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Preparation work is on the right track! Beijing gets ready for 2022 Winter Olympics

Beijing will become the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games

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An image of 2012 Olympic Games. Wikimedia

Beijing, Dec 27, 2016: Beijing has wasted no time during the one and a half years since it won its bid to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games along with Zhangjiakou city in July, 2015.

The Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Games, which was launched last December, said in its annual report released last week that preparation work is on the right track and will be speeded up next year, reports Xinhua news agency.

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Beijing’s work has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC Coordination Commission held talks with the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee and visited several venues during their first meeting in Beijing in October, and said they were pleased with Beijing’s preparations.

The IOC also praised the sustainability of Beijing’s work, saying it illustrated the vision of the Olympic Agenda 2020.

The committee for Beijing 2022 has taken full advantage of the legacy of the Beijing 2008 Olympics and Paralympic Games — including repurposing existing competition venues, other infrastructure and drawing on the experience of professionals with deep operational experience.

According to the Beijing Organising Committee, venue construction will be started in 2017 and completed by 2019, and all the venues will be ready for test events in 2020.

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There will be a total of 25 competition and non-competition venues for Beijing 2022. Twelve venues are in Beijing, among which 11 are legacies of the 2008 Olympic Games. The only new venue in Beijing will be the speed skating venue.

The conceptual design of the speed skating venue has been opened to international bidding and the final design will be selected soon. The construction will get underway next April.

The alpine ski competition will be held in Yanqing. Most of the courses for this event have been selected this year. Also in Chongli, the Gent Resort Secret Garden has built an Olympic standard half-pipe. Gent is the training base for the Chinese national half-pipe ski and snowboard teams, and will host the FIS Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships in 2021 as test events for the Olympic Games.

According to the Beijing Organising Committee, the emblem for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be unveiled in the second half of 2017, and marketing development will be underway soon.

The Beijing Organising Committee will launch first tier sponsorship recruitment in early 2017, and tier two in 2018. Exclusive sponsorship recruitment will start in 2019.

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Beijing has also put in efforts to encourage participation in winter sports, as China has vowed to encourage 300 million people in China to take up winter sports ahead of the 2022 Games.

At the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur last July, Beijing, along with Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, beat Kazakhstan’s Almaty to win its bid to co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Beijing will become the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. (IANS)

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US White House Releases Report Announcing Onset of Cold War With China

US has formally announced the onset of Cold War with China

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US has officially announced Cold war with China. Wikimedia Commons

By Aarti Tikoo Singh

With its new vision document on China, the US has formally announced the onset of its Cold War with the Asian giant, accusing it of exploiting rule-based world order and re-shaping international system in favour of Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology and interests.

Just short of calling it Cold War, the US in its latest report titled, ‘United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China’, released by the White House, has announced that it is “responding to the CCP’s direct challenge by acknowledginga that the two major powers are in a “strategic competition and protecting” their “interests appropriately”.

Until now, the US policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the report said, was “largely premised on a hope that deepening engagement would spur fundamental economic and political opening” in China and make it a “responsible global stakeholder, with a more open society”.

However, after over 40 years, “it has become evident that this approach underestimated the will of the CCP to constrain the scope of economic and political reform”.

Over the past two decades, reforms have slowed, stalled, or reversed, the report said.

“The PRC’s rapid economic development and increased engagement with the world did not lead to convergence with the citizen-centric, free and open order as the US had hoped. The CCP has chosen instead to exploit the free and open rules- based order and attempt to reshape the international system in its favour.”

Beijing openly acknowledges that it seeks to transform the international order to align with CCP interests and ideology, the US said. “The CCP’s expanding use of economic, political, and military power to compel acquiescence from nation states harms vital American interests and undermines the sovereignty and dignity of countries and individuals around the world.”

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Beijing openly acknowledges that it seeks to transform the international order to align with CCP interests and ideology, the US said. Pixabay

The White House pointed out that Beijing in its neighborhood, engages “in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas”.

Just a day ago, US diplomat and acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, Alice Wells had called out the CCP regime for ratcheting up tensions with India along its borders. Chinese soldiers in the last few months has engaged in several violent faceoffs with Indian soldiers in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh over boundary issues.

Announcing its approach, the US report said that it is “working in concert with mutually aligned partnersa”Southeast Asian nations, Japan, India, Australia, Republic of Korea and Taiwan on their outlook on the free, open and secure Indo-Pacific region”.

Guided by a return to principled realism, the report said thatA given the strategic choices China’s leadership is making, “the United States now acknowledges and accepts the relationship with the PRC as the CCP has always framed it internally: one of great power competition”.

The White House made it clear that it is not interested in effecting any change in China’s domestic governance model but at the same time said that it won’t make “concessions to the CCP’s narratives of exceptionalism and victimhood” .

The US policies, the report said, are designed to protect its interests and empower its institutions to withstand the CCP’s malign behaviour and collateral damage from the PRC’s internal governance problems.

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The White House made it clear that it is not interested in effecting any change in China’s domestic governance model. Wikimedia Commons

Accusing the CCP of running propaganda and false narratives, the White House declared that it will continue to challenge Beijing’s attempts at false equivalency between rule-of-law and rule- by-law; counterterrorism and oppression; representative governance and autocracy; and market-based competition and state-directed mercantilism.

The US will not accommodate Beijing’s actions that weaken a free, open, and rules-based international order, the report said, adding that it will continue to refute the CCP’s narrative that the the US is in strategic retreat.

Also Read: Smartly Manage Your Sweet Cravings Amid the Lockdown

Using the Cold War terminology, the White House announced that it will work with its robust network of allies and like- minded partners to resist attacks on shared norms and values, within their own governance institutions, around the world, and in international organizations.

The US government said it does not cater to CCP’s demands to create a proper “atmosphere” or “conditions” for dialogue because it sees no value in engaging with Beijing for symbolism and pageantry.

“We instead demand tangible results and constructive outcomes. We acknowledge and respond in kind to Beijing’s transactional approach with timely incentives and costs, or credible threats thereof. When quiet diplomacy proves futile, the United States will increase public pressure on the PRC government and take action to protect United States interests by leveraging proportional costs when necessary,” the report said. (IANS)

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“We Could Cut Off The Whole Relationship”, Says Trump on China

Trump told Fox Business that he could cut off the whole relationship with china

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"There are many things we could do," Trump told Fox Business on Thursdayl. Wikimedia Commons

US President Donald Trump has said that he “could cut off the whole relationship” with China, in one of his strongest comments against Beijing in the wake of the Asian giant’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the media reported.

“There are many things we could do,” Trump told Fox Business on Thursday, adding: “We could cut off the whole relationship.”

The Trump administration has been mulling avenues to possibly punish or seek financial compensation from China for what it sees as withholding information about the virus, which originated in the city of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, last December.

On Monday, the administration cut investment ties between US federal retirement funds and Chinese equities.

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Trump also said “right now I don’t want to speak to” his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Wikimedia Commons

Speaking exclusively to Fox Business, the President raised the impact of ending relations, saying: “Now, if you did, what would happen? You’d save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship.”

Trump also said “right now I don’t want to speak to” his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

“They should have never let this happen,” Trump said. “So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me.

Read More: WhatsApp Launches Campaign to Reduce Spread of Fake News Amid COVID-19

“The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me.”

Although the pandemic originated in China, the US currently accounts for the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world.

According to the Johns Hopkins University, the number of COVID-19 cases increased to 1,417,889 on Friday, with 85,906 deaths. (IANS)

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What is the Future of US-India Relations? Here’s the Answer

The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations

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India USA
Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump's 'Namaste Trump' event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. Wikimedia Commons

BY FRANK F. ISLAM

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.

What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.

Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.

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Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.

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It is essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. Wikimedia Commons

To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.

In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”

Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.

This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.

Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.

This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.

Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.

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To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style. Wikimedia Commons

He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”

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Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.

During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.

That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.

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The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be. (IANS)