I cover business and investing in emerging markets.Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Chinese President Xi Jinping walks with Brazilian President Michel Temer in Beijing on Friday, just two days before the opening of the annual BRICS Summit on Sept. 3. China is far and away the most powerful of the five BRICS. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Is it at all humiliating to the Russians, at least a little bit, that the Chinese are far and away the biggest, baddest BRICS nation? Russia used to be a world superpower. It’s a world oil power. A world nuclear power. But beyond that, China is more relevant to the world economy than the Russians.
Brazil. What about them? For years, the commodity bubble made it seem Brazil was on its way to becoming the runaway leader of Latin America, surpassing Mexico, which is basically a U.S. import market. Brazil was, and is, a more diverse economy than Mexico. They weren’t dependent on any one nation, really. Then the commodity bubble burst and Brazil’s purchasing power has dropped, putting it on par with China’s. GDP per capita is also similar. China’s Happy Meal toy making economy has grown up and is home to more new billionaires than anywhere else. And as leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa meet in Xiamen on Sept. 3, it is clear to everyone watching that China is the leader.
Russia needs China because it is in a never-ending feud with the West. They have two things in common, generally: commodities supply and demand, and a desire for a multi-polar world, though this is probably more Vladimir Putin’s thing than Xi Jinping’s. China is at least as dependent on the U.S. as Russia is dependent on Europe.
Brazil needs China because that’s where all of its soybeans and iron ore goes. Brazil’s agribusiness is vital to the economic recovery now just two quarters young. In May, China and Brazil launched a joint investment fund to increase productive capacity. The fund has an initial sum of $20 billion and will reportedly go to finance investment projects in Brazil (not in China) that are of interest to both countries. Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, is already in China. He wants to convince them to buy airports and participate in other privatization bids as Brazil tries to trim more fat from its federal government.
Following the recent border skirmish, India can probably do without China. India’s main trading partners are the U.S. and United Arab Emirates. But if you include Hong Kong with China, then China is No. 2. More importantly, India’s imports are heavily dependent on the Chinese. Some $59 billion worth of Chinese imports moved into India in 2015, more than the No. 2 Sweden and No. 3 U.S. combined. Bilateral trade volume between China and India also rose by 21.5% year-on-year to $47.52 billion between January and July 2017, Indian customs data show.
South Africa needs China investment and Chinese buyers for its raw materials. China is its biggest export market, accounting for around $12 billion. That beats South Africa’s No. 2 partner, the U.S., with around $7 billion in exports, both based on 2015 figures.
China is a total beast. South Africa, Russia and Brazil are particularly at its mercy.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit in Goa, India last year. India and China have agreed to pull back their troops from a face-off in the high Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet, signaling a thaw in the months long standoff. It’s a relationship where China has more Aces up its sleeve than India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)
Although all five of these countries stand to gain from closer commercial ties, China is the one that will gain the most. China has just about enough money sitting in international reserves to equal the economic output of Brazil ($1.7 trillion), Russia ($1.3 trillion) and South Africa ($295 billion). It’s state owned enterprises have the funding to buy strategic assets abroad, like water and oil and gas infrastructure. And its new billionaires like Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, has his eyes set on being the Jeff Bezos of emerging markets. He basically already is.
The upcoming BRICS Summit will end on Sept. 5 with the usual rhetorical messaging and memorandums of understanding about how they will all accelerate trade, investment and technological know-how. China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Friday that China wants to deepen international cooperation in improving industrial capacity. In convincing their emerging market partners that they need to get more productive, China can sell them their new robotic technologies. All those Chinese workers replaced by automation, can work building the screws and attaching the wires and packaging up new robots to ship to Brazil instead.
A few BRIC country companies have big business in China, too. It is not entirely a one way street. Brazil’s Embraer jet manufacturer has a facility in southern China, and builds planes with their Chinese joint venture partner.
Russian investment bank, VTB Capital, set up shop in Shanghai in 2015.
India’s Tata Group family of companies is in China. IT firm Tata Consultancy Services is there, with the usual tie-up with a Chinese firm. Tata Steel has two steel mills in China. Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover unit has a JV with Chery Automobile to build the luxury cars in Changshu.
South Africa’s Old Mutual financial services firm used to have a foothold there but are now looking to dump their insurance unit, at least.
Meanwhile, here’s a quick snapshot of what China has accomplished, as outlined on Friday by China Daily:
Gezhouba Group announced March 30 that it will spend up to $200 million to acquire 100% stake of Sistema Produtor Sao Lourenco, a water supply company in Brazil, China Daily first reported.
China Investment Corp partnered with Brookfield Asset Management in April to take a 90% percent stake in Nova Transportadora do Sudeste, a natural gas pipeline company owned by Petrobras.
It is clear who is the big buyer and who is staking claim to turf long term. Brazil is selling; China is buying. South Africa is a seller, too. So when Putin and other leaders meet in China on Sunday, they will all know on many levels, that in terms of global finance and trade, they are no longer equals.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN.COM, THE LONG READ, AND ANDY TAI’S WEBSITE)
Could Trump’s blundering lead to war between China and Japan?
China and Japan’s postwar truce has always been an uneasy one – and if Washington cools its support for Tokyo, the dynamics in the region could shift dangerously. By Richard McGregor
Thursday 17 August 2017 01.00 EDT
For news out of east Asia, it is difficult to compete with North Korea’s youthful, jocular despot, Kim Jong-un, and his near-daily threats to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at US territory. On Monday, Kim was pictured surrounded by his top generals mulling over maps with targets closer to home, in South Korea and Japan, while warning again that he was ready to “wring the windpipes of the Yankees”. The young Kim, and his father and grandfather before him, have long tossed violent epithets at their enemies, but Pyongyang’s new capabilities – to potentially deliver a nuclear warhead across the Pacific – have injected fresh danger into the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
The North Korean crisis is one of the few creations of the cold war to have outlived the Berlin Wall, despite persistent predictions that the communist dynasty would collapse. There are many factors driving the confrontation, chief among them paranoia in Pyongyang, where the Kim dynasty is focused above all on preventing regime change. In neighbouring China, Beijing is paralysed: it is caught between anger at Kim for destabilising the region, and fear that if it pushes Pyongyang too hard, the regime will collapse, and fall into the hands of South Korea, an ally of the US. The US itself also seems impotent, knowing that starting any war could lead to devastating attacks on its allies in Seoul and Tokyo.
Lost among the headlines is the fact that the crisis is just a symptom of a bigger drama unfolding in east Asia, where an entire postwar order, built and maintained by the US since 1945, is slowly coming apart.
While the US military bases still dotted across the region have a whiff of latter-day imperialism, for the past seven decades Pax Americana has underwritten an explosion in wealth not matched in the world since the industrial revolution. Since the 1950s, Japan, and then South Korea, Taiwan and China, have been able to put bitter political and historical enmities aside to pursue economic growth.
At the same time, the US presence in east Asia has papered over serial diplomatic failures. All of the frozen-in-the-1950s conflicts buried during the decades of high-speed economic growth are starting to resurface. China and Taiwan have drifted further apart than ever politically. The Korean peninsula remains divided and bristling with conventional and nuclear armoury. The Sino-Japanese rivalry overflows with bitterness, despite a bilateral business relationship that is one of the most valuable in the world.
The Chinese often quote an ancient idiom when speaking about Japan: two tigers cannot live on one mountain. China is in growing competition with Japan to be the dominant indigenous power in Asia, and many view this as a zero-sum game. Any clash between them would not be a simple spat between neighbours. A single shot fired in anger could trigger a global economic tsunami, engulfing political capitals, trade routes, manufacturing centres and retail outlets on every continent.
Whether these tensions play out peacefully depends not just on the two superpowers, the US and China. Japan – which has at different times threatened to eclipse them both – is also pivotal to regional stability. Prior to Donald Trump’s emergence, it was assumed that just about any scenario for the US in east Asia would involve broad continuity for the core elements of past policy, including trade liberalisation and a commitment to alliances, such as that with Japan. But Trump is also a living embodiment of the larger trend that the days of US dominance of the region are numbered.
Today the relationship between the three powers resembles a geopolitical version of the scene in the movie Reservoir Dogs in which a trio of antagonists simultaneously point guns at each other, creating a circle of cascading threats. In the east Asian version of this scenario, the US has its arsenal trained on China; China, in turn, menaces Japan and the US; in ways that are rarely noticed, Japan completes the triangle, with its hold over the US. If Tokyo were to lose faith in Washington and downgrade its alliance or trigger a conflict with Beijing, the effect would be the same: to overturn the postwar system. In this trilateral game of chicken, only one of the parties needs to fire its weapons for all three to be thrown into war. Put another way: if China is the key to Asia, then Japan is the key to China, and the US the key to Japan.
In recent months, it has become fashionable among American journalists and foreign policy analysts to warn of the so-called Thucydides trap – the idea that a rising power (China, in this case) is destined to go to war with an established power (the US). But there is another geo-strategic dilemma identified by the same ancient Greek historian, which is more pertinent. It is dangerous to build an empire, Thucydides warned; it is even more dangerous to give it away.
This “other Thucydides trap” encapsulates the real dilemma faced by the US in east Asia. After more than seven decades as the region’s hegemon, the US now has a choice to make. It could stand and fight to maintain the status quo, at potentially massive cost. Or it could retreat from east Asia, potentially leaving a trail of chaos in its wake.
During the presidential campaign, Trump suggested that Japan and South Korea had become over-reliant on US security, and that it was time for the US to pack and up and go home. But Asia’s economic rise has only magnified the dangers of an American drawdown. “It is not only true that China changed the status quo by getting strong,” said Yan Xuetong, one of China’s most prominent hawks, “but also that America and Japan changed the status quo by getting weak.”
AChinese friend, trying to describe how Washington views east Asia, came up with a disarmingly simple formula. “The Americans like the Chinese, but they don’t like China,” he said, and then: “They like Japan, but don’t like the Japanese.” George Kennan, the renowned strategist, called Japan’s partnership with the US “an unnatural intimacy”, born of conflict between two very different countries, which, over time, developed into a close relationship of its own. This intimacy – if that is what it is – has been hard won. A remarkable number of senior US officials, starting with Henry Kissinger, have not hidden their dislike for dealing with Tokyo. In his authorised biography, Brent Scowcroft, a hard-nosed veteran of America’s national security establishment, called Japan “probably the most difficult country” the US had to deal with: “I don’t think we understood the Japanese and I don’t think the Japanese understood us.”
It is not only the Americans who feel uneasy about the relationship. Washington originally saw the alliance as a way to ensure that Japan was on its side in the cold war and, later, that it stayed in sync with the US’s broader global strategy. By contrast, for Tokyo, according to the Japan scholar Kenneth Pyle, the security pact was an “unpleasant reality” imposed on the nation after the war, but one it cleverly and cynically made the best of. All the while, Tokyo has harboured the fear that the US and China are natural partners – big, boisterous continental economies and military superpowers that wouldn’t hesitate to bypass Tokyo in a flash, if only they could find a way to do so.
Into this volatile landscape strode Donald Trump, Republican candidate and now president, a man who cut his teeth politically in the 1980s with attacks on Japanese trade practices. On the campaign trail, Trump criticised Japan and South Korea for free-riding on US military power, and said both countries should acquire nuclear weapons if they wished to reduce their reliance on Washington. On trade, he singled out China and Japan for cheating Americans, in league with the domestic Visigoths of globalisation, Wall Street and big business.
In the White House, Trump has slightly altered his rhetoric, paying lip service to the conventions of the postwar order. When Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, visited soon after the election, Trump repeated a commitment made by his predecessors, saying that the two countries’ bilateral defence treaty covered the Japan’s Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by the Chinese, as the Diaoyu. Diplomats in Washington told me after the meeting that Trump had only done this after being talked into it by his daughter, Ivanka, who had been lobbied by the Japanese.
Even if Trump accepts that the US, for the moment, has to abide by its treaty obligations to Japan, and other regional allies, he has never made the argument, during the campaign or in office, as to why it should. On the question of the other “Thucydides trap” – the principle that it is dangerous to build an empire but more dangerous to let it go – Trump had seemed quite unconcerned; that was something for other countries to worry about. Far from fretting about Japan’s ability to defend itself against China, Trump seemed to believe it would do fine.
In an interview with the Economist in September 2015, Trump was asked what would happen if China started bullying its neighbours without the US being there to protect them. He cast his mind back to more than a century earlier, when Japan and China began to fall into conflict. “If we step back, they will protect themselves very well,” Trump said. “Remember when Japan used to beat China routinely in wars? You know that, right? Japan used to beat China, they routinely beat China. Why are we defending them at all?”
Trump, in his clumsy way, had hit on an existential point, one that he exploited brilliantly in his campaign. Why do Asian countries need the US in the region anyway? Why can’t they get on with each other independent of the US? To fully grasp this dilemma, it is essential to understand the poisonous relationship between China and Japan.
Most accounts of Sino-Japanese relationspaint the two countries’ differences as the inevitable result of Japan’s invasion and occupation of China in the 1930s, and throughout the second world war, until Tokyo’s surrender in August 1945, followed by an extended squabble over responsibility for the conflict. Alternatively, their clash is depicted as a traditional great-power contest, with an ascending superpower, China, running up against a now-weaker rival. A third template takes a longer view: one of a China bent on rebuilding the influence it enjoyed in Asia in imperial times.
None of these templates alone, however, captures the tangled emotions and complex psychology of the Sino-Japanese relationship. For centuries, China had been both the Athens and the Rome of east Asia, an empire that established a template of cultural, political and institutional values and structures that permeated the region. Japan’s scripts, its merit-based bureaucracy, hierarchical social relations and exam-intense education system – all of which remain embedded in the country’s 21st-century way of life and governing institutions – originated in China.
In small, striking ways, the Japanese display an authentic affinity with their Chinese heritage. In early 2016, at a farewell reception for a senior Japanese diplomat in Washington, each guest, including the Chinese ambassador, was given a copy of a poem as he or she departed. Penned by the diplomat in whose honour the reception was held, the poem – which celebrated the seasonal blooming of cherry blossoms in Washington – was written in Chinese characters in the style of revered Tang dynasty poets. The gift was an homage to the enduring influence of Chinese culture and to contemporary education in Japan, where schoolchildren still learn the art of classical Chinese poetry.
The histories of modern Japan and China have much in common as well. Both were forcibly opened in the 19th century at the point of a gun wielded by an imperialist west. In the century that followed, they both battled to win the respect of the intruders who considered themselves racially superior to Asians. And yet, far from displaying solidarity with each other, the two nations went in different directions: Japan modernised rapidly, while China disintegrated. Ever since, they have struggled to find an equilibrium of their own. If one country was ascendant, the other was subordinate.
Despite their shared roots, Japan and China have remained as psychically remote as they are geographically close. In Europe, an acknowledgment of the second world war’s calamities helped bring the continent’s nations together in the aftermath of the conflict. In east Asia, by contrast, the war and its history have never been settled, politically, diplomatically or emotionally. There has been little of the introspection and statesmanship that helped Europe to heal its wounds.
A corrosive mutual antipathy has gradually become embedded within Japan and China’s ruling parties, and in large sections of the public. In turn, seemingly unavoidable political divisions – partly driven by constant demands from China for Japan to apologise for its wartime conduct and Japanese hostility to such pressure – have eroded trust and strengthened hyper-nationalists in both countries.
China’s economic rise and Japan’s relative decline have only reinforced this trend. In both capitals, the domestic tail now wags the diplomatic dog as often as the other way around. What once seemed impossible and then merely unlikely is no longer unimaginable: that China and Japan could, within the coming decades, go to war.
The territorial disputes, the enduring strains of the cold war, and China’s demand for respect and fear of containment all help to explain the region’s diplomatic tensions. So, too, does geopolitics, which is the furnace for Sino-Japanese rivalry. But at the core of their rivalry are the two countries’ wildly varying and persistently manipulated memories of the Sino-Japanese wars in Asia.
Even the most basic of disagreements over history still percolate through day-to-day media coverage in Asia, in baffling and insidious ways. Open a Japanese newspaper in 2017 and you might read of a heated debate about whether Japan invaded China – something that is only an issue because conservative Japanese still insist that their country was fighting a war of self-defence in the 1930s and 1940s. Read the state-controlled press in China, and you will see the Communist party drawing legitimacy from its heroic defeat of Japan; in truth, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists carried the burden of fighting the invaders, while the Communists mostly preserved their strength in hinterland hideouts. Scant recognition is given to the US, which fought the Japanese for years before ending the conflict with two atomic bombs.
The history of Sino-Japanese relations since the late 19th century, when the two countries first fought a war, has long had a dominant storyline. Japan encroached on Chinese territory, demanding and then taking bits of land here and there, before eventually launching a full-scale invasion and occupation in the 1930s. Tens of millions of Chinese soldiers and civilians died in the conflict. After its defeat and surrender in 1945, so the narrative goes, Tokyo prevaricated endlessly about apologising to China and making good for the damage wrought by its armies.
The first part of the storyline is true. From the late 19th century onward, Japan did set out to dismember China. Although the precise numbers of casualties are still debated, the Nanjing massacre is not an invention, as some prominent Japanese politicians and historians gratingly insist. Japan committed atrocities, used forced labour from its colonies to support the war effort, and oversaw the recruitment of the so-called “comfort women” for brothels for their soldiers.
The history of the history wars, however, is more complex, with many twists and turns that are lost in today’s shrill headlines. When there was much soul-searching in Japan about the war during the 1950s and 1960s, for example, Beijing had no interest in seeking an apology and reparations. Instead, Mao Zedong and his premier, Zhou Enlai, cultivated relations with Japan in an effort to break the US embargo on their country.
In 1961, in a meeting with a Japanese Socialist Party leader, Mao perversely thanked Japan for invading China, because the turmoil created by the Imperial Army had enabled the CCP to come to power. “We would still be in the mountains and not be able to watch Peking Opera in Beijing,” he said. “It was exactly because the Imperial Japanese Army took up more than half of China that there was no way out for the Chinese people. So we woke up and started armed struggle, established many anti-Japanese bases, and created conditions for the War of Liberation. The Japanese monopolistic capitalists and warlords did a ‘good thing’ to us. If a ‘thank you’ is needed, I would actually like to thank the Japanese warlords.”
Mao often adopted a freewheeling, sardonic style in conversation, which seemed deliberately aimed at putting his interlocutors either at ease or off balance. But his statements brushing off an apology and expressing gratitude to the Japanese for their invasion are embarrassingly discordant in today’s China, and so jarring that they are invariably airbrushed by the CCP these days. The official explanation contends that Mao used sarcasm to underline how Japan’s invasion had “awakened” the Chinese people. Chinese scholars of Japan who have tried to tread a more independent path say the truth is simpler: Mao had no interest in an apology because he genuinely believed that the CCP owed its victory in the civil war to Japan.
Official policy was tailored in conformity with Mao’s views for much of the next three or four decades, even as it grated with many Chinese who retained visceral memories of Japanese atrocities. As one scholar at a government thinktank in Beijing told me last year: “This came from Mao’s mouth. There was no need for any discussion, or for him to consider outside elements such as public opinion or conflicts between past and present policies. His power was absolute.”
By the mid-1980s, when Beijing decided that Japanese remorse should become a permanent fixture of bilateral relations, Tokyo had come to view such demands as little more than self-serving politics. Some Japanese leaders were willing to apologise, just to deprive China of a ready-made issue to beat them over the head with. “We can apologise as much as China wants. It’s free, and very soon China will become tired of asking for apologies,” the former prime minister Noboru Takeshita confided to foreign ministry officials in the early 1990s.
As it turned out, the Chinese never did tire of receiving apologies. They thought they were the country’s due. But Japan did tire of giving them. In the process, history disputes have become a huge obstacle to a genuine postwar settlement.
The rage expressed in Chinatoward Japan these days over history is the tip of a much larger iceberg. Beijing’s core problem is not with the details of the war itself, but with the diplomatic deals that were agreed to settle it. In Washington’s and Tokyo’s eyes, the San Francisco Treaty of 1951 forms the foundation of the east Asian postwar order. The treaty ended the US occupation, reestablished Japan as a sovereign nation, fixed it as a security partner for the US, and gave the country space to rebuild itself into a modern, prosperous nation. The treaty also laid the basis for Japan’s gradual rapprochement with other former wartime foes in south-east Asia and Australia.
Chinese scholars, in lock-step with the country’s political leaders, use a different template for the region, something that is largely overlooked in Washington. Their reference points are the conferences in Cairo in 1943 and in Potsdam in July 1945, at which the so-called Three Great Allies – the US, the UK and the Republic of China – set the terms for Japan’s unconditional surrender. In the process, as Chinese politicians, historians and activists have begun to argue more forcibly in recent years, Japan was consigned to a permanently subordinate role in the region.
Beijing favours Potsdam, because it disarmed Japan, restored the territories Tokyo had seized in the previous century, and confirmed China’s great-power status. It doesn’t recognise San Francisco, because it enshrines the US-Japan security alliance and the American military presence in east Asia. China was represented at Cairo in the form of the then-Nationalist government, but not at San Francisco in any form.
The notion that Japan should sit inert in east Asia, enduring a kind of life sentence as a result of having lost the war, absurd as it is, is given much credence in China, by its top leaders as well as in the popular political culture. As president Xi Jinping told the visiting Pentagon chief Leon Panetta in late 2012, “The international community must not allow Japan to attempt to negate the results of the World Anti-Fascist War, or challenge the postwar international order.” In another sign of this mindset, a pro-nationalist book that became a bestseller in the mid-90s, The China That Can Say No, had a chapter titled In Some Respects, To Do Nothing Is Japan’s Contribution To The World!
Sheltering under America’s nuclear umbrellain the postwar period, Japan has in fact been a constrained power since its defeat in 1945. The Americans, after all, wrote a new “pacifist” constitution for Japan, which said it should only maintain military forces for its own self-defence. At times, Japan, at least in security terms, has seemed to be “inert” and willing to free-ride on the Americans.
But thanks to China and North Korea, those days are over. Shinzo Abe has fashioned a strong national security policy and strengthened the country’s military. While attention was focused on Pyongyang’s nuclear antics in early August, Japan quietly announced that it was studying equipping its military with offensive weapons, such as cruise missiles, to allow it to strike overseas enemies for the first time since the war.
Japan presents a particular challenge to China. Militarily, it is not a pushover like other south-east Asian nations Beijing has clashed with recently, such as the Philippines. In 2012, the central government in Tokyo nationalised the Senkaku Islands in order to prevent a far right-wing nationalist politician, Shintaro Ishihara, from buying the islands from their private owners. At that point, Beijing considered trying to take the islands by force. A retired regional leader with good connections in both China and Japan told me that Beijing had studied its options carefully: “They did a number of basic tabletop exercises to work out, if there was a conflict over the islands, whether China could prevail; I had many conversations with Chinese military planners at the time.” In the end, he said, Beijing concluded that the “co-relation of forces was not with them”. Unlike Japan, which has fought naval wars, China has fought only one, in 1894-5, which it lost. The Chinese had made huge strides as a military power, but not so far that they were confident about taking on their old foe.
Perhaps the most salient factor in China’s calculations over the Senkaku Islands was what might happen if it should lose to Japan. In Tokyo, a military loss would be disastrous, of course, and the government would certainly fall. But that would be nothing compared with the hammer blow to China’s national psyche should Japan prevail. “That would be terminal for the CCP,” the former regional leader observed. “Regime change.”
Over time, though, China’s capabilities, and its confidence, are likely to outpace those of its neighbour. Japan knows that China is not going away, whereas one day, the US might. China is keen to emphasise to every nation in Asia a single truth: China’s presence is a geopolitical reality in Asia. The US presence, by contrast, is a geopolitical choice, one that China intends to make more and more costly.
If Tokyo continues to feel threatened, and loses faith in the US, the next step is going nuclear. That will be the definitive sign that Pax Americana in Asia is over, and it could come sooner than anyone thinks.
Main illustration by Lee Martin/Guardian Design
Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, the US and the Struggle for Global Power by Richard McGregor will be published by Allen Lane on 5 September.
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He spoke warmly of Russia’s ties with Israel, despite Moscow’s votes against the Jewish state at the United Nations and its delivery of the S-300 missiles to Iran.
Benjamin Netanyahu Dimitry Medvedev. (Photo credit: RIA NOVOSTI / REUTERS)
Levy quizzed him about those controversial issues as well as his support for Syrian President Basher Assad and charges that his country had intervened in the US elections.
How does Russia explain its support of the UNESCO vote “to disregard the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” Levy asked Medvedev.
The issue had been blown out of proportion, he responded speaking in Russian, with a Hebrew translation by Channel 2.
There have been some ten votes by UNESCO Boards and Committees on such Jerusalem resolutions, Medvedev said.
“There is nothing new here,” he said, as he dismissed the significance of UNESCO texts that refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al Haram Al Sharif.
“Our country has never denied the rights of Israel or the Jewish people to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall,” Medvedev said.
“Therefore there is no need to politicize this decision,” Medvedev said, adding that such resolutions, were “not directed against Israel.”
Similarly, he said, there was nothing contradictory in Russia’s sale and shipment of the advanced S-300 advanced surface to air missile defense system to Iran.
Israel had opposed such sales because they significantly upgrade Iran’s ability to defend its nuclear sites against any attacks. It is particularly concerned because it does not believe that the Iran deal, put in place in 2015, will limit Tehran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons.
Medvedev told Channel 2 that prior to the Iran deal, Russia respected the sanctions against Tehran and refrained from delivering the S-300. Now that the deal is in place and the sanctions were lifted, there was no reason not to complete the sale, he said.
Moving over to Syria, he referred to President Bashar Assad as the country’s only legitimate leader and added that Israel’s leadership preferred his rule to the prospect of a divided country under terrorist leadership.
“I know him (Assad) personally. There are those who love him and those who don’t. At present Assad is the only legitimate authority operating in Syria. Any regime change would have to occur legitimately,” Medvedev said.
“I remember that during my meetings with Israeli leaders, they told me they were not completely for Assad, but that there has to be someone in charge of the situation, rather than an uncontrolled break up of the country into enclaves ruled by terrorists,” Medvedev said.
Middle East terrorism, he said, is threatening his country from within.
“There are thousands of Russians fighting on behalf of ISIS and other Islamic Jihadist groups,” Medvedev said. “When they return they are experienced murders and terrorists. After their time fighting in Syria we don’t want them to organize something similar [within Russia],” he said.
Levy asked how the presence of the Russian air force in Syria impacted Israel’s ability to prevent the flow of weapons to Hezbollah.
Medvedev said that it was operating from the assumption that “all sides would not take steps to aggravate the conflict.”
With regard to the United States, he charged that it had not kept its commitments in Syria and that the relationship between Washington and Moscow was at a very low point.
Medvedev chuckled when Levy asked him if Russia had interfered with the US elections.
He quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he stated that “the United States is not a banana republic.”
The US, he said, was a large and strong country and could not be influenced in that way. “It doesn’t matter who will be elected, but what policy they will execute,” he said.
“Its clear [that either candidate] will act in the best national interest of the US,” Medvedev said.
He called Republican candidate Donald Trump brilliant and said he had never met him. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he said, was professional and known to him from the times he met with her when she was US Secretary of State from 2009-2012.
Russia expects to have a “normal” and “productive” relationship with whichever of the two candidates wins the White House, Medvedev said.
With regard to the Russian initiative to hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Presdient Mahmoud Abbas, Medvedev said that Moscow was not looking to replace the United States or anyone else when it comes to the peace process.
On the other hand, he said, there are very discouraging signs with regard to that conflict and there have been no advancements to speak of on the Israeli-Palestinian track over the last few years.
The transcript of Donald Trump’s discussion with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull obtained by the Washington Post reveals many things, but the most significant may be that Trump in his private negotiations is every bit as mentally limited as he appears to be in public.
At issue in the conversation is a deal to settle 1,250 refugees who have been detained by Australia in the United States. I did not pay any attention to the details of this agreement before reading the transcript. By the time I was halfway through it, my brain could not stop screaming at Trump for his failure to understand what Turnbull was telling him.
Australia has a policy of refusing to accept refugees who arrive by boat. The reason, as Turnbull patiently attempts to explain several times, is that it believes giving refuge to people who arrive by boat would encourage smuggling and create unsafe passage with a high risk of deaths at sea. But it had a large number of refugees who had arrived by sea, living in difficult conditions, whom Australia would not resettle (for fear of encouraging more boat trafficking) but whom it did not want to deport, either. The United States government agreed under President Obama to vet 1,250 of these refugees and accept as many of them as it deemed safe.
In the transcript, Trump is unable to absorb any of these facts. He calls the refugees “prisoners,” and repeatedly brings up the Cuban boatlift (in which Castro dumped criminals onto Florida). He is unable to absorb Turnbull’s explanation that they are economic refugees, not from conflict zones, and that the United States has the ability to turn away any of them it deems dangerous.
Donald Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy
President Trump’s efforts to fix his headline-making crises often have the effect of making the situation worse.
Turnbull tries to explain to Trump that refugees have not been detained because they pose a danger to Australian society, but in order to deter ship-based smuggling:
Trump: Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?
Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —
At this point, Trump fails to understand the policy altogether, and proceeds to congratulate Turnbull for what Trump mistakes to be a draconian policy of total exclusion:
Trump: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am … Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries.
Trump has completely failed to understand either that the refugees are not considered dangerous, or, again, that they are being held because of a categorical ban on ship-based refugee traffic.
He also fails to understand the number of refugees in the agreement:
Trump: I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.
Turnbull: With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.
Trump: Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.
Turnbull: The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting.
Then Trump returns to his belief that they are bad, and failing to understand the concept that they have been detained merely because they arrived by sea and not because they committed a crime:
Trump: I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.
Turnbull: I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —
Trump: Well, maybe you should let them out of prison.
He still thinks they’re criminals.
Later, Trump asks what happens if all the refugees fail his vetting process:
Trump: I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?
Turnbull: That is the point I have been trying to make.
After several attempts by Turnbull to explain Australia’s policy, Trump again expresses his total inability to understand what it is:
Trump: Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?
Turnbull: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.
Trump: Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?
After Turnbull has told Trump several times that the refugees have been detained because they arrived by boat, and only for that reason, Trump’s question is, “But they are arrived on a boat?”
Soon after, Turnbull again reiterates that Australia’s policy is to detain any refugee who arrives by boat:
Turnbull: The only people that we do not take are people who come by boa. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.”
Trump: What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.
No, you don’t get it at all! It’s not that they come from certain regions! It’s that they come by boat!
So Turnbull very patiently tries to explain again that the policy has nothing to do with what region the refugees come from:
Turnbull: No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea.
At this point, Trump gives up asking about the policy and just starts venting about the terribleness of deals in general:
I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it — START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.
Shortly afterward, the call ends in brusque fashion, and Turnbull presumably begins drinking heavily.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by former chief of staff Ari Harow, left, and former parliamentary adviser Perach Lerner, right, as he arrives at a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Those who know Ari Harow describe him as a straight arrow. Now some believe he could be the one to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
For years, Harow, 44, has been one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and a chief cog in his political machine. But despite this, he has remained largely unknown to the Israeli public until now, when it was revealed on Friday that Harow had signed an agreement to turn state’s witness as part of ongoing investigations into alleged corruption by Israel’s premier.
Harow is very “low-key and discreet,” Odelia Karmon, a former Netanyahu adviser, told Channel 2 news on Friday, calling him very modest and saying he was someone who was never involved in the political intrigue that so often dogged Netanyahu’s inner circle. “He is a very straight man.”
Harow fits the mold of the type that Netanyahu has frequently chosen to head or play key roles in his office: young American-Israelis from the national religious camp. While others have sought the limelight — like Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, or current Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer — Harow stayed largely in the background during several stints in the high-profile position as Netanyahu’s chief of staff.
Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Harow was born in Los Angeles and moved with his family to Israel in 1985, when he was 12, living in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron.
After completing his army service he moved back to the US to study in New York, before returning again to finish a Master’s degree in Political Science at Tel Aviv University.
It was at this time that he first stated working with Netanyahu, volunteering for him in 2002 as an adviser on Diaspora affairs, and more crucially on fundraising.
He then moved back to the US for several years where he headed the American Friends of Likud.
It was during this period that he was first linked to allegations of financial irregularities surrounding Netanyahu and the so-called Bibi Tours scandal in which, as finance minister a decade ago, Netanyahu had private donors and organizations fund most of his trips as well as cover travel expenses for his wife and children, and failed to clear the information with the Knesset.
The Bibi Tours issue was first reported by Channel 10 in 2011 and, while a state comptroller’s report found ethical problems, no charges were ever filed.
By 2008, Harow was back in Israel, started working for Netanyahu as the head of his office, and was with him when he returned to power in 2009.
Harow left politics in 2010 to start a political consultancy firm, which works with politicians and political campaigns. He served a second stint as the PM’s bureau chief in 2014, and directed the election campaign that kept Netanyahu in office in the 2015 national elections.
But police began investigating Harow on suspicion that when he came back to work for Netanyahu in 2014, he only fictitiously sold his consulting firm, rather than genuinely doing so, as was required.
On Friday police announced that Harow is expected to receive six months of community service and a NIS 700,000 fine ($193,000) on breach of trust charges in exchange for his testimony against his former boss.
His former colleagues said that Harow was a particular favorite of Netanyahu and very trusted. He is expected to have crucial information in both cases against Netanyahu.
“Ari Harrow, you have to understand, sat on the seam between the political and the personal, between the family of Netanyahu and the national, between the bureau and the home,” Yoaz Hendel, a former communications director for Netanyahu, told Channel 2. “On these seams — all the grey episodes happened.”
Yoaz Hendel (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, through Knesset legislation in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Harow is expected to provide information in both probes, having served as chief of staff during the time of the alleged deal with Mozes and while Netanyahu is said to have received gifts worth thousands of shekels.
The recordings of Netanyahu’s conversations with Mozes were made on Harow’s phone and discovered by police during their investigation into his sale of his consultancy.
On Friday, Hebrew media reported that police would now suggest indicting Netanyahu. A police recommendation does not carry legal weight. It is for state prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.
In a short video posted early Friday evening before the start of Shabbat, Netanyahu said: “I want to tell you, citizens of Israel, I don’t pay attention to the background noises, I continue in my work on behalf of you. Shabbat shalom.”
Harow’s family suggested that his legal problems were all a result of attempts to bring down Netanyahu.
“What really bothers me is that no one is paying attention to the obvious: that this whole exercise against Ari and those around Bibi is to get Bibi,” Harow’s mother told Channel 2, using the prime minister’s nickname.
“What I can tell you is that Ari is one of the most honorable, trustworthy people I know. And I think that he was close to Bibi because Bibi knew he could trust him. That’s what I know,” she said.
The protracted border dispute between China and India in the Himalayas has created a “spillover effect” as China’s neighbours become unsettled by its tough handling of the escalating conflict between the two Asian giants, foreign policy experts have said.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Smt. Sushma Swaraj are scheduled to attend the Asian foreign ministers’ meeting in Manila later this week. And while the North Korean nuclear crisis and South China Sea disputes are expected to dominate the meeting, analysts will also be keeping a close eye on how members of the 10-nation group interact with China and India.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations generally regards a robust Indian presence in the region as a useful deterrent against China, which has been increasingly assertive in its approach to handling territorial issues, as has been the case in the Himalayas.
China and India last week held their first substantial talks since the dispute broke out more than a month ago in the Dolklam region, where the pair shares a border with Bhutan. Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi met Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in Beijing, though neither showed any signs of backing down and tensions remain high.
Also last week, China’s defense ministry issued its strongest warning yet to India, with a spokesman saying Beijing had stepped up its deployment along the unmarked border and would protect its sovereignty “at all costs”.
Richard Javad Heydarian, a political scientist at the Manila-based De La Salle University, said the stand-off in Doklam had a “spillover effect” by fueling suspicion among countries that are caught in separate territorial disputes with China.
“People are asking, if China is really peaceful, why are there so many countries having disputes with China?” he said.
Such sentiment may create fertile ground for Southeast Asian countries to leverage China’s influence with engagement with India.
Vietnam’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Pham Binh Minh, has called on India to play a greater role in the region and to partner with Southeast Asian countries on strategic security and promoting freedom of navigation in South China Sea.
A few days after Minh spoke, Vietnam granted Indian Oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension on its plan to explore a Vietnamese oil block in an area of the South China Sea contested by China and Vietnam.
Analysts said recent developments have wide strategic implications – pointing to how Asia is increasingly defined by the China-India rivalry and the renewed tensions between the two Asian giants.
Nisha Desai Biswal, former US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, was quoted by Indian media PTI as saying that China needs to acknowledge that “there is growing strategic and security capability across Asia” and that “India is a force to be reckoned with”.
Wang Yi on Tuesday backed Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s idea of forming joint energy ventures in the disputed South China Sea, warning that unilateral action could cause problems and damage both sides.
Duterte on Monday said a partner had been found to develop oil fields and exploration, and exploitation would restart this year.
However, analysts warn that India’s strong position in the standoff has strengthened the hawkish voices in the Philippines who seize opportunities to criticise Duterte’s détente policy towards China and “push forward the narrative that the Philippines needs to be careful on how to approach China and its territorial expansion”, Heydarian said.
Under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy, India in recent years has formed strategic partnerships with Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and Northeast Asian countries including Japan and South Korea.
During the “India-Asian Delhi Dialogue IX” early this month, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said New Delhi remained committed to enhancing maritime cooperation with Asian as well as upholding freedom of navigation and respect for international law in the region.
Heydarian suggests that India’s upgrading of its strategic partnership with Asian and increasing its strategic presence in the South China Sea could be a way of pushing back against China.
Even a non-claimant Southeast Asian state such as Thailand “would see the benefit of China being challenged in the South Asia theatre”, said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, an international relations scholar at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University.
“India’s standing up to China can only be a boon for Southeast Asian countries even when they don’t say so openly,” he said, “Any major power keeping China in check can only yield geopolitical benefits to Southeast Asia as the region is wary of China’s growing assertiveness.”
But Pongsudhirak also said that India, a “latecomer to Southeast Asia’s geopolitics”, still lacks strategic depth in terms of military reach and economic wherewithal. “But in combination with other middle powers like Japan, India can have a significant impact in Southeast Asia’s power dynamics,” he said.
Despite Southeast Asian countries’ welcoming attitude, India has remained cautious towards more strongly engaging with the region, observers said.
“Southeast Asia is a natural extension of India’s security horizons in light of its growth as a regional power,” said Rajesh Manohar Basrur, a South Asia specialist with Nanyang Technological University.
Basrur said that while competition with China is a major driver of India’s engagement with Southeast Asia, India’s commitment to the region remains limited with measures amounting to no more than “symbolic acts such as military exercises, [to] generate a strategic environment aimed at building up political-psychological pressure on [China].”
Sourabh Gupta, a senior specialist at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, said that as India tries to limit fallout from its Doklam intervention, it will not want to expand the theatre of conflict or widen the geography of competition in the short-term.
“But I can foresee India making a qualitatively greater effort, albeit quietly, to build up Vietnam’s naval and law enforcement capacity to confront and deter Chinese assertiveness,” he said.
Gupta also warned that the situation in the South China Sea could lapse into even further conflict.
“India and China have a fairly rich menu of boundary management protocols which effectively translate into engagements between very lightly armed personnel from either side when a standoff breaks out,” he said.
“That is different from the situation in the South and East China Sea where engagement protocols are still very rudimentary and could see sharp Escalator spirals.”
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:
Pakistani policemen stand guard at the premisses of the Supreme Court building during a hearing on the Panama Papers case in Islamabad on July 28, 2017.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister required to step downby five-member panel of judges
Unanimous court ruling follows months-long investigation tied to revelations in the Panama Papers leak from 2016
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified from office by the country’s Supreme Court and will be required to step down.
The court ruled Sharif has been dishonest to parliament and to the judicial system and is no longer deemed fit for the office of prime minister. A panel of five judges announced their unanimous decision Friday afternoon.
The panel had been investigating Sharif’s alleged links to offshore accounts and overseas properties owned by three of his children.
The assets, which were not declared on the family’s wealth statement, were revealed in the massive Panama Papers leak in April 2016.
Although Nawaz Sharif was not named in the Panama Papers, a joint investigation committee formed by the Supreme Court in April 2017 concluded in mid-July that their investigation revealed incriminating documents that pointed to the prime minister and his family’s corruption.
The Panama Papers leak sparked mass protests in Pakistan and calls from opposition political groups for a panel to investigate him and his children over their alleged offshore accounts.
Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) take part in a protest against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on July 23, 2017.
Today’s verdict is the second Supreme Court ruling this year on Sharif. In April a five-judge panel formed by Pakistan’s Supreme Court delivered a ruling ordering a new investigation over corruption allegations.
This is the first time in the country’s history that a leader has been disqualified from office following a judicial process.
During his time in office there’s been economic growth, a marked drop in terrorism and a bold foreign policy initiative which has led to strong ties with neighboring China and the formation of the strategically important China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Known as the “Lion of Punjab,” the 68-year-old Sharif is one of Pakistan’s leading industrialists and richest men, as well as being a fearsome political operative — having served as prime minister twice before.
However, his long political career has been dogged with missteps and allegations of corruption, which already forced him to step down during his first time as prime minister, cutting his first term short after his family-owned business, Ittefaq Industries, was seen to grow tremendously during his tenure in office.
Re-elected in 1997, Sharif ordered Pakistan’s first nuclear tests but a showdown with the nation’s powerful military saw his second term end prematurely as well.
In 1999, Sharif fired then-army head Pervez Musharraf after a failed invasion of Kargil, in Indian-held Kashmir. But in a dramatic turnaround, Musharraf launched a coup and eventually had his former boss imprisoned on charges of hijacking for attempting to stop a plane carrying the general from landing.
Sharif was later sentenced to an additional 14-years in prison on corruption charges, but was released after six months when Riyadh brokered a deal to allow him to go into exile in Saudi Arabia.
In 2007, Sharif returned to his homeland after his Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) teamed up with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to force Musharraf out of office.
After some legal and constitutional wrangling Sharif was re-elected prime minister for a third time in 2013, amid accusations of rigging the elections.
From Panama to Pakistan
The latest and final nail in Sharif’s political coffin is not of his own making, but rather the financial improprieties of his children.
While owning property in itself is not illegal, opposition parties have questioned if the money to buy them came from public funds.
And while Sharif was not personally named, his three adult children were linked to offshore companies that owned the London properties. One British Virgin Islands holding firm listed his daughter, Maryam as the sole shareholder.
A taskforce called the Joint Investigation Team was created in April by the Supreme Court since it was unable to independently determine the links to corruption. At the time Sharif pledged that if anything from the investigation proved corruption, he would step down.
Ram Nath Kovind, center, gestures as he leaves his residence in New Delhi on June 20, 2017.
Victory could boost support for ruling party among India’s Dalit community
President is a largely ceremonial role in India
New Delhi (CNN) A relatively unknown political operator and member of India’s lowest Dalit caste has been elected as the country’s 14th president.
Ram Nath Kovind, who until recently was governor of the eastern state of Bihar, won an overwhelming majority to beat opposition Congress party candidate, Meira Kumar, a former parliament speaker and also a member of the Dalit community.
Kovind secured 2,930 votes in a secret nationwide ballot involving near to 5,000 lawmakers from the central parliament and state legislatures. Kumar received 1,844 votes.
The election of 71-year-old Kovind, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, is widely viewed as part of a strategy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to widen support among India’s 200 million-strong Dalit community.
Kovind is the second Dalit to become Indian president, after K. R. Narayanan, in office from 1997 to 2002.
Kovind, a lawyer by training who has practiced in both the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court, has never held popularly elected office and lacks an independent power base. For the last two years he has occupied the governorship of Bihar, a position appointed by the prime minister. He also served as the national spokesman of the BJP between 2010 and 2012.
Ram Nath Kovind delivers a speech in presence of Gujarat Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) members in Gandhinagar, on July 15, 2017.
Though the five-year post is largely ceremonial, Kovind’s election will help strengthen Modi’s grip on power, say analysts.
“Modi would not like anyone in Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President’s House) who can question him, that’s why Kovind was picked,” said Satish Misra, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank based in Delhi.
Unlike the American president, and in line with other Westminster-style governments, the role of India’s president lacks any real executive authority. All decisions taken by the president require the approval of the prime minister and the council of ministers.
However, each piece of legislation passed by parliament requires the president’s sign-off. As a result, the president can delay key legislation taken by the prime minister, and can symbolically signal disapproval of controversial bills.
Having a compliant president will help Modi if parliament does not cooperate with his agenda. The prime minister can pass ordinances, similar to a US executive order, with the approval of the president, said Shailesh Kumar, a senior analyst with the Eurasia Group.
Analysts point to the recent rise in mob violence directed at minorities as among the BJP’s primary motives in selecting Kovind.
“There’s a disillusionment among the Dalits,” said Satish Misra. “That’s why it’s necessary for the ruling party to send a signal that we are with you.”
Kovind is also a member of the the Koli ethnic group, an important voting bloc in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. A survey by the Centre for Study of Developing Societiesfound that members of the Koli community, many of whom are Dalit, switched their support from the Congress Party to the BJP between 2007 and 2012.
“Until now, Dalits never voted for the BJP. But in 2014, some percentage of the votes went to the BJP,” Misra added. “The fact remains that Dalits constitute over 20% of the Indian population and they’re a vote bank.”
This article is in regard to a story I read earlier today from the Christian Post. In several regards this article if it is true shows that India is not yet a true democracy. For any country to actually be a democracy there are many issues that must be addressed, in this article I am only going to try to address a few of these ideals. In a true democracy there has to be equality in areas of their caste system where anyone can move up, or down in the financial arenas depending on their own abilities. All adults must be allowed to vote for whomever they chose at least as long as they are not convicted felons who are in jail at the time of the elections. This last issue I have with your government is in regard to India not having true honest religious freedom.
I do believe that India is a great country right now yet it could be so much more if the political will is there. The article today in the Christian Post said that six Christian adults were arrested last month for taking 72 Christian children of Christian parents to a ‘vacation Bible school’. A State can not prosper for all of its citizens if they cannot worship their God as they see fit. The only exception to this rule should be if the religion is telling people to go into the population and attack and or kill people who don’t agree with them and their ‘God’s’ teachings. If a person actually knows anything about the New Testament Scriptures of the Bible then they know that the Scriptures do not teach violence toward anyone. As you well know Mr. Modi there are some ‘Religions’ that do teach such violence and not even as arbitrarily, but as a requirement. Mr. Modi, is the Hindu Religion really one of these Demonic Cults? I believe that the Nation of India can be the greatest Democracy size wise on this planet in about 20 or 30 years and you may think it is now but with these glaring flaws that is not so, not yet. If the politicians in your country do not fix these serious issues I believe your future will look like a mixture of Iran and China except not Islamic or Atheist but a horrible debased Hindu State that will end up having no semblance of Democracy or freedom.
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