CHINESE COPTERS FOR PAK FLOOD RELIEF
Mr.Liu Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, said on September 9,2010, that China would offer more assistance to flood-hit Pakistan as the country was still facing difficulties. China had announced on September 6 another instalment of humanitarian assistance to Pakistan amounting to 200 million yuan (29.4 million U.S. dollars). China had earlier given 120 million yuan (17.6 million U.S. dollars).Thus, the total Chinese assistance to Pakistan has come to US $ 47 million.The Ambassador said that a Chinese medical team would soon arrive in Pakistan and that Chinese helicopters would also take part in Pakistan’s relief operations. A 55-member Chinese search and rescue team has been working for two weeks in Thatta in Sindh. It has set up a mobile hospital.
—-XINHUA IN “CHINA DAILY” of September 10
MY COMMENTS (a). The Swiss Government announced on September 8 its decision to gift 10 second-hand Aloutte helicopters to Pakistan for flood relief. Pakistan has reportedly given a written undertaking not to arm the helicopters and to use them only for search and rescue. The Alouettes are not subject to the Swiss law governing arms exports. The helicopters will be flown by Pakistani crew.
(b). The US 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, has deployed 19 helicopters (CH 53E) for relief operations in Pakistan. Two more are to join. Six of these helicopters operate out of the Pano Aqil airbase. The copters are flown by American crew with a Pakistani officer on board.
( c ). During a visit to the flood-affected Hunza area in Gilgit-Baltistan in January last after an artificial lake formed by a landslide burst, Mr.Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), suggested to the Government that it should seek the humanitarian assistance of China and Switzerland, which had experience in disaster relief work in high altitudes.
(d). India has so far pledged a sum of US $ 25 million in two instalments for flood relief in Pakistan. Since Pakistan was reluctant to accept them directly, they are being given to the UN agencies engaged in flood relief in Pakistan.
NORTH KOREA ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE?
That is the interesting theme of discussion in a “People’s Forum” of the Party-owned “People’s Daily” dated September 10. May be seen at http://www.peopleforum.cn/viewthread.php?tid=36617&extra=page%3D1
US-CHINA: MOVES TO RESUME MILITARY-MILITARY RELATIONSHIP
Mr.John Hamre, President of the Washington-based Centre For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), who had served as the US Deputy Defence Secretary under President Bill Clinton, is on a visit to China to attend a symposium at the invitation of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. He called on Gen.Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), on September 2 . Gen.Ma reportedly told Mr.Hamre: “A sound and stable China-U.S. military relationship is good for bilateral strategic trust and regional peace and stability. China has always attached great importance to developing military ties with the United States and has made efforts in this regard.” According to the “People’s Daily” of September 3, Gen.Ma told Mr.Hamre that both sides should respect each other’s core interests and major concerns. Both sides should also properly handle differences and sensitive issues. Mr.Hamre said China’s prosperity contributed to the world, adding that the PLA’s development is “logical.” He added that it was necessary for the two militaries to maintain candid communication to keep stable military relations. He also met another senior Chinese General, Xu Caihou, on September 6. The “People’s Daily” of September 3 commented on these meetings as follows: “ The meetings between the Chinese Generals and Hamre are a rare occurrence as China cut off some military exchange programs with the United States after Pentagon decided in January to sell a nearly 6.4-billion-U.S.-dollar arms package to Taiwan, an inalienable part of China. Subsequently, none of the high-level military visits outlined in the China-U.S. communique signed in November last year when U.S. President Barack Obama visited China have been possible for the past eight months. Those planned visits included trips to Beijing by U.S. defense chief Robert Gates and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. A visit to Washington by Chief of General Staff of the Chinese PLA Chen Bingde was also suspended. On the same day Ma held talks with Hamre, the Chinese foreign ministry said U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon and U.S. National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers will visit China this week. Donilon and Summers are also scheduled to meet with Chinese General Xu during their stay in Beijing. “Those U.S. officials’ talks with Chinese military leaders reflect the fact the two countries want to keep channels open for defense talks, even though their official military exchanges have stalled,” Yang Yi, a strategic expert at China’s National Defense University, told Xinhua. “The suspension of military exchanges does not tally with the state of China-U.S. exchanges in other fields,” said Zhu Feng, an international studies professor at Peking University.”
Mr.Larry Summers and Mr.Thomas Donilon called on President Hu Jintao on September 8.
The Agence France press (AFP) reported on September 10 as follows:”China may host US Defence Secretary Robert Gates for talks later this year after having cancelled an earlier visit over US arms sales to Taiwan, the Pentagon said on Thursday (September 9). Beijing had rebuffed the Defence Secretary in June, despite an expected visit, but now appears ready to issue another invitation, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told a news conference. “So if it (an invitation) is being extended again, as it appears to be, we’re going to certainly look for the possibility of trying to schedule that before the end of the year,” Morrell said. With the Chinese and US Presidents due to meet “early next year,” it was crucial to make progress as both leaders have called for bolstering military-to-military relations, he said. But he added that the visit was not “engagement for the sake of engagement.” “What we are looking for is a resumption of productive, transparent, military-to-military engagement so that we can both gain a better understanding of what our ambitions are, what our intentions are when it comes to our military budgets, how we operate, where we operate, and so forth,” Morrell said. Despite misgivings expressed by Beijing, the US military planned to go ahead with joint military exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, he said. “It’s not an affront to the Chinese. It’s not meant to send a message to the Chinese. It’s meant to send a message to the North Koreans about their behavior,” he said of the planned exercises involving the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. The United States maintained “the right to operate in any and all international waters, respecting, of course, territorial boundaries,” he said. The Pentagon’s comments came a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao extolled “fresh progress” in China-US ties as he met a White House delegation that held talks on thorny issues including North Korea, Iran and trade.” ( Summers and Donilon)
MY COMMENTS: It will be important for India to see what effect this US-China fence-mending exercise has on the Indo-US discussions on China during the visit of President Barack Obama to New Delhi in November. Mr.Obama may not want any shadow to be cast on Mr.Gates’ visit to China by his discussions in New Delhi. Mr.Gates’ discussions with the Chinese leaders on Iran, North Korea and the Af-Pak region would be more important to the US than Mr.Obama’s discussions with Indian leaders on China. So far as China is concerned, any significant outcome is unlikely during Mr.Obama’s visit to New Delhi.
JAPAN CAUTIONED BY BEIJING
China warned Japan on September 9 that their relationship could suffer if Tokyo mishandled the dispute over a Chinese fishing boat seized by the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) in waters off the Diaoyu Islands. “The Diaoyu Islands are China’s inseparable territory, and Japan applying its domestic law to the Chinese fishing boat operating in this area is absurd, illegal and invalid,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news conference. “China will never accept that,” she stressed. Jiang said China had also sent “a fishery law enforcement ship” to the area “to safeguard order and protect the safety of fishermen and their assets”. She did not elaborate. The JCG on Thursday (September 9) handed over 41-year-old Chinese captain Zhan Qixiong to prosecutors who will decide whether to charge him, spokesman Masahiro Ichijo said. The captain has been in custody since his arrest on Wednesday (September 8), after two Japanese patrol boats intercepted his boat near the islands on Tuesday ( September 7). No one was injured. The captain was arrested on suspicion of “obstructing officers on duty”, and faces a possible jail sentence of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($6,200).But the JCG also said the captain could be released in a couple of days if he acknowledged the allegation and paid the fine. Japanese officials were also questioning the ship’s 14 crew members who have been kept on the boat because they did not have visas, the JCG said.
MY COMMENTS: The Japanese Navy has been increasingly assertive in the East China Sea since April last. Please see my article of April 27,2010, titled “Chinese Navy’s Power Projection” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers38/paper3780.html (10-9-10)
( The writer Mr B Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )