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Wednesday,26-January-2022

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India and China hold 12-hr long talks on border point disengagement

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 India and China military delegates deliberated for over 12 hours focusing on disengagement at Patrolling Point 15 — Hot Springs.

The Wednesday meeting between the military commanders of the two countries at Moldo on the Chinese side started at 10 a.m. and ended at 10.30 p.m. This the 14th round of military talks between India and China to resolve the border dispute.

Talking about the military discussions, Indian Army chief General M.M. Naravane said on Wednesday that he hoped for some positive developments in the days ahead.

Along the Northern Borders, the Indian Army has continued to maintain the highest levels of operational preparedness, while engaging in sustained dialogue with the People’s Liberation Army, Gen Naravane had said.

“We hope to resolve Patrolling Point 15 (Hot Spring) in the current round of talks. Once that is done we will look at other issues which predate the current standoff,” he said.

After persistent joint efforts, mutual dis-engagement has taken place at many locations. “So there has been positive movement,” the Indian Army Chief said.

Replying to a query about the positive developments, the officer explained, “Talks have been going on for a long time. It is a good thing that talks are going on. We have to keep talking to each other. The 4-5th round of talks resulted in resolving patrolling point 14, the 9-10th round North and South Bank and Kailash ranges and subsequently patrolling point 17.”

However, the Indian Army chief said that while there has been partial disengagement, the threat has by no means reduced.

General Naravne said the force levels in areas where disengagement is yet to take place have been adequately enhanced. Threat assessment and internal deliberations have resulted in the reorganisation and realignment of forces in keeping with the Army’s mandate of ensuring territorial integrity and to cater for the major augmentation of the PLA forces, and military infrastructure.

Just ahead of talks, China has implemented new border law and has also renamed 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh on its map.

India and China have been engaged in an intense border dispute for around two years and are now in talks to resolve the issues.

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Crisis-hit SL asks China to restructure debt repayments

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 Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has asked China to restructure the crisis-hit island nation’s debt repayments as part of efforts to help the South Asian country navigate its worsening financial situation, the BBC reported.

Rajapaksa made the request during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday.

In the last decade, China has lent Sri Lanka over $5 billion for projects including roads, an airport and ports, the BBC report said.

China is Sri Lanka’s fourth biggest lender, behind international financial markets, the Asian Development Bank and Japan.

But critics say the money was used for unnecessary schemes with low returns.

“The President pointed out that it would be a great relief to the country if attention could be paid on restructuring the debt repayments as a solution to the economic crisis that has arisen in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Rajapksa’s office said in a statement.

The statement also said China was asked to provide “concessional” terms for its exports to Sri Lanka, which amounted to around $3.5 billion last year, without providing further details, the report added.

Rajapaksa also offered to allow Chinese tourists to return to Sri Lanka provided they adhere to strict coronavirus regulations.

Before the pandemic, China was Sri Lanka’s main source of tourists and it imports goods from the Asian giant more than from any other country.

In recent months, Sri Lanka has been experiencing a severe debt and foreign exchange crisis, which has been made worse by the loss of tourist income during the pandemic, the BBC report said.

The country has received billions of dollars of soft loans from China but the island-nation has been engulfed in a foreign exchange crisis which some analysts have said has pushed it to the verge of default, as per the BBC report.

Sri Lanka has to repay about $4.5 billion in debt this year starting with a $500 million international sovereign bond, which matures on January 18.

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Singhvi says don’t rely on Chinese media, Cong embarrassed

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In a major embarrassment to the party, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Tuesday said that Indian media should not fall for Chinese propaganda after few reports emerged that Chinese have hoisted flag which turned out to be fake.

Singhvi said, “Would urge the Indian media not to take the CCP & Global Times propaganda machinery seriously. They are nothing but an absolute joke especially in the digital age, a psy ops that can be easily busted by few minutes of Google search.”

But his own party on Monday attacked the government on the same report and former Congress President Rahul Gandhi too criticized the government.

The Congress on Monday slammed the government over reports that Chinese troops are celebrating new year at Galwan Valley. “How dare China raise the Chinese flag over Galwan Valley, where only the Indian Tri-colour can be flown, unfurled proudly. How dare Chinese continue to occupy Indian territory in Depsang plains up to ‘Y junction’ and our Prime Minister remains mum? How dare China continue to illegally occupy Indian Territory in Gogra, Hot Springs and our government doesn’t utter a word?” Randeep Surjewala, Congress spokesperson had said.

Now it is clear the PLA was not present at the the disputed area of Galwan Valley on the new year eve, which is now a demilitarized zone after the June 2020 clash between the two militaries and subsequent series of talks between India & China through proper diplomatic channels.

It all started after a video surfaced on social media, shared by the Chinese media, showing PLA troop celebrating new year and unfurled the Chinese national flag, with a caption, ‘China’s national flag rises over Galwan Valley on the New Year Day of 2022’, which read further ‘the flag was special since it once flew over Tiananmen Square in Beijing’.

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India’s growing friendship with Russia and Central Asia making China uneasy

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India’s growing partnership with the Central Asian countries and the unbroken camaraderie with Russia – highly visible during Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi in December – could irk China a lot, feel some of Moscow’s top strategic experts.

The last 12 months have seen New Delhi tightening its bond with the landlocked regions of Eurasia, especially after the turbulence in Afghanistan.

The territory is also the Kremlin’s traditional foreign policy priority and forming Greater Eurasian partnership is part of Putin’s initiative.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, a few days before his visit to the Indian capital, Putin had regarded India as one of the strong independent “centres of a multipolar world” with a foreign policy philosophy and priorities “that are close to us”.

The Central Asian countries followed the Russian leader by underlining the civilisational, cultural, trade and people-to-people linkages between India and their countries during the third meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue on December 19.

While the foreign ministers of Central Asian countries called India their strategic partner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had emphasised that they remain India’s “extended neighbours” and all possible efforts should be made to strengthen comprehensive cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and South Asia, in which India is ready to provide the maximum assistance.

The events, not surprisingly, are enough to make Beijing uncomfortable, reckon experts.

In an interview with Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russian defence analyst Ruslan Pukhov, who is also the Director of the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said that the intensification of India’s diplomatic efforts and its interaction with Russia in Central Asia would certainly not please Beijing.

“After all, poor countries are forced to agree to loans from China on any terms, even at the risk of being in debt. And now the PRC appears to have a competitor,” said Pukhov.

The defence expert reckoned that while the “ambitions of India” may cause “some inconvenience” to Russia as well, Delhi does not want to weaken Moscow’s position at all.

“But the Central Asian regimes, depending on Moscow economically and militarily, now have room for manoeuvre. They can bargain with us,” he added.

However, sources tell IndiaNarrative.com that India’s engagement with the region will happen keeping the Russian interests in mind.

With New Delhi and Moscow having pledged extensive military-technical cooperation until 2030, both will be working together on having a joint manufacturing of military equipment in Central Asia, which would benefit all partners.

Also, unlike China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), New Delhi’s efforts on having an inter-connected Eurasia through the development of Chabahar port in Iran and also enhancing connectivity with the landlocked region via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), highlight India’s internationalism – that of always seeing the world as a family.

While Beijing makes inroads into several Central Asian nations through BRI, members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have become increasingly uncomfortable with the growing Chinese presence through various infrastructure projects.

India, on the other hand, has always stressed that connectivity projects to build modern arteries of commerce must adhere to the most basic principle of international relations – respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations rank foremost among them. It is also important that connectivity building is a participative and consensual exercise, based on financial viability and local ownership. They must not serve other agendas,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said last October while addressing the 6th Ministerial meeting of the Conference of Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) at Kazakhstan capital Nur-Sultan.

In a fast-changing geopolitical scene, countries like Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have appreciated India’s role in sustainable and stable development of the region.

The visit of Heads of State from these countries as special guests on the Republic Day later this month could also mark a new high at the start of 2022 – the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Central Asian States.

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