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Saturday, October 31, 2009

China learns that 2009 is not 1962 (Comment

by Amulya Ganguli

The inscrutable Chinese are supposed to take every step after careful deliberation. Whether it is Mao Zedong’s smile for an Indian envoy to open a new chapter after the 1962 conflict or the summoning of the Indian ambassador in Beijing to the foreign office at 2 a.m. to express displeasure, the Mandarins are believed to be sticklers for sign language.

The perceptible downturn in Sino-Indian relations, therefore, could not have been an unrehearsed event. It began a few years ago with the Chinese ambassador’s assertions on the disputed status of Arunachal Pradesh and Beijing’s decision to unilaterally disown the 2005 agreement to leave inhabited areas out of the proposed solutions for the boundary question.

These incidents were followed by reports of an increase in border incursions by Chinese patrols, attempts to block the Asian Development Bank’s loans for Arunachal Pradesh, the filibustering by Chinese delegates at the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s meetings on the India-US nuclear deal, the stapling of visas on the passports of Kashmiris, the depiction of Kashmir as a separate country in Chinese-made globes, involvement in development projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and so on.

Arguably, the Chinese had convinced themselves that India needed to be taught another ‘lesson’, as they purportedly did in 1962, to show who was the boss in Asia, especially to the neighbouring countries, none of which matched (or hoped to match) Beijing’s might. It is also possible that China believed that its expected emergence as No.2 to the US necessitated a perceptible snubbing of India, its only potential rival in

These long dormant Middle Kingdom sentiments are not entertained by the communist regime alone. For instance, Chiang Kai-shek’s book, ‘China’s Destiny’, listed Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Burma and Vietnam as his country’s lost territories. Well-known historian R.C. Mazumdar also noted that ‘if a region once acknowledged her (China’s) nominal suzerainty even for a short period, she would regard it as a part of her empire forever and would automatically revive her claim over it even after a thousand years’.

This attitude of aggrandisement contrasts sharply with India’s benignity and lack of imperialistic ambitions. Although Southeast Asia, from Cambodia to Bali, demonstrates the overwhelming presence of Indian influence, there has never been any question of India claiming these lands as its own.

The same spirit of generosity and friendship was shown by India to Beijing when it rejected the Two China theory preferred by the US in the 1950s and 60s and strongly advocated Beijing’s membership of the United Nations even after the deterioration in Sino-Indian relations.

As a report on a conference of governors in 1959 said, late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave the ‘reasons for the stand taken by India in the UN on the question of the entry of China into the organisation though there was resentment in the country about China’s hostile attitude towards India’. Nehru had also accompanied Zhou Enlai as a big brother at the Bandung conference in 1955.

But China never reciprocated these friendly gestures. Instead, as Nehru said after the 1962 war, ‘it was wrong to assume that the Chinese undertook this aggression only because they wanted some patches of territory…China did not want any country near her which was not prepared to accept her leadership; so India had to be humiliated’.

Continuing, he said, ‘though India would not interfere with what was happening within China, yet she came in China’s way by the mere fact of her separate political structure and pursuing a separate policy which was succeeding’.

These factors are apparently still riling China. Not only is India emerging as a major regional power with a robust economy which has weathered the storm of recession with reasonable success, its ’separate political structure’ of a widely admired multicultural democracy contrasts sharply with China’s obviously repressive one-party rule.

What is more, while Pakistan’s degeneration into a dysfunctional state robs China of an ‘all-weather friend’ which it could use to needle India, Beijing’s own peripheries have become seedbeds of trouble. Let alone subdue its neighbours, the aspiring Middle Kingdom is not even in full control over Tibet and Xinjiang, not to mention Taiwan. Nor is it able to hide the growing rural unrest over the disparity between the rich and the poor.

It is apparently because of such restiveness that even the supposedly monolithic communist party is divided. On one side are the so-called populists, who include President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Web Jiabao, with their preference for a level-playing field between the poor Western regions and the more affluent urban areas on the eastern coast and on the other side are the elitists, who want faster growth based on the free market.

It was perhaps to divert attention from all these difficulties by ratcheting up nationalistic fervour that China thought of provoking India. But its miscalculation was that it did not take into account the fact that India in 2009 was different from its naive and militarily unprepared self in 1962.

The blow to its pride in that year has led to an augmentation of its military prowess, which it is no longer hesitant to display. India also seems to have realised that the Chinese misinterpret politeness as weakness. Hence it chose to ignore Beijing’s objections to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

It is possible that the Chinese will now pay greater heed to the second part of the advice of Sun Tzu, the military genius of 6th century B.C., who said the winner is the person who ‘knows when to fight and when not to
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Typhoon Mirinae likely to worsen Cambodia's flood problems: Oxfam

International aid agency Oxfam has cautioned that a new wave of rain from Typhoon Mirinae is expected to reach Cambodia on Nov. 2.

In a statement received Saturday, Oxfam said situations in communities already affected by Typhoon Ketsana and prolonged annual floods in central and northern Cambodia are likely to worsen with the effects of the new typhoon, putting already affected people further at risk.

"Typhoon Mirinae is currently on track to hit the northern Philippines island of Luzon . Although Cambodia may not be hit with the full strength of the typhoon, the country remains vulnerable due to its limited resources for preparation and response, and while the country is just beginning to recover from recent flooding," the statement said.

"Typhoon Mirinae could set back on-going emergency work and planned recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Cambodia ," said Francis Perez, Country Lead of Oxfam in Cambodia .

"The effects of the new typhoon could increase hazards in still flooded areas and cause further damage to crops and livelihoods. It may also displace communities or prolong the return of those already displaced by Typhoon Ketsana," he added.

Fearing a new threat of another typhoon, Oxfam is alerting humanitarian agencies and government authorities to help communities living in areas susceptible to flooding to be prepared by stocking on clean water and food and securing important documents.

The damage from Typhoon Ketsana runs to around 40 million U.S. dollars in Cambodia, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The storm, which killed at least 30 people, affected about 6,000 families and destroyed thousands of hectares of rice fields, and local infrastructure such as irrigation systems, roads, schools and houses.

Source: Xinhua
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Thaksin not to reside in Cambodia: Thai opposition leader

Ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra refused to permanently reside in Cambodia as hedid not want to create problem to Thailand, opposition Puea Thai Party Chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyuth said Saturday.

"I asked him through people close him why he did not stay in Cambodia as it is near home and family, Thaksin said that he did not want to create problem," the INN news agency quoted Chavalit, deputy prime minister in Thaksin's administration as saying.

It was a test of Thaksin's thought, he said.

Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in September 2006 and has been in exile since then. In February 2008, Thaksin returned to Thailand to face corruption charges but later went to exile again and was convicted in absentia.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters during the recent 15th ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit at Thailand's central beach resort of Hua Hin that Cambodiawould not hand over Thaksin to Thailand if Thailand sought his extradition.

Hun Sen also said that he could appoint Thaksin as his economic advisor.

The opposition party chairman said that he is planning to visit neighboring country of Malaysia in mid-November and visit Myanmar after that.

"I have known Gen Than Shwe (Myanmar top leader) for quite a long time and he can help improve relations between Thailand and Myanmar," he said.

Over the criticism that he was trying to discredit the government and to help Thaksin, Chavalit said if someone wants to do a big thing, he must be able to stand for such a negative criticism.

Also on Saturday, Thailand's Attorney-General Julasingh Wasantsingh said that Cambodia reserves the rights to refuse to extradite Thaksin if he stays in the neighboring country, but substantial grounds must be provided.

Source: Xinhua
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Vietnam condemns acts hindering border demarcation with Cambodia

The Cambodia Kingdom had a vast land, East and West part of the country had been shrinking by encroachment from Yuon and Siam. Twenty one province had lost to Yuon and a bout Twenty Province to Siam. Recently Cambodia had lost some Islands, water, sea and land to Yuon. Border demarcation with Yuon had never been a fair management. Border posts are in Cambodian farm lands, is it called a friendship and good neighbour? Yuon will face something in the future, critical.

The Vietnamese Government strongly condemned acts and statements made by Sam Rainsy, President of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) of Cambodia, who recently uprooted land markers on the Vietnam-Cambodia border, said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson on October 30.

Sam Rainsy on October 25 visited the border demarcation area between Vietnam’s southern province of Long An and Svay Rieng province of Cambodia and uprooted six temporary poles that mark the position of Marker 185 and then brought them to Phnom Penh. Sam Rainsy also made statements slandering Vietnam as encroaching on the land of Cambodia through the border demarcation and marker planting.

In response to questions from the media about Vietnam’s reaction to Sam Rainsy’s acts and statements, spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Nga said that “ Vietnam and Cambodia are promptly conducting borderline demarcation and planting border markers. Protection of land markers and poles is the shared obligation of the two countries’ governments and people, in accordance with bilateral agreements and international law.”

What Sam Rainsy did was a perverse action, damaging common property, violating both countries’ laws, and bilateral treaties and agreements, hindering the borderline demarcating and marker planting process, she emphasised.

Sam Rainsy’s speeches slandering Vietnam were ill-informed, irresponsible and designed to incite a feud, undermining the relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia, she added.

The Vietnamese government urged the Cambodian government to take due measures to deal with sabotage acts, ensuring favourable conditions for conducting borderline demarcation and marker planting between Vietnam and Cambodia, and for the common benefit of both peoples, Nga concluded. (VNA)
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Cambodia gives big boost to military budget

By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries, plans to boost defense and security spending by 23 percent next year, its budget showed on Saturday, raising the prospect of a clash with the IMF.

Cambodia plans to spend $274 million on defense and security next year, up from $223 million this year, the budget showed. The total budget for calendar 2010 was $1.97 billion, which meant the military was allocated about 14 percent of total spending.

That compares with 1.7 percent spent on agriculture, the backbone of Cambodia's economy, and 0.7 percent on water resources. About 1.7 percent was set aside for rural development.

Military spending is a sensitive topic in Cambodia because of the millions of dollars of donor money flowing into the country, largely to social programmes.

"This big budget for defense is meant for preventative measures in response to international conflicts," said government spokesman Phay Siphan.

Siphan said the spending was unrelated to tensions with neighbouring Thailand over land surrounding a 900-year-old, cliff-top Hindu temple known as Preah Vihear. Skirmishes in the border area have killed seven troops in the past year.

Thailand is challenging a U.N. decision to make the temple a world heritage site under Cambodian jurisdiction. Cambodia was awarded the temple in a 1962 international court ruling that did not determine who owns 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) next to it.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) criticised Cambodia last year for its military spending, leading the Cambodian government to cut back its defense budget during a debate in parliament after questioning by the IMF.

"Donors will not be happy," Ou Vireak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said of the latest military budget.

He said Prime Minister Hun Sen was likely trying to whip up nationalist support by projecting an image of a strong military at a time of heightened tension with Thailand.

"By doing so, he is turning the country effectively into a military state," he said.
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Cambodia: World AIDS Day HIV Campaign, 'Testing Millions,' to Again Launch During Cambodia's National Water Festival

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of an ambitious global effort to test several million people for HIV in observance of the Testing Millions World AIDS Day 2009 campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES will launch its inaugural testing effort during the annual Water Festival, which marks the end of the rainy season and is the largest festival in the Cambodian calendar. The Water Festival commences Sunday, November 1st. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS group in the US which currently provides AIDS medical care and services to more than 120,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe, is spearheading the worldwide initiative to test millions. Last year, AHF led the successful 'One Million Tests/World AIDS Day 2008' campaign during which AHF/Cambodia CARES and its Cambodian partners surpassed their country goal of performing 30,000 tests by testing 35,034 individuals, identifying 1,112 HIV positive individuals in the process. The 2008 campaign far exceeded its goal of performing one million tests by testing 1,603,272 people and identifying 61,399 HIV positive people.

AHF/Cambodia CARES, which partners with NCHADS in operating 12 free AIDS treatment clinics throughout the country, has also taken a leadership role to coordinate and partner with other stakeholders to reach as many people as possible for the HIV testing and the Love Condom campaign. As its part of the in-country component of the global testing campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES has committed to testing 12,000 people for HIV throughout the month of November in Cambodia, one of the countries in the Asia Pacific region that has been hardest-hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"With the beginning of the Water Festival, AHF/Cambodia CARES will get an early start and launch our country's participation in the 'Testing Millions' World AIDS Day 2009 campaign. We will be testing in Phnom Penh and other provinces and link those found to be positive to a clinic for follow up care and access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment as well as the positive prevention to stop the spreading of the virus, and those who found as negative will learn about HIV prevention to keep them stay negative" said Chhim Sarath, M.D., AHF Country Director for Cambodia.

Cambodia is one of the poorest nations in Asia and also has one of the most rapidly growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the region. The HIV epidemic has spread beyond high-risk groups such as sex workers, male police officers, factory workers, mobile populations, injection drug users and men who have sex with men, to the general population.

The number of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) centers in Cambodia has increased dramatically over the last 5 years (only 12 sites in 2000 to 216 sites by the end of first quarter 2009). Of the current 216 VCT centers, 194 are supported directly by the government, while 22 are supported by non-governmental organizations.

About AHF
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 120,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. Additional information is available at

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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