China says Indian drone ‘invaded’ its airspace and crashed

File: A Chinese soldier (L) next to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in India's northeastern Sikkim state. China said, Indian drone had invaded its airspace before crashing, months after the two sides ended a tense border standoff. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2017
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China says Indian drone ‘invaded’ its airspace and crashed

BEIJING: China lodged an official protest with India on Thursday after charging that an Indian drone had “invaded” its airspace before crashing, months after the two sides ended a tense border standoff.
Beijing said the incident occurred “recently” at the border separating India’s northeastern Sikkim state and China’s Tibet region, but it did not say exactly where and when.
India’s army said the unmanned aerial vehicle was on a “regular training mission” when ground control lost contact with it “due to some technical problem” and it crossed over the demarcation line.
The Chinese foreign ministry urged India to “stop the activities” of drones near the border after the UAV “invaded” its airspace.
“The action of the Indian side violated China’s territory and is not conducive to the peace and tranquility of the border area,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing.
“China is dissatisfied with this and lodged solemn representations with the Indian side,” he said, referring to the official diplomatic protest.
A Chinese army official said earlier that border troops “took a professional and responsible attitude” and carried out identification verification of the device.
“We will earnestly fulfil our mission of duty and firmly defend the sovereignty and security of our country,” the deputy director of the Chinese army’s western theater combat bureau, Zhang Shuili, said in a statement.
The Indian army said the country’s border security personnel “immediately alerted” their Chinese counterparts to locate the UAV.
“The exact cause of the incident is under investigation,” Indian army spokesman Col. Aman Anand said in a statement.
“The matter is being dealt with in accordance with the established protocols through institutional mechanisms to deal with situations along the India-China border areas.”
The drone incident follows a summer standoff in a Himalayan area where Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan meet.
In August, the two nations pulled back their troops to resolve the tense deadlock over the area, which is claimed by both China and Bhutan, an ally of India.
The dispute began in mid-June after Chinese troops started building a road on the Doklam plateau, known as Donglang in Chinese.
India has an army base nearby and moved soldiers into the flashpoint zone to halt the work, prompting Beijing to accuse it of trespassing on Chinese soil.
After both sides withdrew, India’s army chief said in September that his country could not afford to be complacent and must be prepared for war.
“As far as our northern adversary is concerned, flexing of muscles has started,” General Bipin Rawat said at a think tank event in New Delhi, in reference to China.
“The salami slicing, taking over territory in a very gradual manner... testing our limits of threshold is something we have to be wary about and remain prepared for situations which could gradually emerge into conflict,” the army chief said.
Rawat said India also has concerns that its arch rival Pakistan — an ally of China — could take advantage of the tensions.
India and China went to war in 1962 over the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The latest episode has fed into a broader competition for regional influence between the two Asian powers.
The two emerging economies both have large populations and a growing middle class.
China has invited India to join President Xi Jinping’s new “Silk Road” project to revive ancient trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa.
But the proposed economic corridor has alarmed India, partly because one of the links cut through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, disputed territory that New Delhi claims is illegally occupied.


Afghans shut out by polling station chaos return to vote

Updated 40 min 3 sec ago
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Afghans shut out by polling station chaos return to vote

  • Almost 9 million voters were registered but many of these may have been fraudulently recorded
  • More than a million people voted in the capital Kabul but turnout was very low in the provinces

KABUL: Afghans unable to vote in Saturday’s parliamentary election after hundreds of polling stations failed to open were given another chance to cast their ballot on Sunday after voting times were extended despite security threats and warnings of fraud.
Around three million Afghans voted on Saturday, election officials said but across the country there were complaints that polling stations remained closed, often because staff failed to turn up.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan issued a statement saying it was encouraged by the high numbers who voted on Saturday, many of whom endured long delays due to technical and organizational problems.
“Those eligible voters who were not able to cast their vote, due to technical issues, deserve the right to vote,” it said.
The Sunday extension was made for 401 polling stations, and 500 extra officials were deployed.
Many independent election observers, seen as an important check on efforts to manipulate the result, have been reluctant to work, fearing militant attacks.
“It is not an ideal scenario,” one foreign security official said, noting the extra pressure placed on already stretched security forces which have been on high alert following Taliban warnings that they would target the election.
Over 120 incidents involving hand grenades or improvised explosive devices were reported on Saturday and scores of people were killed or wounded across the country. In one incident, 15 people were killed by a suicide bomber who tried to enter a polling station in Kabul, but overall the violence was not as bad as some officials had feared.
The vote for the lower house of parliament is seen as a test ahead of next year’s more important presidential election but the run-up was marred by chaotic preparations, accusations of cheating and threats of militant violence.
Almost 9 million voters were registered but many of these, as much as 50 percent or more according to some estimates, may have been fraudulently recorded.
More than a million people voted in the capital Kabul but turnout was very low in the provinces, said Naeem Ayubzada, director of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan, a civic action body that has been monitoring the ballot.
He said the decision to extend the vote, which was taken unexpectedly as complaints mounted on Saturday, opened the way for abuse, with half-filled ballot boxes left open all night in some polling centers.
“From a planning point of view, it’s very difficult,” he said. “It provides an opportunity for fraud.”
The result of the election is not expected to be known for at least two weeks due to the difficulty in counting and collating the results.
In addition, voting in the province of Kandahar was delayed by a week following the assassination of the powerful local police commander Gen. Abdul Razeq. The election in the central province of Ghazni was also postponed due to disagreements over the representation of different ethnic groups.