Thursday, September 3, 2020

Rajnath meets Russian counterpart, discusses ways to deepen defence, strategic partnership

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with the Russian Defence Minister, General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow (Photo tweeted by office of Defence Minister)

Moscow [Russia], September 3 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday met his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow wherein the duo discussed about strengthening defence and strategic cooperation between both the two countries.

"Excellent meeting with the Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow today. We talked about a wide range of issues, particularly how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries," said Rajnath Singh in a tweet.

Singh reached Moscow on Wednesday on a three-day visit to Russia to attend the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar held a meeting with Dmitry Shugaev, Director, Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, Russia.

According to a tweet by Russian Embassy in India, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu thanked Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh for visiting Moscow in June and highlighted colossal potential of collaboration between Russia and India. "Military and military and technical cooperation were discussed."

Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan spoke at the India-Russia Young Scholars International e-Conference 2020 on the 20th anniversary of India-Russia Strategic Partnership.

"The time tested India-Russia relationship is based on unparalleled mutual trust and respect, common interests and concurrence on fundamental issues of global affairs," he said in a tweet.

"The dynamism of the India-Russia relationship has propelled the bilateral cooperation beyond the traditional areas to almost all sectors of the economy benefitting the people of both countries. Our trade has also increased by 40," he added. (ANI)

Decision on developing global supply chains should be based on trust not only on costs: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Noting that COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the decision on developing global supply chains should be based not only on costs but also on trust apart from affordability of geography, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that companies are now also looking for reliability and policy stability and India has all these attributes.

Delivering the special keynote address at the US-India 2020 Summit of US-ISPF, the Prime Minister said, "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" merges the local with the global and ensures India's strengths act as a global force multiplier.

He said 1.3 billion Indians have embarked on one mission- to make an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' or self-reliant India.

"'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' merges the local with the global. It ensures India's strengths act as a global force multiplier. Time and again, India has shown that our goal is global good," PM Modi said.

He said there were opportunities in the public and private sector in India. "They cover core economic sectors as well as the social sectors. Recent sectors that have opened include coal, mining, railways, defence, space, and atomic energy."

Noting that the global coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone, the Prime Minister said the current situation demands a fresh mindset. "A mindset where the approach to development is human-centric. Where there is a spirit of cooperation between everyone."

"While looking at the way ahead we should keep our focus on- ramping up our capacities, securing the poor and future-proofing our citizens. This is the path India is taking," he said.

PM Modi said India was among the first in creating a responsive system of lockdowns.

"This pandemic has also shown the world that the decision on developing global supply chains should be based not only on costs. They should also be based on trust. Along with affordability of geography, companies are now also looking for reliability and policy stability. India is the location which has all of these qualities," he said.

"As a result, India is also becoming one of the leading attractions for foreign investment. Be it America or the Gulf, be it Europe or Australia-the world believes in us. We have received over 20 billion dollars of foreign investment flows during this year. Google, Amazon and Mubadala Investments have announced long-term plans for India," he added.

The Prime Minister said India offers a transparent and predictable tax regime.

"Our system encourages and supports honest taxpayers. Our GST is a unified, fully IT enabled the indirect tax system. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has reduced risk for the entire financial system.

Our Comprehensive labour reforms will reduce the compliance burden for employers. It will also provide social security protection to the workers," he said.

Pointing out that importance of investment in driving growth cannot be overstated, he said the government is tackling both demand and supply side of it.

He said efforts were being made to develop India as one of the lowest tax destinations in the world and there were incentives for new manufacturing units.

"Mandatory e- platform-based 'faceless assessment' will go a long way in helping citizens. The continued regulatory reforms in bond markets ensure improved ease of access for investors. There are tax exemptions to 'Sovereign Wealth Funds' and 'Pension Funds' for Infrastructure investment.FDI into India rose by 20 per cent in 2019. This when global FDI inflows fell by one per cent. This shows the success of our FDI regime. All of the above steps will ensure a brighter and more prosperous tomorrow. They will also contribute to a stronger global economy," the Prime Minister said.

He said the pandemic has impacted several things but it has not impacted the aspirations and ambitions of 1.3 billion Indians.

"In recent months, there have been far-reaching reforms. These are making business easier and red-tapism lesser. Work is actively underway on the world's largest housing program. Renewable energy infrastructure is being expanded. Rail, road and air connectivity is being boosted. Our country is creating a unique digital model to build a national digital health mission. We are using the best of fin-tech to provide banking, credit, digital payments and insurance to millions. All these initiatives are being taken using world-class technology and global best practices."

Noting that Production Linked Incentive schemes have been launched for- mobile and electronics, medical devices, pharma sectors, the Prime Minister said they have been well received.

He said such schemes are being planned for other champion sectors too and the reforms in agriculture marketing and 14 billion USD agriculture financing facility bring several opportunities.

"For challenges in India, you have a government that believes in delivering results. A government for which Ease of living is as important as the Ease of doing business. You are looking at a young country with 65 per cent population less than 35 years old. You are looking at an aspirational country that has decided to take the nation to new heights. This at a time when we mark 75 years of independence. You are looking at a country with political stability and policy continuity. You are looking at a country with a commitment to democracy and diversity. Come, be a part of this journey with us," the Prime Minister said.

He said despite India's large local needs in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic, India did not shy away from its global responsibility.

"The responsibility of being the world's leading producer of generic medicines. We ensured constant supplies to the world. We are also at the fore-front of research on the vaccine for Covid-19. A self-reliant and peaceful India ensures a better world," he said.

He said India was among the first to advocate the use of masks and face coverings as a public health measure.

"We were also among the earliest to create public awareness campaigns about social distancing. In record time, medical infrastructure was scaled up- be it COVID hospitals, ICU capacities and more. Starting from one testing lab in January, we now have around sixteen hundred labs across the country," he said.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the outcome of these efforts has been that a country with 1.3 billion people and limited resources has one of the lowest death rates per million in the world.
"The recovery rate is also steadily rising. I am happy that our business community, in particular small business been pro-active. Starting from almost nothing, they made us the second largest PPE kits manufacturer in the world," he said.

PM Modi said this is in line with India's spirit of challenging the challenge to emerge stronger.
The Prime Minister said through the entire COVID-19 period and the lockdown, the "Government of India was clear on one thing- the poor have to be protected."

"The 'Pradhan MantriGaribKalyanYojana' for India's poor is among the largest support system seen anywhere globally. Free food grain is being provided to 800 million people. This scheme operates for 8 months and 800 million people means:More than double of USA's population," he said.

"Free cooking gas is being provided to around 80 million families. Cash support has been provided to around 345 million farmers and needy people. The scheme has given much-needed employment for migrant workers by creating almost 200 million person-days of work," he added.

He said rail, road and air connectivity is being boosted.

"Our country is creating a unique digital model to build a national digital health mission. We are using the best of fin-tech to provide banking, credit, digital payments and insurance to millions. All these initiatives are being taken using world-class technology and global best practices," he said. (ANI)

Fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari's extradition hearing to begin from September 11 at London's Westminster Magistrates' court

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London [UK], September 3 (ANI): Fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari's extradition hearing will begin on September 11 at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He was arrested in London on 15th July and is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate on the charges of money laundering.

"Sanjay Bhandari was arrested on request made by the government of India in May to UK Home Office. He faces extradition to India on many charges; was granted bail by Westminster Magistrate's Court on a surety of £120000. Extradition trial gets underway later in September," Indian High Commission in London told ANI.

He was declared a proclaimed offender by a trial court in January 2018, which was quashed by Delhi High Court in July 2018.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a charge sheet against Bhandari in connection with a money-laundering case against him in the purchase of a London-based property worth 1.9 million pounds.

The London property was allegedly bought by Bhandari and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses on the renovation. (ANI)

Approach to development should be human-centric: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that COVID-19 pandemic is testing resilience, public health system and economic system and the current situation demands fresh mindset where the approach to development is human-centric.

"When 2020 began, did anyone imagine how it would pan out? A global pandemic has impacted everyone. It's testing our resilience, public health system & economic system. The current situation demands fresh mindset where the approach to development is human-centric," PM Modi said during his keynote address at US-India Strategic Partnership Forum's 3rd Annual Leadership Summit.

He said India has one of the lowest death rates per million in the world due to COVID-19.

"India, a country with 1.3 billion people and limited resources, has one of the lowest death rates per million in the world. The recovery rate is also steadily rising," he said.

"The pandemic has impacted several things but it has not impacted the aspirations and of ambitions of 1.3 billion Indians. In recent months, there have been far-reaching reforms," he said. (ANI)

Ban on 118 Chinese apps: China calls move discriminatory, India says companies must follow rules related to data privacy, security

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New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Reacting sharply to latest ban on 118 Chinese mobile apps enforced by India, Spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in India Counselor Ji Rong said on Thursday that they oppose the decision and urged Indian government "to rectify the discriminatory practices violating WTO rules and provide an open, fair and impartial business environment for all market players from various countries including China".

"We are seriously concerned and firmly oppose the Indian government to prohibit the mobile apps with Chinese background with the excuse of "national security," the spokesperson said.

India has said that it is one of the most open regimes for foreign direct investment and made it clear that companies working here must follow the regulatory framework of the government
Speaking on the ban on Chinese apps, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday that digital technology companies operating in the country have the responsibility to abide by rules and regulations issued by ministries and departments of the government and particularly those related to data security and privacy of data.

"India has one of the most open regimes for FDI in the world and this includes internet companies and digital technology companies. However, they have a responsibility to abide by rules and regulations issued by departments of the government of India," he said.

The Chinese embassy statement said that China has always required Chinese overseas companies to abide by international rules and operate in compliance with laws and regulations.

"The relevant practices by the Indian government not only harm the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese investors and service providers, but also harm the interests of Indian consumers and the investment environment," the statement said.

"Suppression, self-seclusion and restrictions cannot benefit one country's development. It's the right way to integrate into global cooperation by being open, fair and transparent," it added.

The statement said that China and India are "opportunities of development to each other rather than strategic threats".

"The essence of economic and trade cooperation between China and India is for mutual benefit and win-win results. We hope that India will work with China to maintain the hard-won cooperation and development situation and return to the right path of win-win cooperation," it said.

Indian Government on Wednesday blocked 118 Chinese mobile apps stating that they are "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state and public order".
(ANI)

UK govt fines MQM chief Altaf Hussain for over 2 million pounds

MQM chief Altaf Hussain (File Photo)

London [UK], September 3 (ANI): Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has been fined by the UK government for tax evasion of over 2 million pounds.

According to documents, Hussain was fined for not paying more than 2 million pounds to the national exchequer over a 20-year period from large earnings amounting to millions of pounds, Geo News reported.

The investigation into the case pertains to income, payments, assets accumulation and National Insurance contributions that were never paid between 1995 to 2015. The probe is based on the monthly expenditures and estimated income of Hussain and party workers.

Hussain's home in Edgware has three full-time bouncers, two maids, a full-time driver and a cook. His house expenditure and settlement payment to his former wife Fiza Gabol and daughter Afzaa is estimated to be around 50,000 pounds per month. However, the amount does not include payments made to the MQM leader's party staff who are taking care of the London office for more than 20 years.

Dozens of people have worked either full-time or part-time at MQM's International Secretariat. At its peak, there were almost 20 people on the party's payroll and the recipients were believed to be getting cash in hand as most of them received government benefits for income and living.

A source close to Hussain said the latter has challenged the civil proceedings, stating he never earned any money, has never been employed and was not obliged to pay income tax to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), according to Geo News.

The MQM chief asserted that he has been managing his life through donations given by loyalists from both Pakistan and overseas. As the head of a political party, he had the authority to use those funds to maintain his lifestyle free of taxes.

Sources within the MQM were quoted as saying that the HMRC's investigation is one of the main reasons behind the decision of senior leaders Muhammad Anwar and Tariq Mir to part ways with Hussain.

Both Anwar and Mir, who are qualified accountants, were entrusted with taxation and financial matters for the party for more than two years till relations with Hussain soared around four years back.

The duo provided a base to Hussain at the accountancy firm in 1994 when Hussain left for London from Karachi.

Hussain has accused both Mir and Anwar for not guiding him properly and failing to pay dues to the government. While the two have been named in the HMRC investigation, the MQM leader's lawyers have told officials that payment of taxes should be done by Anwar and Mir as Hussain did not handle financial matters. The HMRC has not blamed the duo of wrongdoings.

Hussain, Anwar and Mir have clashed over the transfer of two properties worth around 1.5 million pounds under the MQM chief's name. While Anwar and Mir are the legal owners of 221 Whitchurch Lane and 185 Whitchurch Lane properties, the MQM is the beneficial owner.

Both Mir and Anwar told Hussain first and then through lawyers that they will wait for the final decision in the case when Hussain asked the two to transfer the properties.

In a legal letter sent to Hussain, Mir and Anwar said they expected the MQM chief to pay off all dues or penalties to the HMRC. Both have stated they will not be transferring the two properties to Hussain, Geo News reported.

The HMRC said that paying of dues was Hussain's responsibility and not any other person or anyone else associated with him. (ANI)

Amid tension with China, New Delhi to host Quad meet and 2+2 dialogue

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New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): India will soon be hosting a meeting of Quad, which also includes Australia, Japan and the United States, and details are also being worked out for India-US 2+2 dialogue.

The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed about the diplomatic engagements at the regular weekly briefing today.

The 2+2 dialogue and Quad meeting are taking place at a time when China is facing the global ire for trampling democracy in Hong Kong, human rights violations in Xinjiang, alleged breach of internet privacy in various countries and attempting to unilaterally change the status quo at the India China border violating all bilateral agreements and protocols.

Beijing is also displaying strong-arm tactics in the South China sea and is also blamed by some quarters for the spread of COVID-19 globally which originated in its labs in Wuhan. US President Donald Trump has referred to COVID-19 as "Chinese virus".

The US had also imposed restrictions on Chinese diplomats in the country.

India has also banned several Chinese apps and popular game Pubg and Indian Railways has cancelled Chinese investment.

As major powers of the world get sceptical about China, India is looking forward to replacing the Asian giant as a production and services hub of the world.

Quad countries including Australia and Japan have assured huge investments in India's infrastructure technology and supply chain.

The United States has also hailed India as a big power in India-Pacific.

Quad or quadrilateral security dialogue is a grouping of four democracies -India, Australia, US and Japan.

China watchers here feel that Beijing will be watching Quad and 2+2 meet very closely as it views this grouping of democratic powers with a sense of alarm. (ANI)

China's ally Pakistan secretly developing trade ties with Taiwan

Sidrah Haque tweeted about meeting along with a picture with Michael Yeh, but later deleted it fearing condemnation by Beijing

Cairo [Egypt], September 3 (ANI): Pakistan, a close ally of China, is secretly developing trade ties with Taiwan, which showcases its duplicity.

On Wednesday, Sidrah Haque, trade and investment attache at the Embassy of Pakistan in Cairo met with Michael Yeh, the director of Taiwan Trade Centre in Cairo to discuss the trade ties.

She tweeted about the meeting along with a picture with Michael Yeh, but later deleted it fearing condemnation by Beijing.

In her tweet, Sidrah Haque said, "Met Mr. Michael Yeh, a veteran commercial officer from Taiwan Trade Center. We spoke of Pakistan-Taiwan trade ties, our shared commercial experience in Cairo and major products of interest in the local market. Always feels good to connect with other trade wings and compare notes!"

China has no control over Taiwan but claims it as part of its territory under its "One China Principle". (ANI)

India to China: Way ahead is negotiations, completely disengage and restore peace

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New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): India has urged China to sincerely engage with it to restore peace and tranquillity in border areas through complete disengagement and de-escalation.

Speaking at the weekly briefing on Thursday, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the way ahead is negotiations both through diplomatic and military channels.

"Indian side is committed to resolve all outstanding issues through peaceful dialogue. We strongly urge Chinese side to sincerely engage with Indian side with the objective of expeditiously restoring peace and tranquillity in border areas through complete disengagement and de-escalation in accordance with agreements and protocol," Srivastava said.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

At least two rounds of Brigade-Commander level talks have taken place ever since China tried to unilaterally change the status quo.

"Ground commanders are still holding discussion to resolve the situation. We reiterate the consensus reached between the two foreign ministers and special representatives that the situation in the border should be handled in a responsible manner and either side should not take any provocative action or escalate matters," the spokesperson said.

India has once again blamed China for the present tensions at the border.

"It is clear that situation we witnessed for the past four months is a direct result of actions taken by Chinese side that sought to effect unilateral change of status quo. These actions are violations of bilateral agreements and protocol which ensured peace and tranquillity in the border areas for close to three decades," the spokesperson said. (ANI)

Govt taking all steps to ensure safety of Kulbhushan Jadhav: MEA

Anurag Srivastava, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson. (Photo/ANI)

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): India is in touch with Pakistan through diplomatic channels and government is taking all steps to ensure the safety of Kulbhushan Jadhav, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday. "We are in touch with Pakistan through diplomatic channels. Our government is taking all possible steps to ensure the safety of Kulbhushan Jadhav," MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said during the virtual weekly briefing.

This comes after Pakistani media reported that the Islamabad High Court on Thursday gave India "another opportunity" to appoint a counsel for Kulbhushan Jadhav. The Islamabad High Court adjourned the matter till October 6. Last month, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India had said that it has asked Pakistan for Jadhav to be represented by an Indian lawyer for filing a review petition against his death sentence.

"We are in touch with Pakistan through diplomatic channels. We believe for a free and fair trial in keeping with the letter and spirit of International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment, we have asked that Jadhav be represented by an Indian lawyer," MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said during a virtual briefing. "However, it is important that Pakistan needs to address the core issues and these core issues involve providing all the necessary documents in this case as well as providing unimpeded consular access to Jadhav," he had said.

India has been asserting that the Pakistani side should provide for an unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access and asked to ensure that the meeting should be held in an atmosphere free from fear of retribution and without the presence of any Pakistani official in the vicinity of Jadhav and the Indian consular officials. Pakistan has also been requested to not record (video and audio) the meeting.

The spokesperson has said that any conversation between Jadhav and High Commission officials must necessarily take place in privacy and without the presence of any Pakistani official or recording by Pakistan. Pakistan claims that Jadhav was arrested from Balochistan in 2016 on charges of espionage.

India has rejected Pakistan's allegations and said he was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar. In early 2017, a Pakistani military court sentenced him to death. The ICJ upheld India's claim that Pakistan has committed an egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations on several counts. (ANI)

Foreign companies have responsibility to abide by rules, regulations issued by Indian govt: MEA

Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson. Photo/ANI

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday dismissed Chinese statements over Centre banning 118 more mobile apps saying that India has one of the most open regimes for FDI in the world.

"India has one of the most open regimes for FDI in the world, this includes internet companies and digital technology companies," MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said during the weekly virtual briefing.

"However, they have a responsibility to abide by rules and regulations issued by departments of the government of India...," he said.

His comments came in response to a question about the Chinese reaction on the recent app ban by India.

"...And particularly those rules and regulations, which pertain to data security and privacy of data. You would have seen the announcement by MeitY yesterday where they have said -- the activities that these apps have engaged in are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order," MEA spokesperson said.

"So what I can say is that we remain open, we continue to open FDI in the country including in the area of internet technology. However, we would like to say that the companies when they operate here, they have to operate in accordance with the regulatory framework of the government of India," he added.

The Chinese government on Thursday objected and expressed concerns over India's decision to ban 118 mobile applications.

Speaking at a press briefing, Gao Feng, the spokesperson of Chinese Commerce Ministry, said India has abused national security by imposing "discriminate restrictions" on Chinese companies, state-run Global Times reported.

Urging India to reconsider its move, Gao said, "China-India economic and trade cooperation yields mutual benefits."

He asserted that China has always asked its companies to comply with international and local rules and regulations in their overseas operations.

"We hope that the Indian side will work with the Chinese side to maintain hard-won bilateral cooperation and development so as to build an open and fair business environment for international investors and services providers including Chinese companies," he was quoted as saying.

The Indian government on Wednesday decided to block 118 mobile apps including PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik, WeChat Work and WeChat in view of the information available that they are engaged in activities, which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity, defence and security of India and public order.

The decision came amid border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh and nearly two months after the government banned 59 China-linked apps. (ANI)

Indian Coast Guard ships, aircraft deployed for immediate assistance after Sri Lanka Navy sought firefighting assistance

Indian Coast Guards ships and aircraft have been deployed for immediate assistance (image tweeted by Indian Coast Guard)

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Indian Coast Guards ships and aircraft have been deployed for immediate assistance after firefighting assistance was sought by Sri Lanka Navy.

"#SavingLives #SAR #FireFighting assistance sought by Sri Lanka Navy from @IndiaCoastGuard for fire and explosion onboard Oil Tanker #MTNewDiamond 37 NM east off #Srilanka coast. #ICG ships and aircraft deployed for immediate assistance," Indian Coast Guard said in a tweet on Thursday.

"@IndiaCoastGuard in a swift Sea & Air Coordinated #SAR operation immediately diverted #ICG Ships Shaurya, Sarang, Samudra Paheredar & Dornier Aircraft for #FireFighting on Oil Tanker #MTNewDiamond," said Indian Coast Guard. (ANI)

Chinese Embassy in US criticises move to impose new restriction on diplomats

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Washington [US], September 3 (ANI): Chinese Embassy in the US has criticised the State Department's decision to impose further restrictions on the Chinese diplomats in the country saying this has "grossly trampled" on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

"With the excuse of reciprocity, the US imposed yet another unjustified restriction and barrier on Chinese diplomatic and consular personnel on September 2. This has grossly trampled on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and China is firmly opposed to it," the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.

The Embassy said it also runs counter to the "self-proclaimed values" of openness and freedom of the US side.

"China has always supported and provided necessary facilitation for foreign diplomatic and consular personnel, including those from the US, to perform their official duties in China," the Chinese Embassy said while adding that we urge the US side to "correct its mistake, revoke this decision and provide support and facilitation for Chinese diplomatic and consular personnel in the US to perform their duties as well."

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced that the Department of State will now require senior People's Republic of China (PRC) diplomats in the United States to receive approval to visit US university campuses and to meet with local government officials.

"The Department of State will now require senior PRC diplomats in the United States to receive approval to visit US university campuses and to meet with local government officials. Cultural events with an audience larger than 50 people hosted by the PRC embassy and consular posts outside of mission properties will also require Department of State approval," Pompeo said.

"The Department of State will also take action to help ensure that all official PRC embassy and consular social media accounts are properly identified as PRC government accounts, since the US Embassy is denied unfettered access to PRC social media and PRC citizens are blocked from using Twitter and Facebook, amongst other social media platforms," he said.

Relations between the US and China have worsened in recent times with the two countries sparring over a range of issues including China's territorial aggression in the South China Sea.

Pompeo said the US insists on reciprocal access to educational and cultural institutions for the United States diplomats around the world. (ANI)

China opposes India's move to ban 118 mobile apps

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Beijing [China], September 3 (ANI): The Chinese government on Thursday objected and expressed concerns over India's decision to ban 118 mobile applications.

Speaking at a press briefing, Gao Feng, the spokesperson of Chinese Commerce Ministry, said India has abused national security by imposing "discriminate restrictions" on Chinese companies, state-run Global Times reported.

Urging India to reconsider its move, Gao said, "China-India economic and trade cooperation yields mutual benefits."

He asserted that China has always asked its companies to comply with international and local rules and regulations in their overseas operations.

"We hope that the Indian side will work with the Chinese side to maintain hard-won bilateral cooperation and development so as to build an open and fair business environment for international investors and services providers including Chinese companies," he was quoted as saying.

The Indian government on Wednesday decided to block 118 mobile apps including PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik, WeChat Work and WeChat in view of the information available that they are engaged in activities, which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity, defence and security of India and public order.

The decision came amid border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh and nearly two months after the government banned 59 China-linked apps.

India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said in a release that the decision "is a targeted move" to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.

The ministry said it has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an unauthorised manner to servers, which have locations outside India.

The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern, which requires emergency measures, it added.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre of Home Ministry has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps. (ANI)

India seeks Nepal's permission to conduct detailed study of Raxaul-Kathmandu rail link

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Kathmandu [Nepal], September 3 (ANI): India has sought permission from Nepal to conduct a detailed study of the Raxaul-Kathmandu rail link without any delays.

A proposal sent by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu to the Nepal government has promised to follow health and safety protocols amid COVID-19 while carrying out the study. Konkan Railway Corporation, a union government company headquartered in Navi Mumbai will conduct a detailed study of the project.

"The Indian team is ready to come to Nepal whenever we ask them to come. They even have sent us the details of machinery and other logistics they will be bringing along with them as they come for the study. We have asked them to send the names of the people along with their designation again," Balram Mishra, the Director-General of Department of Railways, said.

"Situation now is not favourable as before as there is a risk of COVID-19 infection. Despite the grim situation, the Indian side is ready to conduct the study. They will send us the details within a week in the format we have asked for," Mishra added.

The details received will be sent to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation, after which it will be forwarded to Home Ministry and then to COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC), which will give the final decision about their arrival.

"We are following the COVID-19 guidelines and have to follow the procedure," Mishra said.
A rail line is operational on the Indian side, reaching up to the dry port of Raxaul and India has planned to link it up to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It will run from the side of the proposed second international airport at Nijgadh after getting through Bara's Jitpur.

The total length of the rail line is expected to be 136 kilometres, out of which 42 kilometres will pass through a tunnel. It is expected to cost about three trillion Nepali rupees.

"After conducting the Detailed Project Report (DPR), the final cost will be known. It can increase or decrease by some per cent. It will take us at least a year to complete the study," Mishra said.

Nepal and India had signed a deal to conduct a feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Raxaul rail link during the 4th BIMSTEC Summit held at Kathmandu in 2018. The investment modality of the project is yet to be finalised. (ANI)

Xi Jinping using AI to tighten grip on China: Report

Chinese President Xi Jinping (File Photo)

Washington [US], September 3 (ANI): Chinese President Xi Jinping is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to tighten his government's totalitarian control and is exporting the technology to other countries across the world, according to a report.

Xi wants to build an all-seeing digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that could identify potential dissenters in real-time. While China has already installed hundreds of millions of cameras in place, the Chinese government hopes to soon achieve the full video coverage of key public areas, writes Ross Andersen, a deputy editor of The Atlantic.

Every person who enters a public space in the future can be instantly identified by AI, matching them with their personal data, including their every text communication, and their body's one-of-a-kind protein-construction schema.

"In time, algorithms will be able to string together data points from a broad range of sources -- travel records, friends and associates, reading habits, purchases -- to predict political resistance before it happens," Andersen added.

With Xi keen to see his country achieve AI supremacy by 2030, the Chinese government could soon gain an unprecedented political stranglehold on over a billion people.

China has been adopting surveillance measures in the past. Ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Chinese security services achieved a new level of control over the country's internet. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Xi government was dependant on private firms in possession of sensitive personal data. Any emergency data-sharing arrangements made behind close doors during the crisis could become permanent, says Andersen.

Chinese citizens were subjected to a form of risk scoring during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, where every people were assigned a colour code -- green, yellow and red -- as per an algorithm, which also determined their ability to take transit or visit building in megacities. However, in a sophisticated digital system of digital control, these codes could be used to score a person's perceived political pliancy.

A crude version of this system is already present in China's Xinjiang in the northwestern part of the country. Once Xi makes this system perfect, no technological limitations will pin him down from extending AI surveillance across China.

"With AI, Xi can build history's most oppressive authoritarian apparatus, without the manpower Mao needed to keep information about dissent flowing to a single, centralized node. In China's most prominent AI start-ups -- SenseTime, CloudWalk, Megvii, Hikvision, iFlytek, Meiya Pico -- Xi has found willing commercial partners. And in Xinjiang's Muslim minority, he has found his test population," Andersen wrote in the article.

Uyghurs, who install VPN would likely lead to an investigation so they cannot download WhatsApp or any other prohibited encrypted-chat software. Purchasing prayer rugs online, storing digital copies of Islamic books and downloading sermons are all considered risky activities. Also, authorities may take note if an Uyghur person wants to use WeChat's payment system to make a donation to a mosque.

Some Uyghurs buried their mobile phones containing religious materials or even froze their data cards into dumplings for safekeeping amid the cultural crackdown by the Xi government. Police have forced them to install nanny applications on their new phones, according to the anthropologist Darren Byler.

These apps use algorithms to hunt for "ideological viruses" day and night. They can also scan chat histories for Quran verses, Arabic script in memes and other image files, Byler said.

These nanny apps work with the police, who inspect phones at checkpoints and scrolling through call logs and texts. Staying off from social media because digital inactivity itself can raise suspicions. Police are required to note when Uyghurs deviate from their normal behaviour patterns. Their database wants to know if the ethnic community members can leave their home through back door instead of front, and it they spend less time interacting with their neighbours.

China uses "predatory lending to sell telecommunications equipment at a significant discount to developing countries, which then puts China in a position to control those networks and their data," Michael Kratsios, America's CTO, told The Atlantic.

When countries want to refinance the loan terms, China can make the network access part of the deal just like the way its military gets base rights at foreign ports financed by it.

"If you give (China) unfettered access to data networks around the world, that could be a serious problem," Kratsios said.

CloudWalk Technology, a Guangzhou-based start-up, signed a deal with the Zimbabwean government in 2018 for setting up a surveillance network. According to the terms, Zimbabwe is required to send images of its inhabitants, a rich data set, back to CloudWalk's Chinese offices, allowing the firm to fine-tune its software ability to recognise dark-skinned faces, which have proved tricky for its algorithms previously.

Chinese telecom titan ZTE sold Ethiopia a wireless network with built-in backdoor access for the government. However, dissents were rounded up as part of the crackdown for brutal interrogations, during which they were played audio from recent phone calls they had made. Other countries like Kenya, Uganda and Mauritius are installing Chinese-made surveillance networks in their cities.

Moreover, the Zambian government has agreed to purchase over USD 1 billion in telecom equipment from China, including internet-monitoring technology.

In South Asia, Beijing has supplied surveillance equipment to Sri Lanka and Chinese company Dahua is installing AI-assisted surveillance cameras in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Farther west, in Serbia, Chinese telecom giant Huawei is helping to set up a "safe-city system", having facial-recognition cameras and joint patrols carried out by Serbian and Chinese Police aimed at helping Chinese tourists to feel safe and secure.

In Latin America, which the Chinese government describes the region as a "core economic interest", Beijing financed Ecuador's USD 240 million purchase of a surveillance-camera system. Bolivia has bought surveillance equipment with a loan assistance from China. Recently, Venezuela introduced a new national identity card system that logs citizens' political affiliations in a database built by ZTE. (ANI)

China 'claims' more territory: Some options for India

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By Krishan Varma
New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): A little more than a week ago the India-China border talks hit a roadblock. Despite several rounds of talks at different levels, nothing substantive was achieved, other than a partial disengagement at the three friction points at Galwan valley, Gogra-Hot Springs and Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.

While diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis continued, once again in a pre-meditated and deliberate action, Chinese troops moved stealthily to occupy two strategically important hill features in the Pangong Tso area. Indian troops reacted swiftly, reportedly halted ingress and secured tactically advantageous positions in the south banks of the Pangong Tso and in features overlooking the vital road link to Spangur Tso.

Media statements by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Global Times on the incident continued with their refrain of projecting India as the aggressor and accused India of trying to unilaterally change the status quo. It is more than apparent that in the Chinese view, disengagement and de-escalation will depend on India's acquiescence of the status quo as the Chinese wish to define it. Under the present circumstances, return to status quo ante of April 2020 through diplomacy can realistically be written off.

Chinese action comes in tandem with increased diplomatic and military pressure on India. In furtherance of its "all-weather iron brother" relationship with Pakistan, the Chinese have repeatedly raised Kashmir at the United Nations (UN) and in the joint statement in the recently held bilateral strategic dialogue. China is raising its profile in the sub-continent through the aegis of Pakistan, by participating in a quadrangular meet with Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan and arrangements for a meeting with Mullah Baradar in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the growing Chinese footprint in Nepal is altering the security dynamic for India. It is bolstering infrastructure close to the Lipulekh pass, and the newly disputed areas near Kalapani.

China has made mischievous moves to instigate disaffection among the Gurkha community against India. The Chinese have also taken advantage of recent irritants in India-Bangladesh relations and offered massive financial assistance to several infrastructure projects in Dhaka and Sylhet and 97 per cent duty-free access for Bangladeshi goods, becoming its largest trading partner and investor. It has also further upgraded the defence relationship, which includes constructing a modern submarine base in Cox's Bazaar, a new naval base in Pathuakali, and ensuring delivery of a Chinese Corvette to strengthen its naval forces.

The Chinese continue to bolster their defence infrastructure and troop accretion in the Depsang Plains, and the recently occupied pockets of territory in eastern Ladakh. Missile firing exercises and two new J-20 stealth aircraft were spotted in Hotan in an apparent advance planning for more such aircraft deployments in Xinjiang. More fighter aircraft and bombers have been deployed in Kashgar, Hotan and Ngari Gunsa airbases.

These will add military muscle to protect Chinese gains in the eastern Ladakh region and also serve to safeguard further expansion into the South Xinjiang area and Gilgit-Baltistan region to protect rapidly growing investments there. The heightened military posture in the region could also help to shore up Pakistan's confidence against any sudden Indian military thrust to regain Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan.

As tensions ratchet up, the Chinese can be expected to foment disturbances in the valley. Border incidents in disputed pockets in the northeast cannot be ruled out. Covert efforts to complicate the ongoing peace process in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam and fanning underlying disaffection among vulnerable groups can also be expected.

My recent articles present a slew of options for India to exert pressure on the Chinese to be reasonable. These included steps to significantly "hurt" the Chinese economy by banning more of their digital apps; imposing restrictions on Chinese companies from executing government contracts, invoking close scrutiny of Chinese imports, and tightening the visa regime for Chinese passport holders. India should also exclude Huawei from participating in 5G trials and completely remove Chinese products and gear from the telecommunication sector. However, it will take much more to coax the Chinese to abide by existing treaties, agreements and protocols.

On the political front, an urgent review of India's policy on Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong is required. The gradual upgradation and strengthening of India-Taiwan relations is also needed. Proposing the inclusion of Taiwan as an observer to the upcoming Quad Foreign Minister meeting or a higher profile 'Quad' meeting proposed by US President Donald Trump for the autumn, and the expansion of the Quad is an idea whose time has come.

Diplomatic parleys must continue bilaterally, as well as on international forums like the SCO, BRICS and RIC trilateral. Extensive discussions among Quad constituents followed by quick action to develop alternate global supply chains to exert more economic pressures on China are needed as was endorsed in the recent meeting of trade ministers of Japan, Australia and India.

From a strategic perspective, making the Andaman and Nicobar islands a hub for intelligence and logistics sharing for the operational use of Quad member countries and France, raising India's naval presence in the IOR and SCS is imperative. Urgent negotiations for a LEMOA type of agreement with Vietnam and the early conclusion of the BECA with the US will also be critical to sync and coordinate kinetic or non-kinetic responses to China's continued obduracy.

The time is ripe to extend the confrontation with the Chinese to the maritime domain. In close concert with the Quad countries, choking the Malacca Strait in case of continued Chinese intransigence on the India-China border and belligerence in the South China Sea and East China Sea is an effective deterrent.

Incidentally, this kind of action which has the potential to deal a telling blow to the Chinese economy, close to the US presidential elections may not only bring about a rethink in China's expansionism on its western periphery but could well turn out to be a game-changer for the waning support for President Trump!

Disclaimer: The author of this opinion article is Krishan Varma, former Special Secretary to the Government of India, Cabinet Secretariat. (ANI)

PM Modi to share his views on 'Navigating New Challenges during USISPF address

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said he is looking forward to address the third leadership summit of the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) later in the day and will share his views on 'Navigating New Challenges'.

"Looking forward to address the @USISPForum #USIndiasummit2020. Will be sharing my views on 'Navigating New Challenges.' Do join live this evening, September 3, at 9 pm India time," the Prime Minister said in a tweet.

The USISPF is a non-profit organisation that works for the partnership between India and the United States.

The theme of the five-day summit that began on August 31 is 'US-India Navigating New Challenges'.
The theme covers various subjects such as India's potential in becoming a global manufacturing hub, opportunities in India's gas market, ease of doing business to attract FDI in India, common opportunities and challenges in tech space, India-Pacific economic issues, innovation in public health and others. (ANI)

Pakistan a state that is run by parasite capitalism

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Boradcasting Lt. Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa (Photo credits: Lt. Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa's Twitter)

By Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza
Glasgow [UK], September 3 (ANI): The already bad reputation caused by corruption in Pakistan took a turn for the worse with the publication of an investigative report by Ahmed Noorani. The report revealed that Lt. Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa's family was in possession of assets worth millions in Pakistan and abroad.

Asim Bajwa is the chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as the special assistant for information to Prime Minister Imran Khan, a portfolio that carries the protocol of a federal minister.

The report claims that Lt. Gen (r) Bajwa's brothers, wife and two sons own a business empire, which has set up 99 companies in four countries including a pizza franchise with 133 restaurants worth an estimated USD 39.9 million. The revelation is disastrous for Imran Khan since he is desperately trying to garner international support among foreign investors and encouraging them to bring their capital to Pakistan.

But Pakistan is a state that is dying by a thousand cuts and the most recent cut, the revelations regarding Lt. Gen (r) Asim Bajwa's assets in foreign lands, seems to have landed right on the jugular vein of Pakistan's campaign to attract foreign investment. If the top ranking ex-military general turned bureaucrats do not trust their home economy to generate satisfactory profits, then why would one expect a foreigner to do so.

That corruption is rampant in Pakistan is no more a hidden fact. During Gen Zia Ul Haq's martial law (1977- 1988), it was common knowledge that one could get their sentence reduced by one year by bribing the military judge with one lakh rupees. The (bribe) monies were paid after the sentence was awarded and during the appeal process. The civil police who would normally escort the prisoner collected money before passing it on to the military judge.

Lashes were bought off the sentence for Rs 15,000 each. Hence there was frenzy among military courts to award long sentences and 10 to 15 lashes to each political activist that was apprehended under the martial law regulations.

Today, corruption is rampant in Pakistan Army. A soldier bribes the subedar if he needs to visit his family in the village. From universities to science research labs, to electricity power companies to museums and parks, there is hardly any civil institution that is not headed by an ex-military officer.

It was during the Afghan war (1979-1989) that Pakistan military generals developed a fondness for sleazy money. Foreign aid arriving through western governments and consortiums plus the side business of cultivating and selling heroin brought a qualitative change in the manner Pakistan army business operated. Not only that it developed itself into a business conglomerate but also turned itself into a drug cartel that would supply heroin to the rest of the world.

Although the Pakistan Army's involvement in the business is as old as the country itself, however, it was during the 1980s that its business empire expanded at a breathtaking rate reaching its zenith during General Musharraf's tenure (1998-2008). In her book Military INC, Ayesha Saddiqa estimated the military business to be worth more than 10 billion euros in 2007, which was roughly four times the total of direct foreign investment in the same year. She claimed that 100 top military generals had a collective wealth of 3.5 billion euros.

Pakistan Army, Air Force and Navy each own the three largest conglomerates Fauji Foundation, Shaheen and Bahria Foundations. The Army Welfare Trust (established in 1971) runs the country's largest lenders, the Askari Bank. The military National Logistic Cell (NLC) is Pakistan's largest shipper and freight transporter. It was reported that on retirement a Maj. General can get 240 acres of prime farmland worth more than half a million pounds as well as an urban real estate plot of land worth 700,000 euros.

The rise of Pakistan Army as a usurper of the market economy has brought her into direct conflict with the local civilian investor and industrialist. It is in this background that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and military generals came to loggerhead on the issue of allocation of billions worth of contracts of the CPEC. The military would not allow the Nawaz Sharif or the parliament to be the sole in charge of this multi-billion-dollar project.

Hence, they removed him through a controversial general election and brought in a political novice Imran Khan into power. Lt. Gen. (r) Bajwa was made Chairman of CPEC. But the military does not trust Imran Khan either and, therefore, a few months ago they forced him to sack Firdous Ashiq Awan, the special assistant to the Prime minister for information, and replaced her with the same guy (Asim Saleem Bajwa) who is the chairman of the CPEC.

Pakistan's military has totally lost its credibility in the eyes of the common man and woman in the country. People despise the army and consider the plunder and perks awarded to the army as directly responsible for their sub-standard living conditions and general poverty in the country. The stubbornness, with which the Pakistan Army is stealing the natural resources of the provinces has brought them into direct-armed conflict with Baloch and Sindhi nationalists. Their demand for more autonomy has now converted into a demand for total independence from the federation.

Lack of a profitable small industrial base has led the Pakistan Army deeper into corruption and kickbacks. The recent revelations regarding Lt. Gen. (r) Bajwa do not come as a surprise but as a confirmation of the suspicion, the general public has held for decades about its army that Pakistan military no longer considers Pakistan a productive economy. The only way to generate profit for them is to strip Pakistan of all its natural resources and invest in foreign countries that can promise an uninterrupted flow of revenue.

None other than those who in the first place was supposed to protect it from the enemy is beating blow-by-blow Pakistan to the ground. The inability of a market economy has forced its men in uniform to consume whatever is left of the country's resources. Hence, failing to become innovative entrepreneurs the Pakistan Army has become a parasite and Pakistan has turned into a state that is run by the rules of parasite capitalism.

Disclaimer: The author of this opinion article is Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza, who is a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the UK. (ANI)

3 civilians killed in roadside mine blast in Afghanistan

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Kabul [Afghanistan], September 3 (ANI): Three civilians lost their lives and another was wounded in a roadside mine blast in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province on Thursday morning, local officials said.


According to TOLOnews, the explosion occurred in Pacheragam district of the province.
So far, no terror group has claimed responsibility for the blast.
More details are awaited. (ANI)

Protests over Chinese curbs on Mongolian language teaching

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Beijing [China], September 3 (ANI): Thousands of ethnic Mongolians in China staged demonstrations against a new education policy aimed at reducing the teaching of their language in favour of Mandarin, rights groups said.

The protests, which began last week, pertains to an education policy announced earlier this year, which calls for Mandarin to gradually replace Mongolian as the language of instruction in three subjects in elementary and middle schools around the Inner Mongolia region, The New York Times reported.

Many ethnic Mongolians voiced concerns about the controversial policy, saying their language will die out.

"We Mongolians are a great race as well. If we accept teaching in Chinese, our Mongolian language will really die out," Dagula, a 39-year-old mother of two, said in a telephone interview from her home in Xilinhot, a city in Inner Mongolia.

Images of the protests surfaced on social media, in which a group of students and parents gathered peacefully outside schools, singing and shouting slogans even as authorities looked on. According to one video, a woman was seen flipping through pages of a textbook, protesting against the absence of Mongolian language.

In another video, students in blue and white uniforms said, "Mongolian is our mother language! We are Mongolian until death!"

However, by Monday afternoon, many of the posts were taken down from Chinese social media sites, in an apparent move of censorship.

According to the education policy, Chinese textbooks compiled and approved by the government would be used in classes. In recent years, the government has been making efforts to standardise curriculum in schools. While the new policy states that Mongolian would be still taught to students, the language's role as a medium of instruction would be ultimately done away within several schools, according to The New York Times.

On Monday, the Inner Mongolia regional education bureau issued a statement, seeking to reassure parents that the changes have been limited to only three subjects -- language and literature, politics and history. In other subjects, textbooks, the language of instruction and hours devoted to teaching Mongolian and Korean, another minority language in the region, would remain unchanged, the bureau said.

"The existing bilingual education system has not changed," the bureau added.

For several decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted policies to keep its ethnic minorities, particularly Tibetans and Uyghurs under political control while granting them autonomy to preserve their own cultures and languages.

But ever since Xi Jinping became the leader in 2012, the government has intensified its efforts to assimilate ethnic minorities into the culture of ethnic Han, who account for over 91 per cent of the population.

Some ethnic minority parents argued that the measures pose a threat to their language and culture.
The recent protests against the policy are the largest in Inner Mongolia since 2011 after killings of two ethnic Mongolians by Han drivers sparked demonstrations across the region, according to activists.
"Our way of life has already been wiped out. So what is left is just Mongolian language -- it is the only symbol left of Mongolian identity. That is why Mongolians are rising up and protesting these policies," said Enghebatu Togochog, director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre, an exile group based in New York.

Togochok added that many protestors were beaten up and taken away by the authorities.

Back in 2018, a Tibetan businessman named Tashi Wangchuk, who campaigned to preserve his native language, was handed a five-year prison term following a contentious prosecution based on interviews he gave to The New York Times.

Inner Mongolia, which borders neighbouring Mongolia and is twice the size of California, has seen less of violent ethnic strife which has engulfed Tibet and Xinjiang in the past decades.

However, there has been a growing resentment of Chinese rule in the region over the years owing to environmental damage due to mining boom and economic growth that has disproportionately benefited the ethnic Han and rapid dismantling of Mongolian pastoral tradition. (ANI)

Russia's Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk hosts parade to commemorate 75th anniversary of end of Second World War

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Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk [Russia], September 3 (ANI/Sputnik): The Russian Far Eastern city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk hosted a military parade on Thursday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of Second World War.

As many as 600 servicemen of Russia's 68th Army Corps and other units of security forces marched through the Victory Square of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

"The worst conflict in human history came to an end 75 years ago. For the first time, we are celebrating September 3 as the Day of Military Honour. This is our common victory, which is very important for us. This territory witnessed the last clashes of the Second World War. Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands were liberated," Governor of the Sakhalin Region, Valery Limarenko, said.

After the official ceremony, veterans and officials laid flowers to the Eternal Flame at the Square of Honour. The festive events will end with the concert of the Alexandrov Academic Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army.

In August 1945, the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan and established control over southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The war came to an end less than a month later with the Instrument of Surrender, signed by the Japanese Empire on board of the USS Missouri battleship. (ANI/Sputnik)

Trump administration asks State authorities to speed up approval for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

US President Donald Trump (File Photo) 

Washington DC [US], September 3 (ANI): Ahead of the US Presidential elections, US President Donald Trump's administration is urging State authorities to speed up approval for vaccine distribution by November 1, which is, two days before the polls.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the federal government has urged State Governors to remove the roadblock to permits for distribution sites for use by the drug wholesaler's subsidiaries.

A letter by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, dated August 27, says: "CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities, and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by Nov. 1, 2020."

Prior to this, the US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn had said in an interview that an emergency authorization for a vaccine could be appropriate even before the vaccine has completed Phase 3 clinical trials.

According to WSJ, an FDA vaccine advisory committee will meet on October 22 to discuss authorization of COVID-19 vaccines.

On Monday, Trump had announced that the vaccine for coronavirus being developed by AstraZeneca has reached phase three clinical trials in the country and is very close to being finalised for approval.
The phase 3 trial is being implemented as part of Operation Warp Speed, a multi-agency collaboration to expedite the production of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the US is leading the worldwide tally of coronavirus with 6,111,485 cases and 185,674 fatalities. (ANI)

PM Modi to address US-India Strategic & Partnership Forum today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver the keynote address at the third leadership summit of the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum today.

Earlier in the week, Union Minister S Jaishankar, and Piyush Goyal had addressed the summit on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

The week-long summit which is being attended by government officials, corporate leaders, and Ministers highlights areas of bilateral cooperation in trade and investment; strategic energy ties; India's position in global supply chains, healthcare, among other sectors. (ANI)

France supports bid by India, other G4 nations for UNSC reforms

French Envoy Emmanuel Lenain (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): France on Wednesday backed a long-standing demand by India and other countries in the G4 for a permanent seat and reforms at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

"France strongly supports India and the G4 (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan) in their bid for a permanent seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council," Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India tweeted on Wednesday.

This follows a letter written by K Nagaraj Naidu, deputy permanent representative to the UN on Monday, which stressed upon the "draft decision regarding the roll-over of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the question of equitable representation at the UN Security Council."

"I have the honour to address you on behalf of the G4 - Brazil, Germany, Japan, and India -- on the subject of the draft decision regarding the roll-over of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and matters related to the Security Council, which was circulated today," the letter reads.

The communication was addressed to President of the General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.
The G4 also outlined their stand to the President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, for transforming the UN Security Council in line with "Common African Position."

India at United Nations (New York) tweeted:" The G4 (India, Brazil, Germany and Japan) in a common letter, demands concrete action on UNSC reforms. The process has lagged on for over a decade without progress."

India is set to join the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning in January 2021. (ANI)

China taking advantage of COVID-19 outbreak, India one such example: US Diplomat

Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell answering the questions of the press, at the Department of State, on September 2, 2020. (Credit: US State Department)

Washington DC [US], September 3 (ANI): India is among the countries that China has taken advantage of since the outbreak of the COVID-19 from Wuhan, US diplomat David Stilwell said on Wednesday. "What we have seen since the corona outbreak from Wuhan is it seems the PRC (People's Republic of China) is trying to take advantage of the situation, and India, I think, is one of those examples of that. So to our friends in Beijing, I would ask them to follow their commitment to resolve these things through peaceful means and dialogue," Stilwell said at a press briefing here.

The Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs also reiterated Secretary Pompeo's remarks that the United States hopes for a peaceful resolution to the border standoff between India and China. The US diplomat's remark comes after the Indian Army thwarted Chinese Army's attempt on the night of August 29 and 30 to transgress into areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso.

Indian Army said that on the night of August 29/30, PLA troops violated the consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo. On a question over the border stand-off between India and China, Stilwell added: "For the conflict in the Himalayas, like all things, especially related to the PRC's differences of opinion with its neighbours, is we advise them to return to dialogue, resolve these things peacefully without coercion, use of force."

Further talking about China's engagement in other areas, he said: "...many conflicts that are going on in China's periphery right now. You mentioned Tibet. Xinjiang - very concerned still about what they're doing there. Hong Kong activities, South China Sea - I could go on and on." Earlier in the press briefing, Pompeo had slammed the Chinese Communist Party for engaging in a clear and intensifying pattern of bullying its neighbours.

"From the Taiwan Strait to the Himalayas and beyond, the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a clear and intensifying pattern of bullying its neighbours. It is also evident in the South China Sea," he said. "We are hoping for a peaceful resolution of the situation on the India-China border," he added.

India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala. Negotiations between the two sides have been going on for the last three months, including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far. (ANI)

India-Vietnam comprehensive strategic partnership will grow from strength to strength: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Wednesday extended his greetings to the people of Vietnam on the country's 75th National Day, hoping that the ties between the two countries will grow from strength to strength.

He expressed confidence over the growing comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations.

"On 75th National Day of Vietnam, felicitations to my colleague Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Vietnam and the Government and people of Vietnam. Confident that our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will grow from strength to strength," said EAM Dr S Jaishankar. (ANI)

Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi pays homage to Pranab Mukherjee

Bangladesh national flag flew at half-mast at the Bangladesh High Commission here on Wednesday

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Bangladesh High Commission here on Wednesday held a special condolence meet for former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

The national flag of Bangladesh flew at half-mast at the High Commission here as the neighbouring country observed state mourning on Wednesday in honour of Mukherjee.

"Former President Pranab Mukherjee was a great friend of Bangladesh. In his memory, Bangladesh government declared today as the national day of mourning. We pay our respect to him. May his soul rest in peace," said Mohammad Imran, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India.

On Monday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing grief over the demise of "highly esteemed leader of South Asia"

"As a renowned scholar and statesman of India, and a highly esteemed leader of South Asia, Pranab Mukherjee commanded the respect and admiration of all. The tireless work of 'Bharat Ratna' Pranab Mukherjee for the welfare of the people of India will inspire the future generation of leaders not only in India but across countries in the region," she wrote in the letter.

In 2013, Bangladesh conferred the honour of 'Bangladesh Muktijuddho Sommanona' (Liberation War Honour) on Mukherjee for his valuable contribution to Bangladesh's Liberation War of 1971.

Mukherjee died on Monday, weeks after his brain surgery. He was cremated with full state honours on Tuesday. The Centre has announced a seven-day state mourning. (ANI)

US Police shoots one person dead in Washington

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Washington DC [US], September 3 (ANI): A police officer shot at and killed one person on Tuesday night in Southeast Washington, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
The incident occurred about 8:30 pm (local time) along the 200 block of Orange Street SE, in the Congress Heights neighbourhood, the Washington Post reported.

The person killed is believed to be an adult male. Police have also recovered two firearms from the scene.

The newspaper quoted DC Police Chief Peter Newsham stating that incident happened when officers were acting on information about a vehicle and weapons. "When officers approached the vehicle, Newsham said, some people ran away," the daily said.

"We believe the suspect had a gun at the time," Newsham was quoted as saying. (ANI)

US Urges 'Freedom Loving' Countries To Join 'Clean Network' After India Bans 118 Mobile Apps

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Washington DC [US], September 3 (ANI): Openly supporting India's move to ban 118 mobile apps, the United States on Wednesday called on all freedom-loving countries and companies to join "the clean network."

"India has already banned 100 plus Chinese apps. We call on all freedom-loving nations and companies to join The Clean Network," said US State Department quoting Keith Krach, US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment.

Krach's remark comes after Indian government blocked 118 more mobile apps in view of the information available that they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity, defence and security of India and public order.

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration rolled out the Clean Network program, a comprehensive approach to guarding its citizens' privacy and its companies' most sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Nearly two months ago India had banned 59 China-linked apps amid the ongoing border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said in a release that the decision "is a targeted move" to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.

The ministry said it has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.

The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures, the MeitY added.

It said there has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India's sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.

"On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that information posted, permissions sought, functionality embedded as well as data harvesting practices of above-stated Apps raise serious concerns that these Apps collect and share data in a surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to security of the State," it said. (ANI)

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