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Tag: "china"

“These are Our Rocks”

[ 60 ] January 11, 2013 |

Let me be the first to point out that there is no way in which this could end up badly:

After repeatedly flying surveillance aircraft into disputed airspace with Japan, and Tokyo scrambling F-15s in response, China’s now sending fighters of its own on “routine flights” into the East China Sea.

China Daily:

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday that Chinese military planes were on”routine flights” in relevant airspace over the East China Sea. Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a press briefing in response to media reports that Japan sent fighter jets to head off a number of Chinese military planes spotted in Japan’s “air defense identification zone” over the East China Sea on Thursday.

“China firmly opposes Japan’s moves to gratuitously escalate the situation and create tensions,” Hong said.

The area north of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyus in China, is reportedly home to billions in oil and gas deposits claimed both by Japan and China.

The Chinese jets could be flying from air base Shuimen, built east of the islands in Fujian Province. Satellite imagery of the base first came to light in 2009, but experts believe it reached completion late last year.

The Taipei Times reported in May 2012 that satellite images showed J-10 combat aircraftSu-30 fighters, and various unmanned drones arriving at the base.

Accidental wars are extremely rare, but accidental “guy gets shot down in posturing-related mishap” are less rare. That said, who doesn’t like some hot F-15 on Su-30 action?

See also.

Ma Yansong

[ 141 ] December 12, 2012 |

This is an interesting, if somewhat older, discussion of the Chinese architect Ma Yansong and his so-called “organic architecture.” The piece focuses on his so-called “Marilyn Monroe” building in Mississagua, Ontario.

Reading about this drove home a few points about architecture to this somewhat educated person (though by no means any kind of expert) on the subject.

First, buildings like this are a nice counterweight to the boring box apartment tower that dominates in the early 21st century. This is as true in China as in soulless North American developments.

Second, I am skeptical of grand architectural theory, even when articulated by someone as seemingly innocuous as Ma. I neglected to comment on Oscar Niemeyer’s passing last week, but his design of Brasilia is contemptible as a place for human beings. Nothing reeks of the worst of high modernism as the complete disinterest by architects in the needs of people in their buildings. The too-common phenomenon of people-free architectural models in the pre-building process is a sign of how pervasive this is within architecture. Probably the most architecturally important building with which I have an intimate familiarity is the Rem Koolhaas designed Seattle Public Library. It’s pretty cool in many ways. It does a lot of things well. It also shows some shocking disregard for how people use space, ranging from an odd lack of bathrooms to the fact that following the stacks to the end puts you in the middle of nowhere, so much so that staff have taped signs to walls leading you to the exit from that point. So grand architectural ideas make me, well, worried.

Seattle Public Library

Third, even the best of this kind of architectural thought shows major problems within the planning of human settlements. Ma I think rightfully centers ideas of nature in his buildings. But you know what would be better than buildings that simulate nature? Nature. Take this:

The human relationship to nature is one of Ma’s fixations; lately, he has been particularly interested in traditional Chinese gardens, which harness nature to spiritual ends. “You can imagine one person sitting in a pavilion looking out to the pond and listening to music,” he says. “Real nature and artificial nature all mix together to create this scene. Those trees, rocks and pavilions are what you see, but what you feel is what’s special.”

These days, of course, traditional gardens are overrun by tourists, so Ma wants to incorporate that feeling of spiritual connection to nature into modern buildings. He has already done this in Fake Hills, a vast seaside residential complex in Beihai, Guangxi. Originally, the developer wanted a box-standard collection of towers, but Ma realized this would prevent many apartments from having a sea view, so he transformed the entire project into an long, thin mountain range, whose peaks and valleys create space for large garden terraces and whose shape allows each apartment to face the ocean.

Fake Hills indeed. Traditional gardens would probably be less overrun if China mandated the construction of gardens and parks within its cities.

I know it’s not within the mandate of capitalism and the profit motive (and for the love of god please no one promote the fiction that China is not capitalist) to create living spaces that promote the traditional spaces between houses that provide much needed tiny green spaces. But Fake Hills is nothing more than fake hills. It’s cool and harmless. But actual trees and such would be a lot cooler. To be fair, it does look the one photo of the model in the article at least includes trees on top of the building, which is something.

This isn’t to take anything away from Ma’s buildings, which seem important, popular, and refreshing. But it is a worthy entry point into discussing some of the issues with high-end architecture.

This Fully Armed and Operational Aircraft Carrier…

[ 60 ] November 25, 2012 |

The “China has an aircraft carrier with no aircraft” talking point is now obsolete:

Some analysis here. Impressive work.

“Frankenforces” and the Future of the Arms Trade in East Asia

[ 12 ] November 1, 2012 |

Interrupting election coverage for this all-important update on the structure of the East Asian arms trade:

An arms relationship represents both an economic and a political commitment. What’s at stake in making such a commitment? While Sino-U.S. competition likely won’t descend into the kind of alliance structure that predominated during the Cold War, some navies could nevertheless find themselves on the “wrong side” of political competition in the Western Pacific, which could leave them vulnerable. Committing to one supplier creates a relationship of dependency, with the client needing to stay in the good graces of the patron in order to maintain access to spares, munitions, and modernization kits. The smaller navies of Southeast Asia need to decide how best to develop force structures in a future which may see competition between the United States and China.

China’s Aircraft Carrier

[ 28 ] September 30, 2012 |

Everyone I know sent me a link related to this event. First things first, congratulations to the PLAN and to the people of China on turning a half-finished hulk into a major, if limited, warship.  Some thoughts from around the internets:

Inter-Service Conflict and the System of Systems

[ 8 ] September 26, 2012 |

My latest at the Diplomat discussed efforts to make military services play nice with one another:

I’ve belabored the organizational aspects of China’s system of anti-access systems because bureaucratic boundaries matter. AirSea Battle seeks, above all, to iron out the wrinkles that could prevent tight cooperation between the United States Navy and the United States Air Force.  Years of hard won experience have demonstrated that military organizations don’t necessarily play well together; they have different priorities, different practices, and often different system of communication that generate friction and detract from overall capability.  The history of USN and USAF collaboration in KoreaVietnam, Grenada, and the Gulf is littered with stories of hostility, rivalry, and miscommunication. The Pentagon understands this, and over the years has enacted a plethora of reforms (not least the Goldwater-Nichols Act) to ensure that the Air Force and the Navy can operate effectively together.

As of yet there is little indication that the PLAN, PLAAF, and 2nd Artillery have developed the practices necessary to ensure an efficient, effective partnership in battle.

 

The iPhone 5: That Shine Comes from the Blood of Foxconn Workers

[ 34 ] September 24, 2012 |

When workers are rioting because their lives are so awful that there’s absolutely nothing to lose, it’s pretty bloody awful. Let’s just hope international pressure continues to push Apple to “work with Foxconn” to improve conditions. After all, what power does one of the world’s most influential corporations really have to dictate the conditions of work for its manufacturers??? And of course, since consumers clearly won’t pay a penny more to acquire the coolness of an Apple product, the idea of creating work conditions that would make suicide nets unnecessary is obviously impossible……

Foreign Entanglements: East China Sea

[ 4 ] September 24, 2012 |

On Foreign Entanglements, Dr. Toshi Yoshihara and I discuss rising tensions in the East China Sea:

How Many Flattops for China?

[ 11 ] September 13, 2012 |

I have a new weekly gig at The Diplomat.  First offering:

Reports on Monday indicated that the PLAN has finally settled on a name for its aircraft carrier, heretofore known as the ex-Varyag.  While speculation included names such as “Beijing,” “Mao Zedong,” and “Shi Lang,” the PLAN instead decided to adopt a relatively conventional naming strategy, dubbing the refurbished Soviet-era carrier “Liaoning” in honor of the province that has hosted the warship’s refit.

Most analysts agree that China will pursue the construction of additional aircraft carriers, but at this point the opacity of Chinese defense planning has not revealed how many ships the PLAN intends to operate.  In a recent article for Globe Magazine, a Chinese security scholar and major general argued that China needs up to five carriers to manage its maritime security…

 

 

An Awkward Position…

[ 19 ] September 5, 2012 |

Shades of American Gangster:

Two Indian Air Force pilots who flew Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie in a special aircraft from Mumbai to Delhi on Wednesday received an unusual gift from the visiting dignitary.

The pilots were given two envelopes on their arrival in Delhi. On opening the envelopes, they found Rs 50,000 in Indian currency in each.

Sources said the captain of the aircraft informed Air Headquarters, and it was decided the cash would be deposited in the government depository. The cash could not be returned due to diplomatic sensitivities, they added.

Liang, who is on a five-day visit to India, arrived in Mumbai on Sunday.

I’m guessing that accepting the… gratuity would have resulted in more than the standard level of professional jeopardy that such transactions involve. The IAF also has a strong reputation for professionalism. I wonder what would have happened if the situation had been reversed…

Foreign Entanglements: Watching the Election from Beijing

[ 0 ] August 9, 2012 |

Among other things, Taylor Fravel and I chatted about Chinese views of the election:

Exercises and Borders

[ 2 ] August 8, 2012 |

I have two largely unrelated pieces that both involve China. First, in the Diplomat:

As a regularly scheduled biennial exercise, RIMPAC happens regardless of the extant political situation in the Pacific. However, the absence of the People’s Liberation Army Navy – and the participation of Russia and India for the first time – combined with new tensions in the South China Sea, leaves the unavoidable impression that these exercises are geared towards managing the increasing naval power of China.

This year’s RIMPAC exercise took place against the backdrop of an unusually open debate about the future of U.S. maritime strategy in East Asia. The Obama administration’s “pivot” pledges a redistribution of U.S. military effort to the Western Pacific. The development of AirSea Battle, at least at tactical and operational levels, promises to enhance the ability of assets from different organizations to cooperate. China has viewed these debates with considerable concern.

And then in the Global Times:

The broader problem is that sponsorship of militant networks can have wide-ranging, unpredictable outcomes. Elements of the US supported mujahedeen eventually came to constitute part of the Taliban, giving harbor to enemies of the US. Pakistani support of the Taliban as well as other militant networks has led to many terrorist attacks in Pakistan and India. In the future, jihadist networks may undertake major attacks in Xinjiang and other parts of China.

Whether or not elements of the Pakistani Taliban are using Afghanistan as a safe haven, border conflicts will continue to create problems between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the US…. Heavily armed bands of young, enthusiastic men undercut state power and authority, however attractive such networks may appear in the short term. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India should take note, just as China and the US should closely monitor the development of new militant groups along the Durand Line.

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