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- The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author's (or the author(s) of the original articles), and do not reflect, in any shape, way, or form, the official policy or position of the author's employer (current or former) or any other organization.

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- Please note that some of the postings will provide only information with no comments or analysis while other postings will have comments and/or analysis.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Regional Update for 28 October

China/Taiwan-US: Taiwan will ask the United States to postpone the sale of two advanced weapons systems to save money, a senior legislator with ties to the military said on 28 October, Reuters reported.

Comment from our friends at KGS NightWatch: A decision to not spend money usually and obviously means that money will be saved. However, the timing of the announcement is propitious because it neutralizes temporarily an issue that might have blemished the US President's visit to India late next week. Taiwan will want something in return.

North Korea-Cuba: Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho, left Pyongyang on 28 October to lead a delegation to Cuba, The Associated Press reported.

Comment from our friends at KGS NightWatch: Reports of a close relationship between North Korea and Cuba extend for decades in the past. They include allegations of large North Korean troop deployments to Cuba.

Nothing significant has ever been proven. Still the visits have continued. Cuba and North Korea share the distinction with Vietnam and Laos of being the last surviving Marxist-Leninist states.

China-Pakistan: Chinese Major General Yang Hui, director general of the Intelligence Directorate, visited Chief of Army Staff General Kayani at General Headquarters on 28 October, Associated Press of Pakistan reported. The two discussed matters of professional interest, according to Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations.

Comment from our friends at KGS NightWatch: A visit by a Chinese intelligence general to Pakistan usually signifies a problem. The usual problem is that Pakistan is harboring, aiding, training and abetting anti-Han Chinese Islamic terrorists in the 42 terrorist camps that Pakistani intelligence sustains in Pakistani Kashmir.

Chinese intelligence officials seldom visit unless there is a problem. The Chinese do not seem concerned that Pakistani-trained terrorists kill Indians or Americans, but they do object to Pakistan providing or tolerating training of Xinjiang Uighurs who want to kill Han Chinese.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Regional Update for 27 October

At a meeting in Kaesong to discuss family reunions on Wednesday, North Korea demanded South Korea provide 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer n return for concessions in the reunion program.

"North Korean delegates linked the issue of separated families and the aid, indicating that they could make concessions if rice and fertilizer aid are given," an unidentified South Korea official said. In response to the request for aid, South Korean representatives replied that they were not in a position to give an answer and would refer it to government authorities.

Comment from our friends at KGS NightWatch: A reunion event will begin Saturday at the jointly-run Mount Kumgang resort on the North's east coast and will last six days, linking 100 people from each side with long-separated family members. Seoul wants to hold similar reunions once a month between March and November, since many elderly people die before getting a chance for such a meeting.

The North's choice of venue for presenting an enormous demand leaves no doubt that the country has a severe food shortage (so, what else is new?). Moreover it does not anticipate good harvests in 2011 without South Korean aid (again…nothing new here).

Curiously, the North's version of communism stresses a home-grown, mythical notion of self-reliance. The facts are that since the Korean War the North has never been self-reliant in anything Without Soviet and Chinese aid of every kind and South Korean and Japanese trade, the country would have imploded decades ago.

Today's demand made no mention of "chuche," the North's term for self-reliance. The North is desperate for help.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Regional Update for 26 October

North Korea: Update. The United States will lead the United Nations Command in a round of colonel-level talks with North Korea at the border village of Panmunjom on 27 October, a military source said, Yonhap reported.

China-Japan: Update. Chinese protesters held an anti-Japanese demonstration near the Japanese Consulate in Chongqing, China, on the 26th . A consulate official said between 1,000 and 2,000 people gathered, including onlookers, and consular security was strengthened and plainclothes police were present. Another witness said the protesters chanted slogans about the disputed Senkaku islands.

China-Southeast Asia: Mainichi reported last week that commercial satellite imagery detected one and possibly two Type 093 nuclear-powered attack submarines docked at a Chinese navy base in Sanya, Hainan Island, in the South China Sea. The image was taken in early September.

In 2008, a Type 094 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine was detected at Sanya, but is not assessed to be based there.

Comment by our friends at KGS NightWatch: China is building and basing submarines to enforce its maritime claims in the East and South China Seas. Experts rate the technology in the Type 093 as a generation or more behind the US, but it is better than anything in the navies of the Southeast Asian states that dispute China's sea claims.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Regional Update for 25 October

Japan-China: The Japanese government formally protested to the Chinese government on 25 October the presence of Chinese patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands. Japanese authorities detected two Chinese patrol boats late Sunday in Japan's "contiguous zone" but did not cross into Japanese territorial waters, Kyodo reported, citing Japan's coast guard.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said in the protest message that seeing Chinese patrol boats made his government feel "uncomfortable. He also said that Japan will step up its monitoring activities around the Islands, according to Kyodo.

China's foreign ministry claimed that its boats' patrols are both legal and based on need.

Comment from our friends at KGS NightWatch: Mainstream international press did not report the Chinese patrol boat activity nor at least three more anti-Japanese protests and demonstrations over the weekend. The confrontation over the Senkakus continues.

South Korea-US: For the record. A Pentagon spokesman today rejected claims by South Korean media that a planned U.S.-South Korea naval exercise had been postponed due to Chinese protests, Reuters reported. The spokesman told reporters that authorities in Washington and in Seoul were unable to reach a scheduling agreement, adding the exercises were intended to send a message to North Korea and should not be China's concern.

Comment from our friends at KGS NightWatch: The comment by the spokesman misses the point that the North has moved closer to China during the succession period than at any time since the government of Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s. The US is much less significant than it was a year ago in North Korea's strategic calculations. Since China agreed to assume overwatch responsibility for the Kim regime this year, the Allies have succeeded in sending no significant "messages" to North Korea.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Regional Update for 24 October

South Korea and the United States have canceled the planned combined naval exercise in the West Sea (Yellow Sea) scheduled for late October, South Korean state-run broadcaster KBS reported on 24 October, citing a senior South Korean official.

The decision was made in order to avoid irritating neighboring countries (really one neighboring country – China) and to improve conditions for the G20 Summit in Seoul on 11 and 12 November, Yonhap reported, citing another unnamed government source. The US aircraft carrier USS George Washington is unlikely to participate in any other combined exercises with South Korea in 2010, and the two allies will also delay the large-scale amphibious landing exercises planned for late October.

Comment (This comment is based exclusively on open source information which always is incomplete.): The cancellation appears to be a gratuitous conciliatory gesture to China to ensure its participation in the economic summit, where it is expected to be generally uncooperative, by some analysts.

The concern is that this is the second major security issue in Asia in which the US appears to have deferred to China's sensibilities, rather than assert the prerogatives of a great power.
 This cancellation would appear to negate all the brave language US spokesman have used to assert allied solidarity in confronting North Korea' aggression in sinking the South Korean corvette, Cheonan, in March. In the perception of the international community, the US backed down every time China protested the scheduling of joint exercises aimed at North Korea.

After seven months, North Korea still has gotten away with sinking an Allied patrol ship.

The second issue was the Chinese reaction to Japan's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat and crew in the Senkakus after the Chinese boat rammed a Japanese patrol boat. Only the Secretary of State stood with the Japanese against China. The rest of the US administration did not and has not.

Pro-US leaders in Asia are well advised to remember 2010 as a pivotal year for reassessing the dominant power in Asia.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Regional Update for October 22

Following update from our friends at KGS NightWatch

South Korea-North Korea: A report to the UN Secretary General indicated North Korea is in danger of another food crisis this winter because of poor harvests. Nevertheless, a South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman reaffirmed the Lee government policy of not providing large scale food aid to North Korea, regardless of need unless and until the political atmosphere improves.

The government in Seoul will continue to approve private humanitarian relief, such a recent shipment of 5,000 tons of rice and other supplies for flood victims.

Comment from KGS NightWatch: The South still wants the North to apologize for the sinking of its patrol ship last March. Prior to 2008 and the South's election of the hard line Lee administration, the South annually provided 400,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer to the North.

North Korea-China: For the record. Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Gua Boxiong will lead a delegation of senior Chinese military officers to North Korea on 23 October, according to the Ministry of National Defense, Xinhua reported on 22 October. The delegation will attend activities to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the entry of the Chinese People's Volunteers into the Korean front and meet with the North's military leaders to discuss issues of mutual concern, said Chinese spokesman Geng Yansheng.

China: Update. Tibetan language demonstrations spread in northwestern China, as students in Tsolho and Golog prefectures demanded the right to study in their language, according to Free Tibet and Agence France-Presse. Some 2,000 students marched to the local government building in Chabcha, chanting demands for Tibetan language freedoms. Police and teachers turned them away. The Dawu police restricted movement of local residents following student protests in the area.

Comment from KGS NightWatch: This is a minor outbreak of unrest but it continues to showcase the Han Chinese policy of forced assimilation of minorities.

US-China-India: President Obama will visit India between 6 and 9 November. The forthcoming trip has generated significant unease in China about US strategy in Asia.

Since Thursday, a half dozen or more Chinese newspapers and strategists have complained about the US relationship with India. A National Defense University official wrote, "India's goals of becoming a global power cannot be realized by just following the US. This writer accused the US of "building a strategic fence" with Japan and South Korea as the backbone and a carapace of India, Vietnam and other nations having territorial disputes with China.

This official wrote, "India's politicians should be aware that as the two weaker sides of a triangular relationship, it is very important for India and China to maintain stability to prevent the US from profiting from their disputes….The US fence around China is weak but could become an iron wall if China makes strategic mistakes."

Earlier, a Chinese air force colonel wrote about a crescent ring encircling China from Japan to Afghanistan. A professor at Beijing University's School of International Studies said, "If you look around Asia and see what the US is doing, it is not surprising and difficult to understand America's needs in South Asia."

A Fudan University analyst wrote in the China Daily that India and China are made for each other but must guard against western elements. "Some Indian media raised a hue and cry over so-called 'border invasion' by China last year and the recent suspension of bilateral military exchanges,'' said the commentary."Some Western countries and media are trying to use this to drive a wedge between the two neighbors."

Comment from KGS NightWatch: These two ancient cultures have had no significant interaction until modern times. But for colonial era land disputes, they are not natural enemies. However, their aspirations for world power stature have converted them into at least strategic competitors, sometime rivals and potential enemies.

China's rise to great power stature impedes India's dominance in South Asia. China has developed proxies or allies on every Indian border, which undercuts the credibility of its complaints about encirclement. China has spurred India to look to its strategic space in South Asia and to increase security cooperation with East Asia powers with which it has never had significant interaction … before the rise of China.

It is curious that Chinese international affairs commentators evince so much insecurity, for a country that considers itself the equal in many areas of the United States and has become so aggressive in asserting its right to be the leader of Asia.

Comments from the Author of the Blog: For a country that speaks of peace so often, everything from its official government positions to academic papers its scholars publish, it sure seems that its government, its military, and a significant portion of its academia look upon the world through the lens of realism - the theory where peace could only be achieved by either becoming the dominant power or by balancing against the dominant power...the things that make you go hmmm...... 

India-Pakistan: Indian Army Chief of the Army Staff General V K Singh said on 22 October that interceptions and border monitoring reports have indicated that there are 500 to 600 militants on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control preparing to infiltrate India's state of Jammu and Kashmir, The Times of India reported.

Intelligence inpurts indicate the leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and Jaish-e-Mohammed have conducted reconnaissance along the Line of Control in advance of infiltration operations. General Singh reported there are teams of eight to nine who are trying to cross the border every day.

Singh also said the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is intact and 42 camps are being run, including newly created camps in Pakistani Kashmir. Infiltration has risen in late summer, as it seasonally does. The Indian Army recorded 10 infiltration incidents in June, six in July and 33 in August.

General Singh judged that about 20-25 infiltration attempts succeeded, which is indicated by the fact that 12 to 15 terrorists were killed in the last 15-20 days. "This shows people have come from somewhere," he said. He concluded that Pakistan perceives Kashmir as an "unfinished agenda.

Comment from KGS NightWatch: Infiltration from Pakistan into Indian Kashmir always increases before winter. The number of Kashmiri militant camps is as high as it has been in the past ten years. This means the progress in reducing the number of camps under Musharraf has been reversed. The camps and the infiltration infrastructure into Kashmir cannot exist without official Pakistani government support.

Even allowing for an anti-Pakistani bias, General Singh's account of conditions along the Line of Control is consistent with autumn conditions in past years. His statements are a reminder that Pakistan remains a state sponsor of terror and continues to use terror as an instrument of state policy against India.