Archive for November 6th, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Weekender: General Motors isn’t Papa Bush

Angie and the X-Files: The Truth is Out There

Angie and the X-Files: The Truth is Out There

In a few days, it will all be remembered again: how the wall came down, how the British and French loved Germany so much that they preferred two Germanies, how Mikhail Gorbachev refused to play the villain in Margaret Thatcher‘s or Francois Mitterand‘s anti-unification screenplays, and how Papa Bush banged his fist on the table and said, “We have waited for this day for many decades, and now it is here, and PERIOD“.

German chancellor Angela Merkel probably didn’t mention Thatcher or Mitterand in Washington D.C. this week, and I’m not sure if she mentioned Papa Bush, either, but for sure, some of her words were about German gratitude for the role America played in the Cold War, and how Americans defended liberty in Europe  during the twentieth century.

So there she was, in front of a joint session of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and told them the story of her humble life, and how we and she love America. And then on the plane, on her way back to Germany, she was informed that General Motors won’t sell Opel to Magna after all, and PERIOD.

Feelings here towards America might become a bit cooler in the coming months.

Which isn’t exactly fair. After all, Opel never ceased to be a GM possession. The unions, for some reasons hard to catch on with, seemed to believe that all of a sudden, the Adam Opel GmbH had turned into a nationally-owned enterprise, the federal government, and some regional state governments, helped to feed such illusions, and now they are all pretty mad at GM.

Now we know: GM isn’t Papa Bush.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Xu Qiliang: A Blue Sky full of Peace and Hope

If General Xu Qiliang (许其亮), formerly Air Force Chief of Staff and now the PLA’s Deputy Chief of Staff, member of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and member of the 17th CPC Central Committee, had intended to impress the outside world, he may count some of his recent remarks*) as a success. Xu had called the militarization of space a historic inevitability, and said that the country’s military was developing offensive and defensive operations in space. He had made his remarks in an interview with the CCP’s news agency  Xinhua (Jiefang Daily is also mentioned in some Chinese articles) published on Monday, when he had called for more domestically developed war planes and discussed the technological advances of the Chinese air force in an interview, writes the Times of India. His talk of a “Great Wall of Steel in the Blue Sky” in the interview apparently caught some international attention.

Naturally, he didn’t fail to add that the only purpose of the air force was to guard China’s sovereignty and protect world peace and stability.

Anyway, on Tuesday, General Kevin Chilton, head of U.S. Strategic Command, expressed how amazed he was at the advancement that China has made in such a short period of time, whether that be in their unmanned program or the manned program.

Chilton acknowledged that space had become an arena for military rivalry, with an increasing number of countries pursuing space-based weaponry — including Iran and North Korea:

“Clearly, I think what we’ve all come to understand is that space is a contested domain. It used to be looked at like a sanctuary. And clearly that’s not the case today.”

But so much acknowledgment was apparently much too kind for the CCP, or at least for its cvilian leadership. On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu (马朝旭) told the regular press conference that

“China has always advocated the peaceful use of outer space, and opposed the weaponization of outer space and arms races there […] China has not, and will never, participate in any kind of arms race in outer space. We have not changed our stance.”

And General Xu, too, apparently had some chalk for breakfast on Thursday, before attending an international forum on peace and development on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Air Force’s establishment. On the forum, attended by delegations from the air forces of New Zealand, Thailand, Turkey, Portugal, Russia, the United States, Chile, and twenty-seven more countries, he told the delegations that China will uphold the concepts of peace, development, and cooperation. China wished to work with countries worldwide to carry out flexible diverse exchange and cooperation on various levels and in various fields, and fill the Blue Sky with Peace and Hope.

Jiefang Daily and a paper named Morning News (晨报, republished here by write that Western media distorted what China said (西方媒体曲解中方讲话). French media in particular had interpreted General Xu’s statement as a change of strategy, in that China was now planning to build defense and strike capabilities in space. Morning News – direct or indirect speech – quotes General Xu’s original wording as

From the perspective of the trends in the transformation of the world militaries, military force and competition is now turning to the fields of air and space. The establishment of military force is incessantly expanding towards space. This is an irresistible general trend, this kind of expansion is historically inevitable, this kind of development is irreversible.

A commenter at Xi Lu Military Affairs quotes the upper para as a direct-speech quote and adds what an Air Force Command College’s deputy training manager, Colonel Wang Mingliang (王明亮) reportedly told Huanqiu Shibao (环球时报 – article apparently not available online on the paper’s website). Xu Qiliang’s remarks, compared to the Aerospace Integration concept (空天一体化) formerly maintained by the PLA, did indeed show a change, Colonel Wang reportedly said. But this kind of change, he added, was in step with the whole world’s continuously deepening understanding of the Aerospace Integration Theory (但这种变化是和全世界对空天一体化理论的理解不断加深同步进行的).

In short: no arms race in space – only aerospace integration.


*) I didn’t find the original interview with General Xu online. Links would be welcome.

“Militarization of Space is a Fact of Life”, Airforce Magazine, March 2001

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