China's gold mine at Arunachal border another flash point with India?
China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the border with Arunachal Pradesh where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals valued at about US 60 billion has been found, a media report said today.
The mine project is being undertaken in Lhunze county under Chinese control adjacent to the Indian border, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet.
Projecting the mining operations as part of China's move to take over Arunachal Pradesh, the report said "people familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet".
"China's moves to lay claim to the region's natural resources while rapidly building up infrastructure could turn it into 'another South China Sea' they said," it said. The Post report with inputs from local officials, Chinese geologists as well as strategic experts comes less than a month after the first ever informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping that was aimed at cooling tensions to avert incidents like the Dokalam military standoff last year.
The 73-day standoff marked a new low in bilateral ties. Lhunze was in the news last October, just about two months after Dokalam, when Xi in a rare gesture replied to correspondence from a herding family in Lhunze County underscoring Beijing's claim to the area.
The family is based in Yumai, China's smallest town in terms of population located close to Arunachal Pradesh.
Xi thanked the father and his two daughters for their loyalty and contributions to China, and also urged the people of Lhunze to "set down roots" to develop the area for the national interest. The Post report said although mining has been going on in the world's highest mountain range for thousands of years, the challenge of accessing the remote terrain and concerns about environmental damage had until now limited the extent of the activities.
But the unprecedented heavy investment by the Chinese government to build roads and other infrastructure in the area has made travel easy.
Most of the precious minerals which include rare earths used to make hi-tech products are hidden under Lhunze county, the report said.
By the end of last year, the scale of mining activity in Lhunze had surpassed that of all other areas in Tibet, it said.
People have poured into the area so fast that even local government officials could not provide a precise count for the current population, it said.
"Enormous, deep tunnels have been dug into the mountains along the military confrontation line, allowing thousands of tonnes of ore to be loaded and transported out by trucks daily, along roads built through every village," it said.
Extensive power lines and communication networks have been established, while construction is under way on an airport that can handle passenger jets, it said.
With more mines being dug in Lhunze and surroundings, a county official told the Post that more than 80 per cent of the county government's tax income came from mining.
The mines would also lead to a situation akin to "another South China Sea" arising out of the world's highest mountain range, it said.
Zheng Youye, a professor at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and the lead scientist for a Beijing-funded northern Himalayan minerals survey, confirmed to the Post that a series of discoveries in recent years put the potential value of ores under Lhunze and the nearby area at 370 billion yuan (USD 58 billion).
"This is just a preliminary estimate. More surveys are underway," he said.
There could be more big discoveries as Chinese researchers learn more about the area. With strong financial backing from the government, they have already amassed extensive data on the region.
According to Zheng, the new-found ores could tip the balance of power between China and India in the Himalayas.
He said Chinese troops withdrew in the 1962 war from the areas in Arunachal Pradesh as they had no people to hold the territory.
The new mining activities would lead to a rapid and significant increase in the Chinese population in the Himalayas, Zheng said, which would provide stable, long-term support for any diplomatic or military operations aimed at gradually driving Indian forces out of territory claimed by China.
"This is similar to what has happened in the South China Sea" where Beijing has asserted its claim to much of the contested waters by building artificial islands and increasing its naval activity, he said.
Hao Xiaoguang, a researcher with the Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, Hubei who specialises in India-China issues said Beijing was likely to take the same approach to the Himalayas as in the South China Sea. As China's economic, geopolitical and military strength continues to increase, "it is only a matter of time before South Tibet returns to Chinese control," Hao claimed.
"What China (has) achieved today in the South China Sea was almost unthinkable a decade ago. I am optimistic (about) what will happen in the Himalayas in the coming years because President Xi has made it clear that 'not a single inch of our land will be or can be ceded from China', which definitely includes South Tibet," he said.
But Hao said the Lhunze mining boom would not be expanded to other areas due to environmental reasons. In Lhunze, some of the newcomers are still acclimatising. The area is already teeming with people from different parts of China.
Chinese officials to visit India to discuss RCEP issues, says Suresh Prabhu
Chinese officials will visit India soon to hold bilateral discussions on the issues hampering the negotiations of the proposed mega free trade deal -- Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
The pact, negotiations for which started in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in November 2012, aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
"Chinese official delegation will be coming here for RCEP only. We have invited them for RCEP," Prabhu told PTI.
The RCEP bloc comprises 10 Asean members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners - India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The meeting with Chinese officials would be crucial as Indian industry and exporters are apprehensive about the presence of China in the grouping. They have stated that lowering or eliminating duties for China may flood Indian markets with Chinese goods.
India's trade deficit with China stood at USD 63.12 billion in 2017-18. India wants certain deviations for such countries. Under deviations, India may propose a longer duration for either reduction or elimination of import duties for such countries.
Pressure is also mounting on India for early conclusion of the proposed trade pact.
Prabhu said that during his recent visit to Cambodia, Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen expressed his keenness for early conclusion of RCEP talks.
"I explained to him that we have certain issues with China. So we are talking to them bilaterally about the RCEP issues as well as with Australia and New Zealand where "we have concerns about agriculture because we want to make sure that agri imports should not happen through RCEP so that our farmers should not get affected. We explained these two things," he added.
When asked about the apprehensions and concerns raised by experts and industry on the agreement, Prabhu said the ministry is collecting feedback from all ministries and other stakeholders for preparing their positions.
About mounting pressure for conclusion talks, he said it is a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and that means inclusion of services sector.
Member countries are looking to conclude the talks by end of this year but a lot of issues are yet to be finalised including the number of products over which duties will be eliminated. Domestic steel and other metal industriesNSE 4.91 % wants these sectors to be kept out of the deal.
Under services, India wants greater market access for its professionals in the proposed agreement.
India, China agree to start talks on bilateral social security agreement
India and China have agreed to start formal negotiations on a bilateral social security agreement aimed at protecting Indian professionals and skilled workers abroad.
The understanding was reached between the two sides during the two-day talks held in Beijing on May 28-29, a press release from Indian Embassy here said.
During the talks, the Indian delegation led by Vinod K Jacob, Joint Secretary (economic diplomacy and states division) of the Ministry of External Affairs, and a Chinese delegation led by Ma Hezu, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security exchanged views on the social security systems in India and China and their experiences with finalising and signing bilateral social security agreements with other countries.
The two sides carried out detailed and extensive discussions on the next steps which would make up the formal negotiation phase on the social security agreement that is expected to begin next year, it said.
So far, India has signed social security agreements with 18 countries from different parts of the world and is currently engaged in discussions with a number of other countries including Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Peru and Thailand, the release said.
The bilateral social security agreements are aimed at protecting the interests of Indian professionals, skilled workers working abroad by providing them benefits like avoidance of double social security contributions and facilitating remittances of accumulated social security contribution. India, China agree to start talks on bilateral social security agreement
NEW DELHI: China has urged India to support the “One-China policy”, something that India has not done in official documents since 2010, a development that has come following the improvement in bilateral ties. The one-China policy acknowledges only the People’s Republic of China and does not recognise the existence of Taiwan or Republic of China.
India has in turn communicated that it wants China to refrain from projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that violate India’s sovereignty, according to people aware of the matter. They said China has not made any move so far to address India’s concerns over the CPEC, which remains the key reason for India to oppose China’s Belt and Road Initiative .
Ahead of the second meeting of PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 9, China has told India that a reiteration of one-China policy by India would significantly help enhance mutual trust between the two countries. The issue is understood to have figured in external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s discussion with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the BRICS meet in South Africa earlier this week. India continued with this practice even after Modi became PM in 2014. By then, China had drawn up a plan to build an economic corridor linking Kashgar in Xinxiang Province in northwestern China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan.
'China begins sharing data on Brahmaputra, Sutlej rivers'
After a year's gap, China has resumed sharing hydrological data on the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers with India, an official of the water resources ministry said.
For the Brahmaputra river, data was shared by China from May 15, while it started sharing data for the Sutlej from June 1.
The move comes after the two sides held talks over the issue in March. Data will be shared twice daily until October.
Last year, China stopped the exercise citing that the hydrological gathering sites were washed away due to floods. It also coincided with the 73-day Doklam stand-off that took place during the peak monsoon period.
The sharing of hydrological data also coincides with the two sides agreeing to resume the annual exercise between their armies. The exercise did not take place last due to the Doklam stand-off.
The Brahmaputra originates from Tibet and flows into Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and later drains into the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh.
"Sharing hydrological data is very important for generating information on floods for the northeastern states," the official said.
Beijing has started providing data from three hydrological stations — Nugesha, Yangcun and Nuxia, lying on the mainstream of the Brahmaputra, also known as Yarlung Zangbo in China — and from the station at Tsada for the Sutlej, known as Langqen Zangbo, the official said.
India also pays an annual amount of Rs 1 crore to China for providing data on these two important rivers, the official added.
US unveils de facto embassy in Taiwan amid China tensions The United States unveiled a new $256 million representative office in Taiwan's capital on Tuesday, a de facto embassy that underscores Washington's strategic ties with the democratic, self-ruled island as it faces escalating tensions with China.
Washington cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 but remains the island's strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier. It opened the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) to conduct relations between the two sides after severing ties.
In comments certain to rile Beijing, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the new complex was a reaffirmation of both sides commitment to a "vital relationship."
"The friendship between Taiwan and the US has never been more promising. The great story of Taiwan-US relations remains to be filled with the efforts of those that will one day occupy this building," Tsai said.
So long as both sides stood together, nothing could come between them, she added.
The new complex, a significant upgrade from the low-key military building the AIT had used for decades, will serve as the representative office later this summer, said AIT Director Kin Moy.
Marie Royce, US assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said at a ceremony to mark the unveiling that the complex was a symbol of the strength and vibrancy of the US-Taiwan partnership.
"We have faced many trials along this journey, but we have risen to the challenge at every turn, knowing that our shared commitment to democracy would see us through," said Royce, who is the highest-ranking State Department official to visit Taiwan since 2015.
The sprawling new site occupies 6.5 hectares, including Chinese gardens, in Taipei's Neihu district. AIT's Taipei office has nearly 500 American and local employees, while its Kaohsiung branch has more than 30 staff.
The ceremony was attended by scores of high-ranking Taiwan officials as well as senior business executives, including Morris Chang, the former chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world's biggest contract chip maker.
China claims self-ruled Taiwan under its "one China" policy and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring what it sees as a wayward province under its control.
China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since President Tsai was elected in 2016. Beijing suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing.
Widely read Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times said on Tuesday China needed to warn Taiwan and the United States against provocation.
"The mainland must continue to build up its deterrence against Taiwanese authorities, making them know that the US cannot be their savior," it said in an editorial on the opening of the new office.
Taiwan recently lost two diplomatic allies after they switched ties to China, while some international companies have changed their websites to show the island's designation as being part of China.
China has also stepped up military drills, sending bombers and jet fighters on exercises near the island that Taipei has denounced as intimidation.
New Delhi, 05 Jul 13:51 - (Agenzia Nova)- The recent thaw in relations between India and China, ratified by the informal summit at the end of April in Wuhan between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, could soon lead to a dialogue on a theme crucial: the Indo-Pacific or Asia-Pacific area, depending on the point of view. The Indian newspaper "Hindustan Times" is based on sources close to the New Delhi government. In addition, preparations for an interview on the same subject with Russia would be under way. "We will have dialogues on maritime issues with China and Russia in the coming months. Our effort is to elaborate the details and see how we can achieve coherence in the Indo-Pacific community on the Indo-Pacific concept, "reveals one of the sources to the newspaper.
India is also part of a four-party grouping, called the Quad, which includes the United States, Japan and Australia, whose constitution, still in its infancy, is considered a response to the growing assertiveness of China in the Indo- Pacific. The second meeting of the new four-sided format, at senior official level, took place on 7 June in Singapore, on the sidelines of a meeting of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, after the initial meeting in November in the Philippines , always on the sidelines of an Asean event. The meeting was in the interval between other important events: shortly after the speech with which Premier Modi illustrated his vision for the Indo-Pacific at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, or Asia Security Summit,
On several recent international occasions there have been no public criticism of China by the Indian side. In the speech of the Shangri-La Dialogue Modi insisted on the cooperative dimension, premising that "the Indo-Pacific is a natural region". In his six-point vision, he speaks of "a free, open, inclusive region", with "South-East Asia at the center", whose development must "evolve through dialogue and a common rule-based order" that recognizes " sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the equality of all nations, regardless of size and strength ".
Modi also spoke of "equal access, according to international law, to the use of common spaces on the sea and in the air that would require freedom of navigation, trade without obstacles and peaceful resolutions of disputes in accordance with international law". He also defended openness to global trade, against growing protectionism, and added that "connectivity is vital" because "it does much more than increase trade and prosperity. It unites a region ", while warning that the initiatives for infrastructural development" must be based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consultation, good governance, transparency, feasibility and sustainability "and" must promote the trade, not strategic competition ".
"On these principles, we are ready to work with everyone," said the Indian prime minister, ensuring that "India's involvement in the Indo-Pacific region - from the coasts of Africa to those of the Americas - will be inclusive" and will promote " an international democratic order based on the rules ". India's vision for the Indo-Pacific area, he concluded, is realistic as long as "do not return to the age of great power rivalries": "Asia of rivalry will keep us all back. Asia of cooperation will shape this century ", Modi summarized.
That text was explicitly recalled by the Indian delegation in the Quad meeting, whose participants, in the final declaration, "reaffirmed their support for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. They also confirmed the common commitment, based on shared values and principles, to promote an order based on law "; reiterated "the centrality of the Asean" and its mechanisms in regional architecture and agreed to "collaborate with all countries and institutions in the region to promote the shared vision of an Indo-Pacific in peace, secure and prosperous, even through these plurilateral formats ".
In essence, with the Singapore speech in the name of multipolarism, Modi wanted to ensure that the Quad is not the only custodian of the Indo-Pacific area and that the concept of Indo-Pacific is not directed against anyone. In fact, the Chinese government has reacted favorably: Hua Chunying, spokesman for the Beijing Foreign Ministry, said: "We greatly appreciate this kind of positive comments". Hua then recalled that at the April informal summit Modi and Xi, "they had an in-depth exchange of views on the international scene and on bilateral relations and reached many consensus points" and that "they agreed to take a mature and wise approach to manage adequately differences ".
The progress of China-India relations since that summit, in effect, has translated into various initiatives. As a first consequence of the commitment made to Wuhan to improve strategic communication, including that between the military summits, on May 1 meetings of the border personnel of the two countries were held at different points along the effective control line, the border area contest, on which 23 "areas of dispute" insist. The parties are maintaining a situation of tranquility after the stagnation of the Doklam (Donglang in Chinese) last summer, when the Indian troops blocked for two months the Chinese engaged in the construction of a road in the disputed territory between China and Bhutan, allied India.
Currently a high-level delegation of the Chinese Army led by Lieutenant General Liu Xiaowu, Deputy Commander of the Western Theater command, he is in India, in Calcutta, on a trip that has already made stops in New Delhi, Agri and Sukna. The visit should soon be followed by that of the Minister of Defense of China, Wei Fenghe, on whose date talks are taking place between the two governments.
Other developments have been on the economic front. The Chinese government has removed the duties on the import of 28 pharmaceutical products, including cancer anticancer drugs, removal that will help India to export drugs to the neighboring country and reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries. On the other hand, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Indian Central Bank, has authorized Bank of China, a publicly controlled Chinese bank, to operate in the country. Another significant initiative is the decision of the Indian airline, Air India, with the approval of the Foreign Ministry of New Delhi, to refer to Taiwan as Chinese Taipei, accepting the request of the Civil Aviation Authority of the China.
At the political level, the most important decision, taken by Modi and Xi on the sidelines of the Tsingtao Sco summit (9-10 June), concerns a joint peace project for Afghanistan: the initiative should increase India's role in Afghanistan , but it could also reduce the relationship between China and Pakistan, which is responsible for destabilizing Afghanistan. Moreover, in the summit, China managed to involve India in the defense of open trade and in opposition to protectionism. India, however, was the only country participating in the summit not to support the New Silk Road, the great Chinese connectivity initiative, due to the Indian opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which crosses the territory of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan.
The New Silk Road, the Doklam, the UN terrorist designation by Masood Azhar, head of the Pakistani jihadist group Jaish-e-Muhammad (Jem), blocked by China, as well as India's entry into the Group of nuclear suppliers, multilateral export control regime, remain the most sensitive points. Another area of rivalry is Africa: the next summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) to be held from 25 to 27 July in the South African city of Johannesburg will be a moment of confrontation. Ways to take advantage of the occasion of the trip to visit Rwanda and Uganda; at least one of the two countries, Rwanda, will also be visited by Xi.
For Modi it will be the first visit to Uganda, a country that has welcomed other Indian prime ministers in 1997 and 2007. The visit to Rwanda, however, will be the first ever for an Indian premier. Modi will meet the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, and the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni; in both Kigali and Kampala, several agreements should be signed. Both states are members of the Commonwealth, an organization in which India plays a major role. Both the annual volume of trade and China's foreign direct investment in Africa is twice that of India; as part of the New Silk Road projects, China grants billions to African countries; Uganda paid almost three billion dollars to Uganda. However, India has reduced the distance in recent times in East Africa, thanks to the historical and cultural links with that region. Both New Delhi and Beijing are aware of the strategic importance of East Africa, both for the wealth of resources and the emerging market.
More generally, India does not intend to renounce a major role in South-South cooperation. In March, the Indian government approved the opening of 18 new Indian missions to Africa in the years 2018-2021, implementing the commitments of the third India-Africa Forum (IAFS) summit, in 2015. The countries concerned are Burkina Faso , Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland and Togo. The number of Indian missions on the continent will increase from 29 to 47. The new openings respond to the dual objective of improving assistance to compatriots residing in African countries and expanding collaboration to development on the continent.
China's rise as global power 'fact of life', says ex-foreign secretary S Jaishankar, asks India to act with 'stronger resolve'
Stating that the rise in China's power globally is a "fact of life", former foreign secretary S Jaishankar on Friday asserted that India has to deal with the country with a "different mindset and a stronger resolve".
He added that India could not afford the complacency like in the case of the Hambantota Port which Sri Lanka leased out to China.
India had registered a protest with the island nation when a Chinese submarine had docked at the port in Colombo in 2014.
Jaishankar also said it was Pakistan which came out with the narrative that Kashmir dispute was the "central issue" between the two countries.
File image of S Jaishankar. Image courtesy: CNN-News18
The former foreign secretary opined that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute may not solve all the problems between New Delhi and Islamabad.
He said that Pakistan should move away from supporting terror activities as that was the "central issue" rather than the Kashmir dispute.
Jaishankar was delivering the 24th Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture in Mumbai on 'Doing Foreign Policy Differently'.
Jaishankar also pitched for working on a foreign policy based on changing situations across the world.
"China's influence in the world cannot be disregarded. We should be open to find a common ground which is in our national interest. But all of this requires a different mindset and stronger resolve," he said.
"We cannot afford the complacency of the past that oversaw the Hambantota project, of ballooning trade deficits nor can we take comfort in the rhetoric of combativeness. Chinese power is a fact of life," Jaishankar added.
Talking about addressing the issue of trade deficit between India and China, he said that on the economic front India needs to accept that China will be a major investor.
The former foreign secretary, however, said that India will have handle this part deftly in view of national security.
"The trade deficit is unsustainable and the case to press for greater market access has only become stronger. Strategically, India can learn from China itself by leveraging the global environment to maintain and create a better balance," he added.
While replying to a query from the audience about India's relation with Pakistan, Jaishankar refused to believe the Kashmir dispute was "central" to it.
"If Kashmir is a central issue, then why do acts of terrorism take place outside Kashmir? Why was this city (Mumbai) attacked (in 2008)? I am not convinced that Kashmir alone is the issue and settlement of Kashmir will solve all problems with Pakistan," he added.