August 20, 2018

China hands over two ships to Pakistan Navy for Gwadar security

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Pakistan’s deep-water port Gwadar connects China to the Arabian Sea in the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

KARACHI: China has handed over two ships to the Pakistan Navy to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a move likely to raise alarm in India.

China handed over the two ships to the Pakistan Navy yesterday for joint security along the sea route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Dawn News reported.

The Gwadar port in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province has been developed under CPEC linking western China through Pakistan with the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The ships — named after two rivers Hingol and Basol near Gwadar — were received by Commander of the Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini.

Recently built in China and equipped with state-of-the-art guns, the ships will be part of Pakistan Navy and also used to protect the sea-lanes in the Arabian Sea.

A ceremony was held in Gwadar where Chinese officials, who reached Gwadar aboard the ships, handed them over to their Pakistani counterparts.

Director General of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency Rear Admiral Jamil Akhter, Commander West Commodore Mohammad Waris and top naval and civilian officials were present on the occasion.

“The Chinese ships have become part of the Pakistan Navy from today,” Vice Admiral Hussaini said, adding that the navy would become stronger with the induction of the ships.

He termed the induction of the Chinese ships into the Pakistan Navy as a “historic moment” and said the ships would be deployed for the security of the Gwadar port and the sea route of the CPEC.

The Chinese government will provide two more ships to Pakistan Navy which have been named Dasht and Zhob after two districts in Balochistan.

China is extending help and cooperation to Pakistan for security along the CPEC’s land and sea routes. Pakistan has already raised a new division of the army to ensure security along the CPEC route and in and around the Gwadar port.

Security of Gwadar city has been handed over to the army’s new division raised during the tenure of former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif.

In the past, China has shied away from saying that it plans to deploy its naval ships in Gwadar, a move which could raise alarm in the US and India.

China has not only rebuilt the Gwadar port but also has its operational control. It is also building a network of roads and railways to link up its remote western region to Gwadar for easier access to the Arabian Sea.

The revamped Gwadar port became operational in November last year after two cargo ships laden with containers set off for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE and EU.

'One China' policy is 'non-negotiable,' China tells Trump

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BEIJING: China today made it clear that the ‘One China’ policy is “non-negotiable” and “no one can change it”, in a strong rebuttal to President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to use American policy on Taiwan as a bargaining chip.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the ‘One China’ policy is the political foundation of bilateral ties and “is non-negotiable”, following Trump’s statement that the policy on Taiwan is up for negotiation and that he is not fully committed to it.

“Everything is under negotiation, including One China,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Friday, questioning the decades-old-policy followed by Washington in its relations with Beijing.

It must be pointed out that there is but ‘One China’ in the world, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, Lu said in a statement.

The government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China, “which is an internationally recognised fact and no one can change it,” Lu said.

“We urge the relevant party in the United States to realise the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and abide by commitments made by previous US governments to the One China policy and the principles of the three joint communiques,” he said without directly referring to Trump.

Lu urged the US side to properly deal with the Taiwan issue so as to avoid undermining the healthy and steady development of bilateral ties and cooperation in major areas, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Since his election, Trump has riled China by holding telephone talks with Taiwanese President Tsai-Ing-wen, who herself is toeing a hardline against Beijing.

China on the other hand is pressuring over 20 countries mainly in Latin America and Africa to not have diplomatic ties with Taipei.

Recently China prevailed over tiny African island Sao Tome and Principe to break off diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which in turn accused Beijing of offering big loans to entice the small countries to move away from Taipei.

Nigeria also broke off all diplomatic relations with Taiwan after the visit of Chinese Foreign Minster Wang Yi few days ago.

Besides a  showdown on ‘One China’ policy after Trump takes over, Beijing also apprehends a trade war as the US Presidential-elect wants to bring about a parity of bilateral trade, which is heavily in favour of China.

China’s exports to the US total to about USD 500 billion against USD 100 billion of American exports to the Chinese mainland.

Trump accuses China of devaluing its currency to gain more out of its exports.

Trump has also questioned China’s island building in the disputed South China Sea and his Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said last week that China should be stopped from accessing the islands. 

Navjot Sidhu formally joins Congress ahead of Punjab polls 

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Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi welcomes Navjot Singh Sidhu into the INC. (EPS)

NEW DELHI: Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday officially joined the Congress Party ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls

Punjab Congress in-charge Asha Kumari, who confirmed this to ANI, said Sidhu met party vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the latter’s residence here and formally joined the grand old party.

According to sources, Sidhu had expressed his desire to join the Congress in Rahul’s presence, but had to change his dates as the party vice-president was out of the country.

This political development comes months after the cricketer-turned politician’s wife Navjot Kaur joined the Congress.

Navjot Kaur had earlier this month said that either she or her husband would contest the Punjab elections.

“We don’t have anything in mind. We only want to work for the welfare of Punjab. One out of us (Navjot Kaur and Navjot Sidhu) is going to contest the upcoming election, for sure,” Kaur said.

She also said that Sidhu would campaign in all the 117 assembly constituencies in the poll-bound state.

“We have to help to develop every sector of Punjab, be it industry or agriculture. Ours is a golden state and we have to make it number one state in the country,” she said.

According to reports, the Congress is planning to field Sidhu against the Badals in the upcoming polls.

The former BJP leader may either be fielded from Lambi, where Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is the Shiromani Akali Akali (SAD) candidate or from Jalalabad against Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The Congress has so far released the names of 100 candidates. However, the grand old party still has to select candidates for the remaining 17 seats for elections to the 117-member Punjab Assembly.

Punjab goes to polls on February 4. 

'Happy Thai Pongal to Tamils celebrating!' wishes Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

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NEW DELHI: Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who never fails to seize any opportunity “to celebrate the many cultures, languages and beliefs that make our country such a wonderful place to live”, has wished Tamilians in Canada and around the world a happy Thai Pongal on Sunday.                                                                             
In the video, posted on his social media, he begins with a Tamil greeting “Vanakkam!” and says, “Over the next few days, Tamils in Canada and around the world will gather with loved ones to celebrate Thai Pongal. Each day of this festival has its own special meaning and traditions which are tied to abundance, peace and happiness.”

“In 2016, the House of Commons voted unanimously to recognise every January as Tamil Heritage Month. I encourage everybody to reflect on the strong heritage of Canada’s Tamil community. Our nation is stronger and richer because of Tamil-Canadians,” he adds.

Sharing his views on how to make Canada a “wonderful place to live”,  he says, “This year also marks Canada’s 150th anniversary, and we should seize every opportunity to celebrate the many cultures, languages and beliefs that make our country such a wonderful place to live.”

“On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish everyone marking Thai Pongal a joyful harvest festival,” he concluded.

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