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China won’t surround India with ‘string of pearls’ bases

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Guided Missile Frigate Tongling
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Shanghai: It’s not possible for China to surround India in a ‘string of pearls’ bases as has been stated by some commentators, according to a top PLA naval official.

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Senior Captain, Wei Xiao Dong

Senior Captain Wei Xiao Dong, chief of staff at the Shanghai Naval Garrison, said that there was no reason for India to “show concern or worry about” Chinese navy vessels, including submarines, visiting countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or others.

“China does not have a policy of hegemony nor is playing to be a military power in the region,” Wei told a group of visiting Indian journalists. “Our policy is defensive in nature,” he said.

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Guided Missile Frigate

He said such visits were not as common as was sometimes made out. “I have been in the navy since 1987 and I have not sailed in a warship to the Indian Ocean.”

He emphasized that there was no possibility of China creating a ‘string of pearls’ around India.

He said one need only to refer to China’s white paper on military strategy to realize that china only believes in a defensive approach and had no intention of expanding its military influence to other countries.

 Guided Missile Frigate Tongling
Guided Missile Frigate Tongling

He said that the visit to Pakistan has been noted in India with concern. But China, he added, had an enhanced level of cooperation with India too.

“Looked at in another way, should we reduce our visits to Pakistan and increase them to India. In such a case will Pakistan fear our cooperation with India?” he asked. He said the relations with the two countries were only on a bilateral basis.

He said in the past four ships from India had visited the Shanghai base together and he “always looks forward” to Indian ships visiting there.

He said he did not have much information on the status of China’s aircraft carrier. It was in Qindao region for training purpose. In any case, he said the carrier was not under the jurisdiction of East China Sea Fleet which was his area of operation.

Wei said one of his mandates in Shanghai was to act as anti-terrorism force and ensure peace and tranquility in the region, including the area’s coastal cities. He said they had not come under any terrorism-related attack, but they study such action around the world to gain information on how to react. He was responding to a question whether they feared an attack of the kind that happened in Mumbai in 2008 when terrorists came in boats from Karachi.

The visiting journalists were taken on a rare tour of a guided missile frigate, Tongling, docked at Shanghai and were shown its fighting capabilities, including its anti-submarine and anti-air attack capacity.

Talking of Indian navy’s presence in South China Sea, which the country, deems to be its region, Wei said that he did not know what the “strategic intention” of India was in the region. Indian ships had entered the sea a few years ago when Indian public sector companies were invited to explore oil in Vietnamese waters.

On Diaoyu islands disputed between China and Japan, Wei said they were “part of” the Chinese territory and it was responsibility of the navy to protect its “sovereign areas”. He said it was “legal for china to patrol the seas around the island in order to ensure peace. (IANS)

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Google Is Run Without Any Political Bias: Sundar Pichai

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after China insisted on censoring search results.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Google CEO Sundar Pichai insisted Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee that he runs the U.S. technology giant without political preference.

“We find that we have a wide variety of sources, including sources from the left and sources from the right. And we are committed to making sure there are diverse perspectives,” Pichai told the panel.

Pichai defended the company after accusations from Republican lawmakers that Google has developed online search algorithms to suppress conservative voices.

“There are numerous allegations in the news that Google employees have thought about doing this, talked about doing this and have done it,” Republican committee chairman Robert Goodlatte said.

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A demonstrator holds up a sign in the doorway as Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee on greater transparency in Washington. VOA

Republican Congressman Lamar Smith cited a study by P.J. Media that concluded 96 percent of Google’s search results for President Donald Trump were from “liberal media outlets.”

“In fact, not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of search results. This doesn’t happen by accident but is baked into the algorithms. Those who write the algorithms get the results they must want and apparently management allows it.”

Smith also cited a study by “Harvard-trained psychologist” Robert Epstein that said Google’s alleged bias “likely swung” more than 2.5 million votes to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“Google could well elect the next president with dire implications for our democracy,” Smith added.

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Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, arrives for the testimony of Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, VOA

“I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai said. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests.”

Top committee Democrat Jerry Nadler said Republican accusations of bias is “a completely illegitimate issue, which is the fantasy dreamed up by some conservatives that Google and other online platforms have an anti-conservative bias. As I’ve said repeatedly, no credible evidence supports this right-wing conspiracy theory.”

President Donald Trump is among those who have accused the company of censoring conservative content, tweeting in August that Google is “RIGGED” and that “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.”

‘Dragonfly’ project

Pichai’s testimony came after he angered committee members in September by declining an invitation to testify about manipulation of online services by foreign governments to influence U.S. elections.

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A smartphone and computer screen display the Google home page. Australia is one step closer to forcing tech firms to give police access to encrypted data. VOA

The CEO was also questioned about the company’s planned “Dragonfly” project, a censored search engine for China and “next generation technology” that Congressman Smith said Google is “developing on Chinese soil.”

“This news raises a troubling possibility, that Google is being used to strengthen China’s system of surveillance, repression and control,” Smith said. “We need to know that Google is on the side of the free world, and that it will provide its services free of anti-competitive behavior, political bias and censorship.”

An international group of 60 human rights and media groups submitted a letter Tuesday to Pichai, calling on him to abandon the project, warning that personal data would not be safe from Chinese authorities.

Also Read: Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Reporters Without Borders, a signatory to the letter, said China ranked 176 out of 180 countries in its Freedom of the Press Index.

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after China insisted on censoring search results. (VOA)