23 April 2013

China shown back-off banners in Ladakh

SUJAN DUTTA AND NISHIT DHOLABHAI
Antony


New Delhi, April 22: Indian and Chinese troops in a frontier sector in eastern Ladakh have been holding up banners for the past week, each asking the other to pull back from Daulat Beg Oldi, sources in the army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have confirmed.

Defence minister A.K. Antony today said the Centre was taking “every step to protect its interests in Ladakh” after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) set up a tented camp 2km from an Indian post on April 15.

Foreign minister Salman Khurshid said: “We are still in touch and flag meetings are going on. There is more information to come. We will factor all that and take a final view.”

Last year, India and China set up a mechanism to mitigate border disputes because the two sides have different perceptions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Daulat Beg Oldi is a high-altitude plateau near the Karakoram pass where the Indian Air Force activated an advanced landing ground (ALG) in 2008 but its fixed-wing aircraft, the AN-32, can only land there in summer after the snow has melted and the ground is compacted.

The Indian Army and the ITBP maintains posts in Daulat Beg Oldi all year that are usually supplied with rations by paradrops from IAF aircraft. Helicopters also land there occasionally.

Government sources said they were viewing the “incursion” as an isolated and localised development.

“We are addressing this issue in an appropriate manner. We just do not want any departure from proportionality. I do not think we should allow this to get beyond the immediate area and we should retain it at that level,” Khurshid said.

Army chief Gen. Bikram Singh is scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow, where he will be briefed about the situation in Daulat Beg Oldi. The foreign ministry is expecting his feedback.

On April 15, a platoon of the Chinese PLA was reported by the Indian Army to have come 10km inside the Daulat Beg Oldi sector near Burthe, over 16,500ft high.

A frontier security agency source said while the Indian and Chinese camps were 2km apart, their soldiers were just a “few hundred metres” from one another. He said a flag meeting was held last week but subsequent meetings had been called. Neither side has withdrawn.

The missing monument

Arun Prakash : Tue Apr 23 2013

Unlike in India, cities across the world have war memorials in central locations

Not long ago, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit remarked that a national war memorial around India Gate would clutter up a recreational space and hinder people's enjoyment. But surely the Delhi administration can create such spaces elsewhere? Pleasure seekers might find more appropriate places than Edwin Lutyens' grand central avenue, leading from India Gate to the elegant Rashtrapati Bhavan, with the imposing North and South Blocks guarding its flanks.

The civilised world's capitals are replete with heroic statues of soldiers, with squares and avenues named after generals, admirals and famous battles. In India, we mostly celebrate politicians, along with a few saints, film stars and cricketers. But soldiers seem to be anathema. It is worth asking whether the Delhi CM would have opposed a memorial to a politician or religious figure on the grounds that it would be a hindrance to people's enjoyment or that it would spoil the environment. Ever since Independence, the Indian politico-bureaucratic establishment has typically regarded its soldiers, sailors and airmen with a certain disdain.

This is bizarre and incomprehensible, considering that a soldier laid down his life for the country just days after Independence. Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai earned glory and a posthumous Maha Vir Chakra for fighting Pakistani raiders near Baramulla. In the 66 years since then, there has scarcely been a day in the life of our embattled nation that a grieving family somewhere has not welcomed a hero, brought home in a tricolour-draped coffin. The war memorial, if one is ever created, will be a small tribute to the memory of the young men who gave their lives for the nation.

It has been the gallantry, patriotism and selfless sacrifice of these young men that repeatedly saved the nation from disintegration and dishonour, as our strategic naivete led to adventurism by neighbours in 1947, 1962, 1965 and 1999. The refusal to pay homage to fallen soldiers on the anniversaries of the Bangladesh and Kargil wars, or to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka, on specious political grounds is unforgivable, especially since Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka celebrate these events in their own ways. The crowning national ignominy is the fact that the Sri Lankan government has been gracious enough to erect an impressive monument to the IPKF dead, while these brave soldiers remain unsung in their own motherland.

Whether it is the Arlington Memorial in Washington, the Cenotaph in London, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or the impressive Jatiyo Smriti Soudho in Dhaka, these magnificent monuments embody the pride of nations and the spontaneous desire of citizens to acknowledge the sacrifice of their national heroes, the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have fallen in the country's wars. All these are in prime locations in the heart of the city. Far from spoiling the environment, they evoke deeply patriotic sentiments. In India, it is only the armed forces who pay homage to their own, at the Amar Jawan Jyoti erected below India Gate. There are two bits of irony here, which seem to escape everyone.

Out of step on soldier welfare

The Defence Ministry’s stubborn refusal to implement orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal is creating disaffection among serving and retired personnel

Navindra Devi’s husband, N.K. Rajpal Singh, wandered off from his Army unit in Bikaner, Rajasthan, while being treated for a psychiatric illness. His body was later found in a well. The unit showed him retrospectively on annual leave.

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) held the Army responsible for his death and awarded Navindra Devi special family pension with 10 per cent interest from the date of death and Rs.10,00,000 as compensation. The order, passed on December 8, 2011, has still to be implemented.

Brig T.S. Sekhon had to undergo an emergency procedure on his heart while visiting Germany in 2008. He was refused reimbursement of medical bills by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) under the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) on the grounds that there was no provision of reimbursement when a person undergoes treatment abroad. The AFT, based on a similar Supreme Court pronouncement, directed the ECHS to reimburse the amount at rates that the said procedure would have cost in India had the emergency happened here. The judgment, passed on February 28, 2011, remains unimplemented.

Almost four years after the AFT came into existence to provide an alternative judicial mechanism to serving and retired defence personnel of the Army, Navy and the Air Force for redressal of their grievances, it is becoming increasingly apparent that something is wrong with its functioning and administration. The AFT began functioning from August 2009.

That there is a conflict of interest in having the AFT under the administrative control of the MoD, against which most of the cases are directed, is only one of the problems. As reported in this newspaper on April 4, 2013, the MoD has treated AFT members, a mix of retired judges and senior retired army defence officers, to its largesse by ensuring them foreign trips and canteen cards, “with a view of influencing” them.
Ministry’s counter-appeals

Presently, the MoD controls the funds and infrastructure of the AFT and also has a say in appointments, an increasingly questionable arrangement. The AFT is mandated to hear grievances relating to appointments and conditions of service, military commission and appeals against court martial.

At another level, the tendency of the MoD to appeal against most judgments of the AFT, even on issues settled by the Supreme Court and against the decisions taken by Army headquarters is leading to much disaffection. Many more are simply not implemented and appeals against them filed much after the mandated period. This is repeatedly being pointed out by ex-servicemen’s organisations and Army Headquarters, but with no let up.

One reason for this is that the AFT does not have power of civil contempt to enforce its judgments. Last month, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence recommended granting civil contempt to the AFT, a move stoutly opposed by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) within the MoD, leading many to take that as yet another piece of evidence of the latter’s “anti-defence sentiments.”

Already there is much resentment over the absence of any serving or retired defence officer in DESW, a department meant to deal with problems of veteran soldiers.

But first, this is what DESW had to say in its defence before the parliamentary panel regarding non-implementation of the decisions of the AFT. “Generally, all orders passed by the AFTs are implemented unless they are against the settled policies of the government.”
Court ruling

The Indian ex-servicemen movement reacted strongly to these pronouncements in a letter to the Defence Minister, saying that it appears the “DESW wants to make the AFT subservient to it and intends to treat it as another office of the MoD and not like a judicial body.” Court decisions are binding and have to be implemented unless there is a stay on their operation by a higher court.

A representative of the Ministry of Law lent weight to the allegation that relief granted by the AFT is almost always appealed against by the MoD. The representative told the parliamentary panel: “Against almost each and every matter the appeals are filed.” Not surprisingly, a commonly heard refrain within the defence fraternity is that “the DESW does everything except welfare of retired defence personnel particularly in respect of disabled soldiers and pensioners.”

Some recent actions of DESW in which it has reportedly ignored the instructions of the Defence Minister and protests by the Army substantiate these assertions. The most glaring example is that of Lt.Gen. Vijay Oberoi (retd.), a disabled soldier, on whose petition the Chandigarh bench of the AFT, in 2010 allowed broadbanding benefits to all disabled personnel irrespective of when they left service.

In March 2011, the Supreme Court in a similar case ruled that broadbanding benefits were to be provided to all disabled personnel and not just those who were invalided out, and dittoed it in another case in April 2011.

The divided leviathan

Aseema Sinha : Tue Apr 23 2013

For development, it is necessary now to think region, state, city and locality

Does the Indian state contribute to development? It depends upon who you ask. Currently, faith in Central state action is abysmally low. If one looks at Delhi, examples of inefficiency and corruption are legion. Public perception of the state in India is negative, especially in contrast to another emerging power, Brazil, where the view of the state is more upbeat. We need to move beyond New Delhi to evaluate state capacity and failures in India. The enormous variation of state and public action across India should change the way we evaluate the Indian state and its failures.

Sixteen Indian regional states started e-governance initiatives with many degrees of success. Some literacy programmes initiated by the Central ministry of education work, while others fail. NREGA works well in some districts but not in others. The Mahila Samakhya programme for women's empowerment has achieved amazing effects in some part of the country but not in others. Forms of corruption vary across Indian states with differential effects on growth and development. Bihar's campaign against corruption with the setting up of a special vigilance unit deserves note. West Bengal's electricity privatisation programme remains an invisible but notable example of success, even as elementary education languishes in the state.

Even during the pre-1991 Centrally planned economy, regional states pursued industrial development, mitigating the effect of the centralised licence system known as the licence raj. These states designed state-level policies and actions, such as industrial estates, the earlier incarnation of the current special economic zones, and competed for scarce domestic investment. In a dirigiste system, the ability of states to bargain for Central investment played a crucial role. Some states used their cultural centres in New Delhi as "embassies", monitoring and lobbying for Central investment, and redirecting private investment wherever possible. Sub-national developmental states deploy those embassies in Delhi and on the global stage. Chief ministers travel to the West seeking investment and resources.

Gujarat was the classic sub-national developmental state, and in the words of a Gujarat cadre civil servant, L. Mansingh, an "Asian tiger" much before current CM Narendra Modi came on the stage. In fact, Gujarat's development of the 1980s and 1990s saved Modi's career in 2002; he has sought to reinvent himself as a developmental saviour since. Underlying this sub-national developmental state of Gujarat was a remarkable confluence of state- and societal-level factors. Gujarat's state capacity was unparalleled in the 1970s and 1980s. The industry level secretary stayed in his post for almost eight years in the 1980s, creating an unprecedented continuity of expertise and leadership. Gujarat and Maharashtra created a state index bureau that, in a nimble, flexible way, pursued central and domestic investors even as economists modelled India on the whole as a "failed developmental state" with a "Hindu" rate of growth. Others, however, saw the centralised system as a way to build sub-national regional coalitions and abjured bargaining with the Centre. Both strategies were equally successful on their own terms. Different regions may not only have different strategies, but different objectives. West Bengal, although not generally considered an economic success story, was able to activate local panchayat institutions in order to create and carve out a sub-national coalition for its landed constituents.

The Boston question

Ashutosh Varshney : Tue Apr 23 2013

How could terror breed in the heart of a city so inclusive?

Just as Delhi and Bangalore are my Indian homes, Boston is my American home. I have lived here for 16-17 years. Norfolk Street, where the Boston bombers lived, is only a couple of miles away from my apartment. MIT, where the Tsarnaev brothers killed a policeman, is my alma mater. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where the younger Tsarnaev brother studied, is across the street from Harvard University's Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, where I started my American career as a junior professor. Boylston Street, where the bombs went off at the marathon finish line, and the nearby Copley Square are the commercial heart of Boston. I have friends in Watertown, where the younger Tsarnaev hid in a boat before being captured by the police. Such intimate associations generate sadness about the events last week, but they also allow me to formulate some puzzles and provide proximate, if not conclusive, answers.

If Washington is the political capital of the US, New York the financial capital and Los Angeles the entertainment capital, Boston is America's intellectual capital. Universities, colleges and labs liberally dot the landscape. Also, Boston's history is special. The American revolution against the British commenced here; the Boston marathon, so violently disrupted on April 15, is on Patriot's Day.

Cambridge, part of Boston, perhaps has more foreigners per capita than any other town in the English-speaking world. Only New York and greater San Francisco, comprising Berkeley and Stanford, could compete in the US, and London abroad. The Tsarnaev brothers, especially the older sibling, felt lost and discovered destructive anger, in what is one of the most international and inclusive towns of the US. Here is what Cambridge superintendent of schools Jeffrey Young says: "We [Cambridge] are an inclusive community, guided by our shared values... That may be one reason it is so hard to understand how this could happen in a place like Cambridge."

Boston is also known for its legendary sports teams. The Boston Marathon is part of a great sporting tradition that iconises Patriot's Day and Boston's rebellion against the British in 1775. Going back to 1897, it is the world's oldest annual marathon, and currently one of the six annual marathon majors across the world. An estimated half a million people watch the race. It is a day of celebration.

This year, the celebration morphed into a nightmare. President Obama's words evocatively — and brilliantly — summoned the meaning of the event and tragedy: "On Monday morning, the sun rose over Boston. The sunlight glistened off the State House Dome. In the commons, in the public garden, spring was in bloom... In Hopkinton, runners laced up their shoes and set out on a 26.2-mile test of dedication and grit and the human spirit... It was a beautiful day to be in Boston, a day that explains why a poet once wrote that this town is not just a capital, not just a place. Boston, he said, is the perfect state of grace... And then, in an instant, the day's beauty was shattered. A celebration became a tragedy.

Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn't even know we had, and we finish the race. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we've hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall... And that's what the perpetrators of such senseless violence, these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build... and think somehow that makes them important — that's what they don't understand."

The Boston bombings raise two big questions. The first is this: If nearly all big acts of terrorism, especially jihadi terrorism, have been thwarted in the US since 2001, how could this one escape the net of intelligence?

Ray Kelly, New York City's highly respected police chief, says that since 9/11, 16 terrorist attempts in New York have been foiled, including one aimed at the Times Square and another at the subway, the city's transport lifeline. In Virginia, Colorado and Connecticut, some attempts at mass murder have succeeded, but they were not jihad-inspired. Indeed, only one major act of jihadi terror has been successfully executed since 2001. At the Fort Hood army station in Texas, Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 soldiers, apparently under the influence of a radical cleric.

Anti Naxal Operations: Focus on the Basics


An analysis of recent incidents of clashes between the Naxals and the police forces indicate both positive trends as well as high degrees of concern in the conduct of anti naxal operations. On night 27-28 March 2013, a breakaway group, ‘Tritiya Prastuti Committee’ (TPC), gunned down 10 cadres of the CPI (Maoist) in a gunfight that took place at Lakramand, a small hamlet of about 40 homes near the Palamu border in Jharkhand’s Chatra district. Amongst the killed was Lalesh Yadav, alias ‘Prashant’, secretary and chief spokesperson of the Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee. Also eliminated were three lower level leaders, a platoon commander and two members of the sub zonal committee of Eastern Palamu zone. The TPC is a Left Wing Extremist organisation composed of Dalits and tribal, which is against Yadav domination in the ranks of the CPI (Maoist). As per newspaper reports, the Jharkhand police is exploiting this schism and covertly supporting the TPC to take on the Maoists in the Palamu, Latehar and Chatra districts. In the instant case, the Maoists had arrived at Lakramand on the morning of 27th March, the village serving as a pit stop for Bihar Maoists moving to Saranda forest. They split up into three groups for the night. The TPC cadres moved in by 1 AM on 28th morning, surrounded the houses and eliminated the Maoists, recovering in the process the weapons carried by them. The bodies of the dead were handed over to the police forces, which came in thereafter. While the police had no direct role in the above incident, their ability to exploit schisms within various Maoist groups indicates an improvement in intelligence capability at the grassroots level, which is a welcome sign.

Another positive was the encounter, which took place on April 16, 2013, in Kanchala forests in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh, bordering Chhattisgarh. Here the police forces apparently got the better of the Maoists, killing nine Naxals, five of whom were women. The credibility of the operations rests in the recovery of the bodies as also in seizure of weapons wherein two INSAS rifles, four SLRs (self-loading rifles), two 303 rifles and a few other weapons were recovered along with communication equipment and revolutionary literature. 

While the above developments indicate that the police forces are slowly gearing up their act to counter naxal terror, much still remains to be done. Training remains a major weakness especially with respect to shooting skills and sub unit level operations. As per newspaper reports, (TOI, 8 April), firing practise results of police officers in Jharkhand indicated that over half could not even hit the target. Poor shooting skills remain a worry. Most policemen fail to attend the annual range classification firing and many have not fired a weapon in years. This, combined with poor physical standards and inadequacy in group cohesion reduces efficacy in conduct of anti Naxal operations. The Naxal’s on the other hand lay great emphasis on training and regularly carry out shooting practise, albeit with restricted quantities of ammunition. The CPI (Maoist) has also set up its own elite training institute in the Dandakaranya forests to transform tribal cadres into effective fighters. Here, the cadre undergo training for six months, the venue being changed for each subsequent batch to avoid detection and disruption by the police. If the state police forces are to match the Naxal’s in the difficult terrain where they reside, their training skills would require dramatic enhancement. Merely increasing the size of the force sent to counter Naxal presence is counter-productive in the absence of well-honed individual and sub unit fighting skills. A large untrained force is simply a bigger target for the Maoist to hit as seen in the many instances over the years where the police have suffered heavy casualties.

Bombing and trenches

by P.C. Sharma 

WARFARE, over the centuries, has changed from hand-to-hand combat, from bows and arrows to confrontation between armies on the battlefield. The target was always the enemy forces. Rarely did the casualties extend to population not directly involved in war. Not now. Ever since bombings from air became integral to warfare, the civilian population, not directly involved in war, also suffers.

In the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, damage to the civilian population and public property was huge. Digging trenches and performing ward duties was a new experience. Ambala Cantonment, the biggest airbase of the North, was the prime target. It was heavily bombed. The Army Hospital was destroyed resulting in the deaths of several soldiers and officers admitted there for treatment. The historic St Paul’s Church, built in 1855 — a landmark not only of Ambala but the entire northern region --- was also destroyed. Its ruins are still standing as reminders of the past grandeur of this gothic building.

For me, personally, the bombing of Ambala remains unforgettable. My friend Jaidayal and myself were living in a rented portion of a house. My studies for the IAS examination were badly disrupted. Our landlord made things worse: he would prefer that we stayed out of his house even at night. He guarded his family folks zealously, especially at night when sirens blew alerting people to go for shelter. He took care that his family occupied all trenches dug in his compound. Tenants were strictly prohibited from sharing the trenches with them. Left with no shelter, we could only resort to either falling flat on the ground or crawl under the string charpoys spread out in the compound.

Always when the sirens blew, ack-ack guns fired into the sky. The danger thus used to get warded off. But one day — it was, perhaps, after the ceasefire had already been declared — the Pakistan air force, frustrated at losing the war, managed to sneak up to Ambala Cantonment and bombed several places with vengeance. The sirens blew again. Ack-ack guns fired feverishly. All inmates of our neighbourhood ran fearfully for shelter. With deafening noise of bombing, ceaseless firing by ack-ack guns and the cries of people in panic, a complete trauma seized Ambala. There was little time for anyone to discriminate which trench one should jump into singly or in a group or with whom. 

This time we could manage to jump into the trenches. Lying there with heads down, we waited long for safety signals to be sounded but since electricity supply was badly damaged, no sirens could be blown. We could come out of our covers only with the sunrise, and when we saw the damage done to a nearby house we realised how close we ourselves were to being bombed. But our landlord was noticeably happy because his own house had escaped any damage and, more particularly, his daughters did not jump into the same trench together with his tenants!

The damage caused to the Army Hospital, innocent citizens and the church, particularly was widely condemned.

Two Intifadas and a Flawed Theory


For at least a decade, Colonel Tom Hammes has been one of the Marine Corps’ leading intellectuals. His book The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century should be read by anyone who has an interest in Fourth Generation warfare (4GW).

In some ways, this is two books in one. One book describes Fourth Generation war and the reforms our military needs in order to fight it, and here Colonel Hammes is at his best. His distinction between the first and second intifadas is especially valuable. He writes that the Palestinians won the first intifada because they were careful to present themselves as victims of a vastly more powerful Israeli military. Avoiding the use of weapons other than the stone, and taking full advantage of the television camera, the Palestinians “transformed (Israel) from the tiny, brave nation surrounded by hostile Arab nations to the oppressive state that condoned killing children in the street.” This is the power of weakness which is central to Fourth Generation war.

In contrast, in the second (al-Aqsa) intifada, the Palestinians resorted to violence, including suicide bombers, and gave up the power of weakness. Hammes writes, “It is almost impossible to overstate how perfectly Arafat and the radical elements in Palestinian resistance have supported the Israeli effort. Their suicide bombing campaign has given Israel complete freedom of action.” As is so often the case in the Fourth Generation, what seems weak is strong and what seems strong is weak.

Hammes’s descriptions of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are equally good. So is his analysis of the Pentagon’s faith that future wars will be decided by high technology. Correctly, he argues that developments such as the Internet favor our Fourth Generation adversaries, because they have “flat,” cooperative organizations while we are stuck with industrial-age, bureaucratic hierarchies. In effect, they are the free market while we represent the centrally-planned Soviet economy. Finally, Hammes’s proposed reforms, while largely derivative, are also mostly sound.

The second book is a book on military theory, and here Hammes is on less solid ground. He makes a major error early, in that he equates Fourth Generation war with insurgency. In doing so, he equates the Fourth Generation with how war is fought. It is usually fought guerrilla-style, but that misses the point: what changes in the Fourth Generation is who fights and what they fight for. This error leads to others, such as believing that Fourth Generation war focuses on the mental level. Hammes writes, “The fourth generation has arrived. It uses all available networks—political, economic, social and military—to convince the enemy’s political decision makers that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefit.” In fact, Fourth Generation war focuses on the moral level, where it works to convince all parties, neutrals as well as belligerents, that the cause for which a Fourth Generation entity is fighting is morally superior. It turns its state enemies inward against themselves on the moral level, making the political calculations of the mental level irrelevant.

Who rules Pakistan?

Published: April 21, 2013
The writer is an independent political and defence analyst

Pakistan is approaching the 10th general elections. It is, therefore, pertinent to ask who rules this country. There is no brief and single answer to this question. If we focus on the elections, we can argue that the people are the ultimate rulers of Pakistan. From another angle, a small group of civilian elite, top bureaucrats and the top brass of the military rule this country. They are tied to each other by shared power interest or by family, tribal, ethnic linkages. The third perspective is that the military rules this country with the help of the bureaucracy. Civilian political elements may be coopted to create a semblance of civilian political order. The actual and operational power is exercised by the top brass of the military.

There are people in Pakistan who argue with much conviction that key policy decisions for Pakistan are made in Washington. The United States government, the IMF and the World Bank often force their political and economic preferences on Pakistan.

Looking at the judicial activism on the part of the Supreme Court and the high courts and their periodic attempts to micromanage administrative and political affairs, it may be appropriate to argue that the judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts rule this country. The elected civilian government at the federal level has often found itself under pressure from these courts. One prime minister was removed from office and the other managed to survive. Now, after the end of the PPP rule, two of its ex-prime ministers have been taken to task by the Supreme Court for some of their decisions. Should the state institutions respect each other’s autonomy or should one institution set-right all other state institutions?

The issue of who rules Pakistan becomes more ambiguous when we examine how transnational militant Islamic movements have used violence and terror to establish their exclusive domains of authority at the expense of the Pakistani state.

The Taliban and other militant groups have become so entrenched that they virtually rule parts of the tribal areas and the adjoining districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Islamic-sectarian and other militant groups based in mainland Pakistan are linked with the Taliban and facilitate violent activities in addition to pursuing their partisan narrow and dogmatic religious agendas. There are dissident and separatist groups in addition to Islamic-sectarian groups in Balochistan that pursue violence and killing of people as an instrument for asserting their primacy in Balochistan. Karachi is another example of how the state appears helpless in front of various armed gangs, hardline religious outfits, violent political workers, drug mafia and real estate grabbers.

As the Islamabad High Court has taken the initiative to nail down former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, most civilian political leaders are happy and blame him for Pakistan’s political ailments. The Senate passed a resolution on April 19 asking for initiation of legal proceedings against him on the charge of high treason that carries the death sentence. Some of the civilian leaders want Musharraf to be tried as a common criminal so as to show that everybody is equal before law.

Afghanistan the Unknown

We will win if we emphasize our core mission and spend modest long-term dollars.
By National Review has asked me to comment upon the current state of affairs in Afghanistan. I don’t know what the current state is; I do know it doesn’t much matter. Let me explain.

Our reason for invading that remote, medieval country in 2001 was to destroy the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which had murdered 3,000 civilians at the World Trade Center. Our military failed to destroy AQ but did drive it into Pakistan. To keep AQ from reestablishing a base inside Afghanistan, modest U.S. assets (say, 10,000 troops) are needed.

However, the UN, NATO, and the U.S. decided in 2002 to broaden the Afghan mission to infinite dimensions. The triumvirate determined that 30 million illiterate, fractious tribesmen deserved to be reformed into an economically viable democracy defined by Western values and laws. The West would accomplish this Herculean task while handing total sovereignty over to its hand-picked, “elected” ruler, Hamid Karzai. Unlike the British, who had ruled a century ago via colonialism and reprisals, the West in the 21st century scrupulously abjured direct interference in Afghan affairs, while nonetheless guaranteeing countrywide security, propping up government officials, building an infrastructure, and paying for a viable economy. Once the U.S. established that mission, it could never be ended. Like Detroit or Jersey City, Afghanistan would always need more money.

Throughout the past decade, Pakistan has given sanctuary and aid to the Taliban because Pakistan is determined to keep Afghanistan in a subservient geopolitical position that does not benefit India (or any other power). So by 2006, the American troops in Afghanistan were waging war against the resurgent Taliban. This was not the original mission. And, like the task of ensuring democracy, it guaranteed the U.S. could not leave. Our forces fell under the political control of Karzai, and gradually our generals tightened proscriptions against air strikes to the extent that today, U.S. forces neither patrol nor go out as advisers, while Afghan forces are forbidden to call in air. Fighting rifle against rifle guarantees the Taliban can continue attacking year after year.

We know little about this war. We had decent metrics in Vietnam; we knew which areas were safe, and we knew how the North Vietnamese were building up with Chinese and Russian aid. In Iraq in 2007–08, General Petraeus painstakingly laid out all the data, including insurgent-held areas. In contrast, today we don’t know whether the Afghan army is successfully taking over for our troops. Six consecutive American commanding generals said things were improving; none were correct. The U.S. military cannot be relied upon to present a candid assessment, and the military can bar any reporter from any section of the country.

The current commander, General Joseph Dunford, has been careful to promise nothing. The issue is whether the Afghan police and army can prevent the Taliban from making significant gains. The early 2013 signs in press releases are promising, if judged by Afghan commando teams benefiting from coalition intelligence and helicopter support. If the Afghan forces succeed in holding the line without fire support and American advisers in the field, then we should be both relieved and vexed that we lingered so long before letting them fight their own war. But Afghan doughtiness won’t be truly tested until out troops have left, and we don’t know whether U.S. intelligence and helicopter support will persist thereafter.

We don’t know whether the unreliable Karzai, before leaving office next year, will make a political deal (i.e., a significant concession) with the Taliban. The most problematic wild card in 2013 is a preemptive move by Karzai that unsettles the Afghan army and opens the way for a tribal realignment of military battle lines. But the odds are that Karzai lacks the internal tribal backing to make that kind of move.

Musharraf a commando at heart

Lands himself in trouble
by S. Nihal Singh

THE see-saw in the fortunes of Pervez Musharraf, the retired general and army chief and the master of all he surveyed in Pakistan for nine years, is an object of wonder and bewilderment for the outside world. After nearly four years of self-exile shuttling between London and Dubai, was it hubris that brought him home to be disqualified from contesting the first normal elections in the country’s history? Instead of saving Pakistan, which he promised to accomplish, he has found himself in a sub-jail, mercifully his own well-guarded luxurious farm house on Islamabad’s outskirts.

We must remember that General Musharraf remains very much a commando at heart, both by training and instinct. But a good commando calculates his risks calmly, and the retired general has shown a characteristic flaw in his make-up in banking upon instinct and impulse to take decisions, as was evident in his Kargil misadventure. He has, of course, immense self-confidence in his own capabilities and, in his extraordinary career he has often succeeded in his overweening, almost braggart ways.

The problem in his present predicament is that he totally misread the mood in Pakistan and was so certain of the people waiting to embrace him with open arms after the warts of five years of rule of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that he refused to read the signs since the first day of his homecoming. The crowds that greeted him on his airport arrival were pitifully small. And as his nomination was rejected from one constituency to the next and even his last attempt was finally dismissed, he flitted from one court to another seeking bail extensions until one judge refused to grant him one and he made a hasty exit in his black plated SUV with his armed escort only to surrender the next day. There in an instant ended his dream of leading his country again, this time as an elected civilian leader.

General Musharraf is, of course, facing a string of charges ranging from his initial act in arresting the superior judges to his administration’s responsibility for the shooting death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. It was apparently his belief that he could keep these charges at bay by seeking snowballing postponement bails while he appeared in shining armour to save his country. Signs of his discomfiture were apparent from his strained appearance as he was hustled into and out of courts.

Now that General Musharraf finds himself in a hole, what conclusions can the outside world draw? First, five years of rule of the Asif Ali Zardari government, however wobbly its performance at times, has changed the country’s landscape. Second, although the Army remains a power centre in fields such as nuclear arms, Afghanistan, Kashmir and relations with India, apart from protecting its vast economic interests, it is no longer the sole power.

It is also an open secret that the General’s former colleagues, including the present Army chief, General Ashfaque Pervez Kayani, had warmed him not to return home, a wise counsel, he chose to disregard with his habitual stubbornness. The question everyone is asking is, what now? Both the judiciary and the legal fraternity are relishing their opportunity to turn the tables on the former all-powerful ruler. But the picture is complicated by the looming puzzle: how far will the Army allow its former chief to be humiliated? One secret agreement between the Army on the one hand and the superior judiciary and the civilian leadership on the other could be that he be allowed to go in exile again, despite orders preventing him from doing so.

Humiliating as General Musharraf’s position is, of greater importance are the consequences of the present drama on Pakistan’s future. The Pakistan People’s Party government completing its full five years in office – a first for the country – was a landmark event. In compliance with law, a transitional government is now in charge until elections are held next month. In the process, the civilian-military relationship has changed in subtle ways.

China-Pakistan Nuclear Cooperation: Unclear Facts


April 18, 2013

A recent story by a Washington-based reporter, Bill Gertz, in Free Beacon/Washington Times, that Pakistan and China have recently concluded a secret agreement for building a 1,000 MWe nuclear power plant—Chashma-3—has evoked many comments on websites and blogs by both Indians and non-Indians. While the former have focused on the alleged “illegality” of the contract— allegedly because no evidence is given on the legal basis for such a conclusion—the latter have been more concerned about laying the grounds for such an agreement on the doors of the Indo-US nuclear deal. In doing so, they conveniently forget that the China-Pakistan collusion on nuclear transfers, both civil and more importantly military nuclear matters, started long before there was any thought given to any possible India-US cooperation on civilian nuclear transfers. The only feature common to these comments is the absence of facts.

Bill Gertz made two points in his story that requires investigation. The first relates to the Pakistan-China nuclear cooperation for a 1,000 MWe Chashma-3; and the second on the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, confirming this development during a press conference on March 25, when asked about the above mentioned news report, stating that “China has noted the relevant report…but denied the sale violates the voluntary NSG guidelines”. Gertz citing the press conference says, “The cooperation between China and Pakistan does not violate relevant principles of the Nuclear Suppliers Group…In recent years, China and Pakistan do indeed carry out some joint projects related to civilian use of nuclear energy. These projects are for peaceful purpose only, in compliance with the international obligations shared by both countries, and they are subject to guarantee and monitor by international atomic energy organization.”

Finding it odd, the author of this work sent repeated emails to Gertz requesting clarification on two points: First, how could the secret agreement be in respect to Chashma-3 reactor when construction of the Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 nuclear power plants is already half way through to completion? Second, since the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website with the transcript does not contain any reference to any China-Pakistan nuclear story, would Gertz provide a suitable reference to the reported reply of Hong? There has not been any response so far.

There have been some suggestions that the Chashma-3 reference is with respect to the already on-going Chashma-3 programme for a 300 MWe NPP, which will now be transformed into a 1,000 MWe project. Given that already more than half the estimated cost of the Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 projects—Rs 100 billion out of estimated Rs 189 billion —has been spent, it is not conceivable in engineering terms as to how a 300 MWe project can now be transformed into a 1,000 MWe project! Therefore, one can safely reject Gertz’s story about a 1,000 MWe Chashma-3 secret agreement between China and Pakistan.

Does this mean that there cannot, or will not, be another China-Pakistan agreement for additional reactors to be supplied by China to Pakistan as a violation of China’s assurances to Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) members? Possibly, since so far no NSG member has confirmed in any open forum about any assurances given by China to the NSG members about its contractual obligations in respect of nuclear sales to Pakistan.

China-India border talks pivot on Tibet

By Namrata Goswami and Jenee Sharon 


WASHINGTON - Throughout the protracted Sino-Indian border dispute, Tibet and its status has always been a predominant influence, whether implicitly or explicitly on the negotiating table. This has both historical and contemporary ramifications. 

India, much to China's chagrin, utilized the Tibet issue as a key point of departure in order to strike a grand bargain with Beijing after China occupied Tibet in 1949. Jawaharlal Nehru was of the firm conviction that China and India could encapsulate a grand cooperation in Tibet based on which India would recognize Tibet as part of China while China would recognize Tibetan autonomy. 

To Nehru, Tibetan autonomy meant safeguarding Tibet's cultural and social uniqueness. It also meant that China would not militarize Tibet with a massive People's Liberation Army (PLA) presence which could pose a security threat to India. 

Propelled by this belief, Nehru recognized Tibet as part of China in 1954. Mao Zedong, however, interpreted Nehru's insistence on Tibetan autonomy as a diabolical plan to turn Tibet into an Indian "protectorate or colony". In the several meetings that he conducted with his Politburo colleagues in the run-up to the 1962 war with India, he argued that the "Indian expansionist" had devious plans to occupy Tibet. 

In an essay titled "The Revolution in Tibet and Nehru's Philosophy", published in The People's Daily on May 6, 1959, at the behest of Mao, Nehru was faulted for his sympathy for the Tibetan people and accused of upholding the Tibetan upper-class structure to the detriment of what the essay termed as "Tibetan serfs". 

Nehru, the essay argued, wanted to turn Tibet into an "Indian colony". By extension, India's "forward policy" activated since November 1961 to establish forward posts in unoccupied territory that China and India each viewed as its own was also interpreted by Mao as an Indian design to create the logistical conditions to occupy Tibet in the long run. 

These differences and a "no-negotiation" posture by India on the border from 1961 onwards in the face of what Nehru interpreted as Chinese aggression on Aksai Chin led to the China-India border war in October 1962 in which India suffered defeat. 

While both countries have come a long way since then, having re-activated diplomatic relations in 1976 and border negotiations since 1981, the border talks were stalled at this stage due to increased Chinese territorial posture in 1985 especially with regard to Tawang. In 1988, a Joint Working Group (JWG) was institutionalized during the visit of Rajiv Gandhi to China. 

At present, there is talk of "progress" on the border issues and statements from high-level officials representing both parties on not letting the border dispute affect the bilateral working relationship. Yet, both China and India remain deeply entrenched in their rigid negotiating positions. 

The border dispute, especially in the eastern side, is becoming financially costly to both parties, particularly as resources are diverted to build up militarily at the border to deter the other while additional political resources are utilized to continue the negotiations in official diplomatic fora. 

India has planned to invest US$100 billion in military modernization in the next decade, with $15 billion already under negotiations for 126 French Rafale Multi Medium Role Combat Aircraft to be deployed in the eastern sector. China has also visibly demonstrated its military presence in Tibet with nearly 300,000 PLA troops and fighter aircraft like the J-10 deployed at the Gonggar airport in Lhasa. Military exercises by both China and India along the eastern frontier have also increased since 2012. 

China’s Defense White Paper 2012: An Assessment

April 22, 2013

The first Defense White Paper released by China under the new leadership of Xi Jinping initially appears to follow the general trend set by the seven white papers published earlier. Even as it emphasizes the familiar “five principles of peaceful coexistence,” the “new security concept” and China’s commitment to peaceful development, it differs from its predecessors in small, but very significant ways.

The first notable change is the very title. From the bland heading of “China’s National Defense in –” this year’s White Paper has a thematic title “The Diversified Employment of China's Armed Forces.” The sections are not as numerous as previous papers and conform broadly to theme suggested by the title. What this has meant for the contents is that, although the White Paper does for the first time give numbers of the forces in the various arms of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), it does not elaborate on the domestic systems for the transformation of a mechanized army to an informationised one. The focus is on highlighting the activities of the armed forces, and the exercises, operations and joint-training programmes are adequately catalogued - but do not present any new information. The White Paper on China’s National Defense in 2006 had put the number of PLA troops at 2.3 million. Subsequent White Papers did not give a comprehensive number. This latest document gives the figures for the PLA Army, PLA Navy and PLA Air Force as almost 1.5 million. The status of the 800,000 plus that were counted in the 2006 document is not explained. These obviously include officers and troops of the PLA Second Artillery Force and possibly others in research organizations. That there has been a reduction in total numbers is a safe assumption but where precisely reductions have been affected remains unclear. The figures provided are far from comprehensive and can hardly be considered a major step towards transparency.

Conspicuous by its absence is also any mention of China’s defence expenditure. As a document that purported to explain China’s thinking on national defence, especially to other states, an exposition of defence expenditure was made in each previous edition. This was seen as recognition of the persistence of the “China threat” thesis and the need to mitigate it at least on the count of defence spending. That defence expenditure does not feature at all in this eighth white paper is significant. It seems to suggest that the Chinese government is no longer concerned with fighting the idea of a China threat premised on its defence spending. Far from elaborating on earlier explanations (which were deemed unsatisfactory by a vast number of scholars), it would appear that Chinese leaders have decided to do away with the entire enterprise. Statements made during the National People’s Congress with regard to the defence budget will now have to suffice. Unlike the last White Paper, the current one does not mention “suspicions about China, interference and countering moves against China.” Is the new leadership then prepared to give up the rhetoric of victimhood that has pervaded China’s foreign policy articulation?

A Chinese Pivot ?

Project Syndicate
Jaswant Singh

16 April 2013 -- New Delhi – Is China, under its new president, Xi Jinping, undertaking its own diplomatic pivot, parallel to the United States’ “pivot to Asia” ? Xi’s first significant international initiatives – making Russia his first official visit abroad, followed immediately by his attendance at the BRICS summit in South Africa – suggest that China may be seeking to place its relations with the world’s most powerful emerging countries on a par with its US diplomacy. Indeed, this possibility is supported by Xi’s recent statement about relations with India, which he termed “one of the most important bilateral relationships” for China.

Xi’s early focus on Sino-Indian relations is unusual for a Chinese leader. He enunciated a five-point platform, rather like Jawaharlal Nehru’s “five principles of peaceful coexistence,” implemented in the two countries’ Panchsheel Treaty of 1954. According to Xi’s platform, pending a final settlement of territorial issues, the two countries should cooperate to maintain peace and tranquility and prevent border disputes from affecting the overall relationship. China and India should maintain close strategic communications in order to keep bilateral relations on the “right track.”

Moreover, the two countries should harness each other’s comparative strengths and expand mutually beneficial cooperation in infrastructure, investment, and other areas; strengthen cultural ties to advance an expanding friendship; and enhance their cooperation in multilateral forums to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries in tackling global challenges. Finally, they should accommodate each other’s core concerns.

While Xi has been preoccupied with his country’s domestic challenges since becoming Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General-Secretary last November, and now as president since March, relations with India can have a direct impact on internal conditions. For example, China’s desire to prevent drug trafficking in its southern province of Yunnan means that its police and security forces are taking a keen interest in what happens in Myanmar, a country that is also of special interest to India.

Then, of course, there is Tibet, perhaps China’s greatest domestic security concern, and also a perennial source of tension with India, owing to territorial disputes. China’s recent anger over a visit by the Dalai Lama to the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, Indian territory claimed by China, suggests just how potent this issue remains. Hu Shisheng, a leading South Asia strategic analyst at the China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations, has suggested that such visits do not mean that “India-China relations are [in a state of] disturbance,” though the potential for trouble remains high.

Under Xi, however, China seems to be accentuating the positive. The CCP’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, recently identified the “two areas of interest with India” that matter most. With the border issue “effectively controlled,” there should be greater focus on “trade and multilateral issues,” where success could bring about a “new” and welcome “chapter” in bilateral ties.

CHINA AND GREENLAND: DIGGING FOR TROUBLE

Date: 7th February 2013

Greenland is starting to look forward to a bright future in resource-extraction, based on underground riches that include large deposits of iron ore, uranium and the coveted rare earths. This is already bringing great international interest - in particular Chinese investors and droves of Chinese workers for the mines.

In a dream scenario, such extraction could turn Greenlanders into Polar mineral sheiks providing cash inflows to the benefit of Greenlandic society and prosperity (each proposed extraction project is larger than Greenland’s current yearly gross national income). In a worst case, it could lead to uneven distribution of riches, environmental degradation and in the exploitation of foreign workers - all suggesting that Greenland could fall prey to the ‘resource curse’ of countries such as Nigeria and DR Congo. 

In Denmark, the potential Chinese move into the Greenlandic underground is the hot topic making newspaper headlines and stirring up debate in the Danish parliament, where Prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt was called to the stand by parliament this Tuesday

Beyond parochial Danish internal debates, the Greenland discussion also serves as a microcosm around the issues framing Chinese investments in Europe (we want their money but not their influence or business methods, to put it bluntly). 

Relations between Denmark and Greenland might not be at the top of the many readers' minds, so here are some basic facts. Greenland is part of the Danish Kingdom but of the EU (it left the EU after a consultative referendum in 1985). It has a huge territory larger than Mexico yet with a small population of around 56,000 inhabitants. In 2009, the island achieved extended home rule including the rights over its own underground resources. Conversely, foreign and defence policy is still arbitrated in Copenhagen.

Greenland has for years been looking at options for developing resource extraction and attracting international investors without great success. In reality there are only two projects that look set to take off anytime soon. The American company Alcoa is examining an aluminium project estimated at more than €3 billion, although the proposal is still on the drawing board.

More controversially, there is a project by London Mining to exploit iron ore near Issua. The project is estimated at DKK 13 billion (close to €2 billion) which roughly equals Greenland’s current gross national income. On that project, London Mining is collaborating with several Chinese investors such as China Commmunication Construction Company, Sinosteel and China Development Bank, and has calculated into the deal a legion of Chinese workers (around 3000) working at low wages in the mine. As London Mining’s Chinese project leader, Xiaogang Hu explains to Danish daily Berlingske, the project isn’t feasible without workers from anywhere else than China. 

China Has Not (Yet) Changed Its Position on Nuclear Weapons

CHINA HAS CHANGED ITS CORE POSITIONS LIKE A CHAMELEON IN THE PAST!
April 22, 2013
By M. Taylor Fravel


Has China abandoned its "no first use" policy when it comes to nuclear weapons? No, says MIT's M.Taylor Fravel. 

In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, nuclear expert James Acton suggests that China may be changing its nuclear doctrine. The principal basis for his argument is the absence of a specific repetition of China’s “no first-use” policy in the latest edition of Beijing’s bi-annual white paper on defense. Acton, however, misreads the recent white paper and draws the wrong conclusion about China’s approach to nuclear weapons.


First, no first use has been a core feature of Chinese defense policy for decades, having been decided by Mao himself in 1964. If China abandoned or altered this policy position, it would reflect a major change in China’s approach to nuclear weapons – and a major change in China’s international image. This would not be a casual decision by China’s top leaders but rather a radical change precipitated by a major shift in China’s security environment. Although China’s concerns about U.S. missile defense policies that Acton notes are real, these concerns have existed since the mid-1990s and shape China’s current efforts to reduce the vulnerability of its nuclear forces.

To date, China has focused on building a small but potent nuclear force with the ability to launch a secure second strike if attacked with nuclear weapons – what I call “assured retaliation.” The relatively small size of China’s nuclear arsenal and the doctrinal emphasis on survivability and reliability are consistent with a pledge to not use nuclear weapons first. Moreover, if China were to abandon or alter the no first-use policy, it would surely want to reap a clear deterrent effect from such an action and likely do so clearly and publicly, not indirectly and quietly through an omission in a report.

Second, the absence of the no first-use policy in the 2012 white paper does not support Acton’s contention that China is changing its nuclear doctrine. Here, Acton overlooks that this edition of China’s bi-annual defense white papers is different from past volumes in one important respect. 

According to Major General Chen Zhou, one of the white paper’s drafters and a researcher at the PLA’s Academy of Military Science, the 2012 white paper uses a thematic model (zhuanti xing) and not a comprehensive one. In the past, the comprehensively-oriented white papers all had the same title, such China’s National Defense in 2010. The title of the 2012 edition, however, reflects the new thematic focus: Diversified Employment of China Armed Forces. By discussing in more detail the structure and missions of China’s armed forces, the 2012 white paper dropped a chapter found in all previous ones entitled “National Defense Policy.” In the past editions, this chapter contained the references to China’s no first-use policy (as well as many other defense policies). Applying Occam’s razor, the lack of a chapter on China’s national defense policies can account for the absence of a reference to the no first-use policy.

Global Banks Are 'Divorcing' China

Gordon G. Chang, Contributor


I write primarily on China, Asia, and nuclear proliferation.

Could HSBC say "zaijian" to China? (Photo credit: Joybot)

HSBC Group is expected in the next few months to sell its 8.0% stake in the Bank of Shanghai. The financial services giant could receive as much as $800 million from its shares in the second-tier Chinese lender. 

Why do analysts think HSBC will unload its holding soon? It looks like the Bank of Shanghai is set to raise $2 billion by selling newly issued stock, on the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges, with a value of up to 30% of its existing shares. The listing could occur before June, so HSBC will have to act now if it does not want to be trapped by a lock-up period, typically imposed on existing shareholders for periods of up to a year.

Two years ago, nobody thought HSBC would ever dispose of major Chinese assets. Now, there is talk it might get rid of all of them. 

Analysts sense a change in sentiment because HSBC is already dumping Chinese assets. This year it completed the sale of its 15.6% interest in Ping An to Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group for $9.4 billion. Previously, the shares in China’s second-largest life insurance company had been described as “strategic.” Then, there are rumors that the institution, once known as the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, will also sell its half interest in HSBC Life Insurance, which laid off 130 sales staff recently.

The investment community is even talking about a once-unthinkable event, the disposal of HSBC’s 18.7% holding in Bank of Communications . John Bond, when he headed HSBC, wanted to increase the stake in Bocom, as China’s fifth-largest lender is known, and eventually control it. Today, however, HSBC looks like it will never achieve management control.

The dominant view is that HSBC will be content to continue holding its Bocom stake because, as one unnamed Shanghai analyst told the South China Morning Post, a sale would mean “HSBC’s China story will be over.” That analyst may think it is inconceivable that any major bank would ever exit China, but the country is no longer that important to the world’s financial community.

In fact, it looks as if HSBC will have to work hard to find another bank to take its Bank of Shanghai shares. The fact that it could not find a financial institution to buy its Ping An stake is a sign that, in general, foreign bankers are “divorcing” China, as South China Morning Post columnist Doug Young recently put it.

The reason for the unhappiness is clear. HSBC, for instance, sold Ping An because it was unable to get “strategic returns” from the insurance company.

HSBC is not the only institution to feel this way. Analysts think Bank of America BAC +0.26% sold the bulk of its remaining China Construction Bank holding in 2011 and Goldman Sachs unloaded another tranche of shares in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China this January because, like HSBC, they were frustrated that their large stakes weren’t helping them further their China businesses. Chinese banks simply do not believe that they need enduring relations with foreign counterparts, which are now getting impatient.