Archive for the ‘Beijing’ Category

Obama: Outreach, Stimulus Shows Weakness on International Stage

February 11, 2009

What is an international bully supposed to make of Barack Obama and his new and improved America of “hope”?

They must just love Mr. Obama and see weakness abounding.

Obama can’t wait to get out of Iraq and Gitmo.  His oft spoken ideas to ramp up military forces in Afghanistan have already slowed or gone on hold due to “studies.”  Russia has forced closure of a key airbase vital to American supplies.  And U.S. and NATO  supply lines are under assault in Pakistan.

Iran is delighted to see a new president reaching out to the Muslim world and has already demanded an American apologia for crimes committed by the U.S. since the fall of the Shah.

And Isreal is so frightened that its voters will probably end up with a far-right leaning coalition.

China’s president phoned Obama and during that very first call urged the new president to forget about the brainless “Buy American” provision in the Democrats stimulus bill.

And most of all, on the international stage, leaders see Mr. Obama as a person of great talk but little action.  His “outreach” to Republicans consisted of one cocktail party, a Super Bowl TV evening, and some nice sounding words.  He never really sat with Republicans and made any deals.

And now the president seems to have closed the door on bipartisanship.  He says the clock has run out.

I’ll just bet in Moscow and Tehran and Beijing and other places, top leaders are saying, this guy will be easy and we control the clock.

And the American economy and president’s inability to set the ship right must transmit a strong signal of a weakened and diminished America.

What other conclusion would you expect?


China’s Water Crisis

February 6, 2009

China has a growing crisis of getting clean water where it is needed most, compounded by drought and a huge groundwater and coastal water pollution tragedy.

China is currently in its worst drought in more than half a century and the government has declared a “Red Alert.”

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters made the “Red Alert” determination, Xinhua said, because millions of acres of farmland for grain is all dried out, 4.3 million people face a water distress and 2.1 million head of livestock are short of water.

At the international level, there is already concern about global wheat prices and food availability.

Ma Wenfeng of Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultants said, “The government has sufficient wheat reserves to stabilise the wheat market.  China is unlikely to boost wheat imports much and therefore the direct impact on the international prices will be minimal.”

China has had a looming water crisis for more than a decade.  Just to pull off the Olympics in Beijing this last summer, China had to build a complex series of water ways and aquaducts to feed the thirsty city.  These projects contributed to the loss of farmland around Beijing which turned into desert near Beijing.  The dry areas that were formerly farmlands made for an increase in blowing dust and sand in Beijing.

For more than a decade China has also been reporting increased chemical pollution of its ground water.  As much as 80% of China’s ground water and wells now have high amounts of chemicals from fertilizers,  insecticides and industrial plant run-off.  

China’s poor sewage management has poisoned vast areas of coastal waters.  The “green slime” in the Yellow Sea just prior to the Summer Olympics almost ended sail racing events.  The slime comes when pollution causes th algae to “bloom.”

China’s drought is severe — threatening farms, crops and livlihoods.

But China’s bigger picture of poor water management, control, conservation and sewage management may be creating a long-term nightmare.

China already has a limit of 1 child per family as the population grows past 1.3 billion. 

GETTY IMAGES The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China. Its water is the source of plans to solve Beijing's thirst for more water.

Above: The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China.  Photo: Getty Images


China Drought “Red Alert”

More than 80 pct of China’s coastal waters polluted

Thirsty Beijing awash in water woes

China: Human Activity May Have Increased Earthquake Severity


Some global adversaries ready to give Obama chance

January 25, 2009

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama signaled conciliation to America’s foes by using the metaphor of an outstretched hand to an unclenched fist.

By Paul Haven, Associated Press Writer

Already, there are signs that some of those foes were listening, sensing an opening for improved relations after eight combative years under President George W. Bush. Fidel Castro is said to like the new American leader, and North Korea and Iran both sounded open to new ideas to defuse nuclear-tinged tensions.

Unclear is what they will demand in return from the untested American statesman, and whether they will agree to the compromises the U.S. is likely to insist on in exchange for warmer relations.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

China Democracy Activist Apparently Abducted Prior to Obama Event

January 20, 2009

A Chinese activist who made his name as a grassroots organiser has disappeared, his son said on Tuesday, claiming authorities did not want his father to attend a U.S. consulate reception to mark Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Yao Lifa, a well-known advocate of free elections from Hubei province in central China, was due to attend the reception held by the U.S. consulate in Wuhan, the provincial capital.

But Yao disappeared on Sunday in Beijing, failing to turn up at a meeting with friends there, his son Yao Yao told Reuters. Yao Lifa also failed to use a train ticket he had bought to take him to Wuhan on Monday.


Yao Yao said his father appears to have been detained by local authorities but also said he has no idea of his father’s whereabouts. Yao Lifa’s mobile phone had a ring tone when called, but nobody answered repeated calls.

“He’s often been informally detained by officials from Qianjiang before, and I think it’s the same this time,” said Yao Yao, the son. “I think they did not like him going to the Obama inauguration reception.”

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China’s Growing Naval Reach May Cause Worries

December 26, 2008

China’s Pacific neighbors worry that the superpower’s growing naval power could cause regional tensions to rise and fester…

The first deployment of three Chinese ships to the coast of Africa in hundreds of years means China is becoming more involved in world and international matters.  The pirates in Somalia are causing insurance prices to rise for everyone.  So China’s committment and involvement causes many to applaud.

But not everyone is applauding China’s naval moves.  Many worry.

Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, to name just a few nations, worry that China’s growing naval strength means China will eventually want something in Asia and have the power to take it without too much discussion.

Even Pacific Ocean nations like Australia worry that China will become too dominant in the region.

Here at Peace and Freedom, readers from Vietnam, Japan and South Korea have swamped us with questions about China’s actual strength at sea — and China’s intent.

And why does China need a large navy?  What is China’s “Grand Strategy”?

“I think the objective of the grand strategy is to squeeze out, very slowly and very gradually, the influence of the United States in East Asia, without war, with economy and culture,” said Chong-pin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

The “Grand Strategy” will ultimately include aircraft carriers.

China will “seriously consider” building aircraft carriers to protect its vast maritime territory, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said on just last week as the anti-piracy mission was being prepared.

Huang Xueping made the remarks at a news conference called to announce details of a Chinese flotilla that departed for Somali waters on Friday to protect Chinese ships from pirates.

Asked whether the Chinese navy’s first deployment abroad is a good opportunity to build a carrier, Huang said the government would seriously consider the issue.

“Aircraft carriers are a symbol of a country’s overall national strength as well as the competitiveness of its naval force,” Huang said.

“China has a long coastline and the sacred duty of China’s armed forces is to safeguard the country’s marine safety and sovereignty over coastal areas and territorial seas,” he said.

Above: Near the Republic of Korea (Oct. 7, 2008). The ROKS Gangkamchan (DDH 979) steams by a line of  warships during the International Fleet Review “Pass and Review.”

China has many mineral rights and oil disagreements at sea with Japan, Vietnam and other nations — and a poweful navy means to these countries that China will, before long, lay down the law from Beijing on other regional neighbors.

According to Japan’s Navy Retired vice admiral Fumio Ota, currently director of the Center for Security and Crisis Management Education of the National Defense Academy, “One reason is China wants to make advances in the sea to secure energy resources. The other is to survey and expand the area of its operational waters in preparation for a war with Taiwan ….. China’s State Oceanic Administration has said: ‘The one who controls the sea will survive and grow. China will build a powerful and modern maritime state.'”

Most worriesome to the United States and those neighbors of China is this: no one really knows how big and capable China’s navy has become or how much China is spending on naval programs.

Beijing’s rapidly growing military spending, estimated at $85 billion to $125 billion last year, is still dwarfed by the United States, where a half-trillion dollars is shelled out for defense spending each year, not counting money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last year said the U.S. Navy needs to spend about $21 billion annually on new ship construction over 30 years to meet its goal of a 313-ship fleet. That is far above the Pentagon’s average spending between 2000 and 2005, and about $6 billion more than President Bush requested for this year.

But it is China’s secrecy on military spending and programs that causes so many to worry in Asia — and that is why U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates frequently speaks about the need for “transparency” in both China’s military investments and their intentions.

China’s military spending and intentions are hidden behind a fog of state controlled media and government secrecy.

On the aircraft carrier issue,  China’s Maj. Gen. Quan Lihua said:

“The question is not whether you have an aircraft carrier, but what you do with your aircraft carrier.  Even if one day we have an aircraft carrier, unlike another country we will not use it to pursue global deployment or global reach.”

Of course: we can all trust China.


Piracy draws China back to the ranks of maritime giants
China’s “Grand Strategy”: U.S. Out Of Asia?
China Launching First Long-Range Naval Mission Since 15th Century

General Hints China’s Navy May Add Carrier

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here on December 2008, ... 
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in December 2008.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Scott Olson)


From the Associated Press

China’s willingness to send ships so far from home is also the latest example of the growing power and confidence of the country’s navy. In recent years, the military has been loading up on warships, planes, missiles and other weapons — a beef-up that has worried its neighbors and the U.S.

Those most concerned include the Japanese and South Koreans, who have long-standing disputes about territorial waters that occasionally flare up. China has also been locked in an uneasy stand off with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations over the ownership of the potentially oil-rich Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said countries in the region will view China’s mission off Somalia differently.

“For Japan and some in South Korea, this is another step in the unwelcome growth of the Chinese navy as a capable blue-water force, which has only downsides for Tokyo and Seoul,” said Roy, an expert on China’s military.

“I think the objective of the grand strategy is to squeeze out, very slowly and very gradually, the influence of the United States in East Asia, without war, with economy and culture,” said Chong-pin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan at Princeton.

But he said most Southeast Asian countries may see China’s involvement in the anti-piracy campaign as a positive thing. It would mean that China was using its greater military might for constructive purposes, rather than challenging the current international order.

However, the analyst added, “The Chinese deployment gets at a question the U.S. and other governments have been asking: ‘Why the big Chinese military buildup when no country threatens China?’ Or more bluntly, ‘Why do the Chinese need a blue-water navy when the U.S. Navy already polices the world’s oceans?”‘

Roy said the answer is that China is unwilling to rely on the U.S. to protect China’s increasingly global interests. Beijing still believes it needs to enter the field, Roy said, and that leaves open the possibility of a China-U.S. naval rivalry in the future.

China has said the mission’s purpose was to protect Chinese ships and crews that have come under attack from pirates. The vessels would also be willing to share intelligence and conduct humanitarian rescue operations with other countries involved in the anti-piracy efforts, Senior Col. Huang Xueping, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, said Tuesday.

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Pope’s Slam on Gays Ealier Superseded By Appeal for Children on Christmas

December 25, 2008

Commenting on gays earlier this week, the Pope seemed to get Christmas off on the wrong foot.   The man referred to as “a guy with a funny hat” by Bill (“No shot at heaven”) Maher said the world needs to act to save  “street children who do not have the blessing of a family home, of those children who are brutally exploited as soldiers and made instruments of violence, instead of messengers of reconciliation and peace.”

Pope Benedict XVI blesses children as he celebrates the Christmas ... 
Pope Benedict XVI blesses children as he celebrates the Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, early Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008.(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Beijing has millions of homeless street children, many the sons and daughters of some 150 million migrants, many now without jobs.

The Pope also urged action for minors who are “victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse, and thus are traumatized in the depths of their soul.”

Bill Maher, November 2007
Bill (“No shot at heaven”) Maher


Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass early Thursday by sending out an appeal for children who are abused, forced to live on the street or serve as soldiers.

By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer

In the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica, Benedict marked the birth of Jesus with a call to the faithful to help children who are denied the love of their parents and those who are exploited across the world.

“The Child of Bethlehem summons us once again to do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children,” he said.

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Merry Christmas!

Pope Down on Gays

 Pope’s Message of Peace, Stability: Warns of Ruin in Selfishness


Thirsty Beijing awash in water woes

December 22, 2008

This capital’s growing thirst for clean water is clashing with provincial demands and concerns that plans to tap China‘s rivers will hurt an already troubled environment.

As a result, China has delayed by four years a project to transfer water more than 600 miles from a tributary of the Yangtze River to Beijing and Tianjin, pushing the completion date to 2014.

First proposed by Mao Zedong in the 1950s, the south-to-north water diversion is designed to maintain explosive industrialization in – and migration to – the country´s northern cities.

Critics of the $62 billion project have long argued that it is riddled with environmental flaws. Some of the strongest calls for a delay come from officials in central Hubei province, home to the Danjiangkou Dam, where the water would originate.

By Chris Obrein
The Washington Times

GETTY IMAGES The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China. Its water is the source of plans to solve Beijing's thirst for more water.

Above: The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China.  Photo: Getty Images

Wang Fenyu, a project official, told the Changjiang (Yangtze) Times recently that completion of what is known as the “central route” had been pushed back from 2010 until 2014 “to prevent ecological and environment risks.”

To ensure Beijing´s thirst is not quenched with dirty water, “Hubei must build even more water-treatment plants and ecological restoration facilities,” Mr. Wang said. The project originally was slated to be finished by last summer’s Olympics.

The central route, one of three planned large water projects, is designed to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water each year from the Han River, a major tributary of the Yangtze, to supply Beijing and Tianjin.

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U.N. Sanctions Worthless As China Runs Around Them

December 19, 2008

U.N. sanctions on North Korea, imposed after it tested a nuclear device in 2006, have produced no impact, largely because China  has failed to implement the measures and has increased exports of banned luxury goods to the North, according to a new report.

By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

“Chinese exports of luxury goods to North Korea did not fall to zero in 2007” as required by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, which Beijing supported, said Marcus Noland, the author of the report and an expert on the North Korean economy at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Indeed, such exports increased between 2006 and 2007.”

Mr. Noland said China, the North’s largest trading partner, has avoided accountability in part because the United Nations never published an official definition or list of “luxury goods.”

The resolution passed relatively quickly by U.N. standards Oct. 14, 2006, five days after Pyongyang’s underground test, under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which means that it relates to a threat to international peace and security and is supposed to be mandatory on all U.N. members. Besides luxury goods, weapons exports also were banned.

China's President Hu Jintao delivers his speech to mark the ... 
China’s President Hu Jintao delivers his speech to mark the 30th anniversary of China’s reform held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Implementation of the sanctions, however, was left up to individual countries. In a letter to the council a year ago, Marcello Spatafora, chairman of the U.N. sanctions committee, said 71 countries and the European Union had submitted reports on the penalties they had imposed. China’s report was said to be lacking in detail and Beijing requested that it not be published, Mr. Noland said.

Using trade statistics reported by China, Mr. Noland concluded that its exports of luxury goods increased from under $50 million in 2006 to as much as $120 million in 2007.

“Before North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, it was widely believed that such an event would have cataclysmic diplomatic ramifications,” he said. “However … no evidence is found to support the notion that these events have had any effect on North Korea’s trade with its two principal partners.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to questions seeking comment on Mr. Noland’s report.

State Department officials said they had not seen the report but indicated that they would not pursue the issue. Six-nation nuclear negotiations broke down last week after the North refused to commit in writing to procedures to verify a declaration of its nuclear history it submitted in June.

Mr. Noland worked on President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers at the White House in 1993-94. The Peterson Institute is a nonpartisan research organization.

Analysts were intrigued by Mr. Noland’s report but expressed little surprise at his findings.

In this Oct. 23, 2000 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong ... 
In this Oct. 23, 2000 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen before meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, unseen, at the Pae Kha Hawon Guest House in Pyongyang.(AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool, File

“I never thought that Resolution 1718 had much teeth beyond being passed unanimously,” said Jack Pritchard, former U.S. special envoy for talks with North Korea. “The real question is: Why hasn’t the Security Council created a mechanism to enforce a requirement for a definition of luxury goods?”

A ban on such goods is “an inconvenience for the regime,” but it cannot be expected to affect North Korea’s economy, Mr. Pritchard added.

Madeleine Albright

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is known for his fondness for French cognac and fine wines.

John R. Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations and a vocal critic of the organization and negotiations with the North, said: “Nothing ever surprises me about the ineffectiveness of U.N. sanctions.”

Mr. Bolton

He said, however, “For a permanent member [of the Security Council] not to comply is serious,” adding that China “is the only country that has leverage over North Korea.”

U.S. admiral wants China military ties resumed

December 18, 2008

The United States hopes China, which suspended military contacts with Washington in October, will soon resume them to work together against piracy in the Gulf of Aden, U.S. defense officials said on Thursday.

China took the action to protest a $6.5 billion U.S. arms sale to Taiwan.

“It is a fact that the Chinese suspended ‘mil-to-mil’ dialogue with the Department of Defense in general and U.S. Pacific Command,” said Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, who commands all U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific.

Timothy Keating
Admiral Keating

A defense official said the suspension occurred after the United States announced the arms package including 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles.

The sale angered Beijing, which has vowed in the past to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary. The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but Washington remains Taiwan’s strongest ally and biggest arms supplier.

By David Morgan, Reuters

At the time, the Pentagon said China canceled or postponed several military-to-military exchanges, including senior officer visits and a humanitarian relief program.

Keating told reporters prospects of China sending warships to the seas off Somalia to help international efforts against piracy could provide a “springboard” for resuming ties.

“We are in dialogue in various agencies and commands in an attempt to provide information to the People’s Liberation Army navy should their country decide to deploy ships,” he said.

“This augurs well for increased cooperation and collaboration between the Chinese military forces and U.S. Pacific Command forces,” Keating said. “So I’m cautiously optimistic.”

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Obama, U.S. Need Not Kowtow To China

December 17, 2008

In 1792 and again in 1816, King George III of Britain sent ambassadors George Macartney and then William Pitt Amherst to China to negotiate the opening of trade between the leading nation of the West and the leading nation of the East.

In both cases, the British envoys were sent packing after refusing to kowtow as they approached China’s “celestial emperor” because they found it humiliating. The kowtow usually required the person approaching the throne to kneel three times and touch his forehead to the floor three times each to acknowledge the superiority of the Middle Kingdom.

By Richard Halloran
The Washington Times

Today, among the thousands of recommendations being thrust upon President-elect Barack Obama  comes one urging him to perform a virtual kowtow to the leaders of China by going to Beijing shortly after his inauguration.

The proposal is most ill-advised and shows little understanding of China, past or present. Rather, the new president should invite the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, to Washington with full honors at an appropriate time.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese ... 
China’s Hu Jintao.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Ma Zhancheng)

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