UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 25-July-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. China launches ambitious Mars mission 

  2. India, China agree to 'early and complete' disengagement, de-escalation at LAC

  3. Mike Pompeo sets agenda for a new Cold War with China.

  4. China tells US to close consulate in Chengdu in growing spat

  5. Government notifies new rules for e-commerce entities

  6. Parliamentary panel set to discuss data bill over citizen privacy fears


CHINA LAUNCHES AMBITIOUS MARS MISSION

Why in news?

  • China launched its most ambitious Mars mission yet in a bold attempt to join the U.S. in successfully landing a spacecraft on the red planet. 


Highlights:

  • A Long March-5 carrier rocket took off under clear skies around 12-40 p.m. from Hainan Island, south of China’s mainland.

  • China’s space agency said that the rocket carried the probe for 36 minutes before successfully placing it on the looping path that will take it beyond Earth’s orbit and eventually into Mars’ more distant orbit around the sun. 

  • China’s tandem spacecraft — with both an orbiter and a rover — will take seven months to reach Mars, like the others.

  • If all goes well, Tianwen-1, or “quest for heavenly truth,” will look for underground water, if it’s present, as well as evidence of possible ancient life. 

  • It marked the second flight to Mars this week, after a UAE orbiter blasted off on a rocket from Japan on Monday.

  • The U.S. is aiming to launch Perseverance, its most sophisticated Mars rover ever, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, next week. 

  • This isn’t China’s first attempt at Mars. In 2011, a Chinese orbiter accompanying a Russian mission was lost when the spacecraft failed to get out of Earth’s orbit after launching from Kazakhstan, eventually burning up in the atmosphere. 

  • This time, China is going at it alone. It also is fast-tracking, launching an orbiter and rover on the same mission instead of stringing them out. 

  • Landing on Mars is notoriously difficult. Only the U.S. has successfully landed a spacecraft on Martian soil, doing it eight times since 1976.


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/china-launches-first-mars-mission/article32171852.ece )


INDIA, CHINA AGREE TO 'EARLY AND COMPLETE' DISENGAGEMENT, DE-ESCALATION AT LAC

Why in news?

  • India and China on Friday agreed another meeting of the senior commanders may be held soon so as to work out further steps to ensure expeditiously complete disengagement and de-escalation and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.


Highlights:

  • The decision was arrived at the 17th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) held on Friday.

  • Reviewing the situation in the India-China border areas and the ongoing disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector, they agreed that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral agreement and protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquillity was essential for smooth overall development of bilateral relations. 

  • The two sides noted that this was in accordance with the agreement reached between the two Special Representatives during their July 5 telephonic conversation.

  • Both sides agreed it was necessary for India and China to sincerely implement the understandings reached between Senior Commanders in their meetings till date. 

  • The two sides also agreed to maintain their ongoing engagements both at the diplomatic and military level, including through the meetings of WMCC.


Source : Tribune India ( https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/india-china-agree-to-early-and-complete-disengagement-de-escalation-at-lac-117454 )


MIKE POMPEO SETS AGENDA FOR A NEW COLD WAR WITH CHINA.

Why in news?

  • US President Donald Trump dialled his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the inclusion of Beijing in future talks on strategic arms control, oil security and Iran developments.


Highlights:

  • This was President Trump’s fifth call to President Putin in the past two months as Russian Federation is the key to holding a rampaging China accountable in the long term interests of global peace.

  • While the US President understands the importance of Russia in handling Beijing, he faces stiff resistance from the cold warriors and anti-Trump activists in Washington who still see Moscow, not China as the enemy number 1. 

  • President Trump’s conversation on Iran was to dissuade President Putin from supporting Tehran who wants to join hands with China for a long term anti-US alliance.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on his part, virtually upended the 1970s Nixon-Kissinger doctrine of engaging China in the belief that Beijing rulers would assimilate in the global comity of nations.

  • The Nixon-Kissinger engagement of China was at the cost of US relations with India as Washington held New Delhi responsible for the division of Pakistan in 1971 and moved the USS carrier Enterprise in opposition to the move.

  • By saying that his past army record during the Cold War taught him that Communists always lie, Secretary Pompeo made it clear that the new mantra with Beijing was “distrust and verify,” refitting President Ronald Regan’s ‘trust but verify’ slogan vis-a-vis Soviet Union through the 1980s to present day China.

  • While it is early days for Pompeo’s statement to be translated on ground, it is quite evident that China will do everything to ensure that President Trump does not return to power in November. His

  • Identifying China as a clear and present danger, Mike Pompeo turned President Nixon’s statement that “ world cannot be safe until China changes” on its head, saying that the world must change the Chinese Communist Party or China will change us as it is happening in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.


Source : Hindustan Times ( https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/mike-pompeo-sets-agenda-for-a-new-cold-war-with-china-russia-will-be-key/story-pqOH74cFjqfZFzYashstJJ.html )



CHINA TELLS US TO CLOSE CONSULATE IN CHENGDU IN GROWING SPAT

Why in news?

  • China ordered the United States on Friday to close its consulate in the western city of Chengdu, ratcheting up a diplomatic conflict at a time when relations have sunk to their lowest level in decades. 


Highlights:

  • The move was a response to the Trump administration's order this week for Beijing to close its consulate in Houston after Washington accused Chinese agents of trying to steal medical and other research in Texas.

  • Chinese-US relations have soured amid a mounting array of conflicts including trade, the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, technology, spying accusations, Hong Kong and allegations of abuses against Chinese ethnic Muslims.

  • On Tuesday, the Trump administration ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours. It alleged Chinese agents tried to steal data from facilities including the Texas A&M medical system.

  • The ministry on Thursday rejected the allegations as “malicious slander'' and warned the Houston consulate's closure was ``breaking down the bridge of friendship'' between the two countries.

  • The United States has an embassy in Beijing and consulates in five other mainland cities - Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang and Wuhan. It also has a consulate in Hong Kong, a Chinese territory.


Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/china-tells-us-to-close-consulate-in-chengdu-in-growing-spat/articleshow/77139733.cms )


GOVERNMENT NOTIFIES NEW RULES FOR E-COMMERCE ENTITIES

Why in news?

  • The 'Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020' were notified on Thursday. The new rules will be applicable to all electronic retailers (e-tailers) registered in India or abroad but offering goods and services to Indian consumers. 


Highlights:

  • The government has notified new rules for e-commerce companies, including mandatory display of 'country of origin' on their products, and said any non-compliance will attract penal action. 

  • According to the new rules, the e-commerce players will have to display the total price of goods and services offered for sale along with a break-up of other charges. 

  • They are also required to mention the 'expiry date' of goods offered for sale and the 'country of origin' of goods and services that are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage. 

  • Under the rules, e-commerce players have to display details about return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, and any other information that may be required by consumers to make informed decisions. 

  • Sellers offering goods and services through a marketplace e-commerce entity will have to provide the above details to the e-commerce entity to be displayed on its platform or website. 

  • Under the new rules, e-commerce entities should not impose "cancellation charges" on consumers cancelling orders after confirmation unless sellers are ready to pay similar charges in case cancellation of orders are from their side. 

  • They are also not allowed to "manipulate the price" of the goods and services offered on their platforms to gain unreasonable profit and discriminate between consumers of the same class or make any arbitrary classification of consumers affecting their rights under the Act. 

  • Further, e-commerce entities will have to provide information on available payment methods, the security of those payment methods, any fees or charges payable by users, and the contact information, among other details, of the relevant payment service provider. 

  • That apart, e-commerce entities are required to display prominently to its users details about the 'sellers' offering goods and services, including the name of their business, whether registered or not.

  • They must also display sellers' geographic address, customer care number, and any rating or other aggregated feedback about such seller, among others, as per the new rules. 

  • They are also required to provide a ticket number for each complaint lodged, through which the consumer can track the status of the complaint. 

  • However, the new rules do not permit any inventory e-commerce entity to "falsely represent itself as a consumer and post reviews about goods and services or misrepresent the quality or the features of any goods and services". 


Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/government-notifies-new-rules-for-e-commerce-entities/articleshow/77153778.cms )


PARLIAMENTARY PANEL SET TO DISCUSS DATA BILL OVER CITIZEN PRIVACY FEARS

Why in news?

  • The joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the Personal Data Protection Bill is set to meet on Monday to discuss the low conviction rate for cybercrimes and concerns around the bill’s attempt to give overriding powers to the government that would allow any investigative agency to look into the personal data of citizens.


Highlights:

  • The parliamentary committee has invited representatives of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to the meeting to discuss provisions that empower security agencies to block internet messaging platforms to stop terrorists and people dealing in narcotics.

  • The big question before agencies like NIA, NCRB is that while we are talking about data governance, transparency in management of data, the real problem is that not many cases under cybercrime get convicted. 

  • The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha in December last year and seeks to establish a Data Protection Authority.

  • Amid concerns from lawmakers over citizens’ right to privacy, it was sent to the joint parliamentary committee. After one extension, the committee has been asked to submit its report by the second week of the monsoon session of Parliament, the dates for which are yet to be announced.

  • It is a question of fundamental rights of citizens because in the name of investigation, detection and prevention, the union government cannot allow security agencies to look into the personal data of the people.

  • Most of the members are against these two clauses and this issue would be taken up strongly when it comes for discussion during the meeting


Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/news/india/parliamentary-panel-set-to-discuss-data-bill-over-citizen-privacy-fears-11595559057667.html )


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