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Diplomacy sneaks in as Countries find new ways to stand Up to China

Nations including Japan, India, France and Vietnam joined calls for greater respect for international law to resolve worsening tensions over the South China Sea

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South China Sea. Image source: hpr2.org
  • Nations including Japan, India, France and Vietnam joined calls for greater respect for international law to resolve worsening tensions over the South China Sea
  • Concern at China’s assertiveness over the vital trade route of South China Sea is deepening
  • Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein spelt out the costs to smaller regional countries if great power rivalries escalate

Several delegations were quick to respond to the idea at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, but it seemed to evolve into a form of diplomatic tag-team wrestling as a loose coalition of nations lined up to criticize China.

Nations including Japan, India, France and Vietnam joined calls for greater respect for international law to resolve worsening tensions over the South China Sea, a dig at Beijing which has said it will not accept any ruling by a U.N.-backed court on the dispute.

Chinese officials, meanwhile, stressed Beijing’s commitment to being a peaceful, lawful and inclusive nation but said it would not be bullied.

China
U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with South Korea’s Minister of Defence Han Minkoo (R) and Japan’s Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani for a trilateral at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 4, 2016. Image source: REUTERS/Edgar Su

“No one has the right to point their fingers at us,” said Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the joint staff department of China’s Central Military Commission, as he faced a string of questions at one public forum at the summit on Sunday, June 5.

“Belligerence does not make peace.”

Sun was sharing a podium with Vietnamese deputy defense minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, who said he was cutting short his own responses to allow his Chinese counterpart more time to rebut criticisms raised of Beijing.

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Concern at China’s assertiveness over the vital trade route was deepening, several envoys said on the sidelines of the summit, particularly given the prospect of Chinese military facilities on new artificial islands built by on reefs in the South China Sea.

Those concerns were forcing regional countries to band closer together to find new ways of standing up to Beijing.

Carter’s urging of greater regional efforts, particularly from China, to create his “principled security network” was underpinned by warnings that China risked isolating itself by its actions “on the seas, in cyberspace, and in the region’s airspace”.

Many militaries in the region, he said, were working closer together, both among themselves and with the United States.

Japan’s defense minister, Gen Nakatani, said Japan would seek to participate annually in naval exercises together with the United States and India, similar to drills due to take place off the Japanese port of Sasebo later this week.

“It is very meaningful from the standpoint of securing safety in the wide area of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, for Japan, the United States and India to cooperate on security and defense areas and to conduct training,” Nakatani said.

GREAT WALL OF ISOLATION

Carter’s warnings that China faced a looming “Great Wall of isolation” were rejected by Chinese officials, but some analysts said an “us versus them” divide may suit Beijing in current circumstances.

“It might sound tough talk, but my worry is that Chinese leaders will simply welcome that kind of view,” Lee Chung Min, a professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University, told Reuters.

“If its economy slows, China’s leaders might welcome the chance for the isolationist talk to stir some domestic nationalism.”

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Major General Yao Yunzhu, of China’s Academy of Military Science and prominent figure during the weekend sessions, acknowledged perceptions that some nations might be “ganging up” on China but said this did not represent “objective reality”.

“The South China Sea is not the only security issue in the region, and events like this one are not quite full reality,” she told Reuters. “Each nation has to think of its bilateral relations with China as well, and many other security issues, that pull us closer together.”

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, made clear that while the U.S. military was attempting to engage and co-operate with China’s rapidly modernizing military, it was prepared for a darker outcome.

“The bottom line is this: we want to co-operate where we can, but we just have to be ready as a military to confront them if we must,” he said.

Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein spelt out the costs to smaller regional countries if great power rivalries escalate, however.

Whatever happens between major powers must not “leave us on the beach when the tide goes out”.

-Prepared by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from Reuters), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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I Fall in Love with India Every Time I Return Here: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

On Friday, Goyal clarified that government welcomes all kinds of investments into the country which are within the ambit of the law

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amazon, jeff bezos
Amazon.in arrived in India on June 5, 2013 and for world's top billionaire Jeff Bezos, has transformed the way the country buys and sells. VOA

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday posted a note on the company’s e-commerce website Amazon India, saying “he falls in love with India every time he returns here”, a day after Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal snubbed him during a public event.

“I fall in love with India every time I return here. The boundless energy, innovation and grit of the Indian people always inspire me,” Bezos wrote in the letter while mentioning Amazon’s investment in the Indian economy and that the firm is aiming to create 10 lakh new jobs by 2025.

Bezos, in the letter, added that more than 550,000 small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India are using Amazon as a platform to offer millions of products.

The new expected jobs are on top of the 700,000 jobs Amazon has already created in the country since 2013.

Amazon, drones
In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club of Washington’s Milestone Celebration in Washington. VOA

On Thursday, Goyal not only ticked off Bezos saying that they are not doing India a favour by investing a billion dollars, but also raised concerns if its losses were a result of predatory pricing and if Amazon and Flipkart were gaining entry into multi-brand retail by using loopholes.

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On Friday, Goyal clarified that government welcomes all kinds of investments into the country which are within the ambit of the law.

“We welcome all kinds of investments that follow the letter and spirit of the law. If some investment is outside the legal purview, appropriate action will be taken,” he told reporters. (IANS)