Can BRICS Summit pacify China-India standoff?

Updated 26 August 2017
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Can BRICS Summit pacify China-India standoff?

All eyes are on the three-day BRICS Summit in China, starting Sept. 3, when a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping is expected to take place.
The handshake between the two leaders might ease ongoing tension between the world’s two most populous countries over the Doklam plateau.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs refused to comment on the meeting when contacted by Arab News.
The plateau falls at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. It has long been a point of dispute between New Delhi and Beijing. Recent tensions began on June 18, when India stopped Chinese workers from extending a road on the plateau southward near the Doka La pass on the Sino-Bhutanese territory.
India opposes the extension as it is close to its border. Bhutan says it is also against China building roads in the disputed area.
“Doklam is a disputed territory, and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending a final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquility should be maintained in the area,” said Vetsop Namgyel, the Bhutanese ambassador to India.
New Delhi says the road construction is close to the Siliguri corridor, which connects mainland India with its northeastern side, which shares 90 percent of its borders with neighboring countries.
“Such construction would represent a significant change of the status quo, with serious security implications for India,” said the India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
To counter the Indian move, Beijing sent reinforcements to the area in the third week of June, and described New Delhi’s apprehensions as “ridiculous.”
Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, warned that if the intrusion were not stopped, it would lead to “utter chaos.”
“A prerequisite basis for the settlement of the trespass is the unconditional withdrawal of personnel and equipment from the Indian side,” he said after Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged China to take a “positive step from its side.”
Sudheendra Kulkarni, head of the Mumbai chapter of the Observer Research Foundation, told Arab News: “This problem would’ve been nipped in the bud had there been strategic trust between Modi and Xi.”
Kulkarni said: “It’s because of lack of trust that the issue has erupted in such a serious manner. Even at this stage, the issue should be resolved peacefully.”
Indian Express columnist C. Raja Mohan wrote: “One of the unintended consequences for China from the Doklam crisis would be an India that is forced to think far more strategically about coping with China’s power.”
But Kulkarni thinks “the strategic shift in Indian foreign policy from a non-aligned nation to a strategic ally of the US is also an issue in this conflict.”
He added: “China is our neighbor, and good neighborliness should be at the heart of any foreign policy.”
Mohan warned that after the Doklam issue, “political goodwill in India toward China that was constructed over the last three decades will be increasingly difficult to sustain in the coming years.”


Macron’s security aide charged over assaults caught on video

Updated 22 July 2018
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Macron’s security aide charged over assaults caught on video

  • The incident is the most damaging scandal to hit Macron since he took office last year
  • An aide to Macron and an employee of the ruling party were caught on video assaulting May Day protesters

PARIS: A former top security aide for French President Emmanuel Macron was charged Sunday along with an employee of the ruling party after they were caught on video assaulting May Day protesters, footage that went viral on social media.
In the most damaging scandal to hit Macron since he took office last year, Alexandre Benalla and Vincent Crase were charged with “gang violence,” Paris prosecutors said.
Three high-ranking police officers, already suspended on suspicion they illegally gave Benalla video surveillance footage of the incidents to help him try to clear his name, were charged with misappropriation of the images and violating professional secrecy.
The president has yet to comment on the scandal, but his office said Benalla was punished in May with a two-week suspension from active duty.
Yet Benalla continued to appear in Macron’s security details.
The opposition accuses Macron, who came to power on pledges to restore transparency and integrity to the nation’s highest office in order to ensure a “republic of responsibility,” of covering up for Benalla.
Benalla, 26, was fired Friday after video footage emerged showing him hitting a man at least twice as riot police looked on while breaking up a May Day protest in Paris.
Benalla, who was wearing a police helmet with visor as well as a police armband, was additionally charged with impersonating a police officer, as well as complicity in the unauthorized use of surveillance footage.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb is to appear before parliament on Monday morning, with some MPs warning they will demand his resignation if he knew about the incident but kept quiet.
After publishing the first video of the incident last Wednesday, French daily Le Monde posted a second video showing Benalla violently wrestling a young woman to the ground during the scuffles on a square near the Rue Mouffetard, a picturesque Left Bank street.
Just days after the May 1 demonstrations, which were marred this year by anarchists who clashed with police, Macron had tweeted that “everything will be done so that those responsible will be identified and held accountable for their actions.”
In a third video, published by the Mediapart investigative news site, police officers are seen kicking and punching the young man even after he has been immobilized on the sidewalk.
The man and woman seen in the videos have come forward and plan to testify, a source close to the inquiry said.
The government has been forced to suspend debate on a constitutional reform bill after a revolt by lawmakers, who have announced investigations by both the National Assembly and Senate.
“If Macron doesn’t explain himself the Benalla affair will become the Macron affair,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen posted on Twitter.
“Why the devil did he insist on protecting a second-rank employee who should have been kicked out of the Elysee months ago?” rightwing daily Le Figaro asked in an editorial Sunday.
But ruling Republic on the Move (LREM) party spokesman Gabriel Attal defended the president’s silence.
If Macron speaks now, “we’d have indignant commentators everywhere saying his comments could influence the inquiry,” Attal said.
Adding to the controversy, Le Monde reported Friday that despite his suspension Benalla was allowed this month to move into a palatial mansion along the Seine reserved for Elysee workers.
He was also being provided with a car and chauffeur, the paper said.
Investigators have searched Benalla’s home in the Paris suburb of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, where a city hall official said Benalla was supposed to have married on Saturday.
The scandal could hardly have come at a worse time for Macron, whose approval ratings fell to a record low of 39 percent last week, defying analysts’ expectations of a post-World Cup bump.
“Macron defenseless,” the Journal du Dimanche said in a front-page headline on Sunday over a picture of the president and Benalla.