23 September 2013

English Edition 2013

September-October 2013

The complete edition as well as all articles are in pdf format. Complete issues may have large file sizes that may take some time to download. Individual articles can be accessed by clicking on the article title below.

Col. John A. Vermeesch, U.S. Army

Maj. Charlie Lewis, U.S. Army

Maj. John R. Davis Jr., U.S. Army

Col. Brian M. Michelson, U.S. Army

Maj. Joshua Glonek, U.S. Army

Maj. Brian Babcock-Lumish, Ph.D., U.S. Army

Lt. Col. Peter Fromm, U.S. Army, Retired; Lt. Col. Douglas Pryer; U.S. Army; and Lt. Col. Kevin Cutright, U.S. Army

Dan Johnson, Consultant with The Praevius Group, Salado, Texas

Col. Charles D. Allen, U.S. Army, Retired, and Col. William G.“Trey” Braun III, U.S. Army, Retired

Arnold R. Isaacs, Journalist and Vietnam War Correspondent

Announcing the 2013 General William E. DePuy Combined Arms Center Writing Competition Winners

India among top targets of spying by NSA

Glenn Greenwald
Shobhan Saxena

In this heat map showing the aggregate of data tracked by the NSA’s Boundless Informant, Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered, followed by Pakistan with 13.5 billion bits. India was fifth with 6.3 billion bits.

The map gives the overview of Internet surveillance, with 6.3 billion pieces of intelligence taken from its networks, India is placed between Iran and Pakistan and China and the U.S.

The map below depicts collection of telephone records. India is shown in deep orange, with 6.2 billion pieces of information plucked from its networks.

Snowden’s files show billions of pieces of phone & internet data plucked

Among the BRICS group of emerging nations, which featured quite high on the list of countries targeted by the secret surveillance programs of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) for collecting telephone data and internet records, India was the number one target of snooping by the American agency.

In the overall list of countries spied on by NSA programs, India stands at fifth place, with billions of pieces of information plucked from its telephone and internet networks just in 30 days.

According to top-secret documents provided to The Hindu by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the American agency carried out intelligence gathering activities in India using at least two major programs: the first one is Boundless Informant, a data-mining system which keeps track of how many calls and emails are collected by the security agency; and the second one is PRISM, a program which intercepts and collects actual content from the networks. While Boundless Informant was used for monitoring telephone calls and access to the internet in India, PRISM collected information about certain specific issues — not related to terrorism — through Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, YouTube and several other web-based services.

Asked by The Hindu why a friendly country like India was subjected to so much surveillance by the U.S., a spokesman of the U.S. government’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence said: “The U.S. government will respond through diplomatic channels to our partners and allies. While we are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations. We value our cooperation with all countries on issues of mutual concern.”The DNI spokesman chose not to respond to questions about how the NSA managed to pick so much data from India — 13.5 billion pieces of information in just one month — especially from its telephone networks, and about whether it had received the cooperation of Indian telecom companies.

Relations with the US: India remains optimistic

Shivshankar Menon

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama will meet in Washington DC on September 27. The India-US relationship has all the attributes of a strong and comprehensive strategic partnership

THIS will be Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's sixth bilateral summit with a US President. His first summit in 2005 with President Bush built on the momentum of the previous years to establish a new, bold and transformative agenda for the relationship. Prime Minister's visit in November 2009 as President Obama's first state visitor, and President Obama's own historic visit to India a year later, highlighted the bipartisan character of the relationship; its enduring merit based on shared values and interests; and, the commitment of the leaders to a sustained process of broadening and deepening the strategic partnership. Both leaders have spoken about the India-US relationship as a defining relationship and as one of the most important relationships of the 21st century.

PARTNERS IN PROGRESS: US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, during President Obama’s visit to India in November, 2010. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

The transformation

India-US relations have come a long way in the last decade. From a time when we dealt with each other formally, sometimes warily, we today have a full spectrum relationship, between our governments, our peoples and our institutions. I do not need to count the ways for this audience. For India, the relationship with the US has been the most transformed relationship in the past 10 years. What were once considered breakthroughs in the relationship, are now regarded as routine and normal. This is a sign of maturity in the relationship, even if it robs it of some of the excitement of some years ago. We also face the reality that we must now deal with new challenges in the years ahead.

The relationship has all the attributes of a strong and comprehensive strategic partnership. We have regular high-level political dialogue. In recent months, we have had one high-level visit every month. India and the US have strategic consultations on every major issue and region. We have a growing dialogue and partnership on non-proliferation, export controls and nuclear issues.

Our security cooperation includes multiple forms of engagement. Our defence relations are strong. We conduct defence exercises regularly. We are steadily moving to joint research, co-development and co-production of defence products through partnerships between our defence industries, as part of our strategy to develop India's defence industrial base and to increase the domestic share in our defence acquisitions.

Cooperation between India and the US beyond the public gaze in the fight against crime and terrorism has also been effective. The Homeland Security Dialogue since 2011 has been of mutual benefit in protecting our two countries. We have also begun exploring the potential of cooperative engagement in cyber and space security.

Our total trade in goods and services exceeds $100 billion. It has grown every year through the past five years of a global economic crisis. We might each have reasons not to be fully satisfied with our economic relations but no one denies its potential and significance. The US is our single largest trading partner and is a source of critical technology, investment, and collaborations, with over $11 billion worth of Indian investments in the US, and $50 billion of US investment in India.

Extent of NSA metadata swoop suggests access to Indian operators

Shalini Singh 

As fresh details emerge regarding the extent of the National Security Agency’s snooping on India, the mystery of roughly 6.2 billion bits of metadata accessed from India by the NSA through its Boundless Informant programme in one month remains unsolved.

India has roughly 700 million mobile phones, of which less than 5 million have international long distance (ILD) connectivity. These numbers, after adding those called in the U.S., even over an entire year, still do not exceed a few million. Even if all repeated calls back and forth between Indian citizens, business and families were taken into consideration, it would still not exceed a few million call data records (CDRs).

While U.S. carriers have maintained a studied silence on the issue, their position has been that such information relating to calls to and from the U.S. falls within the jurisdiction of U.S.-NSA, similar to the jurisdiction that Indian authorities have over such numbers and CDRs stored with mobile and long distance operators such as Bharti, Reliance, Tatas, BSNL, MTNL, Uninor and Vodafone.

One scenario treads a dangerous premise. The bulk of the 6.2 billion pieces of telephone metadata could relate to domestic telephone traffic between Indian cities. Telecom traffic is almost entirely on the network of large Indian carriers, who also have National Long Distance (NLD) licences for voice or goes through NIXI for Internet traffic. For this data to be a part of the metadata, the NSA must have had some way to access this traffic, either with the collaboration of Indian telecom operators or through some other technical means.

This possibility not only significantly compromises India’s network security but also national security, since domestic call records could relate to top secret calls between politicians, bureaucrats and armed forces officials who lead India’s strategic defence planning. This cohort tends to routinely communicate with others who are not on government dedicated networks.

Govt. denies threat

Meanwhile, the Indian government remains convinced that this episode has not compromised the privacy of Indian citizens in any way.

In response to a question raised by The Hindu on why the government was not taking the U.S. surveillance programs seriously even though it had purportedly compromised the safety of millions of Indians, Telecom & IT Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said that the U.S. government had informed India that the monitoring only involved looking at trends for indications of aberrations.

“This is not surveillance,” Mr. Sibal emphasised. “However, if we find that content and data has or is being accessed by any other nation, we will oppose it tooth and nail. We are not in the least ambivalent about that.”

Earlier, the government had taken much the same position in Parliament in response to a direct question relating to PRISM.

Strengthen first line of defence: The police

23 September 2013 
Joginder Singh
Source Link

India’s police forces are inadequate, under-equipped and ill-trained. They function on a shoe-string budget and are subject to political interference. Law and order, therefore, becomes the main victim

A riot in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar on September 7 led to the killing of a television reporter and 50 others. The violence had its roots in an incident of eve-teasing that happened in August. Two Hindu brothers from another town had killed a Muslim boy who had molested their sister. This led to a violent backlash which claimed the lives of the brothers as well.

Ironically, the bloodshed began a day after the Union Government issued an alert to seven States, including Uttar Pradesh, over fears of communal polarisation and hostility ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Uttar Pradesh had already seen a spike in communal violence since the Samajwadi Party returned to power in March 2012. At least 95 people have been killed in 50 (as per State record) to 110 (as per the Intelligence Bureau) clashes.

If a disease is not treated in time, it is bound to aggravate. The same is true of controlling riots. Security personnel on the spot have to be given a free hand and there can be no remote control which tells them from the shadows how to handle the situation. Having said this, I must hasten to add that one does not plead that the police be allowed to use indiscriminate force.

The standard response after the riot is over is to set up an inquiry committee which decides on the basis of affidavits filed before it. Sometimes, it takes decades for an inquiry to be completed — for example, the inquiry into the Babri structure demolition took 15 years. There is no time limit for a judicial inquiry, as the inquiry officer may take umbrage if he or she is told to complete the investigation within a given time-frame. Also, the result of all these inquiries, despite the visits of VIPs from Delhi, is often nothing at all.

Human nature is fragile. One cannot predict what will be the tinder fuse. The Government feels that the universal remedy to any law and order problem is the policeman, but he is told not to use force or open fire, especially on rioters in a communally-charged situation. This is because the ruling party fears that it will lose its vote-bank.

August Vollmer, who was the first police chief of Berkeley, California, and also a leading figure in the development of the field of criminal justice in the US, had rightly said in his book, The Police in Modern Society: “The citizen expects police officers to have the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of David, the strength of Samson, the patience of Job, the leadership of Moses, the kindness of the Good Samaritan, the faith of Daniel, the tolerance of the Carpenter of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), and, finally, an intimate knowledge of every branch of the natural, biological, and social sciences. If he had all of these, he might be a good policeman.”

But it is ultimately for the Government to decide what is in the best interests of the country. Communal riots in India are not an infrequent occurrence. Yet after six decades of Independence, the Government appears to be clueless about how best to handle such incidents. Serious ailments require intensive treatments and surgical operations — but the importance of these is forgotten in the quest for vote-banks.

The police force forms the first line of defence in any riot situation. But neither Uttar Pradesh nor any other State has examined if it has an adequate police force and good training facilities so as to ensure that security personnel are well-prepared to deal with the complex problem of communal violence. Uttar Pradesh, in fact, has one of the lowest police to population ratios — just 74 policemen for every 1,00,000 persons, as against the United Nations norms of 240 policemen for every 1,00,000 persons. And these figures refer to the total sanctioned strength of the police force. In other words, they include security personnel assigned to VIP duty. With police protection now being seen as a status symbol by many, the Uttar Pradesh Government is spending a whopping Rs 120crore of public money every year to provide security cover to around 1,500 VIPs, as per official records.

Revolution’s Ruined Children

Sep 21 2013 

Book: The Lowland
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Publisher: Random House

Why aren't there two of you?" asks Bela of her father Subhash when she's a child of six or seven. "I have two eyes...Why do I see only one of you?" she insists. The question is the pivot of Jhumpa Lahiri's Booker-shortlisted novel The Lowland. For indeed, once there were two of them, Subhash and Udayan Mitra, brothers and companions, separated by 15 months, and twin-like in their incompleteness without the other. As they come into their own as adults in the tumultuous era of the Naxal uprising of the late '60s — the dynamic Udayan complicit in the revolution and the staid Subhash choosing academia in US's New England — it's a question that comes to haunt Subhash at every juncture of his life following Udayan's encounter death: why aren't there two of you? Or, more specifically, why aren't you Udayan? From their mother Bijoli, locked away in grief and unequivocal devotion to Udayan's memory, to Gauri, Udayan's widow, whom Subhash marries and brings to America to help her escape what was no longer home, to Udayan and Gauri's daughter, Bela, who he becomes a father to, the novel travels a vast arc of emotional and geographical distance, while negotiating this inheritance of loss.

When it begins, The Lowland's political context seems a departure from Lahiri's previous works. The historical has never played a significant role in her writing (except tangentially, such as in the very poignant 'Hema and Kaushik' from her previous book of stories, Unaccustomed Earth), but here, there's a sense of urgency in Lahiri's measured yet atmospheric delineation of political events and Udayan's rising interest in it. "When Udayan was at home, odd hours, he turned on the shortwave. Dissatisfied by official reports, he found secret broadcasts from stations in Darjeeling, in Siliguri. He listened to broadcasts from Radio Peking. Once, just as the sun was rising, he succeeded in transporting Mao's distorted voice, interrupted by bursts of static, addressing the people of China, to Tollygunje." Despite his brief life, Udayan's character looms large over the novel and is vaguely reminiscent of Animesh, the protagonist of Bengali writer Samaresh Majumdar's Uttoradhikar trilogy on the Naxalbari movement (the second volume of which won a Sahitya Akademi award in 1984), only, unlike Animesh, he does not survive the revolution to see the dissolution of a dream.

But with Udayan's death, the political recedes to the background, and the Mitra family's life unspools into individual tragedies."The only thing Udayan had altered was what their family had been." Subhash and Gauri's uneasy alliance is splintered by Gauri's quiet but simmering animosity, till she leaves him and Bela for a life in academia. In the end, the narrative turns towards a more personal resolution — the revelation of her father's identity to Bela.

In a recent interview, Lahiri speaks about her unease with the term "immigrant fiction." It's impossible, nonetheless, to deny a sense of reparation that her writing imparts, just as it is difficult to ignore that her eye for detail comes partly from the inherited imagination of first-generation immigrants to America like her parents. In her vivid descriptions of the changing landscape of Kolkata and Rhode Island and how her characters adapt themselves to new and changed lands and circumstances, Lahiri deals with themes that she has already proven her dexterity with — displacement both at home and outside of it and the shifting nature of escape. In that sense, Lahiri is a miniaturist, distant from the demands of what VS Naipaul called "fitting one civilisation to another", working with the interior landscapes of her characters, quietly probing, rarely sentimental and never exotic. She gives us characters dredged up from memory,

Dangers of chilling on climate change

Nagraj Adve

AP NO HOAX: Carbon dioxide may be even more potent than we realise. The picture is of a coal-fired plant in China.

Even if the rate of global warming is lower than earlier believed, there is no room for complacency

The forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Summary for Policymakers, it has been reported, states that the rate of global warming has slowed over the last 15 years. It also argues that estimates of eventual warming from a doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are lower than was earlier thought. Taken individually, each of these assertions is a partial narration of ongoing climate processes. Read together, they carry the danger of fostering complacency, both about the current rate of global warming and the urgency in avoiding dangerous levels of warming.

Three theories

There have been at least three theories in recent climate science literature seeking to explain the slowdown, or “hiatus,” in global warming. Global warming is measured by taking an average of near-surface air temperatures all over the globe throughout the year, but this does not account for the heat trapped by greenhouse gases that is transported into the deeper oceans. Warming of the ocean waters below 700 metres has been exceptional in recent years. A study in Geophysical Research Letters says that “depths below 700 metres have become much more strongly involved in the heat uptake after 1998, and subsequently account for 30% of the ocean warming,” precisely the period in which surface warming has slowed down. But despite being transported into the deeper oceans, much of this heat energy will show up as warming sooner or later.


Another proposition is that a prolonged La Niña-like cooling in the tropical Pacific has lessened the impact of greenhouse gases by 0.15° Celsius globally in the recent decade. It is a natural variability and, if this is the cause, the slowdown will be temporary, as a recent paper argues (Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie, ‘Recent Global Warming Hiatus Tied to Equatorial Pacific Surface Cooling’, Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature12534). A third theory is that near-surface warming is being masked by an increased generation of aerosols, caused by greater manufacturing occurring in China in this period and, to a lesser degree, India. This particulate pollution is harmful to human health but has a cooling effect in climate terms. In the decades after World War II as well, aerosols from dirty manufacturing processes — then in the developed world — slowed surface warming despite one of the most rapid rates in carbon dioxide emissions growth. Unlike CO though, aerosols have a lifespan of a few days; clean up your industrial act, and their cooling effect promptly disappears.

These varied explanations help form a more complete picture of ongoing climate processes. One assumes that this more complex picture would be presented, if not in the AR5 Summary for Policymakers, then in the Technical Summary, which in IPCC’s AR4 2007 was over four times as long as the former. It would be premature to rush to a definite opinion before seeing what these documents say, and hearing independent scientific opinion on them. The half has not been told us.

Ending the War in Afghanistan

How to Avoid Failure on the Installment Plan

Author: Stephen Biddle, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Defense Policy
September/October 2013 
Foreign Affairs

International forces in Afghanistan are preparing to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan soldiers and police by the end of 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama has argued that battlefield successes since 2009 have enabled this transition and that with it, "this long war will come to a responsible end." But the war will not end in 2014. The U.S. role may end, in whole or in part, but the war will continue -- and its ultimate outcome is very much in doubt.

Should current trends continue, U.S. combat troops are likely to leave behind a grinding stalemate between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Afghan National Security Forces can probably sustain this deadlock, but only as long as the U.S. Congress pays the multibillion-dollar annual bills needed to keep them fighting. The war will thus become a contest in stamina between Congress and the Taliban. Unless Congress proves more patient than the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, funding for the ANSF will eventually shrink until Afghan forces can no longer hold their ground, and at that point, the country could easily descend into chaos. If it does, the war will be lost and U.S. aims forfeited. A policy of simply handing off an ongoing war to an Afghan government that cannot afford the troops needed to win it is thus not a strategy for a "responsible end" to the conflict; it is closer to what the Nixon administration was willing to accept in the final stages of the Vietnam War, a "decent interval" between the United States' withdrawal and the eventual defeat of its local ally.

There are only two real alternatives to this, neither of them pleasant. One is to get serious about negotiations with the Taliban. This is no panacea, but it is the only alternative to outright defeat. To its credit, the Obama administration has pursued such talks for over a year. What it has not done is spend the political capital needed for an actual deal. A settlement the United States could live with would require hard political engineering both in Kabul and on Capitol Hill, yet the administration has not followed through.

The other defensible approach is for the United States to cut its losses and get all the way out of Afghanistan now, leaving behind no advisory presence and reducing its aid substantially. Outright withdrawal might damage the United States' prestige, but so would a slow-motion version of the same defeat -- only at a greater cost in blood and treasure. And although a speedy U.S. withdrawal would cost many Afghans their lives and freedoms, fighting on simply to postpone such consequences temporarily would needlessly sacrifice more American lives in a lost cause.

The Obama administration has avoided both of these courses, choosing instead to muddle through without incurring the risk and political cost that a sustainable settlement would require. Time is running out, however, and the administration should pick its poison. Paying the price for a real settlement is a better approach than quick withdrawal, but both are better than halfhearted delay. For the United States, losing per se is not the worst-case scenario; losing expensively is. Yet that is exactly what a myopic focus on a short-term transition without the political work needed to settle the war will probably produce: failure on the installment plan.


The international coalition fighting in Afghanistan has long planned on handing over responsibility for security there to local Afghan forces. But the original idea was that before doing so, a troop surge would clear the Taliban from strategically critical terrain and weaken the insurgency so much that the war would be close to a finish by the time the Afghans took over. That never happened. The surge made important progress, but the tight deadlines for a U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban's resilience have left insurgents in control of enough territory to remain militarily viable well after 2014. Afghan government forces will thus inherit a more demanding job than expected.

The irrelevance of Mullah Biradar

Rustam Shah Mohmand 
The senior Taliban leader released by Pakistan last week can no longer deliver what the U.S. and the Karzai regime expect from him

Pakistan released Mullah Abdul Ghani Biradar on September 21 after a three-year detention. He was the senior most member of the Taliban at the time of his arrest by a joint Pakistan military/U.S. intelligence team in Karachi in 2010.

There were conflicting theories about the reasons for his capture. It is believed that the U.S. authorities had located him and the Pakistani officials had no choice but to “extend cooperation” in making the arrest. Some believe that Mullah Biradar was in covert contact with the Americans for laying down the basis for reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that this had irked the Pakistan security establishment which could not digest any unilateral moves by Taliban leaders that bypassed it. That was enough excuse for restricting his freedom.

Yet another theory is that he was detained at the behest of the top Taliban leadership because of his alleged clandestine links with some American mediators.

Prolonging his detention did not deliver any political advantage for Pakistan. On the one hand, Islamabad got rid of a continuing and unwarranted headache by setting Biradar free; on the other it reciprocated Kabul’s overtures by accepting their demand for his release.

Handing him over to the authorities in Kabul would have created a permanent breach in relations with the Taliban leadership. So he has been released and allowed to go wherever he wants, and he may head to Qatar or Saudi Arabia where other senior cadre of the Taliban now live.

As mediator

The point, however, is that by detaining Biradar, Pakistan has irrevocably damaged his credentials and his possible role as peace mediator. The Taliban have consistently followed the policy of not acknowledging any of its cadre detained either in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Freed, they lose their relevance as far as the Taliban are concerned. Their bona fide becomes suspect for a number of reasons. In the eyes of the Taliban, detained and released cadre could have been tutored or even indoctrinated, and would speak the language of the captor. The foremost example of this is Mullah Zaeef, who was arrested by Pakistan in 2001 while he was still the Taliban’s ambassador in Islamabad.

The same thinking or yardstick would apply to Mullah Biradar. As Biradar is such a senior leader (or was), and is related to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he may prove to be of some help in providing insights into the Taliban mindset on issues such as the possible convergence of perceptions on how to mainstream the Taliban in the political and electoral processes of Afghanistan. He may even be useful in building bridges between the Taliban and the Americans, but certainly not between the Taliban and the Afghan regime.

The Bo Xilai Verdict: Everybody Wins

By Zheng Wang
September 22, 2013

With the announced sentencing, the Bo Xilai trial is at an end, at least for the time being. In fact, this is a trial where Bo himself, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people are all winners. The only lamentable fact is that China’s legal system is still so flexible that it permits what looks like a Hollywood movie with the CCP leadership as the director, Bo Xilai as the lead actor, and a satisfied audience.

For Bo Xilai, his sentence of life imprisonment is not a surprise. His defense in court did not influence the result much, but his court performance made him a winner. He denied all of the charges against him, upholding his image among his supporters. His supporters can still believe that Bo is an unlucky official who had a bad wife who took advantage of Bo’s power for money and property. Once again, Bo proved through his performance in court that he is a persuasive speaker, and more importantly intelligent enough to execute an effective court strategy.

Before the trial, he cooperated with the leadership and accepted some of the charges when he was investigated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CCP. The leadership then narrowed the scope of charges against Bo, focusing the trial only on bribery in Dalian and his misuse of power in handling his Chongqing police chief’s escape to the U.S. consulate. Bo and the leadership must have also reached an agreement that the names of current and former CCP leaders and any political issues would not be mentioned during the trial. However, after the trial began, Bo still denied all of the charges against him.

The prosecution was poorly prepared for the sudden change in script. The prosecution had already planned its case, so arranging new witnesses was not possible. Bo’s skilled and carefully planned defense also made the prosecution’s arguments look weak. Bo took advantage of knowing the evidence that would be used against him ahead of time, since most of it came from his wife. During the five day trial, Bo went to great lengths to portray his wife as mentally unstable and unfaithful in an attempt to undermine her credibility. At the same time, he attempted to generate public sympathy for his cause by painting himself as a dedicated public servant and an unwitting husband.

The CCP leadership is also a winner. Although Bo denied all charges, this was hardly a surprise to senior leaders. Moreover, Bo’s vigorous defense made the trial more realistic and interesting. Some officials and scholars have already said that the trial is a success for China’s legal development. The most significant success for the leadership is that the trial focused only on bribery and not on political issues, especially the debates over China’s future political path. So the Party’s core interests remained unharmed.

Also, many of the details disclosed during the trial made the Chinese people more aware of the Bo family’s extravagant life, such as his son’s chartered trip to Africa with friends, the villa in France, and his wife and son’s lifestyles while abroad in Europe and the U.S. Regardless, if Bo knew all these details before his downfall, they have convinced many that he is not suited to be a state leader. After all, many would argue that a man who cannot manage his own family cannot manage a country.

In this case, Xi Jinping is a winner. Many Chinese commented on social media comparing the families of Bo and Xi; Xi’s family was viewed far more favorably because there were no scandals about his wife and daughter. On another note, the government has been very creative. While it did not allow live broadcasting of the trial, the transcripts of the proceedings were provided on Weibo, available to all and updated promptly. So the government can claim this as huge progress for China’s legal system. However, the transcripts were released with a short delay in order to allow the government to control what was released. The end result is that people were given access to the juicy details of the Bo family’s life but remained ignorant of sensitive political issues that Bo reportedly raised. In sum, the CCP leadership successfully portrayed itself as open, confident and innovative.

China’s Maritime Disputes

A CFR Info
Guide Presentation

The East and South China Seas are the scene of escalating territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, including Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The tensions, shaped by China's growing assertiveness, have fueled concerns over armed conflict and raised questions about Washington's security commitments in its strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.

We are strongly committed to safeguarding the country's sovereignty and security, and defending our territorial integrity.Chinese President Xi Jinping

Mapping the Claims

Six countries lay overlapping claims to the East and South China Seas, an area that is rich in hydrocarbons and natural gas and through which trillions of dollars of global trade flow. As it seeks to expand its maritime presence, China has been met by growing assertiveness from regional claimants like Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The increasingly frequent standoffs span from the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, on China’s eastern flank, to the long stretch of archipelagos in the South China Sea that comprise hundreds of islets. The U.S. pivot to Asia, involving renewed diplomatic activity and military redeployment, could signal Washington’s heightened role in the disputes, which, if not managed wisely, could turn part of Asia’s maritime regions from thriving trade channels into arenas of conflict.

Provocations against Japan’s sovereign sea and land are continuing, but they must not be tolerated.Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe

Historical Context

China’s maritime disputes span centuries. The tug-of-war over sovereignty of the Diaoyu/Senkakus in the East China Sea can be traced to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, while Japan’s defeat in World War II and Cold War geopolitics added complexity to claims over the islands. The fight over overlapping exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea has an equally complex chronology of events steeped in the turmoil of Southeast Asian history. Globalization—including extensive free trade pacts between claimants—and recent developments like the U.S. “pivot” to Asia have further connected the two disputes. As China’s economic ascent facilitates growing military capabilities and assertiveness in both seas, other regional players are also experiencing their own rise in nationalism and military capability, and have exhibited greater willingness to stake territorial claims.

Timeline: China’s Maritime Disputes

The territorial row over the Diaoyu/Senkakus in the East China Sea dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, while disputes over overlapping exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea have intensified in the last few decades.

April 17, 1895

Sino-Japanese War Ends

The Sino-Japanese war, fought primarily over control of Korea, ends with the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, in which China cedes territories including Formosa (Taiwan) to Japan. The treaty does not mention the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands (PDF), which were not discussed during negotiations. Beijing maintains that this transfer included the islands, while Japan claims that it had owned them since January 1895, when it officially annexed the uninhabited land. This distinction comes into play after the Second World War, when China says the islands must be returned to Chinese rule as a result of the Cairo and Potsdam declarations, which oblige Japan to renounce claims to all territories seized through war. Photo: Creative Commons

Lynx, Mukden, Mooncakes, and Chinese Hackers

By Adam Segal
September 22, 2013

After a summer dominated by revelations of U.S. espionage and offensive cyber operations, Chinese hackers are back in the news. Three stories do a good job of illustrating that Chinese hackers are not a monolithic group, but rather multiple actors with manifold motivations.

First, Symantec released a report on a hacker group called “Hidden Lynx,” made up of fifty to one hundred people that has been operating since 2009. The hackers seem to be very sophisticated, targeting more than one hundred organizations around the world, including banks and asset management companies, governments, IT companies, defense contractors, and computer security companies. The most targeted countries and regions are the United States (53 percent), Taiwan (16 percent), mainland China (9 percent), Hong Kong (4 percent), and Japan (3 percent).

The report characterizes the group as a professional organization offering “hacker for hire” services to those seeking competitive advantage at the corporate and national level. The tools and exploits “originate from network infrastructure in China” and the malicious software was written using Chinese code, but the report makes no determination as to whether the group is linked to the Chinese government. Dmitri Alperovitch of CrowdStrike, who uncovered closely related attacks, believes the group works solely for the Chinese government or state-owned enterprises. I would have liked more information on the types of targets in China itself—were they nonprofits the government wanted to monitor more closely? Chinese firms spying on their domestic competitors?

Second, Japanese organizations are preparing for attacks today tied to the anniversary of the1931 Mukden/Manchurian Incident from the Chinese Honker Union. (The term “honker,” from the Chinese hong ke, means “red” patriotic hacker.) The Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) reports that the group has identified 270 targets, including government and media websites. The attacks are unlikely to be much more than nuisances—defacing sites with the Chinese flag and messages about the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Finally, Chinese hackers attacked a local government website in Zhejiang Province. The site, sx.gov.cn, appears to be offline now, but the hackers posted pictures of mooncakes with characters attacking the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) baked into them. The cakes said “Bite to Death the CCP,” “Overthrow CCP,” “Bitterly Hate CCP,” and “Get Lost, CCP.”

In July, the U.S.-China working group on cybersecurity met for the first time. Discussions reportedly touched on international law and norms in cyberspace. These three stories are vivid reminders that even if Beijing and Washington can agree on how states should behave—and that is a very big if—there are many actors who are unlikely to care much about those agreements and will continue to pursue their own interests.

Adam Segal is a Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He blogs at Asia Unbound, where this piece originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @adschina. 

China’s inscrutability in the Middle East


We can reasonably guess where four of the five permanent members of the UN’s Security Council stand regarding action in Syria. This leaves China, as usual, as the question mark.

US President Barack Obama shakes hands as he meets with China's President Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters

We can reasonably guess where four of the five permanent members of the UN’s Security Council stand regarding action in Syria. This leaves China, as usual, as the question mark. There seems to be no end of hostilities in the Middle East, and China’s seat on the Security Council is permanent. Thus, I believe it would behoove observers to know more about China’s allegiances in this part of the world.

China is frequently considered an ally of Syra and the PLO. As proof, China’s thinly veiled criticisms of Israel’s use of force is frequently cited. However, appearances can be deceiving. The reality is quite different.

Don’t mistake China’s rhetoric for reality. In fact, China’s relationships with Syria and the PLO aren’t what they used to be. The reason is that China’s relationship with the State of Israel isn’t what it used to be. In the mere 20 years since China and Israel established diplomatic relations, ancient ties between the nations of China and Israel have strengthened to an unprecedented degree.

Unbeknownst to many people, the history of the Jews in China is both long and friendly. When Marco Polo “discovered” China, he found that the Jews were already very well established there and quite prosperous. In the 20th century, China proved to be a hospitable sanctuary for the Jewish people escaping the Russian Revolution and the Holocaust. We even have a Chinese Oskar Schindler in Dr. Ho Feng-Shan, China’s consul-general in Vienna, who saved the lives of thousands of Jews.

In fact, in consideration of the centuries of peaceful contact between the two peoples, a case can be made that China has been the single most hospitable country to the Jewish people over a long period.

Last semester, I had the pleasure of hosting a visiting professor from Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics to exchange ideas about the teaching of international finance. I learned that all over Chinese academia these days, there is a veritable explosion of interest in the Jewish people, Judaism and Israel. I had not know about this, but was not surprised.

To say that China respects Israel would be a tremendous understatement.

In fact, China has come to admire greatly both the nation and State of Israel in many important areas (with the notable exception of cuisine, in which case the admiration goes demonstrably the other way).

China greatly admires the strength of the Jewish Diaspora, its educational and intellectual achievements and its entrepreneurial successes. China greatly admires the innovation of Israel’s technology and biotech industries, the resilience of a state surrounded by enemies, and the fearsome Israel Defense Forces.

The thin reed of solidarity for Syria and the PLO, extended when Mao’s communism mired China in the Third World, is no match for present day exigencies.

To wit, Israel is now the second largest provider of military armaments to China. One does not buy military armaments from just anyone and certainly not from someone one doesn’t trust implicitly. These military commitments speak far, far louder than thinly veiled criticisms.

Also, never discussed in polite company is that China itself hasn’t always had the warmest relations with some people of the Muslim religion. There is a western Chinese province named Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The vast majority of the population in Xinjiang are Muslim and of an ethnicity quite different from the rest of China. The indigenous Uighur people there have long desired to form East Turkestan. Unfortunately, flying the flag of jihad, a splinter militant group has been very deadly in China.

Despite this, China sees no need to ruffle feathers with Muslim countries, especially since it sees strong business potential in the Middle East. Some politicians resent this but there can be no serious kvetching that China considers business potential in its foreign policy.

Can you name any country which doesn’t do the same? Go ahead and try.

Osprey vs. Bison in the East China Sea

East AsiaSecuritySeptember 22, 2013

China, Japan and the U.S. are ramping up their ability to deploy to disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Stability in the region between Taiwan and Japan, and the security of Taiwan, hinges on an arms race that will soon be accompanying the heightened paramilitary engagements between Japanese, Chinese and, occasionally, Taiwanese Coast Guard ships over who will control the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

For now this contest for control is confined to shoving matches largely between Chinese and Japanese Coast Guard ships, which take several days to deploy. However, China is now developing the means to project decisive force to these islands in hours, not days. Should China gain the upper hand in this arms race there is a greater chance it will use force to occupy the islands and then set its sights on the strategically more attractive nearby Sakashima island group.

For now, though, the upper hand is held by the United States, which has just completed the initial deployment of 24 U.S. Marine Corps Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey conventional, or twin tilt rotor aircraft, to Futenma Base in Okinawa. This unique aircraft, by virtue of its twisting rotors and engines at the ends of its wing, can take off like a helicopter, and then cruise at about 280 miles per hour, carrying up to 24 troops or about six tons of cargo to a range sufficient to reach the disputed islands. In a full-out surge, the 24 MV-22Bs at Futenma could potentially put about 500 troops or about 140 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus or the Sakashimas in about one hour.

On September 17, 2013, Kyodo reported thatcurrent commander of U.S. Marine forces on Okinawa, Lt. General John Wissler, told Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaimu about the Osprey, “That aircraft has the ability to reach the Senkakus, should we need to support any sort of Japan-U.S. security treaty.”

China is also accumulating rapid lift assets. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has taken delivery of the first Ukrainian-built Zubr (Bison) large hovercraft. The first example, delivered in May, is now undergoing final modifications in Shanghai. At least three more are expected initially, but China may build many more of an indigenous version. Developed by the former Soviet Union to give its Naval Infantry the ability to rapidly invade NATO countries along the Baltic Sea, the Zubr can lift about 500 troops or up to 150 tons of armor, weapons and material up to speeds of 66 miles per hour. With just four Zubr hovercraft, the PLAN could potentially put 2,000 troops or up to 600 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus in about four to five hours, or it could reach the island of Miyako-jima in about six to seven hours with a much reduced payload.

If it actually came to a race between the Osprey and the Bison, getting there first would make all the difference, as without the advantage of surprise, an adequately armed defender could significantly damage incoming hovercraft or helicopters. But the outcome would also depend on the result of intensive air and sea battles around these islands. For now, the superior performance of the U.S. Lockheed-Martin F-22A fifth-generation fighter and the Virginia class nuclear-powered attack submarine provide a margin of superiority that undergirds deterrence, but this could change quickly as the PLA Air Force increases the number of capable fourth-generation fighters supported by AWACS radar aircraft, followed by fifth-generation fighters that could even the odds, especially if China decides to strike first. Growing numbers of PLAN air defense destroyers like the new Type 052D could also help deny air dominance to Japanese and U.S. forces.

However, China could also gain the upper hand should it successfully develop its own tilt rotor aircraft, an ambition it likely has been pursuing for most of the last decade. In a surprising revelation, an article published August 28, 2013 on the web page of the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI) goes further, saying that China is now developing a quad tiltrotor design called the Blue Whale, with the goal of carrying 20 tons of cargo at speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour, with a combat radius of 500 miles. A model of the Blue Whale appeared at a Chinese helicopter technology expo recently held in Tianjin, at least confirming it is an active program.

What if insurgents close the Suez Canal?

By David Schenker
September 22, 2013

Islamist violence has chased off tourists. Now it threatens that key waterway — and the nation's entire economy.

Concerns have been raised that a growing Islamist insurgency in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula could disrupt operations in the Suez Canal. Above, cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Egypt in 2009. (Associated Press)

Most of the attention these days is on Syria, but there is also a growing problem in Egypt with global implications. Nine Egyptian policemen were wounded by a bomb in the northern Sinai Peninsula on Monday. The week before, suicide bombers killed nine soldiers in the peninsula. Shootings, kidnappings and bombings — roadside, car and suicide — have become routine occurrences in Sinai. And the burgeoning Islamist insurgency is spreading to other parts of Egypt. In early September, the interior minister narrowly survived a car-bomb attack in Cairo reportedly perpetrated by a Sinai-based jihadist group.

Already reeling from more than two years of civil insurrection, a spike in crime, an epidemic of sexual assault and the military's killing in August of nearly 1,000 Islamists protesting the coup that removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood president from office, the insurgency is bad news for Egypt.

But things could get worse.

On Aug. 31, two militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at a Chinese-owned cargo vessel traversing the Suez Canal. A Sinai-based Al Qaeda affiliate called Kataeb al Forqan claimed credit and posted a YouTube video of the attack. Although the vessel did not sustain significant damage, the group pledged to continue the assault on canal shipping.

Should the militants persist, sooner or later they will all but certainly succeed in damaging, disabling or scuttling a ship in the canal, a development with potentially catastrophic implications for Egypt and international commerce.

The 2011 toppling of President Hosni Mubarak has already had dire consequences for Egypt's economy. Continual protests and sporadic violence throughout Egypt have spooked investors, drying up foreign direct investment, once an economic pillar of the state. Not only is investment down — 32% in the third quarter compared with last year, according to Egypt's Central Bank — foreign capital is fleeing. Over the last six months, more than $3 billion has been expatriated.

Tourism, traditionally nearly 10% of economic activity in Egypt, has plummeted. In the south Sinai tourist haven of Sharm el Sheik, the occupancy rate has declined to 36%. Meanwhile, across the canal in the Red Sea governorate, a third of the nearly 250 hotels have closed. Absent the legions of journalists, Cairo would also be empty of foreigners spending money.

Even before the August violence, the World Bank had ranked Egypt 140th — last in the world, behind Pakistan and Yemen — in terms of tourist safety. And the situation is further degenerating. Over the last month, according to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of visitors dropped an astounding 85%.

Now the third pillar of the economy, Suez Canal revenue, which amounts to nearly $5 billion a year, is at risk. In 2012, more than 17,000 vessels transited the canal. Lately, fewer ships are utilizing the passage, and last year, revenue declined 5%. The first half of this year saw a 6.6% drop in traffic, prompting Egyptian authorities to raise fees.