8 August 2013

China deterrence cannot come from Navy ***

August 7, 2013
Zorawar Daulet Singh

The government of India’s decision to approve an expensive mountain strike corps has drawn mixed reactions. Rear Admiral Raja Menon makes a compelling argument against an Army-led, manpower-intensive approach to India’s Himalayan defence problem, in his article inThe Hindu (editorial page, “A mountain strike corps is not the only option,” July 29, 2013).

Yet, the Mahanian prescription is also open to criticism.

A Mahanian solution to the China challenge is that India can compensate for its continental disadvantages by posing a nuisance to China’s sea lines of communication (SLOC) on the high seas.


While conceptually intuitive, the linkage requires equivalence: Beijing must value the integrity of its SLOCs enough to change its calculus on the mountains. Naval blockades are also complicated operations. The time horizon for success to the point that China would find its resource security threatened would be significantly longer than a swift and limited, continental operation whether pursued for punitive reasons or to change the Line of Actual Control. China’s growing, strategic petroleum reserve, though intended to offset market disruptions, will also be an asset in such a scenario. Further, China’s pursuit of new Eurasian lines of communication, both with growing energy linkages with Russia and connectivity through Central Asia, indicate a potential, declining dependence on Indian Ocean SLOCs at least for some strategic resources. Plainly put, a core interest cannot be secured by peripheral, horizontal escalation.

A competition for resources between the Army and Navy also reflects a deeper contest over the direction of India’s geostrategy. Should India’s priority be continental China or maritime China?

China’s lines of communication to South Asia emanate from its mainland. The corridor to Central Asia, trans-Karakoram linkages through Pakistan, or the corridor through Myanmar are all consistent with a continental geostrategy by China to secure and integrate its periphery. Arguably, the extension and further potential of these lines of communication into the northern Indian Ocean — the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea — cannot be tapped without Indian strategic acquiescence and cooperation.

Near sea lanes

Contrary to some observations, the maritime realm is not a zero-sum theatre where Indian and Chinese core interests clash. The geopolitical reality is that China’s SLOCs traverse near Indian naval deployments with more than 85 per cent of Chinese oil imports flowing through Indian Ocean sea lanes. Similarly, more than 50 per cent of India’s trade now goes through the Malacca and Singapore Straits. Rather than a source of conflict, this could form the basis of a maritime accommodation.

The Raghuram Rajan FP Reading List

Posted By Joshua Keating 
August 6, 2013 

Raghuram Rajan, a former IMF chief economist and former University of Chicago professor, has just been tapped to head the Reserve Bank of India.

Rajan has been on FP's radar for quite some time. Under the then-more-culturally-relevant headline "Rajan Against the Machine," FP speculated in 2003, shortly after he was hired at the IMF, that "the fund [might] have unwittingly hired its own Joseph Stiglitz, the former World Bank chief economist who became a fierce critic of the free-market orthodoxy of both his institution and the IMF."

It didn't quite turn out that way. Rajan is still very much a Chicago-style economist, though he has been willing to challenge orthodoxy at times. He is probably best known internationally for his prescience on the global financial crisis: He was pilloried at a high-level economics conference in 2005 for giving a presentation titled "Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier?" in which he argued that incentives in the financial system had become badly skewed.

In a 2008 FP interview, he discussed whether the crisis had altered his free market beliefs:

We're not fundamentalists who think that markets exist without any intervention. We understand there's a solid bedrock of government regulation that is needed to make a free market work. The mistake some people on the extreme right make is that they think that's not needed. It is needed, but we say also that when regulation fails and the market sort of creates its own crisis, that becomes the opportunity for those who are anti-market and anti-competition to come in with a host of proposals to essentially defeat the market and to shackle it in the future.

And that's really my fear about this particular crisis. The more government intervention there is to bail out the system without private-sector participation, the more the public opinion will be, This is a one-way street. They feast in good times, and theyre bailed out in bad times. And the results will be to the financial sector's own detriment because the public will want overregulation rather than underregulation.

In 2010, he discussed the risk of contagion from Greece's financial crisis with FP's David Kenner:
Essentially, you move from a situation where these guys had the implicit support of the EU to where they're all on their own bottoms. Then the market will have to look at each of these markets individually and ask if we can trust them to repay.

Of course, the countries that are individually fine should be OK, and the countries that are at the center of the euro area, where there is still some solidarity, may still be OK, but the countries that are at the periphery will be more problematic. Maybe this goes on to Portugal. Probably not to Spain, but it's not unthinkable -- Spain has a huge level of unemployment, and while its government debt is still relatively low, the potential for it to rise is substantial.

In September 2010, he wrote a piece for FP responding to criticism from the New York Times' Paul Krugman of his book Fault Lines, which examined the causes of the crisis:

India as a "Global Swing State": A New Framework For U.S. Engagement with India : An Interview with Richard Fontaine and Daniel Kliman

Source: National Bureau of Asian Research
Journalist: Sonia Luthra 
Type: Interview

July 22, 2013 — As India continues its rise, a combination of factors may give it outsized influence on the global stage. NBR spoke with Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for New American Security, and Daniel Kliman, senior advisor for the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, about their argument for why India is a "global swing state" (along with Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey). They outline what being a "swing state" means for India's role in the international order and offer recommendations on how Washington should engage New Delhi within this framework.

What are "global swing states"?

We came up with the concept of "global swing states" during the run-up to the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In the American political context, swing states are those whose mixed political orientation gives them a greater impact than their population or economic output might warrant. Such states promise the highest return on investment for U.S. presidential campaigns deciding where to allocate scarce time and resources.

Global swing states are nations that possess large and growing economies, occupy central positions in a region or stand at the hinge of multiple regions, and embrace democratic government at home. Increasingly active at the regional and global level, they desire changes to the existing international order but do not seek to scrap the interlocking web of global institutions, rules, and relationships that has fostered peace, prosperity and freedom for the past six decades.

In U.S. foreign policy, a focus on these nations can deliver a large geopolitical payoff because their approach to the international order is more fluid and open than that of more established powers like China or Russia. In addition, the choices they make—about whether to take on new global responsibilities, free ride on the efforts of established powers, or complicate the solving of key challenges—may, together, decisively influence the course of world affairs. Due to their mixed orientation and potentially outsized impact, these nations resemble swing states in the U.S. domestic context. In a report last year, we identified four global swing states: Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.

Why India?

India is the quintessential global swing state. Its GDP is roughly $4 trillion and grew 7.4% annually between 2000 and 2011. By some measures, India is now the world's third-largest economy. Sitting at the edge of the Middle East and East Asia, it occupies the majority of the South Asian landmass and has a land or maritime boundary with every state in the region, as well as China, Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand. Democracy in India has endured with only a single brief interruption since independence in 1947.

A high-level let-down

Published: August 8, 2013
Ashish Kothari

AP OMISSION: The report fails to explicitly recommend a drastic reduction in the present consumption levels of the rich. Without this, the poor will never have the space needed to become more secure and prosperous. The picture shows the Dharavi area in Mumbai. File photo

A recent U.N. report on sustainable development is soft on big business and private investments, making sustainability, equity and well-being difficult to achieve

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG), set in 2000, promised a world with dramatically less poverty, hunger, oppression, and environmental damage by 2015. Even as debate on their success or failure rages, there is widespread recognition of the need for a fresh approach after 2015. Meanwhile, the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development has also taken place in 2012 and there is a strong demand for ecological sustainability to be a fulcrum of the post-2015 agenda.

The positives

This is the focus of a recently-released report, “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty And Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development.” Authored by the U.N. Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (chaired by the Presidents or Prime Ministers of Indonesia, Liberia and United Kingdom), it has several positive elements: eradicating extreme poverty, reaching basic entitlements to all, integrating the objectives of development, environment and equity (including gender), enhancing jobs and livelihoods, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, and achieving sustainable production and consumption.

Unfortunately, the report does not deal with structural roots of poverty, malnutrition, unsustainability and inequities, or answer why so many hundreds of millions of people still suffer from these. It does not analyse why Agenda 21, forged in 1992 as a bold and practical vision of how the world could be a better place by the 21st millennium, has been forgotten. These failures of diagnosis lead to recommendations that are not transformative enough to achieve sustainability, equity, and well-being.

The report stresses accountability and transparency in governance, but does not recommend direct democracy. Power in such a polity would flow upwards from communities in face-to-face settings, enabling greater accountability and transparency than possible in representative democracy. The report says: “People … want more of a say in how they are governed.” However, people need to be central to governance; as the village of Mendha-Lekha in central India says, “we elect the government in Delhi and Mumbai, but we are the government in our village.”

Business as usual

By Rohan Joshi on August 6, 2013 in India, Pakistan

The paralysis in decision making in New Delhi is adversely affecting India’s national security.

Pakistani troops ambushed and killed five Indian soldiers belonging to the 21 Bihar regiment and 14 Maratha Light Infantry on Tuesday. The Pakistani troops crossed the Line of Control into Poonch to carry out the attack.

Several theories have been put forward to explain the attack on the Indian patrol. Was this retaliation to news reports in Pakistan which claimed that Indian troops kidnapped four men from PoK? Is this just another manifestation of Pakistan’s escalating hostilities towards India in Afghanistan? Are hardline elements in Pakistan’s armed forces attempting to discredit and derail Nawaz Sharif’s alleged attempts to make peace with India? Interesting questions, and maybe they will be answered in time and as more facts pertaining to the attack are revealed.

A quick word about that reputed Indophile Nawaz Sharif, though. Whatever his intentions are with regard to India, India must judge Pakistan by its actions and not warm and fuzzy notions of a trans-Punjab lovefest. The problem with Pakistan’s peace brigade is that there is a significant deficit between purported intentions and their ability to deliver on them.

The net result to India is that its neighboring environment continues to remain hostile and threats to its internal security persist. In this regard, it would be silly for India to get entangled in a debate over whether Nawaz Sharif wants peace with India or not. Instead, India must judge Pakistan by its actions and not by the supposed intentions of some of its leaders. Bad behavior cannot go unpunished.

Now, regrettable though the loss of life may be for us, such incidents along the LoC are not new. The Pakistanis have always attempted to stir up tensions long the LoC to aid in the infiltration of terrorists across the LoC or to elevate the visibility of tensions with India on the global stage. Tuesday’s attack wasn’t the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. There will surely be a tactical Indian military response to the provocation, and the Pakistanis are well aware that the response will come sooner than later. This isn’t war mongering but merely a reflection of the realities of the situation along the LoC.

However, what should be of concern to us is the manner in which Indian leadership has chosen to respond to the attack. Browse through statements issued by representatives of India’s political parties and it becomes apparent very quickly that objective number one was to either blame or deflect political blame (depending on who you were) for the attack.

BJP MP and former External Affairs minister Yashwant Sinha asked whether the Congress was with Pakistan or India, while Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi affirmed that “the entire Congress party, as indeed the entire country” stood with the families of those killed. As ever, party first, country second.

In fact, further reading into statements issued in response to the attack tells us that there isn’t much consensus of opinion even among the UPA, much less between the UPA and other parties. Defense Minister AK Antony, whose indifference to defending anything beyond his own reputation is now a thing of legend, alleged that the attackers were in fact terrorists masquerading as Pakistan army regulars, which contradicted the positions of almost every other UPA leader to have spoken on the subject. And vested parties, both political andotherwise, have put paid to any arrangement that will allow the prime minister of the country to receive direct and timely military input.

Let Sikh Americans serve in the U.S. military

By Simran Jeet Singh, G.B. Singh
Published: August 5

One year ago today, a white supremacist walked into a Sikh place of worship in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and opened fire on the congregation. The largest single act of hate-based violence in recent American history captured the attention of Americans across the country and cast the spotlight on a minority community that has been disproportionately targeted by this type of violence.

Sikhs have been in America for over a century now and have contributed to this nation in various ways, from education and medicine to public service and law enforcement. However, Sikh Americans who maintain their turbans and beards are still presumptively barred fromserving in the military.

There have been rare exceptions to the prohibition but what is needed is widespread change. Changing this discriminatory policy would help cultivate a national military that better represents the richness and diversity of the American experience. Changing this policy would also send a powerful message to those who narrowly define what it means to be American and engage in hate violence against those they perceive to be “the other.”

A close look at the reasons used to justify the ban of the Sikh articles of faith demonstrates that these arguments are flawed.

One of the more common arguments is that Sikhs are unable to wear helmets and protective masks over their turbans and beards, and therefore, they bring unnecessary risk to themselves and their peers. This claim is outdated and patently untrue – Sikhs have a long tradition of military service and have not had a problem placing helmets over their turbans and uncut hair. Moreover, it has been years since the military developed protective masks that safely protect people with facial hair. This argument may have been relevant in the early twentieth century when the policy was first implemented. At that time gas masks were unable to sufficiently protect soldiers with facial hair. However, this issue has been resolved and no longer justifies excluding Sikh Americans from military service.

Some proponents of the ban cite the risk of disunity that would come with modernizing appearance regulations. However, over the past decade, the Army has granted exemptions to three turbaned Sikh Americans, two of whom have been deployed to Afghanistan and demonstrated exceptional service in the battlefield – Major Kamaljit Singh Kalsi and Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan. Last year Major Kalsi received a Bronze Star Medal, the fourth highest combat award in the Armed Forces, for saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. This honor, along with the centuries-long tradition of Sikhs serving in the military, illustrates that the turban and beard do not inhibit soldiers from performing their duties alongside their compatriots.

The service of these three Sikh Americans also proves that diversity has a place within the military. Certainly there is value in maintaining a shared uniform and discipline for all soldiers, but accounting for and adapting to religiously mandated articles of faith has only served to strengthen the Armed Forces. The Sikh tradition appreciates the importance of maintaining common identifying features and the notion of uniformity is often invoked to understand the distinctive physical identity of Sikhs across the globe. In practice, Sikh soldiers conform the color and style of their religious articles to military dress codes, and groom and tie their beards in a neat and conservative manner, in full compliance with safety requirements.

The service of these three turbaned Sikhs has demonstrated that accounting for religious articles of faith will not undermine esprit de corps in the military. Rather, opening up to diversity will help us focus squarely on whether a soldier can do his or her job.

Conflict minerals trade in India

by David Kepes — August 2, 2013 4:30 pm

There is an opportunity for India to build a governance structure that can help end the trade in blood minerals and also protect its long-term business interests and indicate its legitimacy as a responsible state. 

In November 2010 the district court of Surat convicted two men, Robai Hussain of Guyana and Yusuf Ossely of Lebanon to four years in jail for the trade of conflict diamonds. Hailed as an important step in improving India’s legitimacy in the fight against the blood diamond trade, today the judgment unfortunately remains a footnote in the otherwise thriving industry. While the Indian government continues to be embarrassed by its inability to curb the trade of blood diamonds, the country now faces a new taint on one of its most promising industries: the mining and usage of conflict minerals such as Coltan and tantalite in electronic devices. As the Indian government looks to navigate the growing international effort to end the mining of conflict minerals it should look to the past failures of the Kimberley Process and the country’s own institutional failures in combatting the trade of conflict diamonds. In doing so the country may yet have a chance to take advantage of a unique opportunity to remove a stain from one of its most important industries and rebuild international legitimacy.

Failures of the Kimberley Process and the Indian government

The Kimberley Process (KP), established in 2003, is a certification scheme that seeks to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the market. India, a founding member, has supported the organisation for a decade in an effort to stop the trade. Unfortunately a number of Kimberley supporters and founders have accused the KP of suffering from a number of institutional barriers that have stifled its efficacy including ‘consensus’ decision-making that requires unanimity, ill-defined sanctions requirements, loose monitoring mechanisms, and operational disorganisation. At the heart of these problems, unfortunately, is often the recalcitrance of states locked deeply into political struggles for power and wealth.

The failure of this concerted international effort manifests itself no more clearly than in the city of Surat. Processing 92 percent of the world’s stones, nearly half a million workers frequently face unsafe work conditions as they process the flow of diamonds that have bypassed the KP certification scheme. The Indian government, meanwhile, struggles to make progress on the issue. Instead private organisations such as the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and the Responsible Jewelers Council, formed by partnerships between civil society and private sector companies, and now supported by a number of nations, have been created to succeed where the KP failed. As many countries in the G7 who welcomed the creation of the DDI at the 2007 summit continue to combat the trade of conflict diamonds, India is left behind.

Conflict minerals

Told in short and surface remarks, the brushstrokes of the story appear much the same as they did in the late 1990s when organisations such as Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada were leading the charge against the trade of diamonds mined in conflict zones. Myriad boats arrive from the shores of Arabic and African nations, transactions are done in cash and with no questions asked, the diamonds are processed in with clean ones and afterwards shipped off to other manufacturers or retailers down the supply chain, ultimately ending up in stores as polished jewelry and, frequently, certified conflict-free. While this story encapsulates much of the conflict mineral trade it fails to engage with both the scope of our usage of the minerals in society today as well as the breadth of the industry producing and processing it.

Clarity begins at home

by Ameya Naik — August 2, 2013 4:32 pm

It is only through stepping up domestic production and improving technology, that India will attain self-reliance in energy.

The failure of the Indian oil and natural gas industry to attract investment is symptomatic of the malaise gripping the Indian economy. The results are visible: hydrocarbons are in ever shorter supply domestically, imports are rising, and the power, fuel and fertiliser sectors account for a major chunk of government subsidies. That is, while we import at market prices, we are selling at a discount. This does no favours to our economy and balance of trade.

The obvious solution would be to promote domestic Exploration and Production (E&P) wherever possible. Curiously, while leading International Oil Companies (IOCs) and Nationalised Oil Companies (NOCs) are active in E&P the world over, in India they are conspicuous in their absence. Despite the potential for development, this sector languishes because confused, contradictory and perverse policies have driven investors away.

Investing in E&P is a complex decision, involving substantial amounts which must be invested regularly across five (or more) years before yielding returns – and there is always the risk that a particular project fails. An investor will fund a project only when he believes it will be profitable. The terms on which he is ready to invest are spelled out in the relevant contracts and agreements, but that assessment itself relies on certain fundamental assumptions about the legal and regulatory environment in the country. Broadly speaking, these assumptions are that contracts are negotiated and performed in good faith, and that the regulatory authorities are impartial and promote fair competition. India, however, has shaken the confidence of the investor in these prerequisites; the resultant uncertainty is the single largest factor starving key Indian sectors of desperately needed capital and expertise.

Potential investors hedge their bets by participating in various projects. Very crudely, each successful project would lead to diminishing returns for the next, as it drives global supply up and global prices down. The opposite is true if a string of projects fail. On balance, the investor makes a profit precisely due to such variations. Where a government moves to appropriate such profits, it makes such a strategy unviable. The government is saying: you bear the risks, and any losses, but we will corner the rewards. To the investor, this means that success and failure both entail a loss. If you lose even when you win, why play?

The willingness to alter production-sharing or long-term supply agreements is part of this impression, but it is hardly a new concern. After all, even if renegotiation is attempted, the parties are still “playing by the rules” to come to a new arrangement. The real problem is when a nation ‘cheats’ by altering the rules underlying the agreement itself. India has done this through various changes in tax categories and assessment rules, especially as it is related to capital gains. The decision to impose the “General Anti-Avoidance Rules” (GAAR) with retrospective impact was seen as a cynical step, taken by a government ready to bypass even its own Supreme Court.

The current controversial proposal for renegotiation of gas prices is also perceived widely as a cynical step, undertaken to benefit a single private player. In fact, firms participating in the last three rounds of the National Exploration Licensing Process (NELP) have complained that the same player has enjoyed an undue advantage in its bids; other firms have also petitioned to have limits on the amount of acreage for which state-run firms (especially ONGC) can bid. While such perceptions do not evince great faith in the impartiality of the process or the authorities, one can hope that better guidelines will evolve for such situations, especially as the still-young field of Competition Law comes into its own in India.

None of this would matter much if India planned to follow the Chinese or Russian model of state-led exploitation of hydrocarbons. Unlike China, however, we can scarce afford to pump in the requisite investment on its own, and must turn to outside investors. (Russia has turned to the Chinese, but that too is an unpalatable option for India.) In diplomacy, one often hears of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between hostile nations. Today, we need shrewd economic diplomacy, and we urgently need CBMs targeted at potential investors.

One possible measure would be for the government to show that it is serious about promoting investment in hydrocarbons, by investing its own money in building up the support infrastructure. Pipeline networks in India tend to be concentrated in specific regions. Access, especially at ports and to the trunk line, is jealously guarded. Accelerated progress on the national grid as proposed by key distributor NOCs (Gas Authority of India Limited – GAIL and Oil India Limited – OIL), combined with priority or subsidised access for successful wells, would assure investors that they could transport extracted oil to refineries. This would be particularly beneficial in considering blocks in more remote parts of the country. Along with work on ports and storage facilities, it would also convey that the government is geared up for higher domestic production, and if we eventually succeed in laying overland pipelines through the Pakistan or Myanmar-Bangladesh routes, this national grid will help take gas from those sources to every corner of the country as well.

Delhi to Islamabad, via Kabul **

August 07, 2013
By Sreeram Chaulia

Following attacks on an Indian mission, can India and Pakistan resolve their differences in Afghanistan?

The terrorist attack on August 3 outside the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, has huge implications for India-Pakistan relations. Knowledgeable Afghans and Indian government officials suspect that the suicide bombers who tried to storm the Indian consulate were Pakistani nationals or abetted by Pakistani intelligence agencies. The bloody turf war between South Asia’s old rivals for influence over the gateway to Central Asia is well and truly undiminished.

It is worth remembering that the same Indian consulate in Jalalabad had been attacked previously in 2007, while the Indian embassy in Kabul has been rocked twice by daring jihadist strikes in 2008 and 2009. The fact that India did not lose any of its citizens in the latest outrage at Jalalabad shows that some of the lessons in security and protocol it has adopted in Afghanistan are working. But this does not take away from the larger problem that Afghanistan is now a core issue that bedevils India-Pakistan ties.

Most conventional analyses of India-Pakistan tensions focus on direct bilateral concerns like territorial claims, water sharing, cross-border violence and the separatist aspirations of populations in disputed lands. The brutality of the armed forces on the Line of Control and the futility of bringing perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai stand out as particularly troublesome aspects.

But the attack in Jalalabad, a traditional hunting ground for jihadist groups allied with elements of the Pakistani state, reveals that a final settlement between New Delhi and Islamabad has no option but to travel via the detour of Kabul.

I recently spoke with the Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Salman Bashir, on the Afghanistan factor in the state of current relations between the two countries. Mr. Bashir was categorical that Pakistan would not be opposed to extending the range of dialogue with India beyond the bilateral frame and moving into broader terrain about regional geopolitical tussles that have colored the historical animus between the two nations.

On Afghanistan, Bashir said that he did not think India and Pakistan were locked in any fundamental clash of interests. Rather, he reiterated the diplomatic stance that Islamabad wants to see the same end result in Afghanistan as New Delhi, viz. a national reconciliation and end to the war via an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. “We do not believe that foreign intervention can ever stabilize Afghanistan or lead it to peace,” he added.

For a land that has suffered historically due to foreign interventions, the idea of all big foreign players backing off and allowing Afghans to determine their own fates is an attractive one. Abstractly speaking, it does also bind New Delhi and Islamabad and places them on the same page. But going from a statement of generic, in-principle, agreement to walking the talk and implementing foreign policies that are genuinely non-interventionist in Afghanistan is an entirely different proposition.

The Promise and Peril of China’s New Coast Guard

August 07, 2013
By Bonnie Glaser and Brittany Billingsley

The consolidation of China’s coast guard is widely viewed as positive. Is it really?

Four ships from the newly established China Coast Guard (CCG) were deployed in the East China Sea near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands on July 24, as reported by Kyodo News and Xinhua. The ships have also been sighted in the area around Mischief Reef according to a confidential Philippine government report. While Chinese government vessels have consistently entered both seas over the past year, this marked the first time ships did so under the restructured State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

On June 9, the State Council issued new guidelines and regulations on the structure and functions of the SOA. These new regulations were part of a sweeping institutional reform package released by the State Council following the 18th Party Congress in March. They provide further detail on the streamlining of China’s sprawling maritime law enforcement entities: the SOA, under the Land and Resources Ministry; the CCG, under the Public Security Ministry; the Transport Ministry’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA); Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) under the Ministry of Agriculture; and the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

According to the plan, the unified coast guard will be split among three regional operation branches (North, East, and South China Seas), with a total of 11 coast guard commands and their flotillas. SOA Headquarters itself would be staffed by 372 people, led by one director; four deputy directors; and one additional deputy director concurrently serving as China Coast Guard Bureau director.

Several responsibilities in the area of maritime security have been strengthened or reallocated to SOA, including maritime rights protection, unification and standardization of planning and activities, drafting regulations on maritime area usage, and maritime law enforcement efforts. The new regulations also provide details on the division of labor between SOA and other ministries, such as the Ministries of Land and Resources, Agriculture, Transport, and Environmental Protection and the General Administration of Customs. Guidance regarding SOA’s division of labor with the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) was comparatively muted, however, stating only that the CCG under SOA would conduct “maritime rights protection and law enforcement” and would receive “operational guidance” from MPS.

A unified coast guard command is expected to enhance coordination on law enforcement procedures in a multitude of areas that had previously been fragmented and fraught with redundancy, and it should increase the efficacy of policy implementation across these areas. However, the extent of this “unification” is yet to be fully fleshed out, and questions of personnel training, fleet build up, jurisdiction, and other such details are yet to be resolved.

For instance, the question of whether all ships operating under the CCG will be armed is one that many regional experts are watching closely. Prior to the restructure, most vessels across the five agencies were unarmed, with a few exceptions (e.g. old CCG and GAC anti-smuggling units). While there were no visible weapons on the ships that patrolled around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands last week, it cannot be ruled out that CCG vessels will be armed in the future (and those vessels which are already armed are likely to remain so).

This is especially the case if China opts to model its coast guard after other regional ones, such as Japan and the United States, which are equipped with small arms. Chinese experts have speculated that the new ships are likely to be similarly equipped with “light weapons” such as water cannons and “light machine guns.” Other sources report that the ships could boast more advanced communication systems and automatic deck guns as well.

Where the CCG will be acquiring its vessels from is another area of uncertainty. The CCG will reportedly incorporate vessels from the five agencies as well as new and repurposed vessels. The new CCG will probably continue the practice of refitting decommissioned PLA Navy or commercial ships, including older frigates and corvettes as well as supply and service ships (such as the submarine rescue vessel given to Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) in the South China Sea).

The Taliban in Afghanistan**

Authors: Jayshree Bajoria, and Zachary Laub, Associate Writer
Updated: August 6, 2013


The Taliban is a Sunni Islamic extremist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to the al-Qaeda terrorist group and its erstwhile leader Osama bin Laden. Though it has been out of power for more than a decade, the Taliban remains resilient in the region and operates parallel governance structures aimed at undermining the U.S.-backed central government. Meanwhile, Pakistan's support and safe havens for the Taliban have stymied international efforts to end the conflict across the border. Since 2010, both U.S. and Afghan officials have pursued a negotiated settlement with the insurgent group, but with the planned withdrawal of NATO forces at the end of 2014, many analysts say the prospects for such an agreement remain dim. 

Rise of the Taliban

The Taliban was formed by Afghan mujahideen who fought against the Soviet invasion in the 1980s and Pashtun tribesmen who studied in Pakistani religious schools (madrassas) and received assistance from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). The Taliban (Pashto for "students") emerged as a force in national politics in 1994 in the midst of the country's civil war. After a series of territorial gains, it captured Kabul in September 1996, ousting the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani. Before its overthrow by U.S.-led forces in November 2001, analysts say the Taliban controlled some 90 percent of the country.

In power for roughly five years, the Taliban applied an austere form of Islamic law, requiring women to wear head-to-toe veils, banning music and television, and jailing men whose beards were deemed too short. The feared Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice violently enforced prohibitions on behavior deemed un-Islamic. Many analysts say the Taliban's destruction of the colossal, ancient Buddha statues in Bamiyan in 2001 was indicative of the regime's intolerance.

Opposition, Then and Now

The Taliban was isolated long before the 9/11 attacks, when only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the extremist regime in Kabul. As explained in this CFR Backgrounder, Pakistan supported the Taliban in its quest for "strategic depth" in Afghanistan in order to offset India, its foremost rival.

How to Read the U.S.-Pakistani Restart

Interviewee: Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, CFR
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR
August 5, 2013 

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry has kicked off an effort to restart the "strategic dialogue" with Pakistan that was suspended in 2011. CFR's Daniel Markey says Kerry, who traveled to Islamabad last week, wants to "take advantage of the fact that there's a new government in Islamabad under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and there will soon be a new army chief in Pakistan." The Kerry-Sharif rapport injects a "friendly realism" into this important relationship, says Markey, but he expects little immediate progress on two areas of contention—Pakistan's unhelpful role in Afghanistan and the ongoing U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry points while walking away after a news conference with Sartaj Aziz (2nd R), adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs. (Photo: Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

After Secretary of State John Kerry finished up with the first round of Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington, he flew directly to Pakistan for meetings with Pakistani officials. What's behind these talks?

There are a number of different purposes. One is to begin a new dialogue, one that had really been curtailed going back to November 2011, after the friendly fire incident along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border known as the Salala incident, the bin Laden killing in May 2011, and [the incident] before that with Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistanis in February 2011. So the goal of the Kerry mission was to restart with the Pakistani government what they call the "strategic dialogue," and to try and get the relationship back onto a somewhat more normal track in terms of cooperation. [The mission also aimed] to take advantage of the fact that there's a new government in Islamabad under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and there will soon be a new army chief in Pakistan.

Kerry made a point of inviting Sharif to the White House in a month to meet with President Obama. Does this personal relationship matter much?

It matters because for Pakistanis, Kerry is a known quantity and is considered to be relatively friendly as these things go. So they're open to talking with him. It also matters because Kerry has some historical memory of Nawaz Sharif, who is a three-time prime minister now. That past history is likely, if anything, to more incline him to realism about what Sharif can actually deliver. So yes, there is a friendliness about their relationship that comes from past interaction. There is also a realism about the relatively reduced expectations that follow from that because Nawaz Sharif's past tenures were not very successful ones and his relationship with the United States wasn't always easy. Put these things together and what you end up with is kind of a friendly realism on both sides.


The Indian consulate building, Jalalabad, August 3, 2013

The prevailing instability in Afghanistan is likely to undermine India’s strategic interests in the country, writes Kanwal Sibal

In 2014, power will be transferred to a new president in Afghanistan. The army of the United States of America will complete its withdrawal and the Afghan National Security Forces will assume responsibility for the country’s security. All these transitions seem precarious.

The new president will have to be a coalescing figure, a Pashtun with cross ethnic support, capable of providing leadership in exceedingly difficult domestic circumstances, and able to work smoothly with external partners — altogether a tall order.

The follow-up to the US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement — the bilateral security agreement defining the status of residual US forces in Afghanistan — is facing hurdles. If the US fails to secure a suitable agreement as in Iraq, it is threatening a “zero option”, which actually demonstrates how thin its options are.

The ANSF may have the numbers and may be performing well but that does not guarantee that it can control the post-US withdrawal situation as a cohesive unit, especially if the US departs under the shadow of a political discord with the Afghan government. The ANSF lacks heavy weaponry, air power and sophisticated intelligence capability.

The economic prospects are uncertain despite external pledges of aid. A potential zero military option would not be compatible with generous long-term economic support. Big investment plans in Afghanistan by regional countries will not only depend on internal stability but also long lead times would preclude any significant immediate impact.

General instability around Afghanistan vitiates prospects too. Pakistan’s internal situation remains fraught despite recent elections. Iran has a new president but the nuclear dossier and attendant sanctions create instability. The Arab world is in turmoil, with the so-called Arab Spring having withered very rapidly. Religious extremism is spreading, and it bolsters the forces at play in Afghanistan.

India is acting responsibly in Afghanistan, supporting the emergence of a sovereign, stable, democratic and prosperous nation where extremist forces are contained and human rights, especially those of women, are respected. India is not interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, arming any particular group, or providing safe havens for terrorists to carry out violent activities against the government.

We have legitimate interests in Afghanistan and every right to be present there. The international community must reject any curtailment of Afghan sovereignty by requiring the Afghan government to give precedence to the interests of any one country over another. It is for the Afghan government to take independent decisions in a responsible manner.

China’s “All-Weather” Threat to India

By Robert Farley
August 8, 2013

A recent Toby Dalton op-ed discussed the role that China may have played (and may continue to play) in Pakistan’s nuclear program. Dalton argued that, apart from the specifics of the dispute, relations between Pakistan and China need to be understood in context of growing strategic tension between China and India.

This is nothing new. China and Pakistan have seen each other as (semi-) reliable allies since the 1950s, when tensions between China and India grew over Tibet and other issues. With the increasing strategic complexity associated with growing Chinese and Indian military power, however, the relationship takes on multiple new dimensions. The Pakistan-China-India triangle (with, as Dalton notes, one antagonistic, one competitive, and one cooperative leg) is embedded within a larger set of triangular relationships, including Japan, Russia, and the United States. 

Pakistan is, in an important sense, Beijing’s answer to every step India takes to expand its influence in the South China Sea. To the extent that India evinces a willingness to either support the aspirations of China’s smaller neighbors (such as Vietnam) or ally with China’s more serious antagonists (such as Japan and the United States), China can respond by increasing the size and sophistication of its arms shipments to Pakistan, as well as supporting Pakistan in various international fora.

And in the end, India has no good answer for China’s support of Pakistan; it cannot blockade Pakistan, cannot peel it away from Beijing, cannot plausibly change the regime, and cannot likely find an ally as willing and capable of irritating China as Pakistan is of India. AsAnatol Lieven has argued, while the current Pakistani regime has great difficult exerting control over its own territory, it sits upon a network of social relations sufficiently robust as to not seriously fear being overthrown.

Of course, Pakistan could certainly reconsider whether it can do better than act as a Chinese bargaining chip in the Sino-Indian relationship. There are limits on the extent to which China can dial up or dial down Pakistan’s threat profile towards India; as Pakistan found in 1971, friendship with China can’t immunize it from Indian power. And although Pakistani relations with the United States are at a low point, stronger relations with Beijing seem hardly likely to improve the situation.

China-India poverty: a matter of record

Surjit S Bhalla : Wed Aug 07 2013,

India's poverty and inclusive growth record is much better than China's, and levels of poverty in the two countries are not very different

This article attempts to document the record on poverty reduction in both China and India. That China has grown substantially faster than India is a matter of record and great pride for China. That the welfare of the poor in China has also improved at a much faster rate than India is also conventional wisdom as articulated by various scholars at international institutions like the UN, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc, and these findings have been supported and endorsed by Nobel laureates like Amartya Sen, for example, in "Why India Trails China" (New York Times, June 19).

There are several household surveys of consumption in India, and such surveys are led by the official National Sample Survey (NSS) conducted every few years. These data are publicly available. Unfortunately, while everyone applauds China's GDP growth rate, no one, with the possible exception of the World Bank, has access to household unit-level data. In other words, we have to take the official government view on household income and consumption growth, etc. Given the very large transparent accumulation of foreign reserves of more than $ 3.5 trillion, there is little doubt that GDP level, and GDP growth, in China is extraordinarily high. The story of how much trickle-down there has been in China is documented below.

There was an important non-government household survey conducted jointly by Texas A&M University, US, and the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China, in 2011. The survey results were widely reported in the international press in December 2012. One of the results was that the Gini index of income inequality in China was a high 0.61, much higher than government-reported results of a Gini of 0.48. Unlike official Chinese household data, the explicit stated policy of the survey organisers was that researchers worldwide could access these data. Somewhat strangely, repeated applications to the website chfsdata.org have not met with success. The results for China reported below are obtained from the World Bank website, iresearch.worldbank.org/PovcalNet/index.htm.

The Indian data are based on the NSS consumer and expenditure surveys for the years 1999-2000 and 2011-12 and for China for 1999 and 2010. The table reports the head count ratio of poverty for the World Bank's poverty line for developing countries like China and India, that is, PPP $1.25 per capita per day, which also just happens to be India's official (Tendulkar) poverty line. For India, two estimates of poverty are presented (survey details for the China surveys are not known). The two estimates are the standard official measure of consumption (what is called the mixed recall period and referred to as Type I) and the mixed recall period with perishable items like vegetables, fruits, meat, etc measured with a recall period of seven days (referred to as Type II, the recall refers to memory recall of items purchased over the last 7, 30 or 365 days).

China's record: spectacular growth in per capita GDP, per capita consumption, and poverty decline. From a poverty level of 35.6 per cent of the population in 1999, China reduced it to 11.6 per cent in 2010, for an average pace of decline of 2.2 percentage points a year. Both survey and national accounts (NA) consumption growth in China were near identical during this decade, at 6.7 and 7.3 per cent per annum respectively, that is, the survey-measured consumption growth was higher. If the efficiency of growth is (crudely) defined as the decline in head count ratio per unit of consumption growth, then China's efficiency for the decade 1999 to 2010 was around -0.3, that is, for each 10 per cent growth, poverty in China was reduced by 3 percentage points.

Another term for efficiency could be inclusiveness of growth. The poverty level for India in 1999-2000 and 2011-12 were 42.9 and 21.9 per cent, respectively. This gives an average pace of decline of 1.8 percentage points per annum, somewhat below the 2.2 per cent average recorded in China. But note the low level of household consumption growth observed in India — only 2.8 per cent per annum. This yields an efficiency-inclusive index of 0.6, twice the level observed in China. Also note that survey consumption growth in India (2.8 per cent per year) is considerably below national accounts growth (4.8 per cent per year).

China finding superpower path no cakewalk

August 6th, 2013
By Richard Wike, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Richard Wike is associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Follow him on Twitter @RichardWike. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

It’s not easy being a superpower, and that’s something China is learning. A few years back, international headlines featured breathless accounts of China’s economic transformation and rave reviews of the Beijing Olympics. But today, news stories often portray a country battling over disputed territories overseas, while struggling at home with vexing issues such as pollution, corruption, and political dissent. China’s power is growing, but as it assumes a more prominent role on the world stage, its global reputation is beset by a host of challenges. Welcome to the travails of being one of the big boys on the block.

While China’s rise has been the subject of considerable debate among elites in recent years, ordinary citizens around the world have also taken note, and for many it’s a troubling development. Pew Research Center polling has shown that a growing number of people see China as the world’s leading economic power. Moreover, people not only see the economic balance of power shifting; many believe that in the long run, China will surpass the U.S. as the overall leading superpower. Across the 39 countries included in a spring 2013 Pew Research poll, a median of 47 percent say China has already replaced the U.S. as the leading superpower or will eventually do so. Just one third think China will never supplant the United States.

But, as the U.S. has often learned, power does not necessarily generate affection. More typically, it creates anxiety. In regions throughout the world, people worry about how a superpower will use its clout and how it will behave in the international arena. For instance, our polling has consistently found majorities in most countries saying the U.S. ignores their interests when making foreign policy decisions – this was true during the George W. Bush era and it remains largely true today.

Now, global publics believe China also wields its power in a self-interested manner. These views feed the perception that the People’s Republic has yet to become, in the words of former U.S. diplomat and World Bank President Robert Zoellick, a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. In the eyes of many, China has benefited greatly from the current world order but contributes little to global public goods.

In recent years, Chinese strategists have emphasized the need for their country to develop “comprehensive” power that includes a variety of dimensions. China scholar David Lampton has described the “three faces of Chinese power” – might (military power), money (economic power), and minds (soft power, or in Lampton’s formulation, “ideational” power). On all three fronts, China is facing serious challenges in the arena of global public opinion.

The ups and downs of America’s image since 2001 illustrate the degree to which military power can affect a superpower’s image. The Iraq War and the George W. Bush administration’s “war on terror” provoked anti-Americanism in much of the world. And even though America’s image is more positive today, President Barack Obama’s drone policy is widely unpopular. In the new Pew Research survey, half or more in 31 of 39 nations disapprove of U.S. drone strikes against extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. And, as its hard power capabilities increase, Beijing is also learning that military strength can have reputational downsides.