Saturday, October 2, 2010



The war of nerves and words between China and Japan over the ownership of the Senkaku Islands (the Chinese call it the Diayou Islands) in the East China Sea continues despite the Japanese release of the Captain of a Chinese fishing trawler whom they had arrested on September 8,2010, for criminal trespass into the Japanese territorial waters around the Japanese-administered islands.

2.The Chinese are yet to release one of the four Japanese employees of a construction company whom they had arrested apparently in retaliation for the Japanese arrest of the fishing trawler's Captain. The abrupt Japanese release of the Captain after having initially given evidence of its intention to prosecute him followed the Chinese arrest of the four Japanese employees.

3.Rightly or wrongly, this has given rise to a perception in Japan that its Prime Minister Naoto Kan has let himself be bullied by China. The whole incident as it has been handled by the Kan Government has been seen by sections of the media and public in Japan as a humiliation of Japan by China.As if this perceived humiliation is not enough, Bejing is insisting that before the relations between the two countries could be normalised, Japan should apologise for the "illegal" arrest of the Captain and for his "wrongful" detention.If Mr.Kan concedes this demand, it would amount to his admitting indirectly that the group of islands is Chinese and not Japanese territory.

4.There is disappointment in Japan over the failure of the Barack Obama Administration to come out strongly in support of Japan in this war of nerves with China. The US recognises the Senkaku as Japanese-administered since 1972, but has not recognised Japanese claims of sovereignty over the Islands. At the same time, there is no denial of the interpretation that the protective provisions of the US-Japan security treaty cover the Senkaku islands too.

5. The Japanese were hoping that the US would come out as strongly against Chinese machinations in respect of the East China Sea islands as Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, did in respect of the South China Sea islands during her intervention at a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi earlier this year. Surprisingly and inexplicably, the US has contented itself with statements merely calling for a peaceful resolution of the Sino-Japanese differences.

6. Attention has not been drawn by analysts to the blatant double standards in Chinese diplomacy as seen from its policy towards India on the Kashmir issue and its policy towards Japan on the Senkaku issue. The Chinese have been saying that the recent changes in favour of Pakistan in their stance on Kashmir is an individual issue which should not be allowed to have an impact on the over-all relations between India and China. But, they have refused to treat the arrest of the Chinese Captain by the Japanese as an individual issue which should not affect the over-all Sino-Japanese relations.

7. They have made the entire Sino-Japanese relations a hostage to this single issue. They have allegedly stopped the export of rare earth elements to Japan on which the Japanese high-tech industries are dependent. They have suspended high-level contacts between the two countries. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao declined to meet the Japanese Prime Minister when the two were in New York last week for the UN General Assembly session. Beijing has discouraged its tourists from visiting Japan. It has cancelled the visit of Japanese delegations to the Shanghai Expo.

8. The only factors that have acted as a check on the Chinese bullying of Japan are Beijing's uncertainty over the implications of the US-Japan security treaty in so far as the Senkaku group is concerned and fears that if Beijing continued to over-react it might provide fresh oxygen to Japanese militarists.

9. In a statement before the Japanese Parliament on October 1, Prime Minister Kan said: "The rise of China has been remarkable in recent years,but we are concerned about its strengthening defence capabilities without transparency and accelerating maritime activities spanning from the Indian Ocean to the East China Sea. The Senkaku islands are an integral part of our country, historically and under international law.Good relations with China - Japan's largest trading partner - are vital to both countries, but China must act as a responsible member of the international community. Japan needed to adopt more active foreign and defence policies to deal with uncertainty and instability that exist in areas surrounding our country."

10. His statement followed remarks by China's Foreign Ministry spokesman the previous day urging Japan to "stop making irresponsible remarks and safeguard the larger interests of bilateral relations with concrete actions". The spokesman, Jiang Yu, said: "We are willing to resolve our disputes through friendly negotiations but the Chinese Government's and people's will and resolve are unswerving on issues involving China's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

11. The regional "uncertainty and instability" consequent upon China's over-assertiveness in matters relating to territorial disputes should be of concern not only to Japan, but also to India, Vietnam and the Philippines. India's concerns over its long-pending border dispute with China and over the stepped-up Chinese support to Pakistan in the nuclear field and in the construction of road and rail infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan are legitimate. So are the concerns of Vietnam and the Philippines regarding the Chinese intentions and capabilities in the South China Sea.

12. The perceptions and concerns of India, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines relating to China should bring them together to discuss among themselves as to how to counter the over-assertiveness of China without creating a confrontational situation and without damaging the positive dimensions of their respective bilateral relations with China. Their discussions among themselves should cover the strong as well as the weak points of China--- the strong points against which they should protect themselves and the weak points which they could exploit.

13. An editorial carried by the Chinese Communist Party controlled "Global Times" on September 21 under the title "Finding the Achilles' Heel of Japan" (annexed below) said: "Provoking China comes with a heavy price tag. Finding Japan's soft spot will help end its hostile policies against China during its rise."

14. There is a need for India, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines to find the soft spots of China. Pakistan could turn out to be one such soft spot. India knows Gilgit-Baltistan and the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang better than the Chinese. North Korea, where a new leadership is emerging, could be another. The Japanese know North Korea as well as the Chinese do. India, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines should make overtures to the new, emerging leadership in North Korea and help it to free North Korea of its linkages with China and develop its prosperity. This is the time for India to seriously consider establishing contacts with the new North Korean leadership and invite Kim Jong-Un, the heir-apparent to Kim Jong-il, to India.

15. New Delhi's Look East policy as it has evolved till now has over-focussed on our relations with the ASEAN. The relations with the ASEAN countries continue to be important. It is time to give an East Asia dimension too to our Look East policy. (3-10-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )


Editorial carried by the "Global Times" on September 21,2010


When a diplomatic conflict breaks out between China and Japan, China often lacks sophisticated countermeasures to use against its neighbor. Strong public sentiment and vague counteractions may cost more with less effect.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have plunged recently due to Japan's diplomatic recklessness. It is still unknown how this latest conflict over the Diaoyu Islands will end.

China needs a more focused effort in studying and analyzing Japan, which has inflicted great suffering upon China throughout history. For centuries, Japan has put China under the microscope to study its strong and weak spots, but China has not found the Achilles' heel of Japan.

China's Japan policy has been based on friendly ties stressing warm public communication since the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two in 1972. But the public emotions of Japanese society toward China have altered significantly recently. It seems that conflicts originating from Japan are continually escalating. China's responses mostly only deal with short-term solutions or resolutions.

Now is the time to seriously examine Japan. It should be apparent by now that China will be forced to endure long-term conflicts with Japan, and emphasizing only friendly relations is not prudent. In addition, China needs to be certain of Japan's soft spots for clearly targeted reactions.

The pain has to be piercing. Japanese politicians need to understand the consequences - votes will be lost, and Japanese companies have to be aware of the loss of business involved. Japanese citizens will feel the burden due to the downturn in the economy. China's domestic law, business regulations and consumers can all be maneuvered.

There is a lingering question in China: Why do hawkish Japanese politicians who are obviously against China emerge one after another without China provoking Japan? The claim that the situation is a result of the Japanese becoming disillusioned over China's fast growth is not a convincing argument. Deeper explanations need to be explored and key organizations and figures have to be investigated.

China needs to think very hard about the motives of Japan and its government, and learn to counter Japan's moves with effective diplomatic measures. It is time now to include strong countermeasures into China's foreign policy toward Japan.

Provoking China comes with a heavy price tag. Finding Japan's soft spot will help end its hostile policies against China during its rise.



Twenty-seven oil tankers carrying diesel and other fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan and 14 private vehicles were burnt to ashes following rocket attacks by unidentified persons in the early hours of the morning of October 1,2010, near a petrol pump station on the Shikarpur-Sukkur National Highway in Sindh. The drivers had stopped there for rest during the night. The vehicles did not have any police or military escort. The oil tankers were on their way to Quetta from Karachi. There were 37 tankers in the convoy of which 10 had left before the convoy was attacked. No group has claimed responsibility for the incident. In another incident, two persons, including the driver of an oil tanker, were burnt alive in an attack on NATO tankers near Khuzdar.

2. This is the fourth attack by unidentified elements on NATO logistic convoys in Sindh this year. Of the previous three incidents, two were reported from Karachi and one on the road from Karachi to Balochistan. Though none of these incidents has resulted in a successful investigation and prosecution by the Police, the following organisations were suspected: the Pakistani Taliban known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which is an associate of Al Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans and the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (F).Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Amir of the JUI (F), is known as one of the mentors of Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Afghan Taliban. He also used to be close to Osama bin Laden. The close links of the JUI (F) with Al Qaeda and the two Talibans have not prevented President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party from taking its help for forming the coalition Government in Islamabad.

3.Karachi has more Pashtuns than Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunwa. They have prospered in the road transport business. They largely support the secular Awami National Party, which is the head of the coalition Government in Khyber Pakhtunkwa. It is also a member of the ruling coalition in Islamabad. The last two years have seen an influx of many internally displaced Pakistani Pashtuns from Swat and other areas of the Malakand Division of Khyber Pakhtunkwa into Sindh. While some of them have settled down in Karachi, others have settled down in other towns of Sindh such as Sukkur. These Pashtuns are largely supporters of the JUI (F). When the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Mr.Altaf Hussein alleges a creeping Talibanisation of Karachi it has in mind the influx of the internally displaced Pashtuns. It suspects that the ANP has also been supporting them. Hence, the frequent clashes between the MQM and the ANP despite both being secular parties.

4. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 55 attacks on NATO logistic convoys proceeding from Karachi to Afghanistan either via Balochistan or via Khyber Pakhtunkwa. Twenty-two of these attacks took place in September. The steep increase in attacks during September coincided with a steep increase in Drone (pilotless plane) strikes carried out by the US in North and South Waziristan. September also saw an increase in anti-US feelings in Pakistan despite the generous US assistance for flood relief following the conviction and sentencing by a US court of Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated Pakistani scientist, on a charge of attempted murder of some US military personnel in Afghanistan. She is from Karachi and there was a huge demonstration in support of her in Karachi on September 24. The alleged helicopter raids by NATO forces into Pakistani territory during September while pursuing some fleeing Taliban insurgents also contributed to the anger against the NATO.

5.September also saw a bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury taking up for enquiries the role of the NATO logistic convoys following allegations that these convoys have not been paying customs duty to the Pakistan Government, that nearly 10,000 NATO containers have gone missing, that some containers transported by the trucks hired by the NATO were found to contain alcohol and that there has been considerable smuggling by Pakistani intermediaries associated with the transport of NATO's logistic supplies.

6. As a result of these developments, the anti-US anger is getting increasingly focussed on the logistic convoys of the NATO. The feeling in the Pakistan Army that the US-led NATO forces cannot win the war in Afghanistan without the logistic transport support by Pakistan has given it a confidence that the NATO will not act against it for allowing the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and its associates in its territory. it has suspended some of the convoys near the Afghan border following the NATO copter raids into its territory.

7. The US and its NATO allies face a dilemma. Despite three alternate supply routes now available through the Central Asian Republics, they are still dependent to a considerable extent on the transport movement through Pakistan for keeping their forces fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan sustained. Their dependence on the Pakistan Army reduces their ability to exercise pressure on it to force it to act against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in its territory. Unless they are able to exercise pressure on the Pakistan army, the attacks on the NATO and Afghan forces from sanctuaries in Pakistani territory will continue.

8. However, because of the alternate routes through the CARs being developed by them and their ability for air-lift from Bahrain, they are able to manage despite the increasing attacks on the convoys in Pakistani territory. When the US and other NATO forces start thinning down their presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army (ANA) would not enjoy these benefits. The Pakistan Army and the Taliban acting in tandem would be able to choke the ANA by interfering with its logistic supplies. Even if the US plays a diminishing role in ground operations after July 2011, it cannot reduce its logistics role in support of the ANA. Otherwise, the ANA could collapse.

9. How to keep the supplies flowing to the ANA in the face of Pakistani and Taliban attempts to stop them is a question that deserves the immediate attention of the Pentagon strategists. (2-10-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )