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Australia, Japan and United States join hands to counter China’s use of force in South China Sea

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South China Sea-WEFORNEWS-min

Washington, July 8: To sternly counter China in South China Sea, The defence ministers of  Australia, Japan, United States has reinforced strong opposition to the use of force or coercion to alter the status quo  of the region, and called on to uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight.  

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, Japanese Minister of Defense KONO Taro, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper convened a virtual trilateral defense ministerial meeting on July 7.

Concerned about the recent incidents, including the continued militarization of disputed features, dangerous or coercive use of coast guard vessels and “maritime militia”, the leaders of three countries said no country can disrupt other countries’ resource exploitation activities.

They emphasized the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, in particular as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and called for all countries in the region to take meaningful steps to ease tension and build trust. 

The ministers also called “for any Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to be consistent with existing international law, in particular as reflected in UNCLOS; not to prejudice the interests of third parties or the rights of any State under international law; and to reinforce existing inclusive regional architecture”.

This comes after USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan along with their accompanying vessels and aircraft conducted exercises “designed to maximize air defense capabilities, and extend the reach of long-range precision maritime strikes from carrier-based aircraft in a rapidly evolving area of operations.”

The Nimitz and Ronald Reagan strike groups conducted several exercises and operations to strengthen warfighting readiness and proficiency in an all-domain environment. Integrated operations included air defense exercises, tactical maneuvering drills, simulated long-range maritime strike scenarios, and coordinated air and surface exercises to maintain combat readiness and maritime superiority.Our forces provide combatant commanders with significant operational flexibility to respond to regional contingencies.”

Captain Michael Rovenolt, commanding officer of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, said, “Working together with another Carrier Air Wing provides advanced opportunities for our squadrons to conduct high-end training, and increase our warfighting readiness…Our forces provide combatant commanders with significant operational flexibility to respond to regional contingencies.”

Working together with the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group provides advanced, high-end training opportunities that increase our warfighting readiness,” said Capt. Todd Cimicata, Commander, Carrier Air Wing 17.

In reference to the 2019 Australia-Japan-United States Trilateral Strategic Action Agenda, the ministers directed their respective officials to continue to pursue avenues for practical engagement, cooperation, and interoperability in a time of geostrategic change.

This joint statement by trilateral countries provides an impetus to the joint statement issued by the members of the ASEAN bloc expressing concerns over the current situation in the South China Sea.

The ASEAN leaders stressed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and over-flight above the South China Sea, as well as upholding international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, in the South China Sea, working actively towards the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had said that the US has sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General to protest China’s “unlawful South China Sea maritime claims”.

Defence Ministers also agreed to coordinate to ensure to deter destabilizing or coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions in the East China Sea.

The ministers underlined the instrumental role of ASEAN in facilitating regional dialogue and establishing norms of behavior that support stability, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and recognized the importance of supporting partners in South and South East Asia. 

The ministers emphasized their ongoing support for ASEAN centrality as a key contributor to regional security and prosperity.

By Arti Bali  

Sr Journalist (International Affairs)

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Newsprint paper manufactures voice concerns

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New Delhi, Aug 13 : Indiscriminate import and dumping of newsprint paper is threatening the very survival of the domestic newsprint industry, says the Indian Newsprint Manufacturers Association (INMA), the apex body of newsprint manufacturers in India.

In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, as much as 85 percent of domestic demand for newsprint paper was met by imports while the country has adequate manufacturing capacities to meet the demand both in terms of quality and quantity. In a SOS communication to the Prime Minister, INMA has asked for urgent remedial measures to safeguard the interests of the industry.

“The adverse impact of dumping is so serious that currently no good orders are in place to keep the plants running, resulting in severe financial stress, endangering the continuity of the mill operations and retaining employment,” INMA has said in a statement.

“Domestic newsprint production capacity was 2.6 million tonnes in FY 2014-15 but has come down to 2.2 million tonnes in view of continued challenging environment leading to closure of mills. However domestic capacities are still adequate to meet the domestic demand. There is an urgent need to curb dumping and other unfair trade practices operating in the industry,” states INMA.

Due to imports being cheaper than the domestically manufactured newsprint product, during FY18 and FY19, domestic sales of newsprint stood at 1.2 million tonnes per annum which reduced drastically to 0.7 million tonnes in FY20 in view of dumping.

According to INMA, against the import price of $800 per tonne of newsprint in FY18, the news print is currently being dumped by exporters at $390-400 per tonne which is almost $250-300 per tonne cheaper than their home country sales price. With Covid pandemic leading to demand reduction worldwide, market intelligence points to dumping of newsprint paper at $350 per tonne.

INMA says it is not against legal import by actual users but against unfair trade practice being adopted by the exporters. As an urgent measure, INMA has asked for imposition of a five-year moratorium on newsprint imports, among other asks.

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Pilot stays in hunt for bigger role, to be rewarded in 2021 by high command

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Sachin Pilot

Jaipur/New Delhi, Aug 11 : The can may well have been kicked down the road in Rajasthan but the vexed leadership issue remains wide open. Contrary to popular perception, former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, who camped in Gurugram these past few days, has not beaten a hasty retreat.

Optically, he may have lost the skirmish, but he is very much in the game. This was a battle in a long drawn-out war. A war based on principles and one of anger over maltreatment.

Sources close to developments told IANS that his meeting with the Gandhi siblings – Rahul and Priyanka – at the former’s residence was one where he did not merely reveal his state of mind and reservations but was equally given cast iron assurances about the future.

Pilot, it is believed, didn’t hanker for any position but told them that belittling him by levelling charges of sedition was nothing short of outrageous. The Special Operations Group and Anti-Corruption Bureau charges were a travesty and he was pained and appalled at the charges levelled against him.

IANS has gathered that Pilot did not want to be a Deputy CM with a car and a bungalow for he had worked hard on the ground over the last six and a half years to help the Congress storm back to power in the state in the late 2018 election. To be viciously targeted by his own government was an abomination, according to him.

Apparently, he was given a fair hearing and while a decision on the party leadership in Rajasthan may have been kept in abeyance for the time being, a view will be definitely taken on this issue in early 2021. This assurance was given to him.

What is more is that Pilot has managed to get a fair and equitable settlement for all his followers, particularly those who camped with him in the last few days when they went underground. In a mockery of democracy, these MLAs were spied upon by the state CID which kept them under daily surveillance under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s orders. This was intolerable for Pilot.

These things rankled with Pilot and while he was adamant that he won’t join the BJP from the outset, he was clear that he would stay with the Congress. All he wanted was a proper hearing and a just recourse to the problems and issues that he and his followers were facing in Rajasthan.

The Gandhi siblings have also come to realise that their footprint continues to shrink with the BJP trying to topple their state governments, the most recent case being Madhya Pradesh.

They didn’t want the BJP to take advantage of the fluid situation and hence sought closure. Once Pilot had given his side of the story, it was appreciated by the siblings.

It is clear that the Congress will want to hit the ground running with a young Pilot at the helm in the race for the state in 2023. It appears that Pilot may well become Chief Minister of Rajasthan in early 2021 to prepare for the battle in late 2023.

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Political circles mourn Rahat Indori’s demise

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Rahat Indori

New Delhi, Aug 12 : Condolences have poured in for noted Urdu poet Rahat Indori, who passed away on Tuesday after suffering a cardiac arrest. The poet had also tested positive for Covid-19.

Offering his condolences, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted in Hindi, “I am deeply saddened by the news of the demise of noted poet Rahat Indoriji. He was an ardent personality of Urdu admiration. He has left an indelible mark on the hearts of people by his memorable poetries. It is a great loss for the literary world. I extend my condolences to his loved ones in this hour of grief.”

“My heart sank after I got to know about your demise. It has created a vaccum in the literary world which will be difficult to fill,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted in Hindi.

Quoting pne of Indori’s couplets, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Ab na main un na baki hai zamane mere, phir bhi mashhoor hai shahron mein fasane mere… Alvida Rahat Indori sahab.”

Leader of Opposition in the Upper House, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said in his condolence message, “He will be remembered for his free, fair and fearless poetic expressions.”

“India has lost a great Urdu poet; I salute the departed soul of Rahat Indori, the voice of millions of Indians,” Azad tweeted.

Indori, a poet and painter, taught Urdu literature at the Indore University before foraying into Bollywood as a lyricist.

Among the many memorable verses he created for Hindi films are “Neend churayi meri” and “Dekho dekho jaanam” (“Ishq”), “Chori chori jab nazrein mili” (“Kareeb”), “M bole toh” and “Chhan chhan” (“Munna Bhai MBBS”), “Dil ko hazaar baar” (“Murder”), “Tumsa koi pyaara” (“Khuddar”) and the title song of “Sir”.

His popular books include “Do Kadam Aur Sahi”, “Maujood”, “Chand Pagal Hai”, “Mere Baad” and “Naraz”.

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