Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Taiwan President Tsai, China and Women

     Last week Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as the first female President of Taiwan. She is single and an alumni of London School of Economics [LSE] and Cornell University.
*In an opinion piece by Wang Weixing that was published in the International Herald; a Xinhua run newspaper, the author suggested that:

    [Tsai Ing-wen] as a single female politician, she does not have the emotional burden of love of family or children. So her political style and strategy tend to be emotional, personalized and extreme. Wang further suggested that when the Chinese leadership deals with President Tsai ‘we should bear in mind important factors such as her experience, personality and mind-set’ [emphasis added].
*A spokesman for the Taiwanese President declined comment.

*Nevertheless, there was such outrage expressed by ordinary Chinese citizens on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that the authorities were forced to withdraw the offensive article.
*Oddly, there is no female member serving on the elite seven members Standing Committee of the Politburo that actually governs China. There are only two female members on the 25 member Politburo. In the Central Committee, the number of female members has actually fallen from 7.6 per cent in 1969 to 4.9 per cent at present. Of the 31 provincial governors there is only one female governor.

* The Chinese authorities also disallowed celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN’s Fourth Conference on Women held earlier at Beijing in 1995.
* The above attitude contrasts sharply with what President Xi Jinping told the UN last year that:

       We must build-up women’s capacity of playing their part in society and the economy and involve women in the higher levels of decision making and support them in being leaders in political, business and academic fields.
*Thus it would appear the male chauvinism is alive and well in China.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Vajpayee, Nuclear Policy and China--Quest for NSG Membership

      An Op-ed article in the Indian Express [24 May2016] “What Pranab Must Say to Beijing” has the following advice:
The current political dispensation in Delhi may neither forgive nor forget Beijing’s blocking maneuver at the NSG. President Mukherji would also want to remind Beijing that an earlier BJP led government did not mince words in declaring the China threat and Beijing’s nuclear cooperation with Pakistan as the main reasons for India to go nuclear in 1998. That in turn had a chilling effect on bilateral relations for a brief while.

But what are the facts?
*India carried out two nuclear tests on 11 and 13 May 1998.
 *On 11 May PM Vajpayee wrote a confidential letter to President Clinton on the nuclear tests. The key para was as follows:
      It was necessary to carry it out as India had an overt nuclear state on its borders that had carried out armed aggression against India in 1962 and that although relations had somewhat improved yet an atmosphere of distrust persists mainly due to the unresolved border problem 

*PM Vajpayee’s confidential letter was promptly leaked, reportedly by the White House, to the New York Times which published the full text on 13 May 1998.
*As could be expected, the Chinese were livid with anger against India.
*On 3 June 1998, President Jiang Zemin told AFP that ‘as India had originated the tense situation in the region, it was India that would have to untie the knot [emphasis added]’; if relations were to move forward.
* Meanwhile working in tandem, both the US and China co-sponsored UNSC resolution 1172 that not only ‘condemned’ the nuclear tests, but demanded both of India and Pakistan to refrain from further tests.
* President Clinton visited China and in a joint presidential statement issued on 27 June 1998 stated that both countries had a ‘shared interest’ in a strong non-proliferation regime in South Asia. Both US and China agreed to work closely together.
* When on 9 July 1998 India offered to sign a ‘no first use’ agreement with China, the latter point blank refused.
*Thus the Vajpayee government quickly realized that if normal relations with China were desirable; then amends would have to be made to mollify the Chinese.
* In October 1998, the PM’s office made a public statement that India did not see China as an enemy. Nor did India wish to enter into an arms race with China. President Narayanan also spoke to the Chinese Ambassador in Delhi on the same lines.
*During his visit to China 15-17 June 1999, the then EAM Jaswant Singh publicly stated that the Indian government ‘does not think that China is a threat’.
* Having mollified the Chinese it was on this basis that they finally agreed to move bilateral relations forward that eventually led to PM Vajpayee’s historic visit to China in 2003.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

China's "little blue" men in the South China Sea

      According to a Pentagon report China's fishing fleet in the East and South China Seas consists of nearly 21million fishermen and about 439,000 motor boats. They are based mostly on Hainan island as also in ports along the South China sea coast.
* Inserted on fishing boats are members of the Chinese naval militia, popularly known as the "little blue men". Many veteran Chinese naval personnel are serving as militiamen, disguised as fishermen. Such vessels are now regularly deployed in the South China Sea area.
* By using ostensibly civilian personnel and fishing boats, the Chinese are well placed to avoid direct military to military confrontations. In addition, the element of deniability is always available to the Chinese should any incident take place.
* US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia, Abraham Denmark in a report says that Chinese vessels attempt to establish a degree of control around disputed features in the SCS area and at the same time stay well below the threshold of conflict, but also do assert their claims.
* These Chinese tactics are designed to exploit the "grey zones" that exist in the US Navy's rules of engagement. US Navy rules are silent on how to handle such activity.
* For example: When USS Larsen passed close to an artificially created island on Subi Reef near the Spratly islands on a 'FoN' operation, Chinese Naval Destroyers stayed well away at a safe distance. However small Chinese fishing vessels were deliberately provocative, harassing the USS Larsen by crossing its bow and maneuvering around it. The US Navy had no plausible response ready.
* Chinese authorities are clearly miffed on reports of such activity. Yang Yujun, spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Defence said "such reports wantonly distort China's national defence policy and the legal activities in the East and South East China Sea areas [emphasis added]"           

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Fu Ying and Settlement of Territorial Disputes

  Fu Ying is the Chairwomen of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress [NPC], a very powerful post. Often described as charming, suave, steely but a consummate diplomat; she was only the second female to have ever become Vice-Minister for Foreign affairs after Wang Hairong; who was Chairman Mao's niece.
*As VFM she dealt with Asian Affairs.
* Fu Ying belongs to the minority Mongolian group having been brought up in Inner Mongolia.
* She has served as China's Ambassador to the Philippines, Australia and the UK and earlier was an English interpreter for Deng Xiaoping.
*On a speaking assignment to the US where she ably put forward China's assessment on current state of Sino-US relations, she also made very pertinent remarks about China's present attitude on territorial disputes.
* This is what she said:
       "China stumbled into the 20th Century with its capital under occupation of Imperialist armies and for over a century China suffered the humiliation of repeated foreign aggression and bullying. That is why the Chinese people are very sensitive about anything that is related to the loss of territory and would never allow such recurrence even if it is an inch of land [emphasis added]. This is something that the outside world need to keep in mind when trying to understand Chinese behavior."
* The Chinese position is thus clear and as our interlocutors negotiating the boundary question have found it is a very hard line position.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Text of Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916



It is accordingly understood between the French and British governments: That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognise and protect an independent Arab state or a confederation of Arab states (a) and (b) marked on the annexed map, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall have priority of right of enterprise and local loans. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall alone supply advisers or foreign functionaries at the request of the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.

That in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.

That in the brown area there shall be established an international administration, the form of which is to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other allies, and the representatives of the sheriff of Mecca.

That Great Britain be accorded (1) the ports of Haifa and Acre, (2) guarantee of a given supply of water from the Tigris and Euphrates in area (a) for area (b). His majesty’s government, on their part, undertake that they will at no time enter into negotiations for the cession of Cyprus to any third power without the previous consent of the French government.

That Alexandretta shall be a free port as regards the trade of the British empire, and that there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards British shipping and British goods; that there shall be freedom of transit for British goods through Alexandretta and by railway through the blue area, or (b) area, or area (a); and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against British goods on any railway or against British goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned.

That Haifa shall be a free port as regards the trade of France, her dominions and protectorates, and there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards French shipping and French goods. There shall be freedom of transit for French goods through Haifa and by the British railway through the brown area, whether those goods are intended for or originate in the blue area, area (a), or area (b), and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against French goods on any railway, or against French goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned.

That in area (a) the Baghdad railway shall not be extended southwards beyond Mosul, and in area (b) northwards beyond

Samarra, until a railway connecting Baghdad and Aleppo via the Euphrates valley has been completed, and then only with the concurrence of the two governments.

That Great Britain has the right to build, administer, and be sole owner of a railway connecting Haifa with area (b), and shall have a perpetual right to transport troops along such a line at all times. It is to be understood by both governments that this railway is to facilitate the connection of Baghdad with Haifa by rail, and it is further understood that, if the engineering difficulties and expense entailed by keeping this connecting line in the brown area only make the project unfeasible, that the

French government shall be prepared to consider that the line in question may also traverse the polygon Banias-Keis Marib-

Salkhad-Tell Otsda-Mesmie before reaching area (b).

For a period of 20 years the existing Turkish customs tariff shall remain in force throughout the whole of the blue and red areas, as well as in areas (a) and (b), and no increase in the rates of duty or conversions from ad valorem to specific rates shall be made except by agreement between the two powers.

There shall be no interior customs barriers between any of the above-mentioned areas. The customs duties leviable on goods destined for the interior shall be collected at the port of entry and handed over to the administration of the area of destination.

It shall be agreed that the French government will at no time enter into any negotiations for the cession of their rights and will not cede such rights in the blue area to any third power, except the Arab state or confederation of Arab states, without the previous agreement of His Majesty’s government, who, on their part, will give a similar undertaking to the French government regarding the red area.

The British and French governments, as the protectors of the Arab state, shall agree that they will not themselves acquire and will not consent to a third power acquiring territorial possessions in the Arabian Peninsula, nor consent to a third power installing a naval base either on the east coast, or on the islands, of the Red Sea. This, however, shall not prevent such adjustment of the Aden frontier as may be necessary in consequence of recent Turkish aggression.

The negotiations with the Arabs as to the boundaries of the Arab states shall be continued through the same channel as heretofore on behalf of the two powers.

It is agreed that measures to control the importation of arms into the Arab territories will be considered by the two governments.


Friday, 13 May 2016

China Q&A: The Trial of Ling Jihua

     Ling Jihua is no ordinary person in Chinese politics for he was the top aide of the former Chinese President Hu Jintao [2002-2012]. He held a string of important appointments, but the most important was as head of the office of the Chinese President and thus privy to all Chinese state secrets.
* Ling's downfall started when his 23 year old son Ling Gu crashed his Ferrari 458 Spider into Beijing's 4th Ring Road on 18 March 2012 killing himself and one of his two female companions.
* Guardian [13 May 16] quotes NYT to say that Ling Jihua coldly denied that this was his son when he visited the mortuary to identify the body.
* SCMP reports that millions were taken from China's largest oil company and paid to the relatives of the two girls found in the car crash to "hush-up" the matter.
* Xinhua [13 May 16] announced that Ling Jihua would be tries at Tianjin City for " soliciting bribes, seeking favors and illegally obtaining state secrets'. Xinhua says the latter "has inflicted serious damage to the interests of the country and the people".
* Ling Jihua's brother Ling Wancheng defected to the US where he lives in a palatial residence in California.
* FT [4 February 16] reports that Ling Wancheng is no ordinary defector. He reportedly carried with him "procedures for launching nuclear weapons, details of personal lives of Chinese leaders and arrangements for their security and protection".
* FT further says that the Chinese have sent several missions to the US to try and secure Ling Wancheng's return, but to no avail. The US authorities consider him a 'most valuable' source.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Where has the money gone?

The Guardian newspaper yesterday [8 May 16] published an interesting study done by Prof. James Henry of Columbia University on off-shore financial centers.
*The analysis done by Prof Henry for "Tax Justice Network" shows that US$12 trillion has been siphoned off from emerging economies since 2014. This ill-gotten wealth is stashed in off-shore secretive destinations.
* Of this total amount, Chinese citizens have stashed away US$1.2 trillion, once Hong Kong and Macau estimates are also included.
* This would indicate that corruption in China is widespread and that the rich have little faith in their government.
* States such as Russia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are also high on the list as are Angola and Nigeria.
* Tax dodging is not the only reason. Criminals and kleptocrats are just as prolific in stashing wealth abroad.
* Most wish to utilize the services of off-shore financial centers to keep their money safe and their wealth secret.
* In return for absolute secrecy, they are willing to receive paltry returns, sometimes as low as 1%.
* Off shore capital belonging to Chinese and Russian citizens has increased by 9% since 2010.
* If only 1% tax could be levied on this huge stash of funds, the tax yield would be US$ 120 billion. This amount would be nearly equal to the entire global aid budget that stands at US$ 130 billion.
* Of interest is the fact that Cayman Islands etc are not the only off-shore centers that keep identity of investors secret; but Delaware State in the US also allows foreign investors to start companies and businesses where the ultimate ownership need not be disclosed!