Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts

21 August 2017

Asian Security 2017 Endangered by China and its Proxies War-Mongering

By Dr Subhash Kapila

China and nuclear weapons states created as proxies by China, that is, North Korea and Pakistan, have rendered Asian security as explosive in 2017 by their unrestrained war-mongering and sabre-rattling impacting Indo Pacific Asia pointedly.

The United States which is the main intended target of China in 2017 in China’s bid to emerge as the “Strategic Equivalent” of America, needs to awaken to the dangers posed by China and its nuclear proxies not only to Asian security but also to United States more pointedly. Successive American Presidents have failed via their China-accommodative strategies to persuade China to act as a responsible stakeholder in Asian and global security.

The Asian security environment in 2017 presents the sordid spectacle where an aggressive China reminiscent of Hitlerian Germany and totally oblivious to its responsibilities as a “Responsible Power” by virtues of its Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council has unleashed a ‘tsunami’ of war-mongering and sabre-rattling directly against its peer Asian rival India, besides against Japan in the East China Sea and against Vietnam in the South China Sea.

China’s main target, however, is not Asian nations but the United States. China is targeting the United States in a two-pronged strategy. The first prong is war-mongering and sabre-rattling against Asian nations perceived by it to be close to the United States----India, Japan and Vietnam. The second prong is aimed at the United States directly by proxy use of North Korea and its nuclear and missiles arsenal capable of hitting the United States.

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota gambit

ABHIJIT SINGH

Sri Lanka’s pact with China for Hambanbota port may well be a case of strategic deception, and not just a political balancing act between India and China.

Late last month, Colombo inked a revised version of a $1.1 billion deal for leasing the Hambantota port to a Chinese state-run company. The port has been controversial ever since the China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort) signed a framework agreement in December 2016 with Sri Lanka, taking an 80% stake in the project. Following the deal, however, there was much domestic unrest and accusations by Sri Lanka’s opposition parties of a sell-out to China, forcing Colombo to reconsider its position.

Sri Lanka also recognised regional concerns that Chinese control of Hambantota would result in its greater use by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). In particular, Colombo empathised with a growing sense in New Delhi that China’s expanding naval presence in South Asia represented a deliberate violation of India’s strategic redlines.

Sri Lankan leaders say the new deal corrects all that was wrong with the 2016 agreement. Besides restricting CMPort’s stakes to 70% (the lease period remaining at 99 years), Colombo has ensured that the port will not be used for military purposes. The pact limits CHPort’s role in running commercial operations by splitting the administrative functions between two companies. With a capital of $794 million, Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) will run operations at the port and its terminals. Controlled by CMPort, it will hold an 85% stake, with the rest held by Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA). The second company, Hambantota International Port Group Services (HIPS), will have a capital investment of $606 million and oversee security operations, with the SLPA holding a 50.7% stake and CHPort, 49.3%. Colombo says the agreement gives it full control over security matters, as also the right to inspect ships entering the port.

20 August 2017

Sri Lanka's Debt and China’s Money

By Umesh Moramudali

Faced with difficult choices, Sri Lanka has to hope China’s Belt and Road can bring prosperity. 

Recently, the Sri Lankan government signed a concessionary agreement for a joint venture between the China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited (CMPort), China’s state-owned port company and the Hambantota port, which is the second largest port in Sri Lanka. According to the agreement, 70 percent of the Hambantota port will be owned by the Chinese company while the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) owns the remaining shares.

The port deal, which has led to many controversies, was not the most favorable choice for the government but it was perhaps the only choice.

By now, Sri Lanka’s situation in terms of managing the external debt is quite distressing. As Sri Lanka was upgraded to a middle income country, most of its concessionary debt was cut off and this scenario forced the government to obtain commercial debt. In addition to the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) loans taken at a higher interest, funds were raised through sovereign bonds at commercial interest rates.

As a result, over the last decade the composition of the country’s external debt has changed dramatically, with a shift toward costlier, non-concessional debt from previously available concessionary debt. Accordingly, in 2006, only 6 percent of external debt was commercial debt, but by 2012 it exceeded 50 percent of the external debt. This has resulted in a drastic surge in interest paid on external debt, leaving the country rather vulnerable to an economic crisis.

A Triangular MIRV Restraint Regime in Southern Asia

By Sitakanta Mishra

The advent of multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) in Southern Asia can be quite consequential in terms of the unfolding triangular nuclear competition involving China, India, and Pakistan. The three nuclear-armed neighbors have demonstrated their MIRV capabilities, with China being the earliest entrant, having reportedly placed them on its DF-series missiles.[1] In decades ahead China’s MIRV programs would be sure to mature. In the absence of confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures (NRRMs), the advent of MIRVs will exacerbate concerns for the respective national security policies of all three countries and for the regional strategic balance. Although the presence of MIRVs in Southern Asia will not be as pernicious as it was during Cold War [2] they will have ripple effects in threat-perception, doctrine, and the perceived need for counter-measures.[3] The complicated nuclear interactions among China, India, and Pakistan are about to become even more complex.

As was evident during the Cold War, MIRVs undermine strategic stability and invite an intensified nuclear arms race. President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, opposed a ban on MIRVs during the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. He came to regret this soon afterward, when he said, “I wish I had thought through the implications of a MIRVed world more thoughtfully in 1969 and 1970 than I did.”[4] Reiterating his stand during the debate over the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said: “In retrospect, I think if one could have avoided the development of MIRVs, which means also the testing of MIRVs by the Soviets, we would both be better off. What conclusion then I would have come to I don’t know.”[5] With the passage of time, Kissinger became more conclusive. Writing in Time magazine in 1983, he opined that, “there can be no doubt that the age of MIRVs has doomed the SALT approach.”[6]

Create a Channel for a U.S.-China Dialogue on South Asia


The real danger of an explosive conflict and potential nuclear war lingers in South Asia. Relations between India and Pakistan remain distrustful, confrontational, and highly volatile as the result of decades-long hostility. War plans are being refined on both sides – a war that could be triggered by terrorist attacks launched by Pakistan-based groups. Escalation control seems to be assumed by both sides, but miscalculation of intentions and reactions could ignite a catastrophic nuclear war.

Despite these risks, the United States and China do not regard crisis management in South Asia as a top priority in their bilateral foreign policy agendas. Cooperation on crisis management in the past has been ad hoc. The level of attention, dialogue, and preparation devoted to the proper management of a potential crisis between India and Pakistan is highly disproportionate to the risks and stakes at hand. Therefore, the United States and China might well consider the establishment of a routine dialogue at the sub-cabinet level that could become a crisis management mechanism to enhance preparedness for and effectiveness of crisis management to prevent a nuclear disaster in South Asia.

The Problem

The nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan has accelerated in recent years. Both countries possess well over 100 warheads and credible missile delivery systems.[i] Pakistan’s rising nuclear stockpile is widely believed to be the fasting growing in the world.[ii] Pakistan has continued to develop tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield that it threatens to deploy in the event India implements its “Cold Start” doctrine.[iii] India has completed its nuclear triad by inducting a strategic nuclear submarine into service.[iv] India’s aim is to reduce the gap between its nuclear capabilities and China’s.[v] The nuclear arms race in the region reflects the geopolitical competition between China and India and between India and Pakistan.

19 August 2017

Sri Lanka, China and Hambantota

N. SATHIYA MOORTHY

Sri Lankans still hope to get jobs and incomes from Trinco development plans — it has not happened in the case of Hambantota.

In signing off around 70 per cent of the Hambantota Port holdings to a front company of the Chinese Government, as against the originally proposed 80 per cent, the Maithiri-Ranil leadership has done more than what predecessor President Mahinda Rajapaksa had done in his time. Whatever little might have been left open then have been sealed, and for good, and in China’s favour.

Incumbent Ministers defending the present ‘split-agreement’, with one company with controlling stakes for Sri Lanka in port administration and security continue to talk to and in the air as the Rajapaksa aides, if at all, did in their long years in office. The fact is that successive governments have surrendered before the emerging Chinese hegemony (?) in the region, replacing what India-baiters in Sri Lanka loved to call as ‘Indian hegemony’.

After presiding over the Cabinet meeting that cleared the twin-pacts, President Sirisena’s camp has claimed that he got a new, enabling clause for future amendment(s) incorporated and got it accepted by the Chinese side. He has also since claimed that the government will do nothing that would compromise the nation’s ‘sovereignty and dignity’.

17 August 2017

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh 70 years after the British left

Manas Chakravarty

Seventy years after the British left undivided India, what is the state of its people? The eight charts presented here compare the trajectories of three countries in the region—India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Additionally, data for China has been included to give us a sense of what might have been had we taken a different path.

The picture that emerges from these charts is that although India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are all now officially classified as countries of ‘medium human development’ by the United Nations and their economies are now much wealthier, their masses still live in poverty, working in precarious jobs with little security, in the midst of glaring economic and social inequalities and injustices. There is nothing new about all this, of course, except that recounting these facts may serve as a corrective to the absurd chest-thumping that has become popular these days.

Here are the charts:

India tops in per capita income

14 August 2017

The 2015 India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement: Identifying constraints and exploring possibilities in Cooch Behar


The border between India and Bangladesh—highly crucial to their bilateral relationship—has always been difficult to manage given, for one, its sheer length. The most important bilateral initiative between Bangladesh and India may yet be the attempt to resolve the longstanding border dispute that arose after the Partition of 1947, by means of the 2015 Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) and the exchange of enclaves (chhitmahals) and adverse possessions between the two countries. Yet the question remains: How far can this agreement and exchange of enclaves and adverse possessions pave the way to resolving other unsettled border-related issues, which remain highly crucial? This paper makes an assessment of the current situation following the exchange of enclaves and adverse possessions between India and Bangladesh.

Introduction

The 2015 LBA was signed on 6 June 2015 in Bangladesh.[1] The historic agreement facilitated the transfer of 111 enclaves, adding up to 17,160.63 acres, from India to Bangladesh. Conversely, India received 51 enclaves, adding up to 7,110.02 acres, which were in Bangladesh (see Annexures 1 and 2). Prior to this historic agreement, the 2011 Protocol signed between Manmohan Singh of India and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh agreed to maintain the status quo in addressing the issue of adverse possessions of land, whereby India will receive 2,777.038 acres of land (see Annexure 3) from Bangladesh and in turn transfer 2,267.682 acres of land to Bangladesh (see Annexure 4).[2] The 2011 Protocol was made in an accord with the state governments of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal but could not be implemented due to adverse political circumstances. Thus, the 2015 LBA implements the unresolved issues stemming from the un-demarcated land boundary—approximately 6.1-km long—in three sectors, viz. Daikhata-56 (West Bengal), Muhuri River–Belonia (Tripura) and Lathitila–Dumabari (Assam); exchange of enclaves; and adverse possessions, which were first addressed in the 2011 Protocol.[3] It is important to note that in the land swap, Bangladesh gained more territory than India did.

12 August 2017

Bhutanese government rejects China claim on Doklam


New Delhi: The Bhutanese government has once again reportedly referred to its foreign ministry statement issued about six weeks ago that Doklam is Bhutanese territory, thereby rejecting a recent Chinese claim that Bhutan had agreed the area belongs to China.

“Official sources in the Bhutanese government” were quoted as telling an Indian news agency over the phone, “Our position on the border issue of Doklam is very clear. Please refer to our statement which has been published on the web site of Bhutan’s foreign ministry on June 29, 2017.”

In that initial statement issued on June 29, Bhutan had said it had conveyed to the Chinese side on the ground and through diplomatic channels that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory (Doklam) is a direct violation of the agreements (between Bhutan and China) and affects the process of demarcation of the boundary.

Also, Bhutan had called for status quo in the Doklam area to be maintained as before June 2017.

Bhutan had accused China of violating the boundary agreements and asked it to refrain from taking unilateral action or use of force to change the status quo of the Bhutan-China boundary between the two countries, saying that on June 16, 2017, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started constructing a motorable road from Dokola in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri.

7 August 2017

THE ROLE OF INDIA AND CHINA IN SOUTH ASIA

Free Download: PDF

Christian Wagner, Senior Fellow at the German Institute for International Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin, explains that “In South Asia, India seems to be a regional power by default. But a closer look reveals that China is gaining an upper hand in the region.” 

India and China have a long and complex bilateral relationship that oscillates between concepts of “Chindia” and great power rivalry. In South Asia, India seems to be a regional power by default. But a closer look reveals that China is gaining an upper hand in the region. The analytical framework of the regional power debate helps to explain the different approaches between the two countries towards South Asia. Developments in the fields of politics, economics, and security indicate that India is at a structural disadvantage to China in the region.

Despite its superior material resources relative to other South Asian states, India has never managed to establish itself as a regional power. Attempts by Nehru and Indira Gandhi to portray the region as part of India’s national security and to secure the country’s foreign political interests through military, economic, and political interventions were mostly unsuccessful.

Several factors have always undermined India’s regional power ambitions. First, because of the common religious, linguistic, and ethnic ties, foreign policy debates in the neighboring countries are often linked with debates about national identity which emphasize the distinctions from India. Hence, Indian interventions in the neighboring countries have often been perceived as threats to their respective national identities. In Sri Lanka, Buddhist nationalist groups have always been critical of India, in Bangladesh, the debate on Bengali and Bangladeshi nationalism is closely related with India, and in Nepal there is a controversy in most parties on the relations with the bigger neighbor to the South. The common religious, ethnic, and linguistic traditions that seem to bind the region have also acted as a counterbalance against India’s regional ambitions.

1 August 2017

With China’s new interest in Nepal, sources of tension in Indo-Nepal ties can’t be ruled out


Citizens of India and Nepal enjoy mutual rights of residence, freedom of movement, ownership of property, and can participate in each other’s industrial and economic development without discrimination.

India and Nepal now enjoy good relationship with mutual respect for each other. However, sources of tension in the India-Nepal relations cannot be ruled out in future with China trying to increase its penetration into Nepal, according to Dr. Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Vice Chancellor, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata.

Participating in the discussion on ORF’s new report on: India’s Connectivity with its Himalayan Neighbours: Possibilities and Challenges, on 14 July, Dr. Chaudhury said India was concerned about China’s new interest in Nepal’s domestic politics and also about the Sagarmatha Friendship 2017 — the first joint China-Nepal ten-day military drill.

The discussion was organised on the occasion of the launch of the report. The report was scheduled to be released by the Ambassador of Nepal, Mr. Deep Kumar Upadhyay, but he could not come because of some urgent engagement. The report was formally released by the Consul General of Nepal to Kolkata, Mr. Eaknarayan Aryal.

30 July 2017

Geopolitics, home stress in Colombo’s new Hambantota deal

by Nirupama Subramanian

On Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe finalised an agreement to sell an 80% stake of the Hambantota Port's operations for $1.1 billion to China Merchant Ports Holding Company Ltd, which also has the contract for the Colombo Port.

Inaugurating the first phase of the Magumpura Mahinda Rajapakse Port at Hambantota on his birthday on November 18, 2010, Rajapakse, who was then the President of Sri Lanka, said the port, named after him, symbolised Sri Lanka’s aspiration to be part of Asia’s emergence.

“We have shown this by completing this stage of the Magumpura Port even before its target date. This was possible due to the total commitment of the people of China and Sri Lanka. The people of Sri Lanka offer their warmest gratitude to the people and government of China,” Rajapakse said.

On Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe finalised an agreement to sell an 80% stake in the port’s operations for $ 1.1 billion to China Merchant Ports Holding Company Ltd, which also has the contract for the Colombo Port. Sri Lanka took this step to service the debt on the loan it took from Exim Bank China to build the port, the repayment amounting to SL Rs 9.1 billion ($ 60 million) annually. The cabinet paper on the agreement will be discussed in Parliament on Friday, and the agreement is expected to be signed on July 29.

13 July 2017

What's in the New Singapore-Germany Cyber Pact?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

The city-state signs another agreement with a fellow partner in the cyber domain.

On July 6, Singapore and Germany signed a joint declaration on strengthening cybersecurity cooperation. The move highlighted the city-state’s efforts to strengthen ties with like-minded states in the cyber domain as they confront growing challenges there.

As I have noted before, Singapore has been paying keen attention to the cyber domain as a developed, highly-networked country which relies on its reputation for security and stability to serve as a hub for businesses and attract talent.

Cognizant of the growing challenges in the cyber realm – made apparent by attacks on the city-state, including the hacking of the defense ministry’s Internet-connected system in February – Singapore has taken several measures to counter the threat, from the setting up of a new Cyber Security Agency (CSA) in 2015 to the mulling of new laws (See: “Singapore Eyes Tougher Cyber Laws”).

One of the CSA’s main lines of effort is in building partnerships with other countries that Singapore can work with in this area. And it has begun doing so, with six memorandums of understanding (MOUs) already being inked with France, India, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and most recently Australia as I have written about previously (See: “What’s in the New Australia-Singapore Cyber Pact?”).

1 June 2017

One of the world’s happiest economic stories comes from South Asia, but not India


Dan Kopf

Bangladesh’s population of 160 million is as big as France, Germany, and the Netherlands combined. The country is also easily the poorest of the world’s 10 most populous. Given its size and the depth of its poverty, the country’s recent economic boom must rank as one of the world’s happiest economic stories right now.

According to the Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh’s economy grew by 7.1% in 2016, the fastest expansion in 30 years. It was also the sixth year in a row that GDP growth was greater than 6%. Most analysts expect this run to continue. Ratings firm Moody’s, for example, says the country’s growth is likely to remain “robust.”

Bangladesh’s rapid growth wouldn’t be so exciting if it didn’t reach the poor. A recent World Bank report (pdf) found that between 2005 and 2010, average incomes for the poorest 40% of households grew 0.5% faster than for the country as a whole. By comparison, in India the poorest 40% of households did worse than the national average over a similar period.

As a result of this inclusive growth, poverty rates have plummeted. In 1991, well over 40% of the population lived in extreme poverty. Today, the World Bank says that less than 14% still does. That is, about 50 million fewer Bangladeshis are in extreme poverty as a result of the improving economy.

30 May 2017

Tackling China? See its history

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Historically, the Hans of mainland China are known for clear thinking, intelligence, ingenuity, the art of war, the craft of diplomacy and their indifference to outsiders. They still do, specially when it comes to contemporary issues — like South Asian (read Indian). They suddenly become alert, yet inert (or unreactive). Is that a contradiction? Perhaps. Because what spurts is a rigid, inflexible, aggressive “containment of India” policy that results in India’s counter-rigid posture and thus the Beijing regime’s inability to get a firm commitment on its grandiose dream project called “Silk Route”.

Also known by the fancy name of “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR), it’s meant to be the reincarnation of an exotic economic empire of the Hans of the Tang era (618-908 CE), passing through the sparsely populated, vast swathe of barren, deserted, remote land routes of the great Euro-Asian heartland. While as a student of history, one learns of the “Silk Route” going through both land and sea lanes, it’s also a fact that as two opposite civilisations, “each stood unchangeably firm in itself, with no possibility of fruitful exchanges”, interaction and socio-religious exchanges between India and China notwithstanding. Indeed, there once existed three lines of communication — across Central Asia, via “Bamiyan and Bactria, via Kashgar across the Tarim Valley and via Kashmir, Gilgit and Yasin across the Pamirs”. These routes became important after the 2nd century BCE, and till the end of 9th century CE, when Islam interposed an effective barrier, they were the most important highways of communication.

17 May 2017

Nepal 2017: Where to from here?

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 18 | Author: Sohan Prasad Sha & Suman Mondal| April 2017

To read the complete report click here

To cite: Sohan Prasad Sha and Suman Mondal. "Nepal 2017: Where to from here?," NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 18. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, April 2017.

The perpetual state of political instability and transition now rest upon the politics of ‘amendments’ in the constitution. Major contentious issues are: the demarcation of federal boundaries, delineation of electoral constituencies in upper house and local bodies on the basis of population, recognition of local languages and provisions of citizenship.

But, the roots of constitutional discords not only at the behest of amendments per se but also the asymmetric numerical balance in the Nepalese constituent assembly turn parliament.

15 May 2017

Nepal joins China's 'One Belt One Road' initiative


Nepal on Friday inked a deal with China to join Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative to link Asia with Europe, a move that may worry India.

The decision to sign the agreement comes ahead the OBOR forum in Beijing on May 14 and 15.

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong and Nepal’s Foreign Secretary Shankar Bairagi signed a memorandum of understanding at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singhadurbar, Kathmandu.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat were present during the signing ceremony.

“The MoU is an important moment in the bilateral relation between the two countries. Roads and railways connectivity is important for us and we want investment in this sector,” Mahat said.

Yu said that the Belt and Road initiative will bring new opportunities for China-Nepal cooperation and South Asia’s development.

“To promote Belt and Road initiative, we are committed to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit are the defining features of the initiative. The Initiative is not only open to the countries in the region, but also open to the countries outside the region who are interested in it,” said Yu.

24 March 2017

US commander arrives, multinational drill from Monday


KATHMANDU: United States Pacific Command (USPACOM)’s Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr arrived here in the capital on Sunday to take part in a multinational military drill for peacekeeping, Nepal Army said.

Exercise Shanti Prayas III is kicking off at the Nepal Army’s Birendra Peace Operations Training Centre tomorrow with participation of 1024 army personnel from 28 countries.

Admiral Harris was received by Lt Gen Purna Chandra Thapa at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

Nepal Army and UPSACOM are jointly organising the multinational military exercise which aims at enhancing peacekeeping capabilities prior to being deployed for peacekeeping missions under the United Nations, the Nepal Army’s Directorate of Public Relations said.

The third edition of Exercise Shanti Prayas, which serves as US Pacific Command’s annual capstone for the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) programme, will conclude on April 3.

Nepal Army Lt Gen Purna Chandra Thapa (R) receives USPACOM Admiral Harris at TIA. Photo: Nepal Army

Army personnel Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Fiji, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam and Zambia were invited to take part in the exercise, according to UPSACOM.

15 March 2017

Cross-LoC Trade: A boon or bane

by Brig Anil Gupta (Retd)

Trade across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir began in 2008 during Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s first tenure as Chief Minister. Hailed as the biggest Confidence Building Measure (CBM) to bring peace in the region, it began three years after the commencement of cross-LoC travel meant to unite the divided families across the LoC.

While the Government of India was sincere in its intent and approach, our adversary Pakistan had a hidden agenda while agreeing to allow such cross-LoC interactions. The Indian side wanted to heal the wounds of the divided families, encourage cross-LoC tourism and promote “peace through trade”, but the adversary saw it as another means to promote terrorism in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Our intelligence agencies had always been suspicious of the intent of the Pakistani deep state and kept a close vigil on the cross-LoC trade. In order to apprehend the modus-operandi of the hostile agencies, it is essential to understand the nuances of the cross-LoC trade. Readers need to understand that cross-LoC trade is different from international trade and is governed by a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The cross-o trade is based on the barter system of trade against the usual currency-based trade due to non-availability of banking system and communication facilities. No excise duty or taxes are levied as in the case of regular international trade. A total of 21 tradeable items have been identified. Only items produced or manufactured on either side of the LoC are permitted to be traded. The list of items includes eatables, fruits, vegetables, dry fruits, medicinal herbs, saffron, garments and handicrafts. The list is not specific but general in nature leading to intentional/unintentional misinterpretation at times.

19 February 2017

Indian concerns over Maldives island-lease: It’s not about China but about sovereignty talk

By N Sathiya Moorthy

At a New Year news conference in Male, Chinese Ambassador Wang Fukang reportedly expressed ‘surprise’ over “concerns raised by Indian journalists over the leasing of the Maldivian island of Feydhoo Finolhu (an uninhabited island close to the capital Male) to a Chinese company to develop a resort”. 

The SunOnline reported on January 4, 2017 that: “Some Indian media outlets have reportedly raised concern that giving an island close to the main airport of the country was a danger to the strategic interests of India. In response, the Chinese Ambassador said that the Indian attention on a Maldivian tourism lease with a Chinese company is very surprising.“

“The Ambassador said that he believes the Maldives is a popular tourist destination and so is always looking for foreign investors and is an opportunity open to the whole world”. He has a point. The web version of another local daily Miadhu quoted Ambassador Wang as recalling how “100 million Chinese travelled as tourists last year...(to Maldives), hence the number of visitors to Maldives can be increased”.

Ambassador Wang further pointed out that 700,000 Chinese tourists travelled to Bali, in Indonesia, alone. Around “500,000 Chinese tourists visited Japan last year, and 960,000 visited South Korea. So, it will not be difficult to get 1.5 million tourists to Maldives from China alone”, the Chinese envoy said.