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Biden reinvigorates tariff war against India

New York: The US tariff war against India has been reinvigorated by President Joe Biden threatening to increase import duties on a range of imports, from prawns and Basmati rice to furniture and jewelry, in retaliation against New Delhi imposing Digital Services Tax (DS) on tech giants.

The US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced on June 2 the plan for the 25 per cent increase in the tariffs on 26 items from India, but said that the hikes will be on hold till December.

India imposed a two per cent tax starting in April last year on earnings in the country by foreign technology and e-commerce companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google. It was opposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump, and Biden has picked up the baton.

The Trade Representative’s Office said: “India’s DST is unreasonable or discriminatory and burdens or restricts US commerce.”

The Office estimated the increased taxes on the selected imports from India will equal the taxes India assesses on the US companies under the DST.

“Estimates indicate that the value of the DST payable by US-based company groups to India will be up to approximately $55 million per year. The level of trade covered by the action takes into five account estimates of the amount of tariffs to be collected on goods of India and the estimates of the amount of taxes assessed by India.”

The other items threatened with increased duties include bamboo, window shutters, cigarette papers, pearl, copper foil and bedroom furniture.

Inaugurating the new phase of trade wars, the Biden administration also threatened to increase tariffs on imports from five other countries — the UK, Austria, Italy, Spain and Turkey over their DST.

Explaining the reason for holding the increases in abeyance for the six countries, Tai said it was to help the international negotiations on taxation.

“The US remains committed to reaching a consensus on international tax issues through the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and G20 processes. Today’s actions provide time for those negotiations to continue to make progress while maintaining the option of imposing tariffs.”

The latest Biden salvo opens a new front in the trade war between the two countries that started in 2018 when Trump imposed 25 per cent duties on steel and aluminium imports from India.

In 2019, Trump withdrew the special treatment for some Indian exports, mostly low-tech items and handicrafts, under the General System of Preferences (GSP) that exempted them from import duties.

New Delhi retaliated with higher tariffs on 28 US products that included walnuts and almonds.

Biden has not so far taken steps to reinstate the GSP facility for India.

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coronavirus India Latest News

COVID antibody cocktail used to treat Donald Trump now launched in India

Drug major Roche India on Monday announced the launch of its first batch of antibody cocktail against COVID-19 in India. The antibody cocktail — Casirivimab and Imdevimab –– is priced at Rs 59,750 per dose.

The Roche’s antibody cocktail was given to then US President Donald Trump when he contracted COVID-19 last year.

In a statement, the company said: “Each of the 1,200 mg dose of the drug contains 600 mg of Casirivimab and 600 mg of Imdevimab. The price of each dose will be Rs 59,750. The maximum retail price for the multi-dose pack will be Rs 1,19,500. Notably, each pack can treat two patients.”

The drug will be marketed in India by Cipla and the second batch will be made available by mid-June.

“The first batch of the antibody cocktail (Casirivimab and Imdevimab) is now available in India while a second batch will be made available by mid-June. In total they can potentially benefit two lakh patients as each of the one lakh packs that will be available in India offers treatment for two patients,” according to a joint statement issued by Cipla and Roche.

The drug will be available through leading hospitals and COVID treatment centers.

The Central Drugs Standards Control Organization (CDSCO) had recently provided an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the antibody cocktail in India. Earlier, it has also received a EUA in the US and several EU countries.

“Roche is deeply committed to supporting the ongoing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigate the deadly second wave and save lives. We are optimistic that the availability of Antibody Cocktail (Casirivimab and Imdevimab) in India can help in minimizing hospitalization, ease the burden on healthcare systems and play a key role in the treatment of high-risk patients before their condition worsens,” said V Simpson Emmanuel, Managing Director and CEO, Roche Pharma India.

The antibody cocktail is to be administered for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age or older, weighing at least 40 kg) who are confirmed to be infected with SARS-COV2 and who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease and do not require oxygen.

The cocktail drug has been shown to help these high-risk patients before their condition worsens, reducing the risk of hospitalization and fatality by 70 per cent. (ANI)

 

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International Latest News

Biden-Putin summit: US-Russia to work towards strategic stability

New Delhi: In a path-breaking development, United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev held consultations on United States-Russia relations in the run-up to the summit between President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16.

The two NSA talked about strategic stability between the two former adversaries with the fall-out of China being brought into the arms control and cyber control regimes. In simple terms it encompasses nuclear weapons, missiles, anti-satellite weapons, and anti-missile defense.

The joint statement issued after the meeting makes it clear that both the countries want to work towards normalizing ties and keeping in touch with each other on critical global issues.

According to the statement, the US-Russia NSA meeting was a logical continuation of the recent discussions held in Reykjavik between Secretary of State Blinken and Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

“At the meeting, both sides agreed that a normalization of the US-Russian relations would be in the interest of both countries and contribute to global predictability and stability” the statement said.

Biden, making his first international trip as president will go to Geneva immediately after separate summits with his key Western allies in the G7, NATO, and the European Union.

The Geneva summit will come almost three years after Trump famously sided with the Kremlin leader over the US intelligence agencies on the question of whether Moscow interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

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International Latest News

‘US security assistance to Pakistan remains suspended’

Washington: The status of US security assistance to Pakistan that was suspended by the previous Trump administration hasn’t changed, the Pentagon said.

“At this time, the US security assistance to Pakistan is still suspended. I will not get into speculating one way or another about if or whether that will change going forward,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at a news conference.

He was responding to a question on if the new Biden administration has reviewed the policy in this regard of the previous Trump administration and if there are any changes in it or was this issue on the table during talks with the Pakistani leadership.

Former US President Donald Trump, in January 2018, had suspended all security assistance to Pakistan, arguing that he was not satisfied with the latter’s cooperation and role in the fight against terrorism.

The statement came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and US National Security Advisor Jek Sullivan met his Pakistani counterpart in Geneva.

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Latest News USA

Republicans criticize Biden for curbs on travel from India

Republican lawmakers on Friday criticized President Joe Biden for imposing restrictions on travel from India in view of the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

“Restricting travel to our ally India while leaving our border open to Mexico is not rational,” Congressman Tim Burchett said in a tweet, soon after the White House announced Biden’s decision.

“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India. The policy will take effect on Tuesday, May 4,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said on Friday.

Another Republican lawmaker Jodey Arrington also criticized Biden for this proclamation on travel.

“Biden enacting an India travel ban while keeping the border open is like locking your front door, but leaving the back door wide open. I wonder if the Left will accuse him of being xenophobic and anti-Hindu,” Arrington asked.

“As Biden bans flights from India, perhaps he should be reminded of a tweet he put out last year. Also, I thought travel bans were xenophobic,” Congresswoman Lauren Boebert said in a tweet.

After the then president Donald Trump had imposed travel ban from Europe, Biden then the Democratic presidential candidate, had opposed it.

“A wall will not stop coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe – or any other part of the world – will not stop it. The disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet – and we need a plan to combat it,” Biden had said in a tweet on March 12 last year.

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, however, supported the travel ban.

“I support the Biden Administration’s travel restrictions from India, which many in the Indian American community have called for,” he said.

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Latest News USA

US vows to lead on climate, press all nations to reduce coal use

Washington, DC: The United States will press all nations to reduce reliance on coal, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday, in an implicit challenge to China as he vowed greater US leadership.

Blinken kicked off a week of intense climate diplomacy by President Joe Biden, who has invited 40 world leaders to a virtual summit Thursday and Friday aimed at raising the world’s ambitions on climate.

Casting climate change as a national security issue, Blinken warned both of major impact around the planet — and risks to the United States if it does not raise its own efforts.

“It’s difficult to imagine the United States winning long-term strategic competition with China if we cannot lead the renewable energy revolution,” Blinken said in a speech in Annapolis, Maryland.

“Right now, we’re falling behind.”

While Blinken pointed to China’s lead on solar and other technology, the Asian power is also the world’s largest emitter of carbon blamed for climate change — and by far the biggest user of coal, the dirtiest form of energy.

“Our diplomats will challenge the practices of countries whose action — or inaction — is setting us back,” Blinken said.

“When countries continue to rely on coal for a significant amount of their energy, or invest in new coal factories, or allow for massive deforestation, they will hear from the United States and our partners about how harmful these actions are.”

China, despite a pledge to go carbon neutral by 2060, has moved ahead with coal-powered plants, only modestly increasing ambitions for renewables in its latest five-year development plan.

Coal is also a sensitive issue in the United States which under former president Donald Trump left the Paris climate accord as he declared himself a champion of miners, although demand for coal has kept falling.

In the speech punctuated by chirping birds in front of Chesapeake Bay — which Blinken noted was sinking — the top US diplomat said the United States did not see climate just “through the prism of threats.”

“If America fails to lead the world on addressing the climate crisis, we won’t have much of a world left,” Blinken said.

“If we succeed, we will capitalize on the greatest opportunity to create quality jobs in generations; we’ll build a more equitable, healthy, and sustainable society; and we’ll protect this magnificent planet.”

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Latest News USA

Supreme Court – An Endangered Species

By

Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

 

On February 5, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt announced his plan to expand the Supreme Court to 15 judges. He was saved the infamy of actually implementing the plan because some members of the Court switched their support to enable a slim majority opinion upholding the constitutionality of presidential authority and of the laws whose legality the court had questioned.

The Biden administration has sought to do the same with some House Representatives announcing the crafting of a bill which, if passed, will expand the Court to 13 justices from the conventional nine.

Coming 84 years later, Biden seems committed to live up to his worthy predecessor’s record. Their deliberate effort to expand the court in order to make it pliable and more amenable to the ruling party’s agenda makes both presidents’ actions highly suspect and demoralizing. The latter because it implies that both the Constitution, and the foundational principle of US democracy – i.e. separation of powers – are no longer sacrosanct. Worse, American democracy in its genetic and inherited form is discardable.

Roosevelt enjoyed such a massive public mandate that he felt the Court and its judges must either fall in line with his policies or have their judicial interpretation and overruling power diluted. His peeve arose from his experience. During the previous two years, the court had struck down several key pieces of his progressive New Deal legislation on grounds that the laws delegated an unconstitutional measure of authority to the executive branch and to the federal government.

Democrats coincidentally feel similarly peeved with the Republicans’ refusal to allow Senate’s consideration of Obama’s judicial nominee to the court towards the end of the Obama presidency. Republican Senators then wrongfully claimed the high moral ground asserting that the right to fill a court vacancy should accrue to the incoming rather than the out-going president. Republicans added insult to injury when they brazenly went ahead to do exactly that and connived to hustle Justice Amy Barrett’s nomination and addition to the court at the tail end of Trump’s presidency.

Heady with his landslide reelection in 1936, Roosevelt had smugly decided he could not brook any opposition from judiciary’s mandarins. He therefore proposed retirement at full pay for all members of the court over 70, further providing that if a justice refused to retire, an “assistant” with “full voting rights” was to be appointed – presumably one committed to rubberstamp Roosevelt’s initiatives. This brazen effort to ensure a liberal majority court partial to the Roosevelt agenda enraged politicians of opposing leanings including some Democrats, and left many sections of the public disenchanted, leading critics to condemn his ‘court packing’ plan.

Biden’s executive order announced on April 9, 2021 laid the ground for his similarly scheming venture.  The order sets up a Presidential Commission composed of not more than 36 members drawn from constitutional scholars, retired members of the Federal judiciary or familiar with it, tasked to examine the court’s functioning and recommend reforms. Seemingly benign, the Commission is the trojan horse to provide a rationale for the intended coup against the high court’s authority. With barely any diehard conservatives and non-Biden donors serving on it, the Commission’s findings are unlikely to be eclectic.  

Rather than await the findings of this suspect almost entirely Democrat and liberal leaning Commission, some progressive Democrats in the House decided to jump the gun. Seizing the day (April 15, 2021), standing on the footsteps of the Supreme Court building, they announced the intended introduction of their bill in the House asking for 13 justices. The choice of that location alone can be perceived as intimidation of the court. 

Neutralizing the court is one thing and vicious enough. Far more lethal is to neuter it. And Biden’s and Democrat’s plan to tamper with the court, especially without popular mandate, makes it autocratic and egregious. Whereas Roosevelt came in to his second term with a landslide victory, Biden is thinly supported with a barely noticeable majority in the House and a 50:50 Senate entirely dependent on the Vice-President’s assured casting vote. That reflects an equally divided nation. Yet Biden seems to act as though he is not merely riding the crest of a wave but has the entire ocean behind him.

The Democrats’ court packing game is being sequentially played on three fronts. First, Biden’s order unveils his intention to get an outside expert commission’s verdict on court expansion, knowing fully well that the composition of the commission guarantees the desired outcome, i.e., the court’s expansion. The Executive order is followed shortly by four Democrat Representatives publicly announcing the initiation by them of the court expansion bill, and laying bare Democrat grievances that necessitate an “unpacking” of the “Republican-packed” court. Disgusted with Trump and fearing the outcome of the conservative leaning court, they made sweeping unfounded allegations against the court, brazenly indicting the conservative justices currently serving on the court. That theatric announcement was quickly followed by Pelosi publicly asserting that she had no intention of bringing the bill to the floor for a vote, and would await the commission’s findings.

One can bet Pelosi will retract soon enough and go with the flow. Biden or Pelosi unfortunately follow a similar approach of claiming to do one thing but doing the opposite. Hence the skepticism they rightly spawn equally among independent observers, opponents, and supporters.

It is worth pondering why are democrats in such a hurry to pack the court and broadly, to seal all doors to democracy? From crafting, tabling or egregiously passing generous immigration and electoral bills that make voting open to all and sundry and not exclusively to citizens, or throw open doors to hordes of illegal immigrants – luring them to immigrate in return for bounties of free accommodation, healthcare, subsistence assistance, and unemployment compensation – democrats at state and federal levels are ensuring a gullible, grateful and guaranteed voter base not only in the immediate but also in the distant futures.

With thousands of immigrant children and youth and millions of adults welcomed by Biden to live, work and access public services freely without verification or law-abiding requirements, which immigrant for the rest of this century will dare to not vote for Democrats?  And why would their children and grandchildren ever choose to deviate and leave the democrat tent?

We would be fools not to expect that well before the next mid-term elections, Democrats will have ensured that both, the mass of voters as well as the Supreme Court are in their pocket.

.

Ms. Sohoni is a freelance writer and published author.

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e-paper-stories Latest News

US should hold China responsible for Wuhan Virus

Stating that his analysis about WuhanVirus being a lab-created Frankenstein is now an open secret,  Eminent Attorney Ravi Batra has written the following Open Letter to President Biden (a year after his similar missive to then President Trump uploaded on www.test.skyurbis.com) imploring him to set a clear American policy – both as to our injury from Covid19 and holding the sending-nation reasonably responsible (turn over all biomedical information, indemnify our losses, etc), and to restore global peace and security.

 

APRIL 13, 2021 – 1 YEAR LATER – OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN
H.E. Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President of the United States of America

H.E. Nancy Pelosi
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives

H.E. Chuck Schumer
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate

Re: 1 Year after My April 14, 2020 “Open Letter” – M/O Novel Coronavirus Aka Covid19 Aka “2019-n-CoV” or “2019-nCoV” – Compensation Is Due from China; and If We Were Pearl Harbored, Then Reparations too.

Honorable President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Schumer:

As an un-conflicted American, I love and admire the Chinese culture; always have, and find Confucius wiser as I age. With God’s Grace I and my family survived Covid19 on or about March 29, 2020. Treating this Virus as a cancer case that I needed to crack, and after learning biochemistry and epidemiology during an intense effort, I did so, and a year ago, on April 14, 2020, I wrote a 6-page “Open Letter” to then-President Trump, Speaker Pelosi and then-Senate Majority Leader (“OL”; copy enclosed, with uniform spelling of “Wuhan”), and for POTUS, emailed it to a former Marine: Deputy NSA Matt Pottinger at 8:31pm. In the OL, I had the science, the facts, and recommendations, including, bringing our “supply chains” home. The next day, April 15, 2020, about 1 p.m. the United States opened a preliminary investigation into inter alia the origin of SARS-CoV2 from PLA-run Wuhan Virology Lab, and the motives of CCP China in causing its global-spread without sounding a pandemic-alarm directly or thru theWHO. I remain grateful for the start of the April 15, 2020 “all hands on deck” Investigation.

It remains an open secret that my analysis was and is correct, and that this is a lab-created Frankenstein that transplanted the “Spike Glycoprotein(S)” (“Spike”) from Bats – a unique feature in bats, as they are either “cold” or “warm” blooded, and still, a warm Bat can procreate with a cold Bat due to the “Spike.” OL at 3. I called “Covid19,” aka “WuhanVirus,” a Trojan Horse, as its Spike feature does not cause our immune system to sound an alarm upon infection (and the T-cells remain asleep). Disturbingly, CCP has not turned over, to this day, the genome of Patient Zero who was admitted in Wuhan hospital on or about December 1, 2019, while a different protein string-virus was released on or about December 31, 2019 at the Wuhan Wet Market. The animal farms about a 1000 miles away from Wuhan, did not experience a Covid19 outbreak, thereby decimating the WHO’s coddled-team’s report, after a 3-hour chaperoned visit to the Wuhan Virology lab, falsely asserting a virus jump from an animal to a human.

WHO dishonored its high fiduciary obligations, and did not promptly alert the leaders of every nation that a pandemic was afoot and ask to lock-down CCP’s China. President Trump said we were fighting an invisible enemy. I disagree; the cascading events in just the South China Sea – from creating Mischief Reef, to sinking of Filipino Fishing boats with Fishermen to their death, to sinking Vietnamese Fishing boats, to the recent squatting of 245 Chinese Militia ships, lashed together to appear as part of “9-Dashes” in Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone – are in violation of inter alia the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”). The Virus is surely invisible, but this string of protein, despite its lab-based default programming, has no animus towards us and does not benefit by causing death and destruction – and by my last count, our needlessly dead well exceed our losses at Pearl Harbor. A substantial question arises: is Covid19 a biowarfare agent? The death and destruction we have suffered suggests a motivated animus, which is a human phenomena that renders us unworthy in the eyes of God.

Despite Truth-in-Labeling laws, CCP has succeeded in blocking this Virus from being origin-labeled by deeming it racist. Our misguided citizens criminally attacking innocent law-abiding Asian-Americans have provided cover, while shaming us as a nation that celebrates diversity, and staining E Pluribus Unum. Our shameful chapter of interning innocent and loyal Japanese-Americans during WWII, when we did no such thing to German-Americans while fighting Nazi Germany, is a lesson we need to learn perpetually, exactly, as Kristallnacht teaches: remember always. It is a singularly important ingredient in our effort to form a more perfect union – a point recently well made by Secretary Blinken in Anchorage.

I write to seek from you dear and respected President Biden, given your distinguished tenure and natural God-given abilities – a clear American policy – both as to our injury from Covid19 and holding the sending-nation reasonably responsible (turnover all biomedical information, indemnify our losses, etc), and to restore global peace and security, by avoiding a war if we can. Indeed, pre-Covid19, troubled by the years-long effort by China to create Mischief Reef into a military base, in September 2017, I had a respectful conversation with China’s distinguished FM Wang Yi, which in sum and substance, I explained the above facts and said, you are inviting a little war now or a big war later, and since I don’t like wars, I prefer a little war now. Minister Wang, with concern, immediately responded: No war! No war!, and left to end this conversation.

Diplomacy is always needed, even to arrange a surrender to end a war. It has been reported that President Xi, whom I consider to be at least as much an exceptional mastermind as Chairman Mao was, if not more, has asked his diplomatic corps to unsheathe their swords to be Wolf Warriors – a function or definition that defies diplomacy, even as it weaponizes it. Given that backdrop, we, as hosts at Captain Hook Hotel in Anchorage on March 18, 2021 – instead of a protocol-based public welcome, private candid talks, and a public press conference at the end – started with our honest expressions in public. In a moment that evokes – albeit, in part – a declaration of independence [sadly, from us], CCP’s Foreign Affairs Chief Yang Jiechi effortlessly responded in public, what I believe was intended for private talks. We are at the cusp of a modern day Gordian Knot.

While I take note of William Stanton’s recent April 9, 2021 piece on “Agents of Influence,” I particularly take note of former NSA H.R. McMaster’s May 2020 piece in The Atlantic, entitled “How China Sees the World,” I freely admit that it was our then-President Nixon who opened the world for China and granted CCP a permanent seat on the UNSC. Whether we have a rules-based or law-based system of sovereigns co-existing in the comity of nations, we ought not be in the position of having to pick between the ever-reasonable and well-calibrated go-along and get-along Neville Chamberlain or Winston Churchill as being necessary to maintain our cherished freedoms and never surrender our sovereignty. Methinks, a new joint Yalta and Brentwood Conference is needed, before overdue structural reforms can occur, and global peace and security re-harnessed, without endless regional wars.

Mr. President, you and I have had several meaningful exchanges, including, in the White House, and most relevantly, in the UN’s Hall of Flags in Fall 2015 – when I urged you to run in 2016, as an election you were born for – to revive the American Dream. The American Dream belongs more to everyday Americans, than Wall Streeters, custodians of international money and achiever of maximum profit, as it was everyday Americans in 1814 who during heavy bombardment of Fort McHenry, kept our Flag high by paying the ultimate sacrifice repeatedly, and caused Francis Scott Key to pen our Star Spangled Banner. Please let it wave high, and free, in this 21st Century.

If I can assist, as you wished of me during our substantive talk in the Hall of Flags, as a citizen-patriot, devastated by January 6th more than by 9/11, I would be happy to re-find diplomacy’s respect-based ability to “round the edges” and fashion justice-based remedies that are equitable – as the Jesuits teach us everything must be. Sometimes, davening with the right Minyan helps to be better able to turn swords into ploughshares. As Honor and WWIII walk into the ring to face off, the time is now for your leadership to make foreign policy into domestic policy – just as your infrastructure plan is our OBOR/BRI within our borders. Retail solutions will not work in the East or in the West; but, wholesale solutions will turn adversaries into allies. God Bless you, and continue to Bless these united States of America – I prefer “united,” the verb.

Respectfully,

/S/

Ravi Batra
Encl: April 14, 2020 Open Letter to POTUS et al

C: Leader Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., Leader Kevin McCarthy, HFAC Chairman Greg W. Meeks, Ranker McCall, Chair Carolyn B. Maloney, Ranker Jim Jordan, SFRC Chairman Bob Menandez, Ranker Risch, Secretary Anthony Blinken, Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, NSA Jake Sullivan.”

 

 

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Latest News USA

US locks target: To outbid China on strategy, economy, diplomacy

By Rahul Kumar

New Delhi: The Joe Biden administration is moving fast. In just 11 weeks, it has honed on China as an enemy that has to be pursued relentlessly and outmaneuvered. America knows its enemies and how to chase them down.

Two US senators have introduced the ‘Strategic Competition Act of 2021’, a legislation that will allow the US to edge out China in all fields—strategic, economic, and diplomatic. The bulwark of this strategy will be the Indo-Pacific region, which is right now contentious with the South China Sea swarming with warships from numerous countries.

This comprehensive bipartisan legislation is the brainchild of Robert Menendez—chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Jim Risch.

A Road Map for the US

The 280-page legislation by the duo puts together US strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that will allow the US to square up to China and take on the challenges it poses to its national and economic security. The Strategic Competition Act of 2021 has endorsed the four-member Quad and urges the US to strengthen its relations with like-minded allies.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up the bill for discussion and voting on Wednesday, April 14. Speaking to the media, Menendez said: “The Strategic Competition Act of 2021 is a recognition that this moment demands a unified, strategic response that can rebuild American leadership, invest in our ability to out-compete China, and reground diplomacy in our core values.”

China: Opportunistic and Hostile

The legislation takes note of the fact that China has attacked countries and increased hostilities when many countries were vulnerable due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It ratcheted up tensions with India by intruding into Indian-held territory where the stand-off still continues.

The document mentions the violent clash at the Pangong Tso after which India was forced to mirror Chinese deployment of men and machinery.

The document says that China has: “capitalized on the world’s focus on the Covid-19 pandemic by its brazen move in the South China Sea, Hong Kong and contributing to increased tensions with India. The China claims nearly all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the area.”

Strength in Numbers

The legislation also says that the US values partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries as well as the Quad. It asks the US to deepen America’s regional partnerships and also cement existing ones with India, Taiwan and New Zealand.

In their document, the two senators say that the US should reaffirm its commitment to the Quad and be prepared to meet regional challenges to promote a free, open, inclusive, resilient, and healthy Indo-Pacific that is defined by democracy, rule-of-law, and market-driven economic growth and is free from undue influence and coercion.

“The United States should reaffirm its commitment to the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with India and further deepen bilateral defense consultations and collaboration with India commensurate with its status as a major defense partner,” the bill says. It also stresses upon the US administration to build Indian capabilities and capacities against “economic and security challenges posed by China.”

Seeks Scrutiny of the BRI in Pakistan

The legislation wants a detailed description from American diplomacy about the Pakistan-China financial collaboration in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor – a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that runs through the length of Pakistan. Through the BRI, China plans to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

Comprehensive and Idealistic

The bill is holistic in its range. It looks at China’s overwhelming reach across the globe, therefore, expects the US to strengthen diplomatic efforts everywhere – the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Arctic, and Oceania.

The legislation lends support to a range of human rights issues like restrictions in Hong Kong as well as forced labor, forced sterilization and other abuses in Xinjiang. It wants action against China’s IP infringements, Chinese government subsidies, its predatory international policies and track the presence of Chinese companies in US capital markets.

The legislations calls for enhanced cooperation with allies on arms control in the face of China’s military modernization and expansion, and wants transparency on the entire range of Chinese weapons – ballistic, hypersonic glide, and cruise missiles, conventional forces, nuclear, space, cyberspace and other strategic domains.

Confident the Legislation will make it

Menendez is hopeful that the legislation will find favor. He says: “I am confident that this effort has the necessary support to be overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week and the full Senate shortly thereafter. That is the only way we will get the China challenge right – a bipartisan commitment to mutual trust and good-faith compromise, balancing pragmatism and idealism…”

Risch, his partner in the legislation, says that this is an important step towards ensuring that the US is enabled to compete with China for future decades. He adds that the bill also cuts the Communist Party of China’s influence across the globe, particularly in American universities.

2021 bring forth a Series of American Thoughts on China

Interestingly, this is not the first attempt by the US this year to find its place in the world vis-a-vis China. The previous two documents – released in March and January – speak on similar lines.

In March, the Biden administration had revealed a piece of its mind when it released the Interim National Security Guidance paper that identified China as its main global rival. The 21-page vision document was the Biden administration’s pathway to dealing with China, building up a military presence in the Indo-Pacific as well as strengthening ties with allies like Europe and India.

The National Security Strategy document was pragmatic in cautioning that the US along would not be able to restrain China.

Just before that, it was Donald Trump, who declassified the China strategy in January barely a week before stepping down. In an unusual move, Trump laid bare the path for president-elect Biden by publishing the document – ‘United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific.’

The classified document made clear to the world, and also the incoming Biden administration, American thinking about the geo-political climate pervading the world. The Trump strategy underlined that the US needs to tackle China, accelerating India’s rise as a counterweight to Beijing and also defend Taiwan against a possible Chinese attack.

The US is Loath to see the World as Multipolar

The latest legislation, Biden’s National Security Strategy as well as Trump’s confidential documents are pointers to the American realization that it is not the sole superpower. Power slipped away from its fingers exactly when it was courting China and China was courting itself.

It goes to the credit of Americans thinkers and policy makers that they have finally noticed the rise of China and how the communist giant is not averse to treading on neighbors’ territories, satisfied with violating international rules and almost cheerful while challenging the US. The observation is late by a few years but they have also located the answers to the confounded China challenge.

The answers lie in gathering allies, enforcing the international rule of law, flexing military muscles as well as holding China and its ruling party accountable for its misdemeanors. (IANS)

joe biden, donald trump, Robert Menendez, Senator Jim Risch, South China,  

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