shanghai, the article in the Chinese daily observes.

According to the publication, Chinese authorities declassified information about the deal on Wednesday.

A statement on the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) website said China was the first country to export such sensitive equipment for high performance tracking system for Pakistan’s missile program.

Zheng Mengwei, a researcher with the CAS Institute of Optics and Electronics in Chengdu, Sichuan province, confirmed to the South China Morning Post that Pakistan had bought a highly sophisticated, large-scale optical tracking and measurement system from China.

Alarming arms race among Pakistan, India and China

The country’s military recently deployed the Chinese-made system “at a firing range” for use in testing and developing its new missiles, he said.

India’s January 18 test of its Agni-V ICBM, with a range of more than 5,000km (3,100 miles), is seen as a message that the country can deploy a credible nuclear deterrent against China, and Beijing is determined to counter it.

While the Hindu-majority country’s single-warhead missiles are bigger and cover longer distances, Pakistan has focused its efforts on developing multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), a type of missile-carrying several nuclear warheads that can be directed towards different targets.

The US Defence Intelligence Agency officially confirmed in March that Pakistan conducted the first test launch of its nuclear-capable Ababeel missile in January 2017, “demonstrating South Asia’s first MIRV payload”.

China’s multi-nuke missile capable of striking anywhere in world to be ready soon

Although the Ababeel missile has a range of only 2,200km, it can deliver numerous warheads to different targets. The technology has the potential to overwhelm a missile defence system, wiping out an adversary’s nuclear arsenal in one surprise attack.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1666541/9-china-provides-high-performance-tracking-system-pakistans-missile-programme/

,

China urges Trump to drop ‘Cold War mentality’

BEIJING: Beijing criticised the “outdated Cold War mentality” of the United States Wednesday after President Donald Trump named China among threats to American values in his State of the Union address.

In recent weeks, US officials have laid the groundwork for a strategic pivot that envisions a world of renewed great power competition with the likes of Russia and China.

In his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation on Tuesday, Trump described Moscow and Beijing as challenging “our interests, our economy, and our values”.

In Beijing Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the common interests of the US and China “far outweigh our differences and disagreements”.

A steady relationship with the United States is “also in the interest of the whole world,” Li said after meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“China hopes that the United States will work with us and continue to view this relationship in a positive overall perspective,” he said.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had more critical words.

“We hope the US side can abandon the outdated Cold War mentality to work for the shared goal with China of properly managing our differences and upholding the steady development of China-US relations,” she told a regular press briefing.

Source: https://arynews.tv/en/china-trump-cold-war-mentality/

,

China in talks over military base in remote Afghanistan: officials

KABUL: Worried about militants sneaking into a restive Chinese region from war-torn Afghanistan, Beijing is in talks with Kabul over the construction of a military base, Afghan officials say, as it seeks to shore up its fragile neighbour.

The army camp will be built in Afghanistan’s remote and mountainous Wakhan Corridor, where witnesses have reported seeing Chinese and Afghan troops on joint patrols.

The freezing, barren panhandle of land — bordering China’s tense Xinjiang region — is so cut off from the rest of Afghanistan that many inhabitants are unaware of the Afghan conflict, scraping out harsh but peaceful lives.

However they retain strong links with neighbours in Xinjiang, and with so few travellers in the region local interest in the Chinese visitors has been high, residents told AFP on a recent visit there.

China’s involvement in the base comes as President Xi Jinping seeks to extend Beijing’s economic and geopolitical clout.

The Chinese are pouring billions of dollars into infrastructure in South Asia. With Afghanistan’s potential to destabilise the region, analysts said any moves there would be viewed through the prism of security.

Beijing fears that exiled Uighur members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are passing through the Wakhan into Xinjiang to carry out attacks.

It also worries that Islamic State group militants fleeing Iraq and Syria could cross Central Asia and Xinjiang to reach Afghanistan, or use the Wakhan to enter China, analysts say.

Afghan and Chinese officials discussed the plan in December in Beijing, but details are still being clarified, Afghan defence ministry deputy spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said.

“We are going to build it (the base) but the Chinese government has committed to help the division financially, provide equipment and train the Afghan soldiers,” he told AFP recently.

A senior Chinese embassy official in Kabul would only say Beijing is involved in “capacity-building” in Afghanistan.

NATO’s US-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan declined to comment. But US officials have previously welcomed China’s role in Afghanistan, noting they share the same security concerns.

Members of the Kyrgyz ethnic minority in Wakhan told AFP in October they had been seeing Chinese and Afghan military patrols for months.

“The Chinese army first came here last summer and they were accompanied by the Afghan army,” said Abdul Rashid, a Kyrgyz chief, adding that he had seen vehicles flying Chinese flags.

The Afghan army arrived days earlier “and told us that the Chinese army would be coming here”, he said, adding: “We were strictly told not to go near them or talk to them and not to take any photos.”

Rashid’s account was confirmed by other Kyrgyz, including another chief Jo Boi, who said the Chinese military spent almost a year in Wakhan before leaving in March 2017.

Both Chinese and Afghan officials deny the claims, with China’s defence ministry telling AFP that the “Chinese army is not engaged in any military operation in the Wakhan Corridor”.

With little access to the corridor, Kabul provides almost no services to those who live there — but the Chinese, Boi said, have been bringing “a lot of food and warm clothes”.

“They are very good people, very kind,” he told AFP.

After their March visit, he said, they returned in June for roughly a month. “Since then they come every month… to distribute food.”

China fears militancy could threaten its growing economic interests in the region, Ahmad Bilal Khalil, a researcher at the Kabul-based Center for Strategic and Regional Studies, told AFP.

“They need to have a secure Afghanistan,” he said, estimating Beijing had provided Kabul with more than $70 million in military aid in the past three years.

It recently flagged the possibility of including Afghanistan in the $54-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) linking western China to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan.

Source: https://arynews.tv/en/china-talks-military-base-remote-afghanistan-officials/

,

China denies plan to build military base in Afghanistan

BEIJING: 

China’s Defence Ministry on Thursday denied that it was planning to build a military base in Afghanistan, branding such reports “groundless”.

Russian news agency Ferghana News, which focuses on Central Asia, has reported that China will build the military base in Afghanistan.

The report was picked up last week by US magazine The Diplomat and then in Chinese state media.

China likely to build military base in Pakistan: US

Speaking at a regular news briefing, ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said that the two countries had normal security cooperation and that China like other countries was supporting Afghanistan in defence and counter-terrorism.

“The so-called issue that China is building a military base in Afghanistan is groundless,” Wu said.

The ministry has also previously dismissed reports that Chinese military vehicles were patrolling inside Afghanistan.

China slams Pentagon report on overseas military bases

China has long been concerned that instability in Afghanistan could spill over into the violence-prone Xinjiang region in China’s far west, home to the Muslim Uighur people, where hundreds of people have died in recent years in unrest blamed by China on militants.

China has also worked with Pakistan and the United States to broker peace talks to end Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency that has raged since the militants were ousted by US-backed forces in 2001.

China opened its first overseas military base, in the Horn of Africa country Djibouti, last year. China has previously denied having plans for other overseas bases, but the United States expects China to build more, with Pakistan a likely location.

Source: The Express Tribune, 25th January 2018.

, , , ,

India plans closer Southeast Asia maritime ties to counter China

NEW DELHI: India is gathering the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Regional Cooperation (ASEAN) for a summit on Thursday to promote maritime security in a region dominated by China, officials and diplomats said.

‘Chance of war’ between nuclear-armed China and India

India has been pursuing an “Act East” policy of developing political and economic ties with Southeast Asia, but its efforts have been tentative and far trail China, whose trade with ASEAN was more than six times India’s in 2016-17 at $470 million.
China has also expanded its presence in South Asia, building ports and power plants in countries around India’s periphery, such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and spurring New Delhi to seek new allies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited the leaders of all ten ASEAN nations to join him in the Republic Day celebrations on Friday in the biggest ever gathering of foreign leaders at the parade that showcases military might and cultural diversity.

The leaders, who include Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, will hold talks on maritime cooperation and security, the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Both India and the Southeast Asia nations have stressed the need for freedom of navigation and open seas and India already has strong naval ties with countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, Preeti Saran, secretary in the Indian foreign ministry, said.

“The ongoing activities of ship visits, of coordinated patrols, of exercises that take place bilaterally, are taking place very well,” Saran said. “And every time we have a defence to defence talks or navy to navy talks, there is a great deal of satisfaction that has been expressed by the ASEAN member countries.”

But several Southeast Asian countries locked in territorial disputes with China have sought even greater Indian engagement in the region, experts say.

“China’s distinctly hegemonic moves in the last few years in the South China Sea and its growing assertiveness have made ASEAN look towards India as a partner for equilibrium,” said Arvind Gupta, former Indian deputy national security adviser who now heads the influential Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi with close ties to the ruling government.

China may initiate ‘limited war’ with India

But India, which has been building up its navy, is wary of getting entangled in South China Sea disputes and provoking a backlash from China.

One of the plans the Indian and ASEAN leaders will be discussing at the closed-door summit on Thursday will be for their navies to exercise near the Malacca Straits between Malaysia and Singapore, one of the busiest routes for international shipping, a navy official said.

Source: The Express Tribune, 25th January 2018.

, , ,

China Confident Of Ensuring CPEC Success

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s prestigious Belt and Road Initiative, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The CPEC links China’s restive Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Beijing—China on Tuesday said it is confident in ensuring the USD 50 billion  CPEC success, a day after Pakistan’s security czar alleged that the US along with India is conspiring against the ambitious economic corridor.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s prestigious Belt and Road Initiative, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The CPEC links China’s restive Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s Balochistan province. CPEC is bringing a lot of opportunities in different sectors and areas and China is so confident of ensuring CPEC success.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters today that China hopes more countries to join the project.

“I want to reiterate that CPEC is a new type of framework for the long term cooperation in various areas between China and Pakistan,” she said when asked about Pakistan’s claims.

The project is not only of positive significance for the development of the two countries but also conducive to the development of whole region, Hua said.

“We hope CPEC can receive more support and recognition of more countries and we are confident in ensuring the success of the building of CPEC with various parties including Pakistan,” she added.

Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Lt Gen (retd.) Nasser Khan Janjua yesterday accused the US of conspiring against the multi-billion economic corridor with India.—PTI

Source: Kashmir Observer, 20th Dec 2017.