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Nepal Government Pushes Journalists to Avoid Critical Reporting on China, Tibet

Nepal is careful in dealing with Tibet issues to avoid offending its powerful neighbor

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FILE - An earthquake survivor reads a newspaper at a shelter camp in Kathmandu, April 29, 2015. VOA

Government officials in Nepal are pushing journalists to avoid critical reporting on China, one of the nation’s largest investors as part of Beijing’s One Belt, One Road project, a Nepalese journalist told VOA.

Anil Giri, foreign affairs correspondent for the Kathmandu Post, said journalists are discouraged from covering Tibetan affairs to mollify China and that government officials shy away from commenting on China-related issues.

China sponsors junkets for Nepalese journalists and “that’s why probably we don’t see lots of criticism about China’s growing investment in Nepal, Chinese doing business in Nepal and China’s growing political clout in Nepal,” Giri said.

He said Nepali government officials shy away from reporters seeking comments on China-related stories.

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Map of Nepal. VOA

Conduct found ‘unsatisfactory’

The sensitivities extend beyond the press. The Kathmandu Post reported earlier this week that the Samajbadi Party of Nepal suspended lawmaker Pradip Yadav for six months for attending a Tibet support conference in Europe last month. The party reached the decision after finding his explanation for attending a program called “Free Tibet” in the Latvian capital Riga “unsatisfactory.”

Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries, shares borders with China and India. The border with China along the Himalayas passes through Tibet, which China considers part of its territory, a view rejected by many Tibetans.

China wants to control the movement of Tibetans to India, which started after a failed uprising in 1959. There are now about 20,000 exiled Tibetans living in Nepal.

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FILE – Nepal’s Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and China’s Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong, second from left, exchange documents during a signing ceremony relating to the One Belt One Road initiative in Kathmandu, May 12, 2017. VOA

Nepal and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on bilateral cooperation under the framework of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in May 2017. Nepal received foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges from China of $57 million in 2015-16, $76 million in fiscal 2016-17 and $427 million U.S. dollars in fiscal 2017-18, according to Xinhuanet.

Such investment comes at a price, said Cedric Alviani, director of the Asia Bureau of Reporters Without Borders.

“For the Belt and Road Initiative to be fully successful” and reach its full potential as envisioned by China, “the population of every country taking part in the project has to be enthusiastic,” Alviani said. “But of course, just like any project led by a foreign country, there are many questions.”

Such questions must be suppressed when a country joins the Belt and Road project, Alviani said, adding, “For this development to become successful, the media must be muzzled.”

Reporters Without Borders has accused China of creating a “new world media order.” The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Nepal is careful in dealing with Tibet issues to avoid offending its powerful neighbor, Giri said.

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Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama arrives at Gaggal Airport in Kangra, April 26, 2019. The Dalai Lama was discharged from a New Delhi hospital three days after being admitted with a chest infection. VOA

Journalists investigated

In June, Nepalese government officials began investigating three journalists from a state-run news agency Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) who reported on the discharge of the Dalai Lama from a New Delhi hospital. The agency’s chair, Hari Adhikari, told Indian news outlets that the issue was “very sensational for us.”

Gokul Baskota, Nepal’s minister of communications and information technology, told the Kathmandu Post that he ordered the investigation. “We should be sensitive to our neighbor’s concerns,” he told the newspaper.

Dilliram Batarai, one of four members of a committee assigned by RSS chairman Harikar Adhikari, said, “RSS is a state-run news agency, however, and our investigation will be guided by Nepal’s relationship with China, by the One-China policy, and by Nepal’s foreign policy. So we report to higher authorities.”

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said, “Presumably, the price of friendship for some governments is to prevent anything that reflects poorly on China, and any reminder of the repression in Tibet is something that does reflect very poorly.”

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“Nepal has been shutting down peaceful protests by Tibetans, even when it comes to displaying flags or posters,” Ganguly said. Giri said it is not a lack of Nepali people’s interest in Tibet, but the government’s fear of China that puts discussion of Tibet off-limits.

“There is extreme pressure from China. The expanding cloud of influence or pressure from China over different sectors” means people are afraid to speak openly for the Tibetan refugee community, he added.

But China wants even “the idea of independent journalism to disappear,” Aviani said. “And this might happen in one or two generations if democracies do not react and fight against it.” (VOA)

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Here’s Why China is Predictable and Not Inscrutable

India could’ve easily predicted the Chinese coming on 5 August 2019

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The Chinese actions are far away from being Inscrutable. Pixabay

As the tensions rise between India and China along the borders in Ladakh, Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print invokes an American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.

Talking about his works Shekhar points out that in his ‘A Brief History of Man’, P.J. O’Rourke writes a small sentence “Meanwhile, in China, there were the Chinese.”. This sentence is relevant to us today.

Shekhar Gupta believes that the sentence conveys us a sense of resignation about the “inscrutable” Chinese. This thought happens to be familiar thought in the West.

“But we don’t live in the West. We’ve lived next door to China for as long as first civilisations grew.”, writes Shekhar Gupta

Let’s look at the history of Indian interactions with China since independance. What is inscrutable about it? Talking about the military assault across two fronts in 1962, it may have been a surprise to our leaders back then, but that is only because they were delusional.

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Chinese actions in respect to India are predictable now. Pixabay

From Chinese ultimatum to India to “return their stolen yaks and sheep” in 1965, to their appearance along the Ladakh frontier this year, China happens to be completely predictable and far from inscrutable. Especially keeping in mind Chinese actions in respect to India.

The push at Nathu La (Sikkim) in 1967 was probably to check out the resolve from India. Which they saw at its weakest — having fought two recent wars (1962 and 1965), famines, ship-to-mouth existence, political instability and a diminished Indira Gandhi. . The Indian response was a lesson they quickly learnt. What did the Chinese do after that? They have kept the peace for 53 years. Will you call that response evidence of Chinese inscrutability? They probed us, got a rude push-back, and decided to wait and stir the pot in different ways, at different times, says Shekhar Gupta in his artcile for The Print.

The Chinese kept the hold of what they wanted in 1962. According to Shekhar the truth is, they had it in their possession almost fully, barring small, tactically important slivers in Ladakh. They asserted their ownership and let their larger claim, Arunachal Pradesh, fully in Indian control, go militarily uncontested.

The Chinese never gave up claim on it. In 1986-87, they again checked us out at Wangdung-Sumdorong Chu (Arunachal), when they saw Rajiv Gandhi take India’s defence budget to a 4 per cent-plus of GDP. And once more, the response was firm and the Chinese backed off. The lesson we learnt according to Shekhar Gupta is that the Chinese won’t open fire randomly for the sake of it, Or when they are absolutely sure of an easy victory so they could be seen like ‘teaching an upstart a lesson’ as they did in 1962. Predictable.

Each and every action and response of China fits a pattern- Deliver a message, add leverage, and return, according to Shekhar Gupta.

India, China and Pakistan shared this unusual ‘triangulation’ in which China was using Pakistan to keep India preoccupied, said Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his tenure.

His idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. He thought, that a country as big and powerful as China, would see less of an incentive for peace with India than Pakistan.

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Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

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Shekhar Gupta believes that today, that option is not so available, as hostility with Pakistan is central to the Modi-BJP politics. They’d rather make peace with China than Pakistan. That is why the lavish welcomes and frequent meetings with the Chinese leaders. The objective, still, is escaping that triangle.

Another instance of Vajpayee explaining the Chinese negotiating style. “Dekhiye, aap aur hum baithe hain aur vaarta kar rahe hain (see, you and I are sitting and negotiating),” he said. If two people require something and the first person asks to let go of something, the other will say no. Then the first person again asks for something little less, then again the other person might say no. But ultimately the second person will relent and let go of some. The Chinese would never do that.

Both these leaders underlined that the Chinese are consistent, and predictable. And that is why we should not be shoched or surprised by what they have unveiled across Ladakh. We should have anticipated it on 5 August last year when we made the big changes in Jammu & Kashmir. This Chinese move, like all others in 60 years, was fully predictable. Even the timing, says Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print.

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Apple Manages to Open Nearly Half of its Retail Stores Worldwide

Apple has reopened nearly 256 retail stores globally

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Nearly half of Apple retail stores are now open globally. Pixabay

Apple has managed to reopen nearly 256 retail stores out of more than 500 worldwide, as it aims to safely restart operations.

Apple closed all its retail stores outside Greater China in March as COVID-19 pandemic spread. All the Apple stores in Greater China are now open.

“In China, and later around the world, we were one of the first companies to close our stores. In Greater China, we saw the importance of swift action — and the critical importance of social distance — to slow the virus’ spread,” according to Apple’s head of retail Deidre O’Brien.

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Apple is conducting enhanced deep cleanings at their stores to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Pixabay

“As time has gone on, we’ve continued to refine and expand our in-store health and safety measures, which have proven so effective in places like Greater China, where our stores have been safely open for months,” he added.

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Apple is taking some additional steps in most places. Throughout the day, Apple is conducting enhanced deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas.

“Face coverings will be required for all of our teams and customers, and we will provide them to customers who don’t bring their own. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door, and posted health questions will screen for those with symptoms — like cough or fever — or who have had recent exposure to someone infected with COVID-19,” O’Brien elaborated. (IANS)

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COVID ‘Just the Tip of The Iceberg’ Warns Virologist known as ‘Bat Woman’

Top Chinese virologist, has warned that new viruses being discovered are "actually just the tip of the iceberg"

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COVID is only the beginning says virologist. Pixabay

A top virologist from China, famous for her work on researching coronavirus in bats, has warned that new viruses being discovered are “actually just the tip of the iceberg”. In an interview on Chinese state television, Shi Zhengli, known as the ‘Bat Woman’ for her research about bats and the viruses associated with them, also called for greater international cooperation in the fight against epidemics such as Covid-19.

Zhengli, the Deputy Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said research undertaken in viruses needs governments and scientists to be transparent with their findings, and cooperative, reports dailymail.co.uk.

She also said that it is ‘very regrettable’ when science is politicised. Speaking to Chinese state television CCTN, Zhengli said: “The unknown viruses that we have discovered are actually just the tip of the iceberg. If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings,” Zhengli was quoted as saying to CCTN.

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COVID and other viruses need more research says an expert. Pixabay

“If we don’t study them, there will possibly be another outbreak,” she added.

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Her interview comes after, both US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have suggested that the Covid-19 originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic erupted last December last month. Earlier, Zhengli had also said that even after the world finds a way to combat the virus responsible for Covid-19, it should prepare for more outbreaks caused by bat-borne coronaviruses. (IANS)