Dec 042012
 

    You know that “Ah Ha!” feeling when an answer is given to a question not posed? When it occurs, you are presented with a “Missing Link”, an insight into understanding some aspect of the workings of the world. It happened to this author during a TV interview with former HHC Secretary Tommy Thompson.*

Not only did this discussion reveal the missing link to how Romney’s healthcare plan could work in a state (additional federal funding) yet not on the national level (no place else to go but to the tax coffers), but it also showed the blind spot to a whole host of other seemingly good ideas that don’t work in the real world.

That “Missing Link” is the outside source of energy (or capital) which is never part of the original equation.

For instance, Greece and the EU: Unlike our federal system where funds can be directed to a particular state for a particular purpose, the EU does not have that same relationship to its member countries. Thus there is the inordinate pressure on one successful economy such as Germany to take from its own national coffers and bolster that of a liberally profligate one.

Sustainable Green Energy: The examples of that unacknowledged energy (and capital) requirement are legion, but an ad for the Chevy Volt is a good case in point. It draws our attention to the fact that besides the battery (charged by an outside energy source) there is also a gasoline filler cap so as to assure us it has “extended range”.

Globalization and Economic Interdependence: At first blush, it looks like a fair and just way to raise the fortunes of the less fortunate in third world countries. But there again is a hidden requirement for energy and capital (which is a form of energy exchange) in the equation. China is a perfect example. It worked fine when there was a low cost energy (cheap labor); working often in either state owned enterprises or selected national champion businesses, supported by artificially low interest or often no loan repayment. Keeping its currency artificially low in value is another way to obscure the hidden energy that drives the economy.

There is no such thing as perpetual motion, be it within the laws of physics or the economic laws of the marketplace. All these well intentioned wheels of healthcare, sustainable green energy, or national economics eventually need an energy input not acknowledged, often not even imagined by the interest groups and politicians who first started those concepts spinning.

Here in America, there is a very real concern that as energy is sapped out of our nation’s wheel of good fortune by higher taxes and regulation. The necessary outside source of entrepreneurship energy and innovation that has kept the economy spinning is being weakened.

Perhaps only too late in this chain of events will it be discovered that over looked Missing Link.

* http://gretawire.foxnewsinsider.com/video/former-secretary-of-hhs-tommy-thompson-%e2%80%98on-the-record%e2%80%99-%e2%80%93-part-2/

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Dec 042012
 

     “Humanity Sucks.” This from a young woman who had just told me she wished to promote human rights.

Very upbeat and energetic, she had indicated she was nearing completion of her master’s degree in global studies and human rights. She was working on her thesis paper, a study of the effects of having or not having universal health insurance, “Because I am upset that now I am 26, I no longer have my parents health coverage.”

“Hmm,” says I. “What do you plan to do for work in the future?”

She said her professor hired her as a part time teacher’s assistant. “Maybe it will lead to teaching. I wish to participate with Human Rights organizations.” I nodded my head, encouraging her to continue. Then, with a shrug of burdensome resolve came the most astonishing assessment of my fellow man I have ever heard:

“Humanity sucks!”

“Oh you mean,” I offered helpfully, “like the authors of the Constitution who recognized there were weaknesses in man’s character.”

“No,” she signaled the finality of this conversation as she gathered up her things to leave. “I mean: Humanity Sucks.” There was no venom in her words. Her attractive smile and demeanor gave not a trace of irony. It was simply a summation of what her young life’s experiences and a liberal education had taught her. It taught me too.

It taught me that the very people who claim to help mankind hold that same humankind to be beneath them. Her words, “Humanity Sucks” seemed to have come down from some higher plane of observation; that mere numbers of the human species had only infrequently evolved far enough to take on the mantle of responsibility of care and of law-giving and restraint of the greater masses.

In a bewildering flash, the finality of that young woman’s judgment evoked in my incredulous brain images of the Galapagos and the Ganges, the all-seeing eye on the tip of the pyramid, the burning bush and the Golden Calf, of close encounters and isolated observatories, of the Cargo Cult’s straw airplanes and contrails through the moon beams. Since time immemorial, man has looked to the heavens for hope and dug the earth for sustenance. Now she was informing me that man’s spiritual and survival pursuits were really all for naught.

Had our nation been founded by the likes of many of the rather vocal folks in our society, the founding document might well have been called, “The Declaration of Dependence”

“When in the course of human events, it becomes perfectly clear that a people cannot long endure without the benefit of the direction of we the select and sophisticated people. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that man…sucks! And further, while we do not deign to argue the point of ‘Creator’, it is clear that societal evolution has by no means benefited in full measure from the beneficence of an enlightened Progressivism.”

No, young lady, it was not a disdain of human nature that the writers of the Constitution had, but rather the faith that man could freely thrive under a unique establishment of governance that would “insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

 

Dr. Charles Dusenbuy

[Below is a link to the brief free course “Constitution 101]

http://www.hillsdale.edu/constitution/ 

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Dec 042012
 

    America has developed an unhealthy codependency on China. How else to describe a relationship with a cheating and abusive partner that keeps us willingly hooked and addicted to attractively priced consumer technologies, while coercing or out and out stealing the wealth of our nation’s intellectual properties and threatening the safety of our friends and neighbors?

And as is so often the case in such codependency relationships, do we or the Chinese really wish to face the consequences of any fundamental changes in behavior within the governing and economic systems of China?

“The Chinese Economic Miracle,” has been a common phrase that until just recently tripped easily off the lips of western national leaders and local laborers alike. The first decade of the 21st Century has seen a remarkable economic quadrupling in the most populous nation on the planet. From the country into the cities, the Middle Kingdom has experienced a migration of biblical proportions involving a population larger than that of the entire United States. With it has come much of the benefits to a growing middle class and now also the challenges for the one-party rulers amidst the rising demands for greater openness and freedom.

The author would be remiss if not noting that as the research and writing of this book progressed, it began to feel as if it were taking on some aspects of a morality play; indeed that may well be an apt description of the book’s theme. There is endemic corruption that pervades and influences every aspect of life in Communist China. The real question now is  how dependent has America become on China and have our national  values and guiding principles been irrevocably compromised?

Co-de-pen-den-cy: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition. (Merriam-Webster)

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Dec 042012
 

  If you were asked to name just two nations that have the potential to surprisingly affect the course of world events in the near future, what would they be?

This author would pick ANGOLA and VIETNAM.

Surprised? So was this writer while casting about for an interesting storyline. Where on this planet does there exist all the elements and the characters that would make for a compelling story of secretive global money-men (and women), massive institutional corruption, and large scale human trafficking?

Angola and Vietnam.

Both countries have two big things in common: offshore oil deposits and China. Vietnam has over 2000 miles of coastline, roughly the distance between Seattle and the tip of Baja California. Its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) projects out 200 nautical miles from this coastline and into the oil-rich and overlapping claims of its South China Seas neighbors, especially China. In fact, as this author has pointed out in other writings, China basically has declared the entire South China Sea region as its own private lake. Just to keep this discussion brief, note that Chinese and Vietnamese vessels have collided on frequent occasions and, more ominously, Vietnam is investing in highly capable submarines and antisubmarine warfare (ASW) aircraft.  Many observers speculate that this situation may well be one of the most dangerously explosive for the world community.

Angola, how globally challenging, let me count thy ways, and thy characters. Diamonds and that black gold, oil, are the larger pieces on the Angolan playing board. And the major players? Well, as a teaser for this author’s future writings, here are some of the most powerful men you never heard of:

Manuel Vicente, the Luandan-born recent past Chairman of China’s SONANGOL in Angola. In April of 2011, he was feted in Beijing by China’s presumptive next leader, Xi Jinping. Pages, nay books could be written on this subject of Angola. This author is working on it under the heading “88 Qweensway”.

Lev Leviev, an Israeli diamond, how shall we put it, dealer. Known in Israel for building settlements and doing large charity projects, he is better known to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission for his connection to obscure Chinese investment businesses, including Sonangol and Hong Kong based China International Fund Limited. Coincidentally, Leviev was born the same year as Vicente, 1956.

The cast of Angolan players continues with the likes of Portuguese billionaire Helder Battaglia, with close ties to the Angolan government, as well as Venezuelan Hugo Chavez and Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner. And let’s not overlook Frenchman Pierre Falcone and Russian born Israeli Arcadi Gaydamak, both under international indictment for arms smuggling into Angola in the 1990s. Gaydamak even ran for Mayor of Jerusalem in 2008. No Teddy Kollek he (mayor 1965-93), only receiving 3.6% of the vote.

So you see, Angola is indeed a fascinating topic. With nearly all of its income from oil, drilled by Chinese rigs manned by Chinese workers, and diamonds, dug by enslaved workers overseen by armed guards, supplying a world greedy for the products, Angola is, dare we say it, a gold mine of ideas for an inquisitive writer.

And that’s a RealDusey.

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Dec 042012
 

Has the industrial and economic dominance that the United States enjoyed for the past couple of generations been because it was a period of “American Exceptionalism” or has it been mainly an Exceptional Period for America in world history?

I say this as a part of the generation who came of age in the boom time of the post war years. It was a practically a Midasian period, when most any young person with a modicum of ambition could touch an endeavor and it would profit. And our parents, those of your Depression-born, war-challenged generation were glad to see their children prosper in a more economically secure environment; and certainly the trajectory for those children’s children seemingly assured. Yet now…

BLIP!

I am coming to view this post-war prosperity as just that, a BLIP in history; a period drawing to a close; book-ended by the close of WWII and the global economic collapse of 2008. After WWII, we were the only industrial nation left standing. Blessed with abundant natural resources and an educated work force, we quickly dominated the global economy; but no longer. Contrary to what  we may have thought we had learned from Magellan and Columbus, it turns out the world is flat, certainly as it relates to how easily money and information now rolls across it.

A current line of thought seems quick to hammer in the last nails into this coffin of history; potentially to place our nation’s achieved greatness on some mausoleum shelf, groaning under the weight of previous civilizations too exceptional to fail.

American Exceptionalism? A myth born out of historically easier times? Perhaps. Yet there is no denying the power of a myth, a vision, the strength that comes when a people can say, “I have a dream.” The founding father’s ultimately set to paper a clear vision for our nation, that “We the people” participate together “in Order to form a more perfect union…and secure the Blessings of Liberty…”

A dream? An illusion? Certainly to most peoples up to that time in world history. Yet the creative energy and potential released but a moment ago on the scale of human history, has created a nation of mythic accomplishments on the world stage.

What is American Exceptionalism? It is a nation of peoples, AMERICA, that had the exceptional good fortune to have been founded by men who believed in the power of a vision clearly defined, and held up as a shinning light through periods of challenge and acknowledged in times of plenty.

Now that’s Exceptional, America.

 

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Nov 112013
 

 

In China, so much of it now looks so familiar, so normal, so “West”. Yet, if one walks behind the scenes, peers through the windows of the many vacant buildings, and opens the financial books, a queasy feeling begins to develop in the pit of the stomach. In Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie, WESTWORLD, people paid to play out their Old West fantasies on a movie set. Today, it is looking like westerners may be playing out their financial fantasies in China. What investors perceive as familiar, be they architectural or financial structures may indeed be elaborate props constructed by the Chinese to deceive the West…and perhaps themselves.

Welcome to EAST WORLD

Recent articles in the ECONOMIST and the WALL STREET JOURNAL reveals a quickening pulse of concern in the banking and securities world: “Auditors Sharpen Queries in China”, “China Curbs Sales of Risky Wealth Management Products”, “Buffett-backed China Venture Falters”, “How China’s Banks Break the Rules”, “How Manageable is China’s red Ink?”, ”How real is China’s growth?”, “China; Rising power, anxious state”. All these headlines sound a sour note in the previous optimistic tune about the “Chinese Economic Miracle”. Suddenly it seems both regulators and investors are starting to hum a different tune… “How long has this been going on?” So what has been going on behind the scenes?

Seduction. A feeling of comfort is essential, be it in the bedroom or the board room, and here the Chinese have placed all the props to make global investors feel right at home. Messrs. Carl Walker and Fraser Howe, authors of the excellent book, RED CAPITALISM describe, “[It] involves a picture that outside observers…feel comfortable with since it makes China resemble other emerging markets.” [Italics added]. “[This includes] developed stock and debt-capital markets, a mutual funds industry, pension funds, sovereign-wealth funds, currency markets, foreign participation, an international central bank, home loans and credit cards, a burgeoning car industry and a handful of brilliant cities.” Thus, as the authors point out, it looks like the West! So it is easy for investors to be both stimulated yet at ease.

Certainly the crowded streets, busy commercial buildings, and humming factories are not all there just for some director to yell “Action” whenever westerners arrive. But the point is; only an estimated 2% of the debt that is financing all this growth and activity is held by foreign banks. Indeed, even accounting for the raising of capital in the stock markets, still 70% of the invested capital is done by the Chinese government itself. In other words, investment risks are not widely distributed as in more developed equity markets but instead China itself is the single most vulnerable to defaults.

While we are on the subject of banks, let’s take a quick look at China’s Big (an only) Four. As the 20th Century came to a close and the China was having one of its ten-year cyclical deep recessions, the banks were left with a whole pile of bad debts on its ledgers. Oh what to do? Hey gang, here’s a great idea! Let’s form four “Bad Banks”, transfer all that bad paper from the four national banks, thus reburnishing the balance sheets and make them the “Good Banks”, then sell equities on the global markets for these bright shining examples of Communist Capitalism.

Recently the SEC has suspended trading on about a dozen or so stocks with connections to China. There has been a recent trend for “reverse mergers”, where Chinese companies have purchased and “merged” with American companies traded on Wall Street. Concerns are being raised that regulators are not confidently able to audit the auditors of those Chinese investors and holdings. Terms such as “Ponzi Scheme” are now being used as Canadian-listed Sino-Forest shares dropped from 18.21 Canadian dollars to 3.19 as short-sellers circled in for the kill. Nine Dragons Paper, controlled by China’s richest woman (Zhang Yin, worth US$5.6 billion) had its Standard and Poor’s rating withdrawn.

Mdm. Zhang, the daughter of a Red Army officer with good contacts within the Chinese government, is a perfect example of what the Chinese refer to as “The Princelings”. This next generation is succeeding the old ruling elite who earned their bones in Mao’s Long March and is now taking over the full reins of governing.

This whole topic of the Princelings, the rapidly expanding and modernizing military, and China’s growing bellicosity as it looks to the South China Sea and yells, “Everybody, out of the pool!” are fascinating topics covered elsewhere on this website and in my current writings and lectures. Stay tuned.

Now, after having had a glimpse behind the Bamboo Curtain, to paraphrase Groucho Marks, “Who are you going to believe, them, or your own eyes?”

http://www.amazon.com/EASTWORLD-Collapsing-Economic-Miracle-ebook/dp/B005R82HKQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331609813&sr=8-1

Wall Street Journal; active link list of related articles on China

The ECONOMIST, active link list of related articles on China

Amazon.com: Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise (9780470825860): Carl E. Walter, Fraser J. T. Howie: Books

A very readable yet detailed book on the Chinese financial system.

Open link, read book summary with Q&A of authors. Very brief and very informative.

 

The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers.

By Richard McGregor; This Amazon link also has a good summary and excellent insight into the irredeemable institutional corruption of China’s rule.

 

China’s Brand New “Empty” City: Ordos, Inner Mongolia

This YouTube video is of a recently built city, beautiful residential area, high-rise condos, and wide avenues, built for one million. It is not really deserted because it has never been occupied! If you are not a regular viewer of Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV, you may be impressed by the quality of this reporting.

It would seem that in this jet Age, Western constucts of reality have been on a Slow Boat to China.

 

 

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Dec 042012
 

Continuing our look at CHINA “behind the scenes”, we look at the military and explore possible motivations for its build-up and its often belligerent actions.

Here in EAST WORLD, even military hardware may not be what it seems. Since Mao’s Long March and then the founding of the People’s Republic, assessing Chinese capabilities has been a continuing difficulty. Underestimating China’s prowess can have grave consequences, as the United States learned the hard way when the Red Chinese Army swarmed south over the Yalu river and pushed our forces practically into the sea at Pusan, South Korea. Another shock early in the Korean War was when our predominantly propeller driven air force was greeted by advanced Mig 15s in the skies overhead. Alternating bellicosity and benign cordiality, statements from the leadership make it difficult to be sure as to what China’s intentions are. Sometimes it even appears the leaders themselves are not clear. Either way and from any point of view, there is always the concern that acting on an assumption is…

 

A Gamble

 

China’s first aircraft carrier is a refurbished former Soviet Bloc vessel. Purchased from Ukraine under the guise that it would become a floating casino in Macau, its threat of force projection in such troubled waters as the South China Sea may yet prove to be a dangerous gamble.

 

China has been annually increasing its spending on military research and development. This expansion of its ability for force projection is particularly evident on the sea. By openly challenging the maritime claims of the bordering nations of the South China Sea’s politically churned waters, China is increasingly intimidating those countries and their chief ally in the region, the United States. These actions would appear to be a big gamble. Its launching of its first aircraft carrier is a case in point.

 

The Chinese carrier is a refitted used Ukrainian [?]vessel, the Varyag. It was purchased by a Chinese company for $20 million in 1998. The originally stated intent was as a floating casino in Macao, China’s gambling enclave. But not to worry. As a high ranking spokesman said, this new carrier is just for training and familiarization. Pilots need to learn to operate off a carrier and a supporting fleet must be established to utilize such an important asset

 

China’s expanding ability to project force beyond its borders is driven by several factors, a major one being a deep sense of grievances for what it sees as a long period of humiliation. The launching of its first carrier was heralded as another step in China’s Long march back to what it views as its rightful place as a global major power. “From the Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China suffered more than 470 offenses and invasions that came from the seas,” said the official Chinese newspaper, Xinhua on the occasion of the carrier’s launch. This explicit keeping of a tab of offenses is a source of rising concern that China may intend to settle some scores. The increases in the numbers and complexities of its arsenal do nothing to allay such fears.

 

Many ask just why is it China appears and often acts so bellicose, especially when the actual inventory of China’s military hardware is compared with that of, for instance the ASEAN countries, plus Japan, South Korea [not ASEAN members?] and that largest of military might, the United States. What is it that China has to gain by projecting such an offensive/defensive posture? Certainly a sense of grievances and humiliation, as discussed earlier, is a factor. It may well be that at the heart of it there is an underlying factor: Fear.

 

What does China really have to fear? After all, China has the largest land mass, population, uniformed military, and now, having surpassed Japan, the region’s largest economy. The answer is “A lot” when viewed from the inside looking out. A quick look at a map showing the activity of the world’s shipping lanes gives one answer. China depends almost exclusively on these very busy shipping routes to import the energy and raw materials it needs. The, the goods produced go back out over these vast, mostly unprotected waters. One only has to read the now familiar headlines about piracy to see just one aspect of this concern. Lines of communication represent another strategic vulnerability.

 

In this day and age of the internet, Wi-Fi and cellphones, the public may have the sense that all this data is beaming happily up and down through a nearly invulnerable constellation satellites circling thousands of miles out in space. Not so. The reality is the vast majority of all these bytes of digitized data we have all come to depend on in our daily lives is transported by good old fashioned land and underwater cables. Well, not so old fashioned, in that they are fiber optic cables, able to handle thousands of separate communications on each hair-thin strand. There are over 500,000 miles of fiber optic cable lying on the ocean floor around the world. And much of it gets funneled through the narrow vulnerable accesses of the South China Sea.

 

And then there are the natural resources under the sea, proven and imagined. There is inherent vulnerability in having such resource gathering facilities, such as oil rigs scattered over the open waters. The other factor and the one driving much of the naval activity at the moment is the argument over just who gets what, particularly in the South China Sa.

 

Another explanation for the increased incidences involving China on the high seas may be part of that old philosophy; the best defense is offense. Perhaps China uses some of the headline producing maritime actions as a way to intimidate its seafaring neighbors

 

And perhaps the greatest fear of all, from a military point of view, is the huge technological and capability gap that was exposed as the world’s military looked on with shock and awe at the United States’ capabilities in the 1991 Gulf War. That wake up call, plus a determination to access the growing coffers within the Forbidden City, has perhaps motivate the military to engage in instances of conflict so as to encourage Beijing to allocated more funds for defense. The 17% increase in the 2011 budget is a case in point.

 

The recent startling public revelation of the new Chinese stealth fighter, the J-20 seems to have caught the military command centers around the world by surprise. “I am intrigued by developments and am quite interested in the quantities and different types of technologies that we didn’t expect…”[1] said Vice Admiral Dorsett, director of naval intelligence. Though the “surprise” is perhaps an understandable laps in obtaining military intelligence due to the very closed nature of the Chinese system, it may be symptomatic of another problem: America’s military and economic distractions in other parts of the globe. Whatever the reasons, the announcement of yet another advancement, an anti-ship (read anti-American aircraft carrier) ballistic missile, capable of mid-ballistic trajectory aiming corrections, means that the U.S. Navy must be beginning to feel the splash from China’s warning shots across the bow.

 

It is not just breakthrough advances in new concepts that make the PLA, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, an increasingly powerful force to be reckoned with. Take the PLAN’s submarines for instance (the Chinese navy and air force are branches of the PLA). Yes, they do have nuclear submarines, five of them at last count, but they are not really the backbone of China’s underwater strategy. It is the century old concept of diesel-electric propulsion, brought to a high degree of refinement that makes them one of the PLAN’s greatest threats.

 

This new class of diesel-electric boats is not your father’s submarines. Those who’s concepts of diesel-electric boats were formed from WWII movies such as “Run Silent, Run Deep” and the German classic, “Das Boot” may find it hard to grasp the dangers these air-breathing machines pose. First of all, there are at least 35 of them (some estimates reach 80 or more), distributed among the Northern, East, and South Sea Fleets. And then there is the fact that when running on the battery powered electric motors, they are among the very quietest and stealthy of the world’s silent services. Given that their main mission is littoral, near-shore protection, that is not much of a real problem. But an increasing number of them have another trick up their sleeve; one learned from Russian and German innovation.

 

Battery powered means of course the batteries need recharging. Diesel engines need air to function, necessitating the oft portrayed WWII submarine motoring on the surface, crewmen with binoculars scanning the horizon for threats. But what if a diesel could operate under water, independent of the air above? Enter the Russian AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) advanced diesel-electric Kilo Class submarine. Picture a Killer Whale with a snorkel, and you won’t be far off. It is not the intent of this writing to get too technical, so suffice to say that AIP is a process whereby oxygen is created and recycled while submerged. Over time many countries have worked on the AIP concept, but the Russian Kilo Class has proven to be one of the most successful and the design that appears to have most influenced recent Chinese AIP developments. The Song Class 039A/B entered service in 2004,[2] followed by the more advanced Yuan Class 041 bringing to a total of an estimated six in service. Now, instead of maximum of about 48 hours submerged for a conventional diesel, an AIP powered sub can remain below for a week or more. Other advantages of Air Independent Propulsion over nuclear include lower cost, the potential for adapting older vessels to the newer propulsion, and the ability to keep the submarine smaller than nuclear powered ones, thus reducing cost and making them more maneuverable a stealthy and adaptable to the more confined waters of, say, the South China Sea.

 

But really, can such submarines really be effective against the combined might of the United States Navy and its allies? Ask the commanders in charge of a 2007 U.S. naval exercise in the ocean between Japan and Taiwan. As reported in the British Daily Mail, “American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk – a 1,000ft super carrier with 4,500 personnel on board.”[3]All this in spite of protective shield of escort vessels, aircraft and two nuclear submarines. As was mentioned, these Song Class submarines are very difficult to detect when running on just its electric motors. As the editor of the authoritative Jane’s Fighting Ships noted, “It was certainly a wake-up call for the Americans.

“It would tie in with what we see the Chinese trying to do, which appears to be to deter the Americans from interfering or operating in their backyard, particularly in relation to Taiwan.” And, it might be added within the entire region China has now declared as its own core national interest, the South China Sea.

 

 

In December of 2008, pirates were surprised to see elements of China’s Southern Fleet operating off the coast of Somalia. They weren’t the only ones to take notice. The PLA-N guided missile destroyer DDG -169 Wuhan[4] arrived with a UN mandate, 16 anti-ship and 48 surface-to-air missiles on board as well as a special forces assault team and two support ships. It was a clear signal; some might call it a shot across the bow, to the nations of the world that China intended to operate as a blue water navy. It was not lost on naval historians that it was on these very same waters that Admiral Zhueng He sailed the last Chinese military fleet in the 15th century.

 

The world had not seen much of the Chinese navy until recently, but that is changing very quickly. China now makes visits with its impressive missile destroyers on courtesy visits at many ports around the world. They seem particularly interested in impressing their neighbors who surround the South China Sea. Recently, in what was perhaps just an innocent coincidence of timing, there occurred in Brunei an event that could be viewed as an illustration of the current situation in South East Asia. The Brunei Times newspaper ran a pleasant little article quoting the departing American attaché. He expressed his family’s regrets upon the leaving of the nice people he they had met there in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. Overshadowing that news was a large photograph and headlines, welcoming the guided missile destroyer Guangzhou that had just arrived at Maura Port. Striding down the guided missile destroyer’s gangway was none other than the Chief of Staff of China’s South Sea Fleet, Senior Colonel Zhang Wendan. If you ever wanted a boat to impress your neighbors, the Guangzhou is the one to do it. This 5,850 ton stealth technology hull destroyer uses conventional diesel power for normal cruise speed, but can kick into direct jet turbo shaft drive when she really wants her top speed of 30 knots. As a multirole ship, the Ghuangzhou, and her sister ship, Wuhan bristles with 16 YJ-83 anti-ship and 48 SA-N-12 Grizzly surface to air missiles. Then there are the 8 HN-2 land attack cruise missiles, 6 torpedo tubes, 2 anti-submarine mortars, a dual-purpose deck gun and two radar controlled Gatling guns that can pump out 5800 rounds per minute. Clearly America was greatly overshadowed by this event.

 

All this advancement in military hardware has been the direct result of intense long term planning and determination. In march of 2011, the head of the Chinese Communist Party and Chair of the Central Military Committee, Hu Jintao, admonished the PLA to “enhance the sense of opportunity, sense of urgency, and sense of historic mission. … Speed up military preparedness, resolutely safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, security, and interests, and resolutely safeguard the current important period of strategic opportunity for China’s development.” This and other comments seem to come from the recognition that the United States is preoccupied elsewhere and its military expenditures are being curtailed. This at a time of significant economic growth in China as well as the ever increasing importation of scientific and military technology. It should also be noted that President Hu also emphasized the need for intense education and commitment to correct political thought, this at a time of increasing rehabilitation for Chairman Mao’s teachings.

 


[1] Aviation Week & Space Technology, Jan 6, 2011

[2] SinoDefence.com

[3] Daily Mail, Nov 10, 2007

[4] Xinhuanet.com

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Dec 042012
 

There is an understandable assumption that the Internet is via satellite. Not so. The vast majority of what has been called the “Information Highway” is basically just that; or perhaps more accurately an Internet “Subway”. Five hundred thousand miles of fiber optic threads lace up the Seven league Boots of communication as it bestrides the world in milliseconds.

The particular view shown here centers on the South China Sea. The far left shows the route emerging fron the Red Sea via the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, and above it the Persian Gulf via  the Oman Peninsula on its way to Mumbai. In the center, the Strait of Malacca with Singapore at its lower tip. To the right,  at a center of that web is Guam with Hawaii just on the far horizon. Then of course Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan. Those of you interested in the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea will note the main lines branch and pass through those shallow areas. No surprise that while several nations claim those areas, China has penciled in as its “core interest”.

                The green area in this next image is what China has stated to be of “Core Interest”, basically all of the Yellow Sea to the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. It runs along what China is calling its “First Island Chain”.

The red line is the “Second Island Chain”. It is an area China regards as being of special interest. It goes right out to the shores of Guam, sweeping over all of Japan’s southern islands, including Okinawa.

A look back at the map of fiber optic cables is rather thought provoking.

The first image mapping the cables is from: http://www.cablemap.info/ , a remarkable site for visualizing the global fiber optic network. Be sure to visit it. A Mr. Greg Mahlknech has done a herculean job of cross referencing data sources to make a real eye-popping compendium of the world’s fiber optic communication companies and their present and proposed cable networks. This illustration is just a simplified version.

The second “Core Interest” image by the author.

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Nov 162013
 

 

 

Arms Race: a thing of the past? Perhaps if one drives a Volvo with a fading peace-symbol or is a federal budget planner very much under the gun.

Certainly many, this writer included, are not surprised to learn that China is rapidly advancing in the world of technology. After all, read the fine print under this or any other electronic device and you will no doubt find it arrived on a Slow Boat FROM China. What is surprising is the admission that our nation lacks the intelligence, not the bright people, to assess and meet the challenges of China’s growing military clout. The following brief excerpts from Aviation Week, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist, raises considerable concerns. One glance at these comments and you may agree, America does indeed have a race problem, an Arms Race problem.


“With the surprise rollout and high-speed taxi tests of China’s newest J-20 fighter, a stealth prototype, theU.S. Navy’s top intelligence official admits that the Pentagon has erred in its estimates of the speed with which Beijing is introducing new military technology  The aircraft’s existence was not a surprise to the intelligence community; but “one of the things that is. . . true is that we have been pretty consistent in underestimating the delivery and initial operational capability of Chinese technology weapons systems,” says Vice  Admiral David J. Dorsctt, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance and director of naval intelligence. Two recent examples of misanalysis have been the J-20 fighter and the TF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (AIV&ST Jan. 3, p. 18). Moreover, there is evidence that China’s advances include high-performance engines and missiles that display a new level of technical maturity and performance.”

http://www.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issue=416152177&e=true (Aviation Week online)

BEIJING—China conducted the first test flight of its stealth fighter just hours before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with President Hu Jintao here to mend frayed relations, undermining the meeting and prompting questions over whether China’s civilian leadership is fully in control of the increasingly powerful armed forces.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704428004576075042571461586.html

SYDNEY—U.K. Secretary for Defense Liam Fox emphasized Tuesday the importance of the next generation U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to counter China’s development of its own stealth jet, after Britain and Australia agreed to strengthen defense cooperation in Asia during talks in Sydney.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703954004576089151713646260.html?mod=WSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews

Tom Burbage, general manager of the F-35 program for Lockheed Martin Corp., said Beijing’s progress in developing the J-20 has created a “stronger sense of urgency” throughout the Asian-Pacific region about air-force modernization. He said Japan, South Korea and Singapore are now engaged in bilateral discussions with U.S. government officials over the F-35.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704029704576088230120934902.html?mod=ITP_pageone_3

China insists that its growing military and diplomatic clout pose no threat. The rest of the world is not so sure.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/multimedia/2010/12/chinas_place_world

But perhaps Shakespeare said it best:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your intelligence reports!”

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Dec 042012
 

Better get your maps of the SOUTH CHINA SEA out. Things are brewing, and I wouldn’t miss it for all the TEA IN CHINA.

Raise a TEA PARTY cup in salute to the Obama administration. It continues to make very firm statements  regards the SOUTH CHINA SEA and the Sino threat. The growing number of declarative statements coming out of Washington is helping to bolster the free world’s confidence in America as a strong and reliable allie. It should also be acknowledged that the administration has continued and expanded our covert ops and drone missile strikes in other regions of the world.

My own interest in SCS (South China Sea) began some years ago as I was looking for an exotic location for my book of fiction. Now truth keeps getting out ahead of fiction, my own and it would seem, the liberals’ Kumbaya approach to belligerent nations.

Last year, and not coincidental to a new presidential inauguration, China withdrew from inter-military exchanges with the U.S. and declared the South China Sea a core interest. Basically, China proclaimed the region to be an exclusive playground and themselves the big bully. Thus the other kids on the block such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Borneo are threatened that they would have to give their lunch-thermos of oil (the Spratly and Paracel islands) and potentially turn over more of their allowance at the schoolyard gate of Singapore.

Yes, it is true that presidents in trouble domestically have often turned to foreign policy for cover. So far, many friendly nations are beginning to feel we again have them covered  as America renews its commitment to peace with actions as well as with nice words.

As can be seen in the following clips, our current foreign policies are having a positive effect, and none too soon.

Inserted below are excerpts and a map from recent WSJ articles plus the links:

“The U.S. and its Asian allies are starting to push back at China’s growing assertiveness in the region, strengthening security ties and taking more robust positions in territorial disputes in the East and South China seas. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday he plans to tell Mr. Obama [at a meeting with the ASEAN members in NY] that the U.S. needs to maintain an activist presence in Asia to show it is “here to stay” as a power in the Pacific.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704814204575507731570730468.html

“China said it hasn’t limited export of rare-earth elements to Japan, denying a report that it had halted exports of the materials to its neighbor as retaliation in a territorial dispute.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704062804575509640345070222.html

And just as you were beginning to feel smug about your awareness of the SOUTH CHINA SEA, there is this:

“China suspended high-level government exchanges with Japan, significantly escalating the two countries’ worst dispute in five years, after Japanese authorities extended the detention of the captain of a Chinese fishing boat detained near disputed islands in the East China Sea.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703556604575501483896375018.html

and this:

Authorities in eastern China plan to fine the auto-finance unit of Toyota Motor Corp. for “commercial bribery,” a move that comes in the midst of a heated row between Beijing and Tokyo over an incident near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

[Ed. note: in China, taking steps against “commercial bribery” most likely means some provincial functionary did not get cut in on the deal. Corruption may yet preserve global peace. See blog “Carp and Corruption”]

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703399404575505601971499626.html

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