China World Leader in Fuel Ice Exploitation Technology


World largest and deepest oil rig Blue Whale I. Global Times photo

SCMP says in its report “The promising new energy source Beijing is tapping from the South China Sea and why it matters” today, “With its successful collection of methane gas from icy methane hydrate, China joined other nations exploring a potential and abundant clean energy resource”.

“Under the China-claimed waters in the South China Sea, mainland scientists found icy deposits with energy content matching 70 billion tons of oil. That was half the country’s total oil and natural gas reserves on land, according to a People’s Daily article on Thursday, says SCMP. “The test production was carried out by Blue Whale 1, the world’s largest and deepest drilling rig. Built last year, the domestically designed and constructed platform could operate in almost any waters in the world,”

According to Europe’s OffshoreEnergyToday.com, with an operational depth up to 3.658 meters and drilling depth to 15,240 meters, Bluewhale I can operate in all global waters. It is the ninth deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig delivered by China’s CIMC Raffles.

Global Times says in its report “China is world leader in fuel ice test exploitation technology, achieving stable gas production for 8 consecutive days” today that test exploitation of fuel ice has always been a difficult issue in the world. The US and Canada began dealing with the issue earlier, but as they have rich energy resources, they have not made real efforts. Like China that seriously depends on energy import, Japan has made great efforts but failed yet to achieve continuous test exploitation.

China has developed brand new technology for the test exploitation. Its success perhaps also due to its use of Blue Whale I, a much better equipment than the ship Japan uses in its text exploitation.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP and Global Times’ reports, full text of SCMP’s report can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2094906/promising-new-energy-source-beijing-tapping-south-china and that of Global times in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/strategysituation/2017-05/10695802.html.


Japan protests to China over drone flight near disputed islets


Japan on Thursday lodged a protest with China after four Chinese coastguard vessels entered what Tokyo considers its territorial waters near disputed East China Sea islets and a drone-like object flew near one ship, the Japanese government said.

It was the first such flight near the islands witnessed by Japanese officials, although Thursday’s incident takes to 13 the number of intrusions this year by Chinese coastguard ships in the contested waters, Japan’s coastguard said.

Japan and China have long been at loggerheads over the tiny, uninhabited islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. They are controlled by Japan but claimed also by China.

Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, protested to the Chinese embassy in Tokyo by telephone.

“The Senkaku islands are Japan’s inherent territory and the entry into the territorial waters by the Chinese government ships is absolutely unacceptable,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

“On top of that, there appears to have been a flight of a drone. We lodged a stern protest against this unilateral escalation of the situation by China.”

The Chinese embassy responded to the Japanese protest by reiterating “China’s own stance” on the islands, the official added.

In a brief statement on its website, China’s State Oceanic Administration confirmed that four coast guard vessels had been patrolling by the islands, but made no mention of any drone.

China routinely rejects Japanese criticism of such patrols, saying its ships have every right to operate in what China calls its territorial waters.

(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Japan protests to China over drone flight near disputed islets”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Japan risks isolation in the Asia-Pacific


Jean-Pierre Lehmann

May 16, 2017, 5:00 am SGT

Tokyo needs to make peace with its neighbours, especially those that were its former victims.

I spent March and April at Hong Kong University teaching my course on globalisation and Asia. This coincided with a number of events and developments in this fast-moving and “Vuca” – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – world, including the Mar-a-Lago summit that was much discussed in class. As I pointed out to the students (roughly half of whom are from China), the good news is that Mr Donald Trump does not seem to be keeping his campaign promises!

The contrast between the Sinophobic offensive campaign rhetoric and recent developments in the evolution of the China-US relationship – “the most important bilateral relationship, bar none”, as we are often reminded – border on the hallucinatory.

The atmosphere in Mar-a-Lago was more than just cordial, sweetened by Ms Ivanka Trump’s children Arabella and Joseph reciting poetry and singing a traditional folk song in Mandarin for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan. This was an unexpected scenario!

That was on April 9. Last Thursday, hardly a month later, media headlines reported the White House hailing a concluded US-China trade deal, according to which the Chinese will open their market in a dozen areas, including credit cards, natural gas and beef. In this spirit of cooperation, Washington sent a senior delegation to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit that ended yesterday, which until then it had been intent on boycotting. There are noises about China engaging in the Trump Rebuild America Infrastructure Plan, while in turn the US may become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Thus, far from engaging in trade war, as many (including this author) had predicted, the US and China appear to be making trade love! Of course, in a Vuca world, everything is possible and this could be the proverbial calm before the storm. For now, things are certainly interesting and encouraging.

The sunshine extends beyond trade. In campaign rhetoric, in his inaugural speech, and in a number of caustic remarks (and tweets!) since then, Mr Trump had intoned that his most poisonous bone of contention with China was North Korea. To that end, he had sought to engage his Asia-Pacific allies South Korea and Japan and impose on the former the US Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-ballistic missile system. This was bitterly opposed by Beijing, which saw it as a means to spy on China. In the meantime, another twist in the Asia-Pacific narrative occurred with the impeachment of the hawkish former South Korean president Park Geun Hye and the election of the far more dovish Moon Jae In who has announced he is sending a senior delegation to Beijing to seek a peaceful resolution of the Thaad dispute.

WHERE IS JAPAN?

It is too early to down the cup of Baijiu and shout “Ganbei”, as things could still go terribly wrong, but the tale does illustrate once again a point I have been frequently stressing, including in this column: Japan is out of sync with what is happening in the world generally and in its Asia-Pacific neighbourhood especially.

The Japanese narrative of the period from roughly 1895 to 1995 is one of outstanding success. From feudal Asian backward isolation, Japan, alone among non-Western nations, became both a major industrial and military imperial power. It lost World War II, but this seemed to be a temporary hiatus in its rise. Less than two decades after its devastating defeat, it astonished the world with its “economic miracle” – marking the first time, to my knowledge, that the terms “economic” and “miracle” were made contiguous!

Throughout this century of brilliant – even if at times extremely bloody – ascent, Japan never had any Asian allies: only Asian colonies! It had three successive Western allies: Imperial Britain from 1902 to 1922 (during which it colonised Korea); Nazi Germany from 1938 to 1945 (during which it waged implacable war on China and most of South-east Asia, with tens of millions of deaths, including civilians); the US since 1952, during which it has been able to perform the economic miracle while riding on American security coat-tails.

Its defeat in World War II notwithstanding, it was able to retain its leadership position in Asia by virtue of having been transformed from the US’ most hated enemy to its most pampered protege. Japanese “foreign” policy, especially vis-a-vis Asia, was decided in Washington, not in Tokyo. Though denied an active military role by virtue of its US-imposed “peace Constitution”, it supported the US in the Korean and Indo-Chinese (Vietnam and Laos) wars by providing logistic support, as well as R&R (rest and recuperation) facilities for American soldiers, and repair and maintenance facilities for combat ships and planes.

Tokyo also followed to the letter US instructions in refusing to recognise Beijing as the legitimate government of China, opting instead for the renegade government of Chiang Kai Shek in Taipei. It was only after Richard Nixon’s historic visit to Mao Zedong in 1972 – taking Tokyo totally by surprise – that then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka sheepishly hastened to Beijing in his footsteps.

In the 1980s, as the Japanese economy soared and the American economy plummeted and the relationship was marked by quite acute “trade friction” (boeki masatsu), when the Japanese economy was seen as overtaking the US economy, there was a certain xenophobic resentment of the US, illustrated by publications such as The Japan That Can Say “No” by the late co-founder of Sony Akio Morita and former governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara, and by the coinage of the term “kenbei” – contempt for America.

ABE-TRUMP ROMANCE

Since 1995 – the year of the Great Hanshin earthquake – things have been going downhill for Japan: The economy has stagnated in a deflationary spiral, there was the Fukushima nuclear disaster (2011), and China’s gross domestic product surpassed Japan’s in 2010.

For the previous 100 years – 1895 was the year Japan defeated China in the first Sino-Japanese war – Japan had dominated China, a country for which many Japanese felt contempt. It is for that reason, among others, that Japan never felt compelled to acknowledge, let alone apologise for, all the crimes against humanity it perpetrated in China. Former Tokyo governor Ishihara, to cite only one example among many, stated the Nanjing massacre never occurred!

Since coming to office in 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, notwithstanding his nationalism, has been fawning vis-a-vis Washington and used that as a rampart to constrain China. He enthusiastically supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership in what was seen in Tokyo as fundamentally a US-Japan-led bilateral deal to ostracise China.

He followed the American lead in being the only major Western or Asian economy not to become a member of the Beijing-led AIIB. He paid an official visit to Pearl Harbour – nice, but not necessary as Pearl Harbour was not a crime against humanity – while still refusing to visit Nanjing. Japan was not represented at the BRI summit.

When Mr Trump was elected, Mr Abe was the first head of state to go to pay tribute – in the form of a gold putter – and bask in the balmy breeze of Mar-a-Lago. Mr Trump’s bombastically cacophonic anti-Chinese tirades were undoubtedly sweet music to his ears.

Now, suddenly, unexpectedly, but strongly, the winds have changed. As the Xi-Trump romance seems to blossom, including through bilateral trade deals, participation in the BRI summit, probable membership of AIIB, Tokyo stands out pathetically as the jilted lover left holding the empty can.

It’s an interesting spectacle to watch, but also quite distressing and in many ways alarming. The winds may change again and blow in Tokyo’s direction. But in whatever direction it blows, it is an ill wind that bodes potential danger.

As a Frenchman born in 1945, my generation – in contrast to my father’s (World War II) and to my grandfather’s (World War I) – has lived in serene peace. There are a variety of factors that have determined this situation, but only one really matters: Germany has made peace with and unconditionally expressed apologies to its former victims.

There will be no solid durable peace in the Asia-Pacific until and unless Japan makes peace and unconditionally apologises to its former victims, China and Korea especially. It would be splendid if the current winds could make Tokyo wake up and face this reality. The peace and prosperity of future Asian generations depend on it.

•The writer is emeritus professor of international political economy at IMD business school, with campuses in Lausanne and Singapore, and visiting professor at Hong Kong University.

Source: Straits Times “Japan risks isolation in the Asia-Pacific”

Note: This is Straits Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China’s Vital Success in Its OBOR


Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

In its report “Pakistan signs nearly $500 million in China deals at Silk Road summit” yesterday, Reuters quotes Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif as saying to Chinese President, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a core component of your visionary initiative of the ‘One Belt-One Road'”.

In my post “The Conundrum of China’s New Silk Road Plan” on April 20, I said that China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) aims at establishing alternate land routes for its national security and expanding its trade with other countries. China is not rich enough to share the bounty of its economic development and to fund infrastructure gaps irrelevant to its national security or economic growth.

Sharif is wise to see the vital strategic importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in China’s OBOR so that he describes it as the core of Xi Jinping’s OBOR initiative.

The Corridor will facilitate Pakistan’s and Western China’s economic development and strengthen China’s and Pakistan’s defense in their border with India. Moreover, China will have a shortcut in its trade with the Middle East through the corridor.

Due to the strategic importance, Xi and Sharif signed $500 million deals for CPEC in addition to the $57 billion already pledged for its projects. Pakistani troops are active in ensuring the safety of those projects due to their importance to Pakistan’s and China’s national security.

In fact, the core projects for OBOR are but those in Pakistan, Central Asia and Russia for China’s trade to the Middle East and Europe, especially the access to oil and gas resources there.

It is Xi’s wise idea to describe OBOR as a global initiative involving lots of countries that in fact are not along China’s Silk Road in order to attract other countries’ investment and construction industries to the projects that benefit China. Japan and South Korea are interested in the infrastructures in Southeast Asia, which though is included in China’s OBOR initiative, is really not along China’s Silk Road as China’s trade routes to the Middle East, Europe and Africa through Southeast Asia have yet to go through the Indian Ocean with the risk of being cut by not only US but also Indian navy.

However, the infrastructure developed by whatever countries China, Japan, South Korea or others will facilitate rich overseas Chinese’ business in the region and thus expands China’s influence there.

As for the US, Japan and South Korea’s competition with China in developing infrastructures in Central Asia, China certainly welcomes such competition as the infrastructures will first of all be exploited by China in its trade and investment there. I do not see the wisdom in such competition as the infrastructures are in countries under Russian military dominance.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-pakistan-idUSKBN1890KD.


China-Japan Ties Problems with History, Attractive in Reality


Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie (R) and Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso shake hands during their bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting, in Yokohama, Japan, Saturday, May 6, 2017. REUTERS/Koji Sasahara/Pool

In its report “Japan, China to boost financial ties amid protectionist, North Korean tensions” yesterday, Reuters seems optimistic about the future of China-Japan ties.

Strange enough, the two historical enemies are interested in improving their ties.

Chinese people hate Japan for its war crimes in World War II that caused lots of misery to China, but Japan are now their favorite tourist destinations and Japanese goods are popular in China for their good quality.

Japanese public surveys find that of all foreign people, Japanese dislike Chinese most but Chinese tourists are welcome as they are rich and willing to spend.

China is certainly interested in Japanese technology and market for China’s labor-intensive goods, but Japan is even more interested in China’s huge market especially after US President Trump has scrapped TPP. Trump is now improving US ties with China for its huge market and has thus turned the US from Japan’s ally in containing China into Japan’s fearful competitor for Chinese market. No wonder, Japan has more earnest desire to improve its ties with China now.

In the above Reuters’ photo, you can see the big joy in Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso’s face but no obvious joy in his Chinese counterpart’s.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be found at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-adb-asia-japan-china-idUSKBN18203U.


Asia weighs risk and reward in Trump ‘bromance’ with China’s Xi


FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

By Ben Blanchard and Philip Wen | BEIJING Fri Apr 28, 2017 | 12:44pm EDT

U.S. President Donald Trump’s warm words for Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as a “good man” will reassure Beijing that he finally understands the importance of good ties, but risks leaving America’s regional allies puzzling over where they fit into the new order.

The budding relationship between the two leaders appeared highly unlikely when Trump was lambasting China on the campaign trail for stealing U.S. jobs with unfair trade polices.

In December, after winning office, he upended protocol by taking a call from the president of self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as its own territory.

A few months on, after meeting Xi at his Florida residence earlier in April, Trump appears to have done a complete volte-face, praising Xi for trying hard to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea and rebuffing Taiwan’s president’s suggestion of another call.

But the big question is whether the rapprochement will last. Trump also expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign, but that relationship has since chilled.

Chinese officials will no doubt be pleased by Trump’s overtures, said Jia Qingguo, a leading academic who has advised the government on foreign policy.

“People will say that the only thing we know for sure about Donald Trump’s administration is uncertainty and unpredictability,” said Jia, dean of the School of International Studies at the elite Peking University.

“But judging from what he has been saying and doing, it’s quite reassuring as far as China is concerned. Certainly I think people have developed more positive views about the Donald Trump administration here and we have a lot of expectations that we can work together constructively.”

For China’s neighbors, it is a little more complicated.

On one level, a healthy relationship between the world’s two biggest economies suits everyone.

“It’s hugely positive that there’s been a reasonably constructive start to the bilateral dialogue between those two countries,” Tom Lembong, Indonesia’s investment chief and close aide to President Joko Widodo, told Reuters.

But long-time allies may also be wondering just how far Washington still has their back.

Shashank Joshi, senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said countries such as Japan and South Korea could lose influence if Trump’s focus on enlisting Xi’s help over North Korea creates a “sort of U.S.-China G2”.

“There are competing instincts within Trump pushing him in opposite directions,” said Joshi.

“His nationalism pushes him towards competition with China, but his deal-making instinct, his openness to personal influence, and his affinity for strongmen pushes him towards Xi, especially if he can show results on North Korea.”

But Trump, who has long touted his deal-making ability as a real estate developer, has also made clear his approach to China is transactional. He is so focused on securing cooperation against North Korea, his top national security priority, that he has even publicly promised to go easier on Beijing over critical trade issues in return.

Some of Trump’s aides doubt, however, that China will do enough to restrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmers. Some experts believe the thaw between the economic rivals could be fleeting if Xi fails to come through on the North Korean issue.

SOUTH CHINA SEA

Singapore-based security expert Ian Store said he believed Trump’s remarks would be closely scrutinized by Southeast Asian leaders looking for signs of an emerging Asia strategy.

“Most would welcome a calm, co-operative relationship between China and the U.S., but they will be deeply concerned at anything that looks like Trump will give Xi a free hand over the South China Sea dispute, or elsewhere,” said Storey, who is based at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

The administration has so far sent out mixed rhetorical signals over the hotly disputed South China Sea. China’s extensive claims to the vital global trade route are challenged by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan.

The U.S. has increased naval deployments in the South China Sea in recent years amid roiling tensions and extensive island-building by China but, under Trump, its warships have yet to challenge China with a so-called freedom of navigation patrol close to disputed islets and reefs.

A Trump administration official has told Reuters the United States wants to avoid antagonizing China on sensitive issues like the South China Sea for now while waiting to see how far Beijing will go tightening the screws on North Korea. But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this did not mean abandoning efforts to counter China’s growing military and economic might in the Asia-Pacific region.

Admiral Harry Harris, the chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the U.S. Congress this week that he expected to be carrying out such patrols in the South China Sea soon, and repeated earlier concerns at China’s continued militarization of the area.

“Given Trump’s newfound friendship with Xi Jinping, it might make it significantly harder for the Pacific Command to get its plans approved for the next freedom of navigation patrols,” Storey said.

UNPREDICTABLE

In Japan, often at odds with China over what Beijing views as Tokyo’s failure to properly atone for World War Two, a Japanese government source sought to downplay any impact the burgeoning Trump-Xi friendship might have on Japan-U.S. ties.

“Trump’s softened approach to Xi may seem to be some kind of shift in the balance of power but security cooperation between Japan and the United States is extremely stable and has been confirmed in the face of the current crisis situation in North Korea,” the source told Reuters.

The tricky issue of Taiwan has not gone away either, and is one of several that could upset relations.

Democratic Taiwan has many friends in Washington who will not want to allow autocratic China to get its way with the island, and the United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

Wang Dong, associate professor of international studies at Peking University, said China would remain on alert for another change of direction by Trump.

“There are reasons for optimism, but we are still being realistic. There are still issues out there, from Taiwan to the South China Sea,” he said.

One Beijing-based Western diplomat told Reuters that, while China might be pleased to see Trump hang ally South Korea out to dry with his criticism of their free trade deal and demand Seoul pay $1 billion to host a U.S. anti-missile system China has strongly opposed, China should not have any illusions.

“He’s so unpredictable who knows what he’ll say next week or next month?” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “His mood turns on a pin.”

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Linda Sieg in Toyko; Kanupriya Kapoor and Karen Lema in Manila; Sanjeev Miglani in New Delhi; Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson and Frances Kerry)

Source: Reuters “Asia weighs risk and reward in Trump ‘bromance’ with China’s Xi”

Note: This is Reuters’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Japanese Abe’s Wisdom to Overcome His Anti-China Syndrome


Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with the chairman of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council Toshihiro Nikai during the China-Japan friendship exchange meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Usually in a traditional strict Asian family, a son is not close to his father but very close to his grandfather. Japanese Prime Minister loves dearly his grandfather who China regards as a war criminal that has played a major role in invading China.

American presidential election loser Hillary Clinton was stupid in giving US ex-president Obama the advice to contain China with TPP that hurts the US while hurting China and US pivot to China that proves US inability to attack China when China responded with its determination to fight a war to the threat of two US aircraft carrier battle groups that the US sent to China’s vicinity to force China to accept the Hague arbitration award that entirely denies China’s historical rights and interests to the South China Sea.

Abe, however, is wise instead of stupid in vigorously supporting TPP and pivot to Asia as he knows well a rising China has the potential to retaliate Japan’s war crimes in invading China in the 1930s and 1940s. Without US help, Japan is simply no match to a rising China. When China retaliates, Abe’s beloved grandfather’s reputation will suffer. No wonder Abe has anti-China syndrome.

Abe visited the US as soon as US President Trump was inaugurated in an attempt to persuade trump to continue Hillary’s policies to contain China. Trump told Abe he had satisfactory telephone talks with Chinese President Xi, hinting that he wants to improve ties with China instead of containing China.

In vain Abe has played his shrewd trick of using the US to contain China while making efforts to improve ties with China himself. He knows very well that like the US, Japan has lots of business interests in China and relies greatly on Chinese market for economic recovery. That is why Abe has tried his best to find opportunities to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping personally for improvement of relations with China.

From the above perspective, we know the essential needs for Japan to send high officials to attend China’s mid May One Belt One Road summit.

Reuters fails to see or perhaps simply ignores the facts of Abe’s efforts to improve ties with China. In its report “Japan’s ruling party heavyweight to attend China’s New Silk Road summit” yesterday, it ascribes Japan’s move to the tension caused by North Korea. The tension has always been there. It has nothing to do with Japan’s change of attitude towards One Belt One Road. Trump’s change in US attitude towards China has forced Abe to regard improvement of relations with China as priority. After all, Japan does not want the US to have better competitive edge than Japan in Chinese market.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-summit-japan-idUSKBN17R0KH