Archive for the ‘sea’ Category

Drama on China’s high seas casts U.S. as adversary

March 24, 2009

China’s flash of maritime muscle against a U.S. Navy ship this month has put its neighbors and America on watch against a bolder push to exert sovereignty in regional waters.

After a decade of increases in defense spending that averaged 16 percent a year, China has the military means to enforce claims in the energy-rich and trade-heavy South and East China Seas — and to challenge U.S. activities there, as it did March 8 when five Chinese vessels confronted the U.S.N.S. Impeccable.

By Dune Lawrence
Bloomberg

“China is looking to expand” its sphere of influence toward Guam and to the Philippines, says Tai Ming Cheung, a senior fellow at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation in La Jolla, California. “The maritime arena is one of the most fluid and strategic for China in terms of how it’s going to defend and expand and protect its interests internationally.”

China’s move reflects its increasing international political and economic clout, which may lend it confidence in challenging the United States — and complicate America’s response. President Barack Obama needs China’s support in dealing with North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs, not to mention its financial help in the form of continued purchases of U.S. government debt to support stimulus plans.

“There are much bigger factors at play, notably the need to keep China on board in cooperating in resolving the financial and economic crisis,” says Tim Huxley, executive director in Asia for the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Just eight weeks after Mr. Obama’s inauguration, the Chinese boats crowded “dangerously” close to the American surveillance ship and demanded that it leave waters about 120 kilometers, or 75 miles, south of Hainan Island, China’s southernmost province, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, which sent a warship escort.

China said the United States broke international law by spying close to its shores. The United States said its activities were allowed under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

For Shane Osborn, the dispute seemed all too familiar. Osborn piloted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane that collided with a Chinese fighter jet over the same area in April 2001 — just weeks after the start of George W. Bush’s first term as president. The Chinese pilot died. Mr. Osborn made an emergency landing on Hainan, a beach resort and military base, where the Chinese detained him and his crew for 11 days on the ground that they had entered China’s airspace without permission.

The Impeccable’s encounter “was a little bit like déjà vu,” says Mr. Osborn, 34, now state treasurer of Nebraska. While tension died down soon after the 2001 incident, Mr. Osborn says he is concerned that will not happen this time, and he is quick to point out how China’s military has changed in the past eight years.

“They’ve made large investments in upgrading their equipment, and it’s starting to show now,” he says. “They were just at the beginning of it” then.

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/20
09/03/24/asia/letter.php

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China’s Economic Might, Arrogance Should Cause Caution in the West

March 13, 2009

China has so much cash in reserve that they are funding their own economic stimulus — and with their own money; not borrowed cash.

China is also funding the American economic stimulus by buying American Treasury bills and other debt.

Cinese leaders are gloating to some extent about the stupidity of American leaders who do not have the cash reserves so carefully put aside by China.  Many Chinese leaders also scoff at the tom foolery of most Americans who have such debt ridden lives, with mortgages, credit card debt, a loan for the car and a college loan still outstanding.

But what the Chinese leaders don’t talk about is that few Chinese have cars, nice homes and college degrees….

So Chinese arrogance about American debt is sometimes confused by envy for many things American….

And China has expressed some concern about the spend-crazy Americans.

Premier Wen Jiabao “We have loaned a huge amount of money to the United States,” Wen said at a news conference in Beijing. “Of course, we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I’m a little bit worried. I would like for you [a Western reporter] to call on the United States to honor its word and stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets.”

This came at about the same time that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the U.S. a “deadbeat” nation.

Expect China to exert more influence over U.S. economic and foreign policy, just as Barack Obama is claiming the right to dictate policy to banks who took his bailout money.

China holds about $1 trillion in U.S. debt and will likely “buy” about $1 trillion more — especially if Obama and Nancy Pelosi demand another stimulus package.

Chinese arrogance and wealth is unmistakable, pervasive and in some ways very troubling for the West.

China is using its vast wealth and the current global recession as an opportunity to buy up natural resources at bargain prices.  China is building a world-class military complete with a global navy and an aircraft carrier.  And China is not afraid to confront the likes of the U.S. just as it did on the high seas last weekend….

We can expect China to continue to grow and dominate Asia, the Pacific and wherever they choose to go.

This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean ... 
This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.(AFP/NVNS)

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http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/03/13/china.wen/index.html

Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

Pelosi’s Stimulus II? Lawmakers Propose No Cost, High Employment Energy Package

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Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

March 12, 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and China’s Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, both agreed on Wednesday that China and the U.S. should work to ensure that incidents like Sunday’s showdown in the South China Sea “do not happen again.” The incident in question involved several Chinese naval vessels harassing a U.S. surveillance ship off the island of Hainan. But despite the soothing words of the two top diplomats, it’s a safe bet that more such incidents can be expected in the future. The Pentagon was quick to note that the mariners aboard the U.S.N.S. Impeccable were civilians working for the Military Sealift Command, while the Chinese side stressed that the confrontation involved local fishing boats. The reality is that the incident occurred because both sides are preparing for war — “shaping the battlefield,” in military jargon — for a conflict that both hope will never happen.

Related:
China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S.

From Time Magazine

The USNS Impeccable is a surveillance ship that uses sonar to ...
The USNS Impeccable. Five Chinese vessels shadowed and maneuvered dangerously close to the Navy surveillance ship, prompting a U.S. protest
US Navy / AP

The U.S. wants to know how well it can track Chinese submarines moving in and out of their new and growing base off Hainan. And the Chinese want to prevent the U.S. from gathering such intelligence. Both sides claim legal cover for their actions, which suggests that similar showdowns will occur in the future. But such events, far from home and with few if any independent eyewitnesses, can quickly escalate into more serious confrontations — as in the case of the Gulf of Tonkin “attack” by North Vietnamese patrol boats against a pair of U.S. Navy destroyers that President Lyndon B. Johnson used as a pretext to win congressional support for his war in Vietnam. (See pictures of China’s border war with Vietnam.)

The U.S.-China confrontation took place while the Impeccable was sailing 75 miles south of China’s newest sub base, Yulin, at the southern tip of Hainan. The U.S. vessel carries sophisticated surveillance equipment that was in use — Chinese sailors used poles in an effort to snag the Impeccable’s towed acoustic array sonars, which dangle beneath the vessel. The gear was most likely being used to try to detect the movements of Chinese subs in and out of Yulin, where Beijing’s new Shang-class nuclear-powered attack subs have recently been spotted.

Any intelligence gathered would be useful in a future showdown. Because U.S. aircraft carriers would play a vital role in any clash with China over Taiwan, being able to bottle up Chinese subs at their base — and measuring the range from their base within which U.S. technology could be used to hunt them before they escape into the open sea, where they would be much more difficult to detect — are key U.S. intelligence goals. The data collected by vessels like the Impeccable, along with detailed maps of the ocean floor near the Chinese base that would guide U.S. sub hunters, are funneled into massive U.S. Navy databases that are invaluable in time of war. (The Impeccable joined three U.S. carriers in a 2007 war game in the western Pacific.)

China’s sensitivity about Hainan and the surrounding area is well-known. It was in the same area, early in 2001, that a Chinese J-8 fighter plane collided with a U.S. Navy spy plane, killing the fighter pilot and damaging the Navy’s EP-3 so severely that it and its 24-member crew were forced to land on the island, where they were held for 11 days in a tense diplomatic standoff. For both that run-in and this recent one, China said the U.S. was operating illegally inside its 200-mile “exclusive economic zone,” based on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China signed that treaty, but the U.S. did not.

Most legal experts say the U.S. was well within its rights to prowl where it was at the time it was approached by the Chinese armada on Sunday. “The U.S. was collecting undersea data that is related to war-fighting and is not banned by the treaty rules covering exploitation of resources in the economic zone,” writes John McCreary, a military-intelligence veteran of more than three decades, on his NightWatch blog. “The Chinese are just angry that the U.S. Navy can watch them.”

The Impeccable eventually sailed free of the Chinese fleet, which included, according to Pentagon officials, a Chinese navy intelligence-collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries patrol vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers. McCreary noted that the two fishing trawlers involved were about as “civilian” as the government-owned U.S. spy ship. (A Pentagon-produced story about the event said a “civilian crew mans the ship,” a half-truth that was repeated around the world by other media outlets. In fact, about half its roughly 50-member crew is military.) “The Chinese, like the North Koreans, the Indians and the Soviets, maintain positive control of fishing fleets which come under military supervision in a crisis,” McCreary said on NightWatch on Wednesday. “Fishing boats are built to military standards, usually have weapons mounts or fittings for depth charges and have military-approved communications.” Thankfully, this time at least, the Impeccable slipped through the net.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article
/0,8599,1884724,00.html?xid=rss-world

Because Impeccable is unarmed, we are told she was joined at sea this week by USS Chung Hoon.

File:USSChung-HoonDDG-93.jpg
USS Ching Hoon in her home port, Pearl Harbor

 China Making It Clear: Won’t Roll Over, Do Tricks for Barack, Hillary

Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

China Making It Clear: Won’t Roll Over, Do Tricks for Barack, Hillary

March 12, 2009

By staging an international icedent at sea last weekend with the USNS Impeccable, China has made claer it will not roll over and do tricks for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

China won’t play dead either: it is very much alive and holds the notes on most U.S. debt and soon to hold even more.

China and Russia have formed and alliance that will not abide any lip from the United States.

There may be “business as usual” in Washington DC and a nation awash in pork barrel spending thanks to earmarks: but China and Russia see a new era of American weakness and aim to make gains during this period….

Related:
Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia

Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

 China Provoked Obama; Now Works To Smooth Situation: Why?
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 China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S.

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

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Reuters
March 11, 2009

Chinese President Hu Jintao urged the military to “staunchly defend” national sovereignty in comments published days after a brief confrontation with a U.S. Navy ship.

Hu’s comments to People’s Liberation Army officers, published in the official People’s Daily Thursday, did not mention the PLA Navy’s run-in Sunday with a U.S. Navy survey ship off the Chinese island province of Hainan.

 

There have been no signs that Beijing wants to expand the dispute, in which China says the U.S. ship violated its sovereignty by monitoring waters in its exclusive economic zone.

Washington has said its ship, the Impeccable, was in international waters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, visiting Washington, said Wednesday that relations were “at a new starting point and have important opportunities to develop,” the ministry website (http://www.fmprc.gov.cn) reported.

But Hu, who also serves as Communist Party chief and supreme military leader, made it clear that Beijing does not want to be seen as bowing to others.

“Vigorously advance modernisation of national defence and the military,” Hu said Wednesday, speaking to PLA officers attending the annual session of the Party-run parliament.

“Staunchly defend national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and provide a powerful support and assurance for protecting national development interests and broad social stability.”

Read the rest:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/world
News/idUKTRE52B1VF20090312?fe
edType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

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China uses naval showdown with U.S. to flex muscle

March 10, 2009

By confronting a U.S. surveillance ship off its coast this week, China appears to have sought to enforce ambitious maritime territorial claims and to have tested the mettle of the new U.S. administration.

China lashed out at Washington on Tuesday over the weekend incident, in which five Chinese ships confronted the Impeccable, a 281-foot U.S. submarine surveillance vessel, in what the Pentagon described as reckless and unprofessional behavior.

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

USNS IMPECCABLE
USNS Impeccable

“The U.S. claim is totally inaccurate, confuses right and wrong and is absolutely unacceptable to China ,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

Ma said U.S. naval ships must ask China’s permission anytime they sailed within its exclusive economic zone, a 200-nautical-mile zone off its shores. The claim amounted to an assertive attempt to bar U.S. Navy vessels from approaching China’s shores, even affecting transit of the sensitive Taiwan Strait .

Ma said the USNS Impeccable “broke relevant international law, and Chinese laws and regulations, and engaged in activities in China’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea without China’s permission.”

He urged Washington to “take active measures to avoid similar incidents in the future.”

Some legal experts say that international law provides exclusive use only within the 12-mile territorial waters off countries’ shores, and that foreign ships have free passage through the broader exclusive economic zones.

“So long as the ships in this instance were transiting the EEZ outside the territorial waters, it would not appear that China’s position has legal foundation,” said Lester Ross , a lawyer with experience in international law at the Beijing office of the law firm WilmerHale. “I think it’s a substantial stretch for China to maintain this position.”

The Pentagon said the “harassment” of the Impeccable, a towering twin-hulled vessel, occurred Sunday 75 nautical miles south of Hainan Island . It identified the Chinese boats as a naval intelligence-gathering ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries Patrol vessel, an oceanographic patrol vessel and two small trawlers, and added that one vessel had maneuvered dangerously close to the U.S. ship.

China is expanding a naval base for attack and ballistic missile submarines, which reportedly includes underwater tunnels for protection, on Hainan Island’s southeast side.

The conflict has a parallel with an incident in the early days of the administration of aianHainformer President George W. Bush , which led to heightened Sino-U.S. frictions.

On April 1, 2001 , two Chinese J-8 fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance aircraft that was 70 miles off Hainan Island , resulting in a collision with one of them, forcing it into the sea. The EP-3 made an emergency landing on Hainan , where China kept it captive for three months, long after the 24 crew members were released.

As in that incident, this week’s scrap triggered heated reactions among ordinary Chinese who were incensed by the U.S. surveillance of its shores and proud of China’s forceful action.

“What happened proves that whoever has stronger fists, his word is truth,” an Internet user from Zhengzhou in Henan province posted on the Web site163.com.

Ross said that such military confrontations could stoke nationalism in both countries.

“There is a risk that doing something like this can inflame public opinion in the United States as well as China ,” he said.

The Pentagon said the incident was only one of a half-dozen “increasingly aggressive” acts against the Impeccable and a sister ship, the Victorious — which included flybys by Chinese surveillance planes — since last Wednesday.

U.S. naval ships and China’s sizable submarine fleet sometimes play cat and mouse as they take each other’s measure. In October 2006 , a Chinese submarine stalked the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier near Hawaii and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes before being detected.

In November 2007 , China canceled a port call by the Kitty Hawk and several escort ships in Hong Kong . In response, the Pentagon ordered the carrier group to sail through the choppy, shallow Taiwan Strait , the first time that an American carrier group had made the transit since 2002.

China voiced “grave concern” about the passage but didn’t claim at that time that U.S. naval ships had to stay outside the 200-mile limit.

The Taiwan Strait , which is barely 100 miles wide at one point, is a potential military flash point. Mainland China claims Taiwan as a renegade province, and says it has the right to seize control of the independently governed island.

Related:
China Wants U.S. Out of International Waters It Consides a “China Lake”

China Wants U.S. Out of Asia’s International Waters

March 10, 2009

The incident at sea between China and the U.S. Navy this last weekend indicates a growing truth among Chinese military officers: the seas adjacent to China wherever they extend are de facto Chinese terrirtory and the U.S. needs to leave.

This is in violation of international law which grants free passage to all who operate in international waters.

China is complaining saying the U.S. ship, while not in their territorial waters was in their “economic zone,” a claim that also pits the Chinese directly at odds with 5 countries (Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia) who would like to have their own territorial waters.

But China now has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated distain for international law — a a certain ability to push people around.

“They seem to be more militarily aggressive,” National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I think the debate is still on in China whether as their military power increases they will be used for good or for pushing people around.”

But the Chinese say all the fault for this weekend’s incident belongs to the U.S. 

“Go and ask the Americans, ask their embassy,” China’s Vice Admiral Jin Mao, former PLA Navy vice commander in chief, told Reuters on the sidelines of parliament when asked about the incident. “Ask their officials what their ship was doing in Chinese waters.”

The fact is, the American ship operating in international waters is protected by international law — even if it is searching for submarines.

Related:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009031
0/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_china_incident

Beijing will take a tougher stand against other nations as its naval ambitions grow, said analyst Shi Yinhong.

“The United States is present everywhere on the world’s seas, but these kinds of incidents may grow as China’s naval activities expand,” Shi, an expert on regional security at Renmin University in Beijing, said.

Analyst Shi said the seas off Hainan were important to China’s projection of its influence with a modern naval fleet.

“The change is in China’s attitude. This reflects the hardening line in Chinese foreign policy and the importance we attach to the strategic value of the South China Sea.”

See a report from Reuters:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20
090310/pl_nm/us_usa_china

See also:
http://wok3.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/chin
a-the-dragon-stirs-and-strips-down-to-its-underwear/

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

A budget analyst at the U.S. Navy in the Pentagon told Peace and Freedom, “Our futue problem is this: with our current and projected budget deficits and debt, the U.S. will not be able to afford the navy it has now — while China will grow and improve its navy and take whatever it wants in the world.  That is the trend we see.”

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 Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists
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 Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed U.S. Navy Craft in International Waters

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

China uses naval showdown with U.S. to flex muscle

China Says U.S. Ship Was Breaking Law

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/03/10/us.navy.china/ind
ex.html

China Says U.S. Ship Was Breaking Law

India, China jostle for influence in Indian Ocean

March 8, 2009

This battered harbor town on Sri Lanka’s southern tip, with its scrawny men selling even scrawnier fish, seems an unlikely focus for an emerging international competition over energy supply routes that fuel much of the global economy.

An impoverished place still recovering from the devastation of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hambantota has a desolate air, a sense of nowhereness, punctuated by the realization that looking south over the expanse of ocean, the next landfall is Antarctica.

But just over the horizon runs one of the world’s great trade arteries, the shipping lanes where thousands of vessels carry oil from the Middle East and raw materials to Asia, returning with television sets, toys and sneakers for European consumers.

By Gavin Rabinowitz
Associated Press
June 2008

These tankers provide 80 percent of China’s oil and 65 percent of India’s — fuel desperately needed for the two countries’ rapidly growing economies. Japan, too, is almost totally dependent on energy supplies shipped through the Indian Ocean.

Any disruption — from terrorism, piracy, natural disaster or war — could have devastating effects on these countries and, in an increasingly interdependent world, send ripples across the globe. When an unidentified ship attacked a Japanese oil tanker traveling through the Indian Ocean from South Korea to Saudi Arabia in April, the news sent oil prices to record highs.

Emerging giants
For decades the world relied on the powerful U.S. Navy to protect this vital sea lane. But as India and China gain economic heft, they are moving to expand their control of the waterway, sparking a new — and potentially dangerous — rivalry between Asia’s emerging giants.

China has given massive aid to Indian Ocean nations, signing friendship pacts, building ports in Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as Sri Lanka, and reportedly setting up a listening post on one of Myanmar’s islands near the strategic Strait of Malacca.

Now, India is trying to parry China’s moves. It beat out China for a port project in Myanmar. And, flush with cash from its expanding economy, India is beefing up its military, with the expansion seemingly aimed at China. Washington and, to a lesser extent, Tokyo are encouraging India’s role as a counterweight to growing Chinese power.

INDIA OCEAN INTRIGUE
ESRI / AP
Map locates the major Indian Ocean oil trade routes and newly developed ports built by China.

Among China’s latest moves is the billion dollar port its engineers are building in Sri Lanka, an island country just off India’s southern coast.

The Chinese insist the Hambantota port is a purely commercial move, and by all appearances, it is. But some in India see ominous designs behind the project, while others in countries surrounding India like the idea. A 2004 Pentagon report called Beijing’s effort to expand its presence in the region China’s “string of pearls.”

No one wants war, and relations between the two nations are now at their closest since a brief 1962 border war in which China quickly routed Indian forces. Last year, trade between India and China grew to $37 billion and their two armies conducted their first-ever joint military exercise.

Still, the Indians worry about China’s growing influence.

“Each pearl in the string is a link in a chain of the Chinese maritime presence,” India’s navy chief, Adm. Sureesh Mehta, said in a speech in January, expressing concern that naval forces operating out of ports established by the Chinese could “take control over the world energy jugular.”

“It is a pincer movement,” said Rahul Bedi, a South Asia analyst with London-based Jane’s Defense Weekly. “That, together with the slap India got in 1962, keeps them awake at night.”

B. Raman, a hawkish, retired Indian intelligence official, expressed the fears of some Indians over the Chinese-built ports, saying he believes they’ll be used as naval bases to control the area.

“We cannot take them at face value. We cannot assume their intentions are benign,” said Raman.

But Zhao Gancheng, a South Asia expert at the Chinese government-backed Shanghai Institute for International Studies, says ports like Hambantota are strictly commercial ventures. And Sri Lanka says the new port will be a windfall for its impoverished southern region.
.
With Sri Lanka’s proximity to the shipping lane already making it a hub for transshipping containers between Europe and Asia, the new port will boost the country’s annual cargo handling capacity from 6 million containers to some 23 million, said Priyath Wickrama, deputy director of the Sri Lankan Ports Authority.

Wickrama said a new facility was needed since the main port in the capital Colombo has no room to expand and Trincomalee port in the Northeast is caught in the middle of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Hambantota also will have factories onsite producing cement and fertilizer for export, he said.

Gearing military expansion towards ChinaMeanwhile, India is clearly gearing its military expansion toward China rather than its longtime foe, and India has set up listening stations in Mozambique and Madagascar, in part to monitor Chinese movements, Bedi noted. It also has an air base in Kazakhstan and a space monitoring post in Mongolia — both China’s neighbors.

 

India has announced plans to have a fleet of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines at sea in the next decade and recently tested nuclear-capable missiles that put China’s major cities well in range. It is also reopening air force bases near the Chinese border.

Encouraging India’s role as a counter to China, the U.S. has stepped up exercises with the Indian navy and last year sold it an American warship for the first time, the 17,000-ton amphibious transport dock USS Trenton. American defense contractors — shut out from the lucrative Indian market during the long Cold War — have been offering India’s military everything from advanced fighter jets to anti-ship missiles.

“It is in our interest to develop this relationship,” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a visit to New Delhi in February. “Just as it is in the Indians’ interest.”

Officially, China says it’s not worried about India’s military buildup or its closer ties with the U.S. However, foreign analysts believe China is deeply concerned by the possibility of a U.S.-Indian military alliance.

Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore said China sent strong diplomatic messages expressing opposition to a massive naval exercise India held last year with the U.S., Japan, Singapore and Australia. And Bedi, the Jane’s analyst, added “those exercises rattled the Chinese.”

Growing military budgetsIndia’s 2007 defense budget was about $21.7 billion, up 7.8 percent from 2006. China said its 2008 military budget would jump 17.6 percent to some $59 billion, following a similar increase last year. The U.S. estimates China’s actual defense spending may be much higher.

 

Like India, China is focusing heavily on its navy, building an increasingly sophisticated submarine fleet that could eventually be one of the world’s largest.

While analysts believe China’s military buildup is mostly focused on preventing U.S. intervention in any conflict with Taiwan, India is still likely to persist in efforts to catch up as China expands its influence in what is essentially India’s backyard. Meanwhile, Sri Lankans — who have looked warily for centuries at vast India to the north — welcome the Chinese investment in their country.

“Our lives are going to change,” said 62-year-old Jayasena Senanayake, who has seen business grow at his roadside food stall since construction began on the nearby port. “What China is doing for us is very good.”

Coral reef growth is slowest ever

January 2, 2009

Coral growth in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has slowed to its most sluggish rate in the past 400 years.

The decline endangers the species the reef supports, say researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

They studied massive porites corals, which are several hundred years old, and found that calcification has declined by 13.3% since 1990.

Global warming and the increasing acidity of seawater are to blame, they write in Science journal.

BBC

Coral reefs are central to the formation and function of ecosystems and food webs for tens of thousands of other marine organisms.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest in the world, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.

Dr Glenn De’ath and colleagues investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals, from 69 locations.

The largest corals are centuries old – growing at a rate of just 1.5cm per year.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/
nature/7807943.stm

UN Approves Pursuit of Pirates Over Land, Into Somalia

December 16, 2008

In just the last year, Somali pirates have extorted, in ransom, some $100 Million from ocean going shipping companies.  The insurance costs for global shipping at sea is also up.  Now, many nations believe it is time to chase the Somali pirates down even when they hide ashore….

Several cargo ships from China have been captured, ransomed and released yet China has not yet contributed to the international maritime antipiracy effort…

********

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize nations to conduct military raids, on land and by air, against pirates plying the waters off the Somalia coast even as two more ships were reportedly hijacked at sea.

The vote represented a major escalation by the world’s big powers in the fight against the pirates, who have disrupted commerce along one of the world’s most active sea routes and acquired tens of millions of dollars in ransom. It came as China — which has had several ships commandeered in recent months — said it is seriously considering joining U.S., European and Russian warships policing the region.

The U.S.-drafted resolution authorizes nations to “use all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia” in pursuit of pirates, as long as they are approved by the country’s transitional federal government. The resolution also urges states to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to carry out the operations, and it calls for the creation of a regional office to coordinate the international effort.

Read the rest from the Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ar
ticle/2008/12/16/AR2008121602848.html?nav=hcmodule

Related:
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Somali Pirates Grab 3 More Ships, Even As UN OKs Shore Raids »

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The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a US resolution allowing countries to pursue Somali pirates on land as well as at sea.

It is an extension of the powers countries already have to enter Somali waters to chase pirates.

Countries will need the permission of the transitional Somali government.

It comes after two vessels were seized by suspected Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen, adding to the dozens of ships hijacked in the area this year.

BBC

Merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden
Merchant vessels have been among targets for Somali pirates

It is the fourth resolution approved by the council since June to combat piracy off Somalia’s coast.

‘Necessary force’

It gives authority for one year for countries to use “all necessary measures” by land or air to stop anyone using Somali territory to plan, help or carry out acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

The US-drafted resolution was co-sponsored by Belgium, France, Greece, Liberia and South Korea.

Indonesia, which also suffers from piracy, was among critics of the plan as it feared the precedent it could set for chasing pirates on land.

However, it voted in favour of the resolution.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7786652.stm

Navy commander questions land attacks on pirates

December 13, 2008

Days before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to ask the United Nations to authorize “all necessary measures” against piracy from Somalia, a leader of the U.S. military, which would help carry out that policy, said in effect: Not so fast.

The commander of the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet expressed doubt Friday about the wisdom of launching attacks against Somali pirates on land, as the draft U.N. resolution proposes. A Pentagon spokesman warned against the urge to grasp for a quick and easy military solution to a complex international problem.

U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney told reporters that striking pirate camps in lawless Somalia could open a can of worms. It is difficult to identify pirates, and the potential for killing innocent civilians “cannot be overestimated,” Gortney said.

U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney
U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney commands the Navy’s 5th Fleet. AP Hasan Jamali

There is a huge risk to any U.S. forces involved, whether small commando units or larger operations. And U.S. commanders still have sour memories of the humiliating “Blackhawk Down” outcome of U.S. military intervention in Somalia more than a decade ago.

Concern about possible mistaken identity extends to operations at sea, too, since pirate ships are often indistinguishable from ragtag fishing vessels. The military is also worried about what would be done with captured pirates, who would try or imprison them.

“There are many that are seeking a simple military solution, or solely a military solution to address the piracy issue,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “I think that we need to take a more comprehensive look a this, and while there may be a military component, this is an issue that has to be addressed more broadly.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081213/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/ml_us
_piracy;_ylt=Ajayo4BQSzZF.9Qj9nEDgZtvaA8F

Indian warship INS Tabar escorts the MV Jag Arnav ship to safety after rescuing it from pirates.

Above: On an anti-piracy patrol, Indian Navy warship escorts a merchant ship.  Photo: Indian Navy