India and Australia vowed closer defense and security ties yesterday, while stressing the importance of economic cooperation a day after Canberra sealed a huge trade pact with fellow Asian superpower China.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was given a rock star’s welcome by thousands of rapturous supporters in Sydney on Monday, described warmer bilateral relations as “natural.”
“This is a natural partnership emerging from our shared values and interests and strategic maritime locations,” he said in Canberra after inking agreements on drug control, social security and tourism, as well a new framework on security cooperation.
“Security and defense are important and growing areas of the new India-Australia partnership for advancing regional peace and stability and combating terrorism and transnational crimes,” he added ahead of his address to Australia’s parliament.
His comments came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) used the same venue to repeatedly pledge that his nation, which is involved in territorial conflicts with a handful of neighbors, would always use peaceful means in pursuit of its goals.
Modi’s trip Down Under — for the G20 summit in Brisbane and a state visit — is the first by an Indian prime minister in 28 years.
It comes just two months after Abbott’s tour of India, during which the two countries sealed a long-awaited nuclear energy deal.
Modi, who won India’s biggest electoral victory in 30 years in the April-May polls, said injecting new momentum into bilateral trade and business relations was also of key importance, calling Australia “a vital partner.”
He called for Indian businesses to have easier access to Australian markets and quicker investment approvals.
“India and Australia have a great economic synergy. There are huge opportunities for a partnership in every area we can think of — agriculture, resources, energy, finance, infrastructure, education and science and technology,” he said. “The economic climate in India has changed. I believe it will be a lot easier to convert opportunities into concrete outcomes.”
On Monday, Australia sealed a landmark trade deal with China that will abolish tariffs in the lucrative resources and most agricultural sectors as Canberra confronts a painful downturn in mining. Abbott already has his eye on a similar outcome with India, flagging the prospect of a pact by the end of next year.
“By the end of next year, we will have a free trade deal with what is potentially the world’s largest market,” Abbott said, adding that both leaders “will make it happen.”
Abbott added that the bilateral relationship was ready to move beyond cricket, a sport in which they have a long-time rivalry.
“We in Australia tend to associate India with cricket and with sport,” he said.
“But we can never forget that India is an intellectual powerhouse, a potential economic powerhouse,” he added, pointing to trade being “underdeveloped,” while urging better intelligence and military cooperation.
“There’s an enthusiasm on both our parts for more bilateral and trilateral military exercises and we hope to see much more of that in the years ahead,” he said.
Modi said it was important that economic growth did not impact on the environment or climate.
“[We need] energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt, clean coal and gas, renewable energy, a fuel for nuclear power, cities that are more sustainable and livable,” he said. “We see Australia as one of our foremost partners in the region.”
Modi also referenced cricket to highlight the shared history of the two countries.
“India and Australia can play cricket hard with each other and I suspect we will next month,” he said, referring to his country playing a Test series in Australia.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread