Archive for March 22nd, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Germany’s Abstention on Libya: Well, I Never!

“I can understand foreign minister Guido Westerwelle’s position”

Sigmar Gabriel,  Social Democratic Party (SPD) chairman, as quoted by German weekly Die Zeit on Friday.

“[This looks] as if  Germany was kowtowing to that oil-goodfella.”

Sigmar Gabriel, in an interview on Sunday, quoted by Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany)

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Survey quoted by Süddeutsche Zeitung last Wednesday –nearly 90 percent of German public supportive of federal government’s position.

EMNID survey for BILD-Zeitung:
“62 percent support action against Gaddafi.”
“65 percent oppose German military involvement.”

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Spiegel Online: Mr. Cohn-Bendit, do you understand your party’s position on Libya?

Cohn-Bendit: No, I don’t. But I don’t understand the other political parties in the Bundestag [German federal parliament] either.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the European-Greens-European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, in an interview published today.

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“Despite the risks associated with a no-fly zone, Germany should have voted on the side of its European partners like France and Great Britain.” […] I am pleased by the (Security Council) decision and I sincerely hope that it hasn’t come too late.”

Cem Özdemir, co-leader of the German Greens, in an interview with Spiegel Online on Friday.

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“It’s a shame that the federal government abstained.”

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, former minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (Social Democrat)

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“Understandable and comprehensible.” “Doubts that the airstrikes will help the Libyan people are justifiable.”

Former foreign minister and social democratic floor leader (federal parliament) Frank Walter Steinmeier (also Westerwelle’s predecessor as foreign minister)

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“Germany can forget about a permanent UN security council seat. But what is worse is that pseudo-political signal from the federal government.”

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, in the same Spiegel-Online interview as quoted from in para 3. “Pseudo-political” is meant to criticize the federl government’s alleged domestic policy considerations.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who will Torpedo Taiwan’s 2012 Military Budget?

Lawmakers expressed concerns about a decreasing military budget on March 7 this year, saying that it was insufficient to meet the country’s security needs. A few days earlier, KMT legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁芳) said that Taiwan’s rather low budget reflected the uncertainty of US arms sales to Taiwan and said that the budget would provide for arms purchases from the US as soon as Washington cleared the requested arms sales. Taiwan’s defense ministry (MND)  had told the BBC‘s Mandarin website that facing a Chinese military budget about ten times as high as Taiwan’s – China’s official budget of USD 91.3 vs Taiwan’s USD 9.2 billion in 2011 -, Taiwan would protect its security with a flexible approach.

In NT-$ (New Taiwan Dollars), Taiwan’s 2011 military budget is at 297.2 billion. For comparison, it was about 206.72 billion NT-$ in 1990*) . That said, Taiwan’s total budget was at 680 billion NT-$ then, and  stands at 1.79 trillion now, (as passed by the government / Executive Yuan in August last year, and if it was passed unchanged by the Legislative Yuan). Given China’s much smaller amounts of public (and above all, military) spending in the 1980s and 1990s, Taiwan’s 2011 budget doesn’t look as if defense was a great priority for the KMT government.

While America could do more for Taiwan’s military equipment, and while Europe’s arms industries don’t seem to do business with Taipei at all, criticism from Taiwanese lawmakers suggests that Taiwan’s government  needs to do better, too.

President Ma Ying-jeou‘s government may need to do better in the future. Shuai Hua-min (帥化民), another KMT legislator and therefore a member of the party president Ma  is chairing, said bluntly on March 7 that the MND’s 2012 budget would be rejected if it were less than 3 percent of GDP.

But that would only be next year. For 2011, the budget has been approved.

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Notes
*) or 30.4 per cent of a total budget of 680 billion NT-Dollars in 1990, according to Oskar Weggel, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Munich 1992, page 128
The differences between 1990 and now are big enough to think that they would be implausible – corrections and objections are welcome. However, public welfare has played an increasing role, in direct and indirect ways, all the way from the 1960s through this decade, and the Taiwanese economy has been growing much of the time.

Related
Squaring the Circle, Taipei Times, March 20, 2011
“A Fly-Head-Sized Benefit”, January 8, 2010

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Xinhua Coverage from Tripoli

[Main link: Beijing Youthnet (Beiqing Wang), March 22, 2011. Links inserted during translation.]

Beiqing Wang frontpage (photo to the left alternating with several other topics). The second headline is about Fukushima power plant rescue work having been interrupted.

Beiqing Wang frontpage (photo to the left alternating with several other topics). The second headline is about Fukushima power plant rescue work having been interrupted.

Xinhua Net, Tripoli, March 21 (message, reporters Xin Jianqiang, Li Teng) — Several targets in Libya’s capital Tripoli suffered airstrikes from Western countries’ fighter planes. Since the beginning of military strikes against Libya by Western countries on March 19, this is the third time that fighter planes struck at targets in Tripoli. Eyewitnesses told Xinhua’s reporters that a naval base in the eastern quarters of Tripoli, near the coastal line, had been attacked first. The barracks are located near the radio and television station building. Then, about two kilometers away from the barracks, two oil pipelines near 沙阿卜 harbor exploded in an airstrike, which the witnesses said led to a fire. Also, a governmental military camp had suffered bombings from the fighting planes.

On March 21 at about 21 p.m., Western fighting planes launched strikes again. The reporter(s) heard a huge explosion in the city. After that, Tripoli air defense forces immediately struck back with highly concentrated shellfire.

After the bombings, Libyan government spokesman Ibrahim Moussa (穆萨·易卜拉欣) held an emergency press conference and expressed strong protest against the bombings. He said that Western countries had launched air strikes against Libya for three consecutive days, and this had happened after Libya’s armed forces had already announced a comprehensive ceasefire, and stopped all military operations. Most of Libya’s civil airports and seaports had suffered destruction during the attacks.

Moussa said that the military strikes by Western countries had led to many civilian casualties (平民的伤亡).  In the March 19 attacks alone, 46 civilians had died.

Official statistics published on March 20 say that Western airstrikes had led to 64 people killed and 150 injured so far.

A second Xinhua dispatch on the same web page, also dated March 21, quotes from a press conference by United States Africa Command‘s combatant commander Carter F. Ham (卡特·哈姆), near Stuttgart, Germany. Human relief missions would become possible once the no-flight zone had been extended, Ham is quoted as saying.

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