There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Twentieth Edition we are covering the following news:
1. Is a new cold war brewing?
2. How China’s assertiveness reveals its fragilities
3. Post-Brexit India-UK trade
4. China orders US consulate closure in tit-for-tat move
5. Domestic flight restrictions extended till November 24
Increasing tension between two of the world’s superpowers has sparked talks of a new cold war between China and the USA. Donald Trump’s administration has increasingly gone global against China, pushing other nations to reject its telecom titan Huawei, and siding unreservedly with Beijing’s rivals in the dispute-rife South China Sea. It is also his major campaign issue in the upcoming November elections. It appears that they are engaged in a long-term competition over “incompatible strategic visions,” including China’s desire to dominate Asia. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo believes that Chinese technology could be used for espionage therefore the West needs to separate from China, especially in the technological aspect.
A recent example of this hostility between the two would be the US government’s order that China closes its Houston consulate. In defense, trade, technology, human rights, and other categories, actions, and reprisals by one side or the other have escalated sharply under Trump’s administration. It is even weighing a blanket ban on travel to the US by the 92 million members of China’s ruling Communist Party and the possible expulsion of any members currently in the country. This will not be without repercussions, as it would likely invite retaliation against American travel and residency in China.
This is not to say that the tension was sparked by the pandemic only; it has happened over the past few years and the pandemic only exacerbated the tensions. Trump and his subordinates have blamed China for spreading the coronavirus and described the virus in racist and stigmatizing terms but China has rejected the administration’s attacks over the virus and has criticized the poor US government response to the outbreak. The Trump administration has increasingly challenged China’s assertions of sovereignty and control over much of the South China Sea and also pressed China over its clampdown in Hong Kong and mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims, each time triggering retaliatory measures by Beijing.
Trump has still voiced hope of preserving a trade deal with China, which was promised before the coronavirus pandemic to ramp up purchases of US goods but both sides know China will no longer be able to carry out the agreement in full and the relations are expected to keep deteriorating. The countries are rapidly “decoupling” from one another. Trump and his Russian counterpart have been reportedly discussing the inclusion of Beijing in future talks on strategic arms control, oil security, and Iran developments as Russian Federation is the key to holding a rampaging China accountable in the long term interests of global peace.
Identifying China as a clear and present danger, Mike Pompeo turned President Nixon’s statement that “ world cannot be safe until China changes” on its head, saying that the world must change the Chinese Communist Party or China will change us as it is happening in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang.
Coupled with the clash between Chinese and Indian troops that resulted in the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers, China’s behavior on the world stage is beginning to be more active and assertive but in the rush to worry about a rising China and apply assertiveness for all foreign policy issues, there has been less focus on the fragilities revealed by China’s behaviour.
The Galwan clash has been seen by many as yet another example of China’s rising belligerence and it can be argued that China’s “confidence” is one in a long line of recent behaviours – China has enacted laws impinging on Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status, insisted on its claims in the South China Sea (SCS), stepped up its patrols of the contested Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, increased violations of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), and harshly condemned western countries for calling its post-pandemic exported medical supplies substandard.
The category of territories that China sees as historically integral is different from other territories because of which its behavior is different. China has settled most of its territorial disputes with its neighbors — the ones it has failed to settle are those that it sees as vital to its goal of “national reunification” which includes Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Aksai Chin. China won’t back down on these territories because they are linked to aggressive Chinese nationalism which is a problematic area for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – it constantly worries about Chinese nationalism becoming anti-CCP nationalism.
China is also deeply insecure about its image and reputation on the world stage and this has arguably intensified since the pandemic. It has vented about the global backlash, and demanded praise; this just proves its insecurity, not assertiveness.
On the international front, China does not have formal allies but it also does not have deep bilateral relationships with any powerful state or coalitions which could defend or support it in times of crisis. Currently, there has been a question of whether USA and China are slipping into a state of cold war but aside from that even the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom (UK), Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN are all suspicious of China while its relationships in Africa have been dubbed “neocolonial”. Thus, when the Sino-Indian border clash occurred, anti-China global sentiment, already heightened by the pandemic, grew. The Chinese government is aware of its current unpopularity in the global stage and has moved, for example, to rein in the social media posts of domestic nationalists making aggressive territorial claims, which could further damage its reputation.
India and the United Kingdom are committed to a free trade agreement (FTA) which will start off with “Early Harvest Agreements” and set in motion plans to hold monthly meetings on key sectors as part of moves to sign a free trade agreement after the Brexit process is complete on December 31, when the UK will trade with global partners without being a member of the EU. The limited trade agreement will lower tariffs on a small set of goods. Three key sectors identified were as focus areas: life science and health, information and communications technology, and food and drink.
Since India’s experience with existing FTAs with various countries has been mixed, UK’s eagerness for the FTA with India has been met with a wait-and-watch approach in New Delhi. Brussels believes there will be better chances of reaching the agreement with India after Britain leaves the EU.
UK and India had joined hands during the coronavirus crisis to keep supply chains open and keeping trading routes alive. As we emerge from COVID, it is vitally important we don’t move to protectionism. The goal is free trade agreement however a PTA [preferential trade agreement] is also agreeable in an immediate future.
A deal with the UK — coming within days of fresh talks of trade agreements with the US and EU – is seen to signal India’s keenness to move ahead after it decided to exit talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement. The UK is too keen to clinch bilateral trade deals after Brexit and India don’t want to end up on the losing side as several of it labor-intensive sectors such as the garment sector often get an unfavorable deal compared to other rival countries. In return, it is willing to look at lowering the tariff on products that do not hit the UK’s domestic industry.
China ordered the closure of the US consulate in the southwest city of Chengdu, in a tit-for-tat escalation between the two countries. This move of the Chinese government was in response to the closure of China consulate in Houston some days back and the US also accused staff in Chengdu of meddling in its internal affairs.
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State said the US decision was in action to China “stealing” intellectual property. The US ordered Chinese consulate as it received a clip in which unidentified individuals were filmed burning paper in bins in the building’s courtyard. Mr. Pompeo said China is not only stealing American intellectual property but European intellectual property too which is costing hundreds of thousands of jobs.
In response to these allegations, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman said the reasons given by the US for closing the consulate were “unbelievably ridiculous”.
On the other hand, China gave the reason that the staff of the US consulate in Chengdu “interfered in China’s internal affairs, and endangered China’s security and interests”. The foreign ministry also added that “The current situation between China and the United States is something China does not want to see, and the US bears all responsibility for that.”
There are various keystrokes in the international relations of China and the US that play a major role. US officials have blamed China for the global spread of Covid-19. More specifically, President Trump has alleged, without evidence, that the virus originated from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan.
The US and China have also been locked in a tariff war since 2018. Mr. Trump has long accused China of unfair trading practices and intellectual property theft, but in Beijing, there is a perception that the US is trying to curb its rise as a global economic power.
The US has also imposed sanctions on Chinese politicians who it says are responsible for human rights violations against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. China is accused of mass detentions, religious persecution, and forced sterilization of Uighurs and others.
Beijing denies the allegations and has accused the US of “gross interference” in its domestic affairs. The US has also actively raised concerns about the recent Hong Kong crisis and condemned China on that front.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the airline service tracked down domestic flights in May. India began flying domestic flights after a two-month gap in the last week of May. Domestic airlines in India have a higher and lower price limit.
While the high price limit is intended to prevent any sharp rise in revenue due to high demand, the lower limit will help ensure that the financial viability of airlines does not suffer amid high costs, Puri previously said.
Flights between cities less than 40 minutes have been classified under the first section, while those between 40-60 minutes comprise the second section. The third section consists of areas that travel 60-90 minutes apart by air, the fourth section covers cities 90-120 minutes apart, the fifth section contains cities 120-150 minutes respectively. Areas between 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes have been subdivided under sections 6 and 7 respectively.
The minimum air force for domestic airlines ranges from ₹ 2,000 to 6,500 and the maximum range from ₹ 6,000 to 18,600. Airlines must provide 40% of all seats on a mid-priced midway between the highest and lowest cost, the aviation secretary said.
The Minister of Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri, previously said that this would mean that the minimum airfare between Delhi and Mumbai, which is the busiest route in the country, will be capped at ₹3,500 and ₹10,000 at the higher end. The central government has now allowed domestic aircraft to operate at 45% power. The decision comes a month after the Centre approved re-commencement of limited domestic flight operations of about one-third of capacity.
Puri previously said domestic flights in India could reach 55-60% of pre-COVID service by mid-November, which is around Diwali. International airline services have been suspended in the country since March 24. The federal government has recently allowed a few international flights, mainly to the US, France and Germany under ‘air bubbles’.