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China blames India for tension on the border

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, December 11: China on Thursday said “the responsibility totally lies with the Indian side” for the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This was in response to Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s statement that China had violated border agreements by deploying a large number of soldiers along the border.

Speaking at a virtual session with the Sydney-based Lowy Institute on Wednesday,

Jaishankar had said that China had given India “five differing explanations” for its unprecedented deployment of forces on the LAC this summer,

“We are today probably at the most difficult phase of our relationship with China, certainly in the last 30 to 40 years or you could argue even more,” he had said. He added that “the relationship this year has been very significantly damaged” by China violating border agreements under which both sides would not deploy large number of forces along the LAC.

“Now for some reason, for which the Chinese have to date have given us five differing explanations, the Chinese have violated it,” he said. “The Chinese have literally brought tens of thousands of soldiers in full military preparation mode right to the LAC in Ladakh. Naturally the relationship would be profoundly disturbed by this.”

China has stationed 50,000 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops along the Sino-Indian border in Ladakh, forcing India to do the same on its side of the border.

Responding to a question about Jaishankar’s statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing: “The merits of the situation are very clear”.

“China and India are neighbours and the world’s two biggest emerging markets and keeping good relations serves the fundamental interests of both countries and its people but it requires common efforts from both sides,” Ms Hua said.

“The merits of the situation at the border area are very clear and the responsibility totally lies with the Indian side. China has been strictly observing the agreements signed between the two sides and committed to resolving the border issue through dialogue and we are committed to safeguarding regional peace and tranquillity at border areas…

“But like all sovereign states, we are determined in safeguarding our territorial integrity. So on the Indian side, I think this is a serious question on what it should reflect upon.”

Jaishankar had also made clear that it was impossible for the relationship to continue as normal given the situation on the LAC.

“We are very clear that maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC is the basis for the rest of the relationship to progress,” he said. “You can’t have the kind of situation you have on the border and say let’s carry on with life in all other sectors of activity. It’s just unrealistic.”

The Chinese side, however, has in recent statements sought to de-link the border situation from other aspects of the relationship such as economic ties, and called for India to put the boundary dispute in a “proper” position. India has said this is untenable as peace on the border is a prerequisite for the relationship.

China also so far has not signalled any willingness to return to the status quo prior to May’s multiple transgressions by the PLA. Both sides have held eight rounds of talks at the Corps Commander level, the last of which was held on November 6, but are yet to agree on a plan to disengage.

Ms Hua repeated that view on putting the border tensions in a “proper” position on Thursday. She said: “We hope India can work with us and contribute to solidarity, cooperation and common development.”

“There are challenges in bilateral relations but China’s position and policy on India hasn’t changed,” she said. “As two major countries and emerging markets, keeping good relations serves the fundamental interests of both and we will stay committed to safeguarding the peace and tranquillity in the border area.

“On the historical issues, China believes that we should find fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solutions based on equal-footed consultation and put it on the proper position in our bilateral relations. We hope we can reach a consensus, properly manage differences, enhance practical cooperation and bring our bilateral relations back on the right track.”

 



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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