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China marks 70th anniversary of Communist rule with a huge military parade in Beijing

Long march: Soldiers marching in formation at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Getty ImagesKevin Frayer

Ahead of inspecting a grand military parade on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the formation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed that China would achieve its peaceful rise, steered by the Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and unity of its people, based on the ‘One-China’ principle.

In a short, but powerful eight minute-speech delivered at Tiananmen Square, reinforcing the PRC’s red roots, the Chinese President was unambiguous in declaring that China was now prepared to “struggle” to achieve its two centenary goals — ridding China of poverty by 2021 and emergence as an advanced socialist nation by 2049.

“No force can shake the status of our great country, no force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation from marching forward,” Mr. Xi said.

During his back-to-the roots address, delivered in the teeth of a trade war with the U.S. and a serious unrest in Hong Kong, the President stood out for being the only one on the inspection rostrum to appear in a distinct Mao suit.

In the presence of three former leaders — Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao — Mr. Xi, in his address, referred only to Mao Zedong, the founding father of the PRC, leaving aside any allusion to Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s reforms that began in 1978.

Military parade

“Xi only mentioned Mao’s founding of the People’s Republic and skipped the history between, before mentioning the present time,” observed Deng Yuwen, a former deputy editor of the Study Times, a Communist Party newspaper, as quoted by the South China Morning Post.

Before the 80 minute-long military parade began, where 40% of the weapons were showcased for the first time, Mr. Xi was emphatic in expressing zero-tolerance to any challenge to the “One-China” principle, which has been periodically questioned by bouts of separatism in Xinjiang and Tibet, apart from pro-independence politics in Taiwan, and maritime disputes in the South China Sea (SCS).

The U.S. naval presence and patrols in the SCS have highlighted the China-U.S. friction in the West Pacific.

“Forging ahead, we must remain committed to the strategy of peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems. We will maintain long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao, advance peaceful development of cross-strait relations, unite the whole country and continue to strive for the complete unification of our country,” Mr. Xi said.

The Chinese President asserted that the PLA’s role “to resolutely safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interest of the nation and resolutely protect world peace,” had been clearly defined.

Asserting that China was a responsible global power, President Xi stressed that China’s goal was to foster a “community of shared future for mankind.”

But the demonstration of China’s military might was apparently aimed at deterring the U.S. and its allies.

State-of-the-art weapons

During Tuesday’s parade, China appeared to highlight that the digital gap between Beijing and Washington was narrowing, by displaying indigenously developed “intelligent” weapon systems, leveraging the advances in quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence and big data.

For the first time, Beijing displayed the HSU 001 system, which had the appearance of an underwater drone.

In a clear message to the United States and Taiwan, the PLA rolled out the road-mobile DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of targeting any part of the globe with its multiple warheads.

Besides, the Chinese unveiled their highly potent DF-17 ballistic missile.

Economy slows while political, geopolitical tensions rise

Xi JinpingGREG BAKER

While presiding over a grandiose military parade at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Tuesday marking the 70th anniversary of the Communist revolution, Chinese President Xi Jinping said there’s no force “able to shake our great motherland’s status”. The parade, and Mr. Xi’s speech underscored the Communist Party’s grip on the country and the leader’s status.

The country has made great economic progress under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), especially in the last 40 years after Deng Xiaoping opened up the economy. China is now the world’s second largest economy in dollar terms. If the size of the Chinese economy was $30.55 billion in 1952, it stood at $13.6 trillion in 2018. GDP per capita jumped from $54 in 1952 to $10,200 last year. China has almost eradicated urban poverty. According to the World Bank, some 850 million people were lifted from poverty since the economic reforms. Today’s China is an industrial powerhouse and a leader in advanced technologies, a far cry from the poor, broken and primarily agrarian economy which the communists took over in 1949.

While Mr. Xi and his party are celebrating these achievements, his regime also faces transformational challenges today.

Economic slowdown

With globalisation and free trade in crisis and the era of cheap labour in China over, the country’s exports-dependent economy has slowed down. In the second quarter of 2019, Chinese economy grew 6.2%, slowest in more than 27 years. After the 2008 economic crisis, Chinese planners have shifted their focus from exports to domestic consumption. Though the share of exports in GDP has come down since its peak in 2008 (36.04%), China is still very much dependent on global economy (the share remained almost 20% in 2016).

The trade war with the U.S. has hurt China badly with its industrial growth rate falling to a 17-year low of 4.8% in July. The numbers suggest that China is experiencing one of the worst economic slowdowns since it was opened up.

Geopolitical tensions

Deng Xiaoping once famously said, “hide your strength and bide your time”, which more or less defined China’s foreign policy doctrine for decades. While its focus was on the country’s economic development, China was also “peacefully” rising as a regional power in Asia. With China’s big power status, however, it can no longer hide. Take the case of the U.S., for example. U.S.-China ties have been normalised after President Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 visit to China. When China liberalised its economy, economic and trade ties with the U.S. deepened. But now, the U.S. and China are involved in a bitter tariff war which is hurting each other as well as the global economy. Tensions have also raised in the South China Sea region. President Donald Trump’s policy seeks to take on China, if not contain its rise. The cooperative competition between the two countries has entered into a phase of confrontational competition.

Political crises

On Tuesday, a few hours after President Xi gave his emphatic speech in Beijing, a protester was shot in the chest in Hong Kong by the police. Hong Kong has been in turmoil for month. What began as a protest against an extradition Bill has morphed into a violent movement for political reforms and “liberation”. The Hong Kong protests are perhaps the greatest challenge Mr. Xi has faced since he became President. In Xinjiang, Beijing was accused of detaining one million Uighurs in “re-education camps”. China says these were de-radicalisation camps, but the detention has sparked a global outcry, with Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, calling the camps “the stain of the century”. Choosing the next Dalai Lama could be another major political challenge. China has insisted that the next Lama should come from Tibet so that Beijing can have some leverage on the “reincarnation”. The Communist Party would not like these political issues to snowball into a “counter-revolution”. But how Mr. Xi is going to address them may also have lasting impact on the party’s hold on China.

The focus will be on the human rights situation in Kashmir

As India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar does the rounds of think-tanks and government departments, articulating, among other things, India’s position on Kashmir and Article 370, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives has finalised the date — October 22 — for its hearing on human rights in South Asia, with a focus on Kashmir.

“The hearing will focus on the Kashmir Valley, where many political activists have been arrested and daily life, the internet, and telephone communications have been interrupted. The hearing will also review the humanitarian situation in Kashmir and whether Kashmiris have adequate supplies of food, medicine and other essentials,” a statement from Congressman Brad Sherman, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Asia, said.

Alice Wells, the State Department’s top official for South Asia, will be one of those testifying, as will Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Other State Department officials and human rights activists have also been called to testify.

The hearing was, at least in part, a result of requests from California voters of South Asian origin. “In August, I had an opportunity to meet with Americans from Kashmir Valley in the San Fernando Valley, along with my colleague Congressman André Carson (D-IN),” Mr. Sherman said. “We heard stories of difficulties encountered by my constituents and others, and the fears they have for their loved ones,” Mr. SHerman added.

The hearing will extend beyond Kashmir and will include the situation of Muslims in Assam (NRC), Tamils in Sri Lanka and also Pakistan’s Sindh Province.

Saudi operatives suspected of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country’s Istanbul consulate were heard joking and talking about dismemberment before his arrival, according to secret tapes heard by UN investigators.

“There was a discussion about ‘will the body and the hips fit into a bag this way’?” Helena Kennedy, a British lawyer assisting the UN probe into Khashoggi’s death, told BBC television’s Panorama documentary programme.

Ms. Kennedy said Turkish bugs in the Saudi consulate picked up a forensic pathologist suspected of cutting up Khashoggi’s body as saying, “I often play music when I’m cutting cadavers. Sometimes I have a coffee and a cigar at hand.”

The pathologist also says, “‘It’s the first time in my life that I’ve had to cut pieces on the ground — even if you are a butcher and want to cut, he hangs the animal up to do so’,” she added.

“They speak about waiting for Khashoggi to arrive and they say, ‘Has the sacrificial animal arrived?’ You could hear them laughing, it’s a chilling business.”

Turkey handed over 45 minutes of recordings to the UN in order for them to investigate the incident.

UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said, Khashoggi asked his killers, “Are you going to give me an injection?”, to which they replied, ‘Yes’.”

There are many references in the Upanishads, the sastras, the puranas and the Itihasas to the journey of the departed soul once it sheds its mortal body. Ironically, it might appear incongruous or unnecessary for one to think of this issue while living through this lifetime, for it seems more logical to live in the present than think of the future. But this is a crucial issue for every jivatma, says Tirumangai Azhwar with great insight and fervour, pointed out Sri Mukkur Srinivasan in a discourse.

When the Azhwar visits the Naimisaranya Kshetra, he is impressed and captivated by the Lord who is believed to appear in the form of a forest here. The Azhwar feels the impact of the Lord’s Supremacy in which is subsumed His macro and microscopic omniscience and bursts forth into a soul stirring hymn of great appeal. Even as he takes refuge in the Lord’s auspicious feet, he immediately examines his own state of mind. He admits that when he uses the term ‘Adiyen,’ in the Lord’s presence, it is truly not free of ego sense. Neither can one claim that he is free of faults and inadequacies. At the same time, he also realises the Lord’s boundless compassion through whose grace he is able to understand the destiny of the soul in every jivatma.

As it passes through countless births, when the body alone perishes, the soul with its subtle attendants, namely the vasanas and the effects of good and bad deeds has to travel in various regions until it finally attains salvation. Karma is the effect of one’s deeds, good and bad and cannot be circumvented by any one. Every thought, word and deed of jivatma is registered most meticulously and this becomes the chain that binds every jivatma in samsara. Both good and bad deeds have to be relinquished to attain salvation.

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