MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 09 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Hindu devotees take part in a bathing ritual at the Hanumante River on the outskirts of Kathmandu during the month-long Swasthani festival.
Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images
China urges Nepal political parties to shelve differences and maintain unity and stability
China has urged Nepali political parties to shelve differences and maintain unity and stability in Nepal for its own development and prosperity. According to a press statement issued by China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday, in the context of a recent telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that both the ministers exchanged views on Nepal’s domestic political situation, besides extending Covid-19 vaccine cooperation. On Friday, Gyawali and Wang held a telephonic conversation where the Chinese minister, according to a statement by Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced that China would provide 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Nepal on a grant basis.
India-Lanka standoff over Chinese power projects in Jaffna islands
Indian sources acknowledged on Sunday that India has expressed its “strong” concern about the location of three Chinese renewal energy projects in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province barely 48 km from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. The sources said that the projects were security threat to India which is just across the narrow Palk Strait. The local media had reported that the three renewable energy projects are to be located in Delft, Analativu and Nainativu, which are islands off the coast of Jaffna in North Sri Lanka. The projects had been approved by the Lankan Cabinet on January 18.
Anti-coup demonstrations reach Myanmar’s ‘protest-proof’ capital
The anti-coup protests in Myanmar have spread to the nation’s capital, Naypyitaw—the fortress-like “Abode of Kings” that serves as home to the top Union government officials and the headquarters of the military. Protesters riding motorbikes took to the streets to show their disapproval of the military coup on Saturday and Sunday. They chanted slogans including “Down with the dictator!” “We want full democracy” and “Be in good health, Amay Suu!”, referring to detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Local residents lined the streets to cheer them on. Those demonstrations ended peacefully over the weekend, when the regime blocked the Internet and social media services until Sunday afternoon.
PLA Xinjiang Military Command commissions Z-20 helicopter, vows to safeguard LAC
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang Military Command has commissioned China's newly developed, plateau-capable utility helicopter, the Z-20. Observers noticed on Monday that the choppers seem to have modified engines that could boost their performance and survivability. The command troops vowed to safeguard China's western border after recently conducting helicopter exercises over Pangong Tso on the China-India border Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Indian politician admits India was true aggressor in border area
Tensions triggered by border disputes have been clouding China-India ties since May 2020, and India has been portraying China as the "aggressor." Yet on Sunday, a high-level Indian politician slapped his country's face by spilling the beans - he revealed that India has transgressed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) far more often than China did, but the Indian government has not announced it. The Hindu newspaper quoted V.K. Singh, union minister of state for Road Transport and Highways, and a former four-star general in the Indian army, as saying, "Let me assure you, if China has transgressed 10 times, we must have done it at least 50 times." He said so when accusing China of attempting to expand its area near the LAC.
Biden’s impending challenges in Afghanistan
The Biden administration has many complex internal issues to address and resolve, ranging from handling the pandemic to reinvigorating the economy to uniting a divided nation. There are issues of foreign policy that would require urgent focus– from North Korea’s nuclear development program to resetting relations with China and normalizing ties with Russia etc. But one of Biden’s most formidable foreign policy challenges will be navigating the difficult path to executing the February agreement with the Taliban. The only tangible achievement so far has been the release of 5,000 Taliban and about a thousand Afghan government prisoners by both sides. But there is a stalemate in negotiations currently underway in Doha.
India-US army exercises begins in Indian border state of Rajasthan
The latest edition of the annual exercises between the Indian and US armies kicked off on February 8 at the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan, a western Indian state bordering Pakistan. The 16th edition of the Yudh Abhyas exercises, which will continue until February 21, will – like past iterations – focus on counterterrorism and promote interoperability between the two forces, according to the Indian Army.
Joe Biden has ‘no reason not to call’ Xi Jinping – but setting it up is proving harder than some expected
China and the US are still searching for a right opportunity for their presidents to have their first phone conversation since Joe Biden’s election victory as the two sides look to reshape their complicated relationship. But both sides have kept expectations low and few believe that the call, if it happens, will herald a quick turnaround. Talks on setting up the conversation have proved more difficult than some people initially anticipated, according to Chinese observers, reflecting the huge gaps that are driving the world’s two largest economies further apart.