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NightWatch 20101020

NightWatch

For the Night of 20 October 2010

Japan-China: Update. A Chinese newspaper, the Beijing Youth Daily, reported on 20 October that a Chinese fisheries enforcement patrol boat set sail last week for the waters near the Senkakus to protect a fishing boat. The paper reported the patrol boat, which belongs to the Fishery Bureau of the Agriculture Ministry, left Yantai, Shandong Province last Thursday.

Japanese Prime Minister Kan said on 20 October that the presence of a Chinese patrol vessel just outside Japan's territorial waters is unconfirmed, Kyodo reported. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said the Japanese coast guard will "maintain vigilance" over maritime activities in waters around the disputed Senkaku islands, and the government will take appropriate diplomatic action if it confirms the presence of the Chinese vessel.

Comment: Chinese actions indicate the Beijing government is making control of the Senkaku Islands a test of wills and regional dominance.

China-Tibet: Some 9,000 Tibetan students from six schools in Qinghai Province protested China's education reform requiring all textbooks and classes to be taught in Chinese and Mandarin, except for English and Tibetan classes, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Free Tibet.

The students marched between schools and gathered outside the county government building. A county education source said the language issue was resolved on 18 October, but declined to comment further. Tibetan police did not interfere in the demonstration, although protestors may be detained or punished, a Free Tibet source said.

Lesson for new analysts: The protest marches are a reminder that language is always politics. During the Soviet era, the Moscow authorities always insisted that the central Asia republics made mandatory that all instruction was to be in Russian and all the textbooks could only be in Russian.

The Chinese are using the same tactics to ensure Tibetans assimilate. The tactics inevitably work in the next generation, which is their primary target and which reveals the timeline the Chinese use in crafting policies for social change.

Pakistan: Defense Secretary Gates and Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff General Kayani met to discuss cooperation for operations on the Afghan-Pakistani border on 20 October, according to a statement by a Pentagon spokesman. The purpose of the 30-minute talk was to help improve cooperation in the aftermath of the NATO helicopter attacked that killed three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers, the spokesman said.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Admiral Mullen and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy also attended the meeting. Gates expressed appreciation for Pakistan's military campaign against extremists and said the United States desires a stronger relationship with Pakistan that does not focus solely on security matters, the spokesman said.

Comment: The press reports did not state whether Gates' counterpart, Pakistani Minister of Defence Ahmad Mukhtar, attended the talks. The press coverage suggests the US officials treated General Kayani as the decision-maker in national security matters affecting the border. That would be eye-brow raising in Pakistan, unless proper coordination and approvals were not obtained from the elected civilian government of Pakistan.

The facts are no doubt in order, despite the press coverage.

Iran: American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal will stand trial in Iran on 6 November, according to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran. The Swiss represent US interests in Iran.

Iranian authorities should exercise the humanitarian option and release them, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, adding the United States does not believe there is a basis for the arrest charges. There are many areas where the United States and Iran need to discuss matters of significance between the two countries and the world, Clinton stated.

Comment: Movement to trial should provide opportunities to obtain the release of the two men. They probably will be convicted and given a prison sentence by judicial authority, but that actually frees executive authority -- President Ahmadi-Nejad -- to show clemency, provided the men show proper contrition.

Somalia: The United States supports an increased troop presence in Somalia but has no position on how many troops should be there, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said on 20 October. The U.N. Security Council will discuss the issue within 30 days, Carson said. The African Union Mission in Somalia currently has 7,200 troops in Somalia.

Comment: It is common knowledge that the African Union forces desperately need ground transportation vehicles; every kind of sustainment and maintenance support; fuel and air lift, including combat aircraft and helicopters and air transports. Manpower is the least of the problems.

US support for an increased troop presence might be interpreted as an agreement to provide the woefully lacking support, because the US has not agreed to provide troops. Curious.

End of NightWatch for 20 October.

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