The Constitution is supreme and hence the relevance of this essay. All happened simultaneously in May 2019. Sino-US trade turbulence increased with imposition of tariff on US$ 200 billion Beijing goods heading to the US. Signature CPEC port and post of Gwadar, Balochistan, faced murderous terror assault and, the ever alert and agile Chinese envoy to India “met Sikkim Chief Minister, to discuss border trade” on Friday, May 10, 2019. Reportedly, “Ambassador Luo called on Chamling at his official residence, Gangtok, to discuss trade along Nathu La corridor among other issues of economic cooperation between the two countries” (Both Luo and Chamling have since demitted office). Also Read – A staunch allyThe most interesting aspect of this “bilateral” talk between one of twenty-nine Chief Ministers of sovereign India and outgoing Chinese envoy revolved around “the common areas of concern” which “if addressed, could improve border trade between Sikkim and Tibetan Autonomous Region”. Note the emphasised/quoted words and implication thereof: while Tibet is “Autonomous Region”, Sikkim is not. Why this sudden Tibet Autonomous Region and Sikkim “bilateral”, proposed by Chinese envoy in an area which under no stretch of the imagination could be a smooth or soothing prospect for India? Remember 1962? Recall Chinese claim over Sikkim? Mobilisation of PLA across Nathu La? Article of/by Mr Luo on April 04, 2019 in Indian daily? Needlessly referring to Sikkim thus: “two countries pushed for complete settlement of the issue of Sikkim”! Also Read – Cuban pathosOne, however, is not here to object to subject of trade per se. One nevertheless wonders what made the Chinese ambassador visit Sikkim? Was it by design? Farewell visit? Or initiative benign? Is it because of Sikkim being coveted by Beijing since long, notwithstanding “closure” of the issue? From an Indian perspective, the pattern of the past performance of China in Sikkim still does not inspire the desired level of confidence. Thus, recall Thursday, September 16, 1965, (India-Pak war), when China issued an ultimatum to New Delhi to vacate Nathu La pass? It was, however, owing to the steadfastness of one General-officer- Commanding 17 division, Major General Sagat Singh’s refusal to submit to Beijing’s bullying tactics, which carried the day for India wherein he forcefully argued that Nathu La, being watershed, constituted the natural boundary. Again, on Monday, September 11, 1967, an attack was launched by Chinese PLA at Nathu La which lasted till September 15, 1967. Three weeks later, Chinese troops again attacked another Indian post at Chola. India must, therefore, remember that because of army’s occupation of/on high grounds at the pass in Sebula and Camel’s back, they were able to take on the invading Chinese PLA twice in 1967 and destroy many Chinese bunkers at Nathu La, initial reverses notwithstanding. Finally, should India whitewash the 73-day (June-August 2017) Doklam standoff and intensity of Chinese psychological-war and live exercise/demo, broadcast through electronic media? Notwithstanding subsequent Sino-Indian diplomatic thaw? It is, therefore, clear that China is in search for several things to fulfil “mission superpower” through BRI/OBOR/BRF/CPEC, thereby reversing “ignominious 107 years of history: 1842 to 1949 of China”. “During” Luo-Chamling ” duo discussion, Friday, May 10, both called for an efficient mechanism to ensure smooth flow of goods along the trade route. Chinese suggested increasing hours of trade and the number of business days could facilitate traders on the two sides”. All of these sound good no doubt. Yet, serious questions remain unanswered and unresolved from the past. It gives a clear indication of an entire trans-Himalayan bilateral between Beijing and Delhi loaded against the latter where the former (Beijing) is making one-way traffic of profit. One here just has to recall an Indian daily report, July 20, 2012, on Nathu La bilateral Sino-Indian trade: “Traders with special passes can import readymade garments and shoes from China…..without paying duty.” Note that it talks of import of Chinese goods to India, not of Indian export to China! Further, “Public notices issued by Ministry of Commerce don’t mention any qualitative safeguards. This raised apprehensions among (Indian) traders that cheaper Chinese imports might be dumped into the Indian market, especially in West Bengal, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, which are close to three points of Nathula, Gunji and Shipkila”. Question is that has anything changed from one-way Chinese profit emanating from cheap and poor-quality Chinese garments and shoes entering India “free of duty” in the name of “border trade”? Like what’s happening across India? It did happen; though mostly forgotten. But this author still remembers; post-1962 war, there was no official trade between Delhi and Beijing. Yet, China managed to flood the Indian market with Rupees 4/fountain pen, “Wing Sung”, that destroyed India-made “Pilot” and “Swan” fountain pen, each costing Rupees 8-10 apiece. That’s the way communist China does trade with the perceived capitalist (outside) world; a classic example of which is the present Sino-US bickering on tariff war. True, Sino-US is far bigger in both value and volume in compared to Sino-Indian bilateral trade, nevertheless, the striking feature is traditional Indian weakness to stand up to China’s overbearing frontlines with the fast-changing goal post. Little wonder that the Wednesday, May 08, 2019, New York Times edit-page article of Yi-Zheng Lian had this to say: “Xi wanted global dominance. He overshot……….Under him, China…..sponsored or condoned actions by Chinese citizens and entities worldwide that……damaged the country’s international reputation while degrading its own moral fabric………..Xi…….encouraged moral turpitude abroad; his vision of China is a nation of patriotic thieves”. In light of this, one is constrained to draw attention to the Constitution of India to tackle Chinese envoy’s future rendezvous in/with sensitive state’s sensible chief minister. Federal Government must discourage and try to stop foreign ambassadors (like China and Pakistan) interacting directly with chief ministers of Indian states without clearance, and presence, of senior Foreign Service officials with domain expertise. Thus, Seventh Schedule (a written list or inventory giving a detailed showing of matters referred to in the main document) stipulates subject matters within the confines of Parliament…….must exercise legislative powers generally conferred by Article 246 of Constitution. Entry 10 (foreign affairs); 11 (diplomatic representation); 14 (treaties with foreign countries); 15 (war & peace) and 16 (foreign jurisdiction) fall under “Union List” thereby meaning that all laws made by Parliament on these subjects would be the job of the federal government. Usually, Schedules contain only matters of form or examples as to the manner in which the enacting portion is to be carried out in practice. However, most of the Schedules of the Indian Constitution deal with substantive provisions. Hence, these provisions are to be deemed to be as important as the enacting portion of the Constitution. The need to check foreign diplomats penetrating deep inside India’s sensitive border areas of complex ethnicity to talk to local government, therefore, arises. What about Indian ambassador flying from Beijing to Urumqi (Xinjiang capital) to discuss and propose bilateral border trade between J&K and Xinjiang, east of Karakorum Pass and across Daulat Beg Oldi? Will the Communist Party of China accept or allow it? (Abhijit Bhattacharyya is an alumnus National Defence College and the author of ‘China in India’. The views expressed are strictly personal)
“These attacks are intolerable violations of international law and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva urged in a joint statement.“We call on all parties to the conflict, and on those who may have influence over them, to end attacks on civilians, schools, hospitals, religious sites and humanitarian aid workers,” they said. According to the statement, armed groups attacked a religious site hosting 10,000 displaced people in Bambari on 7 July, killing at least 26 people and injuring 35. This followed weeks of escalating violence in and around Bambari. Hospitals in the area were overwhelmed with people who need treatment for gunshot and machete wounds. Some 2.5 million Central Africans need assistance. More than half a million people, mainly women and children, have fled their homes and are living in temporary shelters, sometimes deep in the forest or in sites where they are at risk of attack. Waves of hungry, sick and exhausted refugees and returnees are arriving in neighbouring countries, putting a strain on host communities and creating a regional crisis. “Central Africans are surviving without the most vital necessities including food, medicines and clean water, and many are living in fear for their lives. We must stand with them and show them they are not alone,” the joint statement said. Ms. Amos and Ms. Georgieva called on the EU and UN Member States to step up their efforts, both on the security side and by finding new funding streams for humanitarian operations inside CAR and in neighbouring countries. While international forces led by the African Union and EU are playing an indispensable role in protecting civilians, insecurity persists and hinders the deployment of humanitarian aid workers.