China: Step Up Or Lose Face


October 27, 2009:  In western China, dozens of local Uighur families are complaining that they have had sons or fathers disappear after encounters with the police. The government denies that any people have been secretly arrested. Meanwhile, another six people have been convicted and sentenced to death for last Summer's violence. This time, some of those condemned are Han Chinese, who murdered Uighurs.  Meanwhile, the government continues to block email and VOIP (Internet phone calls) service in and out of Xinjiang province (where the Uighur unrest has been.) While some unrestricted communications are available for businesses, it's not enough. So may businesses send people to adjacent provinces to use email. The police are still uncertain if they have rounded up all the key Uighur troublemakers. But the Internet blocks are causing increasing economic damage, and may soon have to be lifted.

India announced that it is forming 15 more battalions of border guards, to tighten security along the south Tibet border is shares with China. The two countries have 3,500 kilometers of common border, most of it high in the mountains. China has already increased patrolling activity on its side of the border.

The U.S. keeps refusing (for fear of upsetting relations with China) to sell Taiwan 66 late-model F-16 fighter-bombers. Taiwan is keeping the pressure up, as they feel that they need those new fighters to keep China from invading. Taiwan points out that China keeps increasing the forces it has along the coast facing Taiwan. Moreover, back on the 17th, a new Taiwanese Hsiungfeng 2E cruise missile, failed to launch during a test.

For the ninth time, diplomats from China, India and Russia met to work out more ways for the three countries to develop counter-terror programs. All three nations have had problems with Islamic terrorists.

China is facing a PR problem because, several days ago, an official said that the military would "do something" about the Chinese ship that was taken by Somali pirates on the 19th. While China has some warships off the coast (sent earlier this year, after a Chinese fishing boat was taken a year ago, and there was nothing the government could do), there is apparently no "low risk" plan to take the Chinese cargo ship back by force. The Chinese have some commandos on their warships off Somalia, but apparently not enough to get the ship back without some of the crew being killed. The cargo ship is now anchored off the Somali coast, near a village the pirates operate from. But the Chinese government, having openly announced that it would do something (other than pay a ransom) to get the ship and crew back, faces an embarrassing loss of face if the military cannot pull off something spectacular. Chinese civilians are all over the Internet message boards urging the government to do what American and French commandos have done to the pirates(attack and kill them, while freeing, and sometimes killing, hostages.)

October 19, 2009: For the first time, a Chinese owned cargo ship has been seized off the Somali coast. That's 1,100 kilometers off the east coast, where the pirates are operating more, now that the Gulf of Aden is heavily patrolled. The pirates are forcing the 25 man crew to move the ship to a fishing village in northern Somalia, where the pirates will conduct ransom negotiations. The Chinese government has warned Chinese merchant ships to stay far away from the Somali coast, and has assured the public that the navy would recover the hijacked ship.




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