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India & China: Why are the precursors on the brink of war?

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Two nuclear-armed countries, two world’s largest armies India & China, are standing against each other. How did both the countries end up in the warlike situation? Are the two rivals going to battle during a time like this; when the world is facing this unprecedented pandemic?

The reason behind the raging dispute between Asia’s two major military powers is China’s intervention into India’s border by 5 Km. But first of all how and when did this all start?

India & China’s relationships

The two superpowers have always been trivial, and the main reason behind the disputes is the unbounded border of the two nations.

The modern boundary of India & china was officially drawn in the 1940s by the British colonists. But the inhospitable stretches of the Himalayan range make the thorny border interactable for both the army’s regular patrolling.

In 1962 both the countries fought a war over the boundary between Ladakh and Aksai China; Chinese troops captured the area then. In the battle, India was dreadfully defeated. 1,300 Indian soldiers were killed, but the border did a tiny shift in the ‘Line of Actual Control’.

In 2017 a similar warlike condition arose between the two nations. Back then, the Indian army moved into the country Bhutan; which is sandwiched between the two China and India; For ceasing the construction of a road by China. Indian thought that the road will alter India’s administrative border.

Feathered tensions kept on popping up, but since 1975, no soldier from any of the sides was killed; Since the two nations always try to defend against escalations.

What is the case now?

The tension on the border of the country has escalated. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has moved inside the Galway valley and Pangong Tso, areas 1400 feet above the sea level; the region that is in India’s administration. According to data from the Indian government, China has steppes 5 km under India’s Boundary.

In response, the Indian government has moved battalions from an infantry division; which in usual times is based in Ladakh. Now, this battalion is in the ‘operational alert area’. The Indian army is keenly observing the situation says  Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane said on Wednesday.

Between May 5-8 there have been two skirmishes between both armies. In this, about 100 soldiers from both sides faced minor injuries. A few days back one more fight erupted between the two armies, 1200 km east along the Line of Actual Control (LAC); at Nathu La Pass, Sikkim. But Skirmishes on the Sino-India border are nothing new.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on 26 May said; that China is committed to keeping its territory safe; alongside it is also trying to maintain peace at the Sino-India border. Although both the countries still accuse each other of trespassing.

The reason behind India & China’s clash

Indias’s Ministry of External Affairs blames Chinese soldiers for often obstructing Indian patrolling along the Line of Actual Control.

Ayushman Kaul, a South Asian research assistant at the Atlantic Council says; This time the military incursion may be because India constructs a bridge contiguous to the LAC in Ladhak. He thinks it may be a kind of payoff of what India did in Doklam, 2017. Over the past 10 years, India has boosted the construction of roads, bridges, and airbases, especially in borders near remote Himalayan range

A few analysts around the world believe this to be China’s strategy to let itself off the hook from its hand in the coronavirus pandemic. It might have planned all this to divert the world’s attention.

Kerry Brown, director of the Lau china Institution at Kings College London said; Since the land, both counties are fighting for is an arid region, it is more than the disputed region. The heart of the clash between the two countries was never any road or bridge. The constant clashes and unresolved tension are the feels of a massive role in the Asian continent by both countries.

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The steaming cold war

On both sides of the Sino-India border, both armies have tightened their belts. On the borders army tents are established; 80-100 on China’s side and about 60 on India’s border.

Indian military reported that about 10,000 PLA troops are camping in what India claims to be its territory. On 22 May, Indian army chief general Manoj Nirvana went to the disputed area for checking the ground status of the situation.

Skirmishes around the 3,488 km frontier of the Sino-India border are not something new. But despite the border disputes most of the time the condition on the border has been calm.

Ajay Shukla, a defense analyst believes that any further escalation could result in ‘all-out combat’. As fully equipped Chinese trucks are moved into the disputed area, such conditions usually arise during wars.

Beijing Global time newspaper reads that the latest border condition at the India-China border was a planned move by New Delhi.

Offering the olive branch

US President Donald Trump tweeted that the US is ready to “mediate or arbitrate” the India-China border dispute.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1265604027678670848?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Both Countries play a very vital role in the world’s economy. War always has disastrous consequences. But especially at this time when the entire world is going through a hard time because of the pandemic, it is, without a second thought not a good time for war.

Neither India nor China would be willing to indulge themselves in a war during this health emergency. Especially China which is already in a war of words with the US over coronavirus’ origin. The best way out would be, as said by China’s ambassador to India Sun Weidong; “As neighbors, friends, and partners, China and India, should shake hands strengthen cooperation, and fight against the epidemic together.”

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What Xi Jinping Aims, Acquires – The Return of Persistent President

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President Xi Jinping

The results of China’s presidential election were known to the entire globe, and especially to the citizens of China. In the wake of the recently concluded party congress in Beijing, Xi Jinping has established himself as the kingmaker.

Xi Jinping was a driving force behind the repeal of presidential term limits in 2018, which opened the door for him to hold the position of leader for life if he desires.

Xi Jinping has broken the previous history by accepting a third term as party leader and significantly enhanced the concentration of power at the organization’s top.

But what does the persistent president’s return means for China and the world? Here’s a detailed insight.

“The World Development needs China…”. – Xi Jinping 

After being elected as president of China for the third consecutive term in a closed-door election, Xi Jinping stated in his first address to the audience, “China cannot develop in isolation from the world. The world’s development also needs China,” 

This quote shows how China focuses on its growth to have a more prominent global effect as a superpower. 

Additionally, Xi Jinping, with the proceedings of the new term, wants to focus on achieving economic, industrial, and technological goals. That will give the Chinese economic and technological sector a competitive edge to become the next prominent superpower.

Video by cgtn

However, the road ahead toward leading China as a top superpower for Xi Jinping needs to be smoother. There are unresolved domestic problems, economic difficulties, and hostile international relations with neighbors like Taiwan and India. One of his biggest concerns would be his relationship with rival America

Nevertheless, Xi Jinping continues to hold the view that despite numerous challenges in becoming a superpower, the Chinese people would always support and remain steadfast on this side. 

“On the road ahead, no matter high winds, choppy waters, or even dangerous storms, the people will always be our most solid support and strongest confidence,” 

President Xi Jinping

Two Countries Share a Friendship with ‘No Limits’ – Xi Jinping on Relationship with Russia 

Mr. Putin will need China, said Alicia Garcia Herrero, head economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis. Russia must continue importing semiconductors from China to keep military, industrial, and civil needs operational. 

Due to restrictions from US and European alliances, Russia has no choice but to export chips from China to operate for civil and military purposes. 

Chip export from China to Russia more than doubled to roughly $50 million in the first five months of 2022 compared to a year earlier. While exports of other components like printed circuit boards also witnessed a double-digit percentage increase.

However, Xi Jinping raised concerns over the Russia-Ukraine war during his visit to an international summit in Uzbekistan with President Putin.

The focus, though, was on Putin’s oblique acknowledgment of Chinese “concerns” regarding the invasion. 

“We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis,” 

Putin, Russian Presidnt

Nevertheless, China has been cautious in its interactions with Moscow to avoid falling victim to any potential sanctions and alienating other nations, such as those in Central Asia, with China forging economic links.

Yet, with the ongoing trade across two borders of China and Russia, Xi Jinping’s thought over Russia’s invasion clearly — supports the friend firmly in the backend while criticizing and commending Russia in front of the world.  

“Regard science and technology as our primary productive force” – Xi Jinping

The most potent president of decades in China, Xi Jinping, at the opening of the meeting, straight away displayed China’s powerful ambitions and reliance on science and technology

Violating a tradition that had been in place for 40 years, six out of politburo’s 25 members now have a background in science. Compared to just one person in the previous politburo, who had no members with education or experience in science or technology. 

And there was a significant turnaround of the party’s top leadership after Xi Jinping was reinstated as general secretary for a third term.

Xi Jinping’s choices emphasize building up Beijing’s powerful military and technological capabilities so that China can defend or resist any pressure from the US and its allies, especially when it comes to enforcing territorial claims over Taiwan. 

Moreover, China is also expected to prioritize research and development in aerospace and space science. To boost the aerospace and space science workforce, China aims to bring back Chinese scholars who are currently abroad or hired by foreign researchers. 

Such initiatives and endeavors unequivocally show China’s priority for science and technology in the years to come. In 2021, China spent around 2.8 trillion yuan, 2.4% of China’s GDP, on Research and Development. 

However, the current five-year plan for the nation sets a target of an annual increase of more than 7% every year. 

“China must strengthen the unity of all ethnic groups.”

As western countries continue to charge Beijing with committing genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population in the region, China’s president, Xi Jinping, visited Xinjiang for the first time in eight years.

A supra-governmental group subject to US sanctions, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) was inspected by the president, who lauded the organization’s “excellent progress” in reform and growth.

Nevertheless, President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Xinjiang area comes out as more deliberate than opportunistic as the ruthless tactics employed by the Chinese government against the Uyghur minority in the northwest Xinjiang province have been brought to light by a cache of leaked documents and images.

Uyghurs are allegedly forced to unlearn their culture and religion via a network of institutes run by Chinese authorities in the area. The exposed documents state that

China has a shoot-to-kill policy for Uyghurs who attempt to flee the internment centers. The materials also go against the Chinese government’s claim that the Uyghurs willingly attend the facilities.

However, China’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the allegation and said the Media is spreading lies and rumors.

Though China was seriously condemned by the UN and western countries, knowing such ruthless behavior of China towards minorities is nothing new. Such criticism compelled President Xi Jinping to travel to Xinjiang, a region he hadn’t been to in eight years. 

However, the future of the oppressed Uyghur Muslims and other minority communities under Vi Jinping’s third term is still uncertain.

Read More: Modern Uyghur ‘Genocide’ in Xinjiang China

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Will China Invade Taiwan? The Looming Danger of World War 3 Explained

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Taiwan's Military

While the world is engulfed in the Ukraine-Russia war, global inflation, food shortage, and scorching heat, China is preparing to conclude its long-simmering plan to invade Taiwan.

Here’s an in-depth report:

Will China Invade Taiwan: An Overview

China’s goals for Taiwan are well known. Tensions between the two nations have been stoked for years by opposing perspectives over the sovereignty of the little island country. And now, they are reaching boiling point.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province even though it has never been a part of China. Moreover, the so-called reunification with Taiwan has been a top priority for the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, ever since he came to office. And he hasn’t ruled out using force to do this.

Taiwan’s military, which has 169,000 active soldiers, is outnumbered by its superpower neighbors’ million-strong army by over a 20 to 1 margin. And, with the looming danger of China’s invasion of Taiwan; expert fear, the world is inching closer to a World War situation.

Why does Taiwan Matters to the World?

If China were to Invade Taiwan, two nuclear power heads, China and the US, could war head to head into what could escalate into world war three.

But why is Taiwan so important for the world, especially for the US?

South China Sea Dispute

The South China Sea is one of the most important regions for global trade because over 30% of the world’s shipping passes through the passage, which amounts to $3.37 Trillion in trade per year. The sea also homes 11 billion barrels of untapped crude oil and 190 Trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

And most important of all, the country controlling this region will have significant military benefits.

For years, China has been keenly taking control of the region. To an extent, where the Sino military has created an artificial island to claim the South China Sea as its own.

artificial island by China
China’s artificial island on the South China Sea

So, if China succeeds in invading, it will have the upper hand in the second most important region in the world, handing China significant military dominance in the area.

US’s Promise in Question

The US does not recognize Taiwan as an officially different state. But, the Taiwan Relations Act 1979 does require the US to aid Taiwan in self-defect. President Bidden also testified that in case of Chinese assault, Washington would protect Tawain with force.

Though Biden has framed US support for Taiwan in terms of ideals, such as the defense of democracy against despotism, many analysts point out that Washington also views the island as strategically significant.

Furthermore, if China invades Taiwan, the US will be forced to reciprocate to honor its promise. Failing to do so would put Washington in question even with its strongest allies, including NATO.

Taiwan: The Semiconductor Hotstop

From laptops to game consoles and automobiles, most of our electronic equipment is powered by semiconductors chips manufactured in Taiwan.

Taiwan alone has 63% of the market share in the global semiconductor industry. By one measure, TSMC (Taiwan semiconductor manufacturing company) holds over 54%. It’s a vast industry worth over 100 billion USD in 2021.

Therefore, Taiwan is the world’s semiconductor hotspot that powers significant tech companies, including Apple, Intel, and Nvidia. And, with China in control of Taiwan, it will directly take over one of the world’s most vital industries.

Can China Takeover Taiwan By Force?

The People’s Liberation Army has significantly improved under president Xi Jinping to an extent where invading Taiwan is possible.

However, one key determiner is how close PLA is to mastering the skills required to deploy thousands of troops to Taiwan by air or sea, take over the island and push over to size crucial areas like railways, ports, and communication.

However, even if LPA- the biggest military force in the world- wanted to annex Taiwan, doing so would be fraught with danger.

While subjected to naval and aircraft bombardment, the Sino military will have to cross Taiwan bay with over 100,000 soldiers. And, even if the military were to reach Taiwan’s coast; landing aircraft to unload armored personnel carriers, artilleries, and tanks would be a challenge because of the island’s rocky shoreline.

The invasion will further provoke large-scale combat between the US and China.

Taiwan Brace for China’s Invasion

With China’s aggressive military power demonstration near Taiwanese borders and Nancy Pelosi’s visit, the Taiwanese authorities are preparing for the invasion. Now, allies are pumping in more military aid while the neighbors are arming with new fighter jets.

According to Chinese officials, live-fire sea and air exercises are being conducted in six different regions around Taiwan. The drill includes over 100 planes, including ten warships, bombers, and fighter jets.

Six Chinese military drill zones in south china sea
Six Chinese military drill zones (Source: Al Jazeera)

However, Taiwan is also setting the stage for strong retaliation.

Last week, Taiwan conducted its largest ever military drills that stimulated the repulsion of an invading force. City across Tawin shut down for thirty minutes for nationwide military exercises.

And now, with China set to orchestrate fresh military drills near Taiwan; the island nations say, “Our military will be ready but will not ask for war.

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Cobalt Mines: China Taking Over the Fuel of the Future

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Congo Cobalt Mines

Green energy and electric vehicle is the future of a sustainable world, and one of the critical components powering the dream of a more sustainable planet is Cobalt. The blueish-grey chemical has risen to prominence as a vital component of lithium-ion batteries, the technology that will fuel the smart technology revolution.

As more countries electrify their vehicles, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has become an increasingly important supplier of the vital energy source in EVs, Cobalt. Cobalt is a crucial component of electric car batteries, and Central Africa provides two-thirds of the world’s supply.

Often referred to as the fuel of the future, Cobalt is undoubtedly the key to the growing electric vehicle industry. But who controls cobalt?

Cobalt: The Fuel of the Future

The use of Cobalt in the green energy industry is as diverse as it is enduring. Having tripled in price in just a decade, Cobalt has formed the cornerstone of some of today’s essential applications, from hard metals, jet turbines, orthopedic implants, and electric vehicles.

However, the supply of this critical chemical element is expected to become increasingly complicated. In 2017, the DRC produced 67 percent of all worldwide Cobalt mined. Because the DRC is related to concerns of corruption, child labor, and human rights violations, this is a challenge for enterprises with customers that require high levels of supply chain due diligence.

Furthermore, the DRC’s new punitive cobalt tax policy may lead large miners like Glencore to halt or stockpile output in the nation until the government agrees to better conditions, resulting in further market shortages. Furthermore, Cobalt is produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining, and the world’s sole primary cobalt mine exists.

But, China’s influence on the Cobalt industry has increased drastically over the years. So, how is China taking over the fuel of the future?

China is Taking Over the Fuel of the Future: Cobalt

China’s approach to financing state-owned enterprises may be causing significant inefficiencies in the economy. Still, it also gave them unrivaled supremacy in essential minerals necessary for new technology like Cobalt.

According to Darton Commodities, China now controls roughly 85% of global cobalt supplies.

This includes a three-year arrangement with Glencore, the world’s largest cobalt producer, to sell 52,800t of cobalt hydroxide to Chinese chemicals business GEM. This is almost a third of Glencore’s entire expected production for this period.

Mine Worker Entering the Mine

Furthermore, after purchasing the Tenke Fungurume Cu/Co mine (TFM) from Freeport McMoRan in 2016, China Molybedenum (CMOC) is the largest shareholder in the DRC’s Tenke Fungurume Cu/Co mine (TFM). The mine is the only supplier to Finland’s Kokkola refinery, distributing to Japanese and Western technological companies.

Several smaller Chinese companies own cobalt holdings, such as Comika Mining/Wanabao Mining, Congo Dongfang Mining, and Hunrui Cobalt. According to Darton Commodities, Chinese refinery output accounted for 58 percent of world refined cobalt output in 2017, with the remaining 98 percent imported, primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The DRC: China’s Key to Winning the Green Energy Race

Local Chinese upstream production and cobalt resource exploitation account for just 23% of the global electric car supply chain. On the other hand, China dominates one downstream and two mid-stream production stages. Moreover, China accounts for 66% of cathode and anode manufacture, 80% of chemical refining, and 73% of lithium-ion battery cell production in the worldwide EV supply chain. As a result, China relies on Congolese Cobalt to dominate the world market.

The importance of the DRC and the draught report’s consequences stem from the link between Cobalt, batteries, electric vehicles, and global politics. Over 70% of the world’s cobalt deposits are located in the DRC. Also, the DRC houses the world’s eighth-largest cobalt mines

However, Chinese battery manufacturers will struggle to keep up with the country’s booming electric vehicle sector and the government’s geoeconomics aspirations if they don’t have an ample supply of Cobalt. In addition, the possibility of Congolese officials reopening the Sicomines investment agreement may throw global markets into a tailspin. However, the DRC is a vital link in a significant high-tech supply chain as one of the world’s poorest countries.

Children Working in the Mines in Congo
Source: InfoCongo

If China can acquire Cobalt in the DRC, it will control global supply networks for a material that is highly concentrated geographically. This will help China dominate the reusable battery materials and electric vehicles market. However, China’s Dual Circulation Plan and worldwide climate policy may suffer substantial defeats due to the discoveries in this new draught report.

The Hurdles Ahead for China

According to US Geological Survey estimates released in 2019, the DRC holds over 51% of world cobalt deposits.

Roskill forecasts that the central African country generated roughly 90kt Co in different intermediates in 2020, accounting for nearly 70% of global cobalt feedstock production.

Prior to the current declaration, Chinese businesses already owned over 40% of the cobalt mining capacity in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a consequence of decades of investment and development in the nation, with multiple resource-for-infrastructure deals inked and implemented since the 1990s.

China’s need to achieve a balance between internalizing supply chains and leading international investment is exemplified by the Sicomines incident.

The Dual Circulation Strategy tries to accomplish this by maintaining one foot in the global system and the other firmly planted in China. Sicomines are a key component of this method.

China can grow its EV market and local consumer culture by importing raw resources like Cobalt, which allows the country to be independent of international tides. Electric car production can also help Beijing gain an image as a climate change leader on the world stage.

The Congolese government’s examination of Sicomines is unlikely to jeopardize China’s geoeconomic goals. Still, it does provide insight into China’s essential sectors, economic strategy, and the challenges it will confront in securing strategic supply chains.

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