MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 21 JANUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Kamala Harris bumps fists with Joe Biden after she was sworn in as vice-president.
India’s protesting farmers aren’t going anywhere
On January 26, even as India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day with a grand parade in New Delhi, showcasing its military might and plural culture, tens of thousands of farmers will simultaneously be participating in a 50 kilometer-long tractor rally in the Indian capital to press for the repeal of agricultural laws enacted by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative continues to make inroads in Myanmar
China’s ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is knocking on Myanmar’s door after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to study the feasibility of linking the railways of Mandalay with Kyaukphyu, a major town in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. China’s interest in expanding the BRI into Myanmar has been clear as far back as March 2020 when it announced a $6.78 billion aid package to Myanmar for 22 projects under the Beijing-led initiative Mekong-Lancang Cooperation.
'Breach of Official Secrets Act': Congress attacks Modi government over Arnab WhatsApp chats
On Tuesday, responding for the first time after it was revealed that Goswami may have had prior information about the 2019 Balakot airstrike, Gandhi had said, “Things like this (the Balakot airstrike) would be known only to a handful of people – the prime minister, home minister, defence minister, defence chief, Air Force chief and Army chief. So if a secret like this has been leaked to a journalist, then it is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. It is leaking of a state secret.”
China’s belt and road: what’s holding up the trains from Pakistan to Turkey via Iran?
Recently, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan announced they would revive the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) railway, a project launched in 2009. Despite several test runs, the railway link had not become fully operational. At the Economic Cooperation Organisation transport and communications ministers meeting held virtually last month, Turkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu announced that the project would be relaunched this year. After finalising tariff rates and a timetable, the service will initially provide container transport; freight services on conventional wagons will be added in due course.
Crises at home leave Biden little time for Asia in first 100 days
After a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn his election victory, President-elect Joe Biden maintained that the scenes of chaos "do not reflect true America; do not represent who we are." As Asia looks to the first 100 days of Biden's presidency, beginning Wednesday, many will be wondering who this "true America" is. The current state of affairs -- political violence, the world's highest COVID-19 death toll, roughly 10 million unemployed -- appears a far cry from Biden's declarations that "America is back" and "ready to lead the world." Policy experts agree that Biden's immediate priorities are all domestic.
Blinken’s diplomatic cart will have a bumpy ride
The confirmation of Antony Blinken as US secretary of state by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a foregone conclusion. That makes his opening statement at the senate hearing Tuesday an important document. Blinken did not throw away the baby with the bathtub, as it were, when he marked a distance from the previous Trump administration’s foreign policy record on China, but he dissented on how Washington had gone about it. On the other hand, while avoiding any indulgence in American exceptionalism, he didn’t reject it either.