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China Strategic News – September 12, 2010


Senior-General Than Shwe, Chairman of Myanmar’s State Peace and Development Council, visited China for five days from September 7. His visit came three months after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Myanmar in June. He met President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen and other Chinese leaders. He also visited the Shanghai Expo and Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province. He was accompanied by a 34-member delegation including Prime Minister Thein Sein and the junta’s No. 3 U Shwe Mann, who resigned last month from his military post as army Joint Chief of Staff.

2.Than Shwe met President   Hu on September 8.  The “China Daily” of September 9 gave the following account of the discussions between Than Shwe and Hu:  Hu told Than Shwe:”China pays a great deal of attention to relations with Myanmar. Consolidating and developing Sino-Myanmar cooperation and friendship is our unswerving policy. However the international situation might change, this policy will not alter. China is willing to increase imports from Myanmar and welcomes the country’s enterprises expanding investment in Chinese markets. China and Myanmar must work hard on energy, electric power and other projects, which would benefit people of both countries.” Than Shwe told Hu: “China’s position on climate change and other major issues fully reflects the broad interests and concerns of developing countries. My Government is committed to ensuring stability on the border as part of a long-term policy of protecting its friendship with China.”

3.During his meeting with Prime Minister Wen the next day, Than Shwe reportedly thanked China for its support of Myanmar and pledged to work with Beijing to maintain stability on the border. Than Shwe told Wen his country would work with China to “jointly maintain peace and stability of the border regions”, Xinhua reported.

4.Before the arrival of Than Shwe, Jiang Yu, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, had told the local media  that China hoped to see the forthcoming Myanmar elections on November 7 proceed smoothly along with the realization of democracy and economic development.  She told the media on September 9:  “A smooth election in Myanmar [Burma] is in the fundamental interest of the Myanmar people and conducive to regional peace and stability. China respects the independently chosen development path of the Myanmar people and hopes that the election can proceed smoothly.”

5.Aung Naing Oo, a Myanmar analyst based in Bangkok, told the Agence France Presse: “As far as we know, China has urged the Burmese Government to carry out economic reforms at all levels. Despite its social and human rights issues, China has experienced economic growth that now surpasses even Japan’s. I think the Burmese leaders would like to see this kind of economic growth while not letting go of their hold on power.”

6.According to the Xinhua news agency,U Shwe Mann, a member of the  State Peace and Development Council, who had accompanied Than Shwe, met  the Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Chen Bingde. During their talks, Chen hailed the stable growth of bilateral ties between the two nations and the two militaries and added that  the fruitful cooperation in various areas had brought concrete benefits for both sides. Chen hoped the two militaries would work together to carry forward the traditional friendship. Xinhua quoted U Shwe Mann as  applauding China’s unselfish help for Myanmar in its economic and defense construction, saying that Myanmar would work with China to boost pragmatic cooperation between the two militaries and the two countries.

7.Xinhua reported as follows from Kunming: Construction began on the China section of the Sino-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline on September 10 morning in An’ning City in southwest China’s Yunnan province. CNPC, China’s largest oil firm and parent company of PetroChina, will build and operate the pipeline whose construction is due to finish in 2013. The Sino-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline starts at Kyaukpyu port on the west coast of Myanmar and enters China at Yunnan’s border city of Ruili. The 2,380-km long oil pipeline will end in Kunming City, capital of Yunnan. It is expected to carry 22 million tonnes of crude oil per annum to China from the Middle East and Africa.The natural gas pipeline will be even longer, running from Kunming into Guizhou Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China for a total length of 2,806 km. It is expected to transport 12 billion cubic meters of gas to China every year. The project is the fourth way for oil and natural gas to enter China, after ocean shipping, the Sino-Kazakhstan pipelines and the Sino-Russian crude oil pipeline.The oil pipeline saves 1,200 km of shipping. It will reduce China’s reliance on the Straits of Malacca for oil imports, experts say. Construction of the pipeline’s Myanmar section began in June.

8.It added: China has imported more than 20 million tonnes of crude oil through the Sino-Kazakhstan oil pipeline that was put into service in 2006, according to statistics from Xinjiang’s import authorities. The Sino-Russian pipeline is expected to begin operations by the end of 2010.The new pipelines are in line with China’s strategy of diversifying the methods and sources of its crude oil imports, said Qin Guangrong, Governor of Yunnan. “It will lessen risks and strengthen China’s ability to cope with the complex and volatile international situation,” he said. The project will help quench south and west China’s thirst for energy, Qin added. Construction in An’ning of an oil refinery with an annual capacity of 10 million tonnes also started on September 10.

9. According to a Xinhua dispatch of  September 7,China is now Myanmar’s third largest trading partner and investor. In 2009, bilateral trade totaled 2.907 billion US dollars. Up to January 2010, China’s investment in Myanmar amounted to 1. 848 billion dollars, accounting for 11.5 percent of Myanmar’s then total foreign investment. In May, China made a huge investment in Myanmar with a total of 8.173 billion dollars including Hong Kong’ s 3.143 billion dollars, bringing China’s total investment in Myanmar to 10 billion dollars up to May this year since the country opened to such investment in late 1988, according to Myanmar official statistics. In recent years, the two sides had expanded cooperation in hydropower, energy, mining, communications, fishery, manufacturing and infrastructure, and there had been frequent exchanges in culture, news and sports.

My Comment: Than Shwe did not seem to have attended the inauguration of the construction of the pipeline in Yunnan. It is not clear which projects accounted for the huge Chinese investment of  over eight billion dollars in May last, which pushed up the total Chinese investments in Myanmar ten-fold. Many Western analysts have interpreted the visit as meant to secure Chinese support for the legitimacy of the forthcoming elections from which Aung San Suu Kyi and her party have been excluded. Another reason seems to have been to reassure Beijing that his recent high profile  visit to India would not mean a dilution of the importance attached by his Government to Myanmar’s relations with China, which will continue to have primacy.

EAST CHINA SEA: CHINESE ASSERTIVENESS VS JAPANESE ASSERTIVENESS  —“JAPAN WILL REAP AS IT HAS SOWN” ( The Chinese version of the dispute and confrontation as taken from the Chinese media)

10.A Chinese fishing trawler, Minjinyu, collided with a 1,349-ton Japanese patrol boat, Yonakuni, near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea on September 7. Two other Japanese patrol boats then reportedly chased and hit Minjinyu, and six Japanese personnel boarded it when it stopped and questioned the Chinese fishermen.

11.Later the same day, several Japanese Government departments, such as the Cabinet Secretariat, the Coast Guard and the Foreign Ministry, held emergency meetings, after which an arrest warrant was reportedly issued against the captain of the Chinese fishing trawler for what they described as obstructing law enforcement. A senior Japanese official said the captain, a 41-year-old Chinese national, “will be taken to prosecutors or police and will be (questioned) under Japanese procedures”.

12.China’s Foreign Ministry  expressed grave concern over the incident. Vice-Foreign Minister Song Tao summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa the same day and lodged “solemn representations” with the Japanese side.

13.At a regular press conference, ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: The Diaoyu Islands and their adjacent islets have been Chinese territory since ancient times. She urged Japan to stop its so-called law enforcement in the waters off the islands and refrain from taking any action that would threaten the security of Chinese fishing boats and their crew. “We will follow the situation closely and reserve our right to take further action,” Jiang said.

14.The Diaoyu Islands are a group of uninhabited islands, comprising mainly the Diaoyu Island, and smaller islands such as Huangweiyu, Chiweiyu, Beixiaodao and Nanxiaodao, as well as three large reefs, covering an area of 6.3 sq km. Of all the islands, Diaoyu is the largest with an area of about 4.3 sq km.

15.The Diaoyu Islands have been recorded in Chinese historical documents as Chinese territory since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Japanese Government, however, regards them as a part of the Okinawa prefecture, which was under the independent Ryukyu Kingdom until 131 years ago. China had friendly relations with the Ryukyu Kingdom for about 500 years, before Japan annexed it. And more importantly, China was the first to discover and name the islands Diaoyu.

16.There are records about the islands in a book published during the reign of Ming Dynasty emperor Yongle (who reigned from 1403 to1424), more than 400 years before 1884, when Japan claims to have discovered the islands.

17.The Diaoyu Islands have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times, and China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over them. This is not only the Chinese Government’s stance, but also the conclusion of Japanese historian Kiyoshi Inoue.

18.In the Historical Facts of Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Islands, published in 1972, Inoue says that historically the Diaoyu Islands belong to China. He emphasizes that before Japan’s encroachment, the Diaoyu Islands were not terra nullius but China’s territory.

19.Before Japan began the Meiji restoration in 1868, no documents could be found in that country or the Ryukyu Kingdom that mentioned the Diaoyu Islands without citing Chinese documents.

20.Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference on September 8 that arresting the Chinese captain was in line with Japanese laws, and there was no need to take recourse to diplomacy because the Japanese Government did not have territorial disputes with China over the Diaoyu Islands.

21.Tokyo’s explanation shows its wild ambition to take forcible possession of the Diaoyu Islands in steps and this is open defiance of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

22.The Chinese Foreign Ministry and  the Chinese Embassy in Japan have demanded immediate release of the ship and its crew and guarantee for their safe passage back home. The Chinese Government is taking all necessary steps to protect Chinese people’s life and property.

23.Japan infringed upon China’s sovereignty when its patrol vessels intercepted and inspected the Chinese fishing boat, and arrested its captain. Japan should know that it would set a bad example if it charges the Chinese trawler’s captain according to Japanese laws.

24.China should intensify its patrol off the Diaoyu Islands to protect Chinese fishermen, too, and it should never compromise its sovereignty and integrity.

—-Taken from an article published by the “China Daily” on September 10.The author,  Hu Feiyue, is a special guest commentator for “China Daily”.

25.Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo told Japan early September 12 morning to make a “wise political resolution” and immediately release the Chinese fishermen and fishing boat its coast guard seized earlier this week. Dai made the remarks when he summoned the Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa in the wee hours. He was the highest-ranking Chinese official to make a response after the fishing boat and its crew were seized.  “Dai expressed solemnly (to the Japanese Ambassador) the Chinese government’s grave concerns and its serious and just position,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement. Dai warned Japan not to make a wrong judgment on the situation and urged it to make a “wise political resolution” and immediately release the fishermen and return the boat. China decided on September 10 night to postpone a negotiation with Japan on the East China Sea issue, which had been scheduled for mid September, after a Japanese court ruled a 10-day detention through Sept.19 against the captain despite protests from China. Previously, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on September 10 summoned the Japanese Ambassador and demanded Japan immediately and unconditionally release the boat and all the crew, saying China’s determination to defend its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and the interests of the Chinese people was unswerving. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on September 10 night when announcing the postponement of the talks that the Japanese side has “ignored China’s repeated solemn representations and firm opposition, and obstinately decided to put the Chinese captain under the so-called judiciary procedures.” She said Japan’s acts have violated the law of nations and basic international common sense, and are “ridiculous, illegal and invalid.” “Japan will reap as it has sown, if it continues to act recklessly,” Jiang warned.

–Xinhua of September 12.

26. “The conflict over Diaoyu, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, is complicated and unsettled. The islands are claimed by both China and Japan, but in effect are controlled by Japan. Fishing boats from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan occasionally enter into what Japan considers its “territorial waters,” and are often chased off or even sunk after a forceful collision. This is a highly dangerous maneuver. With the public spotlight increasingly focused on maritime conflicts between the two countries, Japan’s irresponsible moves may eventually set fire to the Sino-Japanese relationship, or even force a military showdown. China did not encourage or instigate its people to cruise into the Diaoyu waters. Japan should also refrain from overreacting to civilian boats occasionally entering this area. The use of force is a rude move by the Japanese authorities, which directly threatened the Chinese crew’s safety. These actions send a strong signal to the Chinese public, and will definitely draw condemnation and protest. If it were Chinese naval boats smashing into Japanese fishing boats in some disputed area, how would the Japanese public react? Many Japanese have called for a tougher stance with China in recent years. It appears the Japanese Government might be listening. With their current power and roles in East Asia, the two countries have no reason to be intimidated by one another. As a result, when dealing with a conflict, one should consider the impact on the other side. Japan should understand that patrolling the disputed waters does not legalize its claim. China’s claim over the Diaoyu Islands will never change, as was reiterated yesterday by China’s foreign ministry. Japan’s strategy in its southwest is changing, and watching China’s every step seems to have become its focus. Deploying troops to its Southwest Islands, and holding military exercises near the Diaoyu Islands demonstrated this. The military maneuvers are contradictory to the claim of Japan’s various administrations to make the East China Sea a sea of peace. If the Japanese Government chooses to stand with some hawkish activists instead of trying to solve disputes with China through talks, the East China Sea is in danger. Japanese authorities announced last night it would arrest the captain of the Chinese fishing boat on suspicion of violating Japan’s fishing laws. Japan needs to take care of the Chinese crew and publicize the result of its investigation as soon as possible. China also has the right to participate in solving this matter.”

—Editorial in the “Global Times” of September 8.


27.US Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said on  September 9 that aircraft carrier US George Washington will be sent to waters off the Korean Peninsula to participate in war games with South Korea. “The US George Washington will indeed exercise in the Yellow Sea,” Geoff Morrell said. China has voiced objection to any military drills off its coast. The drills were postponed from its original schedule on Sept. 5-9.However, Morrell didn’t give a specific timetable, stressing that it’s not an affront to China, but rather a warning to Pyongyang. “We have said that will take place. I don’t think we have determined a date yet, but rest assured, the George Washington will operate in the Yellow Sea, as it does in other international waters,” he said.

—  Xinhua, September 10.

28.”The Pentagon has sent mixed messages to Beijing on Sino-American military ties. On Sept 10, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told a news conference that Beijing appeared ready to host US Defense Secretary Robert Gates for talks later this year. A day before that, Morrell had said an US aircraft carrier would take part in a joint US-South Korea military drill in the Yellow Sea later in the year. The first message indicates the US wants to maintain normal military ties with China. But the second contradicts it. America has turned a deaf ear to China’s security concerns, ignoring its repeated warning that the presence of a US aircraft carrier – irrespective of the purpose – in the waters off its eastern coast poses a threat to its security. The US decision to hold another military drill in the Yellow Sea shows its lack of consistency and sincerity in addressing security issues with China. Since military ties are an important part of bilateral relations, they cannot be allowed to suffer setbacks. China, on its part, has said many times this month that it is willing to improve military ties with the US. The ball is in Washington’s court now. It should stop sending mixed messages and make efforts to build a sound climate for early resumption of bilateral military cooperation.”

—“ China Daily” of September 11.


29.ALMATY, Kazakhstan – Top military officers from China, Russia and three Central Asian nations vowed on September 10 to work together to fight terrorism, following recent riots in Kyrgyzstan and at a time of challenges in Afghanistan.

30.Chiefs of General Staff from the militaries of the five countries, which included Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, made the remarks after announcing the start of a joint anti-terror military exercise in southern Kazakhstan.

31.Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), told reporters China would use its most advanced domestically produced equipment during the drill. Chen said the hardware was featured during the parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of New China on Oct 1, last year.

32.”Except for the navy and strategic missiles that are not involved here, the drill basically includes the most advanced equipment made in China,” Chen said.

33.However, “the political and strategic significance of the drill goes much further than its military significance,” Chen added, stressing that the exercise is not targeted at any country or region but at terrorism, separatism and extremism.

34.The security situation in Central Asia and bordering countries is complex, with terrorism, separatism and extremism a widespread issue.

35.In July 2009, riots led by such groups in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, claimed the lives of at least 197 people and left more than 1,700 injured.

36.This year, Kyrgyzstan has seen months of turmoil and bloodshed since the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in early April.

37.”For Russia, the terrorist activities are real. Terrorist events in Russia’s Caucasus have proved that,” said Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian military.

38.A suicide bomber set off a powerful blast near a busy market in the North Caucasus on September 9, killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens.

39.The drill is the seventh of its kind under the framework of the SCO but the first time SCO nations have taken heavy weapons into Kazakhstan. The country has been preparing for the event for the past year.

40.Set against the background of terrorism triggering a regional crisis, the Peace Mission 2010 drill on Kazakhstan’s Matybulak testing grounds involves about 5,000 troops and will continue until Sept 25.

41.China sent about 1,000 troops to the country by train on a journey of nearly 5,000 km that lasted almost a week.

42.Russia and Kazakhstan each sent more than 1,000 troops while Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan each dispatched more than 100.

43.The Chinese participants are largely from the Beijing Military Command and an air force combat group will fly directly from China to join the exercise.

44.After two weeks of joint training drills, Defense Ministers from the five nations will oversee the final drill.

45.Li Shuyin, an expert on Central Asia and Russian military studies with the Academy of Military Science of the PLA, said the SCO drills have enabled all of China’s four military commands in the North to cooperate with foreign militaries.

46.The Jinan Military Command took part in the 2005 drill, while the Lanzhou command was involved in the 2007 gathering and the Shenyang command in 2009.

47.One of the highlights of Peace Mission 2010 will be the nighttime shooting of targets by personnel in helicopters, Li said, because it will be the first time it has been done during SCO drills.

48.Wang Haiyun, an expert in international strategy, said SCO member nations are mindful of developments in Afghanistan.

“We have to be prepared,” said the former Military Attache to Russia.

49.While the five militaries have not had to fight a united war against regional terrorists, the drills have a role in deterring terrorists and keeping the situation relatively stable, he said.

—–China Daily of September 11.

(Collated by Mr B Raman,

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: )

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