GS 2: International Relations
- Tensions between China and Taiwan have escalated since October 1, when the latest escalation comes from a series of air incursions by the Chinese military.
- Taiwan, earlier known as Formosa, a tiny island off the east coast of China, is where Chinese republicans of the Kuomintang government retreated after the 1949 victory of the communists — and it has since continued as the Republic of China (RoC).
- The island is in the East China Sea, to the northeast of Hong Kong, north of the Philippines and south of South Korea, and southeast of Japan.
- China and Taiwan separated amid civil war in 1949 and China considers Taiwan part of its territory to be taken control of by force, if necessary. But Taiwan consider itself as a sovereign state.
- Relations between China and Taiwan started improving in the 1980s. China put forward a formula, known as “one country, two systems”, under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy, if it accepted Chinese reunification.
- In Taiwan, the offer was rejected, but the government relaxed rules on visits to and investment in China.
- There were also limited talks between the two sides’ unofficial representatives, though Beijing’s insistence that Taiwan’s Republic of China (ROC) government is illegitimate prevented government-to-government contact.
- China’s implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong in 2020 was seen by many as yet another sign that Beijing was becoming significantly more assertive in the region.
- The USA backs Taiwan’s independence, maintains ties with Taipei, and sells weapons to it — but officially subscribes to PRC’s “One China Policy”, which means there is only one legitimate Chinese government.
Role of the USA:
- Taiwan has sought to improve its defenses with the purchase of USA weapons, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles.
- A USA aircraft carrier group led by the warship Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to ensure freedom of the seas, and build partnerships that foster maritime security.
Implications for India
- With India facing its own problems with China at the LAC, there have been suggestions that it should review its One China Policy and develop more robust relations with Taiwan to send a message to Beijing.
- India and Taiwan currently maintain “trade and cultural exchange” offices in each other’s capitals.
- In May 2020, the swearing-in of Tsai was attended virtually by BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi (now MoS External Affairs) and Rahul Kaswan.
- In 2016, New Delhi had dropped plans to send two representatives for Tsai’s first inaugural at the last minute.
- Talks with Taipei are ongoing to bring a $7.5-billion semiconductor or chip manufacturing plant to India.
- Chips are used in a range of devices from computers to 5G smartphones, to electric cars and medical equipment.
- The deal was reported on the heels of a summit of the Quad, a grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia seeking to contain China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. One of the topics discussed at the meeting was the need to build a “safe supply chain for semiconductors”.
Down to Earth
- Hoplosebastes Armatus, also known as the flower scorpionfish, is a unique, lesser-known fish species that was till now thought to be found only in the Pacific Ocean has been found in the Indian Ocean too.
- It belongs to the order of ray-finned fish that are also known Scorpaeniforme.
- It was discovered in the Pacific Ocean off Japan almost a century ago in 1929.
- The species had not been found in the Indian Ocean. That is till two specimens of Hoplosebastes were collected by scientists from the harbour of Digha in West Bengal’s Purba Medinipur in 2019.
- Two years after that discovery, scientists collected 22 other specimens from the waters off Paradip in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district in 2021.
- The length of the species ranged from 75-127 mm, while its body width was from 14-22 mm.
- The head of the species was comparatively large and greater than the body.
- The fresh specimen of the species, caught from the sea, was faint red. But alcohol specimens were pale yellow colour and formalin specimens were brownish.
- The specimen found from the Indian Ocean resembles PJ Schmidt’s specimen that was found in 1929.
- But it differs in the presence of tentacles on the head, extensive spots on the fins, scale-less maxilla, number of spines on sub-orbital stray, etc.
- The rise in the temperature of sea water due to global warming might induce the migration of this species from different regions.
Down to Earth
GS 3: Environment and Conservation
- The Kunming Declaration was adopted by over 100 countries at the first part of the ongoing virtual 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
- It calls upon the parties to “mainstream” biodiversity protection in decision-making and recognise the importance of conservation in protecting human health.
- By adopting this, the nations have committed themselves to support the development, adoption and implementation of an effective post-2020 implementation plan, capacity building action plan for the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety.
- The theme of the declaration is Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth.
- Signatory nations will ensure that the post-pandemic recovery policies, programmes and plans contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, promoting sustainable and inclusive development.
- The UN Biodiversity Conference began on October 11, 2021 and will conclude on October 24.
- It was originally scheduled to take place from 15-28 October 2020 in Kunming, China but was postponed several times due to COVID-19 pandemic.
- The parties have demonstrated their commitment to accelerate development and update of the strategy document National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.
- The signed declaration will be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations, the 2022 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and the United Nations Environment Assembly at the second part of the ongoing session in Kunming, China from 25 April-8 May 2022.
- The adoption of the declaration will create momentum for a new global biodiversity pact.
- This declaration is a reflection of the political will of all parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
The declaration stated:
Putting biodiversity on a path to recovery is a defining challenge of this decade, in the context of the UN Decade of Action for Sustainable Development, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. It requires strong political momentum to develop, adopt and implement an ambitious and transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework that promotes the three objectives of the Convention in a balanced manner.
Plastic Waste Recycling Targets
GS 3: Environment and Conservation
- The Environment Ministry has issued draft rules that mandate producers of plastic packaging material to collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.
- It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging could collect certificates — called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates — and trade in them.
- Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled — such as multi-layered multi-material plastics — would be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposals such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil and cement kilns.
- Only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) would be permitted for their disposal.
New Draft Rules:
- Plastic packaging, as per the rules made public on October 6, fall into three categories. (a) Category 1: “Rigid” plastic
- Category 2: “Flexible plastic packaging of a single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carrying bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches.
- Category 3: It is called multilayered plastic packaging, which has at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
- Producers of plastic would be obliged to declare to the government, via a centralised website, how much plastic they produce annually.
- Companies would have to collect at least 35% of the target in 2021-22, 70% by 2022-23 and 100% by 2024.
- In 2024, a minimum of 50% of their rigid plastic (category 1) would have to be recycled as would 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.
- Every year would see progressively higher targets and after 2026-27, 80% of their category 1 and 60% of the other two categories would need to be recycled.
- If entities cannot fulfil their obligations, they would on a “case by case basis” be permitted to buy certificates making up for their shortfall from organisations that have used recycled content in excess of their obligation.
- The CPCB would develop a “mechanism” for such exchanges on an online portal.
- Non-compliance would not invite a traditional fine. Instead an “environmental compensation” would be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation would be.