China’s Xi courts Malaysia in regional charm offensive

Updated 05 October 2013

China’s Xi courts Malaysia in regional charm offensive

KUALA LUMPUR: Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Malaysia’s leader Friday as part of a Southeast Asian charm offensive, with analysts saying he had the floor to himself after Barack Obama scrapped his own Asia tour.
Xi’s visits to Indonesia and Malaysia and his scheduled attendance at a regional summit next week have taken on added significance with the US president’s decision to stay put due to the budget impasse in Washington.
Some Southeast Asian countries have accused Beijing of increasingly aggressive behaviour in asserting its claims to waters and islands in the South China Sea.
But Xi, addressing reporters after meeting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said China was committed to closer cooperation with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“China will continue to provide firm support to the central role of ASEAN in East Asian cooperation and we will be happy to see a greater role played by Malaysia in this region,” Xi said in a joint press appearance with his host.
With Beijing and Washington vying for influence in the strategic region, Obama had planned to get face time with Asian leaders and rub shoulders with Xi at an international summit in Bali next week.
Obama had also planned to visit Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.
Instead, US Secretary of State John Kerry will take his place so that Obama can focus on the budget gridlock that triggered the first government shutdown in 17 years.
Analysts said the developments deal a potential blow to the Obama administration’s “pivot” policy, the refocusing of its economic and strategic attention on Asia.
Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said Obama’s decision “could signal the start of the unravelling of the US pivot to Asia.”
Charles Morrison, president of the Honolulu-based East-West Center, told AFP the episode raised questions over whether the US “can sustain a leadership position.”
“Obama’s trip cancellation reduces the visibility of the American role in Asia,” he said.
A Brunei foreign ministry official said Friday the move was “disappointing.”
“Not just for those in diplomatic circles, but for a small country to host the president of the United States is a source of excitement, particularly someone of Obama’s celebrity,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

Updated 23 February 2020

Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

  • Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it
  • The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India

NEW DELHI: Police used tear gas to disperse large crowds in India’s capital of New Delhi on Sunday in the latest eruption of violence at protests over a new citizenship law, police officials said.
Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the city, according to television footage.
“There must be some miscreants who want to spoil the peace in the area. We will identify them and take action against them,” Alok Kumar, a senior Delhi police official, told reporters about the protest.
“The situation is under control now,” he added.
The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India, where he is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom in the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi’s government.
The Indian law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.
Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party denies any bias against the country’s 180 million Muslims.
On Sunday, a separate protest also erupted in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.
The Internet in the area had been suspended until midnight, he added.