How India and China Have Come to the Brink Over a Remote Mountain Pass

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

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On a remote pass through Himalayan peaks, China and India, two nuclear-armed nations, have come near the brink of conflict over an unpaved road. It is one of the worst border disputes between the regional rivals in more than 30 years.

The road stands on territory at the point where ChinaIndia and Bhutanmeet. The standoff began last month when Bhutan, a close ally of India, discovered Chinese workers trying to extend the road. India responded by sending troops and equipment to halt the construction. China, the more powerful of the two, angrily denounced the move and demanded that India pull back.

Now soldiers from the two powers are squaring off, separated by only a few hundred feet.

The conflict shows no sign of abating, and it reflects the swelling ambition — and nationalism — of both countries. Each is governed by a muscular leader eager to bolster his domestic standing while asserting his country’s place on the world stage as the United States recedes from a leading role.

Jeff M. Smith, a scholar at the American Foreign Policy Council who studies Indian-Chinese relations, said a negotiated settlement was the likeliest outcome. But asked whether he thought the standoff could spiral into war, he said, “Yes I do — and I don’t say that lightly.”

Both sides have taken hard-line positions that make it difficult to back down. “The messaging is eerily similar,” Mr. Smith said, to the countries’ 1962 slide into a war that was also over border disputes.

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Why the Territory Matters

On the surface, the dispute turns on whether the land belongs to China or Bhutan. It is only about 34 square miles, but it is pivotal in the growing competition between China and India over Asia’s future.

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The dispute dates to contradictory phrases in an 1890 border agreementbetween two now-defunct empires, British India and China’s Qing dynasty, that put the border in different places. One gives Bhutan control of the area — the position that India supports — and the other China.

“This comes down to both countries having a reasonable claim,” said Ankit Panda, a senior editor at The Diplomat, an Asian affairs journal.

Bhutan and India say that China, by extending its road, is trying to extend its control over an area known as the Dolam Plateau, part of a larger contested area.

The plateau’s southernmost ridge slopes into a valley that geographers call the Siliguri Corridor but that Indian strategists know as the Chicken Neck.

This narrow strip of Indian territory, at points less than 20 miles wide, connects the country’s central mass to its northeastern states. India has long feared that in a war, China could bisect the corridor, cutting off 45 million Indians and an area the size of the United Kingdom.

India’s Aggressive Response

Few countries have been eager to confront China’s regional ambitions as directly with military forces, which has made India’s response to the construction so striking and, according to analysts from both countries, so fraught with danger.

But in recent months, India’s leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has shown that he is willing to flout China’s wishes — and ignore its threats.

Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Xi Jinping of China in Goa, India, in 2016. The border confrontation has soured relations. Both men attended the recent G-20 meeting in Germany but did not hold a one-on-one meeting that might have defused tensions. CreditManish Swarup/Associated Press

In April, a top Indian official accompanied the Dalai Lama to the border of Tibet, shrugging off China’s public insistence that the journey be halted. In May, India boycotted the inauguration of President Xi Jinping’s signature “One Belt, One Road” project, saying the plan ignored “core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The border skirmish arose even as Mr. Modi visited Washington to court President Trump’s favor as India vies with China for influence in Asia.

“I hope the Indian side knows what it’s doing, because the moment you put your hand in the hornet’s nest, you have to be prepared for whatever consequence there is going to be,” said Shiv Kunal Verma, the author of “1962: The War That Wasn’t,” about the bloody border conflict the two countries fought that year.

Chinese officials say the construction of the road was an internal affair because, they say, it took place within China’s own borders. On Tuesday, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, reiterated the country’s warning to India to withdraw as a precondition for any broader talks. “The solution to this issue is also very simple,” he said during a visit to Thailand, addressing the Indians directly. “That is, behave yourself and humbly retreat.”

Bhutan, Caught in the Middle

Photo

Indian migrant workers at a construction near Paro, Bhutan, last year. India contributes nearly $1 billion in economic and military aid to the country’s budget. At the same time, China has sought to woo it with offers of aid, investments and even land swaps to settle border disputes. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Bhutan, which joined the United Nations in 1971, does not have diplomatic relations with China. It has always been closer to India, particularly after fears stemming from China’s annexation of Tibet, another Buddhist kingdom, in the middle of the 20th century.

Since then, India has played a central role in the kingdom’s administration, contributing nearly $1 billion in economic and military aid annually in recent years. China has sought to woo Bhutan with its own offers of aid, investments and land swaps to settle border disputes.

Two weeks after the construction began, Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it violated earlier agreements, and called for a return to the status quo.

“Bhutan has felt uncomfortable from the start,” said Ajai Shukla, a former army colonel and consulting editor for strategic affairs at Business Standard, a daily newspaper in India. “It does not want to be caught in the middle when China and India are taking potshots at each other. Bhutan does not want to be the bone in a fight between two dogs.”

Photo

Chinese and Indian soldiers at a border crossing between the two countries in India’s northeastern Sikkim state, in 2008.CreditDiptendu Dutta/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The confrontation, meantime, has soured already tense relations.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi both attended the recent Group of 20 meeting in Germany but did not hold a meeting, one on one, that might have defused tensions. India’s national security adviser is expected to attend a meeting in Beijing this week, which analysts say could signal whether any face-saving compromise is possible.

Mr. Xi is preparing for an important Communist Party congress in the fall that will inaugurate his second five-year term as president and consolidate his political pre-eminence. Given the unbending nature of Chinese statements, few analysts believe he would do anything that would seem weak in response to India’s moves.

“It may be harder to make concessions until after that gathering,” Shashank Joshi, an analyst at the Lowy Institute, wrote in an essay posted on Friday, “while it may even suit Beijing to keep the crisis simmering through this period.”

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China’s War on Dissent: Detained activists have two choices: vanish or confess

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DIPLOMAT NEWS AGENCY)

 

China’s War on Dissent

Phil Lynch, director of ISHR, said in his opening remarks that ISHR is deeply concerned by the widespread crackdown against human rights defenders in China. “Over the last several years, we worked hard to support Chinese human rights activists to elevate their voices using UN human rights mechanisms, especially the Human Rights Council, to pressure China for change and call for accountability.

Lynch discussed the case of Gui Minhai, disappeared since 2015. “He has missed his daughter’s graduation and her acceptance to a PhD program,” said Lynch. “She keeps on fighting for her father’s release.”

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.Lynch then gave the floor to three Chinese human rights activists. Yaxue Cao, the founder and editor of ChinaChange.org, said that detentions in China are increasingly arbitrary. “Recent charges against defenders and human rights lawyers are increasingly absurd; and the use of nonlegal methods of detention are increasingly frequent. The international community and UN mechanisms should, therefore, be increasingly alarmed and respond accordingly,” said Yaxue Cao.

Cao also raised the question of security of human rights activists who cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms. “Just to come to Geneva has become very dangerous. Human rights activists are being subject to reprisals for their cooperation with international organizations in Geneva. It is unacceptable and we demand from the UN and international community more active efforts to ensure our security,” said Yaxue Cao.

Sarah Brooks, Asia program manager at the ISHR, said that in the last two years more than 300 activists have been harassed, threatened, detained and disappeared. “This crackdown marked by arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, torture and ill-treatment and this is part of the policy of the Chinese government to close the space for civil society. The death of Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and enforced disappearance of his wife Liu Xia expose with painful clarity the costs of detention for defenders in China, and reminds us that this cost is also borne by friends and family. For all those at risk for their work to protect and promote human rights, we urge the Human Rights Council to press China for justice and accountability” said Brooks.

During the press-conference Zhang Qing, wife of the Guo Feixiong joined the discussion remotely to speak about her husband’s health conditions. Guo Feixiong has spent over a decade in detention for his human rights activities. She described the deplorable conditions her husband faced: “They locked my husband more than two years in a very small and confined space, where he hasn’t been able to move around. He hasn’t been allowed outside for exercise, or to see sunlight, and this has done huge damage to his health. It was a deliberate harm and a slow form of torture.”

Zhang told the member governments of the Human Rights Council that they could no longer ignore China’s willful mistreatment of activists in detention. “I express my gratitude to international groups and UN experts who raised the case of my husband at the UN. After international pressure he was transferred to another jail, where he recovered and his health is better now. His sister was allowed recently to visit him in the jail,” she said.

Yibee Huang, chief executive officer of Covenant Watch, spoke about reprisals against activists in Taiwan. She discussed the case of Li Ming-che, a manager at Taipei’s Wenshan Community College and a longtime democracy activist, who was detained in March 2017 and has been held incommunicado since. “We are deeply concerned about his health conditions. And the Chinese government shut down all communication means and we cannot receive any information about him” she said.

The activists also spoke about the case of the Chinese lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who disappeared on November 21, 2016. His whereabouts remained unknown for several months, and only at the end of 2016 did Chinese authorities admit that Jiang was held “under residential surveillance at designated location.” Kit Chan, president of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group told The Diplomat about his recently concluded trial.

“After detention incommunicado of 274 days, Jiang’s trial took place on 22 August at the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court. The trial was manipulated and the public were deliberately barred from attending it, and the areas around the Court were roadblocked with police officers. We demand the court give Jiang a non-guilty verdict and immediately release him. We also call on the international community not to be deceived by the illustrations and rhetoric of the rule according to law, but follow closely and speak up on the case of Jiang Tianyong and that of lawyer Wang Quanzhang, ” said Chan.

Incommunicado detentions have become routine and families struggle to hear any news about vanished activists. Wang, who Chan reference, was detained by the Chinese authorities in August 2015. His wife, Li Wenzu, told the BBC that she hasn’t heard from him and does not know if he is alive or not. “I had no information at all. He has simply disappeared from the face of the Earth.”

Law enforcement authorities in China are notorious for their use of torture against human rights defenders and political dissidents. It seems that incommunicado detainees have only two choices: make confessions that are then broadcast by state-run TV or refuse and remain vanished.

Li told the BBC that Wang’s continued incarceration might be because he is holding out. “I think it might be because my husband hasn’t compromised at all,” Li said. “That’s why his case remains unsolved.”

When they do confess, lawyers admit guilt and say that they were brainwashed by Western media and activists. For example, Chinese lawyer Xie Yang made a confession on state television in May. He had been charged with “inciting subversion of state power and disrupting court order.”

“My actions go against my role as a lawyer,” he said in the video released by the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court, “we should give up using contact with foreign media and independent media to hype sensitive news events, attack judicial institutions and smear the image of the nation’s party organs while handling cases.”

Liu Xiaobo, a symbol of Chinese pro-democratic movements, was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2010 “for his long and nonviolent struggle for human rights in China.” He could not attend the ceremony in Stockholm and was represented by an empty chair because he was still in custody. Liu died of liver cancer in July, under guard at the hospital to which he had been released the month before — his cancer beyond treatment.

The international community has been worried about the destiny of his wife Liu Xia, whose location is still unknown. She has lived under constant police watch, and international organizations have been calling on Beijing to allow her to leave China if she wishes.

The main concerns of those gathered in Genea last week are that there are more and more activists being arbitrary detained and vanished, and cooperation with UN mechanisms and international organization have become more dangerous for Chinese defenders.

Cholpon Orozobekova is a researcher at the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations.

China Warns The U.S.: We Will Not Allow A Regime Change In North Korea

 

 

This afternoon I turned on my TV to CNN and heard the following quote from President Trump two times within about 30 minutes concerning North Korea, “all options are on the table.” Two of the online publications that I read quite often are the Shanghai Daily News (evidently they are changing their name to SHINE) and I read Global News China. Make no mistake, these News Agencies are controlled by the Chinese Communist Party so when you see ‘policy statements’ written in them they were put there as warnings to certain audiences. About three days ago in this Blog I posted their articles with the warnings to the U.S. and to our Allies about how they feel about North Korea.

 

In the official statements from China’s President Xi Jinping he stated the following concerning North Korea. Mr. Xi Jinping said that if North Korea attacked the U.S. or our Allies that China would stand pat and not get involved except in securing their own borders. He also said that if the U.S. attacks North Korea first then China would get directly involved in aiding the North Korean government. He said that either way China will never allow a Regime change in North Korea. What he means by this is that China will never allow a non-Communist government to be put in place in North Korea. He did not say that he wants or cares if North Korea’s President Kim Jong Un is removed from his position, so China has no problem if that lunatic dies. What China is saying is that they will not allow South Korea and their democratic and free government to possess the land that is now North Korea. China is insisting that North Korea remains a Communist country and an Allie of theirs. So, when our Lunatic In Chief says “all options are on the table” he better not mean “all options” as in a first strike against North Korea. Another side issue involved here also is not only a direct war with China but an end to economic ties and trade with China. On another note, if the U.S. quits all imports from China all the North American Wal-Marts stores would be about 90% empty, they would be forced to start buying products that are American made. Instead of Wal-Mart giving about 100 billion dollars a year to the Chinese government which they in turn create war machines with, that money could stay here in America to help create jobs here in America, what a novel thought.

China’s Xi Jinping Tightens ‘Thought Control’ Of Universities Teaching Staff

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST)

 

Chinese universities tighten ideological control of teaching staff

Seven top colleges set up departments to oversee the political thinking of teachers after government inspectors criticise institutions’ ideological ‘weakness’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 August, 2017, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 August, 2017, 10:30pm

A group of China’s top universities have set up Communist Party departments to oversee the political thinking of their teaching staff after the colleges were criticised amid the government’s tightening ideological control on campuses.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s powerful disciplinary watchdog, last week published “rectification reports” on eight top-tier universities it inspected this year.

Seven have set up a “teachers’ affairs department” under their Communist Party committees to improve “ideological and political work” among teaching staff.

The inspection teams toured 29 of the best universities across mainland China, including the prestigious Peking University and Tsinghua University in Beijing, for a “political check-up” earlier this year.

Some universities were criticised after the months-long inspections for their weakness in promoting ideology, while party committees were also chastised for weak leadership and failing to toe the party line.

Dalian University of Technology in Liaoning province has pledged to make annual training plans to improve the ideological and political education of teachers, according to its rectification report.

Beijing Normal University said the “virtues” of teachers, which include their ideological and political thinking, were included in their appraisals this year.

All universities and colleges in China are under the control of a party committee, which oversees party affairs on campus and the running of the schools.

Most committees already have two departments supervising undergraduate and graduate students to monitor their ideological and political thinking.

The inclusion of teaching staff for supervision under the party committee is the latest move by the authorities to tighten ideological control on campuses.

Universities were ordered four years ago to steer clear of seven topics while teaching, including universal values, press freedom and civil rights.

Outspoken professors who have openly criticised the communist authorities or its leaders have been punished or silenced.

Deng Xiangchao, a communications professor at Shandong Jianzhu University, was forced to retire in January after criticising Mao Zedong publicly on the eve of the anniversary of the late leader’s birth.

Some more liberal universities have already moved to tighten control of their teaching staff to toe the party line.

Many universities – as well as the seven inspected – have set up teachers’ affairs departments this year, including Shanghai Jiao Tong university and the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing.

Peking University was the first to set up a similar teachers department in 2015.

Twenty-one other universities inspected by the commission have yet to release their “rectification reports”.

Tsinghua University did not mention the party department in its report, but said it had set up a leading group on teachers’ ideological and political work headed by its party secretary.

The party’s ideological control of higher education has intensified since President Xi Jinping took power in late 2012.

Xi vowed at a high-level meeting last year to turn campuses into “strongholds of the party’s leadership” to ensure orthodox Marxism dominated the thinking of academics and students.

India, China Agree To ‘Expeditious Disengagement’ of Doklam Border Dispute

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

India, China agree to ‘expeditious disengagement’ of Doklam border dispute

A border dispute between India and China in the Himalayas appears to be deescalating.

Story highlights

  • Dispute is over territory in the Himalayas
  • Had brought back memories of a deadly 1962 border conflict between India and China

(CNN) India and China have agreed to deescalate a months-long territorial standoff in the Himalayas, ahead of a major economic summit involving both countries.

In a statement Monday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is ongoing.”
China’s official Xinhua news agency said India had withdrawn its personnel and equipment “that had crossed the border back to the Indian side.”
“Chinese personnel verified this at the scene,” Xinhua reported. “China will continue to exercise its sovereign rights and preserve its territorial sovereignty in accordance with historical border agreements.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet at the BRICS summit — alongside leaders from Brazil, Russia and South Africa — in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen later this week.

Diplomacy at work

The standoff between India and China, the two largest BRICS economies, comes as Beijing seeks to expand the five nation grouping to include other emerging nations, many of which are seen as sympathetic to China’s interests, according to Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai.
China has invited the leaders of Thailand, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Egypt and several other nations to the Xiamen conference.
But the quick deescalation of the situation ahead of the summit shows that Modi has withstood Chinese pressure and forced Beijing to back down, said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi.
The summit will provide a good opportunity to solve the two sides’ differences, he said, “provided the two sides understand that the time for posturing is over and diplomacy should be allowed to work.”
Dhruva Jaishankar, an analyst at Brookings India, said Monday’s announcement was a positive sign that “despite differences both sides can resolve their concerns about each other peacefully and through diplomatic channels.”
But Dan Wang, China analyst at the Economic Intelligence Unit, warned the “risk of both sides getting back to military standoff is not eliminated.”
“We are likely to see more spats and conflicts between China and India,” he said, adding that while outright conflict was unlikely, both countries may seek to punish each other economically by placing restrictions on Chinese and Indian firms accessing their respective markets.

Tense stand-off

The Doklam dispute began in July, over a thin strip of land bordering both countries and Bhutan, in the Himalayas. Though not a part of Indian territory, the area is close to the “chicken’s neck,” a strategic corridor that serves as a vital artery between Delhi and its far northeastern states.
The stand-off was sparked after Bhutan accused China of constructing a road inside its territory in “direct violation” of treaty obligations. China, which does not have formal diplomatic relations with Bhutan, denied the accusation, contending that Doklam is part of Chinese territory.
India and Bhutan have maintained historically strong relations. Bhutan co-operates closely with India in determining its foreign policy, and the Indian Army is involved in the training of its armed forces.
Beijing accused India of sending troops into Bhutan, further escalating the dispute. In the weeks since, both countries had upped their military presence in the region, China engaged in live fire drills near the border, and a war of words erupted, culminating in a racist video published last month by China’s official Xinhua news agency in which a Chinese actor wearing a turban and fake beard mocked Delhi for “shooting itself in the foot.”

China and India have been engaged in multiple border disputes in recent months.

Long-running tension

The Doklam dispute is the latest in a long-running series of territorial flare-ups between India and China. In 1962, the two countries engaged in a bloody border war, and skirmishes have continued to break out sporadically in the decades since.
Bhutan quick facts

Bhutan, also known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a small landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It lies on the border between India and China.

With a population of less than a million people, it is the second least populated country in Asia.

The country is officially a Buddhist kingdom, with the King of Bhutam Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as its head of state in a constitutional monarchy.

Bhutan is popular for being an exotic luxury holiday destination, with most tourists paying a flat rate of between $200 to $250 per day to experience its untouched natural beauty.

On June 26, China accused Indian border guards in the state of Sikkim of crossing into its territory in southwestern Tibet, in an attempt to obstruct the construction of a new mountain road.
India has not denied its troops were present in the area. According to a statement released by the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indian personnel “approached the Chinese construction party and urged them to desist from changing the status quo.”
In response, China blocked religious pilgrims from India from visiting the Manasarovar shrine, accessible only via the Himalayan Nathu La that runs alongside the border between the two nations, “out of security concerns.”
The moves come at a time of steadily deteriorating ties between the two countries, say analysts, who point to Chinese investment in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and Chinese frustration with India’s unwillingness to join its One Belt One Road (OBOR) development initiative as points of contention.

China posts air pollution ‘battle plan’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS/SHINE)

 

China posts air pollution ‘battle plan’

CHINA has promised to cut average concentrations of PM2.5 airborne particles by more than 15 percent year on year in the winter months in 28 northern cities to meet key smog targets.

In a 143-page winter smog “battle plan” posted on its website yesterday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said the new target, for the October-March period, would apply to Beijing and Tianjin, along with 26 other cities in the smog-prone provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan.

China’s efforts to control pollution have often roiled the prices of steel, iron ore and coal with output routinely curtailed as a result of emergency smog regulations and inspection campaigns.

China is under pressure this year to meet its 2017 air quality targets. It aims to cut 2012 levels of PM2.5 by more than a quarter in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and bring average concentrations down to 60 micrograms per cubic meter in the Chinese capital.

But PM2.5 averages rose in the first seven months of the year as a result of near record-high smog in January and February, which China blamed on unfavorable weather conditions.

Experts still believe, however, that China remains on course to meet the 2017 targets set out in a groundbreaking air quality action plan published by the government in 2013.

“Actually, air quality from April to June was among the best over the last five years in Beijing, and we still have confidence in achieving the target,” said Shelley Yang, a project manager at the Clean Air Alliance of China, a non-profit organization that includes academic, government and corporate organizations that “care about clean air.”

The government is leaving nothing to chance, with some of China’s smoggiest cities under pressure to complete annual steel and coal closure targets by the end of September and implement tougher restrictions in the following months.

By October, big steelmaking cities such as Tangshan and Handan must have plans in place to cut output by as much as 50 percent to limit smog during the winter heating season from November.

The region is also under pressure to eliminate thousands of coal-fired boilers, further restrict road haulage of coal and ensure power generators, steel mills and coking plants complete upgrades aimed at controlling emissions before heating systems are switched on.

Hebei is responsible for a quarter of China’s steel output, with Tangshan alone producing around 100 million tons a year. Neighboring Shanxi is China’s biggest coal producer, with more than 900 million tons of annual output.

China: 122 fraud suspects repatriated

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS/SHINE)

 

122 fraud suspects repatriated

China’s Views on International Law and Cyber Warfare

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘LAWFARE’)

 

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Tentative Observations on China’s Views on International Law and Cyber Warfare

By Julian Ku

Saturday, August 26, 2017, 1:00 PM

As I noted in my post yesterday, the Chinese government has declined to clarify how and whether it believes the international law governing the use of applies to cyber warfare. Its refusal to do so has drawn sharp criticism from the U.S. and other cyber powers. But while the Chinese government has not set forth a clear statement on these issues, Chinese scholars and media commentators have outlined important principles that may become part of official government policy. Drawing on my recently published paper for the Hoover Aegis Paper Series, this post sketches out some key themes on international law and cyber warfare gleaned from Chinese legal scholarship.

First, much of the Chinese commentary I reviewed is deeply suspicious of the motives of any effort to build a consensus on the rules of cyber warfare, including the Tallinn Manual, an important effort by scholars from around the world to develop academic consensus on the rules of international law and cyber warfare. In China’s view, the fact that most of the scholars in the original Tallinn Manual hailed from NATO countries made its motives suspect. As one Chinese media commentary put it, the United States is attempting to “spur the international community into drawing up rules for cyber warfare in order to put a cloak of legality on its ‘preemptive strike’ strategy in cyber warfare.”

Chinese scholars did participate in the “Tallinn 2.0” effort, but Chinese media remained skeptical of the whole approach.  China has long argued that instead of discussing how existing international law should be interpreted to regulate cyber warfare, all cyber activities should be handled through a new treaty negotiated at the United Nations. As another Chinese commentator noted, the West usually enjoyed “bragging about its ‘carrying of the flag’ for international law,” yet the West is now the main obstacle to international legislation in this area.

Second, Chinese analysts have emphasized that, despite the Tallinn Manual, deep uncertainty and disagreement exists on ways to define and attribute cyberattacks that constitute “armed attacks” under international law.  Most importantly, Chinese commentary has criticized an expansive definition of the right of self-defense against cyber-attacks. Because the United States, in China’s view, has abused its right of self-defense in other contexts, China is reluctant to endorse any principle that would bolster doctrines such as preemptive self-defense. As a prime cyber target as well as cyber power, China is worried about legitimizing U.S. offensive cyber operations as forms of “self-defense.”

Other Chinese scholars have reiterated that the difficulties in attributing a cyber attack to a state remains a key obstacle to the effective application of international law. Yet in their view, the efforts of some Western scholars to loosen legal standards to make a state responsible for cyber activities of small groups or individuals are impracticable and dangerous.

I discuss all of this in greater detail in my paper, but overall, I think China’s position deserves more study and consideration. As I argued yesterday, China’s embrace of international law for cyber warfare may not actually be in the best interests of the U.S.  As this brief survey of Chinese commentary suggests, China is also skeptical that signing up for the U.S. version of international law will be in China’s best interests. It is therefore not surprising that U.N.-sponsored negotiations on the application of international law to cyber warfare collapsed this past June.

The North Korean spies Ukraine caught stealing missile plans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The North Korean spies Ukraine caught stealing missile plans

Updated 4:50 PM ET, Thu August 24, 2017

Zhytomyr, Ukraine (CNN) The images are a little grainy, but in the half-light of a dusty Ukrainian garage, you can sense the unbridled enthusiasm of the two North Korean spies who are photographing what they think are top-secret missile designs.

In a rare window into the opaque, deadly and secretive world of missile technology espionage, Ukrainian security services have given CNN surveillance footage and details of an elaborate sting operation they carried out to snare two North Korean spies in 2011.
The revelations are aimed at dispelling claims that a recent leap forward in Pyongyang’s intercontinental missile technology may have been achieved by using designs stolen or originating from Ukraine.

Video from North Korean state media purports to show the launching of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The claims are made in a report released by analysts at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) on August 14 which says technology, possibly from Ukraine’s Yuzhnoye Design Office in Dnipro, was used in recent North Korean missile tests.
In July, North Korea successfully tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles(ICBMs) — the KN-14 or Hwasong-14. At the time, Pyongyang claimed they were capable of carrying a “large-sized heavy nuclear warhead” as far as the US mainland.
Ukraine has denied any link to North Korea’s long-range missiles, and said Russia may instead have provided Pyongyang with the improved missile designs. Russia has denied supporting North Korea’s arms program.
An officer with Ukraine’s security service, who worked on the 2011 case of the two North Koreans and who we granted anonymity because of his operational role, insisted it was “impossible” North Korea had obtained any missile technology, as he was sure their espionage attempts had all been intercepted.
He said that in 2011 two other North Koreans — who traveled to Ukraine from the country’s Moscow Embassy — were deported after they were caught trying to obtain “missile munitions, homing missile devices in particular for air-to-air class missiles.” A third North Korean, tasked with transporting the actual devices out of Ukraine, was also deported.
And as recently as 2015, five North Koreans were deported for “assisting North Korea’s intelligence work in Ukraine,” the officer said, without providing further details.
He said, apart from the two in jail, there were no North Koreans left in Ukraine, as those not deported by Ukraine had been voluntarily withdrawn — many working in alternative medicine centers.

The hallway to the cell where X5 is serving out his 8-year sentence in Ukraine.

North Koreans guilty of espionage

The two North Korean spies seen on the grainy surveillance footage are currently serving eight-year prison sentences for espionage in the Ukrainian town of Zhytomyr, 140 kilometers (87 miles) west of Kiev.
Ukrainian officials allowed CNN inside the prison facilities to see if they would grant interviews under guard supervision.
The elder inmate is a man in his fifties from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang who is known in court documents as X5. He is gaunt, compared to the fuller frame he had in the surveillance videos, and speaks lightly-accented Russian.
His younger accomplice is a technical expert known as X32.
They are the only such spies in Ukrainian custody, although officials say they have on several occasions intercepted North Korean attempts to access their missile secrets, and as a result in 2016 effectively barred all North Koreans from the country.

The door to a cell where X5 is serving his prison term.

The sting

The grainy surveillance video provided to CNN was filmed on July 27, 2011, on a hidden camera set up within a garage to capture the end of a sting operation that was months in the planning.
The two suspects can be seen moments before Ukrainian security service agents burst in and arrest them.

How 2 North Korean spies were caught

How 2 North Korean spies were caught 03:37
The Ukrainian missile experts they had been courting in the weeks before had informed on them to Ukrainian counter-intelligence agents.
As a result, authorities had detailed knowledge of the information they sought — “ballistic missiles, missile systems, missile construction, spacecraft engines, solar batteries, fast-emptying fuel tanks, mobile launch containers, powder accumulators and military government standards,” according to the court papers from their 2012 trial.
Some of the information related to the SS-24 Scalpel intercontinental ballistic missile, the court papers add. The SS-24 Scalpel, also known as the RT-23, is a solid-fueled missile capable of carrying up to 10 warheads that was launched via missile silos or railroad cars.
Why North Korea wants nukes and missiles

North Korea has long maintained it wants nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in order to deter the United States from attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang looks at states like Iraq — where former dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the United States, and Libya — the country’s late leader, Moammar Gaddafi, gave up his nuclear ambitions for sanctions relief and aid, only to be toppled and killed after the US intervened in the country’s civil unrest — and believes that only being able to threaten the US homeland with a retaliatory nuclear strike can stop American military intervention.

The mobile rail missile SS-24 system was banned in the late 1990s under the START-II treaty between the US and Russia, however the ban never came into effect. The design and production of the missile system was most recently held by Ukraine but, according to GlobalSecurity.org, the country ended production of the missile in 1995.
The Ukraine security footage gives a rare window into the elaborate and shadowy world of North Korea’s bid to improve its ability to hit the United States and other adversaries with long-range missiles.
The court documents also reveal startlingly human moments during the operation.
The two nervous men continually whisper to each other the material they seek is “secret,” and worry the flash batteries may run out on their PowerShot and Coolpix cameras as they photograph the dummy designs.
Speaking briefly to CNN in the jail where he now makes cement railings and iron rods to pass prison time, X5 confirmed he had “partially” admitted his guilt.

'X5' is seen working at a prison near Zhytomyr, Ukraine.

The court papers say he insisted his job, as a trade representative in the North Korean embassy in neighboring Belarus, was merely to arrange training in missile technology for North Korean experts — information he didn’t think was classified. He even tried to get one expert, the papers allege, to travel to North Korea and teach there.
Dressed in dark blue overalls and a cloth cap, mixing cement, X5 said he “of course” wanted to return to North Korea, and had not spoken to his family or anyone there since his arrest.
“I am serving my term of punishment. They feed us well here, we work… I don’t want to give an interview for the preservation of my safety and that of my family.”
He shares a well-lit cell with a TV with eight other convicts, and sleeps in a double bunk bed, with pots of vitamins and toiletries his only obvious possessions.

X5 shares a cell with 8 other convicts, and sleeps in a double bunk bed.

The second convict, X32, agreed to meet CNN, but immediately declined to be interviewed, covering the camera lens with his hand and walking away.
He has not admitted his guilt and is held in a more relaxed facility where he makes furniture to pass the time.
Denys Chernyshov, Ukraine’s deputy minister for justice, said the men had been met once by two officials from North Korea’s Moscow embassy, but otherwise had no contact at all with their relatives or North Korea.
“They have asked Ukrainian authorities to be extradited to North Korea to continue their sentence,” he said. “But because they are held for spying for North Korea, we obviously declined their request.”
Chernyshov added the pair were well-trained.
“To be isolated in another country and culture, with different food even, that brings about a particular stress,” he said. “So it is clear these are well prepared, strong people.”
However, he added North Korea may not turn out to be that welcoming when they likely travel home in September 2018, at the end of their sentences.
“That their task was unsuccessful, they cannot expect much of a hero’s welcome on their return.”

China Military Rises, While U.S. Declines: Interesting Times Of The 21st Century

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES)

 

Asia #ForeignAffairs

China Rises, While U.S. Declines: Interesting Times Of The 21st Century

I write about Asia in the 21st-century world economy.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

This story appears in the September 2017 issue of Forbes Asia.Subscribe

Xi Jinping, China’s president, left, and Li Keqiang, China’s premier, at the third session of the 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing, China in March 2015. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

There is an Arab proverb, inspired by the Koran, that says, “He who predicts the future lies, even if he tells the truth.” In other words: If you make a prediction and it turns out right, it’s sheer luck, mate.

With that caveat, let me offer not a prediction but a hypothesis. On the basis of current trends, it would seem the world is experiencing one of its most profound transformations in history.

In essence, for the last half-millennium, since the rise of the Portuguese seaborne empire in the late 15th century, the world has been dominated by the West. Japan was the only non-Western nation to emerge as a global power, but it did so not by challenging the West but by joining it. It never had Asian allies but rather three successive Western allies: imperial Britain from 1902 to 1922, while Japan was an imperialist nation; Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1944, during which period it became a fascist military dictatorship; and the U.S. since 1952, as it became a “Western” democracy and joined the “Western” alliance.

China rising

China is rising as a, if not the, great global power of the 21st century, and the U.S., after having dominated the 20th century, is declining in the 21st.

Until it entered its “era of humiliation” in the century-plus following the first Opium War (1839), China was a rich and proud power. It then declined precipitously: Its share of global GDP fell from an estimated 33% in 1820 to 4% in 1950–even though it had an estimated 20% of world’s population. Until fairly recently, the words “Chinese” and “poor” were synonymous. China has no Western allies, only two–sort-of–Asian allies: North Korea and Pakistan. Unlike Japan, China is not seeking to emulate any Western system. When you ask what China is about, the answer is “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Chinese paramilitary policemen stand in formation on Tiananmen Square after attending a ceremony to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 1, 2017. (Photo credit: ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)

The emerging Chinese challenge is military and economic–but also historical, cultural, political, geopolitical, philosophical and ideological. Just as it was essential for the non-Western world in the 19th and 20th centuries to learn about the West, so is it incumbent on all to learn about China.

In doing so, it is difficult to imagine a better guide than Howard French’s Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power. This book is an outstanding font of knowledge and provides compelling insights into how China sees the world and its own destiny. It combines a bird’s-eye view of China’s past, present and possible future with a detailed worm’s-eye view, especially of its positions vis-à-vis Southeast Asian nations in the South China Sea and vis-à-vis Japan in the East China Sea.

French presents the Chinese viewpoint. You don’t have to condone it, but to be awake in the 21st century, you have to understand it. You also have to understand how Chinese see world history and how it applies to them. Thus, Chinese thought and policy leaders are quite familiar with how the Monroe Doctrine allowed the U.S. to assert a hegemonic position in Central America and to transform the Caribbean into an American lake. A 21st-century version of that doctrine is being crafted in Beijing and applied to East Asia.

U.S. declining

The rise of China is half of the global picture. The other half is the decline of the U.S., or indeed of the West generally. That is the theme of Edward Luce’s recent book The Retreat of Western Liberalism. Luce demonstrates that while Donald Trump as president is a potential disaster, it is a disaster that was waiting to happen. The decline of the U.S. and the retreat of Western liberalism imply, among other things, that the Western alliance that played such a crucial role in the second half of the 20th century is kaput. As Luce points out, while the end-of-history theory that prevailed at the turn of the century presumed democracy had won, in fact over the past decade, 25 democracies have failed.

U.S. President Donald Trump leaving the White House on August 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Thus, the question is “whether the Western way of life, and our liberal democratic systems, can survive this dramatic shift of global power… . Donald Trump’s victory crystallizes the West’s failure to come to terms with the reality it faces.”

Recent events in the U.S. come to mind while reading this passage in Luce’s book: “The future of Western democracy looks bleak if American politics hardens into two racially hostile camps. Donald Trump consciously stokes racist sentiment, and has given a rocket boost to the ‘alt right’ fringe of neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”

So as China rises and the U.S. declines, eyes are increasingly turning to Berlin and Angela Merkel. Germans–who on the global leadership front have been there, done that (and failed)–are not particularly keen to have this glory thrust upon them.