Asia Pacific Focus

China switches to unmanned Equipment for LAC Readiness
Asia Pacific Focus

China switches to unmanned Equipment for LAC Readiness

China is growing its military power and it is making the news big as it releases news of its first homemade unmanned helicopter. The equipment would be focusing on high-altitude areas and has already successfully completed its maiden flight in a plateau region.

China has been developing its prowess to ready itself to claim control over the pieces of land around the South China Sea.  The US has been fatting up its naval power to outmatch Beijing for the same reason.

The unmanned helicopter will be also aiding Beijing against India. Equipped with the ability to carry a payload of 80 kilograms, the helicopter is supposed to help PLA in ‘logistics missions and armed reconnaissance’.  Developed by Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), the helicopter finished its first maiden flight in a 15 minute run, during which the drone completed a series of tests.

This included climbing, hovering, rotating and other operations manoeuvres, before steadily landing,  as confirmed by an official statement by AVIC. This demonstrated the AR-500C’s general ability to fly in all types of terrain.

The toughest part for China is withstanding the harsh winter conditions at the Line of Actual Control between China and India. The latter has an army which is far more climatically adapted to the winter conditions.  However, sources have confirmed that the Indian Army has already rushed weapons, fuel, food and winter supplies to the border region. It intends to maintain combat readiness through the treacherous winter that lasts about four months.

Further, to maintain logistics support in the difficult plateau terrain, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is making use of drones, including using them to deliver food, water and medicine. Their own personnel tend to remain less prepared to handle combat in the winter conditions that goes below freezing points. The AR-500C prototype completed its first plateau flight at the Daocheng Yading Airport, which is the world’s highest civilian airport with an elevation of 4,411m.

Tensions rise between China and its Asian neighbours for Beijing’s new drills in South China sea
Asia Pacific Focus

Tensions rise between China and its Asian neighbours for Beijing’s new drills in South China sea

China has been holding regular drills in the South China Sea, which has sent a threatening message to its Asian neighbours. Though the country has not prompted any immediate indication of war but the signal it has been sending is not very far from the situation as well. Beijing through these drill has been trying to indirectly claim over its neighbouring islands, coral reefs and lagoons and is gradually expanding its reach. The contested waters of South China Sea are believed to be rich source of fish, oil and gas.

China has been holding these exercises regularly now despite objections being raised by its smaller neighbours including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan due to Chinese military’s stubble invasive practices, including overlapping claims in the seas. The Associated Press reported that, the Maritime Safety Administration issued a pair of announcements blocking off seas around the area of the exercises running Sunday through Monday but gave no additional details.

Two weeks ago Taiwan raised call for building a global coalition against China and its military threats. Fearing the increasing use of military force by China and facing “a real possibility” of war, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu urged all the countries to join in forming a global coalition move. Joseph Wu said that his country was “on the front-line defending democracies from being taken over by the communist China” and was in need of support from other countries. He added China “has been intensifying its military threat against Taiwan” in recent years and had increased military exercises intruding its air and naval space.

Wu said, “We have been trying very hard in the last few years to beef up our own defence capabilities and at the same time we also want to let the international community understand that Taiwan as a democracy has been threatened by China, which is an authoritarian country which is trying to expand its influence.”

Much to China’s annoyance, US assured Taiwan of its support and suggested the latter to invest in more mobile and less expensive weapons to lead a guerrilla-like war against China, if it tries to invade its territory or destroyits electronic command and control systems, protecting its sea.

Besides Taiwan, Indonesian also faced similar situation earlier this month, as its patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel which spent almost three days in waters, which Indonesia claims to hold rights on. Chinas has been trying to make claim contested waters of South China Sea.The Philippines and Malaysia also became victim to Chinese expansive claims, while there appears to be no progress between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China over the South China Sea.

It is not the first time, China flexed its muscle at its not-so-mighty neighbours. But in a most commendable move, the Philippine president invoked before the United Nations a 2016 arbitration ruling against China that invalidated its wrongful territorial claims in the South China Sea. It was found that China considered virtually the entire South China Sea as part of its territory on historical grounds, which was contradictory to international maritime law.

Can cold Storage Food carry Covid-19 virus?
Asia Pacific Focus

Can cold Storage Food carry Covid-19 virus?

China has reported the first symptom free cases of infection from Covid-19. This is being attributed to the fact that the patients were working as cold storage workers which could have arrested the infection within their bodies and not showed any symptoms.

There is now an evident scare that possibly, there is contamination in meat, seafood and other cold storage exports. Two cases were found in Shandong province’s Qingdao city during routine testing of port workers. These have been declared as first symptom-free infections that China has reported since August 20. China had not reported any local symptomatic infections since August 15 either.

As a practice, China has been sifting its asymptomatic cases from the symptomatic ones and has been maintaining a daily tally. It then shifts the former into the latter, only when they start to show signs of the infection. There is now a growing concern over infections being carried through frozen food items and in their storage facilities as well. There is a possibility the virus is thriving and surviving in extreme temperatures.

The general unrest would also mean there is a scare over consumption of imported frozen food items. Currently, China has banned imports from plants in Ecuador, Brazil and Indonesia after it was confirmed that there was virus found on products coming from these countries. This has evidently disrupted the trade channels.

According to Chinese researchers, infection has been found on salmon to survive more than a week.  The US Food and Drug Administration has denied any evidence of the fact that Covid-19 is transmitted on food or food packaging. The mystery remains as to whether cold storage food and storage facilities could be harbinger of the virus. In New Zealand for example a worker was found to have contracted the virus. He worked in a cold storage plant in Auckland. This was after a run of 102 days. But officials said that preliminary findings from environmental testing at the plant debunked the theory that the route of transmission was through chilled surfaces on materials arriving from overseas.

China uses Simulation Video Attack to wade off American Interference in Taiwan
Asia Pacific Focus

China uses Simulation Video Attack to wade off American Interference in Taiwan

In a shocking video that was released by Chinese authorities recently, it seems the Chinese military are using it as a bullying tactic to get back the US. The video shows a simulated attack on the US Anderson Air Base in Guam and was released by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force from their Weibo account.  This marked the second day of drills near Taiwan, Chinese claimed territory.

This action is being seen as Beijing’s anger against the US decision to send the undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment Keith Krach to show American solidarity towards Taiwan.  China has been systematically moving into territories around South China Sea, claiming its control over them. Most of these territories are claimed but unoccupied.

The video was titled ‘God of War H-6K goes on the attack!’ makes use of some dramatic music to show a 2 minute simulation.  China has been sending war planes into Taiwanese airspace since last week.  In response, Taiwan has also deployed an air defense missile system to monitor China’s activities.

According to political analysts, China is sending off a message to the US to back off and not interfere in the power game that Beijing is playing. It means to tell the Americans that “any kind of conflict over regional flashpoints can lead to unpleasantness, bring into focus safe rearward positions like Guam.”

Using the US visit as an excuse, China’s defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang has already accused the US and Taiwan of ‘stepping up collusion, frequently causing disturbances,’ although he did not make any reference to the visit.

Guoqiang, last week, has ‘literally’ mocked the American attempt to be using smaller nations to romp up its fight against China. The minister has called the military exercise as ‘legitimate and necessary to protect its sovereignty’ but has not divulged the details of the military exercise. The US has been ramping up its naval fleet in order to respond back to the Chinese interest in doing the same. Two rigorous days of large scale Chinese drill was reported off Taiwan’s Southwest coast. China is known to using ‘bullying’ and needling tactics to get the other party to make a move in irritation. In the past, it is known to have derogatory statements over LAC in India, testing the patience of army personnel.

Japan decides to investigate Wakashio Oil Spill
Asia Pacific Focus

Japan decides to investigate Wakashio Oil Spill

Japan is trying to take responsibility of the environmental disaster that has endangered marine life in Mauritius. A Japanese bulk carrier spilled oil into the Indian Ocean in July, harming marine life near Mauritius. The Japanese authorities are now sending an accident investigation team to Mauritius to look into the cause of an oil leak, confirms the country’s transport minister Kazuyoshi Akaba.

A minimum five-member team will carry out a two-week investigation into the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio. The probe will begin after a two-week quarantine to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism ministry.

Strangely the vehicle is a Panamanian vessel that was owned and operated by Japanese companies. This is the reason that the Japanese government has already set up a task force for the probe at the ministry’s Japan Transport Safety Board in charge of investigating transport accidents. Japan is known for its impeccable standards of integrity in doing business and trade.

The team will be led by Yuji Sato, who formerly headed the Japan Coast Guard, according to the board. The area affected by the oil spill is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The vessel was en route to Brazil from China via Singapore and is known to be transporting around 3,800 tons of fuel oil and 200 tons of diesel. More than 1,000 tons of fuel oil has spilled from the ship since August 6, prompting the Mauritian government to declare an environmental emergency. In the strangest manner, the vessel is said to have split into two. The front section of the ship was towed to open water and sunk as instructed by local authorities. Additionally, large cracks were reported in the hull of the vessel. Bad maintenance or negligent maneuvering are both being seen as reasons for the environmental disaster.

Taiwan raises call for global collation against China’s rising military aggression
Asia Pacific Focus

Taiwan raises call for global collation against China’s rising military aggression

Fearing the increasing use of military force by China and facing “a real possibility” of war, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu urged all the countries to join in forming a global coalition against China.

Joseph Wu said that his country was “on the front-line defending democracies from being taken over by the communist China” and was in need of support from other countries. He added China “has been intensifying its military threat against Taiwan” in recent years and had increased military exercises intruding its air and naval space.

Referring to the recent incident of over 30 Chinese military planes entering into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, he called the incident”very threatening”.

On the front-line defending democracies from being taken over by the communist China

Joseph Wu

Wu said, “We have been trying very hard in the last few years to beef up our own defence capabilities and at the same time we also want to let the international community understand that Taiwan as a democracy has been threatened by China, which is an authoritarian country which is trying to expand its influence.”

Thursday visit of US undersecretary for economic affairs, Keith Krach, was seen as an assurance from Trump administration to help Taiwan. US envoy reached Taiwan with a team of delegates to attend a memorial service for Lee Teng-hui, the former Taiwan president, but would also be meeting Taiwanese President, probably to discuss border tensions with China. Trump had been very vocal about his stand against China, criticising the communist regime for its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, a crack down on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and military muscle flexing in the South China Sea.

Besides, earlier this week many reports surfaced stating a tentative US-Taiwan arms deal worth $7 billion. Reuters was the first reported the details of the arms package.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think-tank, said the arms deal between the two might include sea mines, coastal defence cruise missiles and drones which would help Taiwan in attacking the Chinese military.“These capabilities will support Taiwan’s ‘overall defence concept’ which focuses on using asymmetric conventional capabilities optimised to resist a People’s Liberation Army invasion,” Ms Glaser added.

US has been suggesting Taiwan to invest in more mobile and less expensive weapons to lead a guerrilla-like war against China, if latter tries to invade its territory or destroyits electronic command and control systems. The deal, which has been under discussion for months, is expected to come to fruition soon with increasing threat from China. Taiwan’s defence ministry stated that on Wednesday, two Chinese anti-submarine warfare aircraft flew loops in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in an area between Taiwan’s south-western coast and Pratas, an island in the South China Sea, which is part of  Taipei.

In an editorial late on Wednesday, China-backed tabloid Global Times said Taiwan was “destroying their strategic manoeuvring ability by completely siding with the US”, and adding to the risk of a military conflict. It said country-level engagement with Taiwan was “the biggest change to the status quo” in cross-strait relations and a continuing source of tension.

China, much irked by Krach’s visit, logged “stern representations” with Washington and asked its arch rival to refrain from engaging in any official exchanges with Taiwan, which it claims to be an extended part of its territory. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “We urge the U.S. side to fully recognise the extreme sensitivity of the Taiwan issue. China will make a necessary response depending on how the situation develops.”

Malaysia positive about growth in the coming months
Asia Pacific Focus

Malaysia positive about growth in the coming months

Despite Malaysia struggling to keep its Covid-19 cases in check and failing at it, the PM’s office is confident it will be able to create a healthy investment environment in the country. Tourism is again off limits as of now.

There are intentions of encouraging existing investors to re-invest again in the country.  The Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was speaking over Malaysia’s growing business between them and Germany vis-a-vie investment in semi conductors.  Within the manufacturing sector, the electronics industry tops the chart as the main contributor, as partially reflected in investments from international companies in Germany into Malaysia.

It is going to be a rough ride for Malaysia that is being desperately trying to get its feet back on the ground post the pandemic led lockdown.  It has recently closed entry of foreign nations and its tourism industry has taken a major hit. But it is looking hopeful to reopening its borders to Singapore soon.  It would all be possible as the Malaysian health ministry looks at doubling the capacity for Covid-19 swab tests for travelers under the reciprocal green lane and periodic commuting arrangement schemes.

According to July indicators, the economy is showing signs of recovery. Exports increased by 3.1 percent year-on-year, while sales of passenger cars and commercial vehicles also rose by 27.3 percent and 44.8 percent respectively during the month compared to June 2020.  With the contraction of the GDP having gradually reduced 28.6 to 19.5 percent in May, signs of recovery are evident.

Anger grows against churches as second wave hits South Korea
Asia Pacific Focus

Anger grows against churches as second wave hits South Korea

A new outbreak traced back to small church groups in the country has led to backlash against them and arrest of a prominent sect leader.

Over the past three weeks, 4500 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the greater Seoul area and almost a third of them have been traced back to church members and protestors who attended an anti-government rally mid-august. More than 300 congregations defied a ban on in-person meetings while 650 churchgoers and 7,700 protestors refused to get tested post the event.

There has been a severe backlash against these groups by mainstream church leaders and politicians from across the spectrum who accuse them of undermining the COVID-19 prevention work being done by the government, spreading fake news and wasting government resources at this time of crisis. Conservative opposition leaders especially are condemning these groups and distancing themselves from them in fear of losing the support of centre-right and independent voters ahead of the presidential elections in 2022.

 Joo Ho-young, the leader of the main opposition People Power Party, has called these church groups radicals and said their arguments make it seems like they are on the same page which makes it difficult of politically neutral people to support them. The party’s approval ratings which had surpassed that of liberal President Moon Jae-in fell after the August 15 rally.

Christian groups in the country have a long history of political activism and many of the megachurches have been instituted by those fled North Korean before and during the Korean War. There is now a grassroots radical conservative faction who are leading a movement against the president who they say is acting in a pro-North Korean manner while taking an anti-US line. This group is being led by Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, the founder of the Sarang Jeil church.

He was arrested soon after the August rally as he had violated the bail conditions of an earlier indictment for breaking elections laws. He is seen as an important influence among other churchgoers from beyond his sect who are politicized and swayed by his anti-socialist rhetoric. But he has more detractors than supporters with mainstream church goers and liberals calling for his arrest, seeing him a reckless figure working against the government’s COVID-19 prevention efforts.

How China threw out Australian Press from its Region
Asia Pacific Focus

How China threw out Australian Press from its Region

Australia’s tension with China is getting at its peak, as two journalists feeling threatened by the probing and questioning by Chinese police, had to exit from the country. This has never happened in the diplomatic relations between the countries in the last 50 years.

With this sad exit, Australia has no media representation left in China. The diplomatic relations are going from bad to worse for the Australia-China.  To make matters worse, the latter is known to have already stopped taking calls from the Australian office.

The diplomatic standoff started when Bill Birtles (Beijing correspondent, Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and Mike Mike Smith (Shanghai correspondent, Australian Financial Review) were caught in a misunderstanding where another Australia journalist of Chinese origins Cheng Lei was also detained under suspicion of “engaging in criminal activities endangering China’s national security.”

Australia on its part had already warned the respective media agencies to extract their staff members from China, suspecting the latter might turn ruthless and rogue.

Somewhat like Iran, China does not seem to follow any law through a rule book.  Their diplomatic relations can turn around to suit the need of the government overnight.  Both Australian journalists were allowed to leave the country only after they were questioned and interviewed by China’s ministry of State Security about Cheng Lei.

Things have been going bad to worst between Australia and China since Canberra asked for investigation to be initiated in the origins of the corona virus pandemic through their own team.  China accused Australia for threatening its sovereignty and both have been at each other’s case since then. According to Canberra, a warning has already been sounded to Australians residing in China to be careful of being ‘arbitrarily detained.’

Tensions on the Ladakh border between India and China increase
Asia Pacific Focus

Tensions on the Ladakh border between India and China increase

Tensions on the Ladakh border between India and China have intensified since May. The Chinese Ministry of Defense, through the voice of the head of the department Wei Fenghe, informed his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, that Beijing holds New Delhi entirely responsible for the escalation that has occurred in Ladakh in recent months:

“Border issues have had a very significant impact on relations between our countries and our armed forces recently. The causes and the real situation that led to the current tensions are clear: the Indian side is fully responsible for it.” Wei Fenghe reported earlier today. The official then reiterated that China, given the current situation, will defend its sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country at all costs.

Fenghe then announced that the two ministers wished for a peaceful resolution of the current border dispute: “The parties must scrupulously abide by the agreements reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They must insist on resolving problems through dialogue and negotiation,” Wei concluded, adding that it will now both sides have to ensure a rapid de-escalation. And that a situation of full stability can be returned as soon as possible on the Sino-Indian border.

“Border issues have had a very significant impact on relations between our countries and our armed forces recently. The causes and the real situation that led to the current tensions are clear: the Indian side is fully responsible for it.”

Wei Fenghe

In turn, Indian minister Singh stressed the importance of ensuring peace and stability on the border between the two countries and of keeping open a channel of dialogue between Beijing and New Delhi at all times. In the hours immediately preceding the joint declaration by the two defense ministers, the foreign departments of India and China also called for a rapid and peaceful resolution of the tensions.

The deterioration in relations between India and China in the Ladakh area occurred at the beginning of May, when several clashes happened between the soldiers of the two countries in the region close to Pangong Tso Lake. The parties subsequently consolidated their military presence on the effective line of control, a substitute for the unmarked border in Ladakh. A further tightening in relations took place on June 15 after a clash between the military of the two countries, in which 20 Indian soldiers died while the Chinese side did not disclose information about the victims.

In October 1962, tensions over control of the north-western part of Aksai Chin, the eastern part of Ladakh, led to the so-called Sino-Indian War, a short, but intense, conflict that killed at least 2,000 soldiers between the two sides belligerents. The outcome of the war was that China partially expanded its control over that region, but the exact border was never established or recognized by India. Since then, tensions and frictions on the uncertain border have never ceased.

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