MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 08 APRIL
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Asylum-seeking migrants' families attempt to get off an inflatable raft with a help of a Texas Ranger officer after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Roma, Texas, U.S. on April 5, 2021.
Myanmar’s ethnic armies prepare to fight for a federal structure
Myanmar’s ethnic armies have declared war on the country’s military government. The prospect of intensified conflict in Myanmar’s border regions and the likelihood of it prompting thousands of refugees to cross the borders to neighboring countries, has alarmed authorities in China, India and Thailand. “The Tatmadaw [the official name for the Myanmar army] is waging war against its own people. It has shown its true colors: The army are the terrorists,” said Yawd Serk, chairman of the powerful Restoration Council for Shan State (RCSS) in a recent interview with South Asian Monitor.
Whither India-Russia ties?
To be sure, the US remains vigilant about every breath Modi takes, every move he makes, every bond he forges with Putin to energise India’s relations with Russia. The US geo-strategy is heavily loaded, too, as it is proving to be immensely rewarding — India has already given up its fascination for Russian energy and has settled for US shale oil; Russia’s status as India’s number one arms supplier is being steadily replaced with American weaponry. Late on Monday, in fact, even as Lavrov’s plane was landing in Delhi, Secretary of State Blinkon announced in Washington the names of Turkish officials and entities who will be sanctioned w.e.f Wednesday for Ankara’s acquisition of the advanced S-400 Russian air defence system. A timely reminder for External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar!
Russia to boost ties with Pakistan, supply military gear
Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday said Moscow and Islamabad would boost ties in the fight against terrorism, with Russia providing unspecified military equipment to Pakistan and the two holding more joint exercises at sea and in the mountains. Sergey Lavrov’s two-day trip to Pakistan is the first visit by a Russian foreign minister in nine years, part of a warming in once frosty relations. It comes as Moscow seeks to increase its stature in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, where it has sought to inject itself as a key player in accelerated efforts to find a peaceful end to decades of war.
'China has capability of launching cyber attacks on India': CDS Rawat
China has a technological lead over India, with a capability of launching cyber attacks on India, said General Bipin Rawat, the chief of defence staff. India cyber agencies can create firewalls, but it is important to see how quickly they can react after such an attack, he said. One way of bridging the gap is closer cooperation and then, integration between the three armed forces. Wondering whether when India would "fully catch up," he said New Delhi's relationship with some Western countries could be helpful.
India faces dilemma as it recalibrates Myanmar policy
India, which shares a 1,643 km long border with Myanmar, has since the 90s built ties with the Myanmar military in a bid to counter the growing presence of China as well as to secure its border against insurgents. Myanmar has helped India protect its border in the Northeast where insurgents who carry out attacks seek shelter across the frontier in Myanmar. In May last year, Myanmar handed over 22 militants to India. Myanmar, with its oil and gas reserves, is also seen as important for India's energy security and also as an important gateway to Southeast Asia. Analysts said the key challenge for New Delhi now is that it cannot afford to sanction the Myanmar generals like the West but, at the same time like China, cannot be soft in its response to the violent crackdown on protesters. "The policy (of wooing the generals) has not changed. The fact is that it has paid dividends (over the years). The policy remains the same but, based on ground realities, certainly there is a calibrated approach," said Prof Harsh V. Pant at King's College London who is also director of studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
Bangladesh is getting closer to Eurofighter Typhoon
Following the need for the modernization of Bangladesh's armed forces, Dhaka is preparing to finalize some of the most interesting defense contracts in recent years. The main one concerns the purchase of a new multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) to replace (or initially integrate) the old F-7 and MiG-29 jets of the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF). Under the 'Forces Goal 2030' program, in 2017 the Bangladesh Directorate General Defense Purchase (DGDP) launched the tender for the procurement of eight fighter aircraft (plus option for an additional four), which was subsequently increased to 16 jets. Initially the main contenders were UAC's Russian Su-35, MiG-35 and Su-30SM fighters, however, in the last couple of years, the nation has started targeting mostly Western aircraft (westernization plan).\
Economic Affairs: The coming Biden boom
Less than a month after the US Congress passed the US$1.9 trillion (S$2.6 trillion) American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden has announced a US$2 trillion to US$2.5 trillion infrastructure package, soon to be followed this month by a social spending plan of as yet unknown proportions, but likely to be of the order of another US$1 trillion at least. So, with upwards of US$5 trillion in spending - more than 20 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) - being tabled within three months of the start of the Biden presidency, Bidenomics has begun with a bang. The result of this biggest spending spree in a generation could be transformational, both for the United States and the global economy. It's all far from a done deal. There will be political hitches along the way, and possibly some nasty economic side effects afterwards, some of which will also be felt in Asia.