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Friday, 3 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 03 Sep 2010

No troops in PoK, claims China
/TNS  New Delhi, September 2 After provoking India on a host of issues in recent days, China is now attempting to deescalate tension between the two countries. Beijing today rejected reports about the presence of some 11,000 Chinese troops in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).  Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu as saying that a report to this effect in a New York Times opinion piece last week was groundless. The report had stated that the troops had been deployed in the area to build rail and road access to the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. “We believe the attempts of some people to fabricate stories to provoke China-Pakistan or China-India relations are doomed to fail,’’ she said.  However, she was quite emphatic while stating Beijing’s stand on the Jammu and Kashmir issue. “Our position is that we believe it is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan.’’  The Chinese spokesperson also indicated that there was no possibility of Beijing reviewing its policy to give stapled visas to Indian nationals from Jammu and Kashmir, an issue that has become a bone of contention between the two countries.  New Delhi believes that China is questioning the status of Jammu and Kashmir by refusing to issue visas on passports to the residents of the state. “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India…what if we also start questioning the status of Tibet,’’ a senior Indian official recently said.  The Chinese spokesperson also said Beijing had neither suspended defence exchanges with India nor received any report from New Delhi about any such move from the Indian side. India had recently announced that defence exchanges with China had been put on hold after Beijing denied visa to Lt Gen B S Jaswal on the ground that he led the army command in Jammu and Kashmir. In retaliation, India also denied visas to three Chinese army officers who were scheduled to visit India.

Border road works moving at slow pace
 Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, September 2 Even as China continues to strengthen infrastructure on its side of the border with India, New Delhi’s plans to build roads in northern and eastern parts of the country have been marred by delays, thus leading to repeated extensions in deadlines. And all this, despite India adopting a change in its earlier military doctrine that was against building roads close to the border. The concept was revised a few years ago due to changing geopolitical scenario.  The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, in its latest report, has said India’s slow pace of infrastructure development was “posing challenges to the national security”. The first phase of the long-term plan for road building, under which 277 roads, with a collective length of 13,100 km, were to be built at a cost of Rs 24,866 crore, will overrun its 2012 deadline. So far, only 29 roads have been completed and the work on another 168 is in progress. No work, however, has been started on 80 road projects measuring 2,624 km.  Projects of developing roads alongside China border were entrusted to the Border Roads Organisation over the past three years. Various factors that led to slow progress were listed out by Defence Minister AK Antony in Parliament two weeks ago. He said the working period available with road builders in these areas was short owing to snowfall and heavy rainfall in the Himalayan region. And the dense forests and tough terrain, too, posed a hindrance, he said.  Another factor was the lack of heavy-lift choppers that could be used to drop equipment in inaccessible areas, especially on the vital Leh-Srinagar link, which is close to the spot where Chinese soldiers have reportedly been stationed in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.  Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has now outsourced a contract to have air support for the BRO, as the IAF does not have enough of the heavy-lift Mi 26 choppers. For the year ending March 31, 2010, the ministry had allocated Rs 783 core for roads along the border with China, the amount quite high as compared to Rs 106 crore allocated three years ago.  The BRO has been asked to focus only on the construction of strategic roads along the border with China and leave the work on other roads in Naxal areas to other agencies. BRO has been entrusted with 61 strategic roads of the total length of 3,394 km in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Army to boost electronic warfare capability
Vijay Moha/TNS  Chandigarh, September 1 With electronic warfare becoming central to all military operations, the Army is planning to procure helicopter-mounted electronic warfare systems to augment its capabilities, which, at present, are restricted to land-based systems.  Sources said some firms have already briefed senior officers concerned at Army Headquarters about the operational aspects of such systems The Army has now sought technical details of available systems for evaluation. The Army, like its sister services, is already into electronic warfare, with the Corps of Signals being the nodal agency in the force for using the electromagnetic spectrum for military gains. Currently, the systems with the Army are vehicle mounted.  Electronic warfare involves use of the electromagnetic spectrum, including radio waves and infrared, to interfere with, intercept, degrade or dominate an adversary’s communication, data-transfer or surveillance network for attaining battlefield superiority, while protecting one’s own networks.  Heli-borne electronic warfare systems, sources said, would allow greater operating flexibility as they can cover greater distances in shorter time without the impediment of traversing difficult terrain like deserts and mountains. They would also be less vulnerable to anti-radiation missiles that static ground based systems.  Sources added that heliborne systems could also play an important role in counter-terrorist operations by pinpointing remote terrorist radio transmitting points or jamming their communication. They would also cut down the response time vis-à-vis vehicles. Electronic warfare suites are already retro-fitted in combat aircraft as well as helicopters and transports. Depending on the type of aircraft, some systems are for offensive operations while those for transports are primarily for self-defence.  The Army’s quest for electronic warfare systems assumes significance as its aviation corps is being expanded. Besides additional indigenous Dhruv ALHs, process is underway to acquire over 80 medium utility helicopters for the force.

  China’s double-dealing India must respond firmly
by Inder Malhotra  TWO facts stand out in the wake of China’s offensive refusal of a visa to one of India’s top generals bound for Beijing to lead the Indian delegation in a high-level exchange with the northern neighbour and the calibrated Indian reaction of “suspending” but not snapping military exchanges between the two countries. The first is that both sides are trying to play down the friction generated by the ugly episode though China is doing so vigorously and this country in a low key. The Chinese defence ministry has even announced that China has “not suspended military exchanges with India, and has received no word that India has stopped military exchanges between the two countries”.   Secondly, it is not the first time that China has acted in this contradictory manner that bespeaks of double-dealing and doublespeak, nor is it going to be the last. Such a combination of aggressiveness and friendly noises seems to have become second nature of the fast-rising and traditionally arrogant country that has already become the world’s second largest economy by overtaking Japan. This approach may be particularly pronounced in the case of India but is in no way confined to it. Beijing treats most countries, including the United States, in a similar though not identical manner. It would be no surprise if China’s effrontery towards India at this juncture is partly addressed also to US President Barack Obama in the run up to his visit to this country in early November.  It is also possible that there are divisions within the Chinese leadership because the issue of succession to President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, scheduled to retire in 2012, is still unsettled. Some China watchers believe the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is more assertive and aggressive than the political leadership and even tends to act on its own. Be that as it may, the fact is that this time around the Chinese military is treating the incident as a mere visa-related “misunderstanding” that should not affect the “wider bilateral relationship” on which both India and China should “focus”.  None of this sophistry can be allowed, however, to divert attention from what is the core of the current Chinese challenge: the questioning of the Indian position in Kashmir. Beijing’s impertinent reasoning for denying the visa to Lieutenant-General R. S. Jaswal, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command, is that his command includes Kashmir “which is a disputed territory”. The whole world treats Kashmir on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) as a de facto though not de jure part of India, and “Azad Kashmir” and the Northern Areas on the other side as de facto but not de jure part of Pakistan.  Until just over a year ago China too had broadly held the same view. Last year, however, it changed and began by issuing stapled visas, no longer normal ones, to Indian citizens belonging to Jammu and Kashmir carrying Indian passports. Despite New Delhi’s protests, Beijing persists in this pernicious practice. With the refusal of a visa to Gen. Jaswal, the Chinese are clearly raising the ante. Obviously because by twisting the Kashmir issue in Pakistan’s favour, they hope to kill two birds with one stone: to corner India as much as possible, and to give succor and support to Pakistan it desperately needs. Pakistan’s need for Chinese backing in furthering its nefarious anti-Indian deigns is now much greater than ever before because the humongous floods have crippled it. Nobody knows how long it would take to cope with this gargantuan catastrophe. America’s great hope in Pakistan, General Ashfaque Kayani, has already notified the Pentagon that in the existing circumstances the Pakistani Army cannot do much for the US in Afghanistan. For China, Pakistan is the one instrument to keep India confined to South Asia rather than be China’s competitor in the whole of Asian continent and indeed globally. Given India’s rise, this is a vain hope.   While appealing to India to ignore the visa episode, official and party-controlled Chinese media has also discussed even the possibility of a “limited war” with India. This is intended to shore Pakistani morale, especially now that more and more Americans are saying that their troubles in Afghanistan are really rooted in Pakistan. There is growing opposition, therefore, to the colossal military and financial aid to this duplicitous ally.   In any case, India cannot and must not take lightly China’s bellicose talk. It would be foolish to let an avoidable conflict with China take place. The new Army Chief, General V. K. Singh, has done well to discard his predecessor’s concept of a limited war or a two-front war. But we cannot lower our guard, and should be in a position to give an appropriate response should China be foolhardy enough to launch a military adventure. Surely, the Chinese must know that 2010 is not 1962. For our part, we have got to ensure that our armed forces have all the equipment and ammunition. Our infrastructure along the India-China border has to match the Chinese state-of-the-art infrastructure. Are fervent announcements in this connection being matched by action? And is there awareness that infrastructure just cannot be built the way it is being done in the case of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.  It is no mere coincidence that China’s provocation over Gen. Jaswal’s visa and its impudent suggestion that some other military leader be sent to Beijing in his place, have been accompanied by the presence of between 7,000 and 11,000 PLA troops in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Kashmir’s Northern Areas under Pakistani occupation. Isn’t it a disputed territory?  China’s diplomatic assaults have also to be answered in kind. The moment the visa affair broke, New Delhi conveyed to Beijing that Kashmir was as “sensitive” to India as Tibet was to China. It follows, therefore, that we stop reaffirming in season and out of season that Tibet is an integral part of the People’s Republic of China until China accepts that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Chinese nationals and officials from the Tibetan region should henceforth get only stapled visas. The US administration in its latest report on Tibet has regretted that the talks between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese have so far been futile. Washington has asked for “unconditional” talks between the Tibetan spiritual leader and the Chinese government. We should endorse this, and the matter should be reviewed during President Obama’s visit to Delhi.

 India, China locked in zero-sum geopolitics
 Brig Kiran Krishan (Retd)  Indian news channels are at it again - on what else but India's bete noire, China. By denying visa to the GOC-In-C, Northern Command, Lt Gen B.S. Jaswal for a planned official visit, an ill-mannered diplomatic move in itself, Chinese diplomats have given a cause celebre to Indian news czars, who even in ordinary circumstances, can blow any thing to high heaven.  To them, at this time, an article in The New York Times (NYT) stating that 11,000 Chinese soldiers are currently working on construction projects in Gilgit-Balistan region of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and also building tunnels, has come as a breath of fresh air. "Mystery surrounds the construction of 22 tunnels in secret locations where Pakistanis are barred. … they could also be used as missile storage sites," writes Selig S. Harrison in his August 28 piece entitled 'The other Kashmir problem'. This has given rise to all sort of speculation. The tunnels have to be for housing nuclear missiles! And the Chinese are likely to open a new front against India from there! Of course, PLA troops could be there for other mundane purposes as well. Who cares?  Is an article of this nature in NYT at this point in time a pure chance? The American establishment has made a high art of media management. Planted news and paid news is no news to the American intelligence establishment. The United States is having its own problems with China's assertiveness regarding the freedom of movement in South China Sea, ostensibly claimed by China as its exclusive domain. The US has made friendly overtures to Vietnam after a long hiatus and also held a number of joint naval exercises with friendly forces as a sign of American resolve to maintain its stake in the region. What could be better than to provide fuel to the Indian media to inflame Indian passions with when the Chinese diplomats are seen to have acted brutishly with India?  One would have thought that with the trade between India and China pegged at US$ 60 billion annually, the two would have realised where their interests lie and be better disposed to treat each other with equanimity. Obviously not! Petulance appears to be the reigning theme in Sino-Indian relations. This belies the cordiality usually observed when the leaders of the two countries meet. Is that all a sham?  The die for adversarial Sino-Indian relations was cast 51 years ago in March 1959 with the Dalai Lama being provided political asylum in India. The Tibetan Government-in-exile was allowed to function from India soil, and continues to do so till today. China took revenge by militarily humiliating India in 1962.  The Chinese are unable to let go off the episode and reconcile with the Dalai Lama's presence and privileged, albeit politically curtailed status in India. The Dalai Lama was given shelter in India when the structure of the international politics was completely different from what it is today. India of that time under the leadership of late Pandit Nehru, as leader of the non-aligned movement and champion of world peace, could hardly have behaved otherwise. And today, even with a totally altered global political landscape, India cannot think of throwing out the Dalai Lama without losing its place as a self respecting independent entity in the comity of nations.  The China of today enjoys great respect and admiration in the Indian public. China's successful economic rise has brought it unexpected adulation. Do the diplomatic pin pricks, the issue of stapled visas to J&K residents, the denial of visa to a senior Indian general on rather phony reasoning, repeated claims on Arunachal Pradesh help advance the Chinese cause or enhance its prestige in any manner? There are no tangible benefits in evidence. Au contraire, these help fritter away whatever goodwill China has lately gained in India. 1962 is almost a forgotten past, a distant memory. Petty diplomatic retorts only keep that unhappy memory alive.  As for India reacting to every odd diplomatic faux pas only exposes its latent insecurities. India is now a nuclear power and would shortly be testing an ICBM, Agni-V. In 1971, Indian forces, in more than ample measure, proved their mettle. The bag of 93,000 Pakistani prisoners that the armed forces secured is yet unmatched post-Second World War. In any case, even if militarily not as comparable, today India is capable of seriously denting China's image and upsetting its economic applecart. Even so, a military confrontation between the two countries is hardly like to benefit either.  A detached observer cannot but notice petty petulance that has crept into the Sino-Indian diplomatic intercourse. Need pettiness remain the leitmotif of Sino-Indian relations? Do statesmen not owe it to themselves and the nations they seek to lead and guide to rein in diplomats resorting to small-mindedness? But before that happens, both China and India have to rationalise, and internalise each others' compulsions. The two countries are widely acknowledged as rising powers and yet locked in a pointless zero sum geopolitical game. A sure sign of doing well is letting go of the old shackles.

China to be biggest exhibitor at Defence expo
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 02, 2010, 19:30 IST  China will be the biggest exhibitor at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2010 expo in South Africa later this month, reflecting the growing military might of the Asian giant.  The move to be the biggest displayer at the expo is seen as China's attempts to expand military ties with the African countries in lieu of getting access to their minerals and oil reserves.  China will cover more than 1,200 square metre in the expo displaying a large number of its military hardware, Defence Ministry sources told PTI here.  They said the Chinese are also offering soft loans to the African nations for buying its military hardware.  "It is being seen as an effort to expand its ties with the countries in the African region," they said, adding China has been investing heavily in expanding ties with the African nations for getting access to their natural resources such as minerals and oil.  Other countries that will take part in the largest defence exhibition of its kind in Africa include the US, France and the UK.  Indian companies such as BrahMos aerospace, Hindustan Aeronautics and Goa Shipyard are also participating in the show.  Global defence manufacturers such as Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Thales and EADS are also going to take part in the four-day event.

US Gen Mullen in Pak to meet Kayani
September 03, 2010 03:49 IST Tags: US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Mullen, Pakistan, US Coast Guard, Kayani Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  Admiral Mike Mullen [ Images ], Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Islamabad [ Images ] to hold consultations with in Pakistan army [ Images ] chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Click!  Kayani and Mullen visited flood-hit areas of the country during the day.Mullen emphasised US commitment to supporting Pakistan during the flood crisis and "into the future as a partner and friend", said a statement issued by the US embassy.  Mullen's visit to Pakistan "continues a tradition of regular bilateral consultations between the US and Pakistan". He last visited Pakistan in July. This is Mullen's 20th visit to Pakistan since becoming the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in October 2007.  In a separate development, US Coast Guard representatives are in Pakistan to meet their counterparts from the Maritime Security Agency and the Ports and Shipping Ministry to explore opportunities for training exchanges and reciprocal visits.  During the visit, Coast Guard officials emphasised the US commitment to supporting Pakistan's flood relief efforts and the people during their time of need. To date, the US has provided US $ 200 million in flood relief and significant in-kind and technical assistance.  As part of the cooperation, the US and Pakistan have increased their ability to implement the International Port Security Program through exchange of visits and sponsored training. The US Coast Guard has assisted Pakistan in acquiring shore-patrol boats.

US bags million-dollar defence deals
SUJAN DUTTA US Army soldiers demonstrate the Javelin anti-tank guided missile to the Indian Army at Yudh Abhyas in October 2009  New Delhi, Sept. 2: The US is winning millions of dollars of orders from the Indian defence forces after demonstrating new weapons in joint exercises with the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.  The Indian Army has now decided to make an outright purchase of several hundred Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) that were demonstrated for the first time in the largest war game that the two armies have held.  Executives of the company that makes the weapon, Raytheon Corporation, were present at Yudh Abhyas 09 in Babina, a range of the Indian Army’s armoured corps in Madhya Pradesh. The US army demonstrated how the shoulder-fired weapon is used.  “We have sent a Letter of Request to the US government. We want to procure the Javelin ATGMs with an agreement for transfer of technology,” a defence ministry source said. The price of the missiles is still being negotiated.  But an armoured corps officer said it the Javelin was easily the most expensive anti-tank missile in the global market. The Indian Army has so far used the Milan anti-tank missiles that are made in India with French collaboration.  The Indian Air Force also decided to buy the C-130J Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft after putting them through trials but after first witnessing their performance in joint drills and during visits of senior officials.  The Indian Navy bought the USS Trenton, now christened the INS Jalashva, after it was given a demonstration in the Mediterranean during the Israel-Hizbollah war of 2006.  Defence ministry sources have said the Indian government is buying the Javelin missiles through a mechanism of the Pentagon that bypasses the need for competition.  “We have sent a Letter of Request to the US government. We want to procure the Javelin ATGMs along with an agreement for transfer of technology,” a defence ministry source said.

Sino-Indian tension simmers on ice
C. Uday Bhaskar  3 September 2010 How likely is China’s launch of a limited war against India? This is the question that has animated South Asia watchers over the last two days ever since reports about the Chinese denial of a visa to a top-ranking three-star Indian army general, whose operational command includes the state of Jammu and Kashmir, became public.  Notwithstanding the very animated media and cyber responses that have spewed on both sides of the Himalayas, as a defence analyst, I would aver that the probability of an actual shooting war, however limited—between the dragon and the elephant—is very, very low but this will not prevent their growling at each other as can be evidenced.  Both India and China exude a similar sensitivity about contested territoriality and this is a very deeply embedded characteristic in the post-colonial state, wherein sovereignty is inexorably linked with the ‘idea’ of the nation-state that came into being when the colonial yoke was finally cast aside.  However, post 1947 when India attained independence and post 1949 when China became sovereign after the Long March, the deep anxiety and prickly sensitivity about the linkages between contested territoriality and perceptions about sovereignty are abiding.  Kashmir and Tibet-Taiwan, though of different genealogy are a case in point.  The question that is often raised among security experts is—what is the contour of the provocation that would compel the Asian giants to actually resort to military action?  Against each other, as for instance in the current fracas or a Sino-US confrontation—say over Taiwan. These considerations have now moved out of the reclusive foreign office and security establishments in both China and India and civil society and the new netizen also stokes the debate in a palpable manner.  It is instructive that the question posed at the outset of this comment—how likely is China to launch a limited war—is from a Chinese daily, which in turn carried parts of a Forbes report (by two authors of Indian origin) and carried out a straw poll among its readers.  It is significant that at the time of writing this comment, the thumbs-down for this exigency—that China will or should launch a war—is 46 against 30 that gave a thumbs-up.  The inference that follows is that notwithstanding some shrill commentary and radical prescription in the more transparent and volatile Indian audio-visual medium, the immediate fallout and response from both governments has ranged from firm to muted and sabre-rattling is on hold.  This is to be cautiously welcomed and hopefully over the next few days, the politico-diplomatic channels will weigh in and bring the temperatures down.  Officially, both sides maintain that prevailing bilateral defence ties and relations have not been snapped or suspended and the foreign office in Beijing has formally stated, “…we are confident that both sides will stay focused on the broader picture of bilateral ties between our two countries, acting in a spirit of consultation and unity to promote the healthy development of military ties.”  Two aspects of the current Chinese visa denial merit preliminary scrutiny. Clearly, the Indian government, which has been dealing with the issue of Beijing issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens from J&K in a low visibility manner sees the current Chinese action as a case of raising the ante and pushing India on the status of J&K.  Post 1948, when the matter was referred to the UN by then Indian prime minister Nehru, the legal status of J&K is ‘disputed’ between India and Pakistan—the latter seen as the aggressor. While India is committed to the peaceful bilateral resolution of this dispute notwithstanding the revisionist wars that have been initiated by the Pakistan army, from 1965 to Kargil in 1999, till now the post Cold War Chinese stance was seen as neutral—particularly in the 1999 Kargil War.  The second aspect is about China’s current mix of national assertion and collective anxiety. Is the fact that China is now the world’s second-largest economy encouraging the hardline/nationalist constituency to advocate a greater flexing of Beijing beef?  If so, this has been counter-productive, in that the creeping Chinese assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific maritime domain led to a face-off in Hanoi at the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting where the rise of China is being perceived as far from ‘peaceful’.  In the current visa denial episode, the view in India is that China’s pronouncements about bridging the trust deficit and working towards peace and stability in keeping with the Jiang Zemin - Narasimha Rao 1993 protocols cannot be taken at face value.  The moot question thus is not about the limited war against India—but if the inexorable ‘rise’ of China is conducive to equitable peace and stability in Asia. The unease from East Asia to South Asia about the mismatch between Beijing’s self-image and its actions needs little reiteration and should encourage objective introspection among China’s accomplished but inscrutable intellectuals and academics.

China's visa denial reflects their predilection: BS Jaswal
PTI / Thursday, September 2, 2010 17:11 IST  Army's Northern Command Chief Lt Gen BS Jaswal today remained unruffled by the Chinese action denying him a visa that fuelled a diplomatic row with India but said it reflected their "predilection".  "My name came up as part of the annual dialogue which takes place as part of the Confidence Building Measures. I share a border with China as part of my responsibility. So best dialogue can take place of the people who are on the ground.  "...But it is basically building a mutual confidence on either side. They have denied it as per their own predilection and I will just leave at that," Jaswal said.  Jaswal, who is General Officer Commanding-in-chief (GOC) of the Army's Udhampur-based Northern Command, was denied permission in July to go to China by authorities in that country on the ground he comes from "sensitive" Jammu and Kashmir.  The controversial Chinese step that brought chill in Sino-Indian relations came despite the visit by a General-rank officer to China being agreed upon between the two countries in January during the Annual Defence Dialogue as part of defence exchanges andCBM.  "An annual foreign travel plan is made at Army headquarters and whenever the names of an officer comes up, the Military Intelligence Directorate, do the visa formalities. It's an official visit. So they process my visa formalities and I am not really aware of what happened there," the official said.  "...I was told that your visit has been put on hold and thereafter I came to know that the visa has not been granted," he said.  When asked about the reason behind it, Jaswal said "Neither did I enquire into it nor really it is my mandate."  "The details have come out from Army headquarters. It is for them to decide. The process is, if there is anything which needs to be conveyed to, it is conveyed to ministry of defence and they convey it to the ministry of external affairs. It is for them to decide," the GOC said.  To a question whether it would impact Indo-Sino ties, Jaswal said "I cannot do crystal gazing of that. It is an international affair. The MEA would be controlling that well. I have a military mandate and we will continue with that."  When asked about the importance of dialogue between the two countries, he said "very much".  Sources said while denying the visa, the Chinese side had suggested that India may send some other officer and not cancel the visit.

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