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Indian-American groups laud historic selection of Kamala Harris as Biden’s vice presidential candidate

Leading Indian-American groups across the US have lauded the selection of Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris as the Vice Presidential candidate by Democratic party presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying it was a moment of pride and celebration for the entire community in America.

Biden on Tuesday named Harris as his Vice-Presidential running mate, making history by selecting the first black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris, 55, whose father is an African from Jamaica and mother an Indian, is currently the US Senator from California.

“What an electric moment for the Indian-American community! Indian-Americans are now truly a mainstream community in the national fabric,” M R Rangaswami, an eminent Indian-American and the founder of Indiaspora, told PTI.

“On a personal note, it’s great to have a woman on the ticket whose mother hails from my hometown of Chennai in India,” Rangaswami said.

Harris herself was a presidential aspirant until last year before she dropped out of the race because of lack of popular support.

Welcoming the decision, IMPACT, the leading Indian-American advocacy group and PAC, said that it will raise USD 10 million for the campaign.

“Kamala Harris’s story is the story of a changing, inclusive America. At a time of rapid change, she ties all our national threads together. The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Kamala Harris represents the future and promise of this country. Her candidacy is historic and inspiring, not only for Black Americans, but for millions of Asian American voters, the fastest growing voting bloc in the country,” IMPACT’s executive director Neil Makhija said.

“An estimated 1.3 million Indian-Americans are expected to vote in this year’s election, including nearly 200,000 in Pennsylvania and 125,000 in Michigan, both must-win battleground states. IMPACT is gearing up to raise USD 10 million to fight for inclusive democracy and candidates who share our values like Senator Harris,” Makhija said. He said Harris knows both the Black American and South Asian-American experiences.

“Harris knows the Black American experience. She knows the South Asian American experience. She knows the immigrant experience. She knows the aspirational power of the American dream. She is the running mate for this moment,” Makhija had wrirtten in an op-ed titled Harris’ ability to mobilise voters and unite the country In 2016, 77 per cent of Indian Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, according to stats by the same research firm. “But Democrat support in 2020 is not assured,” he wrote. A recent survey carried out by Trump supporter Al Mason claims that 50 per cent of Indian-American voters in key battle ground States are moving away from the opposition Democratic Party towards Trump.

Makhija argued that Harris’ vice-presidential candidacy would be historic and inspiring, not only for Black Americans, but for millions of voters of South Asian descent — like him. Asian Americans, more broadly, are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic voting bloc in the country, he said.

Indian-American entrepreneur from Silicon Valley Ajay Jain Bhutoria said its a great moment of pride and celebration for the Indo-American Community to have Harris as Vice Presidential Candidate with Joe Biden for President 2020. “Joe Biden is running to restore the soul of the nation and unite the country to move us forward. Joe knows more about the importance of the vice presidency than just about anyone and he is confident that Harris will be the best partner for him to finally get the country back on track,” he said.


Government Bans 47 More Chinese Apps in India After TikTok, 58 Others Banned in June: Report

The government has banned 47 Chinese apps in India. Near the end of June, 59 Chinese apps had been banned by the government to “protect national interest and security” — including the hugely popular TikTok app. Now, almost 50 more apps have been banned, for operating as clones of the previously banned apps — the list of particular apps banned in the fresh decision is yet to be announced. However, it has been reported that the announcement would take place officially shortly. The government earlier banned apps including CamScanner, SHAREit, and UC Browser, among others. That ban was announced under the provisions of Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

The 47 apps that have been banned by the latest decision of the government were operating as the clones of the 59 apps that were banned last month, according to a tweet posted by DD News. A report by India Today TV, citing government sources, said that the government had also prepared a list of over 250 apps that would be examined for any user privacy or national security violations.

It is believed that some top gaming Chinese apps including PUBG Mobile would be a part of the new list of banned apps. However, the government is yet to release the details pertaining to the development.


Buddha statue that looks like former dictator to be ‘fixed’ or removed from pagoda in Myanmar

The jade Buddha statue resembling Than Shwe, near the southern entrance of Shwedagon pagoda (Photo- Sai Zaw/ Myanmar Now)
A seated Buddha statue that former dictator Than Shwe had carved in his image will be changed or removed as part of a government crackdown on depictions of the holy figure deemed inappropriate.

The statue, whose wide, stern facial features resemble the retired general’s, was erected in 1999 at Shwedagon pagoda, and is on a list of unorthodox statues drawn up by the religious affairs ministry.

“We will redo Buddha statues that go against the scriptures, and will remove them if they can’t be fixed,” the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, Zarni Win, told Myanmar Now.

Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping are among those who have paid respects at the statue during visits to Yangon.

It is sculpted out of white jade stone mined from Lone Khin township in Hpakant, weighs 324kg and is adorned with 91 rubies, nine diamonds and 2.5kg of gold, according to its descriptive plaque.

Shwedagon pagoda’s board of trustees said they were not aware of the decision about the statue.

“We have not received any letter from the ministry of religious affairs,” board member Aye Tun told Myanmar Now.

Zarni Win said the issue would need to be handled delicately and that he could not disclose all the details. “Since the ministry cannot act in haste, we would like to request the public to be patient and understanding,” he said.

Earlier this week dozens of Buddha statues donated by senior military figures were removed from a monastery in Naypyitaw and their bizarre behind-the-back hand gestures raised eyebrows.

The figures were apparently a superstitious bid to keep the military in power. Than Shwe often performed superstitious rituals to maintain his power and followed the advice of astrologers and shamans, according to the local writer Tin Nyunt.


Base in Gobi Desert shows Chinese Military capabilities like US Army


As China’s military capabilities continue to rapidly expand and mature, so do the bases that support and test them. Case in point, the Dingxin Test and Training Base, a sprawling facility located Gansu Province, in the Gobi Desert, an area that has long been a military and weapons testing stronghold for the People’s Liberation Army. The base is one of the most unique in China as it supports the development of tactics and weaponry and advanced training of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) units in high-end, complex scenarios. Live fire drills are also a big part of what goes on there. The base hosts a fleet of aggressor fighters, as well as full-scale aerial target drones, the latter of which are converted largely from stocks of antique MiG clones. As such, Dingxin is roughly analogous to Nellis Air Force Base in the United States, with a bit of Eglin Air Force Base and Edwards Air Force Base mixed in.

With relative seclusion, wide-open airspace, expansive training range complexes, and good weather for year-round flying operations, Dingxin is home to the country’s highest-profile fighter and attack aircraft exercises, including the annual air-to-air focused Golden Helmet and air-to-ground focused Golden Dart competitions. Large force employment (LFE) exercises like Red Sword, roughly similar to the United States Air Force’s Red Flag, and Red and Golden Shield, which include advanced competitive training for Chinese surface-to-air missile, anti-aircraft artillery, and electronic warfare units, also occur at and near the base

The installation is located next to Jiuquan City on the southern end of the expansive Shuangchengzi missile test range, an area full of unique facilities, some of which are quite intriguing, to say the least. In exclusive Planet Labs imagery from January 6th, 2020, we get a good look at this highly important installation and its many resident and visiting aircraft.

The base’s huge apron can facilitate well over 100 aircraft of all different types and does so regularly. Virtually every aircraft type in the PLA’s inventory has passed through the base and most do so regularly. The pink and beige-painted aggressors, which include Su-30s and J-10s, as well as less capable types, are a staple at Dingxin Test and Training Base and provide ‘red air’ support for the exercises and tests that occur there.

The installation’s training and tactics development activities are run by the Tactical Training Center’s 175th Air Brigade and the resident test unit that supports more cutting-edge flight test programs is the 176th Air Brigade, according to Scramble Magazine.


PLA Deploys Additional Troops Near LAC

China Agree To De-Escalate Border Conflict While PLA Deploys Additional Troops Near LAC
India-China Border Conflict
: During third senior military commander level meeting to discuss issues related to disengagement at the faceoff sites along the LAC and de-escalation from the border areas, India & China have emphasised need for an expeditious, phased & stepwise de-escalation as a priority – ANI

Published 20 hours ago on July 1, 2020 By EurAsian Times Desk
India-China border conflict may come to an end. There are also reports that India and China have agreed to de-escalate border conflict but there is no official confirmation as of now except media reports.

Global Times has learned China-India commander-level meeting has reached an agreement. The two sides will organize frontline troops disengagement in batches. Strong measures will be adopted to deescalate border tensions. I strongly hope the agreement can be implemented.

— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) July 1, 2020

During third senior military commander level meeting to discuss issues related to disengagement at the faceoff sites along the LAC and de-escalation from the border areas, India&China have emphasised need for an expeditious, phased & stepwise de-escalation as a priority: Sources

— ANI (@ANI) July 1, 2020

India and China have stressed the need for “an expeditious, phased and stepwise de-escalation as a priority,” Indian media reports say. “More meetings are expected both at the military and at the diplomatic level, in future, to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution and to ensure peace and tranquillity along the LAC as per bilateral agreements and protocols.”

India Deploys Israeli SPYDER Missiles Along With Akash Air Defence System Near China Border?

India-China Border Conflict
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has deployed more than 20,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The latest development even though India is closely monitoring the activities of another 10,000-12,000 Chinese troops deployed in Xinjiang with high mobility vehicles and weaponry in the rear positions with the capability to reach the Indian front in 2 days.

US-India Military Alliance Would Be A Strategic Nightmare For China – Chinese Experts Admit

Speaking to ANI, top government sources confirmed that the Chinese army had stationed troops in northern Ladakh along the LAC and as well as in the Northern Xinjiang province almost a 1,000 kilometres from the Indian front.

In a report published by Times of India, government sources assured that New Delhi is keeping a close eye on the movement of fresh troops along with the ones which have been deployed close to the Indian territory. The sources also explained that despite diplomatic talks between the countries, there has been no reduction in the number of troops or equipment by Beijing.

China Ready For A Two Front War With US In South China Sea & India-China Border?

The report also states that while China normally stations two units in Tibet, they have brought in close to two divisions extra from locations as far as 2,000 kilometres from mainland China for deployment against the Indians.

In the Pangong Lake and the Finger Area, the Chinese have settled themselves firmly on the Finger 8 area where they have also established an administrative base along with deployment of heavy vehicles and bigger boats.

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Government sources explained that roads constructed by Beijing allow the PLA troops to swiftly move to their positions faster than Indians. The Chinese are also creating proper military infrastructure in the area under them near the lake, the sources said.

India finds itself in a tough position ever since Pakistan got involved in the dispute between India and China. As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, Pakistan has also deployed 20,000 troops at the behest of Beijing in northern Ladakh. The deployment by Islamabad is to match the Chinese presence in the area and to open a two-front attack on New Delhi in the future.

JF-17 vs Rafale: Why Pakistani JF-17 Thunder Poses A Serious Threat To Indian Rafale Fighter Jets?

India Bolsters Defences Again China
To counter Chinese troop build-up in the region, India too has strengthened its defences. The Indian army has beefed up positions and added at least two divisions for the eastern Ladakh sector. This includes a mountain division which conducts annual war-games in the same area.

Additionally, the Indian Air Force has flown in tanks and BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles to join the existing elements of the armoured brigade deployed close to the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector. Keeping in mind Chinese aggression and deployment along with the DBO sector from Galwan Valley onwards to Karakoram Pass, the Indian Army is planning to add another division in the sector.

India-China War: China Has No ‘Military Advantage’ Over ‘Battle-Hardened’ Indian Army – CNN

The Indian government is preparing for the long run as it believes that the current situation would continue till October despite de-escalation talks between government officials and military brass. New Delhi expects the situation to improve after the onset of winter in the Galwan Valley.

The clash with China is one of the biggest challenges PM Narendra Modi has faced since he came to power in 2014. The feud between China and India kicked off in the first week of June and since then has seen military buildup, air patrols and drills and at one point clashes between India and Chinese soldiers which ended with casualties on both sides.


Now China opens new border dispute with Bhutan

China now claims Bhutan’s territory, Bhutan rejects Chinese claims but Bhutan rejected China’s claims and the council adopted the funding for Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary.
In yet another new move to claim land in Bhutan, China at the 58th meeting of the Global Environment Facility Council tried to “oppose” funding to a project for the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Bhutan saying that it was “disputed” territory.

In reality, there has never been any dispute about where the sanctuary lay in the past, although the boundary between Bhutan and China is yet to be demarcated.

Bhutan sent a strong note to the representative handling Bhutan. The note said, “Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan.”

The interesting bit is that this wildlife sanctuary was never a part of any global funding so the first time it has come up as a project at the international platform, China grabbed it as an opportunity to lay claim to the land.

Although objections were raised and China opposed the move, the project has been cleared by majority of the council members and finds space in the final summary.

While China had a representative, Bhutan did not have a direct representative and was represented by an Indian IAS officer Aparna Subramani from the World Bank in-charge of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka.

On June 2, when the project-wise discussion was taking place, Chinese Council member Zhongjing Wang, Deputy Director, International Economic and Financial Cooperation Department, China; raised objection to the project in Bhutan asking it to be formally noted and duly attested in the footnote.

But, the next day when the final summary was to be adopted, the Chinese representative said that it no longer was an objection and that China would abstain from, instead he said that Beijing was “opposed” to the project and that it should be made part of the summary.

This is when the Indian officer speaking on behalf of Bhutan, Aparna Subramani, executive director, Indian Administrative Service, The World Bank, intervened and said that the claim is not “unchallenged” and it would not be fair to go ahead with the Chinese version unless there is clarity on Bhutan’s stand.

When Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson of the 58th meeting of the GEF Council, tried to reach a middle ground by proposing that views of both the countries be added to the highlights rather than the summary as “objection” rather that “opposition”. But, the Chinese representative was adamant since he did not have mandate to clear it and Beijing’s instructions were that it was to be opposed and be part of the summary.

While all other issues were adopted this one issue was discussed a day later and finally the consensus of the council was that Bhutan would get funds for the project and it was cleared under Bhutan’s name.

The objections were added in the highlights as ‘Agenda Item 10 Summary of the Chair’.

“The text of the Summary of the Chair enjoyed consensus. One Council Member proposed an amendment to Footnote 3. This amendment did not receive consensus. An alternative proposal was made that was accepted. The Summary of the Chair was adopted.”

The Council Member for the China constituency requested that its view be reflected as follows: “In light of the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in the project ID 10561 is located in the China-Bhutan disputed areas which is on the agenda of China-Bhutan boundary talk, China opposes and does not join the Council decision on this project.”

The Council Member for the Constituency of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka requested that the views of Bhutan be reflected as follows: “Bhutan totally rejects the claim made by the Council Member of China. Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan and at no point during the boundary discussions between Bhutan and China has it featured as a disputed area.”

Bhutan rejected China’s claims and the council adopted the funding for Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary.


Chinese troops now stepping up activity near Arunachal Pradesh

With Chinese and Indian troops eyeball-to-eyeball at seven places inside India’s claimed territory in Ladakh and Sikkim, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has begun stepping up activity opposite Arunachal Pradesh as well.

Indian government sources say PLA troops here are reinforcing their posts in large numbers, increasing their patrolling, and stepping up violations of the Indian border, which in Arunachal Pradesh runs along the McMahon Line


UN Changes Phrase In 75th Anniversary Draft After India, 5 Others Object

In a strong message for China, the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande changed the language of the resolution to be adopted by UN on the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the global body.

The resolution that will be adopted in September will have a new sentence and not the one that has been a key part of Chinese foreign policy and backed by the Chinese communist party.

This after 6 countries – India, US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand objected to the use of language – “community with a shared future for mankind’, which has been talked about by Chinese Xi Jinping many times as his vision for the world.

Several European countries were not very happy with the use of the phase. UN member state sources told WION, “Its a much broader concern shared by many.”

The concept and the language – community with a shared future for mankind – first talked about by former Communist Party of China (CPC) general secretary Hu Jintao is strongly backed by Chinese president and current general secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping. Xi has raised the concept and the language on many occasions including during his UNGA Speech at the 70th session of the body and his speech at World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2017.

Another UN source explained, “UNGA President proposing an alternate language..its recognition of what we had asked for, vindicates our stance”

Interestingly, China had put the phase under “silence” procedure and not at the negotiation stage which many UN member believe is not by chance. Under the silence procedure, the proposal is deemed to be passed, if no one “breaks the silence” by raising a concern. China had not taken kindly to the “silence” being broken and backed by Pakistan, Syria and Russia had written a letter to UN.

The proposed wording by UNGA President “for the common future of present and coming generations” was given approval for the resolution via silence procedure with China not objecting to it. Any objection by China could have led to a deadlock, and perhaps a controversy even as UN marks 75th year of existence.

The resolution which has been put on UN Website calls for reforms and lists out 12 commitments with COVID-19 pandemic reminding “us in the most powerful way that we are only as strong as our weakest link”.

On COVID, the resolution says, “It is even more important as we build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic….We need a strong UN development system” and “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reverberate around our world. In a matter of weeks, the pandemic manifested itself as the largest global challenge in the history of the UN”

Declaration has strong references to terrorism, peacekeeping operations of U.N. which are of direct interest to India and key priorities for New Delhi.

On UNSC reforms which India has been talking for a long time, the resolution says “we commit to instil new life in the discussions on the reform of the security council…” highlighting how the world of today is very different from what it was when the UN was created 75 years ago.

On terror, the resolution says, “Terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism are serious threats to international peace and security.”

It pays tributes to UN peacekeepers saying, “Over the years, more than one million women and men have served under the UN flag in more than 70 peacekeeping operations”. India is the 4th highest troop-contributing countries with more than 6700 troops from India being deployed on UN peacekeeping missions.

Reinvigorated multilateralism is also a word which appears, which is also a matter which Indian PM Modi himself has articulated as reformed multilateralism.

All of the above which the resolution talks about also forms key focus areas for India as it sits at the United Nations Security Council from 1st January 2021 for a period of 2 years. It was elected earlier this month and got 184 votes and was the sole candidate for the Asia Pacific seat.

India’s priority areas as UNSC elected member are – new opportunities for progress, effective response to international terrorism, reforming the multilateral system, comprehensive approach to international peace and security and promoting technology with a human touch as a driver of solutions.


How China Built, Consolidated Key Galwan Position In 33 Days

New Delhi: A series of satellite images between May 22 and June 26 have enabled NDTV to piece together and visually showcase Chinese construction on the river-bend of the Galwan as it crosses the Line of Actual Control and flows into territory held by India in Ladakh.
It was in the area around this embankment, including at an Indian Army patrolling point called Patrol Point 14 (PP-14), that Chinese and Indian soldiers clashed on June 15. Twenty Indian soldiers and their Commanding Officer, a Colonel, were killed in action here. India believes at least 45 Chinese soldiers, including a Colonel suffered the same fate.

It has been widely reported that the embankment on the Galwan river-bend is in Indian territory, in other words a clear-cut intrusion by the Chinese Army. A line denoting the LAC here on Google Earth Pro appears to indicate that the extent of the intrusion is 137 metres. However, since the LAC has never been officially delineated in Ladakh (the root of the present dispute), the extent of the incursion can be debated.

What is clear, though, is that the Indian Army has patrolled up to the embankment area for decades. This is no longer possible because of Chinese construction activity in the Galwan basin which appears to end at the river-bend, in other words, the location of the embankment.

The embankment is crucial as it enables Chinese forces to look down the Galwan Valley towards Indian positions on the banks of the river a short distance away. A stone wall (sangar) constructed across the river on the bank opposite the embankment appears to be a defensive position of the Indian Army. Parts of this appear to have been submerged by rising waters of the fast-flowing Galwan in the latest images of June 26. No Indian soldiers appear to be present at the site.

A single Igloo-style hut is visible on the Galwan embankment with approximately 20 soldiers visible.
The images acquired by NDTV from Maxar and Planet Labs indicate the presence of a single Igloo-style shelter on the embankment on May 22 and approximately 20 soldiers. It is unclear if these were Indian or Chinese soldiers. There is no construction activity visible around this structure on May 22. The next image, of June 16, comes a day after the fatal clashes between soldiers of both sides. All that is visible here in the image of June 16 is debris with no signs of any construction or of any soldiers.

The subsequent two images of this site are starkly different from what was visible earlier. High resolution satellite images from Maxar of June 22 appear to show the presence of rock fortifications on the embankment with parts of the area covered with what appears to be pink tarpaulin. At least 50 soldiers appear to be visible in the embankment area, including approximately 25 soldiers standing together just 150 metres away from the tip of the embankment (as it juts into the Galwan River). At least four new shelters are visible attached to the rock face near the embankment, none of which were present in the image of June 16 or in any of the previous images described. These shelters, which appear to be tents, are camouflaged in the colour of the rock face that they have been erected against.

The final image shown here is a Planet Labs image from June 25 and seems to show consolidation of the embankment position. Some of the pink tarpaulins have been replaced with black coloured ones. The area itself appears to have been ‘cleaned up,’ with several of the rock fortifications no longer visible. The row of shelters along the rock-face seen in the images of June 22 is visible here as well. Significantly, the Galwan River appears in spate in this image. A part of the stone wall (sangar) erected on the opposite bank of the river (the Indian Army position) appears to have been submerged. The wall itself is not clearly visible.

Chinese construction in Galwan – Satellite images of Galwan embankment on June 22, 2020 and June 25, 2020. Black tarpaulins visible on June 25. Area appears çleaned up.
The images of the embankment on the Galwan river-bend clearly indicate heightened Chinese military activity in a spot of great tactical importance. The embankment is at the end of a nine-kilometre stretch where Chinese forces have broadened the valley on their side of the LAC, black-topped a part of the road, built culverts, deployed hundreds of vehicles and established as many as 16 camps (pre-fabricated huts) within this short stretch. These are all clear indicators that there are no signs of mutual military disengagement in the the Galwan Valley till June 26, the last date on which these satellite images were acquired.