Norway ‘bomb plot’ underscores al-Qaida pitfalls

Originally published by  The Associated Press, 29 Aug 2010


OSLO, Norway — When police arrested a suspected al-Qaida cell in Norway last month they turned up the makings of a bomb lab tucked away in a nondescript Oslo apartment building.

 An Associated Press investigation shows that authorities learned early on about the alleged cell by intercepting e-mails from an al-Qaida operative in Pakistan and – thanks to those early warnings – were able to secretly replace a key bomb-making ingredient with a harmless liquid when one of the suspects ordered it at an Oslo pharmacy.

 Officials say the suspected plot against this quiet Nordic country was one of three planned attacks on the West hatched in the rugged mountains of northwest Pakistan by some of al-Qaida’s most senior leaders. The other plots targeted the bustling New York subway and a shopping mall in Manchester, England.

Read More →

China Faces a Difficult Economic Transition

Originally published by Carnegie Commentary,25 August 2010
The Chinese growth model is a muscular version of the Asian development model and shares fundamental features with other development strategies that generated periods of “miracle” growth, including Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s. While it can generate tremendous growth, it also leads inexorably to deep imbalances. China seems to have long passed the inflection point and may be on the verge of a very difficult transition into a different growth model.
Read More →

Companies Target Journalists

China’s private sector makes it harder for reporters to do their jobs.

Originally published by RFA,28 Aug 2010

By Shi Shan and Ding Xiao

HONG KONG—Chinese authorities have long kept a tight rein on media that report stories of dissent or protest against government actions, but now private companies are beginning to add pressure as well, an overseas rights group and media workers said.

Earlier this week, Yuan Xinting, an editor at the Guangzhou Publishing House, was taken in for questioning by national security police on suspicion of “incitement to subversion” after he published information on the Internet about recent demonstrations in support of the Cantonese language in the city.

Read More →

Visa denial: ‘Indian response to China inadequate’

Originally published by India Blooms News Service,28 Aug 2010

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IBNS) Reacting to the Chinese refusal to receive Lt. Gen. B.S.Jaswal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the response of the Indian Government should have been more stringent and adequate.

“An abrasive attitude towards Indian sensitivities and helping India’s enemies has become a hall mark of China’s India policy while carrying on trade and commerce activities which are heavily in its favour,” said BJP national spokesperson Tarun Vijay.

“At a time when Kashmir is on a boil, supported and guided by Pakistan, China has shown its Pro-Pakistan attitude by refusing to welcome Lt. Gen Jaswal thus boosting the morale of anti-Indian separatists. The defence exchanges do serve a purpose under an appropriate atmosphere and such exchanges occur between the two institutions, in the present incident, between members of Indian Armed Forces and Peoples’ Liberation Army.

Read More →

Wen Jiabao puts political reform on China’s agenda

The prime minister has revealed leadership concerns that the demands of the economy may require a new political model

Originally published by Guardian News,29 Aug 2010

By Peter Beaumont

 The comments by Premier Wen Jiabao about the Communist party have been pored over by observers of Chinese politics. Photograph: Adrian Bradshaw/Getty Images

What to make of comments by the Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, during a recent visit to Shenzhen when he called – remarkably for such a senior official – for “political reform” and a loosening of the “excessive political control” of the Communist party itself?

There’s the symbolism of his visit to Shenzhen, the same place where Deng Xioaping triggered the country’s economic reforms. But it’s Wen’s words themselves that have triggered so much interest. “If there is no guarantee of reform of the political system, then results obtained from the reform of the economic system may be lost, and the goal of modernisation cannot be achieved,” Wen was quoted as saying.

In a system which concluded after the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and east Europe that it should guard against unleashing similarly unpredictable consequences, the prime minister has touched on awkward issues. The question remains, however, precisely what weight should be attached to the remarks of a man near the end of his time in the politburo, who has made reformist noises in the past but never really delivered.

Read More →

Kashmir visa row stokes India and China tensions

Originally published by Reuters,27 Aug 2010

By Krittivas Mukherjee

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India summoned China’s ambassador Friday to protest against the refusal of a visa to an Indian general from the disputed Kashmir region, the latest spat between two Asian giants jostling for global influence and resources.

A defense ministry source and some local media said defense ties, so far been limited to visits by military officials and the occasional exercises, were suspended, but the Indian government did not confirm this. Defense Minister A.K. Antony said “ties with China will continue.”

Last year, India protested against a Chinese embassy policy of issuing different visas to residents of Indian Kashmir. New Delhi bristles at any hint that Kashmir, where a separatist insurgency has raged for two decades, is not part of India.

“While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others’ concerns,” an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

Read More →

China silent on reported visit by North Korea’s Kim

Originally published by Reuters,27 Aug 2010

By Maxim Duncan

CHANGCHUN, China (Reuters) – China kept silent on Friday about a reported visit by North Korea’s secretive leader, Kim Jong-il, that analysts say appears intended to line up Beijing behind his dynastic succession plans.

Coinciding with the unconfirmed trip, former President Jimmy Carter returned home from Pyongyang on Friday with an American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was arrested in January and sentenced to eight years of hard labor for illegally entering North Korea.

There was no indication that Carter met Kim. State media in the North said number two leader Kim Yong-nam had told Carter that Pyongyang was committed to denuclearizing the peninsula and resuming stalled talks on its nuclear disarmament.

Carter’s visit “provided a favorable occasion of deepening the understanding and building confidence between the two countries,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

Read More →