Poster child of defiance: India’s BJP ignores China’s warning on Taiwan

Poster child of defiance: India’s BJP ignores China’s warning on Taiwan
BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga posted the photo on social media. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 October 2020

Poster child of defiance: India’s BJP ignores China’s warning on Taiwan

Poster child of defiance: India’s BJP ignores China’s warning on Taiwan
  • Goes against Beijing’s directive not to cover or commemorate Taiwan National Day

NEW DELHI: Days after China issued an “unprecedented” advisory asking Indian media not to cover Taiwan’s National Day on Saturday, an official from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pasted posters in front of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi congratulating Taipei on the occasion.

“The poster was in reaction to the Chinese guidelines issued to the media. Who is China to dictate to the Indian media?” Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, a BJP spokesperson, told Arab News.

“If China thinks it can dictate terms to India, then such a befitting reply was needed. India is a democracy and not a dictatorial communist nation like China, and here people have a voice, and they do what they want to do,” he said.

Delhi police removed Bagga’s posters soon after they went viral on social media.

However, the police's spokesperson refused to comment on the “routine” move when contacted by Arab News on Saturday.

It follows a strongly worded letter by China on Wednesday after several media houses published advertisements to mark Taiwan’s National Day on Oct. 10.

“All countries that have diplomatic relations with China should firmly honor their commitment to the One China policy, which is also the long-standing official position of the Indian government,” excerpts from the Chinese Embassy’s letter said.

The letter urged Taiwan that not be referred to as a “country” or as the “Republic of China,” or its leader as “president,” and added: “We hope Indian media can stick to the Indian government’s position on the Taiwan question and not violate the One China principle.”

Bagga, however, said that China’s warning was not directed at the media but India itself.

“The letter to the media does not mean media; it means India. The poster was a kind of protest, not as a member of a party but as an individual who loves India.”

Experts see Indian media’s coverage and the posters outside the embassy as a reflection of “the current Indian sentiment.”

“The official Indian position on Taiwan is not changing, but there is certainly debate in India about whether it should change,” Harsh V. Pant, a foreign policy expert at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation (ORF), told Arab News.

“It also shows China needs to be aware of this kind of sentiment in India, that there are people now who are willing to take this kind of risk. There is a larger negative backlash against the communist regime. These kinds of episodes are symptomatic of underlying churn in India,” Pant said.

As far as the BJP is concerned, he said that the party’s parliamentarians and leaders have been “reaching out to Taiwan in its individual capacity,” with some attending the virtual swearing-in ceremony for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

On Thursday, the central government told China that the Indian media was able to cover issues in its own way.

“There is a free media in India that reports on issues as it sees fit,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a press conference.

Some journalists, however, called out the Chinese embassy letter.

“It is unprecedented and aimed at restraining Indian media . . . and reasserting aggressive China against India’s outreach to the western alliance against the communist regime,” Manish Kumar Jha, a Delhi-based journalist covering defense and foreign affairs told Arab News.

“I strongly believe that the Indian media must continue expressing freely on any matter in our dynamic democratic setup.”

New Delhi and Taipei do not have fully fledged and formal diplomatic relationships, but both share close business and cultural ties.

Both opened their first representative offices in each other’s countries in 1995.

The relationship between India and China has been tense since May this year when both countries clashed along the disputed Himalayan border region in Ladakh.

Matters took a turn for the worse after the killing of 20 Indian soldiers on June 15 when both countries exchanged blows for the first time in 45 years.

And while talks are continuing to de-escalate tensions between the two neighbors, there seems to be no end in sight to the conflict.

“The border issue, of course, has created more anger in Indian civil society. But I don’t see the statement by the Chinese embassy on Indian media being linked to the border issue. This is a part of a broader approach to diplomacy wherein Chinese diplomats and media seek to shape narratives in other countries actively,” Manoj Kewalramani of the Bangalore-based think-tank, the Takshashila Institution, told Arab News.

“I don’t think Beijing believes that Delhi is anywhere close to abandoning the one-China policy. And I don’t think the Indian government is seriously considering such a possibility,” he said.

Pant disagrees and says that China should instead focus on the negative perception of the communist regime within India, which is on the rise, with people feeling “pretty angry.”

“If China continues on its disruptive path where it does not recognize India’s interests at all, then most Indians today are pretty angry. There is a shift in Indian people’s perception of China, which is extremely negative. By focussing on official Indian government’s stand, China must be missing something substantial which is happening in India where public opinion is as negative as it can be.”

Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine

Updated 04 December 2020

Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine

Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine
  • US registers record of more than 210,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours
  • UN chief warns that even if vaccines are quickly approved, the world would still be fighting the pandemic’s aftershocks

WASHINGTON: The world passed the grim milestone of 1.5 million coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as several nations planned to deliver much hoped-for vaccines early next year to break the cycle of lockdowns and restrictions.

The total number of cases worldwide jumped to 65,127,355, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine's coronavirus monitoring center.

US President-elect Joe Biden said that on his first day in office he would ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days to help reduce transmission of the virus that is again surging in the country with the world’s highest number of deaths and infections.
“I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever,” Biden said in excerpts of an interview to be broadcast on CNN later Thursday.
But even as the latest positive news about a vaccine was announced, with the Moderna candidate showing it confers immunity for at least three months, several countries marked new Covid-19 records.
The US, for instance, posted an all-time high of more than 210,000 new cases in a 24-hour stretch to Thursday evening, meanwhile notching more than 2,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
And Italy registered 993 deaths, topping its previous record of 969 earlier in the year when it was the first European country to be affected by the pandemic.

To build trust in vaccines after they are approved, the 78-year-old Biden said he was willing to be vaccinated in public — following up on similar commitments from former US presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Biden also used the interview to say he had asked the government’s top infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci to join his Covid team and serve as a chief medical adviser.
But in a sign of the difficult work ahead, California announced new statewide bans on gatherings and non-essential activities, as hospitals in the nation’s most populous state face being overwhelmed.

The pandemic is showing little sign of slowing, with more than 10,000 new deaths recorded worldwide every day since November 24 — a rate never reached before, according to an AFP tally.
As the world tires of economically crippling restrictions, attention has turned to the race for a vaccine.
Britain on Wednesday became the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use, piling pressure on other countries to swiftly follow suit.
But Fauci said Britain “rushed” its approval process.
“In all fairness to so many of my UK friends, you know, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,” he told CBS news.
He later walked back his comments, saying he had “a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint.”
Also on Thursday, a study showed that the Moderna vaccine, which was recently demonstrated to have 94 percent efficacy, causes the immune system to produce potent antibodies that endure for at least three months.
In anticipation of such vaccines being approved, France announced that its vaccinations will be free and begin in January for one million elderly in retirement homes, February for 14 million at-risk people and spring for the rest of the population.
France was also mourning the latest high-profile figure to succumb to Covid-19, former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who died at the age of 94.
Belgium’s government also said it intends to start vaccinating its most vulnerable in January.
But the raised hopes didn’t only garner the attention of governments — IBM said Thursday that hackers are targeting the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain.
The tech giant said it was “unclear” if a series of cyberattacks it uncovered against companies involved in the effort to distribute doses around the world had been successful.
IBM could not identify who was behind the attacks, but said that the precision of the operation signals “the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that even if vaccines are quickly approved, the world would still be fighting the pandemic’s aftershocks.
“Let’s not fool ourselves. A vaccine cannot undo damage that will stretch across years, even decades to come,” Guterres said while opening a special UN summit on the virus.
Guterres reiterated his call that vaccines be considered a “global public good” that are shared around the world.
More than 180 countries have joined Covax, a global collaboration initiative by the World Health Organization to work with manufacturers to distribute vaccines equitably.
A reminder of the pandemic’s society-altering effects came again Thursday with a landmark announcement from Warner Bros. studio, which said it will release its entire 2021 slate of movies on HBO Max streaming and in theaters simultaneously.
But some British football supporters were given a reminder of pre-pandemic days as Arsenal welcomed a crowd of 2,000 for Thursday’s Europa League win over Rapid Vienna.
It was the first time in 270 days that fans were back inside a Premier League ground.