India vows to handle China’s ‘assertiveness’

Indian Army soldiers participate in a war exercise in this file photo. India has stepped up patrols on the disputed India - China border to head off more standoffs. (Reuters)
Updated 12 January 2018
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India vows to handle China’s ‘assertiveness’

NEW DELHI: India will handle China’s growing assertiveness and has stepped up patrols on their disputed border to head off more standoffs, the country’s top army officer declared Friday.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have in the past gone to war over their border and last year were involved in a showdown over a Himalayan plateau claimed by China and Bhutan which is an ally of India.
Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat said a military hotline was being set up between the two sides but insisted his troops are ready for new tensions.
“We understand China is a powerful country but we are not a weak nation,” Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat told a press conference when asked about the border dispute.
“We have increased our troop levels... we have increased our patrolling intensity. We are capable of handling China’s assertiveness.
“We will not allow our territory to be invaded upon. Whenever intrusions take place we will defend because that’s there in our charter.”
Hundreds of Chinese and Indian troops faced off last year on the Doklam plateau, a small strip close to the intersection between China, India and Bhutan.
Rawat said Indian soldiers crossed into foreign territory during the standoff but only because Chinese forces had “big equipment and they meant business.”
“We knew they will try and claim the whole of Doklam. We felt a change in the status quo..(but) all effort was made by us to ensure it does not lead to a conflict.
“Even if it would have escalated we were prepared (as) the terrain usually favors us.”
The border dispute began in mid-June after Chinese troops started building a road on the Himalayan plateau.
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 territory.
The two nations finally pulled back their troops in mid-August, averting a full-blown crisis.
India and China fought a 1962 war over Arunachal Pradesh state and have a history of mistrust as they jostle for regional supremacy.
China has fostered closer ties with India’s arch-rival Pakistan in recent years. It has also invested in other countries in the region in a bid to win friends.
India is revamping its military and bolstering its partnership with the United States and Japan.
Both nations say they are committed to solving their border disagreements through dialogue, but progress has been glacial.
Rawat said a military hotline with China was in the works to help defuse future border tensions.
“We are moving very fast, very soon we will have a hotline with the Chinese.
“As we are seeing increased activity along the LAC (Line of Actual Control), this can be deescalated through one-to-one talk at the highest level at the borders.”


“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 24 September 2018
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“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.