Category Archives: International

International Affaris

Russia orders assasination of double agents

Picture: one of the spies arrested in US

In June, 2010, just 8 days before President Dmitry Medvedev met with President Barack Obama, a spy ring was busted with the arrest of 10 Russian spies in USA. Immediately, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin said: “This is the result of betrayal, and traitors always end up badly”.

In July, the US expelled 10 people who pleaded guilty to acting as unregistered foreign agents, in exchange for four men who had been convicted of espionage in Russia. Several Irish passports were allegedly used by the group, leading to a garda investigation into the abuse of Irish passport data.

American authorities said the 10 Russian spies had not managed to get any useful information back to Moscow.

Russia honoured the 10 at a special ceremony in the Kremlin last month.

Russia in a recent disclosure has openly identified a senior intelligence service officer Col Shcherbakov as the man who exposed the spy ring. He left Russia just 8 days before meeting between Obama and Medvedev. The Kremlin source said that the rogue agent would “carry this with him all his life, and will fear retribution every day”, according to the Moscow News. The source said: “We know who he is and where he is”. Russian government has dispatched a hitman to find and assassinate the Russian double agent who blew the cover of 10 secret Russian agents operating in the US.

A Kremlin official told the Russian business publication Kommersant said a “Mercador has already been sent for him”. Since the end of the Soviet Union, Moscow consistently claims that the last ordered hit was on a Ukrainian nationalist in 1959.

However, the poisoning of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London in 1978 and the 2006 poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko cast doubt over the apparent cancellation of assassinations abroad.

China quarrels with Taiwan in a film festival

Taiwanese actress Vivian Hsu was reduced to tears on Oct. 23 following an ugly quarrel between delegations from China and Taiwan at the 23rd International Tokyo Film Festival. Here, the actress is pictured on Dec. 6, 2008.


An ugly quarrel between delegations from China and Taiwan at a recent Tokyo film festival is a typical of the long characterized interactions between the two sides of the strait on the global stage. Such incidents help explain why most Taiwanese have a dim view of China’s government, and no interest in unification. They also show how far apart the two sides remain politically, despite a historic warming of economic relations.

It started innocently enough. A group of Taiwanese movie stars and starlets lined up to take a stroll down the “eco-friendly” green carpet at the 23rd International Tokyo Film Festival on Oct. 23. A group from China did the same. Then the head of China’s delegation, Jiang Ping, decided to make a scene. After apparently noting that Taiwan’s delegation was participating under the name “Taiwan,” he demanded that this moniker be switched to “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan, China.” The head of Taiwan’s delegation refused his Chinese counterpart’s request, saying “no concessions will be made this time around.” Then, as cameras rolled, the two sides bickered.

“The Taiwan area delegation is a part of China’s delegation,” Jiang angrily told news cameras. At one point he gave Japanese organizers 10 minutes to accept his demands. In the end, after more than two hours of heated discussions, neither delegation strolled the green carpet. China later withdrew from the event entirely after the Japanese hosts refused to enforce its demands.

The head of Taiwan’s delegation refused his Chinese counterpart’s request, saying “no concessions will be made this time around.” Then, as cameras rolled, the two sides bickered. “The Taiwan area delegation is a part of China’s delegation,” Jiang angrily told news cameras. At one point he gave Japanese organizers 10 minutes to accept his demands. In the end, after more than two hours of heated discussions, neither delegation strolled the green carpet. China later withdrew from the event entirely after the Japanese hosts refused to enforce its demands.

A news clip of the Taiwanese celebrity Vivian Hsu one of the island’s stars at the festival, crying in Tokyo was played and replayed in Taiwan’s frantic media. Hsu told reporters that one Taiwanese actor had “torn off his tie” after being told they couldn’t walk the carpet. Hsu herself had bought a more than $6,500 Zac Posen-designed dress for the occasion, only to be stymied by the Chinese, media reported. The head of Taiwan’s delegation said he felt as if his daughter’s wedding had been ruined.

Soon the editorials poured forth and talk show discussions ensued. The island’s internecine quarrels were put aside for a moment as politicians and commentators of all stripes lined up to condemn China’s behavior and applaud Taiwan’s delegation for standing up to China. The spat in Tokyo “proved to Taiwan’s people that unification with China is absolutely not a good thing,” wrote the Apple Daily. The presidential spokesman rebuked China, as did the premier, who said Jiang’s behavior was “unreasonable and rude.”

Such a strong reaction to a tiff at a minor event may seem puzzling to outsiders. But it speaks to the petty humiliation Taiwan routinely endures from China at international events — treatment that dredges up deeply emotional issues of identity and respect. While the rest of the world is just now getting to know a more assertive China, Taiwanese have long been familiar with Beijing’s sterner face.

“We have to stand up to say we don’t agree with that type of behavior,” said George Tsai, a cross-strait relations expert at Chinese Culture University in Taipei. “We have our dignity and principles.”

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China and is hypersensitive to any suggestion on the world stage that the island is actually something else — namely, a de facto sovereign and independent state. For that reason, Taiwan is only allowed to participate in the Olympics and other global sporting events as “Chinese Taipei” due to the high-decibel pressure China puts on organizers.

China has in the past two years allowed Taiwan to participate in some World Health Organization meetings as an observer. But it continues to block Taiwan’s participation in other bodies. One example, at the top of Taiwan’s priority list, is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Membership would allow Taiwan to network on green energy issues and receive technical and financial support for such efforts; China continues to block the island’s participation.

Such snubs — hardly newsworthy outside Taiwan — have had a cumulative effect on Taiwanese. In the Taiwan government’s latest opinion poll on cross-strait relations from September, 48 percent of those polled think China is “unfriendly” toward Taiwan’s government, with 37 percent thinking China is “friendly,” despite a dramatic warming in ties and the recent signing of a historic trade deal [5].

Just 10 percent of Taiwanese support unification with China, with a scant 1.7 percent supporting unification “as soon as possible,” according to the government’s latest data. Well aware of this public sentiment, the Taiwan government has recently stressed that it has no timetable for political talks with China. Analysts say that President Ma Ying-jeou has accomplished much of his cross-strait economic agenda, and is likely to put any further, substantial cross-strait talks on hold indefinitely. That’s because he’s now returning to job No. 1 for any Taiwanese politician: winning elections.

Local polls are coming up at the end of November. Those will soon be followed in Taiwan’s hectic election schedule by a primary season, legislative elections and Ma’s own re-election bid in March 2012.

Under the circumstances, slamming China for its film festival tantrum was a political no-brainer. Tsai said that “domestic political considerations” helped explain the strong backlash to China’s belittling behavior; it was an easy way to score points by defending Taiwan’s dignity.

Moreover, China has yet to meet Ma’s longstanding condition for political talks; namely, that Beijing draw down its missile arsenal across from Taiwan, now estimated by the U.S. military at some 1,050 to 1,150 short-range ballistic missiles and scores of cruise missiles.

There are some signs this might change. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao caused a stir in September when he made vague comments suggesting the missile issue could eventually be addressed. Chinese Culture University’s Tsai, who just returned from a trip to China, said Chinese academics told him Beijing is “seriously considering the possibility of re-deploying the missiles,” but that it doesn’t want to appear to do so under pressure.

“So if we keep a low profile, it will be easier for them to do this,” said Tsai, who was told there is “very high-ranking internal discussion” in China on re-deploying the missiles, and even an “inclination” to do so.

But so far there haven’t been any concrete steps. Even if there were, Tsai and other analysts say political talks are “out of the question.” “It’s not in the foreseeable future,” said Tsai. “It’s not in Ma Ying-jeou’s interests, and it’s not on his political agenda.”

Ma’s own premier said conditions are “not yet ripe” for political talks.

And if he needed any help making that point, what better than a fresh-faced Taiwanese actress, reduced to tears by China’s bullying, at an event intended to celebrate cinema and the arts — not power politics.

via China and Taiwan: What cross-strait thaw?.

China continues to snub India

Wen of China 

India and China have expressed readiness to resume high-level defence exchanges that have been put on “pause” after a senior Indian Army officer was offered a stapled Chinese visa. But, China continues to snub India saying that there will be no change in its policy of issuing stapled visas to people of Kashmir.

A group of 15 Nobel Peace Prize winners has released a letter asking the leaders of the G20 nations to press China to free imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo, the winner of the 2010 prize. The group, including former US president Jimmy Carter and Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, also called on the leaders at their summit next month to ask China to free Mr Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest. Mr Obama did not sign the letter.

Relationship with Pakistan and China appears to be becoming stronger. China is showing signs of providing nuclear technology to Pakistan. Beijing has been preparing to build two new reactors at Chashma, where it has already built one and is finishing another, despite the qualms of Washington, New Delhi and other capitals.

(with Inputs from )

China snubs India again    Sino-Pak nuclear collaboration   Singh-Wen talks seen positively   Nobel winners lobby for Liu release   Pakistan and China move closer in nuclear embrace    Pakistan and China move closer in nuclear embrace

Wikileak Secret reports shed new light on Iraq war

They provide no earthshaking revelations, but offer insights from people fighting the war

A huge trove of secret field reports from the battlegrounds of Iraq sheds new light on the war, including such fraught subjects as civilian deaths, detainee abuse and the involvement of Iran.

The secret archive is the second cache obtained by the independent organisation WikiLeaks and made available to several news organisations. Like the first release, reports covering six years of the Afghan war, the Iraq documents provide no earthshaking revelations, but they offer insight, texture and context from the people actually fighting the war.

An analysis of the 391,832 documents illuminates important aspects of this war:

The deaths of Iraqi civilians at the hands mainly of other Iraqis but also of the U.S. military appear to be greater than the numbers made public by the U.S. during the Bush administration.

While the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans, particularly at the Abu Ghraib prison, shocked the world, the documents paint an even more lurid picture of abuse by America’s Iraqi allies, a brutality from which the Americans at times averted their eyes.

Iran’s military, more than has been generally understood, intervened aggressively in support of Shia combatants, offering weapons, training and sanctuary and, in a few instances, di

via Secret reports shed new light on Iraq war.

China to reconsider language policy

The Chinese government would reconsider its plan to promote the use of Mandarin, the language spoken by the majority Han Chinese ethnic group, as the sole language of instruction in universities after hundreds of Tibetan students in western China and in Beijing protested the move this week. On Tuesday, more than 1,000 university and high-school students marched in Tongren (Rebkong in Tibetan) in western Qinghai province, calling for equality of ethnicities and freedom of language.

The protest was sparked by reported comments from the Communist Party’s Qinghai chief, Qiang Wei, calling for the use of “a common language” in schools and suggesting that the province would introduce Mandarin as the language of instruction over the next decade.

Protests spread to other towns in western China last week after videos of the Tongren protest spread through the Internet. The official Xinhua news agency reported protests in at least four prefectures in Qinghai, with students “expressing their dissatisfaction”.

There were no reports of arrests or clashes between police and the students, who appear to have been allowed to carry out the protests.

On Friday, 400 students at Minzu University, a school that specialises in education related to China’s minority groups, marched in thei

via China to reconsider language policy.

U.S.-Saudi new arms deal – Why Israel is silent?

U.S. plans to sell estimated 60 billion U.S. dollars worth of advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia. This  will be the single largest arms deal in American history and would take 15-20 years to complete. This announcement has not met any resistance from Israel so far.  U.S. officials do not foresee any objections from the Jewish state.

Israel has been adamant on maintaining a technical edge over its neighbors and has voiced opposition against sales that would threaten its technological supremacy.  Analysts believe Israel kept silent this time because both Israel and Saudi Arabia consider Iran as a growing threat, and the deal won’t change the regional strategic balance.

Israel’s silence could be summed up in the saying “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” “As long as Israel feels that it is maintaining a qualitative military edge, it will not try to contradict or block the efforts of its main ally, the%2

via Why Israel silent on U.S.-Saudi new arms deal?.

Trapped Chilean miners rescued!

Trapped Chilean miners rescued!

All of the 33 trapped Chilean miners were rescued to safety today as millions watched round the globe and church bells pealed across the nation after a two-month underground ordeal.

In a complicated but flawless operation under Chile’s far northern desert, Luis Urzua, who was shift leader when the mine collapsed in early August, emerged last through 625 metres of rock in a metal capsule little wider than a man’s shoulders.

33 unknown miners now have become international heroes.

Taliban victim woman gets Prosthetic Nose

Taliban victim woman gets Prosthetic Nose

Bibi Aisha, 18, whose nose and ears were cutoff by her Taliban husband has got a prosthetic nose. Standing before an audience of politicians, advocates and admirers, an Afghan woman whose face was disfigured by her abusive husband wore a sophisticated prosthetic nose, revealing what she’ll look like once ongoing reconstructive surgery is completed. She appeared on cover of Time magazine in August. On Oct 8th, 2010, she appears at an event in California, wearing a prosthetic nose to show what she will look like after reconstructive surgery is completed. Married at age 13, Aisha endured years of abuse before trying to escape. Her attempt was thwarted, and Aisha’s husband, a member of the Taliban, cut off her nose and ears as punishment.

In the United States since this summer, she’s been undergoing reconstructive surgery paid for by the Grossman Burn Foundation in California. And last weekend, Aisha was honored with an Enduring Heart Award at the foundation’s annual gala event.

At the event, Aisha wore a prosthetic.The custom-designed prosthetic is difficult to distinguish from the real thing. It’s unclear how far along her reconstructive surgery is, but Aisha has a long road ahead. Surgeons will need to rebuild the nasal skeleton as well as muscle and skin.

The good news for Aisha is that this kind of reconstructive surgery has made rapid strides in the last decade. In 2007, surgeons at Johns Hopkins tackled a challenge similar to hers, as they rebuilt an Iraq veteran’s entire nose from his own body parts.

India in Five New Non-Permanent Members On UN Security Council

India in Five New Non-Permanent Members On UN Security Council

The U.N General Assembly has elected India, South Africa, Colombia, Germany and Portugal as the five new regional non-permanent members of the Security Council, the world organization’s most powerful entity. The two-year term begins on January 1 of next year.

India has received the highest number of votes for getting into the United Nations Security Council in the past five years. Out of the 190 countries that voted, India received 187 votes. The high number of votes indicated widespread support for its presence on the international stage. The massive margin is indicative of the respect India commands for its role in security related matters.

These five will replace Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda, whose terms end December 31. The five members elected last year–Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, the Lebanon and Nigeria–will remain on the council until the end of the next year.

Germany won one of the two seats assigned to Western Europe and Other Groups (WEOG) while Portugal was awarded the other seat, after Canada withdrew its bid after two inconclusive rounds of voting.

South Africa and Colombia won the African and Latin American seats respectively, while India won the Asian seat after Kazakhstan pulled out from the race earlier this year.

The G-4 group comprising Germany, India, Japan and Brazil has been calling for the expansion of the Security Council, unchanged since its formation at the end of the second world war in 1945, to add six more permanent seats to the Council without the power of veto, and a further four non-permanent seats.

Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to Angola, Serguey Nenachev, has described as legitimate Africa’s demand for two permanent places in the Security Council, stressing that there was need to reinforce the presence of the continent in the decisive sector of the U.N.

The election of Africa as a non-permanent member would make for effective participation in global governance of the United Nations, he added.

Separately, Indian envoy to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri, said that New Delhi would use the two-year stint to build trust and give a sense of confidence to the five permanent members–China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

India, a founding-member of the U.N., is returning to the Security Council after a gap of 19 years having been on the Council six times. The Security Council is made up of 15 members, five permanent members with veto rights and 10 non-permanent members, elected every two years.

Hailing the U.N.’s selection a “significant vote of confidence,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle pledged to “do everything possible to justify the confidence reposed in us by the United Nations.”

Human rights violation in China after Nobel

Human rights violation in China after Nobel

In the days following the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiaobo, Human Rights in China (HRIC) has continued to receive information on individuals being subjected to surveillance, restriction of communications and movement, house arrest, and forced departure from place of residence. These cases have been reported by Western contacts inside China.

October 8-9, Beijing
Xu Yonghai, leader of the Sheng’ai Christian Fellowship, a Beijing-based house church, was under police surveillance. Officers were stationed outside Xu’s home and prohibited him from going out. Following negotiations, police allowed Xu and his wife to leave to buy food and take a walk in the park with a police escort. The officers also told Xu to not attend any gatherings, but Xu refused.

October 9, Beijing
Sheng’ai member Yang Jingdi was forcibly taken from his home by police, who said that they were taking him to Pinggu District in the outskirts of Beijing.

Dissident and Sheng’ai member Hu Shigen was placed under house arrest. Police told him to not attend Sheng’ai’s gatherings, which Hu refused.

October 10, Beijing
Due to police restrictions, Gao Hongming, Gao Yuxiang, and Yan Zhengxue were unable to attend Sheng’ai Christian Fellowship’s Sunday gathering.

October 12, Beijing
Liu Xia’s new cell phone account was deactivated. Several of her friends, including Liu Di, Mo Zhixu , and Wang Jinbo , were also placed under house arrest and could not be reached.

Rights defense lawyer Jiang Tianyong’s home door lock was filled with glue, making it impossible for him to leave his home. A similar incident occurred on September 14 as well.

Freelance writer Liu Di’s home was guarded by 3-4 plainclothes police officers. Liu was kept under round-the-clock surveillance.