16 January 2014

Estrangement and engagement

January 16, 2014
Updated: January 16, 2014

The challenge is to extricate India-U.S. dialogue from the pattern of complaining against or making excessive demands on each other

The handling of Indian Deputy-Consul General’s case by the U.S. Government is symptomatic of a deepening divide between India and the United States. President Barack Obama in 2010 declared India-U.S. relations to be “the defining partnership of the 21st century.” He told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later that “India is a big part of my plans.” There is actually no plan to show, big or small. Even as both governments struggle to put the recent incident to rest, the high-handed U.S. action has guaranteed that the manner in which it transacts business with India will change.

India’s foreign policy goals today include creating a facilitating environment for India’s continuing transformation; securing access to markets, investments, technology, energy sources, and strategic minerals needed for development; coping with the impact of climate change; securing the global commons — outer space, the oceans, transportation and communication networks, and cyber-space; and reforming the United Nations and Breton Woods institutions, even while the United States and other industrialised countries are moving away from the open, democratic and rule-based conditions for international commercial and financial exchanges. Except the latter, these are not generally at odds with U.S. interests.

Closer home, India seeks to combat terrorist groups in the subcontinent, maintain maritime security, including by protecting the two choke points of the Indian Ocean — the Gulf of Hormuz and the Straits of Malacca — and promote stability in India’s larger neighbourhood and the world. Indeed, many of these are also U.S. goals.

Dramatic change

The dramatic change in India-U.S. relations, a full decade after the end of the Cold War, was propelled by India’s economic growth and, paradoxically, by its nuclear weapon tests of 1998. India’s relations with the other great powers began to change too, but only in synch with and partly as a consequence of the transformation of the India-U.S. relationship. It became clear also that the future success or failure of India’s external engagement, including that with the United States, would be determined by India’s economic performance.

The India-U.S. bilateral agenda straddles myriad fields. If a relationship were to be judged by the number of bilateral summits — Dr. Manmohan Singh has had six bilateral summits with Presidents of the United States — and ‘full-spectrum’ official dialogue mechanisms — there are now 35 of them in operation, spanning civil nuclear industry, counterterrorism, cyber security, culture, defence, energy, higher education, health, space, and science and technology — then there is no denying the multi-faceted interactions between the two countries.

Meetings must be judged by desirable outcomes, not by their count but by their content. U.S. leaders had committed to support India’s permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council and to the four principal international export-control groupings. But without proactive diplomatic pursuits — like when U.S. was seeking Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)’s approval for the Civil Nuclear Agreement — many Indians see these as empty promises.

The legacy of Dr Manmohan Singh

Condoning corruption is a charge that will haunt him
G. Parthasarathy

WHEN Dr Manmohan Singh assumed office in 2004, there was a sigh of relief, as the Congress had chosen a respected economist with a reputation of impeccable personal integrity to lead the government. He took over at a time when the policies of economic liberalisation initiated by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had set the country for an era of high growth. The preceding NDA years had been marked by prudent fiscal management and a process of defence modernisation was under way to deal with challenges from Pakistan and China. On foreign relations the UPA-1 government inherited policies which had led to better relations with the USA, Russia and the EU together with moves for greater economic integration with the countries of the South, Southeast and East Asia.

In what was evidently his valedictory press conference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh candidly admitted: "My best moment as PM was when we struck a nuclear deal with the US". The government, however, failed to explain to people in India what the India-US nuclear deal really involved. It was never clearly explained that as a non-signatory to the NPT, India was facing sanctions on access to all high-tech items which had dual uses, and that its economic growth and modernisation was suffering because of sanctions by 45 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. A country facing such sanctions could obviously not globally play the role of a responsible, technologically advanced power. Moreover, given its vast resources of thorium, India has virtually unlimited potential for development of nuclear energy. But for this process to kick-start, India needs vast amounts of uranium ore for installing new uranium-fuelled nuclear power reactors. It lacked exploitable indigenous uranium resources for such a programme — a vital shortcoming — which the nuclear deal has overcome.

The most significant aspect of the India-US nuclear deal was that it ended global nuclear sanctions without eroding or compromising our nuclear weapons programme. Despite this, the deal faced serious domestic political opposition, especially from the UPA's communist allies. India's communist parties, unlike their Chinese counterpart, are still wedded to the dogma of Marxism-Leninism, which has been discredited and discarded everywhere, especially with the collapse of the Soviet Union and China's economic reforms. Adding to Dr Manmohan Singh's troubles was the fact that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was never enthusiastic about the economic liberalisation and was averse to countering the communist effort to torpedo the nuclear deal. The Prime Minister's spokesman Sanjay Baru was compelled to quit his job for observing that the Congress was not backing the Prime Minister. Baru's departure from the PMO had far-reaching effects on the functioning of Dr Manmohan Singh and his office. The Prime Minister lost his only aide who could keep him frankly informed of media and public opinion.

Bengali Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh

January 16, 2014
Updated: January 16, 2014

The Jamaat-e-Islami, many of whose leaders are charged with war crimes and threatening the life and property of Bengali Hindus, has used its propaganda apparatus to portray itself as a victim of witch-hunting.

The ‘Partition’ was swift and vicious in the Punjabs and Sindh where religious minorities have ceased to exist for all practical purposes. This is not so in the Bengals, where many still live on their ancestral land

Few moments in the past century have evoked as much hope in its stakeholders as the emergence of the secular nation-state of Bangladesh in the eastern part of the subcontinent. That nation is in serious turmoil. In the last two years, the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party–Jamaat-e-Islami combine has been partially successful in using its massive economic clout and propaganda apparatus to portray itself as a victim of state-sponsored witch-hunting.

The ‘witch-hunting’ boils down to two things that can finish off the Jamaat as a viable political force. The first is the de-registration of the Jamaat as an electoral force as per a Supreme court order that bars any party that “puts God before the democratic process”. The second is the war crimes trial of those who committed crimes against humanity during 1971. Much of the present Jamaat leadership was heavily involved in murder, rape, arson and forced conversions. In a subcontinent where politics thrives on the erasure of public memory, this episode has stubbornly refused to disappear. A dilly-dallying Awami League government was almost forced by the youth movement in Shahbag to pursue the war crimes trial seriously. Facing the prospect of political annihilation, the Jamaat responded by a three-pronged offensive. It marshalled its cadres and young Madrassa students and use them for blockading Dhaka. It lent its activists to a BNP in disarray to act as boots on the ground. It carried out targeted attacks on the homes, businesses and places of worship of Hindus, the nation’s largest religious minority.

The Americans have mocked India's judicial system

January 13, 2014 

'Evacuating' Devyani's maid's family from India on T visas -- associated with severe sex or labour trafficking... The maximum number of persons thus evacuated by the US from foreign countries last year was from India.'

'A thorough investigation of this is required at India's end,' says former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, 'with the US warned that such interference in India's judicial system will not be tolerated.'

India's then deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, was indicted by a grand jury for her so-called crime of visa fraud and underpayment of wages to her maid, given full diplomatic immunity by the State Department upon her transfer to India's United Nations mission, and expelled from the United States.

It brings to a tangled closure an episode that has badly fouled up the atmosphere of US-India relations.

Some may argue that this was the only viable compromise that could be forged, given the determination of the US side to punish her, its procrastination in finding an early way out and in the process allowing public antagonism towards the US in India to grow, and the matching determination on the Indian side not to permit the US to get away with this deliberate affront to India's dignity and its sovereignty.

The US has, it can be argued, upheld its labour laws, made the point that foreign diplomats violating them are liable for legal action, but has been forced to end the impasse with India by granting Dr Khobragade full diplomatic immunity upon being accredited to India's UN mission as enjoined by its headquarters agreement with the UN.

The solution found has, however, left many loose ends and many questions unanswered.

To understand why this incident occurred, it needs recalling that already it was being bemoaned in expert circles on both sides that the relationship had lost its momentum and was not living up to its promise.

India, it was being said, was not in focus in the White House anymore, and in the State Department pro-India hands that were nurturing the relationship were no longer in position.

The recent Congressional campaign by the US corporate sector against India's tax, patent and market-access related policies have rattled the Indian side, not to mention the tightening of the visa regime for Indian information technology professionals.

This explains in part the cavalier way in which the US treated Dr Khobragade and the strong Indian reaction.


16 January 2014

Infrastructure projects are not meant to generate millions for private developers and their political patrons. They are for the common man, especially the locals who must have a say in these plans

Everyone knows that India is an incredible country. It counts many world firsts in its tally — being the largest democracy is one of them; a party unknown a few months ago, being elected to represent the ‘common man’ of the capital city, is another one.

However one particularity has been missed by the ever-vigilant breaking-news media: It is the first time in the history of governance that the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas has also assumed the role of environment watchdog, holding the portfolio of Environment and Forests. It is true that Bharat is one of the few countries where contraries meet and even work together. But how Mr Veerappa Moily will achieve this feat is another issue.

Former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had walked on a tightrope. In her words, she was “caught in a tussle between industrial growth and green issues”. She felt like the Mridangam (a South Indian percussion instrument beaten on both sides), she had said as the industry was blaming ‘environment’ as the “single reason why the country has not been progressing at all”. Rumour has it that she was ‘sacked’ because she was not pushing files fast enough.

This is not the case with the new Minister. Since he took over the Environment Ministry last month, Mr Moily has cleared projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore. That is a lot. Even South Korean giant Posco has finally got its environmental clearance to build a Rs 52,000 crore steel plant in Odisha. Mr Moily has given the green light to more than 70-80 projects and has said that “the remaining will be approved before month-end”.

The Environment Minister follows the directives of his party boss. On December 21, 2013, the Congress vice president told the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry: “Many of you expressed your frustrations with environmental clearances, that they are delaying projects unduly. There is excessive administrative and judicial discretion. The loopholes are so big that you can drive a truck through some of them. Environmental and social damage must be avoided, but decisions must also be transparent, timely and fair.”

In a letter to the top brass of the UPA, Mr Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People wrote that, “You are right: The loopholes are so big in our environmental regulations that one can drive a truck through some of them. The loopholes in our environmental regulations are in fact so big that even whole dams, mines, mountains and rivers can be driven through them.”

Replying to the Prime Minister who stated during his recent Press conference that there were bottlenecks preventing timely environment clearances for industrial projects, Mr Thakkar asserts that the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley and Hydro Electric Projects, appointed by NDA Government, on has not rejected a single project in the last seven years. Mr Thakkar concludes that decisions should be not only transparent and fair, but they also need to be “democratic, well-informed and professional”. The stakeholders, in other words the common man, needs to be taken into confidence. China too is facing a similar dilemma.

According the to South China Morning Post: “While supporters often tout big dams as effective solutions to poverty and the country’s power shortages, critics have pointed to rampant environmental and geological hazards and simmering tensions over relocation disputes among those evicted to make way for dams.” The main issue is to find the right balance between the interests of the industrialists and the stakeholders who will live their entire lives with the negative environmental collaterals of the dams or mines.

Indian Inflation Eases Slightly

But inflationary pressures built into the economy complicate matters for the Reserve Bank.
January 15, 2014

As considered recently in Pacific Money Indian inflation data is hanging over monetary policy at the Reserve Bank of India. With growth struggling, but a disturbing bout of inflation – particularly in consumer prices – worsened during the autumn, policy was becoming complicated yet again.

Some good news for India comes in the form of the December 2013 retail inflation data. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) number came it at an annualized rate of 9.87 percent.

Although still high, this number is a significant easing from November’s record tally of 11.16 percent. Significantly in December, the sensitive and potentially dangerous issue of food price increases moderated significantly – down to 12.16 percent. This may still sound exceptionally high, but again, compared to November’s reading of 14.72 percent, it represents a substantial improvement.

The decision by the RBI and its star governor, Raghuram Rajan to hold interest rates stable last month now seems to have been prescient. However, the next rate-review, due on January 28, is still an open question.

While the improved December data may leave room for rates to hold again, there is still a fair amount of inflationary pressure in the economy. On the other hand, data last Friday showed that industrial production, a key measure of economic output, dropped 2.1 percent in November from a year earlier.

With inflation easing somewhat, yet still a threat, and economic activity figures still weak, it will be another interesting decision later this month.

One more medium-term factor that may also influence monetary policy decision-making is the recently announced hike in natural gas prices. In the next fiscal year (beginning in the spring), prices for domestically produced gas will double to around $8.4 per million British Thermal Units (BTU).

The price rise will almost certainly spur an expansion in output, partly by bringing currently unviable gas fields into the “profitable-to-extract” category. If the price increase can clear its Supreme Court hearing on March 4, it will be set. A partial hike in inflation can be expected in the initial period after the price rise, but this may be mitigated as supply increases in response to the higher profit levels.

With all this in mind, January 28 promises to be yet another headache for the RBI and Rajan.

Change At Pakistan's Nuclear Strategic Plans Division: Cause For Concern?

Pakistan’s long-term Strategic Plans Division head retired – are its nukes safe?
January 14, 2014

In 2009, the New York Times’ David Sanger wrotethat “In the second nuclear age, what happens or fails to happen in Kidwai’s modest compound [the SPD] may prove far more likely to save or lose an American city than the billions of dollars the United States spends each year maintaining a nuclear arsenal that will almost certainly never be used.” So who is this Kidwai fellow anyway?

Amid all the major leadership changes in Pakistan last year, Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai’s departure hardly struck a chord with the mainstream media. As I wrote then for The Diplomat, Kidwai was unlike any other individual in the Pakistani military establishment – he stuck around at the heart of Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons program from the Chagai nuclear tests all the way through Musharraf’s tenure as President, into the final days of 2013. With Kidwai’s retirement, an important human constant was removed from the core of the Pakistan nuclear program.

So what exactly did Kidwai do that makes his departure warrant concern of any sort? Kidwai has formally headed Pakistan’s secretive Strategic Plans Division (SPD) since 2000. The SPD manages the operation, maintenance, and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpiles. Kidwai stood at the heart of it all over his 15 year career, receiving wide praise from Pakistan’s civilian and military establishment alike. He formally retired in 2007, but has received 12 extensions since then, allowing him to continue to serve as head of the SPD. The Nation claims that Kidwai holds the record for the longest career in Pakistan’s strategic defense establishment.

Kidwai’s role didn’t end there. He was Pakistan’s chief adviser on nuclear matters and consulted for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his first term, for Musharraf during his tenure, for Zardari thereafter, and for Sharif during his second term. He was also an interlocutor for U.S. defense officials – he constantly assured the United States that Pakistan’s nukes were safe under his watch, and that Pakistan was not a state proliferator of nuclear weapons or nuclear materials. His interactions with the United States caused controversy between him and A.Q. Khan – the infamous Pakistani nuclear scientist who sold nuclear secrets to unsavory actors in Iran and North Korea.

Few analysts have reflected on what Kidwai’s departure could entail for Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons. Michael Kugelman is one of the few. In a piece for The National Interest, Kugelman examines Kidwai’s tenure in some detail. He describes Kidwai as “the institutional face of Pakistani nukes” and argues that it is Kidwai’s “longevity and success that make [his] departure so unsettling.” It’s also concerning that Kidwai’s departure comes at a time when Pakistan continues to field the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, with a particular focus on tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) which are significantly more maneuverable than their strategic counterparts.

World Bank: Global Economy Back on Track

Led by high-income economies, the outlook is good for 2014, but some risks remain.
January 15, 2014

Five years after the global financial crisis triggered the worst downturn since the Depression, the world economy may have finally turned the corner, at least according to the World Bank. With the International Monetary Fund also expected to revise its growth projections upwards, the Asia-Pacific region appears set to benefit.

Releasing its latest “Global Economic Prospects” report Tuesday, the Washington-based lender said global growth would increase to 3.2 percent in 2014, from 2.4 percent last year, rising to 3.4 percent in 2015 on stronger growth in high-income economies. Developing countries would benefit from the global upturn and continued strong growth in China, the bank said.

“Growth appears to be strengthening in both high-income and developing countries, but downside risks continue to threaten the global economic recovery,” World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

“The performance of advanced economies is gaining momentum, and this should support stronger growth in developing countries in the months ahead. Still, to accelerate poverty reduction, developing nations will need to adopt structural reforms that promote job creation, strengthen financial systems, and shore up social safety nets.”

The bank said improved growth in high-income economies “marks a significant shift from recent years when developing countries alone pulled the global economy forward.” From just 1.3 percent growth in 2013, the wealthier economies are expected to post growth of 2.2 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2015, aided by a reduced drag from fiscal tightening and an improving private sector.

North East Asia Strategically Notices India

Paper 5635 Dated 16-Jan-2014

By Dr Subhash Kapila

North East Asia is a strategically significant region which earlier experienced intense Cold War confrontations and is now witnessing the unfolding of possibly a new more intense Cold War, this time between China and the United States and in both cases Japan and South Korea are significant regional players on this chessboard.

With China looming large as a threat perception in varying shades in North East Asia and in Asia as a whole, India stands strategically noticed by the two prominent regional actors, namely Japan and South Korea, possibly because India’s power differentials with China are not too wide and Japan- India and South Korea-India have enough strategic convergences.

Strategically, it is naïve as some believe in India that there is some concept as ‘strategic non-alignment’ and that it can be pursued as India’s overall strategy in global power-politics. India has to realise that even without entering into military alliances strategic space exists to practise ‘balance of power’ politics. Asian security demands that with the United States obsessed with ‘China Hedging Strategy’, it is the Asian powers themselves which have to formulate ‘balance of power’ strategies as deterrence against any threats to Asian security and stability.

Japan and South Korea in recent times have forged ‘Strategic Partnerships’ with India whose significance and import has not been lost on China This stands evident from two recent newspaper articles by the Chinese Ambassador which indirectly reflect concerns at Japan and South Korea reinforcing strategic partnerships with India and highlighting that India conversely has more to gain strategically from China.

Significantly, the onset of 2014 witnesses India hosting visits of its North East Asia ‘Strategic Partners’ to New Delhi for apex level political discussions and meetings. The South Korean President Park Geun-hye is currently on a state visit to India heading a large delegation for substantive discussions on reinforcing further strategic and defence ties besides economic relations. South Korea is expected to make a bid for construction of nuclear reactors in India in which field it has good experience. South Korea also has figured as an economic power-house and has a thriving defence industry.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is headed for India a few days later to be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day Celebrations on January 26, 2014. That the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit follows in quick succession of the royal visits of The Imperial Majesties of the Emperor and Empress of Japan is rich both in symbolism and strategic significance.

The $9 trillion sale

Governments should launch a new wave of privatisations, this time centred on property
Jan 11th 2014

IMAGINE you were heavily in debt, owned a large portfolio of equities and under-used property and were having trouble cutting your spending—much like most Western governments. Wouldn’t you think of offloading some of your assets?

Politicians push privatisation at different times for different reasons. In Britain in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher used it to curb the power of the unions. Eastern European countries employed it later to dismantle command economies. Today, with public indebtedness at its highest peacetime level in advanced economies, the main rationale is to raise cash.

Taxpayers might think that the best family silver has already been sold, but plenty is still in the cupboard (see article). State-owned enterprises in OECD countries are worth around $2 trillion. Then there are minority stakes in companies, plus $2 trillion or so in utilities and other assets held by local governments. But the real treasures are “non-financial” assets—buildings, land, subsoil resources—which the IMF believes are worth three-quarters of GDP on average in rich economies: $35 trillion across the OECD.

Some of these assets could not or should not be sold. What price the Louvre, the Parthenon or Yellowstone National Park? Murky government accounting makes it impossible to know what portion of the total such treasures make up. But it is clear that the overall list includes thousands of marketable holdings with little or no heritage value.

America’s federal government owns nearly 1m buildings (of which 45,000 were found to be unneeded or under-used in a 2011 audit) and about a fifth of the country’s land area, beneath which lie vast reserves of oil, gas and other minerals; America’s “fracking” revolution has so far been almost entirely on private land. The Greek state’s largest stock of unrealised value lies in its more than 80,000 non-heritage buildings and plots of land. With only one holiday home for every 100 in Spain, Greece should be able to tempt developers and other investors at the right price. Analysts at PwC reckon Sweden has marketable state-owned property worth $100 billion-120 billion. If that is typical of the OECD, its governments are sitting on saleable land and buildings worth up to $9 trillion—equivalent to almost a fifth of their combined gross debt.

Japan Mulls Aircraft Carrier Future?

Japan will reportedly fly surveillance drones from its destroyers as a possible prelude to building aircraft carriers.
January 15, 2014

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force may begin flying unmanned surveillance drones from destroyers at sea as a possible prelude to procuring aircraft carriers, local media is reporting.

According to The Japan Times, “The Maritime Self-Defense Force is considering deploying fixed-wing unmanned reconnaissance aircraft that can take off from and land on destroyers.” If the plan is approved, the MSDFs intend to research these operations extensively.

“Depending on its research, Japan might someday build an aircraft carrier equipped with fighter jets,” The Japan Times report said, citing numerous unnamed sources. No details were provided about the affiliations of the sources that might help evaluate the credibility of their claims. However, the paper did report that a source in the Defense Ministry had said that the studies will not lead the MSDF to operate fighter jets from surface ships in the future. The Defense Ministry source did say that unmanned drones would be deployed on the ships, however, because these can operate in “dangerous areas in emergencies.”

The move to operate aircraft from surface ships is likely to spark concern and criticism from some states in the region, particularly China, which insists that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to break loose from the country’s post-WWII Pacifist constitution. As the report noted, although the MSDF currently flies helicopters from some of its ships, it has no experience flying fixed wing aircraft from its vessels because such a move could be construed as an offensive military capability, which Japan’s constitution prohibits.

Japan’s decision to only consider using (presumably unarmed) reconnaissance drones at this time was likely made, at least in part, with an eye toward deflecting the almost certain criticism that the move will provoke. By starting with unarmed aircraft, Japan could seek to gradually seek to make the region comfortable with it operating fixed wing aircraft from surface ships. Moreover, even if the Defense Ministry source is being truthful in saying that only drones and not fighter jets will be flown from Japanese ships, unmanned aircraft will become increasingly capable of being used in some of the same ways as bombers and jets in the years ahead.

What If China Did Invade Pag-asa Island?

An invasion of Pag-asa Island by Chinese forces would certainly be a tragic mistake for China.
January 16, 2014

In the midst of the furor over Hainan province’s new fishing regulations covering nearly sixty percent of the South China Sea, an unnamed Chinese writer penned an article in the Chinese-language publication Qianzhan (Prospects) arguing that China would recover Zhongye Island by force during 2014 as part of a long-term naval expansion plan.

The article likely would have attracted little attention outside China until a summary was translated into English by Chan Kai Yee (who is now often mistakenly listed as the original piece’s author). The summary was published by the China Daily Mail on January 13 under the headline, “China and the Philippines: The reason why a battle for Zhongye (Pag-asa) Island seems unavoidable.”

It is common for retired Chinese military officers and civilian ultranationalists to write about the South China Sea and threaten the Philippines and Vietnam with military action for “stealing” Chinese territory. The Qianzhan article cites unnamed “experts” that the People’s Liberation Army Navy has drawn up a detailed combat plan to seize Zhongye Island this year because of its strategic significance.

Zhongye is better known as Thitu Island or Pag-asa in Tagalog. It is the second largest island in the Spratlys, estimated to cover an area of 37.2 hectares (or 0.14 square miles/0.36 square kilometers). Itu Aba is the largest of the islands in the archipelago and covers an area of 46 hectares in size. It is occupied by Taiwan.

Pag-asa Island lies exposed in the upper northwest quadrant of the Spratlys at the outer boundary of islands and features forming the archipelago. To its west lies the open South China Sea.

Pag-asa Island is designated a town belonging to the Philippine municipality of Kalayaan. It boasts a civilian population of nearly two hundred. Pag-asa contains a number of structures including a municipal building, a community hall, health center, nursery school, water plant, communications tower and an airstrip.

The airstrip, known as Rancudo Airfield, is 1,400 meters in length and services both civilian and military aircraft, including the Philippine Air Force’s C-130 cargo plane. In March 2011, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Eduardo Oban announced plans to upgrade the airfield and repair army barracks. About fifty AFP soldiers are stationed on Pag-asa.

China’s Westward Strategy

Beijing is seeking new energy supply routes to its west. Will that influence its eastern strategy?

By Yo-Jung Chen
January 15, 2014

The implication of Xinjiang’s Uighur minority in last October’sTiananmen Square attacks has showcased Beijing’s failed ethnic policy. The incident not only caused deep shock within the ruling class in China, it has also had an inevitable impact on China’s westward pivot.

Most of the world tends to focus on China’s rapid seaward expansion to the east. Besides a strategic ambition of reaching out into the Pacific, China’s obsession with the East China Sea and the South China Sea also reflect a need to secure vital sea lanes for energy shipments from the Middle East.

Always energy hungry, the world’s second economic power has for the past several years been quietly exploring new supply routes in addition to the traditional ocean route extending through the Indian Ocean, the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea and the East China Sea to one of the ports on China’s East Coast.

One of the new lines being envisioned is what Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the “New Silk Road,” which extends from China’s western border through Central Asia to the oil-rich Middle East. Eventually, this Silk Road may reach Europe via rail. In fact, this grand project is also closely linked to a sweeping shift in China’s internal economic development.

Developing China’s West

The bottom line of China’s westward pivot is a shift in the focus of the country’s economic development from the economically saturated and rich coastal eastern regions towards the inland areas to the west. This shift has become all the more urgent because, as the Tiananmen Square attacks demonstrated, popular discontent in these poor inland regions is rising to dangerous levels. The social disgruntlement can be explained by many factors, including a failed ethnic policy and worsening religious conflict. However, the central government in Beijing seems to believe that it is mainly due to the region’s economic backwardness compared to the industrialized east. It hopes that lavishing economic resources on the poor inland regions will help soothe the worrying social instability.

Africa: China and Japan's Next Battleground?

While China and Japan may look like they’re competing in Africa, the two countries are actually playing different games.
January 15, 2014

As tensions between China and Japan multiply, there is an increasing battle for influence in other states. For example, in his recent article in The Diplomat, Jin Kai noted China and Japan’s global media war. There has also been an upswing in more traditional diplomatic wrangling, with Japan seeking to increase its influence in ASEAN as an attempt to reduce China’s sway in the region. With both China and Japan seeking to assert their leadership over the Asia-Pacific, it makes sense that both countries would woo ASEAN. It’s a bit more surprisingly to see China-Japan diplomatic competition supposedly pop up in Africa.

Recently, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both visited the African continent. Abe left on January 9 for a week-long tour of the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and Ethiopia. Meanwhile, Wang was in Africa from January 7 to January 11, visiting Ethiopia, Djibouti, Ghana, and Senegal. Given the current chill in China-Japan relations (and the tendency for both countries to snipe at each other in the media), the two trips quickly morphed into a sign of ‘competition’ over Africa.

Both countries rejected the idea that they were competing. When Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked to comment on the idea that Wang Yi’s visit to Africa “is directed against Japan,” sheresponded that anyone harboring this idea “is not so acquainted with the past and present of China-Africa relations.” Indeed, as Hua pointed out, it’s traditional for Chinese Foreign Ministers to visit Africa as their first overseas trip of the new year. Hua praised China “sincere and selfless help” for Africa, and warned that trying to stir up a rivalry in Africa is “a wrong decision which is doomed to fail.” This comment was likely directed at Japan, but could just as easily apply to the United States and other countries seeking to increase their influence in Africa.

The Cyber Security Challenge

MARCH 5, 2011
By Michael Nacht

It is increasingly apparent that cybersecurity is becoming a central feature of the U.S. national security policy debate. The popular and specialized literature is replete with articles analyzing the problem and advocating responses to this challenge. Congress is mobilizing committees and sub-committees to address the myriad of issues that cyber technology has raised. The National Academies have already conducted several major studies looking at the appropriateness of offensive operations, cyber deterrence, and other issues. This is taking place as the executive branch conducts an intensive effort to sort out areas of authority and responsibility so that there is a coherent governmental approach to the challenge.

Simultaneously, however, there is a growing chorus of concern that the threat is being “hyped” because huge budgetary support is at stake. This is especially important at a time of extreme budgetary austerity, where some see cyber security as one of the few growth areas for the national security budget, at least for the next several years.

What are the core elements of the issue and what are the needs that must be satisfied if we are to proceed with a sensible, cost-effective approach?

Core elements

When the internet was developed, first by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the 1970s for military purposes but ultimately commercialized for everyone to use by the 1990s, it was heralded as a purely positive technological advance that would transform society. In many respects, this expectation has been realized. Virtually every aspect of modern society — health care, transportation, communication, finance — has been affected if not transformed by this development. Most recently, we have all witnessed the impact of social network technology — especially Facebook and Twitter — in mobilizing communities against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. 

But the introduction of this technology has not altered the fundamental structure of world politics which remains an anarchical system of sovereign states marked by complex patterns of competition and cooperation. Not only are there deep animosities between and among states, but there are powerful terrorist groups and criminal elements that exert their influence across national boundaries. With the ease of use of new technologies, there are individual “hackers” who can cause significant mischief as well as politically motivated “hacksters” who conduct cyber operations in the service of larger political aims.

So the overall challenge is to facilitate the continued use of these technologies for the good of all while protecting against their malevolent application. The growing significance of cyber technology as a tool of national security policy was illustrated in 2007 when the Russian Federation — allegedly a combination of government organizations and individuals — responded to the removal of a Russian statue in Estonia by disabling the Estonian internet. Then, more significantly, just before Russian forces entered Georgia in August 2008, the Georgian governmental cyber communications system was completely disabled, hampering Georgian abilities to meet the attacking forces. Some now claim that in modern warfare, the initial action taken will be a cyber, rather than physical, attack against the defenses and command and control systems of the attacked state.


Teshu Singh 
IPCS : December 26, 2013 

Two related developments; the declaration of ADIZ and the confrontation of a US navy guided missile cruiser Cowpen with a Chinese ship on 5 December 2013 has brought attention to the security architecture in the Asia Pacific. It is worth highlighting that the ADIZ is not a Chinese innovation, it was first established by the US in 1950 creating a joint North American ADIZ with Canada. This begs the questions; what are the larger political objectives of China in the region? How far the US, Japan and the South Korea would let it go in upsetting it? 

Political Objectives of China in the Region 

Both the East China Sea and the South China Sea have been potential flash point in the Asia Pacific region http://www.ipcs.org/article/china/china-and-the-asia-pacific-trends-challenges-and-dilemmas-3796.html. China was interested in the region from last November itself http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/IB198-CRP-Teshu-China.pdf

Needless, to discuss the ADIZ is crucial because it covers the contested archipelago. It falls under the contested territory between China-Japan (Diaoyu/ Senkaku) and China-South Korea (Suyan reef/leodo reef). The zone overlaps with the exiting ADIZ of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Notably, the ADIZ is aimed at strengthening Beijing’s claim over the disputed islands in the ECS. It will allow China to push for bolder action in the region thereby giving the legitimacy of international law and norms. 

The ADIZ would give China a chance to keep track of all ariel movement in the region. China has already declared an exclusive economic zone in a part of Western Pacific thus making a greater presence in the region. This can also be seen as a response to the US ‘pivot to Asia’ or ‘rebalance strategy’. China’s actions are aimed at sending a message to the US that it is serious about challenging an Asian order in which America has been the dominant power for forty years. 

The declaration of the ADIZ came immediately after the meeting of the third Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Party Congress. Geng Yansheng, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence on China’s establishment of the ECS, ADIZ “the Chinese government announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone on November 23, 2013. It is necessary measure for China to protect its state sovereignty and territory and airspace security. It is conducive to maintaining flying safety in international airspace, and is in line with international laws and conventions. The announcement of the East China Sea ADIZ has earned understanding and recognition from an increasing number of countries and peoples, but misunderstandings or even distortions also exist”. 


Vice Admiral (retd) Vijay Shankar 
IPCS : December 26, 2013 

Why did China establish its East China Sea ADIZ? Despite the knowledge that the central three criteria were breached, it covered the disputed Islands of Senkaku/Diaoyu; the Zone solicited information even if the foreign aircraft had no intentions of entering China’s territorial air space; and intriguingly, the new Zone intruded and overlapped the Japanese and Korean ADIZs. It also, cannot be coincidental that the inexact vesica piscis formed by the intersection of the Japan and China ADIZ along with the intersection of their disputed Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) are centred on the Chunxiao gas fields (originally disputed but since 2008 overseen by a shaky joint development programme). 

Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) 

It is space over land or water within which identification, location, and routeing of aircrafts are controlled. It is enforced by a state in the interest of security and safety. While ADIZs usually extend into what is universally acknowledged to be international airspace, even by the countries that maintain them, they in no way confer sovereignty. Its extent is determined by the reaction time to respond to foreign and possibly hostile aircrafts. The authority to establish an ADIZ is not given by any international treaty nor prohibited by international law and is not regulated by any international body. The first ADIZ was established by the United States soon after World War II. As surveillance technologies improved, the scramble for security reached a frenzied peak during the early stages of the Cold War when the fear of a sneak nuclear airborne first strike was a strategic fixation amongst protagonists. 

Several countries currently maintain ADIZs including Norway, Britain, USA, Canada, Japan, Pakistan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and China. Three conventional criteria preside over such zones, these are: the Zone cover undisputed territory, Zones do not apply to foreign aircraft not intending to enter territorial airspace, Zones do not overlap. Since states have the right to regulate air traffic only over their land, countries are not legally obliged to comply with another States ADIZ requirements in international airspace, but commercial traffic tend to do so because of the promise of security and safety. 

Three reasons for China 

First, the Surprise Attack Anxiety. Surprise may be an essential feature of the “Principles of War”, and theoretical savvy suggest that the danger of a surprise attack is highest when one party to a conflict considers war inevitable and thinks that getting in the first blow would deliver a decisive military advantage; but, the reality is entirely in variance. For State initiated offensive military acts and follow up actions cannot today be masked, primarily because contemporary surveillance systems are designed to effectively discriminate hostile preparations and intrusions. Such technical measures are well known to China and appropriate devices are in place. ADIZs on the other hand are founded on the assumption of adherence and therefore in a state of war or military hostilities, it is inconceivable that one of the antagonists is going to adhere to the niceties of safety obligations. Tensions are undoubtedly high in the East China Sea region at the moment, but this is not Cold War. No country wants to target the heart of the global economy. The surprise attack formulation as articulated by China’s defence ministry is therefore on thin ice and has left China’s ADIZ more a question mark as to what their strategic intent is. 


Gp Capt (Retd) PI Muralidharan 
IPCS : December 17, 2013 

The People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of National Defence announced on 23 November 2013 the creation of a new Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea. This, incidentally, includes air space over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands claimed jointly by China, Taiwan and Japan, as well as that over the Ieodo /Suyan Reef claimed both by PRC and South Korea. The Senkaku Islands are located around 400 km from Okinawa and about 200 km from Hainan Island which houses the Chinese PLAN Pacific Fleet. 

Understandably, the Chinese declaration has drawn strong protests from affected countries such as Japan and ROK, and other concerned nations such as the US, Australia and Taiwan. On 25 November 2013, two USAF B-52s from Guam flew through the newly declared ADIZ in challenge, but apparently drew no reaction from the Chinese. The Japanese have been exercising ‘administrative control’ over the Senkaku Islands for decades, officially nationalising them in September 2012, when it was bought from its Japanese owners by the government. Traditionally, sovereign control of any land territory is tantamount to control of its air space and maritime boundaries and not the other way around. It is conceivable during a war situation that air power could be employed to enforce an ADIZ in the manner the Chinese seek to enforce during relatively peaceful climes. Also, the Chinese declaration of an ADIZ does not per se enhance China’s legal claim over these islands. Another moot point is whether the Chinese could enforce this ADIZ deep in the East China Sea (at air distances of around 200 km, somewhat like India’s ‘Bombay High’ from Mumbai). The aerial assets/ radars, communication networks, manpower etc required to provide air defence over these kinds of distances from the mainland would be mind-boggling. Therefore, the declaration thus far remains essentially ‘political’. 

On 24 November 2013, China flew a TU-154 and another Y-8 aircraft on patrol over the Senkaku, eliciting an Air Defence reaction from two Japanese F-15s who intercepted them. The Chinese have also claimed that they scrambled fighters in response to two US and ten Japanese aircraft recently. The potential for miscalculation and a resultant ‘air incident’ is therefore rife. Meanwhile the Koreans have sought to get the Chinese to realign their ADIZ to avoid overlapping with their own areas, which the Chinese have declined to do. As it stands, the US and Australia have refused to recognise the ADIZ for their military traffic, and the Japanese and the South Koreans have also decided to flout its norms. Although declaration of ADIZs is the sovereign right of nations, the international norm is that countries do not unilaterally declare them and that too overlapping those of other nations, and over disputed territories/air spaces. 

Why this ADIZ? 

Whilst claiming that the move was not directed against any specific country or threat, China clearly seeks to strengthen its claims over the disputed island territories in the East/South China Seas, following its September 2012 submission to the UN for baselines to demarcate maritime boundaries around disputed island territories. It is also possible that China is reacting to recent Japanese threats to shoot down Chinese UAVs considered to be encroaching upon their air space. By crafting an ADIZ encompassing the Senkaku Islands, the Chinese perhaps believe that they have established a basis for acting against Japanese aircraft operating over the islands. Also, this could be the precursor for more such ADIZs to be set up over other contentious areas such as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and other islands in the Yellow Sea. Also, the Chinese would like to collate data on the numbers of Japanese ‘intrusions’ into its ADIZ, indeed, akin to the data the Japanese have traditionally been publishing on Chinese and Russian air intrusions. 

International Law on ADIZs 

The Chinese declaration requires aircraft entering the ADIZ to report flight information to Chinese authorities; failure to comply would prompt ‘defensive emergency measures to be adopted by their armed forces’. Clearly provocative, these measures could lead to miscalculations, or worse still, aerial clashes or mid air collisions, like what happened with the American P3A over the Hainan Islands in 2001, which has the potential to trigger wider conflict. Lessons from air incidents between the Turkish and Greek Air Forces over disputed island territories in the Aegean Sea area also cannot be forgotten. 

China : First Stealth Drone

Angana Guha Roy 
IPCS : December 7, 2013 

The test flight of China’s first stealth drone, Lijan, in November 2013, makes China leap from drones to combat drones. It demonstrates China’s enormous military expenditure towards building a world class level of military power. Lijan’s successful test flight has made China the fourth country, after the US (X-47B), France (Dassault nEUROn) and Britain (Taranis), to have independently developed a UCAV. The stealth drone, Lijan or Sharp Sword can be used for electronic surveillance and air-to-ground strikes. Its potential and technological capability makes it a suitable choice for the navy as it may also function as an unmanned combat platform for its aircraft carrier. It is capable of flying undetected at high altitudes, providing intelligence information supported by high resolution video. Talking about the technicalities, one most important thing about Lijan is that it is equipped with the Russian made RD-93 turbofan engine. RD-93 is a fighter jet engine used in Pakistan and China’s joint fighter jet project. Using it to equip Lijan would also mean that this latest stealth drone will have an extended flight range. This would mean that China will have a larger reconnaissance capability in the region. 

Is China trying to narrow down its airpower disparity with western nations? Or does it have a far bigger objective of strengthening its regional sphere of influence? 

Regional Implications 

Lijan’s test flight is important in the light of the intensifying island dispute between Beijing and Tokyo in East China Sea. To put it in perspective, UAVs demonstrates a country’s prominence in a disputed zone. China has converted a number of out-of-date J-6 fighters into UAVs in recent years, to monitor the Southwest Islands in East China Sea. In the backdrop of this development, Japan recently came up with a plan of action to strengthen its defence capabilities in East China Sea and surprisingly increased its military expenditure index against its conventional defence guidelines.

Weeks after this, China came up with the multi-capacity Lijan. It will let the maritime departments of China be updated about developments in the East and South China Seas, thereby helping Beijing take accurate decisions. Some analysts have suggested, as National Post reports, “…the drone might someday be launched from China’s sole aircraft carrier, possibly to fly missions around China’s East China Sea and South China Sea Island claims.” A day after China test flew Lijan, the Chinese Defence Ministry announced the creation of an ‘air defence identification zone’ (ADIZ), that overlaps Japan’s own ADIZ covering much of the East China Sea, including the disputed islands. China's Defence Ministry, as reports suggest, said that aircraft entering the zone must obey its rules or face ‘emergency defensive measures’.

Air Power Disparity with the West 

Following what China Daily has quoted: "The successful flight shows the nation has again narrowed the air-power disparity between itself and Western nations,’’ many predictions emphasise that the launch of Lijan was a conscious effort to match up to Western air power. The US has conducted test flying of about five UCAVs since the late 1990s. Europe is not far behind in this respect. Currently it is developing the Neuron and Taranis models. In the meanwhile, Russia is working on a version of the MiG Skat. The reports suggest Beijing has developed different kind of UAVs that matches almost all the categories deployed by the US that range from tactical drones of partial endurance to larger structures that look remarkably familiar to US Predator or Reaper models. Another point of similarity is that these Chinese drones, like their US counterparts, are equipped with hard points on their wings to carry armaments. The delta wing Lijan has has been compared to US’ Northrop Grumman X-47 series and the European Neuron stealth drones. It has also been referred to as a reverse-engineered copy of Russia’s Mikoyan Skat. 

Nuke deal looks better yet for Iran

January 14, 2014

Sen. Bob Menendez co-authored a new bill that would hit Iran with new sanctions if no agreement is reached within six months.

A new deal with Iran “marks the first time in a decade” that Tehran has agreed to “halt progress” in its nuclear program, and even “roll back” some of it, President Obama proudly announced Sunday.

Actually, Sunday’s signing marks the second time in two months that Obama’s hailed this deal as a historic unprecedented diplomatic breakthrough. And what’s happened in those weeks bodes poorly for what’s supposed to be a final agreement later in the year.

Back in November, this same deal (a gentlemen’s agreement, really) between six world powers and the Iranian regime was supposed to launch a six-month period, after which a more comprehensive pact would be signed, and really really end Iran’s nuclear-arms dash.

The diplomats’ logic was simple enough: We hope to halt Iran’s nuclear progress, while they want sanctions removed; start with half-way measure — we’ll remove some sanctions, they’ll stop some nuclear activity. Then hash out a real deal — with a deadline: Iran has half a year (with an option for one extension) to prove its seriousness.

But the November “deal” wasn’t complete; it took two months for diplomats to nail the details. So the six-month clock doesn’t start ticking ’til next Monday.

And Iran’s been busy in weeks between the November “signing” and Sunday’s signing:
  • Tehran continued to grow its nuclear program, reportedly introducing a new generation of centrifuges to its facilities in Natanz and Fordow, and vigorously building its Arak heavy-water facility.
  • It added 1,000 pounds to its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 5 percent, and 66 pounds to its 20 percent stock, getting it thisclose to breakout capacity.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were turned away when they sought to visit the Parchin military base, where the IAEA indicates that Iranians are experimenting with ways to weaponize nukes (Oops: Our diplomats didn’t include a right to inspect military bases in the November pact).

Oh, and while Obama claims that we can undo the rollback of Iran sanctions at any time, the mullahs used the November agreement to end their global economic isolation:
  • Next month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to visit Tehran, signaling a thaw between the two countries. They plan to ink a trade pact worth up to $50 billion a year, which would give Turkey access to Iran’s oil and open a major regional market for Iranian goods.
  •  Iran is also negotiating an oil-for-goods deal with Russia, worth $1.5 billion a month. This one will revive sales of Iranian crude around the world, which had nearly halted under strict banking and ship-insurance sanctions. Note that Russia is one of the six powers conducting the diplomacy that produced Obama’s “historic” boasts.