Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Hysterical" Arms Race in East Asia

Odd prologue to ASEAN, G20, and APEC Summits!
East Asia on the radar screen of 'weapons dealers'

While a U.S. reconnaissance satellite has detected signs of North Korea preparing for a nuclear test in North Hamgyong Province, according to the Chosun Ilbo of today, a test that could be held where it had conducted two earlier tests in October 2006 and May 2009, in Tokyo the Japan's defense ministry has decided to increase the number of its submarines, a decision to be introduced by the end of this year and to be included in Japan's new "National Defense Program Outline."

In the meantime, the Russian agency RIA Novosti wrote October 20th that North Korea "is in favor of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and is ready to abide by the agreements reached at the 2005 six-party talks in Beijing" and quotes Pyongyang's acting Charge d'Affaires in Russia, O Seung-Ho. Ria Novosti recalls that North Korea pulled out of talks with Russia, Japan, China, the United States and South Korea over its nuclear program last April after the United Nations condemned the communist state's missile tests.

Gone with the Wind: the East Asian economic integration?

Since the recent Senkoku Daioyu territorial disputes, the tension increased. More oil on the fire when China declared to be shocked by Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara's comments about its reactions following Japan's detention of a Chinese trawler last month, China urging Japan to take concrete actions to repair ties. Chinese spokesman Ma's comments came after Maehara on Monday said China's countermeasures in September following Japan's detention of a Chinese trawler captain near the East China Sea were "hysterical."

The Defense Ministry plans to increase the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarines to 22 units from the current 16 as part of Japan’s basic defense program for fiscal 2011 to 2015 "amid increasing naval activity by China in waters near Japan ministry and MSDF officials".

Japan defense ministry want to reinforce its vigilance capacity in nearby waters, especially the East China Sea. In the past, Japan had no more than 20 submarines since the government adopted its first defense program in 1976. Mr Kan increases the divide between Japan and China observers said while China Navy has 58 submarines in active service, 2 in reserve.

The current Japan defense policy guidelines, adopted by the cabinet in December 2004, notes that "attention must be paid to developments such as moves by China, a key influence on the region’s security, pushing forward with modernizing its navy and air forces and trying to expand the scope of its naval activities." Meanwhile, Japan's defense ministry is studying the reduction of minesweepers to address budget restriction.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine force currently has two groups. The 1st group based in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture, the 2nd group based in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Japanese Ministry of Defense made this decision because it is said that the Chinese Navy submarine fleet offensive capabilities improved.

"Foreign Minister Maehara's description of Chinese action as excessive is close to the mark, but misses the point. Chinese are likely to arrest Japanese fishing crews, as they have done to Vietnamese fishing crews, and require Japan to apologize. China is expanding its exercise of the rights of the sovereign in all disputed maritime areas", according to defense foreign observers.

According to media speculation: "With a tight diplomatic schedule ahead, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering skipping next month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Japan, according to U.S. and Japanese government sources." The Nikkei writes today.

Sources : Kyodo, Chosun Ilbo, agencies, Heritage report

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

China : Xi Jinping Joins the Top Leadership

XI Propelled on Strengthening Power Mode

"Just because Mr. Xi hasn't introduced himself to the western world hardly means he is incapable of leading."

The 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) closed its fifth plenary session Monday evening. The announcement of the governmental People's Daily was made at 17:28 local time: "Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping was appointed vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee made the announcement on Monday that the CMC was augmented to include Xi as a vice-chairman in a communique upon the closure of the four-day meeting. Xi is also member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee."

CCP Top Leadership: Their pictures here

Hu Jintao
Wu Bangguo
Wen Jiabao
Jia Qinglin
Li Changchun

Xi Jinping
Li Keqiang
He Guoqiang
Zhou Yongkang

The announcement of Xi's appointment came on the closing day of the ruling Communist Party's annual meeting in Beijing, according to Xinhua. Xi, 57 who had long been tipped for the promotion, becomes the second civilian member of the commission besides Hu, who is expected to step down as head of the Communist Party in 2012 and as president the following year.

Xi was promoted to the powerful nine-member standing committee of the party's political bureau in 2007 and was named China's vice-president the following year. The son of a revolutionary hero and the husband of a famous and beautiful pop singer, Xi has in the past served as the top party official in the eastern provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, and more recently as Shanghai's top leader.

Known as one of the "Chinese princeling" due to his family lineage, at least part of Xi's political ascension is due to his late father, Xi Zhongxun, a communist guerrilla who fought alongside revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. Competition among Princeling will be interesting to monitor before the 12th Congress of 2012. Xi is not thought to be Hu's favourite, but some observers believe that former president Jiang Zemin, who still wields a lot of power even in retirement, and his allies, managed to propel Xi to top leadership. Jiang Zemin leads the party powerful "Shanghai school', as I did write on this web-page on several occasions, so it's a very political and powerful choice, predictable according to my Chinese sources. But is tomorrow's China to be ruled by politics or by strict economical governance? And who else could eventually fit both modernizers policies?

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Xi Jinping was the son of Xi Zhongxun, who once served as deputy prime minister of China but was often out of favour with his party and government, especially after he openly criticized the government’s actions during the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. In 1969, during the Cultural Revolution, the younger Xi, like many of his fellow educated urban youth, was sent to the countryside (he went to the rural Shaanxi province), where he worked for six years as a manual laborer" End of quotes. (Opened sources)

This being written, I do not necessarily agree with this report of the LAT "Xi Jinping on track to become China's next president... the Communist Party official is named to a post that is considered a steppingstone for assuming the leadership. He has a reputation for being tough on corruption and friendly toward business, even foreign companies" as there is no detailed justification except the quote of only one Beijing outcast Chinese watcher Liu Junning.

Looks like this one (a blog on foreign policy usually spreading the Washington viewpoint) reads AG regularly:
"On a tour of Latin America in 2009, Xi seemed to catch a bit of the region's anti-yanqui fervor, telling a gathering of Chinese expats, "There are some foreigners who have eaten their fill and have nothing better to do than point their fingers at our affairs. China does not, first, export revolution; second, export poverty and hunger; or third, cause unnecessary trouble for them. What else is there to say?" Though most analysts think Xi will succeed Hu, the appointment probably won't end the speculation over his putative rival Li Keqiang, a close protégé of Hu's with deep ties to the powerful Communist Youth League. Li's faction doesn't think much of the princelings, though there doesn't appear to be any rift between Xi and Li -- at least not one that has spilled into public view. Li is widely thought to be in line to succeed Wen Jiabao as premier, the No. 2 job in China's political system."

The CPC communique statement on reform does not suggest of course that China is about to drive towards a western style democracy any time soon. It appears, first, it falls short of addressing some of the reform calls made by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in recent speeches, seeking greater openness and accountability, and describing democracy as something we cannot oppose. (Read past posts of AG)

Popular Chinese Folk Singer Peng Liyuan

Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping who is rumored as a presumptive next president, is to become first lady if her husband makes it to the very top after CCP 2012 Congress. Peng was born in Shandong Province, she debuted as a singer at the age of 18 and is now one of the most appreciate Chinese folk singers. Engaged in various social activities, humanitarian, health, social, the 47 year old currently serves as art director of the People's Liberation Army's song and dance troupe. Married in 1987, the couple have a daughter "who was admitted to Harvard University in September this year" according to a Korean press article. She is not anymore a folk singer.

Congratulations to the Shanghaians.
And to be continued...

Sources: Reporter's notes, private sources, Xinhua, Economist, Encyclopaedia Brit', People's daily, agencies.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Breathe! It's Cop-10 on Biodiversity!

COP 10 Nagoya: An epiphany on Biodiversity
and for all forms of biological life?

Some concrete plans this time?

Any expectation of not doing as bad as former
climate change talks held in Copenhagen?

"The Earth's biological resources are vital to humanity's economic and social development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today. Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate."

Japan is the host 18th to 29th of October 2010 in Nagoya, of the Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The tenth Conference of Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is particularly important during the International Year of Biodiversity. The objectives of the conference in Nagoya are:

- adopting a protocol on access to genetic resources

- sharing the benefits arising from their use

- setting new global targets for the preservation of biodiversity.

For two weeks, delegates at the 10th meeting (COP10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity will work on a 20 items plan for the next decade in Nagoya Japan. The talks are said crucial to sustaining the future of any form of life and nature on Earth. Until now a constant failure of governments and parties which failed to agree with previous targets set out in 2002.

"Nearly a third of the planet's 52,000 species assessed for extinction are under threat due to habitat loss, and a third of the world's 6,285 known amphibians are now in danger of extinction, Japan Times writes in today's edition."

The U.N.'s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a legally-binding treaty consisting of 193 members or "Parties" (192 governments plus the European Union). It was set up at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and came into force in December 1993. Its stated aims are to conserve and sustain biodiversity, while trying to promote a "fair and equitable" sharing of benefits made from plant and animal life.

Now what is the target number 1? Nagoya delegates are to agree a new 20-point Strategic Plan for the next decade (2011- 2020) setting new targets for conservation and sustainable uses of Biodiversity.

The European Union and France in Nagoya, what for? Quotes: "The EU and France wish to obtain concrete and visible results that will shape the outline of international action for biodiversity in the coming years. France supports the adoption of a protocol on access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits arising from their use, this is in line with the European Union plan. This protocol, which covers genetic resources but also the knowledge associated with these resources held by indigenous and local communities, would then base the international rules of a market for genetic resources. The benefits of this market should be reinvested in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. France, as a country providing genetic resources (held in a special status within the European Union), will continue the discussions initiated at national level on the implementation of arrangements overseas and metropolis. For France, finally, the priority will be to secure the establishment of a mechanism for science-policy interface on biodiversity worldwide (IPBES), whose advances are promising."

Needless to see here the considerable impact of all Biodiversity discussions as they are directly commanding or related to international relations as commentator William Pfaff wrote in the International Herald Tribune in the past years.

"It's Government by and for U.S. Corporations and Their Values."
International Herald Tribune 18 January 2001

"The West's Globalization Drive is Proving a Massive Failure."
International Herald Tribune, 29 September 2000

COP 10 is held in the Toyota automobiles manufacturer 'Empire', the Nagoya Aichi prefecture in central Japan. Convention web-page

Sources: Reporter's Notes, CBD, Japan Times,, William Pfaff IHT.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Making of Japan China Crisis: Is Tokyo Beijing relation burning?

Theatrical media manipulation? Attempt to frighten Japanese and Chinese? Well, focussing on reality does not necessarily show the same pictures. Watching the flocks shopping to Ginza, Nanjing Road, Wangfujing, is a way to check a closer look at the factual Asian reality...

Tokyo, 18h59 October 16 2010
Chinese and Philippines group tours shopping on Ginza with local Japanese shoppers

Recently, "headlines" in the Japanese press and in some of the western news agencies catch our attention on what seems to become an alarming violence happening now between China and Japan, in Tokyo and in 3 cities in China, on Saturday October 16th 2010.

Of course it is good to spot on zone and report about a demonstration set in front of a building or in a park, followed by a population of Internet nerds who do not exactly represent the numerous population of the East Asia region concerned. It's also a good thing to watch them freely showing and expressing their disappointments. But the funny" way this "tension" was presented in today's news and papers in Tokyo make like it appears that the Japan China situation is close to chaos, near war, in a climate of hate between Tokyo and Beijing.

In the same time the APEC and COP 10 nations are gathering right now without any disturbance for prep' meetings in Niigata to Nagoya and Tokyo. In other important places, financial gurus and politicians gather and lecture in very posh areas about the Yen about the Renminbi, the $ etc. In Japan and in China. Holly smokes! Where are these pictures and why can't we see them on the front pages?

Of course we can (sorry, we must!) believe what the media (we) say about things and strictly follow the buzz and the tune of the day.

Of course what we have read, well, we quite have NOT really seen it in the real world of Tokyo and in major Chinese cities, so it's not too bad to rebalance with a few pictures made on Oct 16 which seem to describe how the real world was (is) in Tokyo. Calm and peaceful with lots of Chinese and other Asian nations tourists shopping, smoking, partying, on Ginza, the "Tokyo Champs-Élysées"...

Saying in other words that there is "instrumentalization", an agitation and use of propaganda from some biases watchers, call them the Japanese neo conservative media, and add to the borsch a "touch" of foreign watchers ready to make a quick "buck" or two, to ignite tension and to alarm the opinion. Then indeed (!) there is a construction that a very bad bad relation exists between China and Japan. Problems exist, have they reached such enormity? No.

You know the way we in the TV, we do, focus on a crowd and no large view of the situation, creating an illusion of chaos. Or when we film with sequences edited into progressively shorter shots to create a mood of tension and excitement or even filming with no travelling shot. It scores pretty well with viewers!

Genuinely theatrical!

Actually, I have to confirm that my party and I, we saw uniforms yesterday night in Tokyo, in Ginza, they belong to one of the most formidable Navy in the world and they were dispatched in a group, hiding behind trees, progressing orderly, from street to street, and as soon as we identified them, we had them followed until the main Ginza boulevard where we saw that they were up to making close pictures of... a Louis Vuitton shop and of the near-by illuminated streets while on a touristic day journeying in what some described as a quasi "Tokyo burning" atmosphere.*

We'll be there to report, as we did in the past, when something really serious occurs! Until then, sleep tight.

Tokyo, 18h54 October 16 2010
Navy staff shooting at the illuminated luxurious Ginza streets

Alarming headlines, quotes (En and Fr):

"Deux mille manifestants ont défilé samedi dans les rues de Tokyo pour dénoncer ce qu'ils considèrent comme une invasion par la Chine d'îles revendiquées à la fois par Pékin et le Japon.

A Japanese woman protester wearing a pink kimono and headgear marches down streets in central Tokyo as an estimated 2,500 protesters take to the streets during a protest against China on Saturday Oct. 16, 2010.

A man holds a banner while marching during an anti-Japan protest in downtown Zhengzhou, in central China's Henan province, Saturday, Oct. 16, 201

Chinese paramilitary police march near the Japanese embassy in Beijing, China on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010. Heavy security was enforced in the areas around the Japanese embassy after thousands of Chinese marched in the other Chinese cities in sometimes violent protests Saturday against Japan and its claim to disputed islands, a show of anger far larger than past protests over the competing territorial claims.

A man holds a banner while marching during an anti-Japan protest in downtown Zhengzhou, in central China's Henan province, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010. Chinese characters on the banner reads, "Down with Japan, Protect Diaoyu Island."

A Japanese protester holding a placard with a message reading, "Free (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Dr. Liu Xiaobo," marches down streets in central Tokyo as an estimated 2,500 protesters take to the streets in a protest against China on Saturday Oct. 16, 2010."

End of alarmed quotes.

* Regarding Tokyo burning, I encourage reading the excellent "I Saw Tokyo Burning" by Robert Guillain with whom I had an informative epistolary correspondence in his last years of a truly fascinating life.