China holds live-fire drills in disputed Himalayan territory, tells India to withdraw

A Chinese soldier, left, talks to an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing between India and China in India's northeastern Sikkim state. (AFP file photo)
Updated 19 July 2017

China holds live-fire drills in disputed Himalayan territory, tells India to withdraw

BEIJING: China renewed a call for India to immediately withdraw its troops from disputed territory high in the Himalayan mountains, following a report that Chinese forces recently held live firing drills in the region.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that Indian forces had to leave the area to avoid an “escalation of the situation.”
“We have stated many times that we hope the Indian side will get a clear understanding of the situation (and) immediately take measures to withdraw the troops that illegally crossed the border back to the Indian side of the border,” Lu said at a regular news briefing Tuesday.
Beijing and New Delhi have engaged in more than a month of saber-rattling as officials from both sides talk of a potential clash even bloodier than their 1962 war that left thousands dead.
Lu’s comments came after Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported late last week that an army brigade equipped with rocket launchers, heavy machine guns and mortars recently practiced a simulated live-firing assault on an enemy position in Tibet. The drills also involved tracking and targeting enemy aircraft, the report said.
The current standoff is in the southernmost part of Tibet in an area also claimed by Indian ally Bhutan, although the report did not say exactly when or where the drills took place.
The slow-motion crisis is expected to be discussed when Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visits Beijing on July 27-28 to take part in a security forum under the BRICS group of large developing nations that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
However, with nationalist sentiments among the public running high in both nations, neither side is expected to back down before the bitter Himalayan winter arrives in a few months, according to experts.
China insists Indian troops withdraw before talks can take place to settle what has become the longest protracted standoff in recent years between nuclear-armed neighbors who share a 3,500-kilometer (2,174-mile) border, much of it contested.
The most recent dispute flared in June after Chinese teams began building a road onto the Doklam, or Donglang in Chinese, Plateau that is claimed by both China and Bhutan, which cooperates closely with India on security matters.
Although China and Bhutan have been negotiating the precise border for decades without serious incident, the tiny Himalayan kingdom turned this time to help from New Delhi, which sent troops across the border from the northeastern state of Sikkim.
China retaliated by closing a nearby mountain pass that Indian pilgrims use to reach Mount Kailash, a sacred Hindu and Buddhist site in Tibet. China’s foreign ministry has also presented to reporters historical documents that it says prove China’s claims to the plateau.
Although the Doklam Plateau is not part of Indian territory, New Delhi has been particularly sensitive to Chinese building activity in a region with strategic significance.


Trump to host next year's G7 summit at his Florida golf resort, White House says

Updated 14 min 28 sec ago

Trump to host next year's G7 summit at his Florida golf resort, White House says

  • Mulvaney told reporters the summit would take place at Doral on 2020, and that the administration selected Trump's resort
  • "Doral was by far and away the best physical facility for this meeting," he said at a news briefing

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump will host next year's Group of Seven economic summit of developed world leaders at one of his own properties, the Trump National Doral golf resort near Miami, a White House official said on Thursday.
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump would not profit from use of the property and defended the decision, which comes as the president faces ongoing criticism and congressional investigations over his finances and potential conflicts-of-interest.
Mulvaney told reporters the summit would take place at Doral on June 10-12, 2020, and that the administration selected Trump's resort after initially looking at about 12 potential locations in various other U.S. states.
"Doral was by far and away the best physical facility for this meeting," he said at a news briefing. "It's almost like they built this facility to host this event."
Mulvaney said the event would be "at cost" and that using the Trump site would save millions of dollars and was cheaper than the other potential sites.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president, over his son's business ties in Ukraine and China, which Trump has repeatedly called corrupt, without evidence.
Asked how the president's use of his private business properties to host official government events differed from Trump's allegations against the Bidens, Mulvaney told reporters there would be no profit and said the family had made their money before Trump became president in January 2017.
Trump has said he is not involved with the day-to-day operations of his private company and that his sons run the business.