The Dragon’s nemesis: The Ghost of Genghis Khan!

New Delhi: Nothing scares China more than the ghost of Changez (Genghis) Khan, nearly eight centuries after the death of the world’s greatest warlord and empire-builder.

How paranoid Beijing is about a possible reawakening of this ghost became clear in October when it forced a French museum to postpone an exhibit about Genghis Khan. The museum cited ‘interference’ by the Chinese government, which is trying to rewrite history.

The museum on history, Château des ducs de Bretagne, in the western French city of Nantes, said it was putting the show about the 13th-century warrior on hold for more than three years.

Ashamed of being vanquished by the dreaded Mongols in the 13th century, Beijing is attempting to wipe out the nightmarish memory of Genghis Khan’s great empire the present-day China was part of. In Inner Mongolia, China’s autonomous region, Beijing is trying to strip the natives of their identity by enforcing the Mandarin script, the way it has been doing in Tibet and Xinjiang.

China also dreads the moment the separatist Mongols, Tibetans, and the Uyghurs join hands with Hong Kong. It could become a ticking dynamite for the very existence and unity of the People’s Republic of China.

The Mongols and the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang share the same script. That is what unites them—against China.

But why is China so scared of Genghis Khan?

Born as Temujin Borjigin (1158-1227), he was believed to have been fathered by a Sun Ray. Better known by his title, Genghis Huangdi (Universal Lord), he was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. His realm continued to expand for 150 years even after his death and emerged as the largest contiguous empire across Asia and Europe in human history.

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258, thus splitting Islamic unity and hegemony; they also destroyed the Han hegemony in China, which the current President-for-Life Xi Jinping is trying to restore.

Genghis had come to power by uniting several nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia, conquered most of Eurasia, reaching as far west as Poland in Europe,  and the Levant in the Middle East. His military campaigns were often accompanied by large-scale massacres of the civilian populations in vanquished areas. Because of this savagery, which left millions dead, the Mongols became highly dreaded in human history.

By his death, the Mongol Empire occupied a vast area of Central Asia and China. Due to his exceptional military genius and successes, Genghis Khan has been seen as the greatest conqueror of all time. As per his wishes, his body was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia.

Genghis Khan had introduced the Uyghur script as his Empire’s writing system. He encouraged religious tolerance in the Empire. All the Mongols, therefore, regard him as the founding father of Mongolia, one who brought the Silk Road under one cohesive political framework.

Even now, his directives, like simple living and strict discipline, are respected like divine commands by the Mongols. That is why not a single Mongol has died of the Covid-19 pandemic; only 608 were infected and 337 recovered.

China’s political, military and economic power in the 21st century has largely been camouflaged by its inherent insecurity. That is why it resorts to boasts and suppression.

Despite an unprecedented global unpopularity of China, President Xi Jinping has further pushed his country to the precipice: recently, he directed his Terracotta Army, officially known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to “be prepared for war”. Sensing that the world is encircling China, he sought to put the PLA on alert.

How unpopular China has become was proved in October. Releasing a global poll, Pew Research Center said that unfavorable views of China across the world have climbed to historic highs in many countries, with the highest in Australia.

A majority of those polled in each of the 14 advanced economies had negative views of China. But in nine of them, China’s unpopularity was at the highest Pew had ever recorded since it started tracking it over a decade ago in Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Sweden, and South Korea, the report said.

Besides, at least 73 percent of those polled in these nine countries, as also in five others–Belgium, Japan, Italy, Denmark, and France–had unfavorable views of China.

Interestingly, many historians have concluded that, after Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad, Genghis Khan has been the greatest mover-and-shaker in the world in the last two millennia. In 2003, a research paper on genetics revealed that at least 16 million humans across many countries are direct descendants of Genghis Khan!

No wonder China so dreads the Great Khan!!

Frenemies: Trump, Jinping ‘join hands’ to damage the Chinese economy!

“Tis is strange but true; for truth is always strange!” George Gordon Byron once wrote in Don Juan.

Last week, US President Donald Trump, who is still digging in to stay in the White House for a second term, banned American individuals and companies from investing in Chinese firms for national security reasons.

Also his Chinese counterpart, President-for-Life Xi Jinping, ironically, prevented Alibaba founder Jack Ma from launching the world’s largest IPO, fearing the company could become larger than communism!

Both these steps, although unrelated, point in the same direction: spreading rot in the Chinese economy.

Not even in its wildest dreams would China have thought that Trump, in his last weeks in office, could take such stern steps against Chinese companies only two months before handing over the baton to his successor, Joe Biden.

On November 12, Trump signed an executive order banning Americans from investing in Chinese firms that are deemed to be supplying or supporting Beijing’s military and security apparatus.

The ban will be applicable on 31 major Chinese companies from January 11, 2021, at 9.30 AM—that is, just nine days before Biden takes oath as the 46th President. They include both government-owned and privately-promoted companies in China.

China was using them for “increasing exploitation” of US investment capital to fund military and intelligence services, including the development and deployment of weapons of mass destruction, the Trump order said.

The US-China relations had nosedived rapidly during Trump’s presidency from 2017. This was the latest in a series of executive orders and regulatory actions targeting China’s economic and military expansion.

Under his “America First” agenda, Trump portrayed China as the biggest threat to the USA and global democracy, pursued a trade war with it, harangued Chinese technology firms, and blamed Beijing for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thursday’s order prohibits US companies and individuals from owning shares in any of the listed companies, which include major telecommunications, construction and technology firms such as China Mobile, China Telecom, video surveillance firm Hikvision, and China Railway Construction Corp.

Current US investors in these companies will have to divest from the Beijing-linked companies within a year.

The Trump order’s reverberations were immediately felt on the Hong Kong stock market where share prices in state-owned China Telecom dropped more than nine percent, China Mobile fell six percent and China Railway Construction Corp lost more than five percent.

US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the order will prevent Americans from unknowingly providing passive capital to Chinese companies — listed on exchanges around the world — that support the improvement of Beijing’s army and spy agencies.

He said the companies included on the list “routinely target American citizens and businesses through cyber operations,” as well as its economy and military.

O’Brien also lashed out at Beijing over its removal of four pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong this week, calling China’s claims of “One Country, Two Systems Governance” in respect of the former British colony a “fig-leaf” masking Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian grip on the financial hub.

Neither Biden nor his party or representative reacted to this fresh Trump order. Predictably, Trump has dug the pitch for Biden—the new President could soon find himself in a Catch-22 position!

Trump opponents dubbed this executive order as his desperation reflected in his attempts to inflate the Chinese danger for his own survival.

On his part, Xi Jinping also scored a self-goal for Chinese economy!

Apparently, he felt that Alibaba founder Jack Ma had become globally popular and, therefore, a threat to Beijing, its Communist Party, and even the PLA.

So, the President halted Ant Group’s mammoth USD 37 billion Initial Public Offering (IPO) after Jack Ma questioned government policies and criticised its leaders.

China halted the IPO just a week before the financial technology company was set to go for public listing. Ma’s ‘inflammable’ remarks infuriated the Jinping Establishment no end.

The record-breaking IPO would have made Alibaba register the largest public listing. However, China’s new lending rules threw a spanner in its works.

Even after opening the economy, the Chinese Communist Party does not like ascendance of private businesses beyond a limit as they could pose a potential challenge to the fossilized party’s authority. Beijing also controls state-owned companies tightly and their employees are treated not as humans but spare parts of the Machine.

Ma had quoted Xi as saying “success does not have to come from me” and said he wanted to use innovation to help solve China’s financial problems. Ma also criticized the regulators for enforcing a set of international banking rules as “an old people’s club.”

This was too much for Xi and his cohorts. On the President’s orders, the Chinese regulators investigated Ant’s offering, and the IPO was suspended for fears that global investors, including those from Hong Kong, could benefit from it more than Beijing.

The fintech had already secured over USD 3 billion from individual investors across its dual listings in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The long-term impact of the separate American and Chinese governments’ orders will begin to unfold sooner than later…

“Islam in crisis”: Macron only exposed the emerging truth

New Delhi: On October 2, when French President Emmanuel Macron remarked that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, all hell broke loose in the Muslim world. Many condemned him. Some took to violence, beheaded three, and wounded many others in France. It appeared as if Macron was villain-of-the-piece, a global pariah, especially for the non-Arab Muslims and their rent-seeking liberal-democratic-secular cohorts.

However, at a subterranean level, Islam, as we know it, is indeed in a crisis from modernity. The message, howsoever ugly or obnoxious it may appear is clear: Islam must either reform or perish.

Consider this: an atheist China has destroyed 1,600 mosques in its restive Xinjiang Province in three years, banned Haj for the minority Uighur Muslims, scrapped Arabic/Persian architecture of a mosque to make it look like any Chinese shopping complex, and even rewriting a China-friendly Qur’an in Mandarin.

And this: the United Arab Republic (UAE), Saudi Arabia’s alter ego, has just relaxed several strict Islamic personal laws to move on with modern times—at a time when Islamic militants, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, are baying for the French blood for alleged blasphemy, etc.

This new development has come within a month of the UAE and Bahrain signing the “Abraham Accords” with Israel, their medieval enemy, to normalize relations with the Jewish state, to the chagrin of non-Arab Muslim countries like Turkey and Pakistan, among others. Saudi Arabia, is currently tasting waters; it may also follow suit in the face of the threat from Turkey’s attempts to revive the Ottoman Empire.

This only means that the Arab world is realizing futility of its archaic Islamic heritage and wants to move on with modern times and geopolitical realities—something the non-Arab Muslim nations are not yet prepared for.

Last week, the UAE announced a major overhaul of its Islamic personal laws, which now allow unmarried couples to live together, loosened restrictions on alcohol and criminalized the so-called “honour killings”. These have been implemented with immediate effect to keep pace with the changing Arab society.

In the last few decades, the UAE has emerged as a global financial hub, and destination for tourists, fortune-seekers, and businessmen. Earlier, its strict Islamic laws were embarrassing for many of these foreigners and their countries and were seen as obstacles in realizing the full potential of the seven Arab sheikhdoms comprising the UAE.

These historic and progressive reforms are expected to attract millions of foreign tourists to boost the UAE economy and make it less dependent on traditional sources of revenue business-friendly ambience, and oil.

Accordingly, there will now be no penalties for alcohol possession, sales and consumption. There will also be no ban on cohabitation of unmarried couples. The beneficiaries include Muslims as well. The Arab nation will also better protect women’s rights by getting rid of the tribal custom of ‘honour killings’.

The UAE’s strict Islamic laws were equally applicable to the Arab natives and the expatriates. The expatriates outnumber local citizens nearly nine to one. The amendments will now permit foreigners to avoid Islamic Shariah courts on issues like marriage, divorce and inheritance.

Clearly, the Arab world is in for far-reaching changes in the near future.

Another change in the Muslims’ world affairs has surfaced in China where President-for-Life Xi Jinping is the driving force against ‘Islamic heritage’.

But nobody in China’s “all-weather friend” Pakistan, or for that matter anywhere in the world, dare question Beijing for its ‘Islamophonia’, as they do in the case of India, France, and other democratic countries. China routinely hangs Islamic terrorists, has for long been keeping a million Uighur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps, and even banned their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Few have noticed how China has been effecting far-reaching changes even in mosque architecture, imposing various restrictions, and also ‘Sinicizing’ The Qur’an by getting it rewritten in its own language, giving no room to anyone and making sure the militant Muslims remained in check.

The latest example came in a mosque whose traditional ‘Arab-style’ domes were demolished and the shrine was rebuilt like a Chinese mall.

A recent Australian study, using satellite imagery, had found that China has systematically destroyed nearly 1,600 mosques in Xinjiang province alone since 2017.

As part of its ongoing project to ‘Sinicize’ Islam in China, a large mosque has been completely reconstructed by the government, removing all signs of Islam.

The Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, was the largest in the province. It has so completely been rebuilt that—with no minarets or domes–that it no longer looks like a mosque at all. The mosque was built during the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and restored in 1981.

It was entirely renovated and changed by the Communist Party government of President Jinping.

The region, inhabited by the largest community of Hui Muslims in China, became a major target of the ‘Sinicize Islam’ drive of the Chinese Communist Party. In the last two years, a large number of mosques have lost their distinguishing features.

Now, all the five bright green colored domes and the golden minarets have been removed. The golden Islamic style filigree, decorative arches, and the text in Arabic script on the mosque have all been scrapped. Even the signboards are in Chinese, according to media reports.

The bright golden and green colored mosque with onion-shaped domes and Islamic style curved windows have been changed into a grey-colored rectangular structure.

The latest images of the mosque were posted by Christina Scott, the United Kingdom’s deputy head of mission in China, on Twitter. She wrote, “TripAdvisor suggested the Nanguan Mosque in #Yinchuan well worth a visit. Only this is what it looks like now, after ‘renovations’.  Domes, minarets, all gone. No visitors allowed either, of course. So depressing.”

The transformation was expedited after a recent visit to the city by  President Xi Jinping, who scolded officials for the slow pace of ‘Sinicizing’ Islamic structures. He remarked that “Ningxia has made some achievements in religious reform, but it was not thorough enough.” It meant that the work should be intensified.

He also visited the region on June 6-8. The demolition activity picked up soon after that. By June 26, the five green domes and the minarets were gone, and the remaining work was completed soon.

The militant Muslims could not do anything, not even expressed their dissatisfaction for fear of the government.

According to reports, the Covid-19 pandemic has come in handy to the Chinese government by giving it the opportunity to expedite the process of Sinicizing mosques in the nation. Imposing restrictions in the name of the pandemic, the government closed down many mosques, accelerated demolitions, and renovations.

The Ninth Crusade-1: France gets support as Muslims split

Then it was November 1095. Now it is November 2020.

Even a thousand-year-long distance has not much changed the minds of Christian and Muslim militants; they are still buried in their inseparable past.

In 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr succinctly coined this phrase, probably for them: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, that is the more things change, the more they stay the same.

How can they change? These militants draw their sustenance from their Holy Books, which have not changed.

And so it goes on. And on. Ad nauseum.

Dieu li volt”—“God wills it!”—the mob cried when Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade in France in November 1095.

 “Allah-o-Akbar” (God is Great) and “Insha Allah! (God willing!) are the Islamists’ war cries now…

These are echoing again in Europe and the Muslim world. In 2020.

The script is the same, because the Holy Books are the same. The space is the same as is their geography. The objectives are the same, as is geopolitics. The mind-set are also the same, because the goals are the same.

Only technology and speed are different.

Then the Pope had ordered the pious Christians: “Wear a cross upon your brow or breast.” Thus came the word Crusade, from the Spanish root cruzada, or ‘marked with the Cross’. For two years, he preached Crusade, networking gullible masses. It created an unprecedented religious frenzy across the Continent. The Crusaders began to march on Asia.

Unlike the waiting professional Turkish-led Muslim armies, however, the European Crusaders were an untrained, heterogeneous, motley crowd of thousands of people, some of whom had even brought along their families.

Many died on their 2,830-miles-long road journey to Jerusalem due to a variety of reasons, such as hunger, cold and disease even before they reached the Holy City; some defeated the Muslims along the way and carved out their own fiefs to settle down. Still others managed to reach the Jerusalem in June 1099 in a trail of blood as they indiscriminately massacred both the Jews and Muslims to their heart’s content.

After ‘liberating’ Jerusalem from the Muslims and ruling in the unfamiliar country for a few decades, they returned to Europe, giving the Muslims opportunity to recapture the Holy City. Thus began the Second Crusade (1146-1148)….The Holy City still has many Muslims though they don’t control it.

The Third, the Fourth…the Eighth Crusades followed, which ended in 1492. By then, Spain and Portugal had expelled Islam from Europe as part of Christian Reconquista that had begun in 711.

In these centuries, France eventually emerged as the largest Catholic nation and bulwark of European security from the Muslims. But when Paris began to control North African colonies, many Muslims migrated to France…and are now its biggest problem.

On October 16, 2020, a 47-year-old history teacher was decapitated near Paris by a young Chechen man angry at Samuel Paty showing students caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, ironically in a class he took on freedom of expression. Then, on October 29, three churchgoers were brutally killed, one of them beheaded, in the southern city of Nice, by a Tunician who cried Allah-o-Akbar at the police. Rings of another Crusade.

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had announced a crackdown against those “who spread hate online.” The government also dissolved and banned some of the so-called NGOs, non-profits, and sleepers’ cells covertly or overtly shielding, aiding and justifying terrorists and their acts by taking advantage of the French laws of secularism and democracy.

The French government strongly reaffirmed the right of free speech — including the right to satirize and blaspheme — as well as the central role of France’s version of secularism, known as laïcité, in all state institutions, especially public schools. Not only this, President Emmanuel Macron paid tributes to Paty for “embodying the French republic.”

Even before the killings, Macron had announced a new government plan, including an upcoming comprehensive bill, “to strengthen laïcité and consolidate republican principles” in order to combat “separatism”. Next month, December, he is going ahead with it.

These steps came because a majority of Muslims—their 9 percent of the total French population of 56 million make them the largest single Islamic minority in a European country—could not integrate into the larger French society, and retained their separate identity. Ghettoised in Muslim-dominated enclaves, they remained aloof from the rest of French society, and focused around Islamic schools, halal stores or mosques.

France’s fresh steps only fuelled their anger, which spilled over soon to other countries where the community resorted to angry demonstrations.

In particular, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia—all non-Arab nations—strongly opposed these measures, setting them apart from the Arab nations.

Their dissociation from the Saudi-dominated Muslim world had begun to take shape in 2019 when they tried to set up a separate block at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Saudis torpedoed the attempt and nipped in the bud.

But Turkey did not take this snub lightly. Its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now trying to resurrect the dead Ottoman Empire the French and the British had buried in Turkey in 1922 after the First World War (1914-18). Erdogan has picked up threads from where ISIS’s “Caliph” Al Baghdadi had left.

In other words, Erdogan is aiming not only at reviving the Ottoman 2.0 Empire but also become Caliph-cum-Sultan of all the Sunnis…and gobble up all the Arab and Arabized nations under this umbrella, again.

The Arab kingdoms would not agree…and they are joining the anti-Islamic group!

And since Pakistan and Malaysia were not part of the Ottoman Empire, they are supporting Turkey.

This is the crux of the emerging Ninth Crusade…

France is now getting support not only from all Christians, Jews and the Hindus, but also from the Arabs; the non-Arab bloc is being isolated.

In the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab nations number 22 (they are also members of the Arab League). While the Arab nations are resources-rich, the non-Arabs are population-rich.

In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood is fragmenting…

Watch this space!

Sunni leadership: Pakistan joins Turkey’s one-horse race

To say that ‘history repeats itself’ could be a cliché, even an understatement. But it should be said to see the latest developments in perspective.

To begin, let us say: the kettle is hotter than tea!

A century ago, Muslims of the Indian subcontinent had launched the Khilafat Movement for restoration of the Ottoman Empire in far away Turkey. It was basically an attempt of the Ali Brothers to create a Sunni bloc in the world. Even the then Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah VII Mir Usman Ali Khan, threw in his hat with the ambition of wresting the Caliphate from the Turks: he was a relative of the deposed last Caliph, Abdulmejid II, and fancied himself as the rightful heir to the high office.

Because of this ‘Indian’ support to the despised Ottomans, the Arab Muslims have since hated them. One by one, Arab nations finally broke away from the Ottoman yoke in the mid-20th century, but their hatred remained. After Partition of India, and emergence of Pakistan as ‘champion’ of India’s Muslims, the Arab dislike was gradually shifted to Islamabad.

At present, the growing bonhomie between the Arabs and ‘Hindu’ India, as also the Jews of Israel, is proof enough of this megatrend of a split between the Muslims of Arab and non-Arab origins.

But Pakistan has refused to learn any lesson from this subtle shift, even after the Arabs’ repeated snubs in the last one year itself, on the issues like Kashmir and the non-Arab axis it sought to create with Turkey and Malaysia within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), headquartered in Saudi Arabia.

So, even as the Arabs kept silent and moved closer to Israel, Pakistan aped Turkey again and condemned France for taking action against Islamists. France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, who is fighting a grim battle for his own survival in the face of a united Opposition at home, criticised the French President for “encouraging Islamophobia” following the killing of a teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils.

“Hallmark of a leader is he unites human beings… rather than dividing them. This is a time when President (Emmanuel) Macron could have put healing touch, and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalization,” he said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

Satan quoting from the Holy Book. See who is talking about a ‘healing touch’—someone whose country is the global breeding ground for officially-sponsored and funded, and army-supported terrorists of dozens of groups and whose over 7,000 members have been proscribed by the United Nations. A country continuously kept on grey list by the global watchdog on terror funding, Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Curiously, Niazi himself had admitted in the US last year that Pakistan was home to some 40,000 terrorists!

But this did not prevent him from his peace diatribe: “It is unfortunate that he (Macron) has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists.”

He claimed that the French President deliberately provoked Muslims, including his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam, and Prophet Muhammad.
Without any understanding of it, he attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe and across the world.

Early this month, Macron had described Islam as a religion “in crisis,” and announced plans for tougher laws to weed out “Islamist separatism” in France.

His statement came after the gruesome killing of a teacher by a 18-year-old youth of Chechen origin. The youth beheaded Samuel Paty, 47, in broad daylight, near his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb about 24-km from Paris, for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Ironically, Paty had shown these caricatures during a lesson on free speech, according to reports.

The attacker posted a photo of the teacher’s decapitation on Twitter before being shot and killed by the police. The French media said the teenager had been in touch with Paty before the killing.

The killing suddenly made France boil with rage as anti-Muslim demonstrations were organized across the country. Subsequently, France closed several mosques in an unprecedented crackdown in hotspot areas and even posthumously conferred the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour, on Paty in a ceremony attended by President Emmanuel Macron.

The French government also launched a crackdown against more than 50 Muslim organisations as agitated vigilante groups attacked mosques.

This was part of Macron’s October 2 plan against “Islamist separatism”. Last week, France said it was conducting multiple raids and would expel more than 200 Muslims from the country.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has also proposed to ban the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), an organization that claims to track anti-Muslim hate crimes. He lambasted CCIF as an “enemy of the republic” and hinted at dissolving several other organisations.

Fifteen people have been arrested as part of an investigation into the killing, including the assailant’s family members, reports said.

In September also, two stabbings were reported outside the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad at the start of the trial for those suspected with involvement in the January, 2015, attacks which killed 17 people.

With growing concerns about Islamic radicalization in France and the rest of Europe, Macron is mulling a new law to push religion further out of education and the public sector in the country, and aims to strengthen “laicite”, France’s strict separation of church and state.

It would, among other things, let the state monitor international funding coming into French mosques, limit home-schooling to prevent Muslims schools from being run by what Macron cited as “religious extremists”, and create a special certificate programme for imams to be trained in France.

France was where the Muslim expansion in Europe was halted in the eighth century.

And France was where the First Crusade began…

Is France now launching the Last Crusade?

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Macron needs ‘mental treatment’.

Watch this space!

After Ladakh humiliation, China ‘aspires’ for a repeat in Taiwan!

Last week, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her love for Indian dishes like chana masala, naan and, of course, chai.

Of late, the Republic of Taiwan and India have come closer than ever before. A few months ago, some Indian Members of Parliament also joined Ing-wen’s swearing-in ceremony through video conferencing.

Taipei is likely to be inducted as the next member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, which is being billed as preparatory for the formation of an ‘Asian NATO’ next year. The US, Australia, India and Japan are the founding members of Quad for security in the Asia-Pacific Region.

This recent development has further irked China, which claims the island of Taiwan its own.

In politics, they say, having a good advisor is half-work-accomplished. And a bad advisor is a sure recipe for disaster.

Nobody knows this better than the saner leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who are against the suicidal policies of their own President-for-Life, Xi Jinping. After the miscalculations in Ladakh, they are mighty worried about the clique of hand-picked advisors prodding Jinping to go ballistic against all and sundry, if only to buttress his own diluted image at home.

That is why China is refusing to learn lessons and trying to recreate the “Middle Kingdom” of the medieval era, the way Beijing’s latest ally Turkey is attempting to revive the medieval Ottoman Empire a century after it was buried. China’s last emperor, Hsian-T’ung, was also forced to abdicate in 1912.

China has been trying to flex muscles in the South China Sea for long. After an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation against India in Ladakh, which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had fancied as a cakewalk—it has resulted in a nearly five-month-long standoff, despite seven rounds of high-level talks—China is now reported to be preparing to cut off its own nose in Taiwan.

Media reports, quoting defence advisors and the South China Morning Post (SCMP), said on Sunday that Beijing is increasing the PLA’s presence and strength along its southeast coast as it prepares for a possible military invasion of Taiwan.

With this aim, China is replacing its decades-old DF-11s and DF-15s and deploying its “most advanced” hypersonic missile DF-17 in the region.

“The new missile has a longer range and is able to hit targets more accurately,” the reports said.

Since the 1940s, China has been claiming that the self-governing Taiwan is an integral part of its territory, with Jinping even toying with a military force to capture it.

Predictably, the US has thrown a protective shield around Taiwan.

According to the Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review, satellite images show that both the Marine Corps and Rocket Force bases in Fujian and Guangdong in China have expanded.

“Every rocket force brigade in Fujian and Guangdong is now fully equipped,” the report said.

“The size of some of the missile bases in the Eastern and Southern theatre commands have even doubled in recent years, showing the PLA is stepping up preparations for a war targeting Taiwan,” it added.

These reports came amid heightened tensions between China and the US, with their diametrically opposite views over Taiwan and the Covid-19 pandemic.

During a recent visit to a military base in Guangdong, Jinping had instructed troops to “put their minds and energy on preparing for a war”, China’s news agency Xinhua said.

Addressing troops of the PLA’s Marine Corps in Chaozhou City, Jinping asked them to “maintain a state of high alert” and appealed to them to be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable”.

This appeal also proved the recent reports that the PLA, after its misadventure in Ladakh, is panicked and unwilling to launch another misadventure, this time in Taiwan, and China is trying to boost its morale.

In recent years, China has also increased military drills around Taiwan, with nearly 40 Chinese warplanes crossing the median line between the mainland and Taiwan in September, which Tsai Ing-wen called a “threat of force.”