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For Beijing, it's time to lead
Amid growing concerns about the nature of China's rise and intentions, Beijing has a rare opportunity to prove it is a world leader, not just a world power. It should start by using diplomacy to settle its territorial claims, and realize that taking the lead is an investment in its own future. - Zach Przystup (Aug 25, '14)

US flags China as a maritime outlaw
The latest government-linked think tank report out of Washington adds the legal justification to the doctrinal imperatives and operational tactics already in place in the argument that Beijing must be confronted as an outlaw in its dispute over Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. Taken together, these elements signal that real muscle will be flexed sooner than later in the South China Sea. - Peter Lee (Aug 25, '14)



SINOGRAPH
Simon Leys: An appreciation
The death of Sinologist Pierre Rickman, best known under his pseudonym Simon Leys, has left a void in Western understanding and study of China that can only become more apparent in the years ahead. His intellectual honesty, and determination to understand in depth while rendering his views with appropriate simplicity, are needed now more than ever. - Francesco Sisci (Aug 22, '14)

'Paramilitarizing’ the South China Sea
There is an assumption that "paramilitarizing" South China Sea disputes through the use of coast guards is low cost/low risk because Beijing will back down in a direct confrontation with even US "paramilitary" forces. Don't buy it. It will take a war for China to acknowledge US dominion over the South China Sea. That's a war, I suspect in China's opinion, the United States is not prepared to fight. - Peter Lee (Aug 18, '14)

ISIS tentacles reach toward China
It has been reported that Abdul Maulana Aziz has declared his support for the "Caliphate of Abu Bakar Baghdadi", aka the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, now the Islamic State. If confirmed, this is potentially big and bad news for China. Aziz was the radical spiritual leader of Islamabad's Lal Masjid, the Red Mosque, where his brother was killed in the bloody Beijing-encouraged conclusion of the 2007 siege there. - Peter Lee (Aug 15, '14)

China, Myanmar: stop that train
Reports about the cancellation of a US$20 billion railway line connecting China's southern Yunnan province with Myanmar's Rakhine western coast may have been premature, but conflicting accounts about the 1,200 kilometer project's status have raised new questions concerning commercial relations between the neighboring countries. - Yun Sun (Aug 14, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Pope casts shadow over China
Pope Francis is in South Korea this week in the shadow of a strangely tacit yet public dialogue that is an eloquent admission of interest from both the Catholic Church and China for the pontiff and President Xi Jinping to meet. Yet the issue is not how much they might be keen on meeting, but on how much many others may be hostile to such a summit. - Francesco Sisci (Aug 13, '14)

Balloon goes up over the South China Sea
Remarks by a United States senator purportedly confirming US and world community protection against "any threat" to exclusive economic zones potentially represent a more dangerous step towards militarizing South China Sea disputes than diplomatic fallouts. The possible injection of the US Navy into local EEZ disputes could herald non-stop harassment of US naval vessels by agitated Chinese maritime patrol vessels. - Peter Lee (Aug 13, '14)

Military hammer makes
everything look like a nail

The United States and China in every arena are displaying a disturbing propensity toward militarizing their national security strategies. From Iraq to the South China Sea to restive Xinjiang, militarization simplifies the statement of a problem, but makes resolution ever more remote. It is a temptation that Washington and Beijing should resist. - Peter Lee (Aug 8, '14)

China's grand plan for the South China Sea
Beijing's rising assertiveness in maritime areas is part of a grand geo-strategic rationale rooted in realist foreign policy, with indigenous technological advances helping to drive a strategy that is far removed from past non-interventionist policy. Supported by efforts by Beijing to improve military capabilities, its international image and legal stature on the issue, the plan is viewed as a "core interest" of China's sovereignty. - Billy Tea (Aug 8, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
Healing the 'comfort women' rift
One theory has it that the Imperial Japanese Army's creation of "comfort women" stations during World War II - while irrational, brutal and immoral by today's standards - created a channel for soldiers' rage that may have paradoxically "saved" larger female Asian populations from the rape and worse seen from Shanghai to Nanking in the late 1930s. However controversial, this theory could become a basis for healing the rift between nations. - Yu Bin (Aug 7, '14)

'At least 2,000 Uyghurs killed'
Exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer has claimed that at least 2,000 ethnic minority Uyghurs may have been killed by security forces following riots last week in China's western Xinjiang region, far more than reported by the state media. (Aug 6, '14)

Rains hamper 'quake relief efforts
Relief efforts at the epicenter of a weekend earthquake that left at least 398 people dead in China's southwestern province of Yunnan have been severely hampered by landslides and torrential rain. About 230,000 people have been evacuated as rescuers seek out survivors amid the ruins of thousands of buildings. (Aug 5, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Xi grows in confidence at China's helm
Chinese President Xi Jinping can look back with satisfaction over a summer of achievements. While stepping back from a maritime stalemate with Vietnam showed a new foreign policy restraint, his defusing of an electoral crisis in Hong Kong underlined his mettle. Most importantly, by making openly political charges against former security czar Zhou Yongkang, Xi signaled his absolute commitment to reform. - Francesco Sisci (Aug 5, '14)

Xi holds forth on the art of leadership
Chinese President Xi Jinping's homilies on the art of leadership, both recent pronouncements and past musings, have been repeated in scores of articles over the past month or so. Given Xi's increasing tendency to present himself as a paragon of flawless leadership, he and his entourage seem intent on creating a personality cult. - Willy Lam (Aug 4, '14)

Rescuers search for China quake survivors

An intense rescue operation is under way in southwest China's Yunnan province after an earthquake on Sunday killed at least 381 people and injured thousands more, leaving scenes of devastation across a mountainous area in Ludian county. The magnitude-6.1 quake was the strongest to hit the province in 14 years. (Aug 4, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
Modi must resolve Sino-Indian border dispute
Some 18 years after then Chinese premier Jiang Zemin emphasized that Beijing and Delhi had agreed to speed up the process of clarification and confirmation of border demarcation between the two countries, there is little sign of haste. Given the benefits that would follow, it is time for India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get things moving. - Rup Narayan Das (Aug 4, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Eurasia needs a Sino-German axis
Directionless reaction from the United States to the shooting down of Malaysian airline flight MH17 and the Ukrainian crisis generally reflects how the US has forgotten the importance of viewing Eurasia as a whole, rather than a cluster of independent states. But by doing so, Washington is making space for a China-Germany dynamic with potential to tackle the Russian problem. - Francesco Sisci (Aug 1, '14)

There's life in China's charm offensive
Anyone looking at China's series of seemingly unprovoked actions in the South and East China Seas could be forgiven for thinking of the "second charm offensive" President Xi Jinping launched last year to build neighborly relations as being dead in the water. That, however, is to ignore ongoing diplomatic and economic cooperation, and Xi's attempt to unite both approaches in a strategy that advances China's interests.
- Bonnie S Glaser and Deep Pal (Aug 1, '14)

Fatal gas blasts rip through Kaohsiung

At least 24 people were killed and more than 270 others were hurt when a series of explosions, which city officials believe to have been caused by a gas leak, ripped through the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung. The blasts left a long crater through the city, strewn with wrecked vehicles. (Aug 1, '14)

Leading Chinese iman murdered in Xinjiang
The head of the largest mosque in China, who has been highly critical of violence by ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs in the troubled Xinjiang region, has been stabbed to death, according to witnesses and local officials. (Jul 31, '14)

Dozens of Uyghurs killed in Xinjiang clashes
Chinese police in the troubled Xinjiang region have shot dead dozens ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims who went on a rampage, apparently angry over restrictions during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the killing of a family of five. Up to a dozen policemen may have been killed in the clashes. (Jul 30, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
Raising unneeded tension in Hong Kong
The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong is losing sight of the big picture: China is an emerging superpower and intends to keep the Communist Party in power for a very long time. In that context, the group's controversial "civil referendum" is another item in a long list of efforts counter-productive to democratic development. - Shannon Gong (Jul 18, '14)

America's Scarborough Shoal dolchstoss
As part of United States plans to take an overtly confrontational posture in backing China's overmatched local adversaries in Southeast Asia, Washington has been trying to rewrite history on the notorious Philipines-China Scarborough Shoal maritime standoff in 2012. Although a classic case of failed bilateral backdoor diplomacy, Washington now says Beijing broke unspoken diplomatic rules. - Peter Lee (Jul 15, '14)

COMMENT
Is new China the old Japan?
As United States Secretary of State John Kerry and China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi today take leading roles for the sixth strategic and economic dialogue, here's a troubling question: Does China today equal the 'old, imperial Japan' of some 70 years ago in its propensity to spark conflict and then war under the guise of 'Asia for Asians'? - Curtis S Chin (Jul 9, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Times collide in Beijing's strategic vision
The United States has reasons of its own to be both interested in and nervous about solving nuclear proliferation issues in North Korea and Iran, but China's need for peaceful development and growth means it has more at stake. Perceptions of a political situation that no longer applies still seem to be shaping Beijing's thinking about the future. - Francesco Sisci (Jul 3, '14)

Why was Blackwater in China?
Reports that Blackwater was once hired to protect North Korean asylum-seekers in China suggest the West wants Beijing to follow "non-refoulement" principles to guarantee refuge. An acid test of this would be if Beijing started reviewing asylum dossiers, forcing the US and South Korea to live up to human-rights rhetoric and accept an influx of thousands of brutalized North Korean refugees. - Peter Lee (Jul 3, '14)

Hong Kong nears tipping point with Beijing
Every year since the 1997 handover to China, July 1 in Hong Kong has witnessed a mass anti-Beijing rally. With pro-democracy campaigners ratcheting up tensions with the mainland, this year's demonstration stood out not just for the number of marchers - as much as half a million, according to one estimate - but for an anger and fervor that is now way more intense than even in the first few years after the end of British rule. - Kent Ewing (Jul 2, '14)

China envoy makes historic Taiwan visit
China's Taiwan Affairs Office minister Zhang Zhijun, left, with his Taiwanese counterpart Wang Yu-chi, is in Taiwan as the first mainland minister to visit the island since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Zhang's trip comes amid calls to respect Taiwan's democracy and weeks after thousands of students led protests over the island's trade pact with Beijing. (Jun 27, '14)

COMMENT
China. There, I said it
Although the US seeks a balance of military power in the Asia-Pacific that favors the US and its allies, civilian and military leaders continue to avoid moving beyond discussing missions and programs needed to counter China's emerging military capabilities. If Washington fails to stabilize the relationship, China will start moving the goalposts. - J Randy Forbes (Jun 27, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
China makes waves with maritime 'Silk Road'
Chinese plans to revive an ancient maritime "Silk Road" route between Europe and China in conjunction with land-based initiatives could create an important economic route towards closer regional and inter-regional interaction. The idea also raises a number of potentially tension-fraught issues related to international law of the sea, political relations and security. - Evgenios Kalpyris (Jun 27, '14)

China drives world gas growth
Energy experts point to the arrival a "golden age" for natural gas in China, predicting that rising demand for cleaner-burning fuel will lead the world's growth in gas use over the next five years. The outlook is darker for the country's power sector, where cheap coal will still dominate as a fuel in 2019 and continue to choke cities with smog. - Michael Lelyveld (Jun 24, '14)

US upgrades China for trafficking 'efforts'
The US State Department upgraded China from the lowest ranking in an annual global survey of human trafficking, saying Beijing was making "significant efforts" to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of the scourge. Thailand and Malaysia were among 23 countries to receive the lowest "Tier 3" ranking in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons report. (Jun 23, '14)

China adds 'ethnic mingling' to cash mix
The recently concluded Central Work Forum on Xinjiang marked a subtle yet significant departure in the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to ethnic policy. Economic development remains a top priority, yet leaders understand that money alone will not mollify ethnic and religious tensions in China's western regions. - James Leibold (Jun 23, '14)

Chinese analysts herald 'India's Nixon'
Chinese India-watchers reckon Narendra Modi's landslide victory in India's recent general election signifies an opening up to China akin to Richard Nixon's meeting with Mao Zedong in 1972. This optimistic analysis suggests that, given his focus on the Indian economy, Modi could choose to emulate China's growth model and draw inspiration from Deng Xiaoping.
- Jonathan Ward (Jun 20, '14)

Deadlock in South China Sea talks
China and Vietnam failed to break the deadlock in their territorial spat over the South China Sea, with Beijing's top foreign diplomat warning Hanoi against disrupting the work of the Chinese oil rig deployed last month to disputed waters and Vietnam urging China to withdraw the drilling equipment. - Joshua Lipes (Jun 19, '14)

China's top diplomat in Hanoi talks
China's top diplomat traveled to Vietnam on Tuesday for talks aimed at resolving a dispute over Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea. The arrival in Hanoi of Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, represents the highest bilateral contact since a Chinese state-run oil company deployed the rig to disputed waters on May 2. (Jun 18, '14)

China graft probe moves higher
Su Rong, the vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, has been placed under investigation for "serious violations of discipline", becoming the highest-ranking official yet to become the target of a graft crackdown launched in late 2012. (Jun 17, '14)

Tiananmen bombers get death penalty
This screen grab taken from state broadcaster China Central Television footage shows prisoners being escorted into the Intermediate People's Court in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi for the trial of those accused in the attack in October, 2013 in Beijing's Tiananmen Square that killed two tourists. Three of the eight accused were sentenced to death on June 16 over the suicide car crash, state-run media said, in China's latest move against militants from the mainly Muslim restive province. (Jun 17, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
Myths breed around China's energy quest
Accusations that China has resorted to military adventurism, extreme diplomatic concessions and alliances with socialist countries to meet its energy needs arise more because of Beijing's opaqueness than the facts. Such assumptions disregard that China has rarely used force to secure energy, and that Beijing's energy activities benefit host countries and global markets. - Jean-Marc F Blanchard and Maya Horin (Jun 10, '14)

Chinese student pool set to shrink
As 9 million young people conclude China's college entrance exams, the pool of hopeful candidates looks set to shrink as the population ages and increasing numbers of Chinese migrate overseas, with even far-from-wealthy parents losing confidence in the ability of China's educational system to give their child a head start in life. - Xin Lin (Jun 10, '14)

Look inwards, Washington
The dozens of think-tanks seeking to direct policy in Washington predominantly focus on change outside the country. The US would benefit if more concerned themselves with the internal state of affairs, not least the US's disintegrating infrastructure or the spread there of Christian fundamentalism. An American ability to reform itself can be the best recipe towards reforming the rest of the world - Francesco Sisci (Jun 9, '14)

COMMENT
Tiananmen: China should look to Taiwan
The 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre reminds us that the "China dream" espoused by President Xi Jinping is not the same as what the Chinese people dream of for their country. They will have reason to rejoice if they can match the persistence of the Taiwanese in turning a vision of democracy into reality. - Joseph Bosco (Jun 6, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
Japan, China vie for Modi's heart
The courting of Narendra Modi by Japan and China resembles a convoluted Bollywood plot, with twists and turns waiting in the story of how the Indian prime minister will decide with which to tie the strongest knot. Modi has sown the seeds of a relationship with China that appears as friendly as the one he has cultivated with Japan; both are heavily burdened with expectations that Modi can meet their needs. - Santosh Pai (Jun 6, '14)

China swims against soft-power tide
Chinese deputy chief of general staff Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, speaking at last weekend's Shangri-La Dialogue, lashed out at US and Japanese accusations that China is breaking international law with its territorial claims. The general's outburst underlines that Beijing has taken a unilateral, antagonistic approach that is losing ground to an American smart-power strategy of delegating more responsibility to allies in the region. - Tim Kumpe (Jun 6, '14)

CHINA CRACKDOWN: 25 YEARS ON
Tiananmen prism reveals Xi's colors
The track record of Xi Jinping as China's president amounts to a renunciation of much of Deng Xiaoping's reforms which the liberal cadres and intellectuals who converged in Beijing 25 years ago had supported. With the lockdown of reform activists on the anniversary of the June 4 massacre more severe than in years past, Tiananmen Square is a useful prism through which to examine the history of political reform in China.
- Willy Lam (Jun 5, '14)

China needs South Asia anti-terror dynamic
China has ramped up economic ties with Pakistan in the hope that Islamabad's cooperation will ease the escalating terrorism situation in China's restive Xinjiang province. However, a wave of attacks suggests the strategy is failing. If Beijing is serious about creating a regional anti-terror alliance, it will need to bring a country on board with an equal need for South Asian stability - India. - Abanti Bhattacharya (Jun 5, '14)

Hong Kong remembers the dead
Twenty-five years after the military assault on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989, up to 180,000 people turned out in Hong Kong to commemorate those who died. With many in the claimed record turnout too young to recollect the event itself, a deeper and more recent local dissatisfaction with the Beijing government was on display. - Kent Ewing (Jun 5, '14)

SINO-INDIAN TIES
Himalayan handshake for India's Modi
Pictures of China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in New Delhi this coming weekend will illustrate Beijing's eagerness to get off to a good start with the new right-wing nationalist rulers of India, who have already shown themselves willing to tread on Chinese sensitivities over Tibet. As in another overture, when in 1960 Zhou Enlai visited India as tensions were rising over the border dispute that led to war, relations are at a crossroads and India has tough choices to make. - M K Bhadrakumar (Jun 5, '14)

Beijing shrugs off 'nine-dash' demand
China shrugged off the international tribunal investigating a complaint from the Philippines over Beijing's "nine-dash line" territorial claims in the South China Sea. Responding to a request from the Permanent Court of Arbitration to submit evidence defending its territorial claims within six months, Beijing said it does not recognize the case. (Jun 5, '14)

China frets over Japanese nuclear program
Chinese officials are eyeing Japan's plutonium stocks with increasingly alarm as their East Asian neighbor shifts to the right, suspecting that the real intention is to retain the option of developing nuclear weapons. With territorial issues intensifying concerns, the nuclear issue has potential to further undermine regional security if left to fester. - Hui Zhang (May 30, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
The year of the knife in East Asia
Across East Asia, the knife has become the weapon of choice for killing frenzies, although the motivations have ranged from insanity and social isolation to ethnic and political tensions. Such random eruptions of violence appear out of character given the perceived self-control in such orderly societies, but psychologists say pent-up frustration fuels a recent spate of mass stabbings. - Thorsten Pattberg (May 29, '14)

Changing landscape of anti-China jihad
China has witnessed a series of terrorist attacks on its territory in the six months since it suffered its first-ever car bombing in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The same style of attack, in Urumqi on May 22, added to the perception that recent mass-killings are part of coordinated militant campaign, likely organized from outside China and employing the tactics of jihadists in neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Jacob Zenn (May 29, '14)

Cold War heats up in Asia
Many Western observers believe China has blundered into the United States' clever Asia "pivot" trap, with its aggressive moves driving its neighbors into the arms of Washington and enabling a more forward military presence for the US around China's borders. Beijing has gamed this out and is willing to roll the dice in the South China Sea. Cyberspace, however, is a more disturbing source of friction for the Cold War in Asia. - Peter Lee (May 27, '14)

SINOGRAPH
China offers Russia a bridge to Europe
Even before the Ukraine crisis, Russia's excessive reliance on Europe and possible deeper integration into the continent as an "equal" partner had seemed a recipe for disaster. By drawing closer to China, Russia can secure Siberia and fashion its presence in Central Asia as an imperial mission. However, there is a risk this could encourage Moscow's monopolistic tendencies. - Francesco Sisci (May 27, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
China's Silk-Road lessons for India
While US plans for a "new" Silk Road have faded in the Obama administration's second term, China is capitalizing on its better relations and rising economic clout in Central Asia to press ahead with land and maritime connections that emulate the ancient trade route. Given India's inferior connectivity ambitions, prime-minister elect Narendra Modi could take note of Beijing's ability to think big. - Tridivesh Singh Maini (May 23, '14)

Tibetans divided over cult of martyrs
Since 2009, almost 130 people have set fire to themselves in protest at China's heavy-handed control of the Tibetan plateau and to demand an end to rule from Beijing. While Tibetans recognize the sel-immolated compatriots as martyrs, members of the diaspora are far from reaching a unanimous assessment on such extreme behavior. - Robert Stefanicki (May 23, '14)

Historical texts reveal Tibet solution
If the Chinese leadership were to revisit two agreements, one a century old and the other concluded 63 years ago today, it might find a solution that would protect the territorial integrity of the People's Republic and satisfy the aspirations of all Tibetan people to securing a reasonable degree of autonomy. - Jampa Tenzin (May 23, '14)

China, Russia seal 30-year gas deal
A US$400 billion deal to supply Russian natural gas to China for 30 years, ending a decade of haggling, allowed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to end his two-day visit to Beijing on a high note rather in embarrassment. The last-minute agreement will open up East Asian markets for Siberian gas, but it may come at a cost to Russia, with key details not yet made public and some yet to be worked out. (May 22, '14)

US in a 'Eurasia' pickle
Unless President Barack Obama has absolute faith in the ability of the United States and the Asian democracies to restrain China, there seem to be some disturbing developments for the US in Asia. Either the US is a rather maladroit practitioner of foreign policy, or failure is displaying an inexplicable bias for dogging American actions. - Peter Lee (May 21, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Beijing falls short of
international vision

Attacks on Chinese citizens and property in Vietnam and the rise of nationalistic agenda in India and Japan give greater form to the specter of an anti-China coalition. Organization of such an alliance by these countries may look fanciful, but Beijing is unable to build a bulwark against it because it lacks the grammar and logic to build a comprehensive vision for dealing with international relations. - Francesco Sisci (May 19, '14)

THE ROVING EYE
China pivot fuels Eurasian century
The first real fireworks in the celebration of a new Eurasian century-in-the-making light the sky this week when Russian President Vladimir Putin drops in on Chinese President Xi Jinping. As the two leaders seal a "Pipelineistan" of energy deals, look no further than the difference between China's focus on economic ties versus the US global military-first strategy for a measure of relative rise and decline. - Pepe Escobar (May 19, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Ukraine creates arc of chaos
As the Ukraine crisis pushes Russia closer to China, Moscow may become over-reliant on a much tougher customer than its Western adversaries. Meanwhile, anti-unification factions in Europe are sharpening knives over the implications of a pro-Brussels result in Kiev elections. As the tensions spiral, it seems only the extremists on every side are happy. - Francesco Sisci (May 16, '14)

Bell tolls for US pivot in South China Sea
China's oil-drilling escapade off the Vietnamese coast is more than a one-off tantrum to show its neighbors that the "paper tiger" nature of US defense pledges. The manufactured crisis represents a sea change in strategy for dealing with the US pivot to Asia. Beijing has taken a major step to repudiate the basic pivot premise: that a US-led security alliance can deter unilateral and provocative behavior. All eyes on the oil-rig deck now look to the Philippines. - Peter Lee (May 14, '14)

Sea strife follows Obama in Asia
Maritime tensions between Southeast Asian countries and China have intensified since US President Barack Obama's visit last month, with the usually restrained Vietnam demonstrating its willingness to test the limits of American security commitments by dispatching vessels to an altercation with Chinese ships. Association of Southeast Asian Nations chairman Myanmar is also put to the test. - Richard Javad Heydarian (May 14, '14)

BOOK REVIEW
Deciphering Imperial China's regionalism
Mr Selden's Map of China by Timothy Brook
This well-illustrated exploration of how the discovery of a long-lost 17th century map of China and Southeast Asia has challenged perceptions of Imperial China as an introverted power contains exquisitely accurate depictions of regional sea routes. With analysis underlining that the Middle Kingdom was a maritime player long before 21st-century tensions, this account is a valuable introduction to a remarkable document. - Michael Rank (May 13, '14)

BOOK REVIEW
Hong Kong's identity crisis
No City for Slow Men by Jason Y Ng
While this collection of compelling essays finds delight in Hong Kong's food, customs and vibrant people, the native Hong Kong author doesn't shirk in his criticism of flaws such as its inequality, discrimination and bureaucracy. A harsh but affectionate appraisal of the confused and conflicted post-handover generation, the book sees little hope of this "foster child" city finding its true identity. - Kent Ewing (May 9, '14)

China blames Vietnam for oil-rig collisions
China threw the blame back at Vietnam's accusations that Chinese ships had rammed Vietnamese coast guard vessels patrolling the contested waters where Beijing has deployed an oil rig, claiming Hanoi has set a provocative collision course. China also opened the door for talks on the issue, as Japan and the United States expressed deep concerns and Vietnamese activists demanded a strong response. (May 9, '14)

Obama resets the 'pivot' to Asia
Lack of resolve and resources, combined with excessive attention on "militarization" mean that the US "pivot" to Asia as conceived two years ago has already has lost its shine for the most Pacific of American presidents. Barack Obama demonstrated on his recent Asian tour that a "reset" of the US rebalancing strategy is in order, one that focuses more on diplomacy, trade, and interdependency with China. - M K Bhadrakumar (May 9, '14)

Kwok trial underway in Hong Kong
Hong Kong's biggest corruption case since the city's anti-graft agency was formed nearly 40 years ago has got underway, with Thomas and Raymond Kwok, the billionaire co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the second-largest developer in the world, pleading not guilty to all charges in a case that involves a series of payments and loans totaling more than US$$4.5 million allegedly paid to Rafael Hui, who had headed Hong Kong's civil service from 2005 to 2007. (May 9, '14)

Xinjiang security challenge to Xi
Chinese President Xi Jinping's concept of "overall national security" was put to the test on April 30, when two alleged terrorists struck at the railway station in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, killing three people and injuring 79, just a few hours after Xi, who is also the country's commander-in-chief, left Xinjiang after a four-day inspection trip. - Willy Lam (May 9, '14)

China drills its hard-power reserves
China knows its latest attempt to drill in contested oilfields off the Vietnamese coast is a challenge that its Southeast Asian neighbor cannot ignore. Yet the gambit has clear and bigger targets: as practice for a confrontation with the Philippines - the country Beijing really wants to humiliate - and to goad Japan into a protector role that marginalizes the United States. All signs in the South China Sea point to Chinese soft-power sailing over the horizon. - Peter Lee (May 8, '14)

Mapping a world
of outright war

A schoolboy's map, created in years gone by, sketched out how the Chinese would come to rule the world. That map was an affirmation of its moment, a horror story that would soon obsess Kennedy-era officials. It was an act of faith, but also of mockery. Representing horror and yearning, that map said: "This is what it would be like if your vision proved true - and wouldn't that be something!" - Tom Engelhardt (May 8, '14)

Row spills onto Hong Kong streets
Mainlanders flocking into Hong Kong for the annual May Day buying spree were confronted by protesters calling on the tourists to do their shopping at home. Amid rising frustration in the city over the influence of China, the protests were inflamed by a video showing shuffles between a crowd and parents from the mainland who allowed their toddler to urinate in a busy shopping district. (May 2, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Ukraine crisis forces
Eurasian evolution

An historic investment-for-resources deal between Russia and China will neuter Europe's punitive efforts over Ukraine and redraw the world's energy map, but more importantly create a Eurasian dynamic that otherwise would take decades to evolve. In the 1970s, former US president Richard Nixon used the region's complexities to divide Cold War enemies. Now his doctrine is being used against America. - Francesco Sisci (Apr 30, '14)

Obama looks to ease Japan-China tensions
From a Chinese perspective, the visit by United States President Barack Obama to Japan was the high point of his current tour to Asia. Amid Japan-China tensions and the complexities of the "new type of major country relations" that China and the US are committed to promote, the sigh of relief from Beijing when Obama left Japan was almost audible. - M K Bhadrakumar (Apr 28, '14)

China's Wuhan hit by foul-water scare
Residents of the Chinese city of Wuhan are stocking up on bottled water after contamination of a major river led authorities to shut off supplies to 300,000 people. The latest emissions scare across China comes on the same day the country's parliament increased fines that can be imposed on polluters. (Apr 25, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Purge tightens
Xi's grip on reform

First former security czar Zhou Yongkang is put under virtual house arrest; now Central Military Commission generals Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong stand accused of selling promotions. The anti-corruption campaign is gathering pace, giving President Xi Jinping greater control of two pillars of the China Communist Party establishment and the kind of upper hand for enacting reform that the Cultural Revolution gave Deng Xiaoping.
- Francesco Sisci (Apr 23, '14)

Obama runs China's pivot gauntlet
Barack Obama embarks on a pivot promotion tour of Asia today with a certain smugness that the political and economic foundations of a China-containment regime have been laid. But with overt confrontation in East Asia from Beijing signaling its preparedness to manage relations in more hostile ways, the US president has no reason to feel other than the beginning of the end for the American Century is upon him. - Peter Lee (Apr 22, '14)

Japan warns Beijing over ship seizure
Japan has warned that the seizure by China of a container ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines for its failure to respond to a wartime compensation order may damage bilateral economic ties to the extent that it "may rock the foundation of the 1972 joint statement's spirit that normalized Japan-China diplomatic relations". (Apr 22, '14)

China tightens case against Zhou
Media reports in China suggest that President Xi Jinping's administration is bolstering its case against Zhou Yongkang, the once-powerful security czar, according to analysts. Two officials from the once-powerful leader's days as the party chief in Sichuan and China's largest oil company, headed by Zhou in the 1990s, are be investigated for "serious violations of discipline", the reports said. (Apr 16, '14)

High-level threat to China's party line
China's President Xi Jinping is channeling more powers into secretive leading groups and commissions within the Chinese Communist Party that report directly to him. The increase in top-level bodies raises questions about a lack of transparency and goes against Premier Li Keqiang's pledge that the State Council would be streamlined. - Willy Lam (Apr 15, '14)

Former Zhou aide Guo in graft probe
China's top prosecutor's office is carrying out a criminal investigation into Guo Yongxiang, a former vice governor of Sichuan province who was expelled from the Communist Party this week. Guo was for a time the secretary of Zhou Yongkang, the now retired head of nation's public security affairs. More than 300 people linked to Zhou have reportedly been taken into custody or questioned in the past four months, and assets worth as much US$14.5 billion seized. (Apr 11, '14)

Manila files South China Sea claim
After a year of futile diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the South China Sea disputes, the Philippines has risked estrangement with China by pressing ahead this week with an unprecedented arbitration case before a United Nations court at The Hague. - Richard Heydarian (Apr 3, '14)

China's long view obscured by smog
Beijing's ambitious scheme to move 100 million rural dwellers into cities is about economic stimulus as much as social engineering. The massive infrastructure work involved will help keep the economy growing, and it may even have a green pay-off in the long run. In the near term it spells continued environmental degradation. - Michael Lelyveld (Apr 3, '14)

Jakarta enters South China Sea in earnest
Indonesia has ended decades of strategic ambiguity towards China's nine-dash line map in the South China Sea by formally announcing that it overlaps Indonesian territories. Jakarta had long feared irredentist claims by Beijing towards the resource-rich Natuna Island chain but avoided confrontations that risked its position as mediator. With that placid stance officially abandoned, all regional bets are off. - Ann Marie Murphy (Apr 3, '14)

What's going on in Taiwan?
The brouhaha in Taiwan over a proposed trade pact with Beijing shows that the ruling Kuomintang cannot prevent opposition sabotage of its cross-strait initiatives. Superficially, this looks like a godsend for the US pivot. Practically, it signals further distancing of Asian democracies from the United States, while the day that Taiwan declares de jure independence has probably crept a little closer. - Peter Lee (Apr 2, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
Why China can grow without democracy
Under the strict Western dichotomy of authoritarianism versus democracy, China should open up politically as incomes grew. This ignores a historic belief in the benefits of benevolent dictatorship, and a prioritization of economic development over accountability rooted in ancient ideals of hierarchy and collectivism. - Lisbeth Moeller (Apr 1, '14)

Crimean conquest shows China the way
While Chinese hawks know that Russia's annexation of Crimea is not an easily transposable template for forcible takeovers, those advocating a harsher line on maritime territorial claims likely view the crisis as both a precedent and a window of opportunity. With Washington and Brussels focused on Moscow's next move, miniature "land-grabs" could be attempted in the South China Sea at reduced cost. - Euan Graham (Mar 31, '14)

INTERVIEW
Wang Ping and the kinship of rivers
Chinese poet and activist Wang Ping's most recent project aims to create a sense of connection between the peoples of the Yangtze and Mississippi River valleys - she grew up on the Yangtze's banks and now teaches along the American river. An exploration of immigration, migration, and environmental issues, the project saw Wang take an inspirational journey down the Yangtze's length with 2,000 flags. - Susan Scheid (Mar 28, '14)

Sex, politics and the Chinese city
Selective, high-profile busts of hotels, saunas and massage parlors was how the authorities in China used to give the impression the sex trade was being quashed, at least until a massive raid last month on prostitutes in the southern city of Dongguan, the country's sex capital, was touted as integral to President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign. With the oldest profession embedded in economic fortunes, don't expect success anytime soon. - Kent Ewing (Mar 26, '14)

Families grieve as MH370 'assumed lost'
Chinese families mourned news that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared from radar 16 days ago with 239 people aboard, "ended" in the Indian Ocean. China's foreign ministry said it has demanded Malaysia make all data and evidence available about how it reached the conclusion, and called for international search efforts to continue. (Mar 25, '14)

Gains for China, India in new cold war
China and India stand to gain significantly from the crisis in Ukraine if they can cherry-pick advantages presented by competing courtships of the United States and Russia. Both must, however, avoid the temptation to gather low-hanging fruit, when with careful climbing, quality produce can be harvested from higher up the tree. - M K Bhadrakumar (Mar 25, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Obama oils China-Vatican links
Barack Obama's visit to the Vatican and his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week assume great significance. Just as Beijing is signaling a potential thaw in relations with the Catholic Church in Rome, the United States president may act as a go-between to bring them closer. In a world where China is attentive to the exercise of soft power, it knows that Pope Francis is perhaps one of soft power's greatest sources. - Francesco Sisci (Mar 24, '14)

Old wine fills Xi's
ideological cup

Chinese President Xi Jinping has emerged as the strongest Chinese leader in decades by shaking up the bureaucracy and taking full-spectrum control of state policy. He is also moving to leave his stamp on propaganda and ideology, accelerating a trend toward replacing socialist doctrine with a nationalist rhetoric that reconciles Mao Zedong with Deng Xiaoping, Chiang Kai-shek and Confucius. - Carl Minzer (Mar 21, '14)

Steering our way to the future
The fall of the Soviet Union gave state planning a bad name, but China's rulers have had considerable success with setting clear goals in national policy. The moribund West needs to mix such an approach with real, participatory democracy via the Internet, and thus get control of its future back from the political class that has hijacked it. - Jan Krikke (Mar 19, '14)

From Kiev to Beijing … and Taipei
If Taiwan were tempted to follow Ukraine's example and disassociate itself from China, the One China policy would become fair game and embolden ethnic regions in their demands for independence. Alarm in Beijing is tempered by the current Taipei government's independence-averse stance. But Taiwan is in play should the geopolitical win in Kiev prove lure enough for Washington to rock the boat. - Peter Lee (Mar 18, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
Ukraine offers chance to cage the bear
Events in Ukraine and Crimea represent an opportunity to alter the strategic map to the detriment of Vladimir Putin. That will take more than the paltry cash offered by the US or the EU, but China might have good reasons to consider it money well-spent to pull Ukraine from Russia's orbit - leaving a competitor preoccupied with problems. - Tom Velk and Olivia Gong (Mar 18, '14)

Little faith in China's war on pollution
With a pall of smog hanging over northern China, Premier Li Keqiang declared war on pollution in his first annual work report. But China already has what many observers say is a tough set of pollution laws. The problem is enforcing them in a country where officials are on the take and activists are harassed and jailed. (Mar 17, '14)

Mongolian rivalries deter investors
Competing interests among business factions and politicians are adding layers of complexity to the country's foreign policy and undermining its fledgling democracy. But intense domestic rivaly welcomes assertive Russian interests, increases Chinese dominance, and discourages Western investors. - Mendee Jargalsaikhany (Mar 13, '14)

Asian 'Internet enemies' tighten controls
China and Vietnam have extended controls on the Internet and North Korea is using "increasingly sophisticated" means to spread disinformation through the worldwide web, according to a new report which labels the three nations as the biggest "Enemies of the Internet". Raising concerns about rising cyber-censorship the world over, Reporters Without Borders urged the United Nations to take measures to protect online freedoms. - Rachel Vandenbrink (Mar 13, '14)

Chinese anger mounts over missing plane
Friends and family of Chinese passengers on the Malaysia Airlines jet that has disappeared over the South China Sea are expressing mounting frustration as the international search for the Beijing-bound aircraft widens. Amid growing mystery over what caused Flight 370 to drop off the radar, relatives of some of the missing 239 people on board the ill-fated airliner are flying into to Kuala Lumpur with questions they want answered. (Mar 11, '14)

COMMENT
Dangers in China's Confucianism nostalgia
Scholars in China say President Xi Jinping's crackdowns on corruption and his concept of "the Chinese dream" are nods to the Confucian values believed to underpin an ideal society. Critics say that the sage's teachings praise patriarchy, nepotism, abuse of officialdom and moral dictatorship. The Confucian ideal of a government run by supreme human beings - the junzi - is possibly the greatest corruption of all. - Thorsten Pattberg (Mar 7, '14)

China's Uyghurs fear Kunming backlash
China's mostly Muslim Uyghur minority could face a further backlash of discrimination in the wake of the Kunming railway station killings that left 33 people dead last weekend as the authorities tighten security restrictions based on ethnic profiling, made easier by ethnic identification on all ID cards in China. (Mar 6, '14)

China reels from train station massacre
Police shot dead at least four knife-wielding attackers who killed 29 people and wounded as many as 143 others in a train station in Kunming in southwest China over the weekend, blaming Uyghur "separatist forces" for a slashing rampage which the official news agency Xinhua compared to the deadly 9/11 terror attack on the US in 2001. (Mar 3, '14)

Knifed Hong Kong editor in 'critical' state
The former editor of Ming Pao, a popular Chinese-language Hong Kong newspaper, is said to be in a critical condition after being attacked with meat cleavers. Kevin Lau's ouster in January and other high-profile staffing changes at news organizations in recent weeks have prompted protesters to decry what they claim is self-censorship to avoid angering Beijing. (Feb 28, '14)

SINOGRAPH
A grand new strategy for China
The United States' pivot to Asia has forced China to abandon a defensive stance in the Pacific and instead develop a new grand strategy that rests on projecting national security. Lacking the firepower to do anything other than intimidate its smaller neighbors, Beijing is countering the pivot by masterminding a Bismarckian cobweb of complex alliances. Some salvation lies in stepping more boldly into Central Asia and the Middle East. - Francesco Sisci (Feb 28, '14)

COMMENT
What happens in China stays in China?
China used its hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2001 to showcase a lifting of Internet blocks on foreign news organizations, but imprisonment and expulsion of journalists since then suggest freedoms have slipped as Chinese leaders prepare to host the summit again this year. China could take this opportunity to show the world a more open side, but if some authorities have their way and censorship worsens, what happens in China will increasingly stay in China. - Curtis S Chin (Feb 26, '14)

New fault lines in the South China Sea
The Philippines and Japan are ramping up rhetoric over China's territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea as US President Barack Obama prepares to visit the region, in the belief that the US "pivot" to Asia is taking its preferred shape. But as diplomatic bridges are burned with Beijing, hopes are fading for a maritime code of conduct to dampen tensions. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Feb 26, '14)

China calls for 'unity' on smog
Northern China was under a second day of "orange" alert as smog choked its cities on Tuesday, and with the US Embassy in Beijing tweeting unofficial measures of pollutants at nearly 20 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization, the Chinese government moved to ward off growing criticism, calling for a "united front" against the problem. (Feb 26, '14)

Asia pivot comes back to bite the US
US media are sniping at "provocative" acts by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seemingly ignorant to the fact that Abe's refusal to embrace Asian unity is a direct consequence of the empowerment of Tokyo's hawks by the US "pivot to Asia". Instead of the united front against China the US envisioned, it has an alliance in flux that's ripe for testing by Beijing. - Peter Lee (Feb 25, '14)

Who's afraid of the Dalai Lama?
China feels genuinely upset with the United States over the meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama in the White House in Washington last weekend, but, nonetheless, will not make a mountain out of a molehill. No matter what Obama discussed with the Tibetan spiritual leader, it has no bearing on China's policies in the region.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Feb 25, '14)

Offense is best defense for China
China regularly reminds the world that alongside a strategy of "non-interference" in the political affairs of other countries it has no intention of exporting its ideology, and it is quick to cite the United States as a serial offender. That masks the maneuvers Beijing is making to put its worldview in the ascendancy. - Nicholas Dynon (Feb 24, '14)

Smuggling charge 'linked to Xi book'
A Hong Kong publisher facing smuggling charges in the Chinese city of Shenzhen after he edited a book highly critical of President Xi Jinping was threatened by someone in Beijing not to release the publication prior to his detention, according to Yu Jie, the US-based author of the book, Chinese Godfather Xi Jinping. (Feb 20, '14)

Chinese rights lawyer vows to keep fighting
Prominent rights lawyer Wang Cheng says after his detention and release over the weekend that he will keep up the pressure on China's ruling Communist Party to ratify an international covenant on civil and political rights. Wang insists that China's citizens have the right to press the government ahead of the annual meeting of its rubber-stamp parliament next month. (Feb 19, '14)

China quashes reports of 'unlivable' Beijing
Internet censors in China have deleted online references to an official pollution report that describes Beijing as nearly unfit for human habitation, while state media have tried to limit the damage. A Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences report on livability ranked the capital city second to last in an index of 40 cities around the world. (Feb 14, '14)

US blind to barbs in Japan defense plan
The United States is supporting Japanese plans for "collective self-defense", which are described as the biggest shake-up in relations since World War II and would permit Tokyo to manage its own security ties with Asian allies. The US believes the plans ensure Tokyo's loyalty to Washington while keeping Japan's military ambitions constrained by the pacifist constitution. This ignores the instrument's potential uses against China. - Peter Lee (Feb 13, '14)

Xi Jinping's clique revealed
China's President Xi Jinping holds more levers giving him direct control the national government than ex-presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao ever did. Even more significant to his entrenched and extensive power is the clique he has built, whose members are ensconced in senior slots in the party, government and military.
- Willy Lam (Feb 10, '14)

US rejects China's nine-dash line
The United States for the first time has explicitly rejected the U-shaped, nine-dash line that China uses to assert sovereignty over nearly the whole South China Sea, experts say, strengthening the position of rival claimants and setting the stage for what could be an international legal showdown with Beijing. - Parameswaran Ponnudurai (Feb 10, '14)

Going public with the China-Japan dispute
A formal diplomatic tool known as "public talks" would give China and Japan a chance to publish their differing interpretations of history worldwide, with "dialogue documents" distributed that also give Tokyo and Beijing an opportunity to pose questions, state negotiating positions and cover international conflicts. Critics may decry the lack of secrecy, but so far, internalizing the national wounds has only helped them to fester. - John Connolly (Feb 6, '14)

Japan hawks ruffle dovish feathers
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's formula to confront China and estrange it from its neighbors by creating security alliances throughout Asia and pushing security concerns to the center of the US-Japan relationship is getting more than a little help from US establishment hawks, who see more money in tension than in peace. But the Obama administration is quietly pushing back. - Peter Lee SINOGRAPH
US pivot chafes at vital Asian ties
As the United States re-examines its strategic rebalancing to Asia, Washington should pay close attention to developments this week that saw China take important steps on the road to reunification with Taiwan and towards convergence with South Korea on dealing with the problem of North Korea. The broad US goal of containing China increasingly runs against some specific and urgent political necessities of China's neighbors. - Francesco Sisci (Jan 29, '14)

A poster girl for torture in Hong Kong
Airport officials turned a blind eye to a bruised and emaciated Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a 23-year-old Indonesian maid who allegedly suffered repeated incidents of torture at the hands of her Hong Kong employer, as she left the city earlier this month. Hong Kong authorities have changed their tune since the claims came to light, putting the spotlight yet again on the employment system in a city where one in five foreign domestic workers reports physical abuse. - Kent Ewing (Jan 28, '14)

Chinese anti-graft campaigner jailed
Chinese anti-corruption campaigner Xu Zhiyong on Sunday was sentenced to four years in jail after a court found him guilty of "disrupting public order" in a conviction seen as punishment for his efforts to expose high-level graft within President Xi Jinping's government. Xu is China's highest profile dissident to be sentenced since Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. (Jan 27, '14)

India, Japan walk Chinese tightrope
India cemented ties with Japan by making Shinzo Abe the first Japanese prime minister to be chief guest at its Republic Day parade. Yet as Tokyo seeks to rope in Indian support over what it terms "recent Chinese provocative actions", New Delhi's pan-Asian take is not quite what Japan is looking for. - Narayani Basu (Jan 27, '14)

China loses control of its foreign policy
China's foreign-policy setbacks as Myanmar opens up to the West and as Africa presents it with diplomatic struggles illustrate that nationalist-inspired adventurism among its citizens abroad is causing Beijing to lose control of its foreign policy. Global anxiety over China's new zones of control for air passage and fishing in disputed territories underscores the realization that Beijing is incapable of reining in nationalist sentiment. - Terry McCulley (Jan 24, '14)

China's dual response to the US 'pivot'
The US pivot to the Asia-Pacific is both a regional engagement and a China containment strategy, and Beijing has had to develop its own two-pronged response. While one approach envisions two economic new "Silk Roads" - a land route across Central Asia and a maritime link through Southeast Asia - China's other tack emphasizes a swift military response to territorial provocations. - Joao Arthur Reis (Jan 24, '14)

SPEAKING FREELY
China-Japan rivalry overstated in Africa
Simultaneous visits to Africa this month by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi descended into a fight over who has the continent's best interests at heart. That China is increasingly modeling its economic activities in Africa on what it has learned from Japan suggest their approaches to Africa are not radically different. - Seifudein Adem (Jan 23, '14)

China's rights abuses 'escalate'
Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration is harshly cracking down on dissent and has failed to uphold promises of reforms, according to Human Rights Watch. The US-based group's annual global report underlined a worsening human rights situation throughout East Asia, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-eun having "picked up where his father and grandfather left off" by overseeing a system of public executions, political prison camps, and forced labor. (Jan 22, '14)

SINOGRAPH
China chances a game-changing role
China is far from becoming a key player in the Middle East, where the Americans and the Russians have historically had a better understanding of the region and better ties with its many fighting factions. But as a new force for stability spreading from East to West and through Central Asia, its pragmatic interventions could help change seemingly intractable problems in the long term. - Francesco Sisci (Jan 16, '14)

Homeless freeze as fire wrecks Shangri-La
A fire in the 1,300-year-old Tibetan town of Gyalthang, in an area of China's Yunnan province believed to be the inspiration for James Hilton's mythical Shangri-La, has destroyed two-thirds of the town center, leaving more than 2,500 people in freezing temperatures homeless and without relief supplies. (Jan 14, '14)

China casts red tape in South China Sea
China is pressing home its territorial claims in the South China Sea by requiring foreign fishing-related vessels to secure permission before entering the country's claimed maritime jurisdiction. This does not immediately portend a dramatic escalation in the troubled waters but does indicate Beijing's determination to flex its muscles, regardless of the potential diplomatic fallout. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Jan 14, '14)

Time ripe for US-China space cooperation
As falling budgets and diminishing public support cast a shadow over NASA's future, its Chinese counterpart is forging ahead with expansion and lunar achievements. Space exploration in the US will soon be driven by private enterprises, and in this brave new world there is no place for anti-Chinese scaremongering over technology transfer and cyber-security threats. - Andrew M Johnson (Jan 14, '14)

Kerry missing the message on Asia
Despite the dawning of US energy independence and China's increasing dominance of the global trade balance, the second-term Obama administration has failed to re-focus foreign policy towards Asia and away from the Middle East with the necessary urgency. From dallying on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership to reticence over Beijing's territorial assertiveness, the leadership of Secretary of State John Kerry is failing to deliver. - Hamza Mannan (Jan 13, '14)

China faces barriers in the Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is a major element in China's grand project to transform itself into a great world power, both to project its naval and continental presence and as a route for energy supplies. However, while the United States has both real allies and partners in the region, China has neither, save for an increasingly dysfunctional Pakistan. - John Lee and Charles Horner (Jan 10, '14)

SPENGLER
Common traits bind
Jews and Chinese

It may seem odd to compare the largest of peoples with one of the world's smallest, but Chinese and Jews have something in common that helps explain their success and longevity; the ability to transcend tribalism through a unifying civilization. It should be no surprise that they have enemies in common. (Jan 10, '14)

America: Hooked on hegemony
China expects the United States to gravitate towards a "balance-of-power" arrangement in Asia that recognizes the benefits of Washington occasionally siding with Beijing to moderate the destabilizing actions of Japan and other Asian countries excessively emboldened by the US "pivot". This assumption rests on US reasonableness in the Pacific in late 2013 that was actually motivated by convenience and tactics. American containment is still doomed to create a fatal flashpoint. - Peter Lee (Jan 8, '14)

China sticks to collision course
Belief that China's uncompromising behavior in the South and East China Seas is an expression of national interest that can be softened through cooperation and international mediation is off the mark when Beijing will listen only to military force and political isolation. It should therefore come as no surprise that Japan aims to increase its military options while seeking closer security ties with the US and Asian partners. - Stefan Soesanto (Jan 7, '14)

SINOGRAPH
Abe's shrine visit calls
for wider reflection

As far as acts of reverence go, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine to pray among the souls of 28 war criminals was brazen. Deeper reflection of Japan's imperial past - much as China needs to reassess the influence of Mao Zedong in its present-day affairs - would help reduce bitter memories that stand in the way of a more peaceful balance of power in Asia. - Francesco Sisci (Jan 6, '14)

Japan takes a reckless gamble
The Japanese prime minister knew his visit to the Yasukuni war shrine in December would exacerbate already fraught tensions with China and South Korea; he likely calculated that this was outweighed by the domestic political gains. Formal attendance at the shrine symbolizes patriotic defiance against outside interference, helping build public support that will help in pushing through controversial economic and defense reforms. - Senan Fox (Jan 6, '14)
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