Asian Insider, Sept 11: China, India to ease border tension; Australia explains raids on Chinese journalists; Jokowi’s journey as Indonesia’s leader

Hi, 

In today’s bulletin: 

In today’s bulletin: China, India agree yet again to ease tension on Himalayan border; Australia says security agencies acted on evidence in Chinese journalist raids; Jokowi’s journey as Indonesia’s leader; Singapore, Japan to launch green lane for essential business and official travellers on Sept 18; Sabah polls could make or break premiership hopes for both Muhyiddin and Shafie; and more.

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CHINA, INDIA AGREE YET AGAIN TO EASE TENSION ON HIMALAYAN BORDER

India and China have once again pledged to de-escalate their border row in the Himalayas, with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi agreeing that the current situation is in neither side’s interest. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that China will maintain communications with India through diplomatic and military channels after Mr Wang told Mr Jaishankar that it was imperative to immediately stop provocations. 

The two nations have been increasing troop strength along their 3,488km border, known as the Line of Actual Control, since May and this week gunshots were fired in the military standoff for the first time since 1975 despite multiple rounds of negotiations. 

The spat has led to a deterioration in economic ties, with the differences worsening after India staged its first offensive move since the conflict to counter what it calls a Chinese intrusion. 

Despite the agreement to de-escalate, tensions remain on the boil, with China’s influential Global Times tabloid publishing an editorial on Thursday (Sept 10) that called for any talks with India to be paired with “war readiness”. 

Go deeper:

India hails ‘game-changer’ French jets as China tensions soar 

Indian and Chinese troops man remote Himalayan outposts just hundreds of metres apart

AUSTRALIA SAYS SECURITY AGENCIES ACTED ON EVIDENCE IN CHINESE JOURNALIST RAIDS

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has said that raids conducted on four Chinese state media journalists in June were based on evidence related to a foreign interference investigation, amid a low in ties between Canberra and Beijing. 

The incident was revealed by China’s Foreign Ministry this week in the wake of the departure of two Australian journalists from China after questioning by Chinese police. 

China has accused the Australian embassy of obstructing law enforcement when it sheltered the two journalists wanted for questioning, but Mr Birmingham denied the claim and said embassy officials had respected China’s processes to negotiate an outcome. 

Here’s more:

Australia revokes visas of two Chinese scholars 

JOKOWI’S JOURNEY AS INDONESIA’S LEADER

With four years to go till the end of his second term in office, it is probably too early to pass judgment on Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who has outsmarted party bigwigs and stitched up an array of support that today accounts for three-quarters of MPs in Parliament, writes Straits Times Associate Editor Ravi Velloor. 

Popularly known as Jokowi, he was a popular outsider who upended many elite calculations with his dramatic rise from mayoralty of Solo to governorship of Jakarta in 2012 and then the presidency two years later.

Beyond Indonesia’s borders, however, the rest of South-east Asia will probably judge Mr Joko’s tenure on how he tackles three areas in his remaining years – economic policy, rising Islamisation in domestic politics, and foreign policy.

Read more:

Indonesia’s presidential election is in 2024, but jockeying has started among hopefuls

Indonesia’s new capital city project put on hold

SINGAPORE, JAPAN TO LAUNCH GREEN LANE FOR ESSENTIAL BUSINESS AND OFFICIAL TRAVELLERS ON SEPT 18

Singapore and Japan have reached an arrangement to launch a green lane for essential business and official travel for residents from both countries next Friday (Sept 18), with a view to restore connectivity and support an economic recovery. 

Singapore already has similar arrangements with other countries, but this will be the first such framework that Japan will implement with another country. 

Safeguards will be implemented to allow the safe resumption of cross-border travel and business exchanges, including pre-departure and post-arrival testing, as well as the need to adhere to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days in the receiving country. 

Read more:

Coronavirus: Regional green lanes will take more time than bilateral ones

Visitors arrive from New Zealand, Brunei as Singapore opens its borders to those countries

SABAH POLLS COULD MAKE OR BREAK PREMIERSHIP HOPES FOR BOTH MUHYIDDIN AND SHAFIE

Elections to Sabah’s 73 state seats, the nominations for which are set to be filed on Saturday (Sept 12), are not just a contest for Malaysia’s easternmost state, but also for the legitimacy of two leading candidates to govern the country in the future, writes Malaysia Bureau Chief Shannon Teoh. Whoever is on the losing side of this protracted battle for the state will find his credibility to seek a full term as prime minister severely dented.

IN OTHER NEWS

TIKTOK OWNER PLANS TO SPEND BILLIONS IN SINGAPORE AFTER US BAN: The Chinese owner of video-sharing app TikTok is looking to spend several billion dollars and add hundreds of jobs over the next three years in Singapore, where it has applied for a licence to operate a digital bank. Beijing-based ByteDance is looking to make Singapore its beachhead for the rest of Asia as part of global expansion plans, according to people familiar with the matter. 

INDIA’S HEALTH ‘TIME BOMB’ KEEPS TICKING, AND IT’S NOT COVID-19: As India’s coronavirus caseload keeps surging, another health disaster is silently unfolding amid lockdowns, with more than a million children missing immunisations and outpatient critical care for cancer plummeting 80 per cent from February levels. However, the biggest crisis is India’s longstanding battle with tuberculosis, with the current gap in care estimated to lead to an additional 6.3 million cases and 1.4 million deaths by 2025. 

INDONESIA TO ENFORCE MANDATORY MASK-WEARING OPERATION NATIONWIDE: The Indonesian government is preparing to enforce mask-wearing protocols in subdistricts and villages across the country in a bid to curb rising Covid-19 cases, with personnel from the Indonesian military, the police and public order agencies, besides prosecutors and judges, being deployed. Community figures will also be involved in the operation under the direction of national security personnel, but if the effort fails, the government will step in. 

That’s it for today. Hope today’s bulletin was interesting for you. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back with you next week.

Arvind

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