Stories about China

Is the Chabahar Port agreement failing India?

Indo-Iran relations have been abuzz these days. Modi’s take away from Tehran, baskets of agreements and the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan, has caused panic in Islamabad. There are ample reasons for this panic: these agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) are an index of India’s increasing influence in West Asia and Central Asia and a means to outflank Pakistan. However, these agreements do not make the ground for any facile assumption that Modi’s take away from Tehran has better positioned India vis-à-vis Pakistan or Afghanistan. All these agreements appear good on paper but, in practice, they face a lot of resistance. The real challenge ...

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My love affair with language (barriers) in Beijing

Beijing is a heady place for a tourist who can’t speak Mandarin. This was the uncontrived truth that surfaced during long conversations with friends and extensive Google searches on what to expect from the metropolis. I had been warned that the city’s sights, sounds, smells and flavours would not appeal to me unless the pull of a common language could bind me to them. As my trepidation grew into sheer terror, I contemplated the possibility of learning a few words in Mandarin to placate my fears and fit into my new orbit. Before I had boarded the six-hour flight from Karachi ...

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Is India making the same mistake Pakistan made by allying with the US?

The post-colonial history tells us that Uncle Sam has been more of a destabiliser than a divine presence in the region. Pakistan has been a close ally of the US since the 50s. But has the Islamic country been a real beneficiary by playing the western world’s game in South Asia? In its blind desire to get military parity with India and neutralise the existential threat from its eastern neighbour, Islamabad became a front for Washington in the NATO’s war against communist Soviet Russia. As a result, Pakistan, a newly born country, lost its strategic autonomy quite early in its life and became a pawn in the larger game ...

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They are tortured, beaten up with sticks and metal gears, set on fire and boiled ALIVE

Disclaimer: The pictures in this post are graphic. Please use discretion. A dog is a man’s best friend. This might be a common saying, but not as much in China where dogs are barbarically butchered and eaten for the sake of a festival celebration. This annual celebration is held in the city of Yulin, Guangxi, where the festivalgoers eat lychees and dog meat for over 10 days starting from June 21st till June 30th. The festival is commonly known as the Yulin dog meat festival. One of the stalls at the Yulin dog meat festival.Photo: Twitter [caption id="" align="alignnone" ...

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Making India an NSG member state will be a mistake

Recently, India initiated efforts to become a member state of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Correspondingly, Pakistan — in an attempt to subdue India — has also submitted an application in its desire to join the club. However, both countries don’t meet the prerequisites to join the NSG. I personally believe that Pakistan needs to focus on stability rather than gaining access to this group. NSG restricts the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling nuclear commerce. India, the fastest growing economy in the world, has a huge population and an enormous demand for energy. It has various domestic nuclear industries that require international exposure ...

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Is Uber the Saudi woman’s closest taste of freedom?

I was 10-years-old when I saw something I had never seen before: one night, in a dark corner of the desert on the outskirts of Riyadh, my mom switched seats with my dad and got behind the steering wheel. My sister and I watched in awe as she began to cautiously accelerate. But, as the novelty of the situation coursed through her veins, with the sound of police sirens behind us, all excitement quickly abated turning into dread. My dad nervously rationalised why he was sitting in the passenger seat with a woman behind the wheel in a country that, ...

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Iran and the clash of modern civilisation

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 ended 2,500 years of uninterrupted monarchical rule and ever since then, the country has been hit with a series of sanctions that have had a huge impact on it economically and politically, leading to relative isolation. With changing political winds and shifting strategic alignments, the sanctions have been eased considerably, thereby allowing Iran to once again participate more actively in global matters. This gradual reintegration of Iran into the world community has been one of the big geopolitical stories over the last few months. Iran is undoubtedly a significant nation. It is strategically located, has huge energy reserves, a rich cultural ...

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The GIR Bill is an attack on the democratic rights of all Indian citizens

One of Narendra Modi’s mantras before he became prime minister in May 2014 was, “Minimum government maximum governance.” Two years later, this famous quote has lost its meaning. Currently, in all walks of life, there is more government and less governance. The powerhouse in Delhi wants to decide whether people are national or anti-national, it wants to dictate the religious preferences and wants to monitor each activity through Unique Identity Card (UID). The way the government is intruding into the private and personal space of individuals, it will eventually end up making the common man a prisoner in their own nation. The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill (GIRB) is another attempt to invade the ...

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Changing maps will not mean Kashmir is a part of you, India

The Indian government wants to pass the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill (GIRB). This bill will essentially make any map in India (ONE that does not toe the official line on geospatial information provided by the Indian government) illegal and liable to seven years in jail and a fine of up to a whopping billion Indian rupees. Predictably Pakistan reacted by shooting off a letter to the United Nations (UN) protesting that the official Indian maps show the disputed territories of Kashmir as wholly part of India, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). While one respects the sovereignty a foreign nation state, the provisions of this law ...

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Yan Lianke’s The Four Books brings Chinese history to its knees

Chinese literature, one of the most overlooked in the world, is also one of the richest. Since the beginning of this century alone, China has produced two Nobel Laureates in Literature: Gao Xingjian (2000) and Mo Yan (2012), and yet it remains mainly unknown to a larger reading population worldwide. And while many Chinese novelists are lauded internationally, their plight is such that, at home, they constantly have to grapple with state sponsored censors and almost despotic regulations. In a melancholy article for the New York Times that was published in 2012, the internationally celebrated Chinese writer, Yan Lianke, lamented ...

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