Archive for July, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yellow Sea, Pressure on their Chests

Under the headline “Compelling China to become anti-American? The Yellow Sea Provocations are a Tragedy for America’s Strategy” (逼中国变成反美大国?黄海挑衅是美战略悲剧), Hong Kong’s Beijing-leaning Ta Kung Pao (大公报) wrote on July 9:

The “Yellow Sea crisis” affects the will of the people. Washington must understand, what does America actually want to achieve here? If America doesn’t cherish its strategic influence in the East Asian region, but wants to compel China to turn into a great anti-American power, America’s thirty-year old strategy will return to its starting point. If that really happens, it will be a tragedy for America’s global strategy.

South Korea and America being about to conduct military exercises in the Yellow Sea pressures the chests of countless Chinese people, day after day, like a big stone. Can American aircraft carriers coming to the Yellow Sea for exercises turn into a North-East Asian diplomatic crisis? All kinds of speculation have focused on this concern. South Korea tries to use the Yellow Sea to pressure China. Although America hasn’t responded to the Yellow Sea issue yet, the Chinese military has expressed its “resolute opposition”. China may not be able to immediately discourage the George Washington from entering the Yellow Sea for exercises, but this time, China must clearly express its opposition, as the Yellow Sea is an area of core interest to China (中国核心利益区). China still needs to make it clear to America and South Korea that there is always a price to pay for violating China’s interests.

Ta Kung Pao quotes a “new argument” (新说法) used by South Korea, that the exercises are conducted after the UN Security Council had taken measures against North Korea, and that Seoul emphasizes that the exercises won’t be cancelled because of Chinese pressure.

This actually amounts to South Korea putting pressure on China – to pressure China to condemn North Korea, and hinting that if China doesn’t support sanctions against North Korea, maybe an aircraft carrier will come. The American side has so far sealed its lips concerning military exercises in the Yellow Sea, but South Korean media said that three US nuclear submarines which had recently appeared in important naval areas in Asia “are a reaction to China’s large-scale live-ammunition exercise in the East China Sea”. All the George Washington‘s officers and crew, just having celebrated independence day, are still in Yokosuka awaiting orders, and the Japanese people are worried that the next departure of this aircraft carrier will bring North-East Asia unexpected risks and unknowns.

Ta Kung Pao sees three deliberations in America’s approach – putting pressure on North Korea with the air-sea-battle exercises (空海一体) [those in question – JR], giving South Korea confidence by giving support to its allies, and sending a signal to China that if China insists on supporting North Korea, America wouldn’t hesitate to put themselves at odds with China.

The article then points out China’s latest core interest, the South China Sea (in addition to Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang), and its growing awareness and assertiveness concerning its territorial waters (海洋国土) in general. The Chinese military’s position concerning the Yellow Sea once again showed China’s determination to defend their maritime rights, according to Ta Kung Pao.

The matter had made the Chinese people aware that their country could still be bullied, and this would make people call for strengthen the military, especially the naval capabilities, writes the paper. America saw a chance to consolidate its military presence in South Korea and Japan, and to use other countries as its agents to control China’s rise and development. But if America really defined China as adverse to its national security, it will put its national interest at stake (拿它的国家利益做赌注).

How America got along with China in East Asia’s changing strategic situation would depend on if a sustainable peace could be upheld in the area [apparently referring to East Asia], Ta Kung Pao summarizes and then repeats its initial question what America actually wanted to achieve.

The Ta Kung Pao article explains American and South Korean in a similar way as other sources, such as Phoenix (凤凰网), have done before, but adds an air of victimhood to it – for now, anyway. Singapore’s Morning News online (联合早报), a news source acceptable to many Chinese readers who are nationalistic but distrust their party-controlled media, republished Ta Kung Pao’s article right away, also on July 9.

With or without effects on China’s and North Korea’s positions, the series of joint US-South Korean naval exercises may go on for months. The first one, almost for sure now, won’t be conducted in the Yellow Sea. But the question on where the American navy in general, and the George Washington in particular, can or cannot go has apparently become a matter of credibility.

“Why has China suddenly decided to pick a fight over the Yellow Sea?”, asks Robert Haddick of the Small Wars Journal.

The George Washington carrier strike group last made a routine transit of the Yellow Sea in October, which few noticed or cared about. If the Chinese government is interested in stability in northeast Asia, it should have stayed quiet and allowed the Korean training exercises to proceed uneventfully as they have for many decades.

And:

Anything less than a transit of the Yellow Sea within the next few weeks by the George Washington and its escorts will come off as a loss of face by the United States.

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Notes
*) 三缄其口, sān jiān qí kǒu – a refusal to talk with one’s mouth sealed more than once.

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Related
Yang Jiechi: Clinton “attacks” China, AP, July 25, 2010
A (mild) Show of Force, July 23, 2010
Zhao Nianyu’s Three Taiwan Commandments, June 19, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kosovo Status: “Unique” and “Irreversible”

In an advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence, the International Court of Justice found that Kosovo’s declaration was not in violation of any applicable rule of international law.

German daily Der Tagesspiegel writes that

[t]his court has shown courage. Hardly anyone had expected that the International Court in Den Haag would arrive at this opinion that clearly, that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 wasn’t colliding with international law. The verdict isn’t legally binding, but it will encourage autonomy aspirations elsewhere in the world.

The right to self-determination here, and every state’s right to territorial integrity there – nowhere in Europe have these fundamental principles of international law been violated as frequently as in the Balkans. Nowhere would both principles collide this heavily. 69 states, among them 21 EU members, have recognized the sovereignty of the former Serbian province so far. Germany and the USA are among them. 120 more nations refuse that recognition, Russia, China and Spain among them. The reason for their reluctance is obvious. You can hardly deny the peoples of the Caucasus, the Tibetans or the Basques what you confirm as right for the Kosovans.

In democratic countries such as Spain, ethnic minorities, in the course of decades, have reached a degree of autonomy which would make violent rebellion appear out of proportions. It’s a different story under dictatorial regimes. China still wants to break up the Tibetans’ cultural and historical identity. The pictures from Grosny, the Chechnyan capital destroyed by Russian forces, went around the world.

The weekly Der Freitag writes:

In the end, the judges decided to keep the question as narrow as possible and to focus on the declaration of independence alone, rather than on the legitimacy or legality of the independence itself. As far as that [the former – JR] was concerned, they went along with the supporters of Kosovo’s independence. The majority of the judges found that a declaration of independence doesn’t conflict with international law.

Der Freitag’s take is basically in line with Tanjug‘s view of the court’s opinion.

Even if so, the Serbian government – which had asked the court’s opinion -, is in a more difficult position than before, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

In September, foreign minister Vuk Jeremic wants to take a resolution to the UN General Assembly – with a demand for new negotiations about Kosovo’s status. But after this opinion by the UN judges this will happen even less – Serbia had lost one of its most important arguments after this decision, says politologist and former diplomat Predrag Simic.

People’s Daily (English) quotes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as urging “all sides to avoid any steps that could be seen as provocative and derail the dialogue”. According to the statement quoted by People’s Daily, Ban will be forwarding the advisory opinion to the General Assembly, which had requested the Court’s advice and which will determine how to proceed on this matter.

Spain’s El Mundo quotes US State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley as saying that Kosovo’s situation had been unique and exclusive, and that these circumstances were not applicable to other situations.

In a daily press briefing on July 22, Crowley was asked if the State Department had any kind of view regarding the issue of preoccupations in southern European countries,

particularly in Spain, where the government of certain sectors of the public opinion fear that this could be used by certain nationalistic movements in the Basque country or in Catalonia as a base for their own political demands. […] Do you think that this could trigger more nationalistic movements in the rest of Europe?

Mr. Crowley: No. The short answer is no. And I should say that there will be a briefing at the Foreign Press Center this afternoon at 4:00 with our legal advisor Harold Koh and our Ambassador to Kosovo. But this was a very – a set of facts unique to Kosovo. The court was applying these facts. We don’t think it’s applicable to any other situation.

In a statement after the court published its opinion, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said that

Bearing in mind the probable disappointment of the Serbs and the likely satisfaction of the Kosovars, I reaffirm my personal friendship and that of the French people to these two countries.
The Court’s opinion consolidates Kosovo’s independence, which has been in effect for more than two years, and is already recognized by 69 States. The independence of Kosovo is irreversible.

Germany was one of the first European countries in 1991 that pushed for recognition of a Yugoslav member state’s independence. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, then Germany’s foreign minister, considered recognition of Croatia‘s sovereignty the only way to end fighting on its territory, Verica Spasovska of Deutsche Welle wrote in a review on July 19 this year. France, Great Britain and Spain, themselves confronted with regionalist movements, had wanted to maintain the status quo. Genscher was particularly criticized for having Germany recognize Croatia before a commission of experts, chaired by French constitutional judge Robert Badinter (and with Roman Herzog, later German federal president, as a member) had published its findings on the issue.

Besides, German weekly Die Zeit wrote in November 1996, the early recognition for Croatia didn’t take Bosnia Hercegovina’s fate into account, which consequently felt compelled to start a referendum at once. And while Serbia had achieved its war goals in Croatia anyway, before  recognition for Croatia, the European Community’s recognition for Bosnia-Hercegovina on April 6, 1992, didn’t stop the Serb offensive which began two days later.

At that time, French foreign minister Roland Dumas remonstrated with Germany for it’s “colossal responsibility for accelerating the crisis”.

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Related
Xinjiang White Paper: Governmental Incapacity, Sept 22, 2009

Saturday, July 24, 2010

1001 Chinese Posts

Justrecently’s Authoritative Blog. Making sense of China since 1908.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sea of Japan: A (mild) Show of Force

The United States and South Korea formally announced on Tuesday they would conduct naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean Peninsula, the Voice of America (VoA) reported on Tuesday. Another paragraph, quoting from a joint statement by US defense secretary Robert Gates and his South Korean counterpart Kim Tae-young, said that final decisions had not yet been made about additional naval and air maneuvers planned for the Yellow Sea, between the Korean Peninsula and China. The New Yorker reports today that Beijing got reassurance this week from the U.S. and South Korea that the military exercises, featuring 20 ships and 200 planes, were not going to take place in the Yellow Sea.

US and South Korean naval forces, including US aircraft carrier George Washington, had conducted exercises in the Yellow Sea before, in October 2009, according to a Q & A exchange between an unnamed reporter and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang during a press conference on July 15.

An article by Phoenix Net (凤凰网) earlier this month seemed to anticipate a US-South Korean exercise in the Yellow Sea and explained what it saw as Washington’s and Seoul’s motivations to conduct one.

The VoA on Tuesday quoted a South Korean rear admiral, Kim Kyung Sik, as describing the exercises as a “formidable show of force” and “a clear warning to North Korea”.

Stephen Yates, former deputy assistant for National Security Affairs to George W. Bush‘s vice president Richard Cheney, was quoted by the VoA as saying that China should consider joint exercises a relatively light response to a ship sinking, which many consider an act of war. He was apparently reacting to the scenario that included the Yellow Sea at the time. “If a Chinese vessel had been attacked and sunk, what would their people be demanding by way of a show of force? I think that South Koreans wanting to have this kind of a joint exercise is quite mild actually.”

Not everyone agrees that North Korea is directly or indirectly responsible for the sinking of a South Korean warship – the Cheonan incident – which is cited as the main reason for the scheduled naval exercises. Two visiting US experts in Tokyo called for another investigation on July 9, the Japan Times reported:

Jae Jung Suh, an associate professor of international politics at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C., and Seung Hun Lee, a professor of physics at the University of Virginia, claimed the condition of the salvaged Cheonan is inconsistent with the JIG conclusion that the sinking was due to a shock wave and a bubble effect and that the blue ink marking on the torpedo reading “No. 1” in Hangul would have been burned off in a detonation.

Shin Sang-cheol, a member of the panel which had conducted the first investigation on the Cheonan incident, was questioned on May 28 by South Korean prosecutors, after voicing his view that the Cheonan sank in an accident and that the evidence linking North Korea to the torpedo had been tampered with.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Xinhua: “Taiwan Public condemns ‘Rebiya Card'”

The following is a translation from a Xinhua article of Wednesday. The text following the line “We oppose the Rebiya card” seem to be indirect-speech quotations from the joint statement mentioned by Xinhua – references to Taiwan’s Executive Yuan and other terms that express sovereignty were probably put into quotation marks by Xinhua. I’d also like to note that the Xinhua wordings are not necessarily the original words used by the Taiwanese critics of the invitations to Rebiya Kadeer and Raela Tosh.

I have added some links in my translation – the links aren’t part of the original Xinhua article.

Xinhua, July 21, 2010 — Pan-Green-leaning groups invited Rebiya Kadeer to Taiwan, and provided the “ministry of the interior” with the relevant data in April and May, but the final answer was that the Ma Ying-jeou authorities would deny entry to Kadeer, and that she whouldn’t be allowed to enter Taiwan for three years. “Executive Yuan premier” Wu Den-yih said on July 18 that the “ministry of the interior’s” measure was made because of national security reasons, and that he therefore supported the “ministry of the interior’s” decision.

More than ten Taiwanese civil society organizations issued a joint statement:

Opposing the Rebiya Card

As last year, independence forces on this island are eying the “Rebiya card” again, to link themselves with the terrorist ringleader, which is condemned by the Taiwanese public. More than ten Taiwanese civil society organizations jointly issue a statement, sharply condemning the Democratic Progressive Party’s attempts to provoke ethnic problems, and to plot vicious political battles. Recently, Taiwan’s “ministry of the interior” said that with consideration of Taiwan’s interests, it recommended a ban on Rebiya entering [Taiwan].

The KMT’s “Legislative Yuan” group also supported Taiwan authorities not issuing a “visa” to Rebiya, in order not to harm the harmonious (和谐) cross-straits relations, and pointed out that in Southern Taiwan, the tourism and travel business had plummeted. The Democratic Progressive Party which was in power in Gaoxiong and southern Taiwan, should take the people’s livelihood into account and shouldn’t add trouble by political actions. But according to the news, Rebiya’s daughter Raela entered Taiwan on July 18, on invitation of “Guts United Taiwan”, formerly known as [too unfamiliar for me to translate – JR], who had changed the invitation from Rebiya to her daughter once they found out about the three-year ban.

Taiwan Labor Party chairman warns: Rebiya’s relatives must not engage in splittist activities in Taiwan.

Taiwan Labor Party chairman Wu Rongyuan (吴荣元)*) said that when Rebiya’s relatives made use of Taiwan’s democratic pluralism for their activities, the Ma authorities had to regulate, control their inflammatory splittist remarks, as anything else would amount to condoning them. Wu Rongyuan said that while the nature of Raela’s visit was different from one by Rebiya, but for the sake of cross-straits reconciliation (和解) and national prosperity, the Ma authorities should advise her “not to engage in ethnic separatist activities in Taiwan”, and that moreover, violent terrorist ethnic-separatist activities were clearly forbidden by Taiwan’s criminal law and National Security Law (台湾刑法和“国安法”).

Retrospective

“Immigration Department”: Forcible repatriation of Rebiya to her landing plane

[The retrospective paragraph looks back on September last year, saying that along with the Dalai Lama then, pan-green-leaning groups had intended to invite Rebiya Kadeer along with him, and were told by Hu Ching-fu (胡景富), the immigration department’s deputy director-general, that Kadeer would be returned on her plane of arrival, if she indeed tried to enter Taiwan.]

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Note
*) “Wu Rongyuan” is the pinyin spelling of the Labor Party chairman’s name. The spelling in Taiwan is Wu Jung-yuan.

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Related
Tourism: Carrots and Sticks, July 18, 2010
Taiwan: Lies, and Honest Tries, October 10, 2009
Hermit: Taiwan Loves the Motherland, August 29, 2009
Hermit and Nanny endorse CPGBML, October 26, 2008
Wu, Huang: oppose UN referendums, Taipei Times, Feb 16, 2008

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eduard Khil: Words Wanted

Eduard Khil wants your lyrics. Anything that’s better than

“I’m riding my stallion on a prairie, so-and-so mustang, and my beloved Mary is thousand miles away knitting a stocking for me”,

and something that would be compatible with this tune.

Not  necessarily for the whole song – one verse or a couplet will do.

Khil either didn’t like those lyrics, back in 1976, or he didn’t like the author of those lyrics at the time, or maybe it was because the text was to “western” to make it on Soviet television then. Whatever.

The Voice of Russia collects all the librettos by email, trololo@ruvr.ru.

Update
Closing date: August 15, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Merkel in China: old friend, younger than ever

Never before have official articles in China been adorned with such beautiful pictures of Angela Merkel, noted Johnny Erling, German daily’s Die Welt correspondent, as they were on her most recent visit to the country. A youthful, radiant, and color-boosted portrait of the now 56-year-old chancellor was chosen this time – in the past and on similar occasions, she had looked much older, Erling seems to remember.

Merkel’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2007 – “forgotten”. The clashes at the Copenhagen Climate Summit – “forgotten”. And the Chinese press refers to Martin Wolf‘s (Financial Times) Chermany concept – but without Wolf’s implied warning that the world’s biggest exporting countries could be fiddling at the expense of free global trade.

Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Center for Global Development wrote in June that it could be harder to prod Germany into the direction of expanding demand, than China. While China was an intentional mercantilist which had now made some contributions to rebalancing the global economy, Germany, as an accidental mercantilist, could hide behind the fact that the weakening of the euro was beyond its control. It would be hard to pressure the country, as its decisionmakers were frequently perceived as “prudent, deferred gratificationists, the far-sighted custodians of tomorrow, of the future, of our children”.

China Daily‘s Chinese edition doesn’t mention Martin Wolf’s (马丁·沃尔夫) concerns about Chermany (中德国) either.

“There is reason to believe that as China and Germany come closer to each other, Chermany will certainly attract attention, too [similarly to Chimerica].”

There are official Chinese reservations. The Chinese article lends an argument from an earlier article in English (also published by China Daily):

“But one should also note that during the recent development of Sino-German relations, some new unharmonious sounds appeared, too. In the old fields of cooperation, there was some antagonism. The relations were always seen as complementary. But facing China’s rapid rise, especially after China replaced Germany as the world’s biggest exporting country, some German media, as well as some in the political and economic spheres, have expressed irrational antagonism toward the Asian nation“. German views of China had become more negative, seeing China rather as a competitor, and demand that China should assume more responsibilities.”

Africa and Google are also mentioned by China Daily as samples of “negative” German media coverage. And somewhat indignant, China Daily realizes that Germans actually care about politics, too:

“Formerly contained areas now reveal disagreements. Political and ideological differences have always been negative factors in Sino-German relations, but they were always controllable. But recently, German officials have put pressure on China, concerning human rights questions, and German media have used all kinds of anniversaries to criticize China’s government, and even to question the government’s legitimacy, and its ability to govern.”

For sure, Merkel followed her traditional visiting pattern, in that she met with dissidents in China. One of them was He Weifang (贺卫方), a law professor and Charter 08 signatory who nominally teaches at Peking University but is apparently “exiled” in Xinjiang now.

He and Merkel discussed human rights, freedom of the press, and internet censorship. He had suggested that Merkel should take Chinese politicians to Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court to help them understand how an independent judiciary worked.

Meantime, China Daily keeps discussing soccer.

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Update/Related
Cadres: We Want to be Loved by You, July 16, 2010

Related
Geithner/Soros/Summers: “Growth Now”, June 23, 2010
No Global Governance, January 1, 2010
Unharmonious Days at the Voice of Germany, Nov 14, 2008

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taiwan’s ICAC a “Tool to eliminate Opponents”

When Jerome Cohen, an American professor of law and Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou‘s (馬英九) former mentor at Harvard Law School, visited Taiwan less than a year ago, Ma told him that he would “like to leave a legacy of building a country based on the rule of law”. Is the president moving closer toward this goal?

Ma-ster of Disaster

Revolutionary Opera

On a press conference on Tuesday, he announced that a new agency exclusively responsible for fighting government corruption would be established under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Chinese media quote Ma as saying that

Taiwan is a country under civil law, different from Hong Kong and Singapore (with common law). Therefore, Taiwan’s ‘independent commission’ won’t copy Hong Kong or Singapore. It will take its own approach, to make sure that it won’t disrupt the framework of existing investigation bodies’. Creating the independent commission against corruption is no repetition. Rather, it can, with other units in charge, develop a ‘cross-fire effect’. Creating the commission will enhance anti-corruption’s best-practise capabilities, and, unlike the Government Ethics Division, will be no ‘toothless tiger’ without the powers to investigate.
台湾是大陆法系,与香港、新加坡不同(普通法系),所以台湾的“廉政署”不会抄袭香港与新加坡,要有自己的做法,以避免把检察官是侦查主体的体系打乱。设 “廉政署”肃贪不是叠床架屋,反能与其它办案单位发挥“交叉火网”的效果。设立“廉政署”可增强肃贪、防贪能量,不再如政风司只是没调查权的“无牙老虎”。

BBC reporter Lin Nansen (林楠森) writes that if the new commission will be able to achieve its goals remains an open question. It is going to be an agency under the ministry of justice, rather than an independent body like Hong Kong’s ICAC, and another criticism in Taiwan is that there is already a number of units with the task of fighting corruption, leading to duplication or overlapping of work.*)

The current oppositional Democratic Progressive Party (民进党, DPP) had plans to create a dedicated independent commission against corruption during its eight years in government from 2000 to 2008. President Ma’s KMT, then the opposition party, but with a majority in the Legislative Yuan, blocked such plans, writes Lin**). There are KMT legislators who hold views different from Ma (who is also the KMT’s chairman). Besides the likelihood of functional conflicts with the commission placed under the ministry of justice, interference from the government’s executive branch could hardly be avoided – and it could become a tool to eliminate political opponents (使其成为政治上铲除异己的工具). Mind you, the BBC quotes KMT legislators here.

It will be interesting to see just about how much of the new agency’s investigations will be left to chances.

If the new agency shall indeed have teeth, whom will they devour? And whom will they spare? In December 2008, the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office had announced that it would investigate former president and KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on suspicion of money laundering. But apparently, the Ma government, not exactly in love with the country’s first democratically-elected (and independently-minded) former president, found that the SIP better limit its research to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the DPP. After respectful visits to Lee’s home by president Ma Ying-jeou and vice president Vincent Siew, there was no more talk about Lee’s records as president being investigated.

Maybe the elder statesman simply knew too much about his heirs at the KMT. Putting him on trial could have had unpredictable effects.

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Notes
*) 迭床架屋 (dié chuánɡ jià wū) – to put one bed onto another, and to put one room onto the other, i. e. to repeat the wheel.
**) The China Post quotes DPP legislator Lin Yu-cheng as pointing out that KMT legislators, when in opposition, blocked government initiatives for the establishment of a specialized anti-corruption agency 173 times.

Related / Update
“Stale Wine in a New Bottle”, Taiwan News, July 22, 2010

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