Monday, December 19, 2011

A few thoughts before the visit of Xi Jinping

In a few days Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will make an official visit to

Vietnam (scheduled on 20/12). In most respects, this is not a normal visit, but a culculated one by the Beijing leadership. In a way this trip is even more important than the recent visit to China  by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, which was "a matter of must" of courtesy call by a new leader. Mr Xi'svisit is of  a different characteristics; it is mainly to serve the Chinese interest at a sensitive moment. Therefore, it can bring about both challenges and opportunities for Vietnam.
Low profile, high impact   
In the history of Sino-Vietnamese relations, even in periods of good relationship before, very rare top Chinese leaders visited Vietnam while more top Vietnamese leaders wen to China . At the present poor stage of bilateral relations Mr. Xi 's visit to Vienam  is not a normal practice. He is vitting  in the name of  Vice President but in the shadow of a head of the Party and State of China. So by traditional big power thinking, this is convenient to avoid reputation as "breaking rules", but still shows a special concern of Beijing  in front of  new changes in international situation which has been forcing them to promptly take steps in some key areas including Vietnam.  In short, we can understand that Mr. Xi's visit  to Vietnam this time is mainly motivated by the need of China.    
Why now, and what cards in Mr. Xi's sleeve?
If we push back the time of about half a year ago we can hardly  find such a high level visit in the framework of the  bilateral Sino-Vietnamese relations, except for some cases when Chinese top leaders visitted the country on attending multilateral events .  The question is why such a high level Chinese leader opted to visit Vietnam this time ?
Is it  because the Chinese leadership now begins to feel failure after a period of "self-allowance" in manouvering the situation in attempt to  dominate the East Sea, and nowthat  recognizes that this mistake may not only spoil the image of a peacely growing ​​China but also creating a pretext for the U.S. to be welcome back in the region by most stakeholders than ever before. The clear result is that the U.S. military is being deployed in  northern Australia while  strongly enhanced all along  the traditional line of defense runing from Japan, South Korea  to the Philippines, Singapore ... and in a closer alignment with India. No doubt, this has  adverse effects on  China that they worry and have to take countermeasures. To do this, on one hand the Chinese have to stretch to deal directly with the U.S   and allies, and on the other hand  to  try to gain back influence  on adjacent areas of importance, including Vietnam and Myanmar which are in danger of slipping from the arms of Beijing's influence. Dividing   ASEAN is also a tactic that China has been applying very successfully.
That is the deep motives of the visit of Mr. Xi to Vietnam. People are waiting to see specific cards he will draw from his sleeve during his visit to Hanoi. It may be a real innitiative or just an token act  to deceive public opinion and a  split plot for ASEAN community ...    
What is  the challenge and opportunity for Vietnam?
We can say, again challenges and opportunities are equally open to Vietnam. In our opinion, to effectively deal with the new flag of China, Vietnam's leaders must first stand firm on the strategic objectives of our people, that is  to determinedly defend our national independence, integrity of national sovereignty and maintain peace for national construction. It is obvious that the current happenings in the East Sea in particular and the Asia-Pacific region in general are in favour  of Vietnam and other regional smaller states. The sovereignty statements made by  Vietnamese leaders , especially by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the National Assembly most recently are strongly supported by the people and appreciated by the world opinion as a right direction of Vietnam.
Ofcourse, the Vietnamese people  never sponsore policy of confronting China. But once  the nation's  interests are  systematicaly  violated by the northern big neighbor power,  Vietnam are forced to choose a suitable method  to  struggle for existence. The majority of people have expressed their will to engage promoting the availability of all internal resources in combination with strength of the era, determined to fight for the ultimate goal, that is to protect the integrity of national sovereignty, namely sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa as well as the entire sea within the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles in accordance with international law. It is the immutable principle never to compromise. In that spirit Vietnamese people in and out side of Vietnam  are monitoring the situation closely developments surrounding the visit of Mr.Xi Jinping and hope that  the country's leadership will take this opportunity to reiterate clearly and explicitly the point that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has stated ./.

Friday, December 16, 2011

China Facing Neighboring Anger

Nepal & Myanmar cancel visits, Seoul and Tokyo getting tough

Dec. 15 – China is facing increasingly hardened diplomatic attitudes from its neighboring countries, with four – Nepal, Myanmar, South Korea and Japan – allowing protests at varying degrees of what is considered Chinese belligerence.
A South Korean coastguard official was stabbed to death at sea after the Korean coastguard intercepted a Chinese fishing vessel in its waters in an incident the South Korean media have talked up as “Chinese Piracy at Sea.” The Chinese vessel’s captain has been charged with murder and 17 Chinese fishermen have been detained. The situation further deteriorated between the two countries after what sounded like a gunshot was fired at a window of the South Korean Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday afternoon.
Tokyo is expected to lodge protests after China sent their new, and largest 3,900-ton armed patrol ship on its maiden voyage to islands and areas considered disputed between China and Japan, including several offshore oil and gas fields and various Sino-Japanese joint development zones.
Also, in highly unusual moves, Premier Wen Jiabao’s scheduled trips to Nepal and Myanmar next week have both been cancelled. Myanmar, which recently hosted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently cancelled a Chinese project to build a Dam on the Irrawaddy River. No explanation has been given for the Nepal cancellation.
China has been more assertive recently in refusing to give ground over disputed border areas, and appears to have been playing too hard to gain projects through use of financial and trade muscle. The Chinese efforts to extend territorial land borders with India, where it claims the State of Arunachal Pradesh in its entirety, as well as parts of Ladakh and Kashmir, have long grated with India. Meanwhile, attempts to claim the whole of the South China Sea, in addition to parts of the East China Sea and Yellow Sea have been stepped up. 2point6billion learns that Chinese Embassy officials around the world have been paying particular attention to antique dealers in maps and similar cartographic relics, buying up whatever they can find, presumably in order to prove long held claims or to destroy examples that do not fit with their stated aims. Officials from nations affected by such territorial disputes may wish to consider the importance of such items concerning both cartographic and anecdotal evidence in ancient and historic documents.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

China frets as Taiwan president faces tough reelection bid

Reuters - Taiwan President and Nationalist Party presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou, left, who is China’s preferred candidate, has steered a path of warmer ties with the mainland. 

BEIJING — Already entangled in territorial disputes with neighbors and facing the announced return of the United States to the region, China’s strategic planners suddenly have a new and unexpected cause for alarm: uncertainty over the outcome of next month’s presidential election in Taiwan.
President Ma Ying-jeou, the Beijing government’s preferred candidate who has steered a path of warmer ties and direct economic links with the mainland, is suddenly in a tough race for reelection, polls from Taiwan show.

(Patrick Lin/AFP/Getty Images) - Supporters of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist party wave national and election flags at a rally in Taipei in November. President Ma Ying-jeou is seeking the second and last four-year term on behalf of the ruling Kuomintang.
Ma’s chief opponent is Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party, which officially backs the independence of Taiwan. Tsai has raised the Beijing government’s ire for her refusal to publicly support an informal, unwritten, 20-year-old agreement between the two sides stipulating that there is just “one China.”
For months, the election was expected to hand an easy reelection victory to Ma, from the ­Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, after he steered the island through the worst of the global recession and secured a new trade deal with China. But the race became more unpredictable with the entry last month of a third candidate, James Soong, a former Nationalist Party stalwart who founded the People First Party.
Soong is expected to draw votes from Ma, and polls now suggest a dead heat between Ma and Tsai, who has emphasized economic issues and the gap between rich and poor, as well as the problems of farmers who have not benefited from increased trade with China.
Ma stumbled when he suggested that Taiwan might be ready to sign a peace accord with China within 10 years. He later rolled back the remarks, but the critical response suggested that many Taiwanese saw him as moving too close too quickly to the Communist government in Beijing.
During Ma’s term, relations across the volatile Taiwan Strait have been, as he put it in an interview, “the most stable of anytime in 60 years.” But the prospect that he might lose to a candidate of the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party has raised fears among some analysts in China of renewed tension, which might once again draw in the United States. This last happened in 1996, when China fired missiles near Taiwan and the Clinton administration sent additional naval ships to the region as a show of U.S. determination not to allow China to intimidate Taiwan.
Caught off guard
While clearly concerned about the turn of events, Beijing’s authorities seem uncertain how to respond.
Chinese leaders and others on the mainland have made clear their dislike of Tsai’s party and their preference for Ma’s reelection, but they also fear that any blatant interference might create a backlash among Taiwanese voters. That means it is unlikely, in the view of analysts, that China would stage a repeat of the provocative missile tests or the 2000 warning by Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, who bluntly cautioned Taiwanese not to “vote impulsively.”
One analyst, Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said that China’s leaders were most likely caught off guard by the sudden shift in Ma’s fortunes and that the military has probably not set in place a response.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

“Prepare for warfare” - President Hu tells navy

Phayul[Wednesday, December 07, 2011 15:34]
(Photo/Getty Images)
DHARAMSHALA, December 7: A day before Chinese and US military officials started military talks in Beijing, Chinese President Hu Jintao told its navy to accelerate modernisation and prepare for war.

Speaking to military officials Tuesday, Xinhua, China’s official media agency quoted President Hu as commanding the Party congress of People's Liberation Army Navy to “make extended preparations for warfare in order to make greater contributions to safeguarding national security and world peace.”

Many observers believe that President Hu’s blunt comments are in stark contradiction to his often repeated claims of China’s “peaceful rise”.

The one-day Wednesday meeting between senior US and Chinese officials are the first ministry-level talks between the two nations since September, when Washington announced a $5.85 billion upgrade to Taiwan's fleet of F-16 fighter jets – a decision which angered Beijing.

China’s navy recently acquired its first aircraft carrier and is active in the disputed South China Sea which has off late become the scene of mounting political tension.

While the US announced last month of a full Marine task force base in northern Australia, neighbouring countries such as Philippines and Vietnam, who claim sovereignty over islands in the sea, have repeatedly accused China of overt aggression in the region.

President Hu’s comments come days after a high-ranking Chinese navy official reportedly said that China was ready to risk a third world war for Iran.

A media agency run by the Iranian government on December 4 quoted Chinese rear admiral and director of the National Defence University Military Logistics and Equipment Department Zhang Zhaozhong as saying, “China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third world war.”

Meanwhile, India’s Defence Minister A K Antony said India was keeping a close watch on its national security and commercial interests in the wake of China's announced move for exploration in the South-West Indian Ocean.

"The government keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning our national security and commercial interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them in accordance with the prevailing security situation and strategic considerations," Antony said while responding to concerns expressed in the Indian parliament over the issue today

Friday, December 9, 2011

A long path of rewriting the Chinese Communist Party’s history

ChinaFotoPress/GETTY IMAGES - Pupils attend a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China at a primary school on March 28, 2011 in Chongqing, China.
By Andrew Higgins, Published: May 27, 2011
beijing — China’s Communist Party has finally got its story straight. It took 16 years of editing and four extensive rewrites. Chinese leaders, otherwise preoccupied with running a rising superpower, weighed in throughout.
“I never thought it would take so long,” said Shi Zhongquan, who helped craft what the party hopes will be the final word on some of the most politically sensitive and also bloodiest episodes of China’s recent history — a new 1,074-page account of the party’s early decades in power.
Deconstructing China’s official history
As China races into the future, the Communist Party — which marks its 90th birthday in July — still takes the past, especially its own, very seriously. “Writing history is not easy,” said Shi, a veteran party historian.
It gets particularly hard when it includes not only two of the past century’s most lethal man-made catastrophes — the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution — but also a modest yet now ticklish upset back in 1962 — the disgrace of Xi Zhongxun, the father of Xi Jinping, China’s current vice president and leader-in-waiting.
“It’s an old communist joke that Marxists can predict the future, but the past is more difficult,” said Roderick Macfarquhar, a Harvard University scholar and leading authority on Chinese politics under Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. The past, added Macfarquhar, “is important because it legitimates the present” and “what went wrong then has to be justified now.”
The party published its first official history 20 years ago but ended the story with Mao’s conquest of China in 1949. It has now ventured into far more treacherous territory with the January publication of “History of the Chinese Communist Party, Volume 2 (1949-1978),” which continues the saga until the year Deng Xiaoping started undoing much of Mao’s legacy.
As China gears up to mark the July anniversary of the party’s founding in 1921, history has become a boom industry. Nobody outside a tiny group of die-hard Maoists wants to revive communes, class struggle and brutal purges. But the party is hammering a message it views as crucial to its grip on power: China’s surging economy and growing international clout are entirely the fruit of uninterrupted one-party rule.
The state poured nearly $400 million into a new National Museum stuffed with revolutionary memorabilia, and millions more into “The Founding of a Party,” a star-studded epic movie due to be released soon. Chinese TV stations, meanwhile, have been told to yank cop shows and focus on airing dramas about party history instead.
Shaping history is particularly important to China’s so-called princelings, the offspring of Mao’s comrades. Having secured influence and often wealth on the basis of their family connections, members of this small but powerful group celebrate a wart-free version of the past that boosts their status — and sidesteps their parents’ role as enforcers and then victims of party brutality.
‘Distort and smear’
Xi, the Politburo member who is due to take over as leader of the party next year and whose father was purged by Mao in 1962, has been particularly active in stressing the need to get history right. In a keynote address at a “history work conference” last summer, he called on all party members — numbering nearly 80 million — to “resolutely combat the wrong tendency to distort and smear the party’s history.” (He didn’t comment on his father.)

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