24 December 2013

Presence of Maoists: A Threat to Development in North East

23/12/2013

The Task Force constituted by the Assam government to study the growth of Maoists in the State admitted in its report that Assam stands to face a stiff challenge in the days to come from Maoists. Therefore, a comprehensive action plan needs to be implemented quickly to deal with the growth of the Maoists in Assam and other parts of Northeast India. While Left Wing Extremism (LWE) does not as of now have a major presence in North East Region (NER), its growth is a potential threat to infrastructural development which serves as a bedrock to strengthen our North-eastern borders and a prerequisite to growth and development of this landlocked region.

In 2012, it was officially reported that Maoist had established three ‘command centres’ in the State – near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Nagaland and Assam-West Bengal borders. In Assam alone, 25 to 30 armed cadres are in operation under Mahesh, a Central Committee member from Rabha community. Of the 79 police stations in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Dhemaji and Lakhmipur districts of Assam, 23 were affected by LWE with cadres extorting small tea garden owners, cattle-rearing farmers and individuals to sustain themselves. Maoists are sending newly recruited cadres from Assam to some central Indian States for training to raise its armed wing in Assam under the banner of the Revolutionary People's Guerrilla Army. They are establishing separate channels in the Northeast, particularly in Nagaland, for procurement of arms and ammunition and have developed close ties with insurgent groups such as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of Manipur. Arrests of Adivasi Tiger Force militants have confirmed that Maoists are trying to spread ideological training by recruiting unemployed Adivasi youth. The Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi alleged that “Maoists were given training by Nagaland’s NSCN in some place outside Assam by taking advantage of the ceasefire agreement with the government of India”. In Arunachal Pradesh too Maoists have set up bases in Lower Dibang Valley and Lohit districts. 

According to Mr. Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (North East), “The Northeast region became an attractive hub for LWE because of the region’s encirclement and the existence of the arms market of Southeast Asia as well as that of China. The history of the Northeast shows a very old history of violence; once the main component of ULFA was dissipated, there was a vacuum created, in Assam in particular, which LWE tried to fill hoping that the remaining extremist element of the NDFB and the ULFA would provide them with a ready support.” Although authorities state that the LWE movement in Northeast is limited and brief, an abysmal state of development, constraint free availability of arms and ammunition through porous borders and a wide base of unemployed youth available for recruitment confirms that threat of Maoist dispersion still persists. 

As seen in the recent Muzaffarabad riots, trouble-free access and possession of arms have amplified the threats that extremist elements pose to our social order. Several studies have quoted the involvement of China in instigating instability in India with arms and military training. "The logic seems to be: keep the North-east on the boil and simultaneously profit from arms sales," says a senior military intelligence official. It has also been noted that unlike the Indo-Pak relationship which is discussed in detail, the threat posed by Chinese engagement to our internal security is not discussed overtly.

India Is Sitting on a Time-Bomb of Violence Against Women


This piece first appeared on newstatesman.com.

Imagine a world where the proportion of girls being born is so low that large proportions of males just cannot find partners when they come of age. In such a world they are more likely to congregate in gangs for company. In turn, that means they are more likely to engage in risky behaviour: i.e. commit crime, do drugs and engage in violence against women. In gangs, men are more likely to harass women and even commit rape.

But this isn’t some dystopian fantasy – there are 37 million more men than women in India, and most of them are of marriageable age given the relatively young population. A social time-bomb is now setting off there with terrifying consequences.

While researching for my e-book on violence against women in India, earlier this year I came across an extraordinary article on why some brothers living in the same household were sharing a wife rather than marrying separate women.

Let that sink in for a moment. The Times of India reported in 2005 on instances where between two and five brothers living in a house, in rural areas in the state of Punjab, had married the same woman. It was extraordinary not just for what was in it, but for what was left out.

The article - "Draupadis bloom in rural Punjab" - cited two reasons for these polyandric arrangements: they prevented the household from splitting into multiple families and therefore dividing the meagre land they owned; men just could not find wives to settle down with. [The women are called "Draupadis" in reference to the princess who married five brothers in the Hindu epic The Mahabharata]. Punjabi writer Gurdial Singh told the Times of India: “the small landholdings and skewed sex ratio have abetted the problem."

A year ago, after the atrocious and widely-publicised gang-rape and murder of the student in Delhi, there has been much discussion of what is going on in India. Of course, the epidemic of violence against women is not an Indian problem alone.

Managing the neighbours

IssueCourtesy: The Telegraph| Date : 23 Dec , 2013

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh in a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, in New York.

India’s search for a successful neighbourhood policy continues. Sections of our society are anxious about our failure to manage our relations with neighbours properly. We tend to blame ourselves for the unsatisfactory state of relations within South Asia, believing that being by far the biggest country we bear the biggest responsibility.

…India’s neighbourhood policies are faulty because governments have lacked vision about managing the country’s periphery.

I.K. Gujral wanted to craft an approach that would modify India’s image from a regional hegemon to one of an accommodating neighbour acting generously, without expectations of reciprocity. A year after his passing away, one can reflect on the practicality of such a policy. In September, 1996, as foreign minister, Gujral outlined in a speech in London the five basic principles that would govern the neighbourhood policy of the United Front government, of which he was a member: First, with Nepal, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, India does not ask for reciprocity but gives all that it can in good faith and trust. Second, no South Asian country will allow its territory to be used against the interest of another country of the region. Third, none will interfere in the internal affairs of another. Fourth, all South Asian countries must respect one another’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. And fifth, they will settle all their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations. Reiterated by him in another speech in Colombo in January, 1997, these principles came to be described later as the Gujral Doctrine.

How these five principles could be called a doctrine governing Indian policies is unclear, as four are presented as norms of conduct for all South Asian countries, and, given the context, for Pakistan in particular. Besides, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs of countries, peaceful settlement of bilateral disputes and not permitting one’s territory for activities against the interests of other states are standard principles governing international relations. The Indian journalist who packaged all these principles as the Gujral Doctrine was indulging in diplomatic excess.

Indian Geronotocracy: Why Are Indian Leaders So Old?

India’s leaders are unrepresentatively old – why is this the case and is it changing?
December 24, 2013

How many Indian Prime Ministers have been born in independent India?

If you said “none so far,” you’re right.

Despite the trivia night appeal of that little fact, it reveals a trouble feature in Indian democracy – India’s leaders are old, and unrepresentatively so for a nation that prides itself on democracy. As per the 2011 Indian Census, the average Indian is 25 years old whereas his average legislative representative is a good 40 years older, at 65. The five dollar word describing this condition is “gerontocracy” – rule by the elders. It’s an old idea too: Plato wrote in The Republic, “it is for the elder man to rule and for the younger to submit.”

Of course, it’d be unfair to leverage this argument against India exclusively; after all, all societies, democratic or authoritarian, are ruled by older-than-average-age men (usually). The Indian case is simply far more extreme than most democracies, certainly within the G20. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, at 81 years old, has the odious honor of being the oldest and only octogenarian democratic leader in the G20 (King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia tops things out at 89 years old; alas, Silvio Berlusconi would be up there at 77 had he not fallen from grace – he certainly lives youthfully). Singh’s cabinet is similarly composed of a coterie of septuagenarians and “youthful” ministers in their 60s.

Folk wisdom in India has it that former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, then in his 70s, was taking an afternoon nap as riots unfurled around Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh. The ensuing failure of the executive to respond decisively was attributed to the Prime Minister’s age, which was seen to inhibit his capacity to tackle new challenges with vim and vigor.

The United States’ founding fathers, a group consisting of the 18-year-old James Monroe, 20-year-old Aaron Burr, 21-year-old Alexander Hamilton, and 25-year-old James Madison (ages as of July 4, 1776) saw it fit to include age requirements for legislators and the president. These wise young men saw the benefits that age can bestow upon a leader. A seasoned general or president behaves differently from a wunderkind (the Kims of North Korea might be the exception here).

Indians have a life expectancy of 65 years and the retirement age for the civil services are set at 60 years. Why then are its leaders so much older? Explanations are numerous, including the dynastic tendencies of the entrenched Indian National Congress leadership, a cultural proclivity to respect the elderly despite their competencies, and matter of parliamentary procedure, including the tendency of Indian political parties to nominate their own leaders. The Economist observes that autocracies, far more than democracies, are likely to have a vast gap between the age of the average citizen and that of her leaders – India being a major exception. Egypt, a poster child of Arab spring, which deposed 82-year-old Hosni Mubarak, has an average age of 24.

India Is Sitting on a Time-Bomb of Violence Against Women

DECEMBER 22, 2013
This piece first appeared on newstatesman.com.

Imagine a world where the proportion of girls being born is so low that large proportions of males just cannot find partners when they come of age. In such a world they are more likely to congregate in gangs for company. In turn, that means they are more likely to engage in risky behaviour: i.e. commit crime, do drugs and engage in violence against women. In gangs, men are more likely to harass women and even commit rape.

But this isn’t some dystopian fantasy – there are 37 million more men than women in India, and most of them are of marriageable age given the relatively young population. A social time-bomb is now setting off there with terrifying consequences.

While researching for my e-book on violence against women in India, earlier this year I came across an extraordinary article on why some brothers living in the same household were sharing a wife rather than marrying separate women.

Let that sink in for a moment. The Times of India reported in 2005 on instances where between two and five brothers living in a house, in rural areas in the state of Punjab, had married the same woman. It was extraordinary not just for what was in it, but for what was left out.

The article - "Draupadis bloom in rural Punjab" - cited two reasons for these polyandric arrangements: they prevented the household from splitting into multiple families and therefore dividing the meagre land they owned; men just could not find wives to settle down with. [The women are called "Draupadis" in reference to the princess who married five brothers in the Hindu epic The Mahabharata]. Punjabi writer Gurdial Singh told the Times of India: “the small landholdings and skewed sex ratio have abetted the problem."

A year ago, after the atrocious and widely-publicised gang-rape and murder of the student in Delhi, there has been much discussion of what is going on in India. Of course, the epidemic of violence against women is not an Indian problem alone.

But something more is going on there that deserves special attention. Not enough people inside India and outside realise the problem there is on a different scale because of the scale of sex-selection, which has meant that millions of girls who should be in the population are systematically wiped out.

We can put a number on this. To have a natural sex ratio like most of the world, India would need more women than men in its population. Around 23 million more women in fact. So, adding the 37 million (to equalise the number of men and women) to 23 million gives us an approximate figure of 60 million women "missing" from the population of India.

Punjab is ground-zero for this phenomena. Dividing up small land-holdings are not a new issue for the agricultural state; it’s the skewed sex-ratio which is the real problem. In a report published in 2009, the charity Action Aid India found that among some communities in Punjab there were as less as 300 girls per 1,000 boys. Overall, it is among the worst states in the country for the female to male ratio.

Understanding Iran's Political and Military Institutions: An Indian Perspective


IDSA Monograph Series No. 28
2013

This monograph titled Understanding Iran’s Political and Military Institutions: An Indian Perspective attempts to understand Iranian politics since the Islamic revolution, by taking a close look at the functioning of different institutions—and the interactions among them—which shape the Iranian polity. It also seeks to analyse in detail Iran’s domestic politics, its different institutions such as the Supreme Leader, the elected institutions (the President, the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts), non-elected institutions (Guardian Council and Expediency Council) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The monograph also tries to examine the conflicts/competitions among different political factions, and the foreign policy orientations as well as the priorities of different sections of the Iranian political and security establishments.

The Geopolitics of America's Energy Independence: Implications for China, India and the Global Energy Market

IDSA MONOGRAPH SERIES
IDSA Monograph Series No. 30
2013

The US' claim that it will become energy independent shortly on the back of the revolution in its shale resources technology has been followed by Washington's announcement of its 'rebalancing to Asia' policy. These two factors have set off a debate on the tectonic shifts that may accrue in the geopolitical landscape of the world's energy sector as well as global geopolitics. This monograph looks at the sustainability of the shale revolution, and whether the US' claims are indeed justified and the geopolitical consequences and strategic implications thereof on the global energy scenario. It will also look at the impact of the 'shale revolution' on traditional energy producers, particularly the West Asian oil and gas producers and exporters on the one hand, as well as the impact and implications of these changes on the energy security policies of the large Asian energy consumers and importers, such as China and India, on the other.
About the Author

Shebonti Ray Dadwal is a Research Fellow with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, specializing on energy security and climate change-related issues and has written several peer-reviewed articles and papers on her area of work. She has worked as Senior Editor in The Financial Express and she has served as Deputy Secretary at the National Security Council Secretariat. Ms. Dadwal was awarded the FCO Chevening Fellowship on The Economics of Energy in April 2009. In 2002, she published a book, Rethinking Energy Security in India.

Nannygate: U.S.-India Relations Rocked

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
December 24, 2013

The diplomatic row over the arrest and strip search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade by U.S. law enforcement officers has built to a genuine crisis in bilateral relations. The dispute threatens to derail a decade of hard work at the foundation of the India-US “strategic partnership.”

The public arrest, handcuffing and strip-search of Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, on charges of “visa fraud” stemmed from her allegedly making false statements on a visa application for her Indian nanny. She was also allegedly paying her about $3 an hour, less than minimum wage.

The nanny, Sangeeta Richard, left Khobragade’s New York residence in June after the relationship between the women became strained over increasingly long hours with little pay. Richard returned in July with lawyers and NGOs to demand back pay. Richard may or may not have planned her moves but her husband and two kids were “evacuated” from New Delhi apparently with the help of U.S. Embassy officials. Many Indians see this as a conspiracy.

The State Department allowed the prosecutor in New York to push ahead on the matter, apparently without considering the full ramifications on bilateral relations. President Obama has called the U.S.-India relationship “defining partnership of the 21st century [3],” but it took Secretary of State John Kerry six days after the diplomat’s arrest to make a phone call to New Delhi.

Whether the diplomat is guilty or not, Washington must consider the implications of a long, drawn-out public trial. The U.S.-India relationship, which has blossomed over the last decade, is crucial not only for regional peace and security in South Asia but also for the stabilization of Afghanistan, for ebbing the forces of religious extremism and for ensuring a fair balance of power in Asia.

Against these important strategic goals, it would seem reckless to squander the India-U.S. partnership over a version of “nannygate.” President Obama surely wouldn’t want to lose India, a country for which there has been consistent bipartisan support in Washington. Similarly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who staked his government on the successful conclusion of the 2008 civil nuclear deal with the United States, wouldn’t want the relationship to deteriorate as his term nears its end.

Pakistan Army Operation in North Waziristan Kills Dozens

The Diplomat‘s Kiran Nazish reports from Peshawar, Pakistan.
December 24, 2013

The Pakistani Army recently carried out a military operation in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) killing at least 40 people and injuring dozens of others in Mir Ali, one of the main towns in North Waziristan.

As there were reports of militants attacking and killing five Pakistani soldiers last Wednesday, the Army followed up with artillery fire and helicopter gunships, attacking dozens of people. According to the army, most of those attacked and killed were insurgents. However locals from Waziristan and other places in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are out on the streets, protesting in different areas, including Peshawar, claiming that “most people murdered in these attacks were local civilians.”

Around 300 people, mostly students from Gomal University and North Waziristan, protested in the northwestern city of Peshawar on December 20th against the military’s operation.

Chanting slogans of anger at the military – “Ye Jo Dainshatgardi hai, Iss kay peechay wardi hai” (translation: this terrorism has a military uniform behind it) – protestors condemned the unannounced attack. These attacks came right after a long curfew that had restricted locals in NWA to their homes. While many in Pakistan are condemning the attack on military officials by the insurgents, they are also condemning the military’s impromptu dealing with these attacks, without informing the local civilians or alerting them to stay within homes.

“We are already victims of the drone war and equally sick of these insurgents, but the Pakistani military is also not protecting us. They are as much our enemy as the insurgents. This attack has proven that innocent locals like us, are disposable. We have done nothing to deserve this,” Abdul Khalid, a local from Dera Ismail Khan told The Diplomat. His cousin’s wife in NWA is one of the victims killed in this attack.

When this correspondent spoke to some locals via mobile phone, she was told that the operation had stopped, but had caused a lot of infrastructural damage to residents in the area. “Most of our shops in this bazaar have been destroyed. Who will pay us back for this loss?” said a shop owner in the main market.

Although this correspondent could not get a direct statement from the military, according to Hammad Abbasi’s report forDAWN, a military spokesman said, ”the military action against the terrorists in North Waziristan on 19th December was in response to an attempt by terrorists to ambush a military convoy.”

Obama Admin Taking It Easy on Terror Group, Congressmen Charge

DECEMBER 23, 2013

The Haqqani network comprises some of Afghanistan's most lethal insurgents. Why isn't the White House doing more to stop them?


The Haqqani network has long been one of the most lethal and dangerous insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan. Now it's forcing an interagency battle of wills in Washington.

The United States has spent years battling the Haqqani organization on the ground of eastern Afghanistan and trying to cut off its flows of money from the Persian Gulf. But it hasn't come close to defeating the group. More than a year ago, Barack Obama's administration formally designated the network a foreign terrorist organization, a move meant to make it harder for the group to raise money. Critics of the White House, though, say it hasn't done enough to dismantle the most dangerous insurgent group in Afghanistan. Congress is now trying to force the administration to step up the fight.

Tucked inside the defense spending bill the U.S. Senate passed late Thursday evening is a provision that forces the administration to come up with a plan to attack the Pakistani-based Haqqani network where it lives -- by going after its cash. It's an effort the White House and the State Department have reportedly been resistant to pursue as the United States attempts to draw down its forces in Afghanistan, build momentum toward a peace settlement in the region, and mend ties with the Pakistani government -- the very government with which the Haqqanis have had ties for years. But the provision stayed in the bill.

"We need a comprehensive strategy from them about how the network operates, how they recruit and how they travel," a congressional staffer told Foreign Policy. "Shockingly, nothing like this has been done."

Although the amendment requires a range of actions, its primary function is to force the Obama administration to get serious about curtailing the network's financing. The five-page provision, "Report on Plans to Disrupt and Degrade Haqqani Network Activities and Finances," also calls for the administration -- from the departments of Defense, State, Treasury, and the director of National Intelligence -- to come up with a plan and report it to Congress within nine months. The plan should include an assessment of the network by the intelligence community, a review of the administration's current policies, and "metrics" to measure the success of the new plan.

Congressional frustration over this issue has been mounting with the administration for more than a year. Obama's team first designated the Haqqanis a foreign terrorist group in September 2012 but seemed to do little to go after the network's finances or learn much about its recruiting and other activities. Then last month, Gen. Joe Dunford, the top commander in Afghanistan, wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel raising concerns about the lack of a comprehensive effort to counter the network. The letter, whose contents are classified, hinted that a whole-of-government approach would put added pressure on the Haqqanis and fully leverage its designation as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Chinese military machine’s secret to success: European engineering


Filed December 19, 2013



SILENT STRENGTH: This modern Chinese submarine packs a diesel engine by MTU of Germany. The People’s Liberation Army has purchased much key hardware from Europe. REUTERS/Kin Cheung

German diesel engines now power China’s stealthy submarines - among the many weapons and parts Beijing has sourced from America’s European allies.

HONG KONG - If the People’s Liberation Army went to war tomorrow, it would field an arsenal bristling with hardware from some of America’s closest allies: Germany, France and Britain.

Most of China’s advanced surface warships are powered by German and French-designed diesel engines. Chinese destroyers have French sonar, anti-submarine-warfare helicopters and surface-to-air missiles.

Above the battlefield, British jet engines drive PLA fighter bombers and anti-ship strike aircraft. The latest Chinese surveillance aircraft are fitted with British airborne early warning radars. Some of China’s best attack and transport helicopters rely on designs from Eurocopter, a subsidiary of pan-European aerospace and defense giant EADS.

But perhaps the most strategic item obtained by China on its European shopping spree is below the waterline: the German-engineered diesels inside its submarines.

Emulating the rising powers of last century - Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union - China is building a powerful submarine fleet, including domestically built Song and Yuan-class boats. The beating hearts of these subs are state-of-the-art diesel engines designed by MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH of Friedrichshafen, Germany. Alongside 12 advanced Kilo-class submarines imported from Russia, these 21 German-powered boats are the workhorses of China’s modern conventional submarine force.

With Beijing flexing its muscles around disputed territory in the East China Sea and South China Sea, China’s diesel-electric submarines are potentially the PLA’s most serious threat to its American and Japanese rivals. This deadly capability has been built around robust and reliable engine technology from Germany, a core member of the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Arms trade data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to the end of 2012 shows that 56 MTU-designed diesels for submarines have been supplied to the Chinese navy.

Russia’s Strategic Forays in Asia Pacific in November 2013

Paper No. 5620 Dated 20-Dec-2013
Dr Subhash Kapila

Russia’s Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific declared a year back seems to be fleshed out with remarkable alacrity. In the last month or so Russia has made strategic and political reach-outs to Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

This is a welcome departure from Russia’s erstwhile policy fixations on China’s strategic utility to furtherance of Russian strategic interests. Russia’s hopes of its China-fixated policy formulations, for strategic leverages accruing to it when dealing with the United States, never materialised. In the process this Russian strategy impeded Russia’s strategic reachout to the dynamic nations of Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

Noticeable visibly in Russia’s strategic forays in Asia Pacific are two major vital factors. The first noticeable factor is that in terms of comparative analysis with the United States’ Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific is that in terms of initiatives, Russia has embarked on strategically pro-active initiatives towards appreciable strategic gains in the Asia Pacific. The United States is only in a reactive mode and can be said to be losing strategic space in the Asia Pacific by its ‘China Appeasement Policies”

The second noticeable factor is that while the United States in pursuit of its ‘China Hedging Strategy’ and to placate China is permissive on China’s strategic delinquencies against Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, comparatively and in sharp contest, Russia’s strategic forays in the Asia Pacific in recent weeks have focussed on the very same countries that China has inflicted its military brinkmanship.

Should the United States mot reading some messages in these developments?

Russia’s strategic masterstroke and game-changer in the Asia Pacific, if fully consummated, and the strong potential is there, was of its political and security reach-out to Japan in the Russia-Japan 2+2 Talks held in Tokyo recently on November2 2013. Russia’s strategic move in its policy formulations promising new and substantial strategic relationship far outweighs the strategic forays made to South Korea and Vietnam.

The above stands analysed in my SAAG Paper entitled “Russia and Japan in a Historical, Political and Strategic Reachout” (Paper No. 5591 dated 4 November 2013)

China perceives Japan as its main and strongest military regional adversary not prone to Chinese political and military coercion. The United States is as Japan’s military ally can be said to be not strong in reining-in China’s military adventurism against Japan.

Russia’s strategic and political reach-out to Japan at such a juncture holds strategic promise for Japan in a China-troubled strategic environment and provides alternatives to Japanese policy-makers.

Russia’s strategic foray to South Korea materialised in the form of a personal visit by President Putin to Seoul on November 13 2013.. The focus was on trade and technical cooperation between the two countries but also accompanied by an under-pinning of security discussions in the context of the regional security environment.

Was 2013 the Year We Lost China?

By Noah Feldman Dec 23, 2013 


The East rises: PLA honor guards in Beijing.

Having spent two days getting to know each other in Sunnylands, California, in June, Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Barack Obama of the U.S. sent each other Christmas gifts this year. Obamasent a B-52 bomberthrough airspace that China claims as its own; Xi then sent a ship from his new carrier group to cut a dangerous 200 yards in front of anAmerican cruiser. Cool war heating up much?

The U.S. and China have the most important bilateral relationship in the world. The rising global superpower and the status quo superpower are deeply cooperative and deeply competitive -- at the same time. Hostile military gestures are part of that relationship, but so was the warm Sunnylands summit, to say nothing of separate trade negotiations each side is pursuing with the same Asian countries. In 2013, the year Xi called for “a new type of great-power relationship” between the countries, those contradictions deepened. The dangers of nationalism on both sides can be increasingly sensed. Hillary Clinton and other aspiring Democratic presidential candidates had better pay attention -- you can be sure that Bobby Jindal and other smart, aspiring Republican candidates are.

The pre-Christmas exchange of near hostilities is more important than has generally been realized in the U.S. news media. The nominal trigger was a pile of uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea, known in Japanese as the Senkaku Islands and in Chinese as the Diaoyu. China claims the islands, which are 200 miles from the Chinese coast and 120 miles from Taiwan. Japan, also 200 miles away, not only claims the islands but also controls them. The traditional position of the U.S. has been that it recognizes Japan's de facto control without expressly taking a position on ownership.

One reason the islands matter is that they form part of a chain running from Japan to Taiwan to Vietnam, a line loosely parallel to China's eastern coast, and thus relevant to its defense posture. But they are much more important for what they signal about China's increasingly aggressive rise as a geopolitical power following its extraordinary economic growth.

China’s Space Diplomacy

The launch of a Bolivian satellite is the just the latest example of China’s space diplomacy.
December 24, 2013

In the early hours of Saturday morning (Beijing time), a Bolivian telecommunications satellite launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan province, Xinhua reports. The launch, observed by Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma, was one more example of China’s growing space diplomacy.

The $300 million satellite, dubbed TKSat-1 or Tupac Katari, was built by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC). According to CCTV, Tupac Katari was Bolivia’s first-ever communications satellite. The project was co-financed by the China Development Bank and Bolivia’s government.

The Bolivian satellite is the fifth communications satellite China has built and launched on behalf of another country. China has previously produced and successfully placed in orbit communications satellites for Nigeria, Pakistan, andVenezuela as well as earth observation satellites for Turkey. There are additional satellites in the works for Sri Lanka,Turkmenistan, and Belarus according to the China Great Wall Industry Corp. website.

While other countries also launch foreign satellites, it is usually done as a purely commercial move by an independent company. China’s programs are conceptualized differently, as both a money-maker for CASTC and its subsidiary, China Great Wall Industry Corp., and as a part of China’s overall diplomacy with other developing countries. In a statement on the successful launch, President Xi Jinping said, “The satellite will play an important role for Bolivia to improve its broadcasting, education and medical services. It will make important contributions to promote cooperation between China and Latin American countries.” He added that “China hopes for more space collaboration with Bolivia, which will promote mutual beneficial cooperation and friendly relations.”

Bolivian President Morales also described the launch as both a technological and diplomatic achievement. According toXinhua, he expressed a hope that “China and Bolivia will take the opportunity of the successful launch to deepen cooperation in all areas and bring bilateral ties to a higher level.”

Was 2013 the Year We Lost China?

By Noah Feldman Dec 23, 2013
Illustration by Neil Donnelly

Having spent two days getting to know each other in Sunnylands, California, in June, Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Barack Obama of the U.S. sent each other Christmas gifts this year. Obamasent a B-52 bomber through airspace that China claims as its own; Xi then sent a ship from his new carrier group to cut a dangerous 200 yards in front of anAmerican cruiser. Cool war heating up much?

The U.S. and China have the most important bilateral relationship in the world. The rising global superpower and the status quo superpower are deeply cooperative and deeply competitive -- at the same time. Hostile military gestures are part of that relationship, but so was the warm Sunnylands summit, to say nothing of separate trade negotiations each side is pursuing with the same Asian countries. In 2013, the year Xi called for “a new type of great-power relationship” between the countries, those contradictions deepened. The dangers of nationalism on both sides can be increasingly sensed. Hillary Clinton and other aspiring Democratic presidential candidates had better pay attention -- you can be sure that Bobby Jindal and other smart, aspiring Republican candidates are.

The pre-Christmas exchange of near hostilities is more important than has generally been realized in the U.S. news media. The nominal trigger was a pile of uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea, known in Japanese as the Senkaku Islands and in Chinese as the Diaoyu. China claims the islands, which are 200 miles from the Chinese coast and 120 miles from Taiwan. Japan, also 200 miles away, not only claims the islands but also controls them. The traditional position of the U.S. has been that it recognizes Japan's de facto control without expressly taking a position on ownership.

One reason the islands matter is that they form part of a chain running from Japan to Taiwan to Vietnam, a line loosely parallel to China's eastern coast, and thus relevant to its defense posture. But they are much more important for what they signal about China's increasingly aggressive rise as a geopolitical power following its extraordinary economic growth.

China and Japan have been exchanging escalatory gestures around the islands since the summer of 2012. But this November, China officially claimed to establish an “air-defense identification zone” in an area of the East China Sea that includes the islands, meaning that the crew of any aircraft passing through must, according to the Chinese, say who they are, show national markings, and remain in two-way communication with Chinese forces. This was a new level of asserted control, and it could have been intended only to provoke confrontation with Japan, which had regularly sent American-made F-15 fighters over the islands.

In symbolic response, the U.S. flew (unarmed) B-52 bombers through the air-defense identification zone, without providing any identification or communicating with China. The choice of the B-52s was itself symbolic. Fighter jets might have been construed as more up to date, but the hulking, stalwart B-52, in use since the 1950s, harkened back to the era of Cold War supremacy.

Why China Won't Attack Taiwan

It is extremely unlikely that China will invade Taiwan, much less succeed.
December 24, 2013

Although relatively muted in recent years, Taiwan is seen the greatest potential flashpoint in U.S.-China relations. Indeed, U.S. defense analysts perceive China’s expanding Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities primarily through the lens of preventing the U.S. from intervening should Beijing invade Taiwan. Consequently, the main concepts the U.S. military has developed for countering A2/AD — namely, Air-Sea Battle and a blockade approach — appear to be based on the assumption that a shooting war with China would break out over Taiwan.

In many ways, the concern over Taiwan is well-placed. China covets the island far more than any other piece of real estate, including the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. For CCP leaders and many ordinary Chinese, Taiwan is one of the vast remaining vestiges of the country’s century of humiliation. Acquiring Taiwan would also significantly enhance the PLA’s ability to project power outwardly. Despite improvements in cross-Strait relations in recent years, China has refused to rule out the possibility that it invade Taiwan.

Besides having the motivation to acquire Taiwan, China seemingly is rapidly acquiring the capability to take the island by force. In recent years, the cross-Strait military balance has rapidly shifted in Beijing’s favor, and this trend is almost certain to continue so long as China’s economy continues to grow. Today, China has at least 1,600 ballistic missiles pointed at Taiwan, and Taiwan’s own Ministry of Defense admits that China will have sufficient military capabilities to mount a full cross-Strait attack by 2020.

This has led some U.S. analysts, particularly academics of the Realist persuasion, to argue that the U.S. should gradually cede Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China. For example, Charles Glaser argued in a controversial Foreign Affairsarticle in 2011 that, given the risks of nuclear war between China and the United States, “the United States should consider backing away from its commitment to Taiwan. This would remove the most obvious and contentious flash point between the United States and China and smooth the way for better relations between them in the decades to come.”

China Faces Cash Crunch Again


Short-term borrowing costs jump as the central bank tries to reform the credit market.
December 23, 2013

It is happening again – China is facing another “cash crunch” as short-term borrowing costs jump, roughly half a year since the last incident of cash tightness in the world’s second largest economy. Interest rates rocketed up on Thursday and Friday of last week, especially money market borrowing termed at less than three months. On Monday morning, despite loud People’s Bank of China (PBOC) action late last week, rates spiked again.

Despite the experience of last summer, when persistent tightness in the interbank lending markets failed to have any obvious affect on the “real economy” (although we should also remember that there was a mini-stimulus being rolled out at that time), China’s stock markets reacted on the downside last week.

The slight bump in Shanghai’s main stock index on Monday morning reflects a feeling of optimism that the PBOC will not let this cash-crunch drag on for too long – after all the institution did take extraordinary measures to try and alleviate the situation late last week. Longer term rates still remain at more usual levels after all. However there is a lingering feeling of concern…

First, we are still weeks away from the Spring Festival Holiday – before which rates can be expected to climb as banks hoard their cash and reduce their lending to one another. It is a bit unusual for rates to climb so long before a holiday. And this is not the only cause of unease.

In fact, the main reason for the worry is that the market is aware that yet again the root cause for this “cash crunch” is the PBOC itself. China’s central bank had not injected liquidity into the money markets for more than two weeks before the crunch began late last week. The PBOC certainly seems to prefer the rates to be higher than they had been (although certainly not as high as they spiked as the crunch began – hence the extraordinary liquidity injections of recent days.

There could be several possible reasons as to why the PBOC again moved to push rates higher. Many analysts believe that part of the reason for the PBOC’s action is to punish banks who are relying dangerously on money market funds to manage their Wealth Management Product (WMP) business – itself a key process in China’s shadow banking system. Shadow banking has enabled China’s rapid credit expansion to continue despite official attempts to control the more traditional formal lending sector. It has also kept credit flowing to dangerously unbalanced economic-sectors which would otherwise already have begun a painful period of consolidation and reform.

India's Newly Aspirational Classes Change Stakes for 2014 Elections

DECEMBER 23, 2013


Next spring, the government of India will embark on the largest exercise in democratic participation in human history, as its 800-million strong electorate prepares to cast their votes in the long-awaited national Lok Sabha (parliamentary) elections.

After two full five-year terms in power, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government currently faces strong anti-incumbency headwinds, resulting from multiple corruption scandals, a slowing economy, and double-digit inflation. The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) recent sweep in four state assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, though an imperfect indicator of the overall national electoral mood, strongly suggests an upsurge in electoral support for India's main opposition party.

Much has been written recently about the elevation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to become the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. (Two balanced pieces on Modi's candidacy can be found here and here.) Since coming to power in Gujarat in 2001, Modi has built both a national and an international reputation for being an effective state administrator who has led the state to a strong economic performance during his long tenure. Yet, in addition to his reputation for skillfulness in governing Gujarat, his government has been accused of not taking sufficient actions to stop widespread ethnic rioting that erupted throughout the state in 2002, in which over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

The rise of Modi to the national spotlight will continue to be a major aspect of the upcoming 2014 national election. More broadly, however, this election represents the emergence of an aspirational electorate that has placed good governance and the ability to deliver on economic and programmatic issues front and center as election issues.

How did this change come about? Despite the recent slowdown, India's economy has averaged two decades of close to eight percent annual growth, moving tens of millions of people out of poverty and creating a catalyst for urbanization. By 2030, an estimated 70 percent of the country's new employment opportunities will be located in India's growing urban areas. In the past, the country's small middle class has often been associated with a tepid interest in democratic politics. Today, however, urbanization and economic development are giving rise to growing aspirational working and middle classes who have much higher expectations for democratic politics.

Japan Doubles Down on ASEAN

Tokyo has had a busy year reaching out to ASEAN countries. Will the effort continue in 2014?
December 23, 2013

This month, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finished up a busy year of diplomatic overtures in Asia with a summit hosting leaders from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Tokyo. The Japan-ASEAN summit seemed a capstone moment aimed at cementing the ties made through Abe’s visit to all ten ASEAN countries this year. During the meeting, Abe pledged an additional $1.65 billion in overseas development assistance and investment loans to the region.

Tokyo also secured a lukewarm joint statement with ASEAN that praised Japan’s role and its “efforts in contributing constructively to peace, stability, and development in the region.” Despite a significant diplomatic effort however, Abe failed to get a more coveted rebuke from ASEAN on China’s recent imposition of a unilateral Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. Instead, Japan settled for some platitudes about the freedom of navigation both in the air and in the seas. The lack of an ADIZ condemnation is not surprising as ASEAN remains divided on how much – if at all – it should prod China on its increasing assertiveness towards its regional neighbors.

Notwithstanding this divergence, Japan’s efforts to woo ASEAN have been accruing benefits for Tokyo as it looks for partners in Asia to check Beijing’s influence. This past year has seen several mini-victories for Tokyo in its attempts to reinvigorate its presence and influence in Southeast Asia. Ironically, two of these significant “wins” were achieved through a combination of Chinese miscalculation and opportunism by Japan. The first example was Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged the Philippines in early November. While Beijing looked miserly and disingenuous in its response, Tokyoreacted with vigor and purpose, pledging more $50 million in assistance and deploying 1000 members of its Self Defense Forces to the area.

The second turning point was largely a self-inflicted wound created by Beijing’s garbled decision on the ADIZ in the East China Sea. The ADIZ reaction was timid in ASEAN compared to retorts from Japan, the U.S., Korea and Australia. But the lack of a unified statement on the ADIZ should not be seen as acquiescence of China’s move. Indeed, several countries in ASEAN – Vietnam and the Philippines in particular – remained deeply concerned the ADIZ in the East China Sea will be a precursor to the imposition of an ADIZ covering Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. And ASEAN is not only watching the calculations and response from China. The newly diplomatic U.S. Vice President Joe Biden did little to reassure countries with a stake in the South China Sea row that Washington would take a firm stand on a SCS ADIZ.

Add the EU to the list of myths we’re brainwashed to believe

Like corks, and turning off mobiles on planes, 'Europe’ may one day turn out to be pointless
22 Dec 2013

Amazing, I thought as I looked at the array of bottles. How did we get through that lot, eh? As far as I could tell we had drunk the last drop of the crate of wine that my friend Jeremy Hunt had sent me after I gave a speech in his constituency. And this wasn’t any old wine, folks. This was English wine – the grapes plumped by the zephyrs of Surrey, lovingly picked by migrant labour, and turned into a delicious and fruity and golden and, above all, drinkable little number that had obviously gone down well with everybody.

As I looked at the glinting empties, I realised why it was so drinkable. It wasn’t just the superior Surrey loam, or the skill of Denbies the vintners. There was a reason it was so light and quaffable – a reason why people’s hands reached for it reflexively instead of other more pompous wine; and that was that it was literally easy to drink. The bottles had a screw cap, not a cork, and so there was no faffing around with some piece of 17th-century technology.

It was just twist-pour-glug! I thought of the advent of screw-cap wine bottles – now seen even on posh French wine – and I thought what saps we all are. For years we have been told that a cork is essential. For decades it seemed sacrilegious to put good wine into a screw-cap bottle. Wine had to breathe through a cork, said the “experts”, and we all pathetically and snobbishly complied. And now it is obvious that it was twaddle all along. It was pure mumbo jumbo and superstition.

A screw cap in no way impairs the quality – and helps the party go with more of a zing. The scales have fallen from our eyes. It happens all the time, doesn’t it? We are all taught to believe something – as a matter of quasi-religion – that turns out to be total cobblers. It’s like the ban on electronic devices on aeroplanes. For years we have been told by experts that it is crucial to turn these off during take-off and landing, or else the control towers will somehow lock on to our laptops and cause the planes to fall from the sky.

For years the cabin crew have come round and told us in regretful tones that we must comply with this precaution – and though many of us have secretly wondered whether it is all rubbish, we have always obeyed, on the grounds that someone somewhere must know more about it than we do. Then one day – in fact I think it was only last week – they tell us that it was all a myth. It was a misapprehension. You can send a text at take-off, and the plane will stay airborne after all.

The Significance of Russia’s Frustration with North Korea

Pyongyang appears to have shunned Moscow’s attempts at direct engagement.
By Stephen Blank
December 23, 2013

Kim Jong Un’s recent brutal purge of his uncle Jang Song Thaek and other senior officials was apparently connected to high-level discord over North Korean relations with China. As a result we may well see a spike in bilateral tensions between Pyongyang and Beijing. But China is not an isolated case. Observers have largely failed to notice that North Korea had managed even before the purge to alienate Russia and that trend apparently has no connection to the DPRK’s domestic policies.

Indeed, Kim Jong Un has done nothing to advance the Russo-North Korean accords reached by his father Kim Jong Il in 2011 with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. These accords were the product of a Russian initiative triggered by the crises of 2010, namely North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and its torpedoing of the South Korean ship Cheonan. Russian officials announced in September 2010 that the region was on the brink of war and fully grasped that in case of war Russia’s vital strategic and tangible material interests would suffer grievously, yet Moscow possessed no means of leverage over North Korea and had little influence on South Korea.

Russia’s ensuing diplomatic initiative culminated in the agreements of August 2011 between Medvedev and Kim Jong Il. North Korea announced its readiness to consider the possibility of a trans-Korean railway linked to the Trans-Siberian railway (TKR-TSR) and a trans-Korean gas pipeline connected to Russian gas holdings. North Korea could then charge tariffs for the gas passing through its territory and potentially ultimately avail itself of that gas as a possible alternative to nuclear energy in the future. South Korea liked the idea because it allowed the ROK to invest in the North without disavowing previous sanctions and policies it had announced and because it reduced tensions. Meanwhile, for Russia the accord gave some hope of upgrading Russia’s rather marginal status in the Six-Party talks while also gaining leverage over both Koreas and reducing tensions. Russia even forgave North Korea’s state debt as part of the agreement.