VIF News Digest - Neighbourhood Studies: Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Taiwan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives (Vol 1 Issue VI)

December 15 – 31, 2017


China-India Special Representative Talks;
China -Pakistan -Afghanistan Foreign Minister Talks in Beijing;
China, Britain Agree to Enrich "Golden Era" of Bilateral Relations;
Central Economic Work Conference, 2017;
Communist Party Unveils Regulation to Promote Transparency in Party Affairs;
US-China Row over Selling of Oil to North Korea;
China Unveils its First Civil-Military Cybersecurity Innovation Center;
MOU on Promotion of Industry Collaboration between India and Taiwan;
Nepal- Election Commission’s role is Suspicious;
Shashank Koirala asks Dahal to part ways from the Left Alliance;
UML and CPN-MC continue their tussle over Formation of Government;
Upper House Polls slated for Feb. 8, 2018;
Myanmar- India’s Foreign Secretary Visits;
Myanmar and Bangladesh agree for Return of Refugees;
Myanmar Ends Cooperation with UN Human Rights Rapporteur.


India-China Special Representative Talks

On 22 December 2017, the Special Representatives (SR) of India and China held the 20th Round of boundary talks in New Delhi. The talks were positive and focused on bringing out the full potential of the Closer Developmental Partnership between the two countries. Both the SRs undertook a comprehensive review of the previous rounds of talks. They agreed that an early settlement of the boundary was in the interest of both the countries. The two sides agreed that pending the final resolution of the boundary question, it was necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. In this regards, the SRs exchanged ideas on various confidence-building measures.

The 20th Round of talks was important for the India-China bilateral relations as it came more than 20 months after the last round and the first one after the 73-day stand-off at Doklam. All the previous meetings had followed each other within a year. Additionally, the Chinese SR Yang Jiechi has now been elevated to the 25 member Politburo; the first time the Chinese side has been represented by a SR of such seniority. [Back to Contents ]

China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Foreign Minister Talks in Beijing

On 26 December 2016, a trilateral meeting between Foreign Ministers of China-Pakistan-Afghanistan was held in Beijing. During the meeting the three ministers discussed revamping of Afghanistan-Pakistan ties; efforts to boost counterterrorism coordination and cooperation to crack down on terrorists and terror organisation and Afghanistan’s rebuilding process.

The idea of extending the China Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan was also discussed. Afghanistan and Pakistan reiterated their willingness to synergize their own development strategies with China's Belt and Road Initiative and to explore the possibility of trilateral partnership under this initiative. The second trilateral foreign ministers' meeting will take place in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2018. [Back to Contents ]

China, Britain Agree to Enrich ‘Golden Era’ of Bilateral Relations

On 16 December 2017, China and UK held their ninth UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue. The ninth dialogue marked wide- ranging and positive progress in areas including macro-economic policies, trade, investment, finance, industrial strategies, Belt and Road Initiative and third-party markets. The two sides reached a series of new agreements on deepening economic and financial cooperation and providing new impetus to the development of ‘Golden Era’ of UK-China relations. 72 agreements were signed under six headings: Macro-economic Situation and Policy, Trade and Investment, Financial Services, Infrastructure and Energy, Industrial Strategy and Belt and Road Initiative and Cooperation in Third-party Markets. [Back to Contents ]

Central Economic Work Conference, 2017

The Central Economic Work Conference was held in Beijing on 18-20 December 2017. The conference essentially analyzed China’s economic performance in 2017 and set the tone for China’s economic policies for 2018. The brief summaries of the proceeding were published in the Xinhua.

The major developments of the meeting were covered under eight major themes; Xi's thought on socialist economy put forward for the first time; push ahead high-quality development; adopt a prudent and neutral monetary policy and a proactive fiscal policy; forestall financial risks; housing system encouraging both purchase and renting; focus on targeted poverty reduction measures; pollution prevention, and boosting imports for balanced trade. [Back to Contents ]

Communist Party Unveils Regulation to Promote Transparency in Party Affairs

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee announced a regulation to promote transparency in Party Affairs. This is the first CPC regulation on Party affairs. Promotion of transparency in Party affairs was first put forward by the CPC at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee in 2004. It was added to the Party Constitution in 2007. [Back to Contents ]

United States-China Row over Selling of Oil to North Korea

Reportedly, since October 2017, Chinese ships have transferred oil to North Korean ships in the West Sea around 30 times. On 28 December 2017, US President Donald Trump tweeted that China has been “caught RED HANDED” selling oil to Pyongyang. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korean problem if this continues to happen!” The tweet was followed by a statement that explicitly said for the first time that he has been soft with China on trade in the hope that its leaders will pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by saying, “The fact is that since August, there have been no records of this ship docking, entering or leaving a China’s port. Whether this ship has ever called at other countries ports is not ours to tell. Therefore, what these reports claimed is not true.” [Back to Contents ]

China Unveils its First Civil-Military Cybersecurity Innovation Center

China unveiled its first cybersecurity innovation center developed under the national strategy of civil-military integration. The center has set the ambitious goal of setting up a cutting-edge cybersecurity defense system for the military to help win future cyber wars.

It was set up under the instruction of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development and related military bodies, which will also supervise and manage the center during its operation by one of China’s leading cybersecurity companies, 360 Enterprise Security Group. [Back to Contents ]


MOU on Promotion of Industry Collaboration between India and Taiwan

On 14 December 2017, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (TECC) and the India-Taipei Association (ITA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Promotion of Industry Collaboration. The MOU was signed by TECC Representative Amb. Chung-Kwang Tien and ITA Director Mr. Sridharan Madhusudhanan. Under the MOU, India and Taiwan will expand the scope of cooperation in not only trade and investment but industrial collaboration as well.

The MOU involves cooperation in research and development, design and engineering, product manufacturing and after sales-services. India and Taiwan will adopt various models for cooperation in order to create synergies and industrial value chains, as well as develop products/services and enhance their added value. In addition, both countries will explore the possibility of setting up industrial parks to provide platforms for cluster formation and development. The two countries further aim to conduct exchanges on investment regulations and policies, as well as provide one-stop commercial services. [Back to Contents ]


Election Commission’s Role is Suspicious

The Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) leader and the former speaker Subas Chandra Nembang has alleged that the Election Commission was playing a dubious role in delaying announcement of the final results of the House of Representatives elections. Nembang added that the staff of the Commission had submitted results of proportional representation (PR) polls and details of seat each party would get long ago, but the Election Commission did not make them public. Commission has been insisting that PR poll results would be announced only after the election to the National Assembly is completed. CPN-UML has been demanding that the results be announced without any further delay. Nembang further accused PM Deuba of trying to prolong his stay in power for next couple of months. He further said that people’s mandate should be given priority. [Back to Contents ]

Shashank Koirala asks Dahal to part ways from the Left Alliance

Nepali Congress General Secretary, Shashank Koirala has said that he would take initiative in breaking the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre’s (CPN-MC) ties from the Left Alliance. He further said that it would be beneficial for the Nepali Congress’s future strategy if CPN-MC breaks off from CPN-UML. Koirala further asked the NC to review its electoral losses and should gear up to play a more constructive role in the opposition. [Back to Contents ]

UML and CPN-MC continue their Tussle over Formation of Government

The process of formation of the next government in Nepal is stuck due to differences between the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML on the issue of election of the National Assembly (NA). This impasse has not yet been resolved. Further complications have arisen due to deterioration of relations between the Left Alliance partners, CPN-UML and the CPN-MC since the dominant party CPN-UML seems unwilling to share significant power with the MC. MC leaders claim that an agreement has been reached on UML Chairman KP Oli and MC Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to equally share prime ministership over the next five years. Besides, MC leaders claim that the UML is increasingly reluctant to hand over leadership of the merged party to Dahal during Oli’s stint as prime minister. The MC’s suspicions increased when Oli led UML reached out to the Federal Socialist Forum’s (FSF’s) Upendra Yadav, apparently in a bid to form a government that did not include the MC.

Meanwhile, the NC and the Maoists appear to have commenced their own negotiations in what seems to be an attempt to form a government by excluding the UML (but including the Madhesi parties).

Disputes over the NA election ordinance continued through all these developments. The NC favours a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system while CPN-UML has been asking for majority vote system under which NC would not receive even a single seat in the NA. Interestingly, CPN-MC has remained non-committal the major Madhesi parties would obviously prefer the NC formulation. They all suspect that UML was trying to marginalise other parties.

The MC urged the party leadership to ensure that their leader Dahal became the chief of the Unified Party, should CPN-UML’s Oli become the Prime Minister. The UML advocates joint-leadership of the unified party. Dahal and Oli were scheduled to meet on the Jan. 2, 2018 to resolve the logjam but the meeting was deferred. CPN-UML and MC’s failure to hold a meeting of the coordination Committee almost three weeks after the polls has created room for speculation. Maoist Centre formed a nine member panel led by Ram Bahadur Thapa to facilitate the merger. Another panel has also been created under Amik Sherchar to probe cases of “intra party betrayal” during the recent elections. The proposed unification of UML and the Maoist Centre is likely to be delayed.

There are also speculations that the new alliance has differences over new presidential and other candidates of different high offices. Names of Bidya Devi Bhandari, Jhala Nath Khanal and Subas Chandra Nembang are being mentioned for president ship. For the Speaker’s post, Nembang, Onsari Gharti and Krishna Bahadur Mahara are under consideration. Besides, assigning respectable responsibilities to Madhav Kumar Nepal, Ram Bahadur Thapa, Bamdev Gautam and Narayan Kaji Shrestha is also going to be contentious issues. [Back to Contents ]

Upper House Polls slated for Feb. 8, 2018

The Election Commission on 2nd of January, 2018 suggested that the government can hold the much awaited National Assembly elections on February 8. According to the ordinance passed by President Bimla Devi Bhandari on December 29, 2017, the government has been authorized to fix the date in consultation with the Election Commission. The Assembly will have 59 members with 56 representatives – eight from each seven provinces – elected by an electoral college comprising provincial assembly members & Chief and Deputy Chief of municipalities and rural municipalities. Three other members will be nominated by the President. [Back to Contents ]


India’s Foreign Secretary Visits Myanmar

Foreign Secretary of India Dr. S Jaishankar visited Myanmar on December 20, 2017. During the visit, he called on State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Union Minister in State Counsellor's Office U Kyaw Tint Swe and Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye. He discussed bilateral cooperation, including follow up on decisions taken during recent visit of Prime Minister of India to Myanmar, as well as matters pertaining to Rakhine State.

During the visit a MoU was signed for a project to build prefabricated housing in Rakhine State to meet the immediate needs of returning refugees. A review of a number of ongoing friendship projects was carried out. This included review of the operation and maintenance of Sittwe port and the road from Paletwa- Zorinpui. Therere discussions also on other projects such as the Rhi-Tiddim road project, the Trilateral Highway road from Kalewa to Yargyi, the project to build 69 bridges on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa road, the Yamethin Police Training Centre and hospital projects, etc.

Foreign Secretary earlier also called on Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. All matters relating to security, bilateral cooperation as well as the situation in Northern Rakhine State were discussed. [Back to Contents ]

Myanmar and Bangladesh agree for Return of Refugees

On 19th December Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to start repatriating Rohingya refugees before the end of January. Bangladesh Foreign Affairs minister, M Sahidul Haque, and U Myint, permanent secretary of Myanmar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, signed off on the terms of reference for a Joint Working Group (JWG) in Dhaka. Each country will have at least 15 members on the JWG. Rohingya refugees have been referred to as displaced “Myanmar residents” and say official transfers will begin by January 23. The detailed modalities for return of Rohingyas are not yet clear. [Back to Contents ]

Myanmar Ends Cooperation with UN Human Rights Rapporteur

Myanmar government has informed UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee that she has been barred from returning to the country and that cooperation will be withdrawn for the duration of her tenure. She was to visit Rakhine State to assess and take stock of human rights violations against Rohingyas.

Later, the UN General Assembly urged Myanmar to end a military campaign against Rohingya and called for the appointment of a U.N. special envoy, despite opposition from China, Russia and some regional countries. A resolution put forward by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was adopted by a vote of 122 to 10 with 24 abstentions. It requests that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoint a special envoy to Myanmar. [Back to Contents

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