China’s president in India for summit amid Kashmir tensions

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Chinese President Xi Jinping is received upon arrival in Chennai, India. (AP)
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Chinese President Xi Jinping waves to the gathering as he arrives in Chennai, India, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (AP)
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Indians hold a banner welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping outside the airport in Chennai, India, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (AP)
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China's President Xi Jinping looks on upon his arrival at the airport in Chennai, India, October 11, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2019

China’s president in India for summit amid Kashmir tensions

  • Xi was greeted at the Chennai airport by Tamil Nadu state Gov. as a cultural group beat drums and blew horns
  • India’s foreign ministry said Xi and Modi will meet in the seaside temple town of Mamallapuram later Friday and Saturday

MAMALLAPURAM: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in India on Friday for meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a time of tensions over Beijing’s support for Pakistan in opposing India’s downgrading of Kashmir’s semi-autonomy and continuing restrictions on the disputed region.
Xi was greeted at the Chennai airport by Tamil Nadu state Gov. Patwarilal Purohit as a cultural group beat drums and blew horns.
India’s foreign ministry said Xi and Modi will meet in the seaside temple town of Mamallapuram later Friday and Saturday.
Their one-to-one meeting in Wuhan in China in April last year also was preceded by tensions caused by a 10-week standoff between their armed forces on the Bhutan border.
Mamallapuram is decorated with arches studded with fruits and green vegetables. Hundreds of young children in traditional dress carrying posters with photographs of Xi and Modi waited for hours to greet the Chinese leader.
The town was under tight surveillance, with thousands of security personnel. Mamallapuram is 55 kilometers (35 miles) south of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.
China claims some 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas. Officials have met at least 20 times to discuss the competing border claims without making significant progress.
The two countries fought a border war in 1962. 
India also is concerned about China’s moves to build strategic and economic ties with its neighbors, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Maldives.
Tensions in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both, have escalated since August, when India downgraded the semi-autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir and imposed a security and communications lockdown.
China supported Pakistan in raising India’s actions at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. China said India should not act unilaterally in Kashmir, a portion of which China also controls.
Xi arrived two days after hosting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing.
India says Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. “China is well aware of our position. It is not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India,” India’s External Affairs Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, said he expected an overview of relations by the two leaders and “instructions on how the relationship should proceed.”
He said the diplomatic damage the Chinese inflicted over India’s action in Kashmir has been done. “This is not going to be undone. India has stuck to its position and received international support,” he said.
China for its part resents India’s hosting of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 and took refuge in India.
The Tibetan Youth Congress in a statement on Friday urged Prime Minister Modi to take up the Tibetan issue with Xi during the summit. “TYC condemns the Communist government of China and its president as long as the Communist Party continues to suppress the struggle of the Tibetan people,” it said.
China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time. Communist troops took control of the region in 1950 after a brief military struggle.
Referring to India’s support for China’s position on Tibet, Mansingh said that India backs China’s territorial integrity. “China will not keep on challenging our territorial integrity. Otherwise we will have to have to take a different view on the issue,” he said.


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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