Bangladesh: Plaudits to PM Sheikh Hasina for her bold stance

5 mins read

Bangladesh is a peace-loving nation which has never tried to hurt any country, but if any attempt is made by anyone, be it an outlander or a local to disrupt peace and harmony in the country’s domestic affairs by any means, a befitting reply shall be given.

It is the duty of every citizen to carry forward the ideals and resolutions of our freedom fighters and soldiers, protect the independence, integrity and sovereignty of our nation and play their part in building a strong, prosperous and self-reliant Bangladesh. We always want peace and friendly ties with countries across the world because it’s in our blood and culture.

But we warn of befitting response to any misadventure in our internal affairs by any person or country!

Lashing out at the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, recently a few foreign diplomats and their mango-twigs are making irresponsible and provocative statements in connection with Bangladesh’s forthcoming national voting which is raspingly reprehensible and reflects the chauvinistic mindset, especially of Uncle Sam, which can further exacerbate the already impaired environment.

Let us now turn back, a little while. In 1971, the malevolent US administration under President Richard Nixon and secretary of state Henry Kissinger sided with the vicious Pakistani military junta during the nine-month Liberation war when we were battling life and death to establish our own homeland – Bangladesh.

Moreover, the history of the US Central Intelligence Agency is replete with numerous examples of political assassinations, not only in the US but also of leaders of other countries. So, on 15th August 1975, the world’s cruellest and most disdainful killing outfit CIA of America actively developed various methods for the deliberate elimination of the US’s newest political opponent, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, involving not only special forces in this task but also the special services of countries that cooperated closely with the CIA. Because Pakistan and its strong ally America were given a crushing defeat by the Bengalis in cooperation with our friendly countries India and the former Soviet Union in our glorious Liberation War with Pakistan in 1971 to establish Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter Premier Sheikh Hasina places human solidarity, the concern for others, at the centre of the values by which she lives and as she does. Using her experience, moral courage and ability to rise above nation, race and creed, she is making our planet a more peaceful and equitable place to live. Massive development works have happened and are taking place under her able and dynamic leadership for changing a lot of people in the country.

A hero should possess leadership power, be strong, and be devoted to a just cause. Strong willpower would allow the hero to get things done. And lastly, the hero needs to be devoted to their cause, while having the mindset of not giving up until something is accomplished. Sheikh Hasina portrays great leadership, a strong will for what’s right, and a devoted mindset; all of which signify that she deserves the title of a hero. With a strong will to get something done, she has proven that hard work pays off. She has been showing she is a strong leader through her good deeds. She is a strong, determined woman who has stopped at nothing to achieve her goal for people’s welfare in Bangladesh.

But we restate that some Western external strangers – diplomatists under the leadership of an over-enthusiastic American Ambassadors stationed in Dhaka have recently been trying to trespass into national affairs, especially in our upcoming national voting process…

Sheikh Hasina has bravely reminded them about Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, the diplomats have a duty not to interfere with the internal affairs of the State they are involved in the diplomatic missions.

They should bear in mind that Bangladesh can also take legal action under the Convention, since it is stated in Article 9 (1) of the Convention that, the receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is not acceptable.

Outrageous enough. The western power countries are also of their own volition and all of a sudden want to rewrite our history, but it is a squall attack on the truth. Their immoral acts have created an impression that they are taking sides with their old local mango twigs of 1971 in the current so-called political situation.

Thus, some foreign diplomats stationed in Bangladesh have been working against our freedom, against the sovereignty of our country. We will not tolerate this any longer.

Some of Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet colleagues have also issued bold statements, warning foreign diplomats against interfering in the country’s internal affairs. 

We do not need to resort to laws from other countries. Moreover, the country does not need an endorsement by any foreign envoy in the next general elections. 

Bangladesh is not a banana republic, and the country can never accept the arrogant behaviour of ambassadors and high commissioners from any foreign diplomatic missions, whatever the country they represent.

We urge foreign diplomats to Bangladesh to respect the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which stipulated that foreign countries have “the duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”

Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent state. We have liberated it through a bloody war. We’ll not give any concession on the question of the country’s dignity. It will never bow down to anyone. We must maintain its dignity.

We will never allow being dictated by foreign entities on how we manage our internal affairs. We will be happy to accept the help of our foreign friends. We will never accept dictation on how we are managing our own internal domestic processes. Rather, we chide them angrily.

Foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen hoped that the foreign diplomats here will follow the ‘code of conduct, saying some overseas missions do interfere in Bangladesh’s domestic affairs.“It’s sad… some foreign missions here are interfering in our domestic issues … it’s not right as they interfere in domestic issues beyond their own duties,” he told journalists after attending a programme at Bangabandhu Conference Centre in the capital.

Commenting on the US sanctions on Russia following the Ukraine war, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “No nation can be controlled through sanctions. She termed the sanctions on Russia as a violation of human rights.”

Speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of the newly constructed office building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “It is our misfortune as the Russia-Ukraine war is taking place at a time when the whole world is at great economic challenges due to Coronavirus. She said the situation of people around the world is getting worse. People are being harmed due to sanctions. The sanctions that the United States has imposed on Russia are creating a hurdle for countries which are in need of importing various items. Due to the sanctions, transportation costs have increased, while there also are hurdles. The source for importing various items has shrunk. It is not only in Bangladesh, even United States is facing similar hurdles.”

She further said, “The US and developed nations need to think, the sanctions they are imposing is causing suffering to their own people as well. They also need to consider, ordinary people of all countries in the world are suffering more than those countries under sanctions. People in developed, developing and low-income countries are the worst sufferers of these sanctions.”

Sheikh Hasina called upon the United States and the Western countries to lift sanctions as they cannot control any nation ever through these sanctions.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister said, people living in the US and the Western nations also are complaining of sufferings due to the sanctions. “Everyone’s life is becoming miserable”, she added.

Everyone would also agree with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, as the sanctions imposed on Russia are failing in causing real suffering or stress in Russia. Instead, these sanctions are becoming counter-productive and are blowing back. Americans and Europeans are actually the worst sufferers of these sanctions, as inflation is becoming intolerable to people.

Thank you, reveredApa, for being who you are, your fearless and truthful standing posture against those arrant people. We stand by you with all our boldness.

Indian Supreme Court Weakening Indian Election Commission

3 mins read

The recent observation of the Supreme Court that the country needs Election Commissioners, who will not shirk from even taking on the Prime Minister if required and not just “weak-kneed” yes men, has sent shock waves.  Obviously, by making such sweeping observations, which appear to be hasty, Supreme Court judges give the impression that they think that the Election Commission is not discharging its responsibilities properly and independently.

It appears that the Supreme Court has assumed an “elder brother attitude” towards the Election Commission, even though both Judiciary and Election Commission are independent constitutional bodies  Constitution makers have not said or implied anywhere that Election Commission is subservient to the judiciary.

Many discerning observers wonder whether the Supreme Court has the power and authority to act like a supervisory body over the Election Commission.

The essence of Article 324 of the Constitution

 Article 324 of the Constitution provides a reservoir of power for the Election Commission to act for the avowed purpose of pursuing the goal of a free and fair election and therefore, the Election Commission is in sole charge of determining the conduct of elections.    The terms provided under Article 324 of the constitution are of wide amplitude and empower the Election Commission to take necessary recourse to address the issues.

Obviously, Article 324 of the constitution clearly indicates that the Election Commission can act independently to conduct elections in a fair and free manner, based on the exigency of the situation and the ground realities, in areas where the law is silent.

This also means that the judiciary has no authority to question the Election Commission, whatever may be decisions.

A retrograde step:

Originally, the constitution vested with the Election Commission the responsibility of appointing the election tribunals to take decisions on doubts and disputes arising, in connection with elections to parliament and legislature of the states.

However, on the recommendation of the Election Commission in 1962, the trial of election petitions was entrusted to the judiciary and the institution of election tribunal was abolished.  Article 324 (1) was amended (19th Amendment) Act 1966, to relieve the election commission of the function of appointing election tribunals.

This has proved to be a retrograde step and against the desire of the constitution makers and made the Election Commission look subservient to the judiciary, which the Constitution makers never intended.

Has the judiciary overreached itself?

While the above amendment involves surrendering of the powers of the Election Commission to the judiciary as far as the election tribunals are concerned, the other powers and authority of the Election Commission remain intact.

In the past, several decisions of the Election Commission have been overruled by the judiciary, without recognising the powers of the Election Commission as per the Constitution.

In the process, the image of the Election Commission has been brought down in the public eye by the judiciary, which is a counterproductive development.

Questioning the appointment of Election Commissioners:

Now, the judiciary has taken one more step in spoiling the image of the Election Commission by questioning the appointment of Mr Arun Goel as Election Commissioner.  This appointment has been done by the government as per the set procedure that is followed ever since India’s independence.

At the same time, the Supreme Court judges have ignored the fact that serious questions have been raised in the country about the way of Supreme Court Collegium appoints judges for the Supreme Court and High Court, without transparency. The recent protest by lawyers in a few states against the transfer of judges from one state to another by the Supreme Court pointed to the fact that there are serious misgivings about the decision of the Supreme Court in such matters.

 Can we say that the Supreme Court questioning the appointment procedure of Election Commissioners is like the pot calling the kettle black?

Tenure of Election Commissioners:

Supreme Court judges have also criticised the brief tenure of the election commissioners and said that in many cases, the tenure was too short. However, the fact is that there are many judges who have short tenures and with the recent case of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court remaining in the job only for a few months.

The tenure of judges or election commissioners need not be a matter of concern, as they can do whatever they want within their powers even in short tenure.

Supreme court judges need to reflect on their observations:

The observations of the Supreme Court judges seem to question the capability and credibility of the Election Commissioners without any basis.

If Supreme court judges were to find fault with the Election Commission, in a scenario where both are constitutional bodies, can we say that the Election Commission can also find fault with decisions of the Supreme Court?

One constitutional body criticising another constitutional body is in bad taste and needs to be avoided.

Trump Americans Need Their Own Political Party

1 min read

Tucker Carlson’s interview with former Republican US Representative Steve King explains how Washington really works, and it is not according to campaign slogans. 

The interview will help Trump Americans understand that no representation of them is coming from the Republican Party, not on immigration or anything else.  Trump himself was easily rolled by the Establishment.  Trump had no idea what he was up against and no staff able to clue him in and help him deal with it.  The Republican Establishment supported the lie that the 2020 presidential election was free of vote fraud and accepted the election fraud as the price of getting rid of Trump.  Do not confuse Trump supporters with the Republican Party.  They stand for different things. Kevin McCarthy will be a worse Speaker of the House for Trump Supporters than Nancy Pelosi. 

Trump supporters have no future in the Republican Party, which is cemented to the Establishment.  Trump supporters need to withdraw in mass and form a new party.  It is time for the Republican Party to be discarded. Instead of trying to operate within the Republican Party, Trump should offer his supporters a new party.  If they don’t follow him, they will have sealed their own doom.  

Both Tucker Carlson and Steve King missed the real reason US Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, helped the New York Times frame US Rep. King, a principled conservative, as a racist. It wasn’t the three or four words that the presstitutes took out of context and used to concoct a “white supremacist” issue. It was Rep. King’s defense of Western civilization.   Western civilization is white civilization.  To defend it is to defend white people. To defend white people, whom the New York Times 1619 Project labels racist, is racist.  Therefore Rep. King is a racist because he defends Western civilization.

This shows the deadly damage that has been inflicted on Western civilization by its own intellectuals, media, universities and schools, and politicians of both parties.  We have reached the point that we cannot defend our own civilization, our own existence, without being demonized.  Such a civilization is dead, a subject for archaeologists.

Sri Lanka: Oman Mission Denies the Allegations

3 mins read

“The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Oman categorically denies the recent reports by certain Sri Lankan media accusing the Embassy of not extending welfare and repatriation assistance to the stranded Sri Lankan female domestic workers in Oman,” the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Muscat of Sultanate of Oman, has noted in an email response to the enquiry made by Sri Lanka Guardian.

However, taking action against the alleged misconduct by a diplomatic officer in the mission, the statement reiterated the fact that “according to the instructions of the Foreign Ministry and SLBFE, the Embassy has taken immediate action to terminate the services of the alleged diplomatic officer of the labour section from the SLBFE.”

“As informed through the Foreign Ministry media release on 17 November 2022, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Oman is inundated with requests for the repatriation of Sri Lankan female domestic workers. Most of them are victims of human trafficking by unscrupulous and unregistered agents and have arrived using a visit/tourist visa through Dubai. The Embassy had previously reported this illegal practice to the authorities and taken action to bring the offenders to book,” it added. 

Response from the embassy has further elaborated on the incident as follows;

“As of today, there are 77 female domestic workers sheltered at the safe-house, out of whom 63 had arrived on visit/tourist visas and only 14 had come with employment visas. The safe house was established in October 2019 with about 50 inmates. After a visa overstay amnesty period granted by the Omani government between December 2020 and January 2022, the number of inmates decreased to about 40 at the beginning of February 2022. However, due to the exploitation of visit/tourist visas by human traffickers, the number of stranded female migrants has once again increased.

The cost of providing adequate security and facilities to the inmates of the safe house is met by the SLBFE.

Their repatriation is restricted due to several reasons such as:

  • Unavailability of funds to pay overstay penalty for those who arrived in Oman using a visit/tourist visa. Omani authorities charge OMR 10 per day for overstaying. The average cost per person to pay penalty is OMR 500. (Rs. 500,000.00)
  • Unavailability of funds to pay recruitment costs demanded by employers/agents to get exit permission for those who want to return prematurely within a two-year contract period. The average cost per person is OMR 1000 (Rs. 1,000,000.00)
  • Unavailability of air tickets and COVID Vaccination Certificate. The average cost per person is OMR 45 for a ticket and OMR 15 for PCR for non-vaccinated persons. The overall cost is OMR 60 per person (Rs. 60,000.00).
  • In a few cases, the unavailability of correct data is needed to prepare temporary travel documents.
  • Pending court cases and Police complaints for alleged theft etc.

The Embassy has undergone several predicaments due to the overwhelming number of safe-house inmates, compelling the owner of the safe-house villa to issue notice to vacate. While fully understanding their plight and duress due to limited resources, it is reiterated that the onus of solving their recruitment charges with the respective employers only relies with the agents who took a commission from Omani agents/employers to send them to Oman.

The Embassy officials had successfully negotiated the cancellation of overstay penalties for several females and repatriated 21 safe-house inmates and 12 others who were residing without proper visas in November 2022. The Embassy hands over the deportees to the Labour Department every Sunday with tickets to travel on the following Thursdays as per the negotiated agreement by the Embassy with the Omani authorities. At this point, the charge for PCR (OMR 15) is handed over to the officials of the Labour Department who arrange an escort for them to the airport.

It is important to note that each worker has a distinctive problem, associated with extensive dealings with agents, employers, police, labour department etc. It is noted that the main obstacle faced by the Embassy in arranging the repatriation is due to the fact that the concerned workers try to break the contract within a short period of time causing monetary loss to the employers. Moreover, medically and physically unfit females have been brought to Oman by the agents through visit visas who either do not get any job offers or get rejected and returned to the agents. However, the Embassy ensures that it takes all endeavours to safely repatriate them at the earliest possible occasion and tirelessly seeks the assistance of donors including IOM for air-tickets, and negotiates with the agents/sponsors for cancellation of charges.

According to the instructions of the Foreign Ministry and SLBFE, the Embassy has taken immediate action to terminate the services of the alleged diplomatic officer of the labour section from the SLBFE. Further, the Embassy appeals to all those who report and comment on this sensitive matter to act responsibly and avoid tarnishing the image of Sri Lanka and Oman which will be detrimental to the well-being of the strong Sri Lankan professional expatriate workforce. Moreover, due to stringent rule of law, auctioning of females and prostitution cannot openly take place in Oman and anyone who has credible information on such incidents is requested to report it to the authorities immediately with details of the alleged victims.

Discordant Borders

5 mins read

On November 4, 2022, a Pakistan Army soldier was killed in a cross-border attack from Afghanistan on troops in the Kharlachi area of Kurram District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), terrorists from inside Afghanistan opened fire on Pakistani troops in Kharlachi.

On October 23, 2022, a Pakistan Army soldier was killed during an exchange of fire with terrorists from across the border in Afghanistan, in the Hassan Khel Sector of North Waziristan District in KP. ISPR confirmed the incident.

On September 29, 2022, a Pakistan Army soldier was killed in an exchange of fire with terrorists, at the Kharlachi border crossing in the Kurram District of KP. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ‘spokesperson’ Muhammad Khorasani claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the worst cross-border attack by militants in 2022, on February 6, at least five soldiers were killed after terrorists launched an attack from Afghanistan on Army troops stationed in the Kurram District of KP. An ISPR statement asserted that Pakistani troops responded ‘befittingly’, and added that, according to intelligence reports, the “terrorists suffered heavy causalities”. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), 10 incidents (including the three mentioned above) of cross-border firing by militants, resulting in 17 deaths (16 Security Force, SF personnel and one militant) and five persons injured (all SF personnel), have been reported till November 20, 2022. Twelve such incidents resulting in 19 deaths (16 SF personnel and three militants) were reported in 2021. There were seven such incidents in 2020, resulting in 11 deaths (10 SF personnel and one militant); seven in 2019, with 22 fatalities (20 SF personnel and two militants).

Since September 15, 2013, when the first such attack was reported, there have been at least another 140 across the border, in which at least 263 Pakistani SF personnel and 75 civilians have been killed, while another 324 sustained injuries (data till November 20, 2022). 88 terrorists were also killed in retaliatory action by Pakistani SFs. The fatalities have increased senior officers of the Pakistan Armed Forces, such as the incident on September 15, 2013, when Major General, Sanaullah Khan and Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef were killed, along with another soldier, Irfan Sattar, in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Upper Dir District of KP. The then TTP ‘spokesman’ Shahidullah Shahid had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The terrorists have been carrying out these attacks in opposition to Pakistani SFs’ fencing work along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The fencing has also led to clashes between the Armed Forces of the two countries. According to the SATP database, since April 2007, when the first such clash reportedly took place, there have been at least seven such incidents, in which 49 persons, including 33 SF personnel and 16 civilians, have been killed (data till November 20, 2022). In the most recent incident, on November 13, 2022, a Frontier Corps (FC) soldier was killed and another two sustained injuries in a cross-border attack by Afghan SFs, on the Pakistani side of the Bab-e-Dosti gate in the Chaman town of Kila Abdullah District in Balochistan. Bab-e-Dosti has been closed for all kinds of trade and pedestrian movement since.

The border fence and border check post along the Durand Line, the disputed Pakistan-Afghanistan border, has been a major bone of contention between the two neighbouring countries, as well for the militants on both side of the border. Though the conflict over the legitimacy  of the Durand Line – the border imposed by Imperial Britain – between Pakistan and Afghanistan is more than a century old, the recent clashes linked to border-fencing started in September 2005, when Pakistan first announced that it had plans to build a 2,611-kilometre fence (1,230 kilometres in KP and 1,381 kilometres in Balochistan) along its border with Afghanistan, purportedly to check armed militants and drug smugglers moving between the two countries. But Afghanistan raised objections on the grounds that this was an attempt to make the disputed border permanent. After Kabul’s objections, Pakistani authorities temporarily put the plan on hold.

Over a year later, on December 26, 2006, Pakistan again declared its plans for mining and fencing the border, but was again opposed by the Afghanistan Government. The then Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated, on December 28, 2006, that the move would only hurt the people living in the region and would not stem cross-border terrorism.

The attempt to build the fence provoked the first skirmish in April 2007 in the then South Waziristan Agency. Pakistani SFs operating in region made a three-tier security deployment on April 11, 2007, to stop cross-border infiltration by terrorists into Afghanistan and fenced 12-kilometers of the border stretch with Afghanistan. However, Afghan troops tore down the fence on April 19, leading to a gun-battle, though there were no casualties. Another attempt was made in May 2007, when Pakistan erected the first section of a fence in the Lowara Mandi area of the then North Waziristan Agency on May 10, 2007, which led to cross-border firing between Pakistani and Afghan forces, in which at least seven Afghan soldiers were killed. The border fencing programme, meanwhile, was halted between 2007 and 2013, due to intense pressure from terrorists active along the border areas.

Later, Pakistan started excavation work on a several-hundred-kilometres-long trench along the Balochistan border in April 2013. The work has progressed rapidly since.

On January 5, 2022, at a press conference, ISPR Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar disclosed that the fencing work along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was almost complete, while over 71 per cent of the work on fencing along the Pakistan-Iran border had also been completed. Significantly, contrary to Islamabad’s expectations given its long history of support to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, the Taliban regime has attempted to block Pakistan’s efforts to finish the border fence, from the very moment of its accession to power in August 2021. Indeed, this is consistent with the Taliban’s position during its first regime – 1996-2001 – when it refused to accept the Durand Line as the permanent border between the two countries, despite tremendous pressure from Islamabad.

This time around, the Pakistan military establishment was hopeful that they would at least to secure the Taliban’s support to control TTP cadres who, according to Pakistan, were operating out of the bordering areas of Afghanistan. However, developments since have established that both the Afghan Taliban and TTP were two sides of the same coin, and Islamabad’s hopes were misplaced. TTP attacks continue from across the border, despite a Taliban-mediated ‘peace process’ between TTP and the Pakistan Government.

On April 17, 2022, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar claimed that terrorist elements, including the TTP, were using Afghan soil ‘with impunity’ to attack Pakistan’s border security posts, resulting in the death of several Pakistani troops. He added, further, that these attacks were detrimental to maintaining peace and stability along the border.

A United Nations (UN) report, released on May 27, 2022, highlighted the threat to Pakistan by the Afghanistan-based TTP, the terrorist group which has conducted numerous deadly “cross-border” operations. The report asserted that TTP remained focused on a long-term campaign against the Pakistani state, with several thousand of its fighters based in Afghanistan. According to another UN report, TTP has about 6,000 trained fighters on the Afghan side of the border.

The Taliban Government, however, has continuously denied the presence of TTP on its soil.

Pakistani Forces have retaliated across the border as well. On April 16, 2022, Pakistani Forces conducted air strikes in the Khost and Kunar Provinces of Afghanistan, killing of dozens of people. Local officials in Khost confirmed that the airstrikes were conducted by the Pakistani Forces, but did not provide any further details. According to eyewitnesses more than 40 people were killed or wounded in the attacks.

As expected, after the attack, the Taliban-led interim Government in Kabul started taking steps to shift terrorist groups away from Pakistan-Afghanistan border, deeper into the country. “Some of the groups have already been moved out of our border regions,” an unnamed senior Pakistani official claimed. Pakistan, the official added, though it rejected the approach, did accept the Taliban’s apparent decision to at least hold back the TTP from executing cross-border terrorist attacks. Clearly, however, while there was a temporary dip in such attacks after talks were initiated between the TTP and the Pakistan Government on May 9, 2022, the ‘peace process’ is now evidently dead in the water. According to the SATP database, TTP linked fatalities dropped to 24 in May 2022, in the wake of the peace agreement, in comparison to 54 in April. However, despite the announcement of an indefinite ceasefire by the TTP on June 2, the TTP’s campaign never entirely stopped, with 34 fatalities in June, 35 fatalities in July, 28 in August, 39 in September, 32 in October and 20 in November so far (Data till November 20). 

The volatility at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border can only intensify, as the ongoing Afghan Taliban-initiated talks between the TTP and the Pakistan Government crumble in the face of rising attacks. With TTP cadres filtering back into the tribal areas, Pakistan’s troubles are likely to deepen even further.

Multipolarity shows up in Kazakh steppes

5 mins read

The President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made a tantalising remark to reporters on Sunday that his country will pursue a multi-vector policy. As he put it, “I believe that given our geopolitical situation, given the fact that we have over $500 billion involved in our economy, given that there are global companies operating in our market, we simply have to pursue a multi-vector, as they say now, foreign policy.” 

Tokayev’s remarks hark back to the early post-Soviet era when Russia propagated a multi-vector approach in its foreign policies — de-ideologised, pragmatic and flexible. But Tokayev meant diversified relationships optimal for Kazakhstan’s development.

There is no question that the impact of geography on politics is acute for Kazakhstan, being a land-locked country that also happens to be a powerhouse. Europe, for instance, has turned its sights lately on distant Kazakhstan as it casts around for supplies of rare earth metals to meet its green economy targets.

Besides, Kazakhstan has to contend with the Big Brothers. Tokayev, a career diplomat by profession, has a way of warding off predatory Big Brothers by keep them guessing at the gate while at the same time using them selectively.  

But a challenge gloms ahead as the alchemy between and betwixt the Big Brothers has changed phenomenally during the past year. Against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Central Asia is becoming a turf where the West is beating a path to forge closer alliances and build new trade routes. 

The Central Asian states are coming under pressure to make choices and choose sides. The speech made by the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday at the EU-Central Asia Connectivity Conference: Global Gateway in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, is particularly noteworthy. 

Borrell made an impassioned plea that the Central Asian states should align with “the rules-based international order” — a codeword for the collective West. He explicitly warned his Central Asian audience, “Having connections and options is good. But excessive dependencies and the absence of choice can come at a cost.”    

Borrell’s speech makes stunning reading. Only the other day, in a neocolonial rant, the plucky Spaniard had said that “Europe is a garden,” which is “beautiful” and superior to the vast majority of the countries on Earth. He claimed, “Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden.” Borrell argued that “the world needs Europe,” because it is a “beacon” that must civilise the rest of the world. The enlightened Western “gardeners have to go to the jungle,” he insisted, because if the barbarians are not tamed, “the rest of the world will invade us.” 

But in Samarkand Borrell sang an entirely different song — the garden is apparently inviting the jungle to enter its gates! In a veiled reference to Russia, Borrell endorsed “the natural desire of our Central Asian partners to reject dependency on any single international partner, regardless of history or geography.” 

Borrell travelled to Samarkand via Astana where he had met Tokayev. While in Kazakhstan, Borrell paid fulsome praise to Tokayev’s “serious reform process to transform the country to make it more open, more inclusive, and more democratic,” etc. Presumably, while making the flattering remark, Borrell would have factored in that Tokayev’s victory in today’s presidential election was a foregone conclusion. 

But in reality, a report in the Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, an organ of the US foreign and security policy establishment, roundly debunks Tokayev’s credentials as a liberal, calling them “mainly cosmetic… (which) do not change the nature of the autocratic system in a country that has been plagued for years by rampant corruption and nepotism.” (here and here)

Apparently, Borrell was only indulging in sophistry. Or, more likely, the neocons in the Biden Administration feel frustrated that Tokayev may have pre-empted another potential colour revolution by detaining pro-western opposition and rights activists across Kazakhstan in the run-up to the presidential election scheduled for November 20. The scurrilous pieces that have appeared in the US-based media regarding Tokayev and his family, for sure, suggest that he is keeping the Beltway guessing.

Back in January, faced with sporadic nation-wide protests over a fuel price hike cascading into wider, nationwide anti-government mobilisations, Tokayev didn’t hesitate to get the Kremlin to despatch a CSTO contingent deployed to Astana to keep peace. Tokayev used the impressive Russian deployment to resort to a security crackdown. And it goes to the credit of President Putin that Russian policies toward Central Asian states in general are increasingly characterised by a collegial approach that allows Moscow’s interlocutors in the region enough space to work out their national priorities. 

Tokayev has since consolidated his grip on power. The regime of former President Nurusultan Nazarbayev was penetrated by the western intelligence but Tokayev, although a protege of that regime, has purged the last vestiges of his erstwhile mentor from Kazakhstan’s power calculus. It is a different matter, though, that Tokayev also exploited the Kremlin’s preoccupations over the Ukraine war to strengthen his country’s strategic autonomy vis-a-vis Russia. 

In comparison, with the two Big Brothers, China has done exceedingly well by pursuing an equal relationship with Kazakhstan. The cooperation list between the two countries today includes 52 projects worth a total of more than US$21.2 billion. China paid great attention to the relationship and maintained a high momentum of top-level exchanges. 

While the commentariat largely focuses on the implications of BRI elsewhere in Asia and Europe, the significant influence the project has and will continue to have in Kazakhstan gets overlooked. Lest it gets   forgotten, it was from Nur-Sultan that Chinese president Xi Jinping announced BRI in 2013.

Train lines linking Chinese industrial hubs to European cities have since emerged across Kazakhstan. The South China Morning Post calls Khorgos, the railway crossing at the China-Kazakhstan border, the “world’s biggest dry port.” From that transfer hub, the freight trains run north through Russia to the cities of Western Europe, “hungry for cheaper Chinese goods.” 

Clearly, the West sees a window of opportunity to make inroads into Central Asia while Russia is bogged down in Ukraine. But China remains a stakeholder in preventing a “colour revolution” in Kazakhstan. Unsurprisingly, Xi Jinping made his first foreign sojourn in almost 1000 days since the pandemic began when he traveled to Kazakhstan mid-September where he met Tokayev.

In retrospect, Xi’s meeting with Tokayev was a sort of renewal of vows aimed at revitalising the BRI. Given Kazakhstan’s historical role as a lynchpin of the Silk Road, both Kazakh and Chinese leaders are happy to position Kazakhstan to reap the benefits of increased trade through the Eurasian landmass. 

Significantly, speaking on Friday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering in Bangkok, Xi has announced that China would consider hosting the third Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation next year.

Russia and China wish to see a stable Kazakhstan, and they play different roles: Moscow works with Kazakhstan on security and political questions, while China generally plays a financial and economic role. The CSTO military presence to quell protests in Kazakhstan in January underscored that Russia’s cultural and security influence remains paramount.

The growth of nationalism in Kazakhstan in a period of more assertive Russian foreign policy might have led to tensions into the Russian-Kazakhstan relationship, but curiously, the high level of Russian-Chinese relations helped to stabilise the political and military climate in Kazahkstan.

Tokayev’s affirmation of a multi-vector foreign policy can be seen as a polite rejection of Borrell’s thesis before the Central Asians that “seeking security in isolation is a fallacy.” 

The G20 is dead. Long live the G20

4 mins read

The seventeenth G20 Heads of State and Government Summit held in Bali, Indonesia, on 15–16 November stands out as a consequential event from many angles. The international politics is at an inflection point and the transition will not leave unaffected any of the institutions inherited from the past that is drifting away forever. 

However, the G20 can be an exception in bridging time past with time present and time future. The tidings from Bali leave a sense of mixed feelings of hope and despair. The G20 was conceived against the backdrop of the financial crisis in 2007 — quintessentially, a western attempt to burnish the jaded G7 by bringing on board the emerging powers that stood outside it looking in, especially China,  and thereby inject contemporaneity into global discourses. 

The leitmotif was harmony. How far the Bali summit lived up to that expectation is the moot point today. Regrettably, the G7 selectively dragged extraneous issues into the deliberations and its alter ego, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), made its maiden appearance in the Asia-Pacific. Arguably, the latter must be counted as a fateful happening during the Bali summit. 

What happened is a negation of the spirit of the G20. If the G7 refuses to discard its bloc mentality, the cohesion of the G20 gets affected. The G7-NATO joint statement could have been issued from Brussels or Washington or London.  Why Bali? 

The Chinese President Xi Jinping was spot on saying in a written speech at the APEC CEO Summit in Bangkok on November 17 that “The Asia-Pacific is no one’s backyard and should not become an arena for big power contest. No attempt to wage a new cold war will ever be allowed by the people or by the times.” 

Xi warned that “Both geopolitical tensions and the evolving economic dynamics have exerted a negative impact on the development environment and cooperation structure of the Asia-Pacific.” Xi said the Asia-Pacific region was once a ground for big power rivalry, had suffered conflicts and war. “History tells us that bloc confrontation cannot solve any problem and that bias will only lead to disaster.”

The golden rule that security issues do not fall within the purview of G20 has been broken. At the G20 summit, the western countries held the rest of the participants at the Bali summit to ransom: ‘Our way or no way’. Unless the intransigent West was appeased on Ukraine issue, there could be no Bali declaration, so, Russia relented. The sordid drama showed that the DNA of the western world hasn’t changed. Bullying remains its distinguishing trait.

But, ironically, at the end of the day, what stood out was that the Bali Declaration failed to denounce Russia on the Ukraine issue. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey give reason for hope that G20 can regenerate itself. These countries were never western colonies. They are dedicated to multipolarity, which will ultimately compel the West to concede that unilateralism and hegemony is unsustainable. 

This inflection point gave much verve to the meeting between the US President Joe Biden and the Chinese President Xi Jinping at Bali. Washington requested for such a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, and Beijing consented. One striking thing about the meeting has been that Xi was appearing on the world stage after a hugely successful Party Congress. 

The resonance of his voice was unmistakable. Xi underscored that the US has lost the plot, when he told Biden: “A statesman should think about and know where to lead his country. He should also think about and know how to get along with other countries and the wider world.” (here and here)

The White House readouts hinted that Biden was inclined to be conciliatory. The US faces an uphill challenge to isolate China. As things stand, circumstances overall work to China’s advantage. (here , here and here)

The majority of countries have refused to take sides on Ukraine. China’s stance amply reflects it. Xi told Biden that China is ‘highly concerned’ about the current situation in Ukraine and support and look forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and China. That said, Xi also expressed the hope that the US, NATO and the EU ‘will conduct comprehensive dialogues’ with Russia.   

The fault lines that appeared at Bali may take new forms by the time the G20 holds its 18th summit in India next year. There is reason to be cautiously optimistic. First and foremost, it is improbable that Europe will go along with the US strategy of weaponising sanctions against China. They cannot afford a decoupling from China, which is the world’s largest trading nation and the principal driver of growth for the world economy. 

Second, much as the battle cries in Ukraine rallied Europe behind the US, a profound rethink is under way. Much agonising is going on about Europe’s commitment to strategic autonomy. The recent visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to China pointed in that direction. It is inevitable that Europe will distance itself from the US’ cold war aspirations. This process is inexorable in a world where the US is not inclined to spend time, money or effort on its European allies.

The point is, in many ways, America’s capacity to provide effective global economic leadership has irreversibly diminished, having lost its pre-eminent status as the world’s largest economy by a wide margin. Besides, the US is no longer willing or capable of investing heavily in shouldering the burden of leadership. Simply put, it still has nothing on offer to match China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This should have had a chastening influence and prompted a change of mindset toward cooperative policy actions, but the American elite are stuck in the old groove.

Fundamentally, therefore, multilateralism has become much harder in the present-day world situation. Nonetheless, the G20 is the only game in town to bring together the G7 and the aspiring developing countries who stands to gain out of a democratised world order. The western alliance system is rooted in the past. The bloc mentality holds little appeal to the developing countries. The gravitation of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia toward the BRICS conveys a powerful message that the western strategy in conceiving the G20 — to create a ring of subaltern states around the G7 — has outlived its utility. 

The dissonance that was on display in Bali exposed that the US still clings to its entitlement and is willing to play the spoiler. India has a great opportunity to navigate the G20 in a new direction. But it requires profound shifts on India’s part too –away from its US-centric foreign policies, coupled with far-sightedness and  a bold vision to forge a cooperative relationship with China, jettisoning past phobias and discarding self-serving narratives, and, indeed, at the very least, avoiding any further descent into beggar-thy-neighbour policies.

Exclusive: Sino-Lanka Everlasting Friendship for Greater Rejuvenation

15 mins read

The following essay is based on the speech made by the author at the Parliament of Sri Lanka recently, during his maiden official visit to Sri Lanka

Thank you for your invitation and it is my great honor to deliver a speech about Chinese path to Modernization and Sri Lanka China Common Prosperity here in the Sri Lanka parliament.

This is my first visit abroad since assuming office as President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), and I choose Sri Lanka for special reasons:

——We come here for our ever-lasting friendship. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. In the 1950s, China as a newly founded people’s republic, was facing strict blockade of import by the West and Sri Lanka was facing serious economic difficulties as a result of both a crop failure of rice and the West’s control of rubber export. Under this circumstances, China and Sri Lanka came to the consensus of the Rubber-Rice Pact, which reflects the true meaning of South-South Cooperation and is the symbol of the two countries’ traditional friendship. We hope this visit will strengthen and enrich our ever lasting friendship.

——We come here for win-win cooperation for common development. Development is the key to solve all problems. Nine years ago, President Xi Jinping proposed the “Belt and Road” initiative for building a better world for all. It has now become one of the most popular international public goods and the most extensive international cooperation platform. Sri Lanka is the pearl on the Indian Ocean and an important hub along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Now it is time for us to uphold the principle of Extensive consultation, Joint contribution, Shared benefits, and commit to the “Five-Pronged Approach”(Policy Coordination, Connectivity of Infrastructure , Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People-to-People Exchanges)and the hard connectivity of infrastructure, soft connectivity of laws and regulations and heart to heart connectivity of people-to-people friendship, translating our traditional friendship into win-win cooperation for common development.

——We come here for the better future of the people. China has achieved the First Centenary Goal to get out of poverty in all respects and is marching on a new journey to modernization. China has the strong commitment, ability, experience to share all we have with our Sri Lanka friend to achieve common prosperity. The main purpose of my first visit to Sri Lanka is to learn who you are?what do you have? what do you need and Where can we go something together for a shared future of our two countries and two peoples.

Now, I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my views and ideas about China,and the Chinese path to Modernization and where for us to go together in the future for China Sri Lanka win-win cooperation.

  1. Who is China?

——China is Old and Young

• An ancient civilization of more than 5000 years history with Four Great Inventions of printing, paper making, compass and gun powder.

• A young republic of 73 years and 44 years of reform and opening -up to the outside world.

——China is Big and Small

• Over 1.4 billion population with 56 ethnic groups.

• No.3 land size of 9.6 million square km, but less than 1/3 of world average in per capita arable land.

• 17.7 trillion USD GDP in 2021 but every achievement we made shared by over 1.4 billion population is small.

——China is Not Developed but Very Promising

• Per capita GDP 125,50 USD in 2021. Ranking 68th in the world according to the World Bank.

• In most of the ancient times, China was the biggest economy in the world.

• In 1820, China’s GDP accounts 1/3 of the world.

•But unfortunately to say that we closed our eyes and felt sleep when the western industrial revolutions took places. In 1840, China felt into a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country after the Opium War.

• In 1921, founding of CPC and changed the destiny of the Chinese Nation.

• In 1949, founding of the PRC, China’s GDP was only 17.9 billion USD.

• In 1978, China’s reform and opening-up. China’s GDP was 149.5 billion USD( 1.79% of the world, 6.33% of the US, 14.8% of Japan).

• In 2001, China joined the WTO. China’s GDP was 1.34 trillion USD( 4% of the world, 12.7% of the US, 31.2% of Japan).

• In 2010, a year of great significance, China’ GDP was 6.09 trillion USD(9.2% of the world, 40.6% of the US), surpassed Japan as the 2nd largest economy.( 2014_2021)

• In the past 10 years of the New Era, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has made historic achievements in development and undergone historic changes in the country:

  • China’s GDP has increased by 126% compared with 2012, reached 17.7 trillion USD in 2021(18.5% of the world economy, 77% of the US, 356.7% of Japan), contributing over 30% to the world economic growth annually, more than the combined contribution of all developed countries including the US, the EU and Japan. China has become the largest trade partners with over 140 countries and regions, become one of the largest FDI destination and one of the largest sources of FDI and tourists worldwide.
  • China has applied a new development philosophy. Historically, China felt sleep and missed the chance during the 1st and 2nd industrial revolution, and wake up to follow up in the 3rd industrial revolution. But in the New Era now, China has been catching up and among the first square in the 4th industrial revolution with the lead in 5G, AI and New Infrastructures.
  • China has lifted the last 100 million rural population out of poverty, having made sure more than 1.4 billion people have all gotten out of poverty, leaving no one behind and fared-welling to famine, poverty, war, homelessness and pandemic.
  • China has translated the philosophy of clear water and green mountains as better as gold mountain into reality, contributing 1/4 of the total newly added forest coverage in the world. With strict law enforcement,Air, land and water pollution are forbidden. 
  • China waged a battle against corruption on unprecedented a scale and have achieved an overwhelming victory and fully consolidated the gains in our fight against corruption. According to an opinion poll done by the Harvard University for over 10 years, the Chinese people’s approval rate for the CPC and Chinese government has been maintained over 90%, topped all the world.
  1. Why can China make such great success?

In China, it is our common belief that the key for success is Unity and Stability for Common Prosperity, andhow to get there? At least, there are 3 main reasons worth of mentioning:

(1) Upholding the strong leadership of the CPC and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics                                                                                                                                                                             

• Socialism with Chinese Characteristics not only kept the essence of socialism which is strive for common prosperity, but also solved the question of how to fully leverage the decisive role of the market in allocating resources and give a better play to the role of the government. Adhering to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, with concerted efforts of the Party, government and people, China has created the 2 miracles of rapid economic development and long term social stability.

• The CPC was founded by the people and is the party of the people, by the people and for the people, always putting people first, the CPC has no selfish interest except the fundamental interests of the nation, country and the majority of the people. It is only such a selfless party that can unite the whole nation as one to the right road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and make sure all the achievement and progress China makes shall be shared by all instead of few and get the true supports from the majority people.        

•There are 2 vivid examples of the CPC’s people-centered philosophy of development:

One is the fight against poverty. Under the leadership of the CPC, China gives full play of the superiority of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, alleviated over 850 million people out of poverty, contributing 70% of the world’s total poverty reduction and achieved the poverty reduction goal of the UN SDGs 10 years ahead of schedule. In the past 10 years in particular, under the strong leadership of Pres. Xi Jinping, China has won the war against absolute poverty and got almost 100 million people out of absolute poverty and make sure that the total population of over 1.4 billion in China out of poverty,left no one behind.

The other is the fight against Covid-19. In responding to the sudden outbreak of Covid-19, the CPC and the Chinese government  insist putting the people and their life above all else, tenaciously pursued a dynamic zero-Covid policy, China has the lowest Covid-19 incidence rate and death toll among the world’s major countries. It is estimated that if adopting to a lie flat policy as the west and US, China’s Covid-19 incidence will reach over 100 million with 1.55 million death.

(2) Adhering to the reform and opening up policy

It is well known that since 1978, China has adopted to the policy of economic reform and opening up to the outside world.

How to develop China? Reform ourselves and open up to the outside world——Why? We need jobs and well being for our people—To develop our country, we need capital input, technology and know-how.

We believe that only economic development can solve all the issues we had and will have.

We believe that only internal and external investment leads to production, only production can create jobs and promote development. Only development leads to a good life for the people.

We also believe grants can survive a country but cannot sustain country’s development, only foreign investment project can create jobs for our people and sustain our economic growth. We also believe that one foreign investment project is one vocational-technical school to train our people and drive our economy to growth.

But how to attract foreign investment to a poor country like China at that time, China is a socialist country to open to capitalist. We have had a lot of concerns and arguments.And we are so lucky to have the Chief Engineer of reform and opening up, Mr Deng Xiaoping.He said, poverty does not belong to socialism, it doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.  

China opened the chapter of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Economic Development become the central task of the CPC since then on.

We have kept reforming ourselves, including our minds, policies, laws and systems of the planned economy that did not fit the market economy nor foreign investors, and opening up to the outside world, so as to make sure the investors’ interests being protected and more coming to China.

In 1980, the 1st Special Economic Zone in China was launched in the city of Shenzhen, a small fishing village at that time, now a big metropolis with more than 17.68 million population and the GDP of 481 billion USD surpassing Hong Kong (368 billion USD).  

From 4 Special Economic Zones (Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, Xiamen) to 14 Coastal Open Cities (1991), WTO (2001) and to now 21 Pilot Free Trade Zones nationwide and the Hainan Free Trade Port.

How to attract the foreign investment and keep them stay well? To attract the foreign investors, some of their concerns shall be answered.

Business is Business. As we know that investors look like flying birds in the sky, they are looking food to survive and safe places to live.

Preferential Policies &Law Enforcement (Legislation):

In our development process, it is the preferential policies to attract them to come and it’s the laws and Law Enforcement to ensure the investors here is safe for long term development (Legislation is very important)

Now China has the implementation of Foreign Investment Law and the Pre-establishment National Treatment (PENT) with a negative list for foreign investment, to make sure the lawful interests of foreign investors fully protected.

Foreign exchange: lack of foreign reserve and intensively controlled —from a highly controlled foreign exchange management system to the realization of convertibility of Current Account, enabling all the investment & profit been remitted inward or outward China in RMB or foreign currency.

Visas permit: from a single-entry visa for 3 months to multiple entry visa for 3 month/6 months/1 year, to permanent work permit and the permanent residence permit (Chinese Green Card).

Muti-lateral and bilateral free trade arrangements: From joining the WTO to RCEP, China has signed 19 free trade agreements with 26 nations and regions.  

(3) Sticking to the path of peaceful development and seeking for Win-win cooperation for common development

The love of peace is in the soul and blood of the Chinese nation. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said: No matter how strong a country might be, the aspiration of war will definitely lead to its ruin.The Chinese people are the peace loving one.

After the Opium War, China has been invaded by the western powers and our people keep the memory of being bullied and cherish the value of peace.

Based on the traditional Chinese culture of peace and harmony and Chinese people’s sincere hope for a better world, President Xi Jinping proposed the initiative of Building a Human Community with a Shared Future and 3 approaches to realize this grand vision of building a better world for our future generations:

• The first approach is to hold high Humanity’s Shared Values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, advancing Whole-Process People’s Democracy, and building a New Type of International Relations. So far, China has established diplomatic relations with 181 countries world wide.

The second approach is to carry out the Belt and Road Initiative and Global Development Initiative so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development. China has signed over 200 agreements or MoUs with 149 countries and 32 international organizations. More than 60 countries have joined the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative. The value of trade in goods between China and the Belt and Road countries exceeds 12 trillion USD. It is reckoned by the World bank that from 2015 to 2030, the Belt and Road Initiative may contribute 1.6 trillion USD to the world and help 40 million people out of poverty.

• The third approach is adhering to the New Vision of Security featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and implement the Global Security Initiative, to build a world of lasting peace and universal security, common prosperity, openness and inclusiveness, justice and equity, cleanness and beauty.

With a strong leadership, unity and stability, economic, social and technological foundation, especially nationwide networks of the modern infrastructures, China gets read to grow faster and run well, providing a new option for our fellow emerging markets and developing countries.

Ⅲ. Where for China to go?

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which attracts worldwide attention, has come to a successful conclusion recently. As a Party delegate, I’m honored to participated in the congress.

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is a meeting of great importance,make it clear the road map and blueprint on Where for China to go and how to get there. The meeting has three major important achievements:

The Most Important Achievement is Comrade Xi Jinping was re-elected unanimously as the General Secretary of the Party Central Committee and the new ideas, new concepts and new perspectives of Xi Jinping Though on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has been written into the Party Constitution. Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole has been established and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has been defined as the guidance of the Party.

This reflects the whole party and nation’s appreciation of the historic achievements and great changes in the past ten years and their expectations for Comrade Xi Jinping to steer the giant ship of China’s rejuvenation through the wind and waves to strive in unity to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects.

The 2nd Important Achievement is the Congress has determined the central task for the CPC for next 5 years and beyond, which is to lead the Chinese people of all ethnic groups in a concerted effort to realize the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization.

Chinese modernization is socialist modernization pursued under the leadership of the CPC. It not only contains elements that are common to the modernization processes of the all countries, but is more characterized by features that are unique to the Chinese context.

——It is the modernization of a huge population. China is working to achieve modernization for more than 1.4 billion people, a number larger than the combined population of all developed countries in the world today.

——It is the modernization of common prosperity for all. Achieving common prosperity is a defining feature of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and the goal of our modernization drive is to bring prosperity for all and prevent social polarization in order to meet the people’s aspirations for a better life.

——It is the modernization of material and cultural-ethical advancement. We will both lay a solid material foundation for our people’s life and a culture of conviction and confidence for our people’s souls, in order to promote all-round material abundance as well as people’s well-rounded developments.

——It is the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature. As Pres. Xi tells us that Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. We shall protect the nature as our own eyes and pursue a sound development path with higher production levels, better living standards and healthier ecosystems to ensure the sustainable development of the Chinese nation.

——It is the modernization of peaceful development. In pursuing modernization, China sticks to following a new path of peace, win-win cooperation for common development, instead of the old path of war, colonization, or plunder. We believe peaceful development is the keys to China’s achievements and development and we will never follow the old and disastrous roads as the west did.

The 3rd Important Achievement is that the Congress has draw the blue print and principles, new philosophy and approaches to realize the Chinese Modernization.

——To realize the Chinese Modernization, we shall adopt a two-step strategic plan: Basically realize socialist modernization from 2020 through 2035; Build China into a great modern socialist country from 2035 through the middle of this century, that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful

——To realize the Chinese Modernization, we must, first and foremost, pursue high-quality development. Development is our Party’s top priority in governing and rejuvenating China, because without solid material and technological foundations, we cannot hope to build a great modern socialist country in all respects.

——To realize the Chinese Modernization, we must follow the worldview and methodology of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era with the following 6 Musts as its core:

⦁ We must put the people first.

⦁ We must maintain self-confidence and stand on our own feet.

⦁ We must uphold fundamental principles and break new ground.

⦁ We must adopt a problem-oriented approach.

⦁ We must apply systemic thinking.

⦁ We must maintain a global vision.

. How to transform our traditional friendship into win-win cooperation for common development?

【In the report of the 20th National Congress of the CPC,  General Secretary Xi Jinping elaborated the founding mission of the CPC in the full context: it is dedicated to pursuing happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation and it is also dedicated to human progress and world harmony.】

Lin Songtian, President of the CPAFFC, talking to the Parliamentarians during the event at the Parliament of Sri Lanka [ Photo: Sri Lanka Parliament/ Sri Lanka Guardian]

The 20th National Congress of the CPC not only opened the chapter of the New Journey of the New Era for China, but also provided New Opportunities and New Options for other countries especially friendly countries like Sri Lanka.

The CPAFFC is China’s national people’s organization engaged in people-to-people diplomacy, featuring “Four Friendships”, namely friendship cities, friendship associations, friendship organizations and friendship personnel.

Its mandate is to give full play to people-to-people diplomacy, mobilizing non-governmental resources to promote mutual understanding, friendship and win-win cooperation between Chinese people and people from other countries.

Next step, we will work together with our Sri Lanka friends to focus on some priority areas, as following:

——Personnel exchanges. Seeing is believing.We will build a platform for exchanges and cooperation between the our two peoples, displaying the essence and fruits of the traditional friendship between China and Sri Lanka and promoting people-to-people exchanges in key areas such as parliament, local government, youth, think tanks, and media to promote and enhance mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples.

——Capacity building. Through “receiving friends in” and “sending professional personnel out”, carry out activities for capacity building. For example, we will try to organize the Chinese young and professional poverty relief cadres to Sri Lanka to stay and have a deep study tour to the village or local governments, look for ways out to fight against poverty. We will also try to organize experts from the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC) and local DRCs to Sri Lanka to study its national development plans, policies and government services, so as to help promote Sri Lanka to Chinese business and interested parties.

——Win-win cooperation. The CPAFFC is willing to work closely with the Sri Lanka Embassy to China and Sri Lanka friendship organizations to hold promotions and functions for Sri Lanka’s goods, resources, development plans, favorable policies for FDI and government services, so as to encourage and attract more Chinese businesses to invest in Sri Lanka.

——Give full play to friendship cities. China and Sri Lanka currently have 11 pairs of friendship cities. The CPAFFC is willing to:

⦁ further promote exchanges and cooperation between local governments, friendship cities in particular, in the fields of culture, education, tourism, public health, and vocational technical schools in particular etc.

⦁ help to set up new friendship city relations on the premise of complementary and sustainability.

⦁ enrich the content of cooperation between friendship cities, and making friendship city a bridge and a binding force for mutual understanding, friendship and trust between people s of China and Sri Lanka.

To my conclusion, let us to work together to bring our everlasting friendship to a new high and bring more benefits to our two peoples. Thank you all for your attention and hospitality.

The Need for an International Anti Corruption Court

4 mins read

“You know the old Russian proverb.  What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.” ― Daniel Silva, The Cellist

In a recent interview on BBC’s HARDtalk, the interviewee was Judge Mark L. Wolf – a Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and Chair of the NGO Integrity Initiative International – who had initiated a proposal for the establishment of an International Anti Corruption Court (IACC)  at various fora such as the 2012 St. Petersburg International Legal Forum; the 2014 World Forum on Global Governance, and in platforms such as the Brookings Institution and The Washington Post with articles in 2014. At the interview, Judge Wolf clarified that the proposed IACC would not only target corrupt leaders of countries but also any individual or entity that is allegedly guilty of kleptocracy.

In March 2019 at a discussion convened and hosted by The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and  participated by a distinguished array of judges, attorneys, human rights specialists, and academics, discussions ranged from the meaning and purpose of an IACC – as to whether such a body would be able to contribute to global peace and security- to the methodology to establish an IACC.  Judge Wolf was an active participant in this event as well as  Robert, President Emeritus of the World Peace Foundation, Founding Director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Justice Richard Goldstone, formerly of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and Chief Prosecutor at the initial United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The IACC is suggested as a punitive judicial tool to counter kleptocracy which is defined as a society or system ruled by people who use their power to steal their country’s resources. The initial problem with bringing those guilty of kleptocracy is that often they act with impunity as the institutions that are charged with countering this egregious activity are controlled by them and are therefore destitute of effectively carrying out their duties.  

It is distressing that kleptocrats are everywhere in various forms of human embodiment and form a systemic threat.  At the forefront are corrupt politicians who, in Justice Goldstone’s words “are abetting other compromised institutions, such as the judiciary, police, and prosecutorial offices, thereby making domestic prosecution ineffective”. The learned judge went on to opine that a  supranational, neutral institution would be the last resort to hold officials accountable for their corruption and theft of resources belonging to a State in these countries to account by enforcing  internationally recognized protocols against corruption.

In manner and form the proposed IACC would derive inspiration from the currently existing International Criminal Court (ICC) and have  the authority to prosecute instances of grand corruption by high-level political leaders. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences in its 2019 Bulletin says: ” Just as nations that are signatories to the ICC are subject to its jurisdiction, so too would signatories to the IACC allow the Court to serve as a venue of last resort for violations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The Court would be empowered only to bring charges when a signatory to the UNCAC did not make a good faith effort to bring charges”.

It is encouraging that there is already in effect a multilateral treaty against corruption.  The UNCAC is the only legally binding international anti-corruption multilateral treaty. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2003 and entered into force in December 2005.  However, treaties can only be enforced on States Parties who ratify them.  Even if an IACC is established through a treaty, such a court would be ineffective against a non-party to the treaty establishing the court.  Nonetheless, its importance cannot be understated.  One alternative would be to bring the treaty into the domestic jurisdiction of a court through  the Global Administrative Law (GAL) theory which posits that the administrative law type of mechanisms allow individual and national courts to be part of a checks and balances system of global governance in anti corruption. Here,  global governance does not mean world governance but instead  a global approach to the governance of anti corruption that requires each component system, including international, domestic and global institutions to collaborate with each other.

GAL came into existence as a theory in the first decade of the 21st Century.  The importance of GAL is apparent in the current context  where the world is dominated by such forces as social media through which many practice post truth, cancel culture, and fake news that can enable spin doctors and ideologues to deflect the truth about their own corruption.  The GAL Project is focused on an emerging field of research and practice where administrative law-type mechanisms that address issues of  transparency, participation, accountability, and review operate within the parameters of global governance.

The GAL theory posits that administrative law and its principles must be applied not as a mutually exclusive realm but in conjunction with the principles of international law and other related disciplines. Like domestic administrative law, GAL could be an amalgam of a scholarly approach or methodology and a set of actual norms, ‘practices’, or activities or mechanisms.  In other words GAL would be a combination of the legal rules, principles, and institutional norms that apply to administration from a global perspective rather than a structure that demonstrate and exhibits a mere intrastate legal and political realm of authority.

GAL would be a necessary adjunct to the web of treaties that are adopted by the United Nations but unfortunately is riddled with the discretionary option that States have in being the ultimate arbiter of being bound by such agreements.  Of course, the United Nations is neither the world’s judge nor its police, as Dag Hammarskjold, a Secretary General of the United Nations said: ”  The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell”.  There is something in what Judge Wolf said at the BBC interview – that an IACC would be outside the jurisdiction of the United Nations – an individual and independent body that is not established by a treaty of the UN. This principle, coupled with the infusion of GAL, could well be the basis of an IACC.

Private Greed Prevails Over Humanity’s Survival

6 mins read

COP27 has begun in Sharm el-Sheikh. Although the Ukraine war and the U.S. midterm elections have shifted our immediate focus away from the battle against global warming, it still remains a central concern of our epoch. Reports indicate that not only are we failing to meet our climate change goals, but we are also falling short of the targets by a large margin. Worse, the potent methane greenhouse gas emissions have grown far more rapidly, posing as much of a climate change threat as carbon dioxide. Even though methane lasts for a shorter time in the atmosphere, viewed over a period of 100 years, it is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The net result is that we are almost certain to fail in our target to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. And if we do not act soon, even a target of 2 degrees Celsius is hard to achieve. At this rate, we are looking at a temperature rise of 2.5-3 degrees Celsius and the devastation of our civilization. Worse, the impact will be much higher in the equatorial and tropical regions, where most of the world’s poor live.

In this column, I will address two issues. One is the shift from coal to natural gas as a transitional fuel, and the other is the challenge of storing electricity, without which we cannot shift successfully to renewable energy.

The advanced countries—the U.S. and members of the European Union—bet big on natural gas, which is primarily methane, as the transition fuel from coal. In Glasgow during COP26, advanced countries even made coal the key issue, shifting the focus from their greenhouse emissions to that of China and India as big coal users. The assumption in using natural gas as a transitional fuel is that its greenhouse impact is only half that of coal. Methane emissions also last for a shorter time—about 12 years—in the atmosphere before converting to carbon dioxide and water. The flip side is that it is a far more potent greenhouse gas. Its effects are 30 times greater over a 100-year period than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. So even a much smaller amount of methane has a much more significant global warming impact than carbon dioxide.

The bad news on the methane front is that methane leakage from the natural gas infrastructure is much higher, possibly as much as six times more—according to a March 2022 Stanford University study—than the advanced countries have been telling us. The high methane leakage from natural gas extraction not only cancels out any benefits of switching to natural gas as an intermediary fuel but even worsens global warming.

There are two sets of data on methane now available. One measures the actual leakage of methane from the natural gas infrastructure with satellites and planes using infrared cameras. The technology of measuring methane leaks from natural gas infrastructure is easy and cheap. After all, we are able to detect methane in exoplanets far away from the solar system. Surely, saving this planet from heat death is a much higher priority! The other data is the measurement of atmospheric methane conducted by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. estimates that 1.4 percent of all natural gas produced in the U.S. leaks into the atmosphere. But the March 2022 Stanford University study using cameras and small planes that fly over natural gas infrastructure found that the figure is likely to be 9.4 percent—more than six times higher than the EPA’s estimate. Even if methane leaks are only 2.5 percent of natural gas production, they will offset all the benefits of switching from coal to natural gas. “Clean” natural gas may be three to four times worse than even dirty coal. At least in the hands of capital!

The EPA does not conduct any physical measurements. All it uses to estimate methane emissions is a formula that involves a number of subjective factors, along with the number of wells, length of pipelines, etc. Let us not forget that there are many people in the U.S. who either do not believe in or choose to ignore the fact of global warming. They would like to take a crowbar to even a weakened EPA, dismantling all measures to reduce global warming.

The impact of methane leaks can be seen in another set of figures. The World Meteorological Organization reported the biggest jump in “methane concentrations in 2021 since systematic measurements began nearly 40 years ago.” While WMO remains discreetly silent on why this jump has occurred, the relation between switching to natural gas and the consequent rise of methane emissions is hard to miss.

The tragedy of methane leaks is that they are easy to spot with today’s technology and not very expensive to fix. But companies have no incentive to take even these baby steps as it impacts their current bottom line. The larger good—even bigger profits, but over a longer time frame—does not interest them. They aren’t likely to change unless they are forced to by regulatory or direct state action.

The cynicism of the rich countries—the U.S. and members of the EU—on global warming can be seen in their conduct during the Ukraine war. The European Union has restarted some of its coal plants, increasing coal’s share in the energy mix. Further, the EU has cynically argued that developing oil and gas infrastructure in Africa is all right as long as it is solely for supply to Europe, not for use in Africa. African nations, according to the EU, must instead use only clean, renewable energy! And, of course, such energy infrastructure must be in the hands of European companies!

The key to a transition to renewable energy—the only long-term solution to global warming—is to find a way of storing energy. Renewables, unlike fossil fuels, cannot be used at will, as the wind, sun, and even water provide a continuous flow of energy. While water can be stored in large reservoirs, wind and sun cannot be, unless they are converted to chemical energy in batteries. Or unless they are converted to hydrogen and then stored in either tank or natural storage in geological formations, underground or in salt caverns.

There has been a lot of hype about batteries and electric cars. Missing here is that batteries with current technology have a much lower energy density than oil or coal. The energy from oil or natural gas is 20-40 times that of the most efficient battery today. For an electric vehicle, that is not such a major issue. It simply determines how often the vehicle’s batteries need to be charged and how long charging will take. It means developing a charging infrastructure with a quick turnaround time. The much bigger problem is how to store energy at the grid level.

Grid-level storage means supplying the grid with electricity from stored energy. Grid-level batteries are being suggested to meet this task. What the proponents of grid-level batteries neglect to inform us is that they may supply power for short-term fluctuations—night and day, windy and non-windy days—but they cannot meet the demand from long-term or seasonal fluctuations. This brings us to the question of the energy density of storage: How much energy does a kilogram of lithium battery hold as compared to a kilogram of oil, natural gas, or coal? The answer with current technology is 20-40 times less. The cost of building such mammoth storage to meet seasonal fluctuations will simply exhaust all our lithium (or any other battery material) supplies.

I will not address the prohibitive energy cost—electric or fossil fuel—of private versus public or mass transportation, and why we should switch to the latter. I will instead focus on addressing the larger question of how to store renewable energy so that we can run our electricity infrastructure when wind or sun is not there.

Is it possible that a new technology will solve this problem? (Remember the dream of nuclear energy that will be not only clean but also so cheap that it will not need to be metered?) But do we bet our civilization’s future on such a possibility?

If not, we have to look at existing solutions. They exist, but using them means seeking alternatives to batteries for addressing our grid-level problems of intermittent renewable energy. It means repurposing our existing hydro-projects to work as grid-level storage and developing hydrogen storage for use in fuel cells. No extra dams or reservoirs, as the opponents of hydroelectricity projects fear. And of course, it means more public transportation instead of private transportation.

All of these existing solutions mean making changes on a societal level that corporate interests oppose—after all, doing so would require public investments for social benefits and not for private profits. Capital privileges short-term private profits over long-term social benefits. Remember how oil companies had the earliest research to show the impact of global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions? They not only hid these results for decades but also launched a campaign denying that global warming is linked to greenhouse gases. And they funded climate change deniers.

The contradiction at the heart of global warming is private greed over social needs. And who funds such a transition, the poor or the rich? This is also what COP27 is all about, not simply about how to stop global warming.

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