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Silent Chinese invasion down under

Australia has seen the worst form of Chinese invasion. The Dragon has conquered Australian landmass through silent invasion, without firing a single bullet.

Shreedharan Raman

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If there’s one country that is subverted the most through democratic ways and processes, it is Australia. Using free speech and through power, Australian system was undermined. This is not even an understatement.

When Federal Government of Australia said “no” to Belt & Road Initiative, China was hurt and considered it an insult. So, China made its moves to teach Australia a lesson. It made an infrastructure funding offer to Premier of a Province of Australia that one can’t refuse. All it needs to do is, override Australian Federal Government policy and join BRI. And it happened. In 2018, premier Daniel Andrews signed Memorandum of Understanding with China. Premier was even boasting about it. As per TheGuardian.com news report, Premier said, “In four years we have more than tripled Victoria’s share of Chinese investment in Australia and nearly doubled our exports to China. We said we’d reboot our relationship with China and we’re getting it done.”

Mind you, in Australia, Premier is like a Chief Minister of India. Final authority on Foreign policy is Federal Government, like our Union Government. So, this invited problems, for the Premier. Coalition partners raised concerns. While nobody is against investments that would come into the Province, Premier was asked just one question. That is, “Why is only Victoria overriding Federal Government’s Foreign Policy?” PM Scott Morrison had warned Premier Daniel Andrews, “Victoria was stepping into federal government policy territory.” There is no closure to this issue, just yet.

It all started few years before Premier Andrews with former Premier John Brumby of Labor Party in Victoria. On 27th July 2007, quite dramatically, the then Premier Steve Bracks announced his retirement from politics, citing family reasons. Quite dramatic. Few hours later, Deputy Premier John Thwaites also announced his resignation. Three days later, he was elected unopposed as leader.

Thus, Premier John Brumby. Three years later, he resigned from Parliament. Fast forward by 3 years. What is interesting is that the former Premier took up an assignment at a University. While Premier Andrews took care of the party. Making groundwork for his Premiership few years later. Post-resignation former Premier Brumby took up some very interesting assignments. Apart from openly advocating and professing a pro-China stand, he also took up key assignments in Universities that got huge amounts of Chinese funding. Especially, Monash University & University of Melbourne. University of Melbourne received donations under Australia – China Science Research Fund (ACSRF). The same ACSRF was announced by no less than Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2017 during his visit. Former Premier Brumby later became President of Australia – China Business Council (ACBC). And, icing on the cake, became a Director of Huawei. Until recently, Brumby was batting for Huawei 5G in Victoria. Until PM Scott Morrison unleashed his federal powers after US Secretary of State Pompeo warned about using Huawei in any networks of Australia which would invite all the communications channels with US to close. After futile efforts, Brumby resigned from Huawei in February 2019.

News reports of May & June suggest that Victoria has also been accused of undermining Federal Government’s response to Wuhan virus pandemic. As recent as 1st August 2020, there are reports that Premier Daniel Andrews is busy fighting controversy over irregularities in hotel quarantine during the pandemic. Some recent media reports in The Age suggest that the Government of Victoria under Premier Andrews might face unintended consequences due to this. That would be one more step towards cleaning Chinese influence in Victoria.

Darwin Port

The 99-year lease of the most strategic port of Darwin in Norther Territory turned controversial. The aftermath of the bid was messy. While it is now known that the Shandong Landbridge Group’s subsidiary in Australia Landbridge Group’s bid value is A$506Mn, not much is known about the competitors – European & American bidders. China ultimately won the bid. So, how did China pull this off? A loophole based on spirit of democracy. Per Senate Committee of 2016, Federal Investment Review Board (FIRB) for review. But, it was never formally investigated. Because, law doesn’t require formal review when a State or Territory is involved with a private company. This was a simple rule in the spirit of trust exploited by China. Thanks to PM Scott Morrison, Australia changed this exemption in 2016. In the recently concluded AUSMIN talks last week, it has been decided that there’d be a US funded military fuel storage facility in Darwin Harbor, as Darwin port is leased to Chinese company. It’s up to Chinese if they want to still stay there for next nine decades.

Subversion of free speech

All the above, this all happened through completely democratic process. Then comes the curious case of Chinese students. Just like in the US, Chinese students when in Australian Universities, are used as diplomatic weapon by local Chinese diplomats. Here they have a different role. Like, pushing CCP’s narrative on political matters like Taiwan, Uyghurs & others. For example, in 2017, an Indian Professor of Sydney University, had to apologise for showing map of India. Why? Because Chinese students disputed that some of the regions are of China’s. So much so, that on 70th Independence Day Chinese students in Sydney drove luxury cars across popular places in the city.

In May 2020, Mr Drew Pavlou was suspended from University of Queensland for two years following a disciplinary hearing that examined allegations of misconduct linked to his oncampus activism. What activism? He supported Hong Kong protests and criticized Chinese Communist Party. It only ended up scrutinizing more UQ’s record. From funding of top executives of the University to leaking controversial course materials online. UQ ended up doing more damage to itself, than it tried to prevent for Beijing. As per News.com.au reports, the involvement of Confucius Institute – CCP’s propaganda arm – in funding & designing courses is significant. While it helped Beijing narrative to be peddled through University of Queensland, it didn’t last. Australian High Commissioner to UK George Brandis replied to British MP Andrew Rosindell on this matter expressing that events in UQ “greatly saddens” as it is also his alumnus. Of course, there were online outrage too. To this day.

To think of using students & Universities as a pawn to further your political agenda is something no civilized country would do. But, CCP should think twice before doing such things. Do remember, even in democratic countries, we can treat such acts by ‘students’ as waging war against sovereign nations. If say, a significant number of them are taken in for questioning and subversive acts, how long would it take before it creates uproar in Weibo? Would the single kid parents be able to take the hit? Would the friends of those who are being taken in be affected and would turn against CCP for not helping? This is surely going to backfire in near future.

There have been some elements in Australian media as well which pally around with Communist Party. Take for example the media coverage went full on anti-PM Scott Morrison when the bushfires were happening, look at the coverage. Thanks to tycoons like Andrew Forrest who tried to pull a fast one for CCP, at the cost of embarrassing Australian Health Minister by helping Chinese Counsel General gatecrash a press conference that the Minister was supposed to address. A Chinese diplomat gate-crashing. When Federal Government said that Google & Facebook must pay media houses for sharing their content on their platforms, they are right. This is only language that tech companies understand and stop giving free leverage to Confucius thoughts in democratic societies.

Strategic response by Australia

Strategically, the Chinese communist party threat has brought Australia closer to its other neighbours. Taking all the security objectives into account, PM Scott Morrison started working on “2016 Australian Defense Whitepaper” & more importantly also made it a point to back it up with funds. Four years & a Pandemic later, “Australia Defence Strategic Update 2020” was released recently. With a huge hike from the earlier announced budget boost of A$270Bn for investments over next 10 years. Apart from weapons, what interests is the transformation outlined for Australian Army – to a more US Marines kind of role for the future.

Australian Defence Minister recently announced, “I am open to exploring the trilateral cooperation with India, Indonesia & other countries in our region.” This is significant and adds more teeth to Indo-Pacific alliance. It is worth noting two points here. A) Indonesia said recently that it wants to buy Austria’s entire Typhoon fighter fleet. B) Times of India reported last week that India might be interested to sell Brahmos to Indonesia. Meanwhile, Philippines & Vietnam are already in talks with India for the same. In due course, Australia would indeed be part of QUAD participating in Military Exercises. To take it further Solomon Yue, Vice Chairman & CEO at Republicans Overseas, RNC, in his interview to Epoch Times answering a question about threat of China in Australia said that, India & Japan might be invited to join the Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance. To make it Seven Eyes. He didn’t give a timeline for this though. Not sure if India is interested in this either.

Australia has additional responsibility of taking care of Pacific Islands & prevent them from falling into debt trap of China. It is here, that India can help diplomatically, via Fiji. India can play a crucial role here in alliance with Australia. Meanwhile, US is contemplating about opening training facilities at Guam for Air Forces of India, Australia & Japan. If it happens it’ll send an important message to Australia’s partners in South East Asia & Pacific regions. It is to keep a close eye on dynamic scenarios emerging in South Pacific Islands too. It is in the above context that PM Scott Morrison spoke specifically about capabilities in areas such as long-range strike weapons, cyber capabilities and area-denial systems to maintain regional peace & stability. PM Scott Morrison is a blessing for Australia and is a great ally for India against China and beyond in the region.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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Defence

IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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Defence

ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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Defence

IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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