While supporting ASEAN on South China Sea, US challenges China’s predatory world view

While supporting ASEAN on South China Sea, US challenges China’s predatory world view

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Reaffirming its strong commitment to its ASEAN partners and key allies Japan and Australia, the United States has reversed its perceived “isolationist” policy by calling China’s claims to off-shore resources in South China Sea (SCS) unlawful and championing a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on “US Position on Maritime Claims in South China Sea” comes at a time when two US nuclear powered aircraft carriers – Nimitz and Ronald Reagan – with 120 fighters are exercising in South China Sea. The two super carriers are openly challenging the unproven might of the People’s Liberation Army Navy by exercising near Paracel Islands off the Vietnam coast and north of Chinese nuclear submarine base at Hainan Islands.

The top US diplomat’s statement is not only a demonstration of enormous political will of US to stand by its allies in Indo-Pacific region but also reinforcement of SCS frontline.

The US statement that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping’s predatory world view has no place in 21st century comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on July 3 in Ladakh where he made it clear that there was no space for expansionist regimes and future only belonged to those who believed in development. The Indian position of free and open South China Sea also synergises with US Secretary Pompeo’s statement on Indo-Pacific.

Pune lockdown begins from today

As Pune goes into a two-phase, 10-day lockdown from Monday midnight till Thursday, July 23, officials have said the first five days, from July 14 to July 18, will be very strict. The comprehensive lockdown is yet another attempt to break the chain of the coronavirus infections.

Many of the earlier relaxations have been withdrawn in the city and further new curbs have been put in place in an order signed by Vikram Kumar, Pune Municipal Corporation’s new commissioner.

Public transport and private bus services, trucks, tractors and all goods vehicles will not be permitted, barring those providing essential services. This includes the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), police and medical services.

Grocery shops, retail and wholesale shops will remain closed for the first five days, in phase one of the lockdown while in phase two, from July 19-23. only shops and wholesalers selling essential items will be allowed to remain open between 8am and 12pm. Online food delivery portals will not be permitted to operate till July 23 and wholesale and retail grocery, vegetable and fruit markets and loading areas will remain completely closed from July 14-18; and from July 19-23 will remain operational between 8am and 12pm.

Over 9 lakh Covid-19 cases in India

Meanwhile, India’s COVID-19 case tally crossed the 9 lakh mark with 28,498 new cases and 553 deaths reported in the last 24 hours. The total number of confirmed cases stand at 9,06,752 including 3,11,565 active cases, 5,71,460 cured/discharged/migrated and 23,727 deaths, according to the latest update from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.