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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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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

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It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

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President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)