Dawn – TTP provides core fighting group for IS: US general

Anwar Iqbal

Washington, 13 February 2017. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan provides the core fighting group for the militant Islamic State (IS) group as TTP militants in Orakzai tribal agency en masse joined the relatively new terrorist group, says a top US general.

General John Nicholson Jr, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, also agreed with a lawmaker that Pakistan’s strong relationship with China and its growing ties with Russia were a cause of concern for the United States.

The general, who commands over 13,000 international troops, 8,400 of them American, appeared before the US Senate Armed Services Committee this week to brief American lawmakers on the current situation in Afghanistan.

He told the panel that the IS, which in Afghanistan was called the Islam State Khorasan Province, comprised fighters mainly from existing militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Primarily, their membership had come from the TTP, which was a Pakistan-based opponent of the Pakistan regime, he said.

The general said TTP militants in Orakzai tribal agency had, en masse, joined the IS-K and formed the initial group of fighters who then moved into Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, spreading out to about 11 districts initially.

“So, the majority of the fighters in the IS right now came from the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban, and joined the banner of the IS,” he added.

General Nicholson agreed with Senator Angus King, a Maine Democrat, that the Pakistan-Afghan region was a fertile ground for terrorism.

“The conditions in this region also lend themselves to the growth of these organisations. These 20 groups sit on top of a population, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, of over 200 million people, 70 per cent of them are under the age of 30. You know, employment is low, there is radical form of Islam,” he said.

“It’s like a Petri dish… into which you drop the 20 strands of DNA of these terrorist groups. And then what we see happening is convergence and growth in connections develop these.”

General Nicholson noted that of the 98 US-designated terrorist groups across the globe, 20 operated in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, along with three violent extremist organisations.

“This is the highest concentration of terrorist groups anywhere in the world, which underscores the importance of our counter-terrorism platform in the Central Asia-South Asia region which protects our homeland,” he said.

General Nicholson told the committee that the war in Afghanistan had come to a “stalemate” but could be won by providing better training and equipment to Afghan national forces.

To do so, he asked for “a few thousands” more troops and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for Afghan air force, which he said was a vital component to breaking the stalemate between Afghan and Taliban forces.

The US government is already considering a proposal to replace Afghanistan’s current fleet of Russian Mi-17s with modified UH-60 Blackhawks, designed to handle the region’s formidable mountainous terrain.

Throughout the hours-long hearing, General Nicholson, as well as some senators, insisted that the war in Afghanistan could not be won without Pakistan’s support, but the general emphasised the need to work with Pakistan to eliminate alleged militant safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, instead of antagonising it by cutting off US economic and military assistance.

Senator John McCain, who chairs the committee, set the tone of the discussion in his opening statement that “succeeding in Afghanistan will also require a candid evaluation of America’s relationship with Pakistan”.

General Nicholson said he was also concerned about the influence in Afghanistan of certain external actors, particularly Pakistan, Russia and Iran, who “continue to legitimise and support the Taliban”.

These external actors were also undermining the Afghan government’s efforts to create a stable Afghanistan, he added. Yet, he warned against a knee-jerk reaction in this situation, particularly against Pakistan. “Our complex relationship with Pakistan is best assessed through a holistic review,” he said.

The general noted that the Pakistani leadership had articulated its support for the US objective of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, “but thus far we have not seen this translate into any change in terms of behaviour”.

This lack of support was also visible in the freedom of action given to Taliban or the Haqqani Network to operate from sanctuaries in Pakistan, he said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1314507/ttp-provides-core-fighting-group-for-is-us-general

Dawn – PM urged to address KP parties’ reservations over CPEC

Khaleeq Kiani

Islamabad, 20 January 2017. The federal government has requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to address reservations of various political parties over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at an all-party conference (APC) and remove ‘misunderstandings’ about the mega project.

This was decided on Thursday at an inter-provincial meeting on the CPEC held to follow up on the corridor’s joint coordination council (JCC) meeting held in Beijing a few weeks ago.

The APC was proposed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister who explained that although his government was on board the project, several other political parties in his province had reservations over it.

Speaking at a news conference with KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haidar Khan and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said the prime minister would convene an all-party conference to address reservations by some political parties in KP.

Mr Khattak said most of the province’s reservations had been addressed. However, some parties had political reservations and the government should satisfy them, he added.

Federal minister insists corridor will have a positive impact on South Asia, believes China has rebuffed India’s objections to the project

Mr Iqbal insisted that the CPEC would have a positive impact on South Asia. “India is suffering from CPEC phobia…this would surely lead to its isolation in this region,” he said, adding that China had rebuffed India’s objections to the project.

“How will India stay away from a project everybody wants to be a part of?” The minister said that several countries, including the United Kingdom, had expressed thier inclination to join the CPEC and advised India to be a part of it too.

Mr Iqbal said that several Indian think tanks had been pressuring their government to benefit from the project.

All provinces expressed full support for the CPEC and agreed to complete their homework on projects approved by the sixth JCC to ensure its speedy and timely implementation. The Pakistani side of the joint working groups would meet soon to finalise new projects in energy, infrastructure and other sectors, he said.

He praised the provincial governments, KP in particular, for expediting work on the CPEC. He said the participants of the meeting had agreed that along with projects in the infrastructure and energy sector, a procedure of industrialisation would be finalised to ensure maximum benefits from the CPEC.

Mr Iqbal said certain elements were trying to spread misconceptions about the project and were hatching conspiracies to derail the harmony between Pakistan and China. “All reservations by federating units have been addressed and everyone is now working for success of this project,” he added.

In reply to a question, he said it was illogical to assume that a large number of expensive Chinese workers would come to Pakistan and fill up the job market. He said Pakistani labourers and engineers would get more than half of the jobs under the CPEC. Thousands of Pakistani engineers and workers already had jobs in various CPEC projects, he added.

The KP chief minister said his government would organise a road show in March in China to attract investment in agriculture, mining and tourism sectors.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1309525/pm-urged-to-address-kp-parties-reservations-over-cpec

Radio Free Asia – China Calls Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra ‘Illegal’, Threatens punishment for those taking part

Washington, 5 January 2017. Authorities in Tibetan-populated areas of southwestern China are warning local residents against involvement in a major Buddhist gathering in India led by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, calling the gathering “illegal” and threatening punishment for those spreading news of the event or organizing local ceremonies in support.

More than 100,000 devotees from some 80 countries around the world have already assembled in Bodh Gaya, India, site of the enlightenment of the historical Buddha, to participate in this year’s Kalachakra empowerment, which is set to run from January 11 to 13, with preparatory teachings and other events already under way.

Thousands of pilgrims from Tibetan-populated areas of western China who had hoped to attend have been forced to return home, though, while others have been blocked from leaving China.

Now, official notices circulating in Yunnan province’s Dechen (in Chinese, Deqin) county, copies of which have been obtained by RFA’s Tibetan Service, have threatened jail terms of from 10 days to five years for involvement in the event.

One, undated and disseminated to “all relevant departments” at township, county, and prefecture levels, warns Tibetans not to share information, including audio or video clips, about the Kalachakra over the internet or on social media.

“Other related activities, such as organizing celebrations in support of the Kalachakra, are also forbidden,” the notice says.

“Anyone engaging in these acts will be in violation of Article 55 of China’s Public Security Law and will face severe consequences,” the notice adds, with penalties ranging from 10 to 15 days of police detention to jail terms of up to five years for “more serious cases.”

Article 55 pertains to undefined risks to national security.

Families warned

A notice forwarded in December to Tibetan households in Dechen likewise orders government departments to immediately call home any county residents already present in India, warning families that anyone found to have participated in the Kalachakra teachings will lose their passport and ration card after they return.

“If they are monks or nuns, their right to study Tibetan Buddhism will also be revoked,” the notice adds.

Kalachakra, which means Wheel of Time, is a ritual that prepares devotees to be reborn in Shambhala, a celestial kingdom which, it is said, will vanquish the forces of evil in a future cosmic battle.

The ceremony and teachings are often conducted outside Tibet by the Dalai Lama, who is widely reviled by Chinese leaders as a “splittist” seeking to separate Tibet, which was invaded by Communist China in 1950, from Beijing’s control.

In a bid to reduce attendance at this year’s ceremony, Chinese officials moved beginning in November to confiscate the passports of Tibetans authorized to travel abroad, at the same time ordering Tibetans already present in India and Nepal to return home.

Many had been told their families would be harmed if they failed to go back, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/illegal-01052017151431.html

The Statesman – ‘US challenging India’s solar policy sent message to world’

Washington, 6 January 2017. The US successfully challenged India’s local content conditions in its solar policy which sent a message to the rest of the world that it would not tolerate “new form of protectionism”, outgoing American Trade Representative Mike Froman said on Thursday.

Further, this also helped the US to get India to open up its market worth $1 billion, Froman said in an exit-memo released by the White House on eight years of the outgoing Obama Administration.

USTR, he said, filed as many as 24 cases against other countries before the World Trade Organization.

The US has focused in particular on bringing cases which have broad, systemic benefits, he argued.

“Challenging India’s local content requirements was not just about increasing solar panel exports to India, but was intended to send a message to governments all over the world that the United States would not tolerate this new form of protectionism to exclude our products from their markets, contrary to their WTO commitments,” Froman said.

Similarly challenging China’s use of export restrictions on rare earth materials not only provided important relief to US manufacturers dependent on those materials as inputs, but also provided an opportunity to send a message to China’s government and other governments not to use such restraints in any sector to gain a trade-distortive advantage over US competitors, he said.

Of the 24 enforcement actions, 15 have targeted China’s unfair and WTO-illegal policies, ranging from illegal barriers to auto imports, agricultural subsidies to grain producers, discriminatory taxes, barriers to services trade, and barriers to US exports of high-tech steel, Froman said.

“We also brought economically significant cases against India’s illegal, non-science-based ban on US poultry, European subsidies to civil aviation, and Argentina’s import restrictions,” he said.

“Our trade enforcement successes have positively affected billions of dollars of US exports,” Froman said, adding that the US’ case against China for illegally imposing anti-dumping duties opened up that market to $5 billion of auto and auto parts exports.

“Our case against India’s local content requirements for India opened up an estimated $1 billion market. And our case against China’s illegal duties on US poultry is worth an estimated $1 billion,” Froman wrote in his exit memo.

http://www.thestatesman.com/india/us-challenging-india-s-solar-policy-sent-message-to-world-1483645085.html

Dawn – Russia getting into Afghan act

Zahid Hussain

Op/Ed, 4 January 2017. The gathering in Moscow last week, the third in the series of consultations between Russia, China and Pakistan, underlines growing concern about the spillover effect of the Afghan crisis in the region. The initiative is the latest example of Russian assertion of its diplomatic power amidst growing frustration over the American failure to deliver peace in Afghanistan.

An underlying cause of anxiety is the growing threat of the militant Islamic State group spreading its tentacles in the war-torn country. But it is still unclear whether the new alliance will be able to help reach a negotiated political solution to the Afghan conflict.

Although the Kabul government has now been invited for the next round of talks, its exclusion from the earlier meetings cast a shadow over the process.

Not surprisingly, the United States was not invited to the Moscow initiated process. It is, however, premature to assume that the new nexus could replace the quadrilateral forum that included the US along with Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

The quadrilateral talks have been suspended for almost one year after the collapse of efforts to bring the Afghan Taliban insurgents to the negotiating table. The killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the Taliban chief, in a CIA drone strike last May has further diminished hopes for the talks to resume.

It is quite apparent that no peace effort could succeed without the tacit support, if not active participation, of the USA, which still has about 10,000 troops involved in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan. Things have become more complicated with the political transition in Washington.

Like other foreign policy issues, there is complete confusion over the Afghan policy in the soon-to-be installed Trump administration. Moscow’s initiative to build a regional alliance against IS points to a changing geo-political landscape.

That has perhaps compelled the three countries to find a regional solution to the Afghan crisis that directly affects their own security. It remains to be seen whether the Kabul government accepts the invitation to join the forum and whether it is willing to show some flexibility in its approach on the peace talks.

The Moscow trilateral meeting has called for lifting of the travel ban on the insurgent leaders, one of the major demands that the Taliban had presented as a precondition for talks with the Kabul government. The Taliban are obviously pleased by the Moscow meeting endorsing its demand. But lifting of the ban requires US consent.

China has for some time now been actively involved in the Afghan peace efforts, being a major investor in mining and infrastructure development projects in that country.

Its good relations with both the Kabul government and the Taliban have helped Beijing facilitate a few rounds of informal talks between the two warring sides. Beijing has also been gravely concerned about the increasing instability in Afghanistan and recent reports of growing IS activity in the country.

Although Russia may not be a fresh entrant on the Afghan scene, its initiative to build a regional alliance to counter the IS threat points to a new alignment of forces in a changing geo-political landscape.

Interestingly, the meeting on Afghanistan followed another set of trilateral talks in Moscow that included Turkey and Iran on the settlement of Syrian crisis.

The US was excluded from that meeting too, indicating that Moscow is taking a lead in settling the Syrian and Afghan crises, thereby considerably altering the balance of power in the international arena.

This Russian assertiveness seems to be driven by the Obama administration’s inaction and in anticipation of expected changes in US foreign policy under the incoming Trump administration.

Though the US president-elect has openly castigated the Obama administration’s approach on Syria and Afghanistan, there is no clarity on future US policy, especially on Afghanistan.

That has also provided Moscow an opportunity to alter the current negotiating format and try to break the persisting deadlock in the diplomatic efforts to find a political solution to the Afghan conflict.

Indeed there is also serious concern among the three countries over the deteriorating situation in the proximity of their borders. Last year was the bloodiest in Afghanistan with the Taliban intensifying their attacks considerably.

What has been more perturbing, however, is the expanding footprint of IS, apparent in several terrorist attacks in Afghanistan that took a huge toll on the civilian population.

Moreover, the increasing activities of the group in northern Afghanistan, close to the borders of the Central Asian countries, are particularly alarming for Russia.

There is also growing fear in Moscow of IS making inroads in the Muslim population, especially as the Chechens form one of the largest foreign contingents in the IS war in Iraq and Syria. That has also been a reason for Russia to establish contacts with the Afghan Taliban who have been fighting IS.

Both China and Pakistan share Moscow’s concerns and hence have decided to join the new regional alignment. Islamabad particularly sees some hope of the new regional format being in a better position to persuade the Afghan Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

However, it will certainly not be easy to make a breakthrough given the complexities involving the problem. Most importantly, it requires some serious efforts to remove the reservations of the Kabul government over the new format that involves Pakistan.

Moreover, there is no unanimity within the fractious Afghan administration, even on the issue of negotiations with the Taliban.

There is also a question mark over the Taliban agreeing to formally sit across the table with the Kabul government without any preconditions, particularly at a time when they have achieved significant success in the battlefield.

According to some reports, the Afghan officials have informally met the representatives of the Taliban’s Qatar office. But formal peace talks are a completely different ballgame.

To bring the Afghan peace process out of the deep freeze, it is most important to end the frosty relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

There has been some breaking of the ice with the recent telephonic contact between Afghan leaders and Pakistan’s new army chief. But is this enough to clear the huge wall of distrust between the two countries?

The writer is an author and journalist

zhussain100@yahoo.com

http://www.dawn.com/news/1306197/russia-getting-into-afghan-act

DNA – Our friends the Mongols probably need our hand

Caught between Russia and China, Mongolia needs us

Shastri Ramachandaran

New Delhi, 23 Decembr 2016. In Ulaanbaatar, in July last, the question Mongolian ministers, diplomats and editors kept asking me was: when will India start releasing the promised one billion dollars to Mongolia?

The reference was to the $ 1 billion credit line pledged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Mongolia in May 2015. Announcing this amount, Modi told the country’s leaders that India would extend support in diverse fields and increase exports to Mongolia.

I asked them why Mongolia needed this line of credit promised for exports when Mongolia was pampered by China and Russia; the two powers were competing with each other to woo the country and its people with a variety of carrots.

All that has changed, said a senior official. Sandwiched between Russia and China, until recently, Mongolia could count on one to help if the other was not forthcoming on a particular issue or project. It could always approach Beijing when turned down on anything by Moscow, and vice versa.

“That is no more the case. We are now caught in a pincer,” said a diplomat. Russia and China have joined hands. Ulaanbaatar can no longer expect Moscow to help when Beijing is uncooperative. With a GDP of around $35billion, Mongolia can hardly stand up to the pressures of either.

Modi’s billion-dollar pledge was a boost to Mongolians, who felt that “a new power” would help them stand up to China. During the visit, both sides recalled their civilisational ties rooted in (Tibetan) Buddhism.

Indian support, they felt, could be a critical bargaining chip at a time when the benefits flowing from Russia and China were no longer as generous as in the past. Modi’s visit gave rise to expectations, palpable even in July 2016, of economic as well as geopolitical gains.

For New Delhi, it was a successful sortie into “China’s backyard”. Modi trying his hand at a bow and arrow in Ulaanbaatar was symbolism replete with signals to Beijing. This was also read as a response to Chinese ‘presence’ in Sri Lanka, which is India’s “zone of influence”.

In November, New Delhi made its next move: encouraged the Dalai Lama’s four-day visit to Mongolia, where, as a revered figure, his photo is displayed prominently in many monasteries. He has been there on eight occasions earlier.

However, his ninth visit raised Chinese hackles. To host the Tibetan spiritual leader, accused by China of “splittist” activities for alienating Tibet from the People’s Republic, Ulaanbaatar defied Beijing’s objections.

China struck back swiftly with what amounts to sanctions. It turned off the financial tap for Mongolia’s economy and trade, and moving cargo into China entails a penalty of 10 yuan per truck besides an arbitrary levy on goods.

Mongolians are hit hard by the force of Chinese hostility and its sweeping economic effects. Russia is too engaged with China to be of help. Inevitably, in its hour of crisis, Mongolia looks to India for support.

Mongolian Ambassador Gonchig Ganbold met Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials. Beyond the spokesperson’s assurance to implement the credit line of $1billion, there is no clarity on what kind of support can be extended.

In his plea, the envoy said: “It’s important that India raises its voice against the unilateral measures China is taking against us which is hurting our people, especially when severe winter is upon us.” Silence, he said, could be construed as giving China a “pass” for its behaviour.”

Hence, the billion-dollar question: can India go to the aid of Mongolia?

That calls for a show of the muscle Modi had displayed to much applause in Ulaanbaatar in May 2015. It means wading into the dispute. It also means giving offence to China, which Modi has never hesitated to do when required, as borne out again during the Indonesian president’s visit.

Will he, won’t he? Mongolia is desperate to know. It is an important test.

The author, an independent political and foreign affairs commentator based in New Delhi has worked in China and had travelled to Mongolia for the Asia-Europe Editors Round Table.

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-our-friends-the-mongols-probably-need-our-hand-2285543

The Times of India – India’s envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin warns Pakistan: What you sow will bear fruit, so plant only peace

New Delhi, 20 December 2016. India has renewed its demand for international action against Pakistan-based terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed and “their shadowy supporters,” and Syed Akbaruddin, India’s envoy to the United Nations, today cited a quote from poet Rumi to warn Pakistan.

“Every leaf that grows will tell you: What you sow will bear fruit. So, if you have any sense my friend, don’t plant anything but peace,” Akbaruddin said, quoting the great Persian poet.

The UN envoy’s remark was an apparent reference to terrorist groups operating with support from Pakistan in neighbouring Afghanistan. He said that to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan, groups perpetrating violence must be denied safe havens in the country’s “neighbourhood.”

In an implied criticism of China, he blamed the “split” in the UN bodies that imposed sanctions on terrorist organisations, for the organisation’s inability to deal with terrorism.

China has blocked India’s efforts to have international sanctions imposed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar by a committee that takes action against al-Qaida and its affiliates. Azhar was behind the attack on the Pathankot air force base this year.

As a member of the Security Council, China has also provided cover for Pakistan releasing on bail Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT commander who masterminded the 2008 attack on Mumbai which killed more than 160 people. He was already on the UN list of those facing sanctions as terrorists.

“We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organizations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, aI-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Muhammad, which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law, draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan,” he said.

“While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory,” he said. “Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism.”

The international community has to make “it clear that we will neither roll over in the face of terror, nor will we allow the roll back of the achievements of the resolute people and government of Afghanistan in the last decade and a half,” he said.

Akbaruddin’s comments come just days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, in a message addressed directly to Pakistan foreign affairs chief Sartaj Aziz, that while Pakistan’s pledge to contribute $500 million for the reconstruction of his war-torn country was “generous,” that money could be used to contain extremism.

Ghani went on to say that “without peace, any amount of assistance will not meet the needs of our people.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indias-envoy-to-the-un-syed-akbaruddin-warns-pakistan-what-you-sow-will-bear-fruit-so-plant-only-peace/articleshow/56076613.cms?

The News – Indian extremists call for boycott of all Chinese goods

Web Desk

New Delhi, 20 October 2016. Indian extremists have called for a boycott of all Chinese products, saying that ‘China makes money out of India and helps Pakistan,” Indian media reported.

According to India media, Indian extremist and yoga guru Baba Ramdev has called for boycott of all Chinese goods in the country.

Ramdev said that he wants to put socio-economic pressure on the China because they make money by selling its goods in India to help all-weather friend Pakistan.

“China makes money out of India and helps Pakistan,” he said.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/158629-Indian-extremists-call-for-boycott-of-all-Chinese-goods

The Hindu – China warns India ties may be hit if Dalai Lama visits Arunachal

“The Dalai clique … has very disgraceful behaviour on issues relating to China-India boundary question.”

Beijing, 28 October 2016. China on Friday warned India that bilateral ties may suffer “damage” and affect peace and stability of the border areas if New Delhi allowed Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims is part of southern Tibet.

“We are seriously concerned about the relevant information,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a media briefing here replying to a question about reports that India has granted permission to the religious leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh at the invitation of Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

‘Our line is clear’

“China’s position on the eastern section of China India border is consistent and clear. The Dalai clique is engaged in anti-China separatist activity and has very disgraceful behaviour on issues relating to China-India boundary question,” Mr. Lu said.

The Indian side is well aware of the severity of the Dalai Lama issue as well as the sensitivity of the China-India boundary question, he has said.

“Under such circumstances India’s invitation to the Dalai Lama for activity in the disputed areas between China and India will only damage peace, stability of the border areas as well as the bilateral relationship between China and India,” Mr. Lu said.

Honour your word on Tibet

“We require the Indian side to honour the political commitment to Tibet-related issues and abide by the bilateral consensus on boundary question,” the spokesman said.

India also should “refrain from taking any action that may complicate the issue, do not provide any platform for anti-China separatist activities by the 14th Dalai Lama,” he said. “Only by doing so can we maintain sound and steady growth of the bilateral relations,” he added.

Asked about assertions by External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup that the Dalai Lama has visited the state in the past, Mr. Lu said “making one mistake does not mean that you can make another mistake.”

‘Ties will be at peril’

“As I just said, India’s invitation to the Dalai Lama for activity in the disputed area between China and India is like providing a platform for anti-China separatist activities. It does no good to peace and tranquility in the border areas as well as the development of China-India relations,” he said.

China considers Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet and routinely objects to visits by the Dalai Lama, Indian leaders as well as foreign dignitaries. The border dispute covers the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India asserts that the dispute covered Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.

On October 24, China took exception to the visit by Richard Verma, the United States envoy in India, to Arunachal Pradesh.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dalai-lamas-visit-to-arunachal-may-damage-ties-china/article9281746.ece

Human Rights Without Frontiers International – China: Anyang Nuns and priests demonstrate in Tianjin against government plans to demolish church building

The central government recognizes the Church’s right to the property, but the local government refuses to hand it over and wants to profit from speculation. An appeal to Xi Jinping to enforce the rule of law

AsiaNews.it, 20 October 2016. A group of nuns, priests and lay faithful from Anyang have staged a demonstration in Tianjing to ask for the restitution of a building owned by the diocese, which the local government wants to demolish, selling the land.

The demonstration attempt took place two days ago in front of the seat of government of the Hexi District (Tianjin), which occupies the building. But the protesters were stopped by the security personnel and some nuns were beaten.

The diocese of Anyang has a large number of buildings in Tianjin. Some of them were requisitioned during the rural reform movement of the Cultural Revolution.

Under Deng Xiaoping’s reform, Beijing established that private property was to be restored to the rightful owners, unless they were being used for purely social purposes.

But in this case – as is frequently the case, although the government recognized the diocese of Anyang as the owner of the building, it has failed to hand it over for their use.

In addition, the district government has planned to sell the land and destroy the building which is located in the city center and is very attractive from an economic point of view.

According to some believers, this case is a sign that “the religious policy of the Party’s Central Committee is not followed by local governments”.

The faithful have confidence “in Secretary Xi Jinping, [under whom] religious policies have improved, given that he pays much more attention to religious issues”.

In addition, “the Party’s Central Committee defends the rule of law, safeguarding the legal rights under the law.” This is why they believe that “the property should be returned without undue difficulty”.

According to research of the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, the turnover linked to the confiscated church property that has never been returned is around 130 billion yuan (13 billion euro).- http://bit.ly/2f9SDqt

http://bit.ly/2f9SDqt

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