The move by the European Union (EU) to lift the 15-year old arms embargo on China seems at present to have been set aside till the end of 2005. An informal meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers on April 15 at Gymnich, Luxembourg under the present Luxembourg presidency concluded to take no decision regarding the embargo. The press release issued after the meeting is a carefully drafted document. Essentially the press statement seems to please everyone.
It's a strange coincidence that Air India approved the purchase of up to 50 long-range Boeing aircraft at a cost of about Rs 300 billion and at the same time its rival Airbus successfully completed the maiden test flight of the biggest airliner, the Airbus double-decker A380, an aircraft designed to carry 800 passengers.
The A380 ended the four-decade reign of Boeing’s 747 jumbo as the biggest airliner to have flown. It has taken more than a decade and approximately USD$15.55 billion to develop the A380, subsidised by European governments.
The visit of UN secretary- general Kofi Annan to Delhi has generated predictable interest in the nature of the relationship that India currently has with this apex global body and the status that it seeks. This is so, even as the UN is attempting a review of its structural framework based on the inputs provided by a high-level panel that has since submitted its report.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India would be noted for three landmark steps: The establishment of a strategic and cooperative partnership, the agreement on the political parameters and guidelines for settling the territorial/boundary issue, and the decision on a comprehensive economic partnership and regional trading arrangement.
Globalisation and regionalisation of trade and investment are drawing in all countries and becoming an irresistible trend in Asia. China is at the centre of this new structure. Since 1992 in particular, as investments in labour-intensive manufacturing from Taiwan, Hong Kong, the US, Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia have moved in a rising wave though the open Chinese door, steeply raising its trade profile.
If the attack on the district collector’s office in Srinagar in January and the attack on the Jammu and Kashmir tourist office on the eve of the inauguration of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service came as a harsh reminder of Kashmir’s violent history, the overall mood in the valley, for a couple of reasons, suggested otherwise. In recent months, the people of Kashmir have sent a message: Freedom can wait, but development cannot. Two developments symbolise the transformation of popular mood.
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi on April 11-12 comes soon after that of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (March 16) and will be followed by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit in end-April.
While this scheduling may be a matter of coincidence, the outcome of the Wen visit and the manner in which it impacts the Sino-Indian relationship has the potential to significantly shape the emerging Asian strategic systemic and related security landscape.
The oil price in the international energy market appears set to remain high for the rest of this year despite the attempt of the oil giants to increase production. The major sufferers of the price hike are those Asian countries whose dependency on Persian Gulf oil is alarmingly growing day by day. Meanwhile, the OPEC countries’ plan to revise the price band of oil to a higher level, currently set at $22-$28 per barrel, suggests that the international oil price would not come back to a ‘pre-Iraq level’.
The visit of US Secretary of State Ms. Condi Rice to Delhi on March 16 had generated considerable optimism about where India-US ties are headed and this was highlighted in my last column (March 24). However events over the last week have been even more promising and the telephone conversation between US President Mr. Bush and the Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh on March 25 and the subsequent background briefing by the US State Department indicate that the Bush team has outlined an ambitious policy towards South Asia.
On March 7, China unveiled a new Anti-Secession Law in its third session of the 10th National People’s Congress meeting. The law legalizes China to take military action against the renegade province, Taiwan. The full text of the Anti-Secession Law stated a three-point scenario for ‘‘non-peaceful action’’ against Taiwan.