Tensions between India and China flared up again, with the nuclear-armed countries accusing each other of trying to seize territory across their disputed Himalayan border. An Indian army statement on Monday, August 31 alleged that China had carried out "provocative military movements" in the border area overnight from Saturday to Sunday.
Indian troops pre-empted the Chinese army's activity on the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh, part of which was transgressed by the Chinese soldiers in May, the statement said. In response, the Chinese foreign ministry rejected the accusations, while China's People's Liberation Army regional command later alleged that India was "seriously violating China's territorial sovereignty" with its operation staged on Monday and demanded that Indian troops withdraw. The Indian army statement was released on the same day that the country’s National Statistics Office reported that the economy contracted 23.9 percent in the first quarter of financial year 2020-21, in comparison to the corresponding quarter of 2019-20.
The US imposed sanctions on senior officials in the International Criminal Court (ICC), including chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the court of "illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction". The Hague-based ICC is currently investigating whether US forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The US has criticised the court since its foundation and is one of a dozen states which have not signed up.
Balkees Jarrah, senior counsel at the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch, condemned the sanctions as a "shameful new low for US commitments to justice for victims of the worst crimes". Pompeo's move marked a "stunning perversion of US sanctions, devised to penalize rights abusers and kleptocrats, to target those prosecuting war crimes", she tweeted.
Created by a UN treaty in 2002, the ICC investigates and brings to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, intervening when national authorities cannot or will not prosecute.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the same type of Soviet-era nerve agent used in a 2018 attack on a former Russian spy, the German government said, provoking outrage from Western leaders who demanded Moscow provide an explanation. The findings point strongly to Russian state involvement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Navalny’s poisoning attempted murder, meant to silence one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics.
The Berlin hospital treating the dissident said he remains on a ventilator though his condition is improving. It said it expects a long recovery and still can’t rule out long-term effects on his health from the poisoning. The German government said that testing by a German military laboratory showed “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group.” British authorities identified Novichok as the poison used on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.
Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, announced his resignation from office for a second timeciting health reasons. In a sombre yet dignified address during which he made the announcement, Abe said he did not want his illness to get in the way of decision making, and apologised to the Japanese people for failing to complete his term in office. The 65-year-old has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, but he said his condition had worsened recently.
In 2007 he resigned abruptly from an earlier term as prime minister because of his struggles with ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition that he has lived with since he was a teenager. His current period in office began in 2012. Last year, he became Japan's longest serving prime minister. Abe has a reputation as a staunch conservative and nationalist, and for stimulating growth with his aggressive economic policy known as "Abenomics". He will remain in his post until a successor is chosen.