Author Archive

Woken Up by a Stirring Dragon
The stability of the next decade may depend on Chinese leaders focusing on avoiding a scenario where China is left with just two choices: retreat, which would unleash nationalist fury inside the country, or chance an outright clash.

China releases three Japanese citizens
China on Thursday released three of the four Japanese citizens who had been detained since last week, accused of illegally videotaping a military site. The three were released, according to China’s Xinhua news agency, after admitting their violation and showing “regret for their mistake.”

Taiwanese cool to China’s overtures
When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered to remove missiles pointed at Taiwan without mentioning the one-China principle, suspicions grew of a masterplan to gradually lull the island’s military, business leaders and then the population into passivity. People on the island are not that easily fooled.

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Perils of clashes with China over currency and rare-earth exports
Using trade as a tool for market advantage or as a substitute for war has its limits. China went too far in cutting exports of rare-earth minerals to Japan. Will the US go too far in punishing China on currency manipulation?

China wobbles in diplomatic test
Like in a failed stress test, China has cracked and extended its agony by introducing a request for reparations over the capture of a fishing vessel that rammed a Japanese patrol boat in disputed waters. Beijing is unlikely to be happy about how it handled the incident, but a fix will require deep soul-searching about its diplomatic strategies and tactics.

Why China Won’t Engage
Washington is abuzz with flummery purporting to explain why the Chinese are so damned obdurate as of late. For a representative, if credulous, account of this palaver, see Josh Rogin’s story, Has China Realized It Overplayed Its Foreign Policy Hand? Americans, it seems, are bewildered by China’s “increasingly aggressive and arrogant foreign policy.” The possibility that something else might be going on — you know, the sort of thing that might interest a competent policymaker — is left for others to ponder. Others, like Gregory Kulacki, who writes on the UCS blog All Things Nuclear, that his most recent trip to China’ reveals the importance of Beijing’s domestic dramas in shaping China’s recent foreign policy.

China, Russia Agree to Strengthen Strategic Partnership
The leaders of China and Russia have signed a statement to deepen their strategic partnership and cooperation. President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev inspected an honor guard at a welcoming ceremony Monday at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Following a closed-door meeting, the two leaders signed a statement calling for comprehensively deepening what was described as “the strategic partnership of cooperation.”

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Reconstruction Chief Quits, Putting ‘Civilian Surge’ in Doubt
Most observers of Afghanistan say the war doesn’t have a prayer if the U.S. can’t send a cadre of civilian experts — diplomats, engineers, farmers — to rebuild Afghanistan. But on Friday, the diplomat in charge of building that force quietly resigned.

The Next Nuclear Arms Race
If recent events are any indication, the world’s most vigorous nuclear competition may erupt between Asia’s two giants: India and China.

India seeks eased U.S. controls on sales of its defense technologies
India’s defense minister says U.S. export controls that restrict the sale of defense technologies to blacklisted Indian entities are a “matter of concern” and should be lifted soon. Ahead of his meetings in Washington this week, Arackaparambil Kurian Antony said he wants an “early solution” to the restrictions.

China-Japan row threatens five-year warming trend between old foes
The speed with which the fishing boat dispute turned ugly suggests how little has been achieved in China-Japan reconciliation over the past five years, say analysts.

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France on high alert as officials warn of possible terrorist attacks
When an unclaimed package was spotted in a busy Paris subway station Monday, police immediately diverted trains, ordered thousands of frustrated travelers into the street and dispatched a bomb squad to test for explosives.

Coast Guard boarding team engage in firefight
A boarding team from the medium endurance cutter Escanaba got in a shootout with suspected drug smugglers while attempting to board a vessel in international waters near the coast of Nicaragua Sept. 14, the service said in a statement.

Power Struggle Rages In North Korean Regime
A fierce battle is being waged behind the scenes for control of North Korea as Kim Jong-il prepares to anoint his successor, it has emerged. Factional in-fighting has broken out between Chang Song-taek, the rogue state’s second-in-command, and a group of senior reform-minded officials, according to a source who has recently met people at the highest levels of the North Korean government. The battle between the two sides comes as Kim Jong-il, the 68-year-old “Dear Leader”, is in frail health and no concrete succession plan has yet to emerge.

Risk Of Trade War Rises As Key US Committee Backs Tariffs On China
The risk of a trade war between the US and China has increased after a key Congressional committee backed a bill to allow US companies to seek tariffs on Chinese imports. The adoption of the measure by the Ways and Means Committee on Friday means it will now be voted on by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. “China’s exchange-rate policy has a major impact on American businesses, and Americans jobs, which is what this is all about,” said Sander Levin, a Democrat from Michigan and chairman of the committee.

Power Struggle Rages In North Korean Regime
The greatest geopolitical development that has occurred largely beneath the radar of our Middle East-focused media over the past decade has been the rise of Chinese sea power. This is evinced by President Obama’s meeting Friday about the South China Sea, where China has conducted live-fire drills and made territorial claims against various Southeast Asian countries, and the dispute over the Senkaku Islands between Japan and China in the East China Sea, the site of a recent collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coast guard ships.

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Japan to release Chinese boat captain
Japan on Friday announced the release of a Chinese fishing boat captain whose arrest 16 days ago sparked a furor between the Asian neighbors, bringing relations to their lowest point in years.

Dispute with Japan highlights China’s foreign-policy power struggle
The increasingly bitter dispute between China and Japan over a small group of islands in the Pacific is heightening concerns in capitals across the globe over who controls China’s foreign policy.

China’s Back-Door Yuan Strategy
It has been widely reported that China has dramatically reduced its purchases of US Treasuries over the past year. But it would be wrong to conclude that China has stopped intervening in currency markets or even that it is dumping the dollar.

North And South Korea On the Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns
North and South Korea are on the brink of war, a top Russian diplomat has warned, calling for both countries to exercise restraint and sit down for talks. In Moscow’s bleakest assessment of the situation on the Korean peninsula yet, Russian deputy foreign minister Alexei Borodavkin said tensions between the two countries were running at their highest and most dangerous level in a decade. “Tensions on the Korean Peninsula could not be any higher. The only next step is a conflict,” he told foreign policy experts at a round table on the subject in Moscow.

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U.S., Asean To Push Back Against China
The U.S. and its Asian allies are starting to push back at China’s growing assertiveness in the region, strengthening security ties and taking more robust positions in territorial disputes in the East and South China seas.

Israeli Official Says Strikes on ‘Bottlenecks’ Could Cripple Iran’s Nuke Program
Israel’s Warning Comes After Ahmadinejad’s Threat of ‘War Without Boundaries’. A top Israeli warned today that Iran’s vast nuclear program could be crippled for years with airstrikes on just a “few bottlenecks, important ones.”

Diplomats: Iran seeks seat on U.N. nuke agency board
Iran is seeking a seat on the decision-making board of the same U.N. nuclear agency probing its activities for evidence that Tehran may be interested in making atomic weapons, officials said Thursday.

Critical Questions on Iran
A confluence of events in the next few weeks again will put Iran at the top of the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda and could shape its course in the months ahead.

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Chinese premier threatens action against Japan
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao demanded the immediate release of a Chinese fishing boat captain, who has been held for two weeks, as Chinese-Japanese tension continued to rise.

Upping the Ante in China-Japan Clash
The escalating dispute between Beijing and Tokyo about Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain is a challenge for Washington and raises concerns about Chinese maritime activities in the Asia Pacific, says CFR’s Sheila Smith.

China, Paint, Corner
China appears to have upped the ante a little more with its highest level intervention yet as Premier Wen Jiabao threatened ‘further’ action if the Chinese captain is not released immediately by Japanese authorities. One of the problems for China is that Japan is treating this as a legal, administrative issue that needs to be dealt with through due process. China, however, has made this into a political issue that would require political intervention in the justice system.

A summit of tensions in Pyongyang
While North Korea’s much-anticipated conference, which state media say will take place on September 28, could see the Dear Leader’s youngest son crowned as successor, it could also see a simmering conflict between the party and the military explode. The party has powerful players, but the Cheonan sinking is believed to have been masterminded by a general seeking an independent course.

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China Tells U.S. To Stay Out Of Dispute Over South China Sea’s Sovereignty
China signaled for the U.S. to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea, three days before President Barack Obama is due to meet with regional leaders concerned over China’s territorial claims in the oil-and gas- rich waters. “China enjoys indisputable sovereign rights over the South China Sea islands and adjacent waters,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters today in Beijing. “We oppose the internationalization and expansion of the South China Sea dispute because it will only make the issue more complicated.”

Japan Threatens Build Up Of Military Forces Amid Rising Tensions With China
Japan is threatening an almost 10 per cent increase in its ground defence forces in response to a growing diplomatic dispute with China. The defence ministry is reported to be exploring plans to expand the size of the Japan’s ground personnel by 13,000 troops – almost 10 per cent – as early as next year. The expansion would be the first in almost 40 years and come amid growing regional tensions, particularly in areas where China’s navy is increasingly active.

The Remilitarization of Beijing
In recent months—and especially since last December—China has pursued an increasingly assertive foreign policy. At the same time, Chinese flag officers and colonels have been making provocative comments in public on topics normally considered the exclusive responsibility of the country’s civilian officials. For instance, this March, Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo staked out a position on the Arctic that was at variance with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, there’s been a spate of unusually hostile public comments from military officers, especially on their desire to engage in combat with America.

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Global Governance: Vital But Impossible?
This morning, the Atlantic Council hosted the launch of Global Governance 2025, a report following a long collaboration with several partners. The fundamental takeaway is that, while cooperation between the United States and Europe is essential, it “is no longer enough to effectively manage global challenges.” Instead, key players from around the globe will need to develop new institutions to deal with the world’s problems. The report stresses that “formerly localized threats are no longer locally containable but are now potentially dangerous to global security and stability.” The listed challenges range from migration problems to resource scarcity to climate change to state collapse.

Japan urges calm after China severs contacts over fishermen’s detention
Japan urged China to remain calm and not inflame their diplomatic spat further Monday after Beijing severed high-level contacts and then called off a visit by Japanese youth over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain near disputed islands.

Japan FM Voices Concern On China Defense Spending
Japan’s new Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Sept. 17 voiced concern over the level of China’s defense spending, speaking hours after he was appointed and amid a tense territorial fight with China.

China’s maritime aggression should be wake-up call to Japan
The Sino-Japanese standoff over Japan’s detention of a Chinese trawler captain who acted aggressively towards the Japanese coast guard in waters near the disputed Senkaku islands is part of a larger pattern of Chinese assertiveness towards its neighbors over the past few years. This pattern includes renewed Chinese claims to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing’s increasingly forceful claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea, China’s effort to claim suzerainty over the Yellow Sea (where it sought to prevent recent U.S.-South Korean naval exercises), and a series of naval provocations directed at Japan.

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Tensions Between China And Japan Rise Over Disputed Gas Field
China has moved what appears to be drilling equipment to a gas rig in waters claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo, further increasing tensions between the two countries. Images taken by Japan’s air force indicate the delivery of new equipment and workers preparing to begin drilling at the natural gas field in the East China Sea that Beijing knows as the Chunxiao field but Tokyo claims as the Shirakaba sector.

Pakistan’s largest city on edge after Imran Farooq’s Assassination
Karachi, Pakistan, was tense on Friday amid fears that the assassination of exiled political leader Imran Farooq could spark ethnic violence.

Nuke Outlaw as Pakistani President?
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons renegade, who sold nuclear secrets to America’s enemies (Iran, North Korea and Libya) and spent the best part of the last decade under house arrest, is still Pakistan’s most popular man. Last week, Abdul Qadeer Khan, now a free man, was a guest on ARY, one of Pakistan’s most popular TV channels with a strong anti-U.S. bias. A frequent guest on ARY is another notorious anti-American, Gen. Hamid Gul, long retired as a former Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief and self-appointed adviser to Pakistan’s anti-U.S. Islamist political parties. Not only did he get 90 minutes of air time, but Khan talked openly of when he might be president or prime minister, enough to give official Washington conniption fits.

New Intel Leads Senators To Oppose START Ratification
Two senior Senate Republicans expressed new concerns about a strategic arms pact with Russia that could imperil formal ratification as the pact was voted out of committee on Thursday. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 14 to four to approve what is being called New START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

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