• Shutdown of a Chinese Consulate

    Just in my previous blog, I wrote about how China is meddling with its territorial limits in the Himalayan region and drawing big flak from the international community. Today, there is news from the international community which seems to be one aspect of that flak only. The news is how the US has ordered China to shut down its Consulate in Houston.


    During the past few weeks, the tension between the United States is on a continuous rise. It initially began when the US decided to not to let Huawei build the 5G network in the country. This came as a crushing blow to China's tech market which was already wounded when India banned 58 major mobile applications. The motive behind the US banning Huawei's 5G infrastructure has been told to be privacy concerns which are raised time and again against all the Chinese tech giants. Very recently, France has also banned Huawei's bid to build 5G infrastructure on their land.


    One more reason cited by the United States in the order of the shutdown of the Chinese Consulate in Houston is the Chinese sponsored theft of Intellectual Property, which costs the US anywhere between $300 Billion - $600 Billion annually. One out of every five companies in the United States says that their IP was stolen by China in some way or the other. Apart from the theft of IP, China is also notorious in stealing trade secrets from the US and is many times caught running corporate espionage programs. Since the last decade, more than 100 of such activities have been reported to various authorities such as the FBI and CIA.


    The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also told yesterday that the Chinese Consulate in Houston has been a hub of spying. It was also reported that since the orders to shut down the consulate released, there were a bunch of important documents that were burnt at the Chinese Consulate in Houston, for which a fire brigade was also called in to put out the raging fire. It has been said that China is taking an approach full of lies and deceit so that it could gain more world dominance and with such actions, it has also bit the hands that fed it.


    Mike Pompeo also called the world to end this blind engagement with China. He has also urged countries like India and Australia to take advantage of the trade opportunities in the APAC. He also said, "If we bend the knee now, our children's children may be at the mercy of the CCP, whose actions are the primary challenge to the free world."


    In its reply to all of this, China said that this move by the United States has severely harmed the relationship between the two countries and China will retaliate to give a befitting reply to the US. China is planning to shut down the US Consulate in the South Western city of Chengdu, which is in the Sichuan province. It is also planning to shut down the Wuhan Consulate of the United States because it has been left unattended due to the abandoning when the COVID-19 broke out there. US President Donald Trump has also ruled out that this will be the only shut down of any of the Chinese Consulate in the US. So there could be more of such incidents.


    It is just my remark but I feel that China is posing a threat to the free world and the various democracies all over. I feel that there should be strict sanctions that must be put against China so that the CCP understands that the entire world is not like Tibet of Xinjiang where it could do whatever it pleases.

  • China is Bullying in the Himalayas

    I have written so many blog posts about recent activities by China, that I think my entire blog has become just an anti-China propaganda machine. Just kidding. I love China. It's a great country with great food and great people. China also has some of the most developed cities in the world and the development index of the country is soaring in the charts. But I think these are the only things which I could say positive about China. Rest is just what you see on the news these days.


    There have been so many issues on which China has been in the news recently. But apart from TikTok, it's only about how China is bullying its neighboring countries and how the international community is taking a stance against China.


    Starting from Hong Kong, it was the first instance where China used excessive force in meddling with the basic laws of one of its Special Administrative Region. From illegal arrests and unfairly influencing the elections from Beijing, we have seen it all. Then we also saw how China was furious about the United States supplying arms to Taiwan.  China has always claimed that Taiwan is essentially a part of China and Taiwan has always taken an opposite stance by saying that it’s an independent territory. It’s quite evident with all the media articles that if some country disagrees with China, it stirs things up a lot for them.


    One such major incident which was all over the news during June 2020 was about how China is trying to seize land from India, illegally, from the Indian Territory of Ladakh, which is situated in the Himalayas. And this is not the first time China has attempted to do something like that in the Himalayas. On the night of June 15th, 2020, Chinese military personnel had a deadly confrontation with the soldiers of the Indian Army at the high altitude Galwan Valley in India's Ladakh region. The PLA personnel came to meet Indian Army officers and it was supposed to be a peaceful meeting. But no one knows at what point the meeting went sour and the PLA soldiers attacked the Indian Army personnel present there with the help of makeshift weapons.


    The Indian soldiers quickly retaliated to this situation and attacked PLA's personnel present at the Galwan meet by beating them to a pulp, disfiguring their weak bodies, and throwing them in the nearby Shyok River. An estimated total of 43 PLA's personnel died in this confrontation and the Chinese state-run media didn't even acknowledge the death of their soldiers. On the other hand, the casualties on the Indian side were far less than the Chinese, and the Indian media also acknowledged that it has lost some soldiers too, giving voice to their gallant acts that night, making them martyrs in from of the whole country.


    This is not the first time China has been a part of a confrontation with India. China operates through a policy of aggressive territorial expansion and always meddles with the neighboring countries in the Himalayan region. One such incident took place in Doklam, which is a trijunction area between China, Bhutan, and India. Doklam is a part of Bhutan, which is an ally of India. In June 2020, Chinese troops began constructing roads at the Doklam plateau, which is though a part of Bhutan, is falsely claimed by China. This region is very close to Sikkim, which is an Indian territory. Indian troops after a few days crossed the border into Doklam as a part of the Operation Juniper and confronted the PLA's officials present there. They stopped the troops in constructing the road and because of that, there was a military standoff between India and China which continued for around three weeks. Finally, in August 2017, both the nations withdrew their troops from the region, which by the international media, termed as a big diplomatic win for India.


    China is also supporting Nepal in the incorrect map put up by them which shows an Indian Himalayan territory a part of Nepal. The international media is saying that China is doing this because it is giving immense support to the communist party of Nepal by taking part in virtual meetings. The Nepalese Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli was also seen making bizarre remarks about the Hindu God Ram that he was a Nepalese and the capital of Ram, Ayodhya was in Nepal, which stirred a nation-wide criticism in India sparking comments from political leaders to the general public. Oli's such remarks could have been the reason that he is trying to woo the Chinese Communist Party to support him, as he is taking a stance against India and is also said to forget the religious ties between both the countries.


    Very recently, the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said that China's actions in the Himalayan region are not acceptable. Pompeo also appreciated India for banning 59 Chinese applications and taking a strong stance in Galwan Valley. He also suggested India decrease its dependence on China in terms of trade and commerce and start diverting the supply chains away from China with regards to telecommunications and medical equipment. This statement has come just a few days after the US stopped all of Huawei's involvement in the development of the 5G infrastructure in the country owing to national security concerns.


    As I have already said before, China is operating through an aggressive territorial expansion policy for the past many decades. It has shown a notorious behavior towards the citizens of Tibet, which it had arbitrarily grabbed a few decades ago. It is only a matter of time when more and more countries would start taking a stance against China and someday China would have to stop taking such arbitrary measures to gain more land.

  • Impact of Covid-19 on the Aviation Industry

    Flying. Humans are not supposed to fly. During the initial years of civilization, we were only restricted to slow modes such as carts and trained animals for our movement and transportations of goods. Then slowly, advancements in technology were made and after the mass popularity of cars, it was one of the most favorite modes of transportation among the people. Then the technology advanced some more and slowly the aviation industry came into the picture. As I have already said, humans are not supposed to fly, initially, but when we do fly, there is a certain cost involved in it.


    The reason behind the aviation industry's massive popularity is because it is the fastest mode of transportation available to the people and it is the safest also. The annual record for deaths due to any aviation incident is much lower as compared to any other mode of transportation like by road or by rail. This makes people rely on aviation more than any other mode of transportation. It helps them save some time and at the same time, it is safer than the other means. Especially on long journeys, such as international travel, people usually have the only option of flying because it is hassle-free and saves a lot of time.


    But due to the ongoing pandemic, there has been a complete halt on aviation services worldwide. The reason why aviation was halted because initially, where there were only a few countries which were the hotspots of the virus, it was believed that if the aviation services are halted between international destinations, there could be a decline in the number of people infected or at least the move was supposed to prevent the spread of the pandemic to other parts of the world. Soon, the entire world jumped onto this idea and closed its airspace, airports, and for some countries, their air cargo facilities too. But did this help in the prevention of the spread of the disease?


    Various studies show that initially, when the rate of spread of the virus was slow, shutting down airline service helped a lot in preventing the spread further, and to other territories. A prime example of such a case is India. India closed its airspace to all the incoming and outgoing passenger flights and from there, it was experienced that there was a sharp decline in the number of travelers who come into the country infected. That helped in keeping the numbers of the infected in a check. New Zealand is also one of the countries that closed its airspace to other countries and soon became one of the only countries which had zero cases of coronavirus.


    Due to all the travel bans which were put by the countries, the aviation industry has suffered a lot and has been witnessing a sharp decline in the number of travelers and revenue. There has been a more than 65% loss in the global revenue this year, as compared to the last year. Initially, when Italy was hit by the pandemic, most of the airlines that had flights to the region such as Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates, etc. had to shut down their operations in the region, incurring huge losses. The European Union is a densely populated region with a lot of potential for aviation, but when the people and tourists saw that the spread of the pandemic is rising, they were less inclined towards traveling, and slowly, the airlines serving these countries started to feel the pinch. Dubai based carrier, Emirates, halted all its passenger operation because of the pandemic and had to ground all its fleet in UAE.


    This global setback has also resulted in the cancellation of the huge orders the manufacturing companies had with them. Due to the rise of low-cost carriers in South Aisa and some parts of Europe, there had been placements of order in bulk for several aircrafts such as Airbus A320Neo, etc. Boeing was already feeling the pinch because of the grounding of its 737MAX aircraft because of two fatal incidents in Aisa and Africa. It has serious security concerns over the MCAS technology and airlines were canceling orders of this aircraft. But then the pandemic brought a huge blow to both of these manufacturers, which has resulted in huge revenue losses for these rivals.


    The effect of the pandemic has also been felt by the ground staff and the airport management companies. On major airports, such staff is still working for the maintenance of the cargo planes, but at the smaller regional airports, there have been zero movements of aircraft. This has resulted in lay-offs of the number of workers and furloughing of some employees for a certain period.


    The segment which is the worst hit is the airlines. Some had placed orders for new planes for their new routes but there are a few airlines, that had just got the delivery of the new aircraft and had to ground them immediately after the pandemic struck. That has resulted in huge losses for the airlines and they are forced to lay off their pilots also, citing that it's not economical to pay the pilots when the planes are not flying. On the other hand, some airlines are so hard hit by the crisis that they are seeking bailout packages from their country's central government. The factors that were initially driving the growth for the airlines, such as, an increase in the net disposable income all around the world, has suffered a downward shift, because of people losing their jobs and incurring losses in their businesses. Hence, they have traveled less and airlines are struggling to even refund the money travelers had earlier paid to travel during this period.


    In my opinion, governments across the globe should step into this situation, before the airlines get completely out of cash. On the contrary, if such relief is not announced, soon there will be aircraft, but there will be no money to buy the fuel and pay the pilots to fly them. Not just bailout packages, but the government should also nurture the airlines in such a way that the aviation industry stays ready for the time when they have their wings back and are in the sky.

  • The Deal with China's Tech

    No matter where you are in the world, you would be using some of the other Chinese technology right now. The past decade has witnessed immense Chinese influence in the tech market. The United States, which still in my opinion dominates the tech world, has only one competition in the consumer-based tech space, i.e. China. 

    During recent times, or during the past one month, we all have witnessed some incidents which have shaken the Chinese tech world bad. Recently, India banned 59 Chinese Mobile Applications including the wildly popular TikTok and WeChat, which by the way had a huge consumer base in India. Although, it is not a blanket ban, and the authorities are considering the written submissions by all these apps. The ban was put in place due to privacy concerns. Some critics are also linking this ban to the very recent Indo-China Border Standoff which resulted in Armed Forces casualties on both sides, as a measure of putting a 'Digital Strike' on China by India.

    The concern flagged by the Indian Authorities is privacy and data mining of the Indian users of those apps. The only question people now have in their minds is that are these apps really mining all the data pulled from the users of such apps? China has been very critical over this move by India, and on the other hand, China itself has arbitrarily censored the internet in its own country since the very inception of this technology.

    Recently, the US has also initiated sanctions on the Chinese tech giant, Huawei over the concerns on its close ties with the Chinese Communist Party. Critics have always had suspicions that Beijing could use Huawei to spy over other nations and Huawei has always denied this claim and said that they will never allow such requests from the PRC officials. Due to the recent sanctions on Huawei, it has been said that it won't be able to deliver 5G in the country. This along with the rising Anti-China Sentiment in India is not helping Chinese Tech-Space.

    China recently has seen deteriorating international relations due to the pandemic and the various border disputes it has are also a reason why this sentiment is growing. Also, Trump's vow to bring the manufacturing back to America and the recent Chinese labor cost rise is also a reason the tech space is suffering. Washington is also trying to provide a $25 billion stimulus package in the form of a reshoring fund, followed by Japan offering $2.2 Billion so that the country could reshore out of China because the tensions are rising between the two nations. 

    In my opinion, the tech space of China should be made independent from the Communist Party in power, so that the users in other countries could see the transparency in the mode of operations while maintaining the data by such apps. China should also open its doors to western apps such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook. This will give the Chinese people an option to switch over other apps in the market which are not based in China, hence increasing healthy competition in the international tech space. Since the Chinese tech space is taking a toll at this very moment, Beijing should understand the need for not censoring the internet for its own citizens. 

    Only the time will tell if China's billion-dollar tech space will sail through this mess or bite the dust by the actions of other nations.