2 October 2014

Pushing Back Against China’s Economic Takeover of Taiwan

By Shihoko Goto
September 30, 2014

Why the the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a role in maintaining Taiwan’s economic independence. 

An outright military conflict between Taiwan and mainland China may no longer be the single biggest threat to security in East Asia, but the veritable tsunami of capital, goods and people from the People’s Republic to Taiwan is increasingly seen as a de facto takeover of the island nation by mainland China. Taipei may have believed that ever-closer economic ties to mainland China would be an effective way to get back on track for growth, but integrating itself more tightly with the emerging networks of global trade is critical for its political as well as economic future. The question is whether the international community can accommodate Taipei and how.

Walking along the streets by the glitzy Taipei 101 building, the Taiwan’s decision to improve relations with its neighbor is all too apparent. For the bulk of demand for boutiques offering the latest designer handbags and wine bars catering to the most discerning of tastes is being driven by Chinese tourists. In fact, mainland Chinese make up the single biggest group of visitors to Taiwan, reaching nearly three million last year, thanks to a multitude of direct flights between the two sides available daily since 2009. It is in fact money from the People’s Republic that is driving the capital’s veneer of glamor, given that the Republic of China’s GDP growth rate hasdropped to below 3 percent in recent years, compared to over 7 percent up to the mid 1990s.

While Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s conciliatory approach to the PRC and signing of the 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in particular has been seen as one way to jump-start sagging demand, it has proved to be a risky political gambit for the president’s survival. Growing concerns about cross-strait economic relations becoming an increasingly one-way street, with the bulk of the gains going to China have shown no signs of waning. Protesters took to the streets earlier this year to object to the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, fearing that Beijing would increase its influence as 64 Taiwanese sectors and 80 mainland Chinese sectors were opened up.

Already, increased Chinese economic presence has led to a surge in Taiwanese real estate prices. Even though there are numerous barriers confronting Chinese nationals wanting to purchase Taiwanese properties outright, there are enough loopholes in the system that they can invest in real estate on the island. Some analysts estimate that real estate prices have increased by more than 200 percent over the past decade as a result of Chinese intervention, making it increasingly difficult for Taiwanese workers to buy their own homes.

In al Qaeda attack, lines between Pakistan military, militants blur


By Syed Raza Hassan and Katharine Houreld

KARACHI Pakistan/ISLAMABAD Wed Oct 1, 2014

A policeman is silhouetted in the Swat valley region, located in Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province March 19, 2010.

KARACHI Pakistan/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Months after Owais Jakhrani was sacked from the Pakistan navy for radical Islamist views, he led an audacious mission to take over a warship and turn its guns on a U.S. naval vessel in the open seas.

The early September dawn raid at a naval base in the southern city of Karachi was thwarted, but not before Jakhrani, two officers and an unidentified fourth assailant snuck past a patrol boat in a dinghy and engaged in an intense firefight on or around the ship.

Four people were killed in the attempt to hijack the warship Zulfiqar, including Jakhrani and two accomplices, who were serving sub-lieutenants, according to police reports seen by Reuters.

Officials are divided about how much support the young man in his mid-20s had from inside the navy. They also stress that Jakhrani and his accomplices were a long way from achieving their aim when they were killed.

But the attack, claimed by al Qaeda's newly created South Asian wing, has highlighted the threat of militant infiltration into Pakistan's nuclear-armed military.

The issue is a sensitive one for Pakistan's armed forces, which have received billions of dollars of U.S. aid since 2001 when they joined Washington's global campaign against al Qaeda.

According to a statement from al Qaeda, the intended target in this case was a U.S. navy vessel, meaning potential loss of American lives and a blow to relations between the two nations.

A naval spokesman said an inquiry was still ongoing when Reuters contacted the military with detailed questions about the incident. The military typically does not publish its inquiries.

"The Reuters story is not based on facts," he said. "All the facts will be ascertained once the inquiry is finalised."

Most Pakistani military officials deny infiltration is a significant problem.

Yet Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told parliament the attackers could only have breached security with inside help.

One navy official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press, said at least eight navy personnel had been arrested based on the attackers' phone records, including four aboard the ship.

Three serving mid-level lieutenant commanders from Karachi were also arrested in the western city of Quetta, allegedly trying to flee to Afghanistan two days after the botched raid, officials said.

Further arrests were made in Karachi, Peshawar, and northwestern Pakistan, they added.


The plot's mastermind was sub-lieutenant Jakhrani, either 25 or 26 years old, whose father is a senior police officer in Karachi, officials said.

Modi-Xi summit in perspective Need for a clear, long view of China

Inder Malhotra

Some believe the incursion at Chumar was the handiwork of PLA commanders acting on their own. This is absurd. For it is Xi Jinping (above) who controls the PLA

RODERICK MACFARQUHAR, Professor of history and political science at Harvard, is an internationally respected authority on China. Way back in the 1980s he had published a three-volume account of the origins of the Cultural Revolution in that country. In the last of these volumes he had an elaborate chapter tellingly titled “Mao’s India War”. He did not refrain from pointing out what had gone wrong on the Indian side but was masterly in refuting Neville Maxwell’s perverse thesis that the brief but brutal border war in the high Himalayas in 1962 was “India's China War”. The reason I am stating all this is that in a highly noteworthy recent interview he has not only put in perspective the September 17-19 summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping but also pointed out what it really means to the future of relations between these two Asian giants. This should be compulsory reading for all Indians interested in China, and especially for those with any say in the making of New Delhi’s China policy.

Even at the height of bonhomie and warmth between the two leaders on the riverfront of Sabarmati in Ahmedabad — with the honoured guest clad in an Indian-style jacket presented by Modi — many in this country had felt troubled. For exactly at that time a serious and large Chinese incursion into the Chumar area in the Ladakh region to the south of the Line of Actual Control was taking place. The number of Chinese troops on Indian territory was as large as 1,000. To his credit, Modi ordered that 1,500 Indian soldiers should face the intruders. Some Indians tried to comfort themselves with the notion that the unacceptable incident might be the handiwork of the People’s Liberation Army commanders acting on their own. This was absurd. For it had been clear for some time that Xi, the most powerful President of China since Deng Xioping, controlled the PLA. He was the Chairman of the Military Affairs Commissions of both the Chinese Communist Party and the government. Modi publicly took up the border issue and at the joint press conference, demanding its “early solution” as well as clarification of the LAC to avoid repeated incidents like the one at Chumar then taking place. Xi did not reply at the same forum but used his address to the Indian Council of World Affairs to plug the standard Chinese line: that the border issue was left by history and that both China and India were competent enough to settle minor incidents that occurred because claims on where the LAC lay differed.

Macfarquhar confirms this analysis and adds that Xi has repeatedly emphasised the party leadership of the military. Making excessive concessions to India would not be in keeping with the “profile Xi has established with the Chinese public, which is as a strong nationalist leader”. What the eminent Sinologist had to say further needs to be quoted fully and underscored. “If my reading is right, Xi was basically telling Modi that you may be a strong leader, but I am telling you that we have got the advantage of the terrain on the border and we can exploit it”. What Macfarquhar did not say but is a reality we cannot afford to overlook is that the Chinese do not consider us to be in the same league as they. Furthermore, they are proud of the tremendous difference between their economic and military power and India’s.

The Killing of the Sikhs

By Ammara Ahmad
September 30, 2014

Rising attacks and religious desecrations are forcing Pakistan’s Sikhs from their homes. 

On September 6, Harjeet Singh was sitting in his herbal medicine store in the Nothia Bazaar area of Peshawar when two armed men entered the shop and opened fire. Harjeet, 30 and a member of Pakistan’s Sikh minority, succumbed to his injuries while his attackers escaped.

Peshawar is the capital of Pakistan’s north-west province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), which has become the epicenter of militancy and violence in Pakistan over the last decade. Just two days before this attack, another Sikh was stabbed to death in Mardan, another city in KPK. Amarjeet Singh was at his cosmetics shop, when the shutters were pulled down. He was found later that evening by his son- stabbed to death in the warehouse adjacent to the shop.

In early August, two unidentified men fired on three members of the Sikh community in Peshawar. One teenager, Jagmot Singh, was killed and two others were injured.

“Sikhs are under attack because they can be distinguished from other people because of their turban,” says Haroon Sarab Diyal, chairman of the All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement,. “We are in no position to name the culprits but we know these are attempts to further destabilize Pakistan and frighten the community.”

In a report issued by Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in 2014, Pakistan was declared one of the most dangerous countries in the world for religious minorities. The report mentioned militant groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SPP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) and Jaishul Islam, which attack, threaten and abduct minorities. According to a U.S. State Department Report on religion in 2008, there are some 30,000 Sikhs residing across Pakistan, many in the north-western provinces of KPK and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

“Sikhs are not sending their children to schools or to their businesses now,” says Haroon Sarab Diyal. “The evening and night prayers are not held any more. We all know it is because of the attacks. If they give a statement or witness testimony, they will be in trouble.”


September 26, 2014

Hardly a day before India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to land in the United States for his first state visit since being elected, an American federal court issued a summons to Mr. Modi over his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots in which, according to Indian official figures, 790 Muslims and 253 Hindus were killed. At the time of the riots, which many refer to as an anti-Muslim pogrom, Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister. His critics allege that he was indirectly or directly culpable for the violence either because he did too little to prevent it or because he may have secretly encouraged it. Because of his alleged role in those riots, in 2005, the U.S. Department of State invoked a 1998 law that renders those foreign officials who are responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a U.S. visa. Upon being sworn in as Prime Minister, this ban was obviated as Modi qualified for an A-1 visa for heads of government. The United States needs historical and political perspective on Mr. Modi and the Indian political milieu for the simple fact that the United States needs India as a partner to confront myriad regional challenges and common enemies. Too much is at stake to be squandered by ignorance and arrogance.

The Gujarat Riots in Context

Modi is a controversial figure within and without India because of his connection to the Gujarat violence in 2002. His defenders dismiss the varied allegations against him as rampant nonsense. They enthusiastically recount that Modi was never charged with a crime and remind his critics that a team of special investigators, which were appointed by India’s Supreme Court, found no evidence to support the claim that he was criminally liable for failing to stop the riots. They also recite the conclusions of several other investigations that also failed to find incriminating evidence. Critics of the varied investigations claim that these conclusions of his innocence were “predestined, if not predetermined” in part because they relied “implicitly on Modi’s testimony.” They also explain how various technical aspects of the investigations were flawed.


By P. Stobdan

Given the high degree of national mandate Xi and Modi carried, people had expected statesmanship from the two leaders to break the ice on the India-China standoff. The opportunity seems missed and instead mistrust has grown. One reads the familiar media overtone ‘we told you so’, ‘China can’t be trusted’, ‘India takes tough stance’, ‘Chinese troops back down’, so on and so forth. These sound apologetic. Sign of a failure?

To begin with both leaders exuded self-confidence, despite misgivings, they seemed serious and upbeat about forging a win-win partnership, deepening trade and investment links. Xi saw opportunities to build upon on Modi’s economic agendas, sought reciprocities and India-China congruence to build a “multipolar” world.

Until they walked the Sabarmati bank things looked fine. But, when media suddenly stirred up Chumur and Demchok crises, enthusiasm started to wane. One is not clear whether Modi and Xi even anticipated the flare up but both came out with foul mood after their press briefings – they were clearly being trapped into a narrative that is neither Chinese nor Indian.

To be sure, while President Xi came with the aim to focus on economics but sensing the Indian toughness, he would have come prepared with a Plan B. This is where things started to drift. It appeared the visit was fixed; it was a game of nerve. Xi had inkling into India’s new perspective on China. A number of Chinese experts visited New Delhi and tested the waters in advance through their interface with think-tanks like VIF, ORF and India Foundation.

Beijing may have taken Modi’s Bhutan and Nepal visits into its strategic calculations, but also carefully observed a series of other actions – Arunachal leader Kiren Rijiju’s entry into Cabinet; appointing former Army Chief to oversee border infrastructure; inviting Tibetan leader Lobzang to Modi’s oath taking function; Prakash Javadekar, the environment minister, giving clearances to building roads within 100-km of the LAC; decision to install a radar station at Narcondam Island; decision to set up additional 54 ITBP posts along borders; Modi’s “expansionist mind-set” swipe in Tokyo; Sushma’s “One-India” thought and finally Pranab Mukherjee’s Vietnam visit close on the heels of Xi’s visit.

Today’s Russian Army Is a Shadow Of the Former Soviet Army of the Cold War

September 30, 2014

The Incredible Shrinking Russian Army

For centuries the Russian Army was rightly feared because of its huge size and the determination of its leaders to win at any cost. That army died out in the 1990s and was replaced by not much. This can be seen clearly during recent Russian efforts to annex parts of Ukraine. For the operations in and near Ukraine the Russians have sent in about twenty percent of their combat brigades, usually the most effective (Spetsnaz and airborne) and experienced (ones recently in the Caucasus). Parts of at least three of these brigades are currently inside eastern Ukraine. Over a dozen combat brigades have had some of their troops in Ukraine so far this year. These brigades represent the best Russia has, as the rest of the army is crippled by inexperience and shortages of personnel and equipment. Russia is still trying to replace obsolete and worn out Cold War era weapons and equipment.

Since Russia does not admit it has troops inside Ukraine, the hundreds of Russian soldiers killed there so far have been coming back and the families are increasingly angry about the government secrecy about how their sons died and where. Despite strenuous efforts to suppress news of dead soldiers the Internet allows the news to get around and the families of dead soldiers to get in touch with each other and organize protests and unrest the government does not want. All this is another side effect of military reforms that are still under way.

In Russia the reforms of the army that began in 2008 have reduced the number of army units from over 1,800 to fewer than 200 now. Many of the disbanded units were part of the reserve or organizations that had become irrelevant but continued to exist anyway. The army strength is now about 300,000, including SOF (special operations forces, or Spetsnaz). The combat forces comprise 55 combat brigades (33 mechanized infantry and four tank, 22 Spetsnaz, airborne or air assault).

These brigades are about half the size of American combat brigades and about a third of the personnel are conscripts who serve for one year. So the skill levels of troops in these brigades is much lower than for comparable troops in American or British brigades (and elite brigades in French, German and some other Western forces.) There are also 28 combat support brigades (eight armed with multi-barrel rocket launchers like the U.S. MLRS, nine with short range ballistic missiles, ten with anti-aircraft missile systems and one engineer brigade).

The reforms basically dismantled the Soviet era reserve system that maintained over a hundred divisions and hundreds of support units that had equipment but less than ten percent of their troops. In wartime these units were quickly manned by reservists (conscripts who had recently completed their two years of active service). In the half century since World War II the reserve system fell apart and discarding it was a smart move because it was not worth the cost of maintaining. When mobilized the reserve divisions proved much less capable than expected. But eliminating the old reserve system means Russia only has active duty brigades available for any emergency. The Russian Army is now smaller (in numbers and capability) than the American, something that had never happened before.

Don’t Let Pakistan's Military Hijack Democracy

By Haider Ali Hussein Mullick
September 30, 2014

It may be messy, but Pakistan’s democracy is worth saving. 

As Washington mulls the Islamic State’s advances and Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, Pakistan’s democratically elected government is facing massive protests backed by some in the military and intelligence community. Led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, thousands of protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a year after his victory in an imperfect but nationally and internationally accepted election. With covert military support, Khan is also demanding new elections and Qadri a utopian political system overhaul.

Pakistani democracy is messy but military dictatorship – direct or indirect – is not the answer. So the protesters should stop currying favor with the army, and Prime Minister Sharif should work with the protestors to find a constitutional solution that covers electoral and governance reforms.

Washington should support democracy so nuclear-armed Pakistan, next door to Afghanistan, can focus on combating Al Qaeda and its partners. In the last 12 years the likes of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, sectarian terrorists and violent separatists have killed nearly 20,000 Pakistani civilians and 6,000 security personnel. Civilian leadership over the Pakistani military will decrease provocative policies towards India like supporting insurgents today only to fight them tomorrow. Moreover, a stable South Asia needs more democracy, not less. Democracies are less likely to go to war with other democracies.

The current showdown between the protestors and the government is due to last year’s national elections, the prime minister’s attempt to reign in the generals by supporting peace with India, and the trial of former military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf. Indeed, Javed Hashmi, Khan’s number two, who was recently fired, said that Khan and Qadri plotted with the Army and its intelligence agency, ISI, to oust Prime Minister Sharif.Demanding Sharif’s resignation is the military’s attempt to regain lost power.

Last May, defying Pakistani Taliban threats, millions of Pakistanis voted for their country’s first democratic transition. With an historic turnout of 55 percent, nearly 15 million voted for the current Sharif administration and 8 million for Khan. Qadri did not even participate.

The European Union’s Election Observation Mission report called the 2013 elections the “first national elections held under legal obligations of the treaty [UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]“. The report noted “no grave violations of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates,” and stated “most of the polling booths observed were rated as satisfactory or good.”

Afghanistan Inaugurates New President, Chief Executive

September 30, 2014

Afghanistan inaugurated Ashraf Ghani as its 13th president, marking its first successful democratic transition of power. 

Ending a six month stalemate over the results of its presidential run-off election, Afghanistan inaugurated Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as its new president on Monday. Ghani, a former finance minister, will succeed Hamid Karzai as the 13th president of Afghanistan. With Ghani’s inauguration, Afghanistan marks its first peaceful and democratic transfer of power between two governments. Alongside Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah was inaugurated as the country’s chief executive — a new role that was created as part of a U.S.-brokered unity government deal to defuse the electoral stalemate between the once rival presidential candidates.

Somewhat surprisingly, the inauguration ceremony lacked high-level representation from several powers, including the United States. For example, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the man who helped broker the agreement that led to the unity government being formed, remained in Washington D.C. where he will receive Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is currently on a state visit to the United States. White House advisor John Podesta led a 10-person U.S. delegation to the ceremony. Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussein and Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari were in attendance representing their countries. China sent its minister of human resources, Yin Weimin, to the inauguration. The absence of other notable regional leaders and foreign ministers was likely due to the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Tolo News reports that the long-awaited signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan will take place on Tuesday. The agreement was delayed for over a year as former Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign it, arguing that it was a task for his successor. The agreement will form the legal basis for a residual U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan beyond the end of this year. The United States will keep on a troop contingent in the 8,000 to 10,000 range for limited counter-terrorism operations and to train Afghan security forces. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham will sign the BSA on behalf of the United States.

With Ghani’s inauguration, Hamid Karzai formally ended his near 13-year tenure as president of Afghanistan. Having originally been appointed by the international conference in Bonn in 2001, Karzai came to have a turbulent relationship with the United States in his final years in office. Prior to the inauguration, Karzai lambasted the United States and Pakistan in a farewell speech, warning his successors to be ”extra cautious in relations with the U.S. and the West.” Karzai, nonetheless, was an important partner for the United States over the past decade in Afghanistan and played an important role in governing the country to the point that it was able to successfully stage a democratic transition. Under Afghanistan’s constitution, Karzai will be eligible to run for the office of president once again in 2019.

On Sunday night, before the inauguration, Karzai offered one final reflection on his time in office:

Future Status of Al Qaeda and Taliban Prisoners Held in Secret American Prison in Afghanistan Not Known

September 29, 2014

U.S. May Keep Secret Prisoners in Custody After Afghan War Exit

KABUL — The fate of a group of prisoners held in near-total secrecy by U.S. forces at a prison in Afghanistan is hanging in limbo, the facility’s commander said, as Washington gropes for options after its legal right to hold them there expires in December.

The inmates - all foreign nationals captured on battlefields around the world - could be transferred to the U.S. court system or, as a last resort, to the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Brigadier General Patrick J. Reinert told Reuters.

The quandary over what to do with the detainees held in a prison near Bagram airfield, north of Kabul, has rekindled the outrage over the U.S. policy of rendition in the early phases of the Afghan war.

In the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, suspected militants were abducted and held in secret prisons worldwide without charge or evidence.

The United State abandoned that policy under President Barack Obama, but the detention of those being held near Bagram is a reminder that the issue has not been concluded.

"We’ve got to resolve their fate by either returning them to their home country or turning them over to the Afghans for prosecution or any other number of ways that the Department of Defense has to resolve," Reinert told Reuters.

Almost nothing is known of the detainees’ identities. The United States has declined to disclose their nationalities, where they were captured and how many are still in its custody.

Their status is increasingly urgent because the United States will lose the right to hold prisoners in Afghanistan after the 2014 end of mission for the U.S.-led force there.

Most of the prisoners are Pakistani, according to the human rights group Justice Project Pakistan. Some are from Yemen, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan Is Building Smaller Nukes, But They Just Might Be More Dangerous

SEP 27, 2014, 

This handout image from the Pakistan military shows a medium range ballistic missile Hatf-V (Ghauri) being fired during a test on November 28, 2012. Pakistan's Hatf-V is a medium-range ballistic missile, capable of reaching targets in India.

Defense Contractor Stocks Are Surging

Pakistan is likely working to create tactical nuclear weapons, which are smaller warheads built for use on battlefields rather than cities or infrastructure. These weapons are diminutive enough to be launched from warships or submarines, which makes them easier to use on short notice than traditional nuclear weapons.

The CCP's Solution to China's 'Ethnic Issues'

September 30, 2014

At a conference in Beijing, China’s top leaders offered solutions for “material” and “spiritual” ethnic issues. 

From September 28 to 29, China’s Central Committee held a two-day conference on ethnic affairs, during which Chinese leadership promised to stimulate “leapfrog development” in China’s ethnic regions. “Ethnic minorities and ethnic regions have witnessed significant progress since the founding of the new China, but certain ethnic regions still face considerable problems, such as poverty, and are still leagues away from the common goal of the comprehensive construction of a well-off society,” a statement issued after the meetingproclaimed.

The Chinese government is grappling with ethnic issues, especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Discontent among the native Uyghur population has led to riots and even terrorist attacks; over 300 people have died in such incidents since the beginning of the year. As tensions rise, the central government has turned more of its attention to coping with ethnic issues.

The conference this weekend was a sign of the new push — according to CCTV, this week’s Ethnic Affairs Work Conference was the first since 2005. As a further sign of its importance, the discussion was attended by six of the seven members of China’s top political body, the Politburo Standing Committee, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang (the only absent PBSC member, Zhang Gaoli, is currently traveling abroad). The conference made it clear that ethnic issues are a major priority for all Party members; according to the statement, each cadre is expected to set aside time to discuss ethnic issues as part of his or her regular duties.

The statement emphasized that the “theory and direction” of the Party’s ethnic policies are “correct,” but at the same time listed numerous areas where there is room for improvement. For instance, the conference called for “perfecting” the autonomy of ethnic regions, which would include Xinjiang as well as the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet. The main goal for governance in these regions continues to be boosting economic development, which China believes will cure the vast majority of ethnic discontent.


September 30, 2014 

Chinese Ambassador Withdrawn From India Before President’s Visit

China unexpectedly recalled its ambassador to India shortly before a state visit to the country this month by President Xi Jinping. The move came as news emerged about the mysterious disappearance of another Chinese diplomat in Iceland who was alleged to have spied for Japan.

Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, announced the day before Mr Xi’s arrival in India that Wei Wei had been replaced as ambassador in New Delhi by Le Yucheng, who had been posted in Kazakhstan.

Several senior diplomats from other countries said they were baffled by the move but there was no agreement on the possible causes. They said Mr Wei might have been shunted out to make way for one of Mr Xi’s loyalists, or fallen foul of an anti-corruption campaign that has brought down tens of thousands of Chinese officials since it began early last year.

Communist party investigators have systematically investigated government departments and regional authorities but have not publicly revealed any investigation into the foreign ministry or the country’s diplomats.

The Communist party’s central commission for discipline inspection, the main anti-corruption body in the country, said it had “disciplined” or “severely disciplined” more than 250,000 cadres since the campaign begun.

The Chinese embassy provided no explanation for the removal of Mr Wei, who had been based in India for under two years. In Beijing, the foreign ministry said “the appointment and removal of the ambassador is normal diplomatic practice” but would not disclose his whereabouts.

Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, said: “It’s very strange. You don’t replace an ambassador or recall an ambassador on the eve of a visit.” The professor said Mr Wei must have been given his “marching orders” by hawkish Chinese leaders for ruffling the feathers of the People’s Liberation Army.

Chinese troops crossed the disputed “Line of Actual Control” separating India from China in the Tibetan Himalayas to coincide with Mr Xi’s visit to India. Confrontations between hundreds of soldiers from the two armies have continued for more than two weeks, albeit without a shot being fired.

“Every visit of a Chinese leader is preceded by some belligerence. It’s become a routine thing now,” Professor Chellaney said. But Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, had been taken aback by the size of the Chinese force that crossed the line, which numbered 1,000 or more at its peak.

Although the Chinese announcement about Mr Wei’s replacement was made on September 16, Indian officials said Mr Wei was in fact replaced weeks before. The newly arrived Mr Le publicly presented his credentials to President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi five days before Mr Xi’s arrival.

One theory is that Mr Le is a protégé or an ally of the Chinese president, since he was sent to Kazakhstan just before Mr Xi’s visit to that country in 2013, just as he was parachuted into India this year.

A search for Mr Wei on the English language version of the foreign ministry’s website reveals only an anodyne article published in his name this year in an Indian newspaper, where he wrote about reviving the “silk road” connecting India, China and the rest of Asia to promote mutual prosperity.

Diplomats posted in New Delhi had contrasting views of Mr Wei, with some calling him exceptionally uncommunicative and others saying he engaged in normal diplomatic dialogue.

“He was very open, perhaps too open,” one ambassador said.

Ma Jisheng, China’s ambassador to Iceland, is missing with his wife and has been arrested over allegations that he is a Japanese spy, according to media reports. Mr Ma failed to return to his job in Rejkyavik after travelling to China in January.

China’s foreign ministry has said it has no information on Mr Ma’s case and it was unclear whether his disappearance is part of a broader investigation into suspected espionage within the Chinese foreign service.

Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby in Beijing


A Brief Overview of China’s Naval Outlook

Naval supremacy is one of the oldest forms of projecting national power. For millennia, the ability to operate well beyond a country’s coastal waters has provided nations with unmatched security. Aircraft carriers multiply naval supremacy exponentially, providing a navy with floating bases, thereby relinquishing any dependence on other governments or local bases. Both practically and symbolically, the aircraft carrier has been central to American power projection over the six decades during which it has dominated the Pacific – but it is those same vessels that are now under threat from China’s vast new array of missiles.

Throughout the history of carrier aviation, it has been said that the first thing a President asks during times of crisis is: “Where is the nearest aircraft carrier?” The U.S. has had a naval presence, including aircraft carriers, in the northwestern Pacific Ocean for over half a century. Beginning with the defeat of Japan in World War II, the U.S. Navy has treated these waters as their own. It has used its unmatched naval power to implement a rules-based international system oriented toward the promotion and preservation of free trade, freedom of navigation, and the democratic rule of law. This dominance was accelerated in 1972 when the U.S. endorsed China’s return to the family of nations, thereby implicitly leading to China’s acceptance of American military dominance in Asia.

While there have always been Chinese antagonists to American naval dominance in the Pacific, one would find it difficult to argue that American dominance in the region has not led to the most stable and prosperous period of China’s modern history. That said, many proponents of China’s imperial ambitions assert that America’s role in the Pacific is crumbling, as China vows to recast its historic military and political might in the region.

Today, China is especially concerned with the security of its seaborne commerce in the area it calls the Near Seas – the coastal waters that include the Yellow, East China, and South China Seas. As such, China is beginning to implement a strategy to exert increased control over the Near Seas, pushing the U.S. Navy farther and farther east. In doing so, China is launching a profound challenge to the U.S.-led order that has been the backbone of China’s own modern economic success.

American military strategists assert that for the past 20 years China has been expanding its military with a keen focus on investments in its “anti-navy” – a series of warships, silent submarines, and precision missiles specifically designed to prevent the U.S. Navy from operating in large areas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. As Dennis Blair, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who was the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific region states: “Ninety per cent of [China’s] time is spent on thinking about new and interesting ways to sink our ships and shoot down our planes.”

China: The Next Major Investor in American Markets?

September 29, 2014

"We should be ready to welcome Chinese investment as it grows to European levels, while remembering to review its origins from an enduringly statist system of politics."

American and Chinese negotiators are hard at work on a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), the next step in closer, more productive relations between the world’s two largest economies. While U.S. negotiators have rightly focused on improving access for U.S. firms to Chinese markets, policy makers should not lose sight of the growing importance of Chinese investment here. Just a few years ago, Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States was measured in tens of millions of dollars, but that inbound capital has now progressed well into the billions, a trend expected to continue. Yet while foreign investment in the United States is almost always seen as an unambiguous good—shoring up domestic operations of existing businesses or spurring the creation of new jobs and capital—many view this new development with caution, if not outright suspicion.

When Toyota invested in Tesla’s advanced battery operations in 2010 and launched a joint-development deal 2011, it was seen as a critical validation for a company that is quickly becoming an iconic American brand. InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch bruised the patriotic pride of some, but there was little sense of social dread about a change in ownership. Investment from China, in contrast, is viewed with a more jaundiced eye. Smithfield Foods, an American meat-processing brand for more than seventy-five years, was recently purchased by Chinese agricultural giant Shuanghui Group. Few worry that Japan plans to derail American electric car technology or that Belgium is plotting to destroy the U.S. domestic bar and pub industry. Yet at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Debbie Stabenow warned, “we need to evaluate how foreign purchases of our food supply will affect our economy broadly.” Is foreign investment from China really different and deserving of more scrutiny than investment from other countries?

Put simply, yes.

Here There Is No Why

SEPT. 29, 2014

For ISIS, Slaughter Is an End in Itself

LONDON — In a famous passage from “Survival in Auschwitz,” Primo Levi relates an incident upon arrival in the Nazi death camp that captures the intersection of the human with the inhuman. He and other Italian prisoners have been held in a shed as they await their fate. Levi looks around in search of some means to quench his thirst:

“I eyed a fine icicle outside the window, within hand’s reach. I opened the window and broke off the icicle but at once a large, heavy guard prowling outside brutally snatched it away from me. ‘Warum?’ I asked him in my poor German. ‘Hier ist kein warum,’ (there is no why here), he replied, pushing me inside with a shove.”

There is no why here. The phrase has been reverberating in me since I watched a henchman of the organization that calls itself Islamic State behead two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and a British aid worker, David Haines. The men had been broken by their imprisonment. They had been hollowed out, a terrible thing to behold. How many times they must have asked themselves the why of their captivity, humiliation and torture right up to the moment when a small knife was applied, with a sawing motion, to their throats. Each of the three men died alone, unlike the Yazidis murdered in droves, the Shiite soldiers massacred, the women and children slaughtered during the advance of black-clad ISIS forces across northern Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, has created a cult of violence that makes the elimination of all nonbelievers the cornerstone of a movement whose avowed objective is a restored Islamic caliphate but whose raison d’être is the slaughter itself.

It is human to seek for reasons. Perhaps the rise of ISIS may be seen as the culmination of decades of Arab resentment at perceived Western domination, drawing support from the same anger as the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda before it; or as an expression of the abject failure of Arab societies; or as an armed Sunni response to the Shia-bolstering American invasion of Iraq; or as brutal payback for Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo (where, it must be said, there was scant “why” for prisoners detained for years and guilty of no crime); or as a well-funded offshoot of Saudi Wahhabism interpreted in its most literal form; or as a heady alternative for disaffected young Muslims to the moral void of Western civilization; or as evidence of the crisis of Islam and the inevitable Thirty Years War of its Sunni and Shia branches; or simply as a call to arms to drive out the United States the way the infidel Crusaders were ousted from the Levant.


September 30, 2014 

Enough with “Boots on the Ground:” What Will the U.S. Advisory Mission in Iraq Look Like?

A U.S. and Iraqi soldier take part in a shooting exercise at an Iraqi military base south of Baghdad August 30, 2010. (Saad Shalash/Courtesy Reuters)

A U.S. and Iraqi soldier take part in a shooting exercise at an Iraqi military base south of Baghdad August 30, 2010. (Saad Shalash/Courtesy Reuters)

This commentary comes courtesy of Captain Robert A. Newson, CFR’s U.S. Navy fellow and a SEAL officer. CAPT Newson recently served Special Operations Command (Forward) Commander in Yemen 2010-2012, where he helped coordinate military advising efforts in the region. He argues that the reintroduction of U.S. advisory personnel to Iraq does not automatically set the military on a “slippery slope” to full-scale intervention. Rather, the chance of escalation will be determined by three factors: the total required forces, the concept of operations, and any applicable mission restraints. This question will become only more important with late-breaking news of anti-ISIS air strikes’ expansion into Syria.

While some commentators have been quick to warn Americans that the reintroduction of U.S. personnel in Iraq is putting us on a “slippery slope” towards a full-scale intervention, the history of military advisory efforts shows that the Pentagon has frequently employed limited troops with success throughout the last few decades-and without a follow-on invasion. Past operations in El Salvador and Colombia and current efforts in the Philippines, Yemen, and across Africa highlight the utility of consistent, long-term, small force constructs.

The large-scale invasions of Afghanistan (100,000 personnel) and Iraq (165,000 personnel), combined with the length of these interventions, have rightfully made Americans cautious about the use of ground troops. In addition, Vietnam still looms large in our collective memory. A mission that began with dozens of Special Forces advising in Vietnam reached a high water mark of 525,000 deployed troops and ended in ignominy and tragedy. However, the eventual open-ended commitment of U.S. resources is not the only, or even the primary, path the United States has taken to conclude advisory operations.

The U.S advisory efforts in El Salvador and Colombia are often cited as exemplar successes of these types of missions. In El Salvador (1979-1992), Congress limited the total number of long-term advisors in the country to 55. Over more than a decade of advisory assistance in El Salvador, the maximum number of troops was around 150; the additional personnel were units on shorter-term deployments. In Colombia, since 2005 U.S. military forces have been capped at 800, although they have never actually reached that number.

ISIS Destroys Large Iraqi Army Column Near City of Ramadi

Caleb Weiss and Bill Roggio
September 30, 2014

Islamic State ambushes Iraqi military column near Ramadi

A photograph of an abandoned Iraqi military column with the Ramadi Teaching Hospital, which is just across the Euphrates River, in sight.

Fighters from the Islamic State in Anbar Province ambushed and destroyed a large Iraqi Army column in a village north of Ramadi. The successful attack occurred despite almost eight weeks of airstrikes by the US military on Islamic State forces throughout Iraq.

Pictures from the recent fighting in the village of Albu Aytha, which is just north of Ramadi, across the river, have been disseminated on Twitter by fighters and supporters of the Islamic State. The Islamic State has taken to releasing its propaganda via its supporters on Twitter as the the majority of its official accounts are continuously being suspended by the social media site.

While the authenticity of the photographs cannot be confirmed, the captions bear the title of Wilayat (province or state) Anbar. The exact date of the ambush was not provided, but most official pictures are usually published within days of the actual attack.

The Islamic State has been reported to have been besieging an Iraqi Army unit in Albu Aytha. Al Jazeera reported that more than 240 soldiers from the 30th Mechanized Brigade are “trapped” in the village and running low on supplies and food.

Several photos show badly damaged or burned out vehicles, with fighters from the Islamic State inspecting the vehicles or checking for survivors. Some pictures showing badly charred bodies of the Iraqi troops or the corpses of soldiers who were gunned down during the fighting. It appears that Islamic State fighters were able to detonate at least two IED’s during the attack.

In one picture, at least six captured M113 armored personnel carriers and four Humvees are shown abandoned in a field. Other photos show several damaged or abandoned vehicles. And in another photograph, An Islamic State fighter fires an anti-tank missile at an M1 Abrams tank and successfully hits the target.

The Islamic State fighters were also able to take over an Iraqi police checkpoint in the area. In one photo, the Islamic State’s black flag is shown flying above the checkpoint. Other pictures demonstrate that the group was able to secure a large amount of ammunition and gear from the military.

Intelligence Is Only As Good As the People Who Use It: The Obama White House Failed to Pay Heed to Intelligence Warnings About Growing Threat From ISIS

Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt
September 30, 2014

Many Missteps in Assessment of ISIS Threat

WASHINGTON — By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.

But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”

The White House denies that, but the threat certainly has its attention now as American warplanes pound the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State in hopes of reversing its lightning-swift seizing of territory in Iraq and Syria. Still, even as bombs fall from the sky thousands of miles away, the question of how it failed to anticipate the rise of a militant force that in the space of a few months has redrawn the map of the Middle East resonates inside and outside the Obama administration.

President Obama fueled the debate in an interview broadcast over the weekend when he said that intelligence agencies had underestimated the peril posed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Mr. Obama accurately quoted James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, acknowledging that he and his analysts did not foresee the stunning success of Islamic State forces or the catastrophic collapse of the Iraqi Army.

But by pointing to the agencies without mentioning any misjudgments of his own, Mr. Obama left intelligence officials bristling about being made into scapegoats and critics complaining that he was trying to avoid responsibility.

“This was not an intelligence community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat,” said Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

A spokesman denied on Monday that Mr. Obama was blaming intelligence agencies in his interview on “60 Minutes” on CBS News. “That is not what the president’s intent was,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “What the president was trying to make clear” was “how difficult it is to predict the will of security forces that are based in another country to fight.”

Mr. Earnest added that “the president’s commander in chief and he’s the one who takes responsibility” for ensuring the national security based on the information provided by intelligence analysts. “And the president continues to have the highest degree of confidence in our intelligence community to continue to provide that advice,” he said.

Caught Off Guard

US Intelligence Community Did Warn About Threat Posed by ISIS, But Nobody at White House Listened - Report

Eli Lake
September 29, 2014

Why Obama Can’t Say His Spies Underestimated ISIS

On 60 Minutes, the president faulted his spies for failing to predict the rise of ISIS. There’s one problem with that statement: The intelligence analysts did warn about the group.

Nearly eight months ago, some of President Obama’s senior intelligence officials were already warning that ISIS was on the move. In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq.

But in an interview that aired Sunday evening, the president told 60 Minutes that the rise of the group now proclaiming itself a caliphate in territory between Syria and Iraq caught the U.S. intelligence community off guard. Obama specifically blamed James Clapper, the current director of national intelligence: “Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said.

Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” the former official said.

Because of areas of Syria that are “beyond the regime’s control or that of the moderate opposition,” Feinstein said in February, a “major concern” was “the establishment of a safe haven.”

Clapper did tell The Washington Post’s David Ignatius this month that he underestimated the will of the ISIS fighters in Iraq and overestimated the ability of Iraq’s security forces in northern Iraq to counter ISIS. (He also said his analysts warned about the “prowess and capability” of the group.)

Still, other senior intelligence officials have been warning about ISIS for months. Inprepared testimony before the annual House and Senate intelligence committees’ threat hearings in January and February, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the group would likely make a grab for land before the end of the year. ISIS “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” Of course, the prediction wasn’t exactly hard to make. By then, Flynn noted, ISIS had taken the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and the demonstrated an “ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”

The ability of ISIS to hold that territory will depend on its “resources, local support, as well as the responses of [Iraqi security forces] and other opposition groups in Syria,” Flynn added. He noted that while many Sunnis likely opposed ISIS, “some Sunni tribes and insurgent groups appear willing to work tactically with [ISIS] as they share common anti-government goals.”

Flynn was not alone. Clapper himself in that hearing warned that the three most effective jihadist groups in Syria—one of which he said was ISIS—presented a threat as a magnet for attracting foreign fighters. John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, said he thought both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s formal franchise in Syria, presented a threat to launch external operations against the West.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said February 4 that because of areas of Syria that are “beyond the regime’s control or that of the moderate opposition,” a “major concern” was “the establishment of a safe haven, and the real prospect that Syria could become a launching point or way station for terrorists seeking to attack the United States or other nations.”

The Challenges of Global Terrorism

29 Sep , 2014

There should be no distinction between a good and a bad terrorist which is what some countries are trying to do. The scourge will consume all unless it is ruthlessly eliminated. Countries sponsoring terrorism might realise that it is like riding a tiger that, one day, they might fall prey to. The biggest worry of these countries which have suffered at the hands of terrorists is that Weapons of Mass Destruction may fall into the hands of the terrorists and that catastrophic consequences would follow. A worldwide integrated approach to tackling terrorism is, therefore, a must.

Currently, the terrorists’ threat is magnified by their acquiring aerial capability, and the very real prospects of them acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction in pursuit of their endeavours.

Terrorism is neither definable within geographical boundaries nor is it within traditional moulds of rationality. Modern technology and globalisation do not recognise geography. State sovereignty stands diluted; it is easily challenged. Terrorist groups do not owe loyalty to any national flag, religion or even ethnicity. They extinguish innocent lives as legitimate victims and seek ‘martyrdom’ in suicide missions. Currently, the terrorists’ threat is magnified by their acquiring aerial capability, and the very real prospects of them acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction in pursuit of their endeavours.

Terrorism is ‘violent tactics’ strategy, being used increasingly to influence and change political, social and economic policies of those in authority. It has the capacity to produce, in large masses, a widespread belief in the futility of resistance and a loss of faith in the state and its agencies and their ability to protect life, liberty and property. These patterns of thought gradually create a denial among the people of their own fear and an increasing justification of the terrorist cause. Not only people but also the leadership and state itself can become susceptible to this sentiment of futility, the implicit justification of terrorism – as in the various ‘root causes’ theories advanced – and the erosion of the will to fight across the nation.

Relevance of State Vis-a-Vis Terrorism

The war on terror has proved to be a catalyst that validates the state’s method and centrality. America and NATO started a war against terror out of a deep sense of vulnerability and fear of terrorists attacking other major powers in the future. Earlier in history, the Roman Empire fought against Jewish zealots due to a similar fear. This is the language of power which has its own tone and temperament. But the logic of power politics has not changed throughout history. If, with alliance, proxy, band-wagoning, aid and other political variables as controlled, any weak power like Malaysia or Bangladesh, was attacked by terrorists in this manner, the reaction would have never been so internationalised.