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South Asian nations back China’s take on human rights in Xinjiang

China got key South Asian countries, barring three, to endorse a joint statement supporting its political as well as human rights approach in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong at the United Nations on Thursday, delivering a wake-up call on India.

The statement, which was brought forward by Cuba, won the support of 62 countries- the best bunch of numbers China has managed on the issue. For India, however, the point of concern arises from the fact that Sri Lanka and Nepal joined Pakistan and Myanmar to support China on this issue. The only exceptions were Bangladesh, Malpes and Bhutan. The statement was delivered at the UN Third Committee, which deals with humanitarian, social and cultural issues.

“Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet-related issues are China’s internal affairs that brook no interference by any external forces. We support China’s implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” read the joint statement. Interestingly, the statement makes the point that the UN should “respect the right of the people of each state to independently choose the path for human rights development in accordance with their national conditions”.

The statement is a strong response to the US-led western democracies which have been extremely critical of Chinese excesses in these areas. India has shown inclination to move with the democratic combine on these issues given Beijing’s aggressive posture and policies towards Delhi. Moreover, India has been on the receiving end of China’s double standards in multilateral organisations as it has actively supported the Pakistan line on Kashmir and even sought to bring resolutions within the UN Security Council. While such joint statements may have no larger bearing, they help convey a show of support or acceptance on a certain issue. What’s noteworthy in this case is that China until a few years ago could register the support of 40-odd countries. This has gone up to 69 with many East European and South Asian countries joining African nations who are dependent on China for commercial and economic reasons. This increase in the number of countries supporting the Chinese position on Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, sources said, stand out in contrast to even Russia, which could hardly get about 15 countries to endorse a statement on its position in the Ukraine crisis.

Significantly, key countries in West Asia like Saudi Arabia, Iran and UAE supported the statement. But the bulk numbers were made from Africa with countries like Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambon, Ghana, Libya, Algeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia, among others, throwing in their lot with China. The other ploy, which China has started to emulate from western powers, is to get a third country to move resolutions or statements of its interest in the UN, which again is aimed at showing greater acceptability. In the instant case, communist ally Cuba came forward.

NBA player slams China’s ‘brutal’ Xi in social media missive

An NBA player slammed China‘s President Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator” and declared that “Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people” on Wednesday, risking reigniting tensions between Beijing and the US basketball league.

Enes Kanter, who plays as a center for the Boston Celtics, wrote on Twitter: “Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government. Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people!”

“I stand with my Tibetan brothers and sisters, and I support their calls for Freedom,” he added, next to a picture of some sneakers adorned with Tibetan iconography and sporting the slogan “Free Tibet”.

Tibet has alternated over the centuries between independence and control by China, which claims it “peacefully liberated” the rugged plateau in 1951 and brought infrastructure and education to the previously underdeveloped region.

But human rights campaigners and exiles say the Chinese central government practises religious repression, torture, forced sterilization and cultural erosion through forced re-education.

The message by Kanter — who is vocal in defence of various political causes — was also posted on Facebook.

Global brands including the NBA have in recent years been consumed by PR crises and faced financial repercussions in China after touching politically sensitive subjects.

In 2019, Chinese broadcasters dropped the league after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted a message of support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Beijing air pollution soars to toxic levels

BEIJING: Chinese meteorological authority has issued a yellow alert for fog indicating dangerous levels of smog in China’s northern and western regions, including major cities like Beijing and Chengdu. It said parts of China were facing the worst recorded pollution.

A news agency quoted Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center website saying the density of PM2.5 particulates had surpassed 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of the city. The World Health Organization considers a safe daily level to be 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Earlier, the centre had reported that PM2.5, which indicates air quality, had touched the 500 point in some of the monitoring stations. PM2.5 indicates the extent of floating fine particles, and a level of 350-500 is regarded as hazardous. The WHOhad recommended a PM2.5 level at 20. The level was 19 in NY city at 6pm on Saturday. The US embassy in Beijing, which monitors pollution levels, said PM2.5 has exceeded its highest level of record set at 500.

The fog also resulted in the cancellation of 10 flights and delays in five others. It reduced visibility to 100 meters at several airports in Beijing, Hebei, Hunan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Sichuan.

It also disrupted road traffic on highways in Hebei, Sichuan, Hunan, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, according to the ministry of transport. The meteorological centre said that north China plains, middle and western regions along the Yellow and Huai rivers, the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and south China will continue to see fog.

Self-immolation resumes in China after a 5-week lull

China saw the first case of self-immolation in 2013 when a Tibetan died after setting himself on fire, according to the London-based pressure group Free Tibet and US-based Radio Free Asia. The incident comes after nearly a 5-week lull in the spate of self-immolation incidents in 2012. A 20-year old Tibetan identified as Tsebe set himself afire in Xiahe, a county in western China’s Gansu province on Saturday. RFA said 96 ethnic Tibetans, many of them monks and nuns have set themselves on fire in China since February 2009 in protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibet. There was a sudden spurt in self-immolation incidents in November immediately after the Chinese Communist Party congress, which saw Xi Jinping being named the party’s new general secretary.

Climate change likely caused deadly avalanche in Tibet

WASHINGTON: Climate change may be to blame for the deadly avalanche in Tibet this year which claimed the nine lives, a new study has found.

On July 17, more than 70 million tonnes of ice broke off from the Aru glacier in the mountains of western Tibet and tumbled into a valley below, taking the lives of nine nomadic yak herders living there.

The most important fact about the July 17 avalanche is that it lasted only four or five minutes, yet it managed to bury 3.7 square miles of the valley floor in that time, researchers said.

Something – likely meltwater at the base of the glacier – must have lubricated the ice to speed its flow down the mountain, said Lonnie Thompson research scientist at Ohio State University‘s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Centre (BPCRC) in the US.

“Given the rate at which the event occurred and the area covered, I think it could only happen in the presence of meltwater,” Thompson said.

“Other nearby glaciers may be vulnerable, but unfortunately as of today, we have no ability to predict such disasters,” he said.

Researchers could not have predicted, that a neighboring glacier in the same mountain range would give way just two months later, but it did in September 2016.

That avalanche appears not to have resulted in any deaths, and the cause is still under investigation.

The researchers used satellite data and GPS to get precise measurements of how much ice fell in the first avalanche and the area it covered.

They have since pieced together more answers by working with computer modelers who were able to replicate the avalanche virtually.

In those simulations, the only condition that led to an avalanche was the presence of meltwater.

“We still don’t know exactly where the meltwater came from, but given that the average temperature at the nearest weather station has risen by about 1.5 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years, it makes sense that snow and ice are melting and the resulting water is seeping down beneath the glacier,” Thompson said.

Glacial collapse is unprecedented in western Tibet, which for decades has resisted the effects of climate change while glaciers in southern and eastern Tibet have melted at an accelerating rate.

Increased snowfall has even led to the expansion of some glaciers in western Tibet – and the extra snowfall likely played some role in the avalanche by creating additional meltwater, said Lide Tian, a glaciologist at the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The research was published in the the Journal of Glaciology.

China drills Tibet glaciers for climate change research

BEIJING: Chinese scientists have drilled into a glacier in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to collect nearly 400-metre ice samples for research into climate change.

Under the project led by Yao Tandong, an academician with the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it took the team 40 days to collect the ice samples from the top of the Dund Glacier.

The scientists took three ice samples with a total length of 396 metres drilling from an altitude of 5,320 metres above the sea level on top of the glacier, and another three samples of 45 metres-long in total from an altitude of 4,950 metres above the sea level, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The samples have been sent to the institute’s lab in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region.

They also set up a meteorological station at the top of the glacier.

Only the polar regions have more glaciers than the plateau.

Scientists believe glaciers can offer insight into climate changes.

Although they generally believe glaciers on the plateau are melting due to global warming, the glacier appears to have remained stable without any obvious retreating since the first scientific drill by a Sino-America team in 1987, the report said.

Dalai Lama’s successor has to be approved by Beijing: China’s white paper on Tibet

China on Friday asserted that any successor to the present Dalai Lama should be approved by it, ruling out recognition to any heir nominated by the India-based Tibetan spiritual leader or by his followers.

The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other grand Living Buddhas has been subjected to approval by the central government since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), claimed an official white paper issued by the Chinese government here.

The document has also asserted that Tibet was an inseparable part of China since ancient times.

“In 1793, after dispelling Gurkha invaders, the Qing government restored order in Tibet and promulgated the Imperially Approved Ordinance for Better Governance of Tibet, improving systems by which the central government-administered Tibet,” the white paper titled ‘Tibet Since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity” said.

The ordinance stipulated that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other grand Living Buddhas had to follow the procedure of “drawing lots from the golden urn” and that the selected candidate would be subject to approval by the central government of China, the document said.

The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a Chinese crackdown on an uprising by the local population in Tibet. India granted him political asylum and the Tibetan government-in-exile has been based in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then.

The Dalai Lama is 85 years old now and the issue of his successor has gained prominence in the last couple of years due to his advanced age.

The Dalai Lama’s succession issue was in the limelight, especially in the last few years after the US has stepped up campaign that the right relating to the reincarnation of Dalai Lama’s successor should be within the exclusive authority of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.

Chinese foreign ministry officials have been asserting time and again that while the institution of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has been in existence for several hundred years, the 14th (present) Dalai Lama himself was found and recognised following religious rituals and historic conventions and his succession was approved by China’s central government.

The white paper said by 2020, a total of 92 reincarnated Living Buddhas had been identified and approved through traditional religious rituals and historical conventions for temples in Tibet. It also questioned the Dalai Lama’s proposals, called “the middle way” for Tibet to continue as part of China with autonomy for the province to run its affairs.

Referring to the talks between Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama representatives for several years, the white paper said the middle way “denies the fact that Tibet has been an integral part of China since ancient times; instead, it claims that Tibet was “an independent state”.

“It seeks to establish a “Greater Tibet” that has never existed at any time in history, claiming that Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai and other areas inhabited by compact communities of both Tibetans and people of other ethnic minorities should be incorporated into a unified administrative region, it said.

It demands “a high degree of autonomy” that is not subject to any constraint whatsoever from the central government, and denies the leadership of the central government and Tibet’s present social and political systems; it proposes to establish an “autonomous government” under which “Tibetans (in truth the Dalai group) take full charge of all affairs other than diplomacy and national defence, it said.

“It (middle way) opposes the central government’s right to garrison troops in Tibet. Despite its superficial agreement that the central government holds the authority over national defence, it demands that the central government “withdraw all Chinese troops” to turn Tibet into an “international zone of peace”, it said.

“The “middle way” does not tally with China’s history, national reality, state Constitution, laws and basic systems. Neither does it conform to Tibet’s history, reality and ethnic relations. Moreover, it runs counter to the fundamental interests of all the people of China, including the Tibetans”, it said. The white paper termed the demand for Tibetan independence as a product of imperialist aggression against China.

In the middle of the 19th century, the UK-led imperialist powers began to cultivate the idea of “Tibet independence,” intentionally undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, it said. It also slammed the Dalai Lama group for promoting “Tibetan independence”.

Over the years, the 14th Dalai Lama and his supporters have continued to try to promote “Tibetan independence” by provoking incidents to jeopardise peace and stability in Tibet, it said. After the failure of their armed rebellion in 1959, “the reactionaries of Tibet’s ruling class fled to India and subsequently began to campaign for “Tibetan independence” by force”, it said.

No country or government in the world has ever acknowledged the “independence of Tibet,” it said. China makes it mandatory to adhere to the ‘One China’ policy, recognising Tibet and Taiwan as an integral part of the country. Beijing has made the ‘One-China’ policy a prerequisite for countries to establish diplomatic ties with it.

About the incidents of over 100 Tibetans setting themselves on fire since 2011 demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from his exile, the white paper said the Dalai Lama and his supporters have incited Tibetan lamas into self-immolations.

PM K P Sharma Oli claims Yoga originated in Nepal, not in India

Nepal‘s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has stoked yet another controversy by claiming that Yoga originated in his country, not in India, a view not shared by a leading expert here.

Speaking at a function organised to observe the International Yoga Day on June 21 at the Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwatar, Oli said that India was not even born as a separate country when Yoga originated in “this part of the world”.

“Yoga originated from this part of the globe. It originated from Uttarakhand, in particular, Nepal was the place of origin of Yoga,” he said.

Some 15,000 years ago, Shambhunath or

Shiva

propounded the practices of Yoga. Later on, Maharshi Patanjali developed the philosophy of Yoga in a more refined and systematic manner, he said.

“Yoga doesn’t belong to any particular religion or religious sect,” Oli said.

“Shiva started the practice of Yoga on the longest day on the Earth, which lies on June 21 as per the Gregorian calendar. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi proposed to observe International Yoga Day on the same day, for which we all should be pleased,” Oli said.

“In fact, Yoga originated from Uttarakhand and at that time Uttarakhand was not in present-day India,” he claimed.

“India was not even born as an independent country at that time,” he added.

“Not only Yoga but also Samkhya philosophy propounded by Kapil Muni originated from our land,” he added.

Samkhya is one of the six astika schools of the Indian philosophy. It forms the theoretical foundation of Yoga.

“Charak Rishi, who developed Ayurveda, was also born in this land,” pointed out Oli.

A leading Yoga expert of Nepal, Yogacharya G N Saraswati, however, said that Prime Minister Oli’s claim doesn’t represent the complete truth.

Yoga originated from the Himalayas in the Bharatvarsha, which includes India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc, he pointed out.

Yoga originated from the Himalayas and developed by the Rishis, who lived and meditated in the Himalayas, Saraswoti observed.

“One should not speak about historical truths without proper study, just for the sake of popularity,” he pointed out.

Oli stirred up a controversy last year by claiming that Lord Rama was born in the Madi area, or Ayodhyapuri, in Nepal’s Chitwan district, and not in India’s Ayodhya.

He had also ordered the construction of massive temples of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and others there.

“Ayodhyapuri was in Nepal. Balmiki Ashram was also in Nepal near Ayodhyapuri. Sita died in Devghat which is in Nepal, close to Ayodhyapuri and Balmiki Ashram,” he had claimed.

Soon after Oli’s claim, the Nepal Foreign Ministry was forced to issue a statement saying the remarks of the Prime Minister were “not linked to any political subject” and had no intention at all to “hurt” the feeling and sentiment of anyone.

“As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the Prime Minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilization,” the ministry had said.

China launches first bullet train in Tibet, close to Indian border

China on Friday operationalised its first fully electrified bullet train in the remote Himalayan region of Tibet, connecting the provincial capital Lhasa and Nyingchi, a strategically located Tibetan border town close to Arunachal Pradesh.

The 435.5-km Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway has been inaugurated ahead of the centenary celebrations of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) on July 1.

The first electrified railway in Tibet Autonomous Region opened Friday morning, linking Lhasa with Nyingchi as “Fuxing” bullet trains enter official operation on the plateau region, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

It has a designed speed of 160 km per hour and operates on a single-line electrified railway. It stops at nine stations, including Lhasa, Shannan and Nyingchi and can handle passenger and freight transportation, the report said.

Compared to roads, the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway reduces the travel time from Lhasa to Nyingchi from 5 hours to approximately 3.5 hours, and cuts the travel time from Shannan to Nyingchi from 6 hours to approximately 2 hours, it said.

The rail line passes through 47 tunnels and 121 bridges and crosses the Brahmaputra river locally called Yarlung Zangbo 16 times. It passes through the Yarlung Zangbo River 16 times and 90 per cent of it are 3,000 metres above sea level.

Tunnels and bridges account for approximately 75 per cent of the total length of the railway track.

Also, it has an annual freight transport capacity of 10 million tonnes which provides strong support for the flow of goods, will promote economic development and improve people’s lives, the report said.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway into Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It will go through the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the world’s most geologically active areas.

The Fuxing train now reaches all 31 mainland provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, the Global Times newspaper reported, noting that the rail line will better connect Tibet to other provinces and regions and will boost the local economy.

Tourism, culture, religion and other natural and cultural resources along the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway are rich, and they contain huge potential for economic development. But in the past, due to traffic constraints, the development of tourism resources along the line was limited, the report noted.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi railway will help to further narrow the development gap between the east and west of China, unleashing a greater potential for the development of the west, Hong Tao, director of the Institute of Business Economics at the Beijing Technology and Business University, said.

In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping had instructed officials to expedite construction of the new railway project, connecting Sichuan Province and Nyingchi in Tibet, saying the new rail line would play a key role in safeguarding the border stability.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway starts from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, and travels through Ya’an and enters Tibet via Qamdo, shortening the journey from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 hours to 13 hours.

Nyingchi is the prefecture-level city of Medog which is adjacent to the Arunachal Pradesh border.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet, which is firmly rejected by India. The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the official daily Global Times earlier that “If a scenario of a crisis happens at the China-India border, the railway will provide a great convenience for China’s delivery of strategic materials.

Chinese, Indian workers among 11 killed in Nepal floods, 25 missing

Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy rain across Nepal this week killed 11 people including one Indian and two Chinese workers at a development project, while 25 people were missing elsewhere, officials said on Friday.

The bodies of the three workers were recovered near the town of Melamchi in Sindhupalchowk district, northeast of Kathmandu, which was hit by flash floods on Wednesday that also forced many people from their homes, district administrators said in a statement.

“The foreign nationals were working for a Chinese company that is building a drinking water project,” district official Baburam Khanal told Reuters.

The Home Ministry said late on Thursday that 25 people were missing in floods in Sindhupalchowk, a mountainous district bordering the Tibet region of China, and other parts of the country.

The monsoon rains, which normally begin in June and last until September, kill hundreds of people in mostly mountainous Nepal every year.

Heavy rain since Tuesday have damaged roads, destroyed bridges, washed away fish farms and livestock, and wrecked homes.

Hundreds of people have been forced to move to community shelters, including schools, sheds and tents, authorities said.

Aid agencies said the crisis this year could add to the social and economic woes of a country hard hit by COVID-19. Nepal has been reporting among the highest coronavirus test positivity rates in the world.

“Those who have lost homes are sleeping in community centres,” said John Jordan of the U.S.-based charity World Neighbors.

“This forced density raises risks for a community that has been recovering from COVID-19.”

China’s Xi Jinping awards soldier dead in Galwan clash, says party needs new ‘Heroes’

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the Communist Party needed new heroes to carry it into its second century, as he celebrated more than two dozen officials who had contributed to its longevity.

Xi spoke as part of an event Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where he handed out red-and-gold medals adorned with the party’s hammer-and-sickle emblem. He said the recipients — including people who had promoted Xi’s signature poverty alleviation campaign and a soldier who died in last year’s border conflict with India — had done things that could be replicated by others.

“We must fight unrelentingly and keep on fighting,” Xi said. “In the course of building a modern socialist society, in an all round way, we must march forward toward the second centenary goal and the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

The president, who has emphasized rooting out corruption during his almost decade in power, said officials “must be aim to be clean people and do clean deeds.” “We must devote ourselves wholeheartedly to public duties and maintain the political nature of the party to be clean,” Xi said.

The address is one of several events this week planned to mark the party’s founding in 1921 in Shanghai by a handful of revolutionaries. Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and other senior figures attended a performance titled “The Great Journey” on Monday evening in the National Stadium with about 20,000 people attending, Xinhua reported. The audience sang “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China” after the show.

The anniversary will not only highlight the Communist Party’s confidence after a 100 years but also the dominance of Xi, who has led it for almost a decade. While China’s rise is facing increasing resistance from the U.S. and its allies, Xi remains firmly in control of domestic politics ahead of a party congress next year expected to give him a third term.

The 29 award recipients spanned a variety of backgrounds, including teachers, welders, composers and actors. Several people from China’s disputed frontiers were also honored, from Tibet to the South China Sea to a village official from the Uyghur ethnic minority group credited with taking a “clear-cut stand against national separation.”

Xi will make an important speech at an event Thursday, the Ministry of National Defense said last week. Warplanes and helicopters have been seen flying in formations above Beijing spelling out “100” and “71” for July 1, the state-run Global Times reported, citing an aerospace publication.