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Saturday, 2 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 02 May 09

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Asian Age

The Pioneer

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Asian Age

Pakistani Forces Recapture Key Town from Taliban

Pakistani security forces have recaptured a key town from the Taliban in the country's restive northwest and the operations against them would last another week, the military said Thursday, even as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called for national unity in the struggle against terrorism.

"The troops have taken full control of Daggar", the administrative capital of Buner district that lies just 100 km from Islamabad, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) told reporters here.

The security forces continue to face resistance from Taliban fighters who have taken up positions in the mountains in the district, he said, adding: "The security forces are exercising restraint as the militants are using civilians as human shields."

The operation was going slowly because security forces were attempting to prevent collateral damage and it would take another week to completely rid Buner of the Taliban, Abbas added.

In the neighboring district of Lower Dir, the security forces destroyed four vehicles of the militants and normalcy was slowly returning to the area. Some 70-75 Taliban militants have been killed while 10 security personnel have lost their lives.

The security forces had gone into action in Buner Tuesday after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace deal with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and occupied the district. The operation in Lower Dir, the home district of radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered the peace deal, had begun Sunday.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Thursday urged the nation to unite in the war against terror, saying the operations in Buner and Lower Dir were meant to restore the writ of the government.

"All political forces should unite against the scourge of terrorism. At this crucial time, the entire nation should forget political differences and rise to the occasion by unitedly meeting the challenges," Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Gilani as saying during a meeting with Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

"This is the only way that designs of the militants and extremists can be defeated," he added.

Gilani also asked Malik to take steps for rehabilitating the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had been affected by the fighting.

Also on Thursday, Sufi Mohammad, who had gone underground after the Lower Dir operation began, appeared in public and called for an end to the fighting

"Operations in Dir and Buner are promoting Talibanisation," Geo TV quoted him as saying, even as he offered to help restore peace in the area.

Meanwhile, the security forces Thursday pounded militants' positions in different areas of Maidan tehsil in Lower Dir. Several hideouts of the militants were destroyed and heavy casualties are feared, Geo TV reported.

Curfew was relaxed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Maidan and markets and business centres partially opened in Islam Darra, Haya Sarai and Kalkot areas. Educational institutions, however, remained shut.

Under the Feb 16 peace deal between Sufi Mohammad and the NWFP government, Sharia laws would be imposed in Swat, Lower Dir, Buner and four other districts of the province in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.

The pact came into force April 16 but the Taliban reneged on it almost immediately as they moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner, sending alarm bells ringing in Islamabad.

India-China Trade to Reopen Through Nathu La Friday
By Anand Oberoi

Bilateral trade between Asian giants India and China will resume through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim on the famed Silk Route Friday, with the government promising traders a new mart near the border, officials said.

Nathu La is one of the three trading border posts between India and China, the other two being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh in Uttarakhand.

While the list of items allowed for the border trade will remain unchanged this season, traders can expect a new trade mart at the border, work on which has already been started, said Sikkim Industries Secretary M.G. Kiran.

"The central government has promised us Rs.8.5 crore ($1.7 million) to construct the mart. Of this, we have already received Rs.1 crore ($202,600)," Kiran said.

He also said the trade mart was coming up at Sherthang near Nathu La pass.

An eight-room hotel is also being built in the area primarily for Indian traders. The state industries authorities are also building a new car park and more shops as part of the mart.

The department is also planning to construct cargo space in view of the expected enhanced volume of trade this year. A check post is being built at the Nathu La border, where immigration and customs checks will be under one roof.

Kiran added that the construction work would be supervised and managed by the roads and bridges department of the state government.

The sluggish border trade between the two countries is due to restrictions in tradable items - India can import 15 items from China including silk, yak pelts and horses, and export 29 goods that include textiles, tea, rice, vegetables and herbs.

However, as the government has now provided most favoured nation (MFN) status to trade through the Nathu La route, the trade volume is expected to increase this season, officials said.

The two Asian giants in July 2006 reopened trade across the 15,000-feet (4,545-metre) Nathu La pass, 52 km east of Sikkim's capital Gangtok, as part of a broader rapprochement.

The move marked the first direct trade link between the nuclear-armed neighbours since a bitter border war in 1962.

Under an agreement reached between India and China, trade takes place four days a week - Monday to Thursday - beginning May each year and lasting until Nov 30, when snow closes down the pass.

Bilateral trade in 2006 through Nathu La saw business worth about Rs.20 lakh ($40,200), with Indian traders doing business worth about Rs.11 lakh ($22,250). In 2007, the volume of trade was to the tune of Rs.26 lakh ($52,100).

Although two-way trade was slow in the first three seasons, last year about 1,900 Chinese traders crossed the border separated by a rusty barbed wire marker to the bazaar of Sherathang, 5 km below the pass on the Indian side. The total trade stood at Rs.96 lakh ($194,400) in 2008.

About 1,200 Indian traders headed to the Renqinggang interim market in Tibet on the Chinese side, 16 km from the border, during the first three seasons.

Lankan army says its website hacked by LTTE

T V Sriram/ PTI / Colombo May 1, 2009, 11:17 IST

The Tamil Tigers today took their war into the cyberspace by hacking the official website of the Sri Lankan army.

The Webmaster of the Army called the attack a desperate bid by the LTTE propagandists to hold the truth on humanitarian mission being revealed to the world. He said measures are being taken to restore the website soon. "LTTE propagandists have been extensively using the Internet as a platform to launch their misinformation, and disinformation campaigns against Sri Lanka since 1997," the ministry said.

"The LTTE rebels had a free reign in spreading their propaganda ploys through the Internet until the end of 2005, when current Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa, introduced innovative counter actions," the ministry said.

"Since then, the terror propagandist like their field cadres on the ground have started to suffer ignominious defeats on the cyberspace, as their lies have been countered with the truth. Sri Lanka Army website has been playing a vital role in this mission for the truth," it said.

The defence ministry views this attack as another sign of the LTTE's inevitable defeat, it said.

"The attack provides an opportunity for those who still dance to the tune of the LTTE propagandists to reconsider their behaviour. The truth needs no violence to uncover itself," the ministry added.

India among world's most terrorism afflicted countries: US

Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington May 1, 2009, 9:57 IST

Ranking India among the world's most terrorism-afflicted countries, the United States today said that none of the perpetrators of the major terrorist attacks in that country last year have yet been prosecuted.

Besides the 26/11 Mumbai attack, the annual "Country Reports on Terrorism 2008" of the US State Department has listed seven other major terrorist attacks in India during 2008 — prominent among them being the Jaipur bombings, attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul and the terror strikes in Ahmadabad, Delhi and Assam.

"In addition to the Mumbai attacks, the rise in terrorist attacks and their coordinated nature throughout India suggested the terrorists were well-funded and financially organised," the report said.

As for the Mumbai attack, the report said Indian authorities believe that the terrorists used various funding sources including credit cards, hawala, charities, and wealthy donors. Illicit funding sources that may have been exploited to finance terrorist operations were being closely investigated, it said.

According to the report, Indian government assessed that Islamic extremist groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami (Bangladesh) as well as indigenous groups were behind major terrorists attacks.India believes these attacks were aimed at creating a break-down in India-Pakistan relations, fostering Hindu-Muslim violence within India and harming India's commercial centers to impede India's economic resurgence, the report said.

Observing that the Mumbai terrorist attack was the most recent in a long list of lethal terrorist incidents in 2008, the US said local and state police proved to be poorly trained and equipped and lacked central control to coordinate an effective response.

On the other hand, the terrorists appeared to have been well-trained and took advantage of technology, such as Global Positioning System trackers. They entered Mumbai from the sea and attacked people in two hotels, a Jewish center, the main train station, and additional locations. They also planted bombs in two taxis that later exploded in different locations in the city.

Called India's 9/11, terrorists struck at a variety of locations in Mumbai on November 26, killing at least 183 people, including 22 foreigners, six of whom were Americans and 14 members of the police and security forces. Over 300 more were injured.

The report said, while India has implemented an advance passenger information system to receive inbound passenger information from air carriers operating in India, the system, however, is not compatible with or able to share data with the US and EU equivalent systems.

Army officers to reach Col rank after 15 yrs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 1
The Indian armed forces will now have younger officers commanding the men. Officers can now be selected to the rank of Colonels after 15 years of commissioned service and not 20 years as was the norm earlier. This means commanding officers in future will be as young as 37-38 years of age, sources said, while confirming the move that has been okayed by the Ministry of Defence. A formal order has been issued the sources said.

The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee had suggested a reduction in age profile of the commanders. Now, after much deliberation, it has been decided to allow officers to be "full Colonels" earlier than they should have. The post of Colonel will remain a selection post and it will not be a mandatory promotion. As of today, an officer who joins as a Second Lieutenant is gradually promoted as a Captain , Major and Lt-Colonel, respectively. The promotions are mandatory and an officer becomes a Lt-Colonel after 13 years of service. As a Colonel after 15 years will offer a great career move. Defence Minister AK Antony had promised that he would do everything for the forces. Some sections also say that the move has been made as the ratio of regular officers and Short-Service Commissioned officers was being altered to have more of the short-service officers.

IAF holds flight safety workshop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
As part of its ongoing campaign on flight safety awareness amongst the public, the Indian Air Force (IAF) today conducted a workshop at Guru Nanak Vidya Bhandar Trust (VBT) Polytechnic College in Mohali.

The aim of this workshop was to make college students aware that disposal of garbage and food items in the open attracted birds, which could cause accidents involving aircraft.

Over 200 students attended the workshop, which included lectures and interactive sessions and screening of a motivational movie "Akash Yodha". Another film on career opportunity in the air force was also shown. Aircraft posters, pamphlets, caps, notebooks and pencils carrying flight safety slogans were also distributed to the students.

Wg Cdr Pankaj Chopra, Station Flight Safety Officer, 12 Wing and Wg Cdr JS Minhas, Maintenance Safety Officer, highlighted the importance of flight safety and the role of every citizen towards enhancing flight safety, which would reduce the cases of bird hits.

The astonishing history of a 200-year-old British-Gurkha friendship

In 1957 Tony Gould was conscripted to the 7th Gurkha Rifles. Half a century later he was in the high court, defending his old comrades' right to settle in Britain - but not without misgivings

When I was commissioned as a national service subaltern in the 1st battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles in 1957, I could not have imagined that, 50 years on, I would be called upon as an "expert witness" by lawyers arguing for the right of UK residence for all ex-Gurkhas in the British army - not just currently serving ones, who already have that right.

For me at 18, flying to Malaya was a big adventure. I had never been out of the UK before. I was going to a country that was still on a war footing, though the war that had never been declared - it was called an "emergency", because that was considered less damaging to trade - was just about over. I knew little about the men I was supposed to be officering beyond their reputation as diminutive but mighty warriors. Never mind that I turned up dressed all wrong (having been issued with desert sand-coloured uniform instead of jungle green), I soon settled into the rhythm of jungle operations and, less comfortably, life in the officers' mess. Regular officers tolerated one or two national servicemen per battalion, but rightly regarded us as a bit of a liability, since by the time we had learned enough of the language to be able to communicate meaningfully with the soldiers, our two years would be up and we'd be going home.

I occupied the nebulous position of "company officer", not second-in-command of the company in which there were only two British officers, the company commander, or burra sahib (big sahib), and myself, the sano sahib (little - ie insignificant - sahib). The company "2IC" was a QGO, or Queen's Gurkha officer - a sandwich rank between British officers (BOs) and Gurkha other ranks, which was a relic of (British) Indian army days and has only just been dropped. For most of the "jungle-bashing" I did during my time in Malaya I was little more than a privileged spectator - privileged, because I had a batman to look after my every need: to bring me my food; to build me a makeshift tent with wood he chopped with his kukri; even to dig me a separate latrine some little distance away but not too far from wherever we camped overnight.

Like almost every British officer who has served in a Gurkha unit, I became passionately involved with the men. I signed on for an extra six months at the end of my national service, ostensibly in order to accompany the battalion to Hong Kong, but in reality to postpone the day of reckoning when I would have to cast aside the borrowed plumage of Gurkha officer and return to the everyday world. This happened sooner than I had anticipated and in a far more traumatic way. Fifty years and two weeks ago I went down with a severe case of paralytic polio. Needless to say, that ended my military career.

For close on 40 years I had little or nothing to do with the Gurkhas, from whom I had been so abruptly separated. Then I was commissioned to write a book about them and, though I hesitated at first to tackle a subject that was still a painful one for me, I knew I must do it, if only - as we now say - to achieve a kind of closure. And it was by way of this book that I found myself in the high court last summer, listening to the judge irritably asking who was this Gould and what were his credentials. I often ask myself the same questions and the only thing I can say for certain is that this Gould is far removed from the youth who set out for Malaya 52 years ago, blithely unaware of those so-called winds of change that were already blowing away the world he had been born into and accepted unquestioningly.

But if I have changed, what of the Gurkhas: how have they changed over this period of time? Present-day Gurkhas are taller and far more sophisticated and worldly in their outlook than their 1950s counterparts. Nepal in the 1950s was still a closed country and Gurkhas then thought of themselves, first and foremost, as hill people. Nepal meant the Kathmandu valley and might have been in another country for all the connection they had with it; they did not think of themselves as Nepalis then. They knew they were not getting paid as much as British soldiers and they did resent that, knowing also that their jungle skills were superior to those of British units. In those days, they never came to Britain, except for a fortunate few chosen to go on short specialist courses. The idea of settling here was simply unimaginable; for a start, most of them spoke little or no English. At the end of their service they were sent back to Nepal (whether at the wish of the Nepalese government or the convenience of the British authorities is a moot point). Though Nepal was never a British colony, they were a colonial force confined to British outposts in east Asia and, most importantly, a cheap army.

All that has changed. Most recent ex-Gurkhas who have not been granted the right to remain in this country do not return to their hill villages in east and west-central Nepal, but settle in urban centres such as Kathmandu, Pokhara and Dharan, where they can educate their children more easily. They don't go back to subsistence farming on recalcitrant mountainsides; when their soldiering days are over, they go to agencies that recruit them for work in the Middle East, or on ships. In Nepalese terms they are rich beyond the wildest dreams of their predecessors, but along with the rewards come all the cares of the modern world.

The current standoff between the British government and ex-Gurkha activists, their lawyers and photogenic, high-profile supporters such as Joanna Lumley involves politics on both sides. The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg (with no immediate prospect of coming to power), emphasises the moral principle that "if someone is prepared to die for this country, then surely they deserve to live here", and the great British public - not notable for its support of immigration - agrees with him and excepts the "plucky little Gurkha" from its characteristic cold-shouldering of foreigners seeking to live here. On the government side, the Home Office fears a massive influx of ex-Gurkhas and their extended families, while the Ministry of Defence worries about the effects on future recruiting of Gurkhas should there be a large exodus of ex-Gurkhas from Nepal and the Nepalese government cease to benefit from pensions now being paid in Nepal - effects that may become critical with a Maoist-dominated government already hostile to the idea of Nepali nationals serving in an overseas army.

On the other side, there is the question of just how representative of Gurkha opinion the activist Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation (GAESO) is. Field Marshal Lord Bramall, in a recent letter to the press, refers to GAESO without naming it, when he writes that he is confident "a great many serving Gurkhas regard this recent activism as 'trade unionism' that discredits their soldiers and is in any event counterproductive". Perhaps so, but then serving Gurkhas already have the privileges that those who retired before the 1997 watershed - when the Brigade of Gurkhas left their Hong Kong base and were relocated in the UK en masse (thus acquiring the right of UK residence along with parity of pensions with British troops) - are still fighting for, and may not wish to see the applecart overturned.

There is also the matter of costs. Should there be a large influx of pre-1997 ex-Gurkhas and their families, their pensions, which were designed to provide a comfortable enough retirement in Nepal, would be quite inadequate to live on in this country. This would mean either that these pensions would have to be increased or that the government would be having to deal with large numbers of welfare claims - both expensive options.

None of this is to suggest that the government's response to the judicial review is a fair one. It isn't. Particularly unjust is the proposed ruling that 20 years of service is to be one of the qualifying conditions for pre-1997 ex-Gurkhas obtaining UK residence. This amounts to saying none but the most senior ranks need apply - since junior ranks cannot serve that long.

I don't envy government ministers their task of coming up with a compromise acceptable to all parties. But it would sadden me deeply if the astonishing history of close on 200 years of British-Gurkha friendship and understanding in war and peace were to end in mutual recrimination and bitterness.

Lots of low-tech troops essential to defeat insurgents

Published: May 1, 2009 at 5:07 PM

MARTIN SIEFF || UPI Senior News Analyst

The Indian army's dependence on very large numbers of relatively low trained soldiers to maintain border security and play a major, ongoing role in its counterinsurgency campaigns flies in the face of dominant U.S. military theories and fashions.

The U.S. military and the generation of neoconservative security intellectuals who dominated the Department of Defense during the six-year tenure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were obsessed with making dramatic mega-leaps in military technology to maintain a global technological superiority. This was the "War Made New" concept, as expressed in the title of Max Boot's book on the subject.

Since Rumsfeld was evicted from office at the end of 2006, the continuing failures of his team to get any grip on the relatively small, though ferocious Sunni Muslim insurgency in central Iraq have served to somewhat discredit these theories among U.S. planners, though many military techies had already attached their reputations and future careers on such hugely expensive projects as the now-embattled Future Combat Systems program.

With the Democrats taking over the executive branch of the U.S. government, the emphasis is changing to a so-called holistic approach in which diplomatic and social initiatives take center stage. This is welcome as far as it goes. But the fact remains that liberal defense intellectuals in the United States, as much as conservative ones, do not want to consider greatly increasing the combat strength of the U.S. armed forces. And they all refuse to acknowledge that for sustained counterinsurgency campaigns and any long-term effective border defense, large numbers of standing troops relative to the total population and area of territory being defended remain essential.

Even the military intellectuals who advance the Fourth Generation theory of warfare are reluctant to emphasize the importance of putting on the ground large numbers of troops and police armed primarily with light weapons. This kind of "solution" is not remotely "original," "elegant" or intellectually exciting or challenging. It is also costly and it is very unpopular for the United States and major Western European or Northeast Asian democratic nations because it would require soaking up a disproportionate number of soldiers -- as the United States found in Iraq -- from small-size military establishments.

Nevertheless, Russia eventually won its long conflict in Chechnya, Israel defeated the very formidable Second Palestinian intifada, Britain effectively won its long 30-year war with the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland, and Saudi Arabia defeated a serious challenge from al-Qaida in the first half of this decade precisely by doing just that.

All these governments deployed exceptionally large numbers of troops and other security forces to provide more effective protection to their population, and to lock down key regions and cities right after any terrorist attack took place.

Gen. David Petraeus, the outstanding U.S. general specializing in counterinsurgency war in recent times, used the same technique, even though he had far more limited resources to work with, to make his "surge" strategy work in Baghdad and Central Iraq over the past two years.

The major democracies of North America and Western Europe look likely to face increasing threats over the next decade from domestically generated insurgencies and terror campaigns. They are going to find, as the Indians, the Israelis, the Russians, the Saudis and the British have before them, that there is no substitute for having lots of troops on the ground armed with cheap and simple weapons. When it comes to providing basic security for threatened areas and populations, there really are no short cuts.

India re-deploys troops along LoC as Pakistan removes its own

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

SRINAGAR (SANA): Just two days after Indian Defence Minsiter AK Antony paid a day long visit to forward areas in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian army has claimed that it had redeployed its troops and increased surveillance capabilities along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir to prevent the militants from crossing over into India.

As India redeploy its forces along the LoC, Pakistan has moved 6,000 troops from the Indian border for its battle with the Taliban, said reports denied by the ISPR.

The troops to be shifted had originally been on Pakistan's western border but were sent to the Indian border in December, after the attack in Mumbai the previous month, The New York Times said, citing a Pakistani official who requested anonymity to discuss troop movements in advance.

"The Indian Army has done redeployment. We have built in additional surveillance capabilities to look across LoC. We have deployed more technical equipment for surveillance even at most difficult places keeping the LoC under active patrolling and surveillance at all the times," Army Vice Chief Noble Thamburaj told reporters in New Delhi.

"In the last fortnight or month, there have been two major infiltration bids, which were partly successful but we in our second tier were able to neutralize most of the militants," Thamburaj added.

The two brigades of the Pakistan army were brought in from Peshawar on Pakistan's western border in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks last November when Islamabad had feared an Indian attack.

The troops, according to an intelligence assessment, are being used to reinforce the deployment in Swat and Buner where the Pakistani army has launched an operation against the advancing Taliban forces.

PLA's "Absolute Loyalty" to the Party in Doubt

Publication: China Brief Volume: 9 Issue: 9

April 30, 2009 03:22 PM Age: 1 days

Category: China Brief, Willy's Corner, Home Page, Military/Security, Elite, Featured

By: Willy Lam

China's military forces crossed a watershed when the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) celebrated its 60th birthday by holding a parade of state-of-the-art hardware such as indigenously developed nuclear submarines. That the 2.4-million strong People's Liberation Army (PLA) has attained quasi-superpower status was also supported by the fact that defense delegations from 29 countries attended the festivities in the port city of Qingdao (Guardian, April 22; Time [Asia edition], April 21). Paving the way for preparations for an even bigger event on October 1—an unprecedented large-scale military show at Tiananmen Square to mark the 60th birthday of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Two factors underpin the PLA's ostensible salience in China's political life. Demonstrating military might is an essential component to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership's recent decision to aggressively project hard power worldwide. With the 20th anniversary of the June 4, 1989 crackdown moving closer, the Hu Jintao administration is playing up the fact that the PLA, as well as it sister unit, the People's Armed Police (PAP), is ready to deal a frontal blow to dissidents, separatists and other "destabilizing elements."

Yet, speeches by President Hu since early this year have betrayed the CCP leadership's doubts about the key Communist-Chinese tradition that, "the army must be absolutely loyal to the party." Hu, who chairs the policy-setting Central Military Commission (CMC), has masterminded an ideological campaign to promote "core values of contemporary revolutionary soldiers." The commander-in-chief has enunciated the following five crypto-Maoist norms as the army's foremost values: "Be loyal to the party, love the people, serve the country; devote yourself to [the party's goals]; and value honor." Hu's instructions have been eulogized by the PLA's General Political Department as "the scientific summation of the historical experience of the political construction of the armed forces." In indoctrination sessions nationwide, political commissars have stressed that military units "must, in areas of ideology, politics and organization, remain a people's army that is under the absolute leadership of the party." Furthermore, while inspecting PLA divisions around the country since the spring, Hu and his military aides have emphasized that "the PLA must never change its [political] nature" of being the party's faithful defenders and executioners (Xinhua News Agency, April 7; Liberation Army Daily, March 16 & April 27).

Yet it is obvious that the moral and ideological standards of officers as well as rank and file are hardly up to scratch. PLA Chief Political Commissar General Li Jinai, who is in charge of ideological indoctrination, warned in an article in the early April issue of the theoretical journal Seeking Truth that officers and soldiers must never succumb to the "erroneous" concepts of the West. The latter include the de-politicization of the armed forces, and that they should be a "national army," instead of a "party army" as in the case of China and other Communist countries. "Upholding the party's absolute leadership is [the basis of] our army's political superiority and its unchanging quintessence," General Li said. "This is also the political guarantee of our army's development and aggrandizement." "We must take the party's will as our will, the party's direction as our direction," added General Li, who is deemed personally close to Hu. "For each and everything, we must abide by the instructions of the party central authorities, the CMC, and Chairman Hu" (China News Service, April 1; People's Daily, April 2).

Last week, President Hu admonished Chinese military attach├ęs attending a Beijing conference to be "resolute in politics and to be pure in ideology and morality." He called on the top brass to "uphold and develop the superior traditions of our party and army" by ensuring that overseas-based staff would pass muster regarding "the core values of contemporary revolutionary soldiers." "Military attach├ęs must be a high-quality corps that is loyal to the party, willing to make self-sacrifices, and strict in observing discipline," the supremo added (Xinhua News Agency, April 17). Earlier this year, Hu noted when meeting military delegates to the National People's Congress that "ideological and political construction"—code-word for fostering obedience and "absolute loyalty" among officers and soldiers—must remain the PLA's priority task. He pointed out that defense personnel must have "four types of consciousness," meaning awareness of politics, awareness of the requirements of the party and state, awareness of dangers and pitfalls, and consciousness about their mission of serving the party (Liberation Army Daily, March 12).

While issues about the PLA's fealty toward the CCP may seem an internal Chinese affair, the Middle Kingdom's neighbors may feel justified in showing concern about the apparent discrepancy between Commander-in-Chief Hu's views on the nation's pacifist tradition on one hand, and the hawkish sentiments of a number of military officers on the other. After all, failure to toe the line of the commander-in-chief clearly constitutes a breach of discipline. Take, for example, the oft-repeated doctrine of the "peaceful rise of China." While officiating at the military parade in Qingdao last week, Hu reiterated his administration's commitment to "the path of peaceful development." He pointed out that the PLA would remain "an important force in safeguarding world peace," and that "China will never be a threat to other nations." "China would never seek hegemony, nor would it turn to military expansion or arms races with other nations," he indicated (Liberation Army Daily, May 24; People's Daily, May 24).

Leave aside for a moment the issue of whether a no-holds-barred modernization of PLA weaponry has spawned a virulent arms race among China, India, Japan and the United States. Pronouncements made a bevy of officers and military strategists, most of which have made it to military mouthpieces, suggest that a sizeable sector of the defense forces holds views on war and peace that are markedly different from those of the Hu-led party leadership. Take for instance, the doctrine of "shelving sovereignty disputes and focusing on joint development," which was first laid down by late patriarch Deng Xiaoping and is still honored by the current party leadership. This principle has been used to defuse tension with countries that have territorial disputes with China. Yet it seems evident that a younger generation of PLA officers wants Beijing to play hardball while handling sovereignty conflicts with its neighbors.

According to naval officer Yang Yi, who teaches at the National Defense University, Deng's dictum about shelving disputes "must be based on the premise that sovereignty [over disputed areas] belongs to China." He warned unnamed countries that it is "dangerous" to assume that Beijing would not resort to force simply due to its anxiety to foster peaceful development and to polish its international image. "Strong military force is a bulwark for upholding national interests," Yang pointed out. "The Chinese navy is a strong deterrent force that will prevent other countries from wantonly infringing upon China's maritime interests" (International Herald Leader [Beijing paper], March 3). Equally significantly, strategist Huang Kunlun has raised the notion of "the boundaries of national interests." Huang argued that China's national interests had gone beyond its land, sea and air territories to include areas such as oceans traversed by Chinese oil freighters—as well as outer space. "Wherever our national interests have extended, so will the mission of our armed forces," Huang indicated (see "China Flaunts Growing Naval Capabilities," China Brief, January 12). These assertions of naked power have raised fears particularly in countries such as Japan and the Philippines, which have had recent run-ins with Beijing regarding sovereignty claims over islands in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

While President Hu and his civilian advisers may have reservations about provocative statements made by the likes of Yang and Huang, however, it seems unlikely that the CMC—which is after all dominated by generals—would rein in the hawks. The 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre has again reminded the CCP leadership that had it not been for the "protection" of the armed forces, the party might in 1989 not have survived the onslaught of hundreds of thousands of protestors. Particularly given the likelihood that social unrest may escalate this year due to reduced living standards and growing unemployment, the Hu-led Politburo is eager to retain the loyalty of this most potent "pillar of the dictatorship of the proletariat" (Apple Daily [Hong Kong], April 24; Strait Times [Singapore], March 9). That the Politburo has given the army budget boosts averaging around 15 percent the past decade shows that while the party leadership is often seen cracking the whip on disobedient officers, it is at the same time anxious to win over the support of the top brass.

In a commemorative article on the "historic and glorious path" taken by the PLAN, the Xinhua News Agency disclosed details about how CCP leaders from Mao Zedong onward had lavished stupendous amounts of material and human capital on expanding China's fleet. The commentary pointed out that the first major cash injection into the Chinese navy of $150 million—which enabled it to procure its post WWII-vintage frigates and airplanes—came from the $300 million that Beijing had borrowed from the Soviet Union in 1950. In that same year, revenue for the entire central government was as little as $2.27 billion. It was Chairman Mao, one of the founders of the Red Army, who made the fateful decision to divert the nation's scarce resources to army construction (Xinhua News Agency, April 22). It was also under the same spirit that even though millions of Chinese were suffering from malnutrition in the 1960s, the Great Helmsman earmarked generous funds for building China's first A-bomb and long-range missiles. While it is true that Hu and his Politburo colleagues may feel uncomfortable about grand-standing PLA officers, it is unlikely that the party leadership will go against the long-standing Communist-Chinese tradition of giving the military a disproportionately large share of the economic and political clout.[tt_news]=34920&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=aedc00ef52

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