World Newsletter

25 Sept 2020




China today said that it is willing to work with other UN members to seek a

package solution for security council reforms which can accommodate all

parties' interests and concerns through dialogue and negotiation.

Without replying clearly on India and other G4 countries' call for start of

text based negotiations, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson at a

press briefing today said that there is enormous division and lack of a

widespread consensus on the arrangement for reform.

In a virtual meeting yesterday on the sidelines of 75th session of UN

General Assembly, India along with other G4 countries called for start of

text based negotiations without delay.

They said that there is no meaningful progress in the Intergovernmental


China has been supporting the inter governmental negotiations which is more

in the form of a general discussion and lacks transparent working method but

G4 countries comprising India, Japan, Brazil and Germany have been demanding

the expansion of UN Security Council through substantive negotiations based

on a single comprehensive text.

China said that it believes, reform should increase the representation and

voice of developing countries but it has not yet supported India's

candidature for permanent seat at UNSC.

Except China, all other four permanent members of security council support

India's candidature for a permanent seat.






Former contender for the Democratic nomination, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

jointed the host of voices that expressed alarm at U.S. Trump Donald Trump's

refusal to commit to the peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November

election. Mr Sanders said Mr Trump is to be taken seriously.

"What I am going to talk about is something that, in my wildest dreams, I

never thought I would be discussing. And that is the need to make certain

that the President of the United States, if he loses this election, will

abide by the will of the voters and leave office peacefully," Mr Sanders

said at during his speech 'Saving American Democracy' at George Washington

University, here in Washington DC. Mr. Sanders remarks came a day after Mr

Trump, when questioned at a press briefing, would not commit to the peaceful

transfer of power.

"I think it is terribly important that we actually listen to, and take

seriously, what Donald Trump is saying," Mr Sanders said.

He called Mr Trump a "pathological liar" with "strong authoritarian

tendencies" and someone who is willing to undermine democracy to stay in


However, Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said there will be an

"orderly" post-election transition after the president questioned the

process's integrity.

The top US senator said that, regardless of who wins the 3 November

presidential election, there will be a peaceful inauguration on 20 January.

A day earlier, President Donald Trump refused to commit to this, saying

"we'll have to see what happens".

He has cast doubt on postal voting, but election officials insist it is


"The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January

20th," Mr McConnell tweeted on Thursday.

"There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years

since 1792."

Other Republican lawmakers, including vocal Trump ally Senator Lindsey

Graham, have similarly promised a safe and fair election.






US President Donald Trump hoped on Thursday that India and China would be

able to resolve their current border disputes as he reiterated his offer to

help the two Asian giants in this regard.

"I know that China now, and India, are having difficulty, and very very

substantial difficulty. And hopefully, they will be able to work that out,"

Trump told reporters at the White House.

"If we can help, we would love to help," he said.

A "Grand Tamasha" podcast with senior fellow and director of the South Asia

Program of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, eminent American

expert on India and South Asia Ashley Tellis said the Trump administration

has taken a very transparent position of support for India in this crisis.

"And, of course, it is motivated in part by the opportunities to confront

China on a grander scale, which sort of makes it part and parcel of the US's

own bilateral problems with China. But I think there is something more going

on here. And the more is that I do not think the United States had the

alternative of doing otherwise.

"That is, Chinese aggression in this instance has been so blatant that the

United States could not stand by and either ignore it or not come to India's

defence," said Tellis, the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs.





More than three-and-a-half years into his presidency and 40 days from an

election, President Donald Trump on Thursday launched what aides termed a

"vision" for health care heavy on unfulfilled aspirations.

"This is affirmed, signed, and done, so we can put that to rest," Trump

said. He signed an executive order on a range of issues, including

protecting people with preexisting medical conditions from insurance


But that right is already guaranteed in the Obama-era health law his

administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissively said Trump's "bogus executive order

on pre-existing conditions isn't worth the paper it's signed on." Democrats

are betting heavily that they have the edge on health care this election


His latest health care pitch won accolades from administration officials and

political supporters but failed to impress others.

In a rambling speech, he promised quality health care at affordable prices,

lower prescription drug costs, more consumer choice and greater

transparency. His executive order would also to try to end surprise medical


"'If we win we will have a better and less expensive plan that will always

protect individuals with preexisting conditions," Trump declared.

But while his administration has made some progress on its health care

goals, the sweeping changes Trump promised as a candidate in 2016 have

eluded him.





Cracks have emerged in Pakistan's newly formed opposition alliance over

Gilgit Baltistan, with PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif saying the issue of

giving provincial status to the disputed region should have been discussed

in parliament and not at the GHQ, the military headquarters.

"They (leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement) were called (to the GHQ)

on the issue of Gilgit Baltistan. This is a political issue that should be

settled by the people's representatives.. These issues should be decided in

the parliament, not in the GHQ," she told media on Wednesday.

Her comments came a day after Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and

Inter-Services Intelligence director general Lt Gen Faiz Hameed discussed

the prospects of giving GB the status of a province in a meeting with the

opposition alliance leaders.

Leader of the opposition in parliament Shehbaz Sharif, who is Maryam Nawaz's

uncle, along with his party colleagues Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal,

attended the meeting on behalf of the PML-N while the PPP was represented by

party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and senator Sherry Rehman.

She also pointed out that no representative of her father, former prime

minister Nawaz Sharif, met the army chief. This statement is seen as an

attack on Shahbaz Sharif, who is also the president of the PML-N party.

Shehbaz Sharif confirmed the meeting with the military leadership ahead of

the opposition parties' all parties conference but made no further comments.

Reacting to Maryam Nawaz's statement, railways minister Sheikh Rasheed said

that the PML-N leadership held two, not one, meetings in the last two months

with the military leadership, adding a rift had emerged between Maryam Nawaz

and Shahbaz Sharif over the leadership of the PML-N party.





Taiwan on Thursday condemned recent Chinese military activity after Beijing

sent two military surveillance planes toward the island for three straight

days, calling it a "deliberate provocation."

Tensions have risen in the Taiwan Strait as the US has stepped up its

official engagement with the self-ruled island that China considers part of

its national territory.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, China sent two planes into Taiwan's air

defence identification zone, according to Taiwan's Ministry of National

defence. In response, the Taiwanese side dispatched air patrols, the

ministry said.

"We oppose China using military force against Taiwan, deliberately violating

Taiwan's naval and airspace safety and damaging the status quo," added Chiu

Chui-Cheng, deputy minister at Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council.

"Our government will continue to cooperate with countries with similar

values." Last week, China sent a total of 37 warplanes, including bombers

and fighter jets, across the Taiwan Strait in a warning as a high-level US

State Department official visited the island.

The Taiwanese defence ministry said the planes crossed the midline of the

Taiwan Strait.

The midline has acted as an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan

for decades, in what Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council on Thursday called "a

tacit agreement that has kept the peace."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Monday denied the

existence of any midline, saying that Taiwan is part of China. He also

warned that China would retaliate for the US visit. "We will take

countermeasures, including against relevant individuals," he said.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has remained defiant, visiting a military

base on Tuesday and encouraging the personnel, in particular pilots and






Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny's bank accounts were frozen and

his Moscow apartment seized as part of a lawsuit while he was recovering

from a suspected poisoning in a Berlin hospital, his spokeswoman said on


His assets were seized on Aug. 27 in connection with a lawsuit filed by the

Moscow Schoolchild catering company, spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in a

video posted on Twitter. The politician and his allies have been involved in

a long-running dispute with the company.

"This means the flat cannot be sold, donated or mortgaged," Yarmysh said.

In the dispute with Moscow Schoolchild, a Russian court in October 2019

ordered Navalny, his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and ally Lyubov Sobol

to pay $1.4 million in damages for libelling the company and causing it

moral damage.

The court told his group to delete a video in which they had called into

question the quality of its food.

Yarmysh said on Thursday that the court had decided to recover 88 million

roubles ($1.14 million) from Navalny, Sobol and the FBK.

"This is the amount it estimates in lost profit for Moscow Schoolchild

because of losing a contract to provide food."





High ranking Vatican official Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu has

unexpectedly resigned from office, the Holy See has announced.

He previously worked as the second most senior official in the Vatican's

Secretariat of State.

Cardinal Becciu became involved in a controversial deal to buy a luxury

London building with church funds as an investment. The deal has since been

the subject of a financial investigation.

He denies any wrongdoing.

"The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the

Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights connected to the

Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu," a

statement from the Holy See said.

It gave no further details.






In line with the Trump administration's progressive restrictions on visas,

the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a rule on Thursday

limiting the duration of initial admission for foreign media (I visas),

students (F visas) and exchange visitors (J visas).

The rule proposes fixed time periods and extension periods for the three

visa categories which currently operate under the "duration of status"


Currently, visa holders in these categories are allowed to remain in the US

for as long as the conditions of admission are met (for example, as long as

an F visa holder is enrolled in a university and meeting other conditions).

This rule, if finalised, will change that.

Under the new proposed rule F and J students would be admitted for an

initial period of four years only (the normal duration of an American

undergraduate degree). However, the duration of stay will be two years for

those from countries with visa-overstay rates greater than 10% and those

non-US citizens either born in or holding citizenship of a country on the

State Sponsors of Terrorism list. F and J students already admitted will

have their "duration of status" terms converted to a term ending with the

end of their program (not to exceed four years) if and when the proposed DHS

rule becomes final.

"The significant growth of the F, J and I visa programs has necessitated

this proposed update to ensure the integrity of the U.S. immigration system,

but this rule does not propose changes to the underlying requirements to

qualify for these nonimmigrant classifications," a DHS press statement said.

Foreign media visa holders will initially be admitted for a period not

exceeding 240 days with "an opportunity to extend their stay for a maximum

of 240 days based on the length of relevant activities," the statement said.





President Alexander Lukashenko is not the legitimate president of Belarus,

the European Union said on Thursday, saying his abrupt swearing-in on

Wednesday went directly against the will of the people.

The ceremony accelerated EU plans to boycott Lukashenko following the

disputed Aug. 9 election, as the European Parliament had earlier decided not

to recognise the veteran leader from November, when his term as president

was due to end.

"The so-called 'inauguration' ... and the new mandate claimed by Aleksander

Lukashenko lack any democratic legitimacy," the EU's 27 states said in a


"This 'inauguration' directly contradicts the will of large parts of the

Belarusian population, as expressed in numerous, unprecedented and peaceful

protests since the elections, and serves to only further deepen the

political crisis in Belarus."

The EU, a large financial donor to Belarus, also said it was "reviewing its

relations" with the country, meaning the bloc would seek to cut off direct

funding to Lukashenko's government, channelling it to aid groups and

hospitals instead.

Before the election, the EU had committed to spend 135 million euros on

projects in Belarus and has also pledged 53 million euros for the fight

against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discussed with EU foreign

ministers on Monday in Brussels how to bypass state administration to

support doctors and hospitals.

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