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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
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  • 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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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)