WikiLeaks Expose: Time to snub Pakistan and the US
|Ramananda Sengupta | 2010-07-30 12:59:18|
[This one describes it as an air blast near the ship, which left some powder burns and a 60cm hole four meters above the water line. After pointing-out the powder burns, the report goes on to then explain the lack of shrapnel holes by claiming the blast was not near the ship. It was a missile bearing a focused lethality DIME munition, in my opinion.]
Anna Zacharias, Loveday Morris and Eugene Harnan
FUJAIRAH // Officials said yesterday they suspected a stray mine or a collision damaged a Japanese oil tanker as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz.
Investigators are examining the M. Star, moored about 13 nautical miles off the Port of Fujairah, whose crew reported an explosion around 4.30am on Wednesday.
Its owner, Mitsui OSK Lines, said it was “highly likely” to have been caused by an outside attack, as some of the ship’s 31 crew members saw a flash on the horizon immediately before the blast.
Investigations by federal authorities, insurers and Mitsui OSK are expected to last two or three days. Damage to the ship was caused by a collision, said Capt Mousa Murad, the general manager of the Port of Fujairah.
“The cause of the collision is not clear from the dent in the ship,” he said, declining to rule out the possibility that it was struck by a mine or in a targeted attack. Windows and doors were blown out at deck-level, far above the waterline where the ship was dented. “The accommodation has been damaged, from the deck until the control room, especially aluminium doors.”
There was internal flooding in the crew’s quarters, but no water had entered from outside the ship, he said. There was one breach of the hull, a 60cm hole four metres above the waterline, under a lifeboat-storage station.
There was no oil or other pollution spilling from the damaged vessel. Manoj Mathew, the ship’s captain, said in a letter to Fujairah port’s harbour master that “the vessel is completely stable and seaworthy and proceeding safely”.
The letter said the second officer suffered minor injuries, which were treated onboard.
The ship arrived in Fujairah around 6.40pm on Wednesday. It was carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude oil from Qatar to Japan.
“What is certain is this is caused by an external force,” said Ravi Gupta, a ship repair expert for Clarkson Technical Services in Fujairah.
Mr Gupta discounted the possibility that there could have been a collision with another vessel. “This was definitely not a collision, as there is no scraping marks,” he said.
“Even if it was a submarine on the surface and the crew didn’t see it, there would be scratch marks.”
The damage to the superstructure and deck looked as though it had been caused by a strong force of air pressure, he said.
Ajit Shenoi, a professor in ship science at Southampton University in Britain, said the shattered windows and internal damage could have been caused by shockwaves from a collision. But the external damage was inconsistent with this explanation, he added.
“It looks as though an explosion in the air or water near the ship is the most likely cause,” he said. “Looking at the image of the ship, you’d expect more abrasion on the plating if it was a collision with a submarine or another ship, and there’s localised blackening on the red paint indicating an explosion.”
Mustafa Alani, a senior adviser on terrorism and security at the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai, said the damage to the ship’s starboard, near the stern, appeared to match that of a floating mine. Although sea mines were designed to cause more damage, one that was 20 years old would have lost some of its potency, he said.
“They tried to clear as many as possible, but there were many thousands put down during the Iran-Iraq war,” Mr Alani said.
“It’s not a [rocket-propelled grenade]. The collapsed area, if it were an RPG, would be a round spot. There would be more blackness. It doesn’t look like there was a direct impact point, which you would see with an RPG.” The damage at the water level also indicated a mine, he added.
A UAE-based ship surveyor, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s the kind of damage you might see from a ship hitting another ship, but it would have been hard for the crew to miss another ship, and anything that left an impact like that would have left scratch marks.
“The damage is just above the water line, so it’s something that’s floating on the water.
“It’s definitely not an internal explosion. A missile or an RPG would have pierced the hull. It’s probably a low-grade or old floating mine that has exploded some distance away from the ship.”
As a cheap and easy way of blocking sea access, mines were used extensively during the first Gulf War and the Iran-Iraq war.
Minesweeping operations continue in the region. In 2008, HMS Chiddingfold, a British minesweeper, was called to the northern Gulf by the Kuwaiti and Iraqi governments to find and dispose of leftover mines for shipping routes to be opened. Most mines in the region are thought to have been disposed of, but a few areas are still classed as dangerous.
Others discounted the theory that the ship hit a mine. Richard Skinner, the managing director of Orchid Maritime, a private security firm that specialises in maritime security, said there had probably been a collision.
“If it was a mine or something in the water, it is not really consistent with an explosion from a device like that,” he said.
It was unclear what type of vessel might have struck the tanker or what its fate might be. There have been collisions in the area in the past. In January 2007, a US Navy submarine collided with a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz damaging its stern. Prof Shenoi said it was unlikely that the M Star would have failed to pick up another vessel, or a submarine on the surface, on its radar, or vice versa.
The US Fifth Fleet said no American or coalition vessels had been operating in the area at the time. “The investigation into the cause is ongoing and we are keeping abreast of the situation,” said Lt John Fage, a spokesman for the fleet. WAM, the state news agency, quoted Emirati and Omani officials who attributed the damage to a freak wave caused by a “tremor” on Wednesday night.
However, according to the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology, there was no unusual seismic activity around the time of the incident. Mitsui OSK said yesterday that, based on its investigation so far, wave damage was “highly unlikely”.
“It is clearly not a natural incident because no wave could cause that type of damage,” Mr Skinner said. Mr Gupta agreed, saying: “As the damage is to the stern quarter of the ship, wave damage just to this location seems unlikely.”
* The National
[If this was a false flag incident, to provoke a conflict with Iran, then the flash of light on the horizon reported by the tanker crew (SEE: M. Star Tanker Reports Flash On Horizon Moments Before Explosion) could have been from a missile fired from an American or Israeli F-16, or any American plane. The photo could show evidence of a possible blast wave, without leaving behind physical evidence of missile fragments or shrapnel holes.]
[The argument given below to support the idea that a sub caused this dent is that the picture shows the supertanker after unloading, implying that the dent may have been below the waterline. It appears that this tanker is still fully loaded, a similar photo below shows a loaded tanker (lower right) and the red line is still above water. If it was a submarine, it was running on the surface. It looks like it could have been a blast concussion of some type, on closer examination. If it was caused by something fired on the horizon (SEE: M. Star Tanker Reports Flash On Horizon Moments Before Explosion), then it would have had to have been some sort of exotic weapon that expels no shrapnel.]
Still unclear how the Japanese tanker was indented on the open seas.
– It is possible that in the case of a collision with a submarine or a mine, “said Captain Mousa Mourad today – the day after a mysterious incident.He is the chief port of Fujairah in United Arab Emirates, where the tanker has been built to further investigations.
|Herje: Skirmish consequential tanker apparent damage even indoors.|
Fear of terrorism
The Japanese super tanker M. Star was on the way from Qatar to Japan through the Strait of Hormuz off Oman, with over two milllioner barrels (270,200 tons) of crude oil, when it was struck by a violent collision.
First, did the crew of the tanker that hit a huge wave, and there were reports of an earthquake in the area. The shipping company Mitsui OSK said, however, that the ship was attacked, writes Svenska Dagbladet.
It is still unclear what really happened, and the incident has created fear of terrorist attacks in the strait, where 40 percent of the world’s oil transport by sea must go through, according to BBC News.
|Threw AROUND: Furniture was tossed around, and the crew thought they were attacked.|
SEOUL -(Dow Jones)- South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan tendered his resignation Thursday, taking responsibility for the government’s failure to get parliamentary approval to develop a science-business hub in a central region.
“It’s regrettable that I wasn’t able to get the project past the parliament. I feel guilty that the failure may lead to a waste of national resources,” Chung said during a press conference.
Premiership is largely a ceremonial post in South Korea, where power is concentrated in the president’s office.
Chung’s fate as prime minister has drawn keen attention since the National Assembly last month voted down a revised bill aimed at constructing a business park instead of the originally planned administrative town in the central region of Chungcheong.
Formerly president of Seoul National University, Chung was named prime minister last September and was in charge of drawing up revisions for the planned town, called Sejong City, and to get the development plan passed in parliament.
He had expressed his intention to resign several times to President Lee Myung- bak following the ruling party’s defeat in general elections last month.
Lee is expected to accept his resignation, which will likely speed up the process of a widely anticipated Cabinet reshuffle, Yonhap news agency reported earlier Thursday.
Any reshuffle isn’t likely to affect Lee’s economic team, including finance minister Yoon Jeung-hyun, according to local media.
-By In-Soo Nam, Dow Jones Newswires; 822-3700-1902; In-Soo.Nam@dowjones.com
By Erich Follath
Former Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen once told me, half with amusement and half with resignation, that military people around the world are all more or less the same. “They can only be happy when they have the most up-to-date toys,” he said.
If this is true, Beijing’s generals must be very happy at the moment. China has increased its military budget by 7.5 percent in 2010, making funds available for new fighter jets and more cruise missiles. Beijing’s military buildup is a source of concern for Western experts, even though the US’s military budget is about eight times larger. Some feel that China poses a threat to East Asia, while others are even convinced that Beijing is preparing to conquer the world militarily.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike, say, the United States, the People’s Republic has not attacked any other country in more than three decades, not since it launched an offensive against Vietnam in 1979. And even though Beijing’s leaders periodically rattle their sabers against Taiwan, which they refer to as a “renegade province,” they have no intention of entering into any armed conflicts.
Unlike many in the West, they have long since recognized that bombs are little more than deterrents these days. In today’s asymmetric conflicts, it is difficult to hold on to territory captured in bloody battles. War is an instrument of the past, and Mao’s argument that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” no longer holds true today.
Soft Is the New Hard
It is, however, true that the Chinese are in the process of conquering the world. They are doing this very successfully by pursuing an aggressive trade policy toward the West, granting low-interest loans to African and Latin American countries, applying diplomatic pressure to their partners, pursuing a campaign bordering on cultural imperialism to oppose the human rights we perceive to be universal, and providing the largest contingent of soldiers for United Nations peacekeeping missions of all Security Council members. In other words, they are doing it with soft power instead of hard power.
Beijing is indeed waging a war on all continents, but not in the classical sense. Whether the methods it uses consistently qualify as “peaceful” is another matter. For example, the Chinese apply international agreements as they see fit, and when the rules get in their way, they “creatively” circumvent them or rewrite them with the help of compliant allies.
But why are politicians in Washington, Paris and London taking all of this lying down, kowtowing to the Chinese instead of criticizing them? Does capturing — admittedly lucrative — markets in East Asia and trying to impress the Chinese really help their cause?
The Communist Party leaders manipulate their currency to keep the prices of their exports artificially low. The fact that they recently allowed their currency, the renminbi, to appreciate slightly is evidence more of their knack for public relations than of a real change of heart. They are known for using every trick in the book when buying commodities or signing pipeline deals, with participants talking of aggressive and pushy tactics. Meanwhile, these free-market privateers unscrupulously restrict access to their own natural resources. They denounce protectionism, and yet they are more protectionist than most fellow players in the great game of globalization.
’21st-Century Economic Weapon’
Beijing recently imposed strict export quotas on rare earths, resources that are indispensable in high technology, where they are essential to the operation of hybrid vehicles, high-performance magnets and computer hard drives. Some 95 percent of metals such as lanthanum and neodymium are mined in the People’s Republic, giving Beijing a virtual monopoly on these resources. It clearly has no intention of exporting these metals without demanding substantially higher export tariffs. In fact, China apparently wants to prohibit exports of some rare earths completely, starting in 2015. Concerned observers in Japan have described the valuable resources are a “21st-century economic weapon.” The Chinese have dismissed protests from Washington and Brussels with the audacious claim that World Trade Organization (WTO) rules allow a country to protect its own natural resources.
China, a WTO member itself, is now playing a cat-and-mouse game with the organization. Despite several warnings, Beijing still has not signed the Agreement on Government Procurement, and it continues to strongly favor domestic suppliers over their foreign competitors in government purchasing. To secure a government contract in China, an international company has to reveal sensitive data as part of impenetrable licensing procedures and even agree to transfer its technology to the Chinese — often relinquishing its patent rights in the process.
China, for its part, is waging a vehement campaign in the WTO to be granted the privileged status of a “market economy.” If it succeeds, it will be largely spared inconvenient anti-dumping procedures in the future. But do China’s Communist Party leaders seriously believe that the rest of the world will actually reward them for their dubious trading practices?
The answer is yes, and they have good reason to be optimistic. When it comes to diplomacy, Beijing knows how to win. Whether it’s at the WTO, the United Nations or other international organizations, China is in the process of outmaneuvering the West everywhere.
In recent years, China’s leaders have frequently joined forces with up-and-coming India, such as when the two countries jointly managed to torpedo UN climate negotiations and the Doha trade talks. More importantly, China’s leaders have gained the support of African, Latin American and Central Asian countries with their major projects, gifts and goodwill.
The Chinese have paid particular attention to nations with large oil and natural gas reserves, such as Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Nigeria, but they also cultivate relations with third-tier countries — countries that the West tends to ignore but that have voting rights in international bodies like anyone else. Beijing has forgiven billions in loans to African nations and pampered them with infrastructure projects. It has generally tied its assistance merely to two conditions that are relatively painless for the countries in question, namely that they have no official relations with Taiwan and that they support the People’s Republic in international organizations.
What Beijing is not demanding of these countries is even more telling. Unlike Washington, London or Berlin, the Chinese do not tie their development aid to any conditions relating to good governance. While the West punishes authoritarian behavior by withholding funds (and, in some cases, indirectly threatens “regime change”), Beijing has no scruples about pampering the world’s dictators by building them palaces and highways to their weekend villas — and assuring them territorial integrity, no matter what human rights violations they are found guilty of.
Opportunity, not Problem
China has friendly relations with some of the world’s most problematic countries, including failed states and countries on the brink of failure such as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Myanmar and Yemen. “For the West, failed states are a problem. For China, they’re an opportunity,” writes American expert Stefan Halper in the magazine Foreign Policy, referring to these countries as “Beijing’s coalition of the willing.”
The diplomatic weapon is having its intended effect. Already, the pro-Chinese voting bloc led by African nations has managed to obstruct progress in the WTO. Meanwhile in the United Nations, the People’s Republic’s influence is clear: Within the last decade, support for Chinese positions on human rights issues has risen from 50 percent to well over 70 percent.
Washington, in turn, is no longer even included in certain key groups. The United States was not invited to take part in the East Asia Summit, and it was denied the observer status it had sought in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a sort of anti-NATO under China’s de facto leadership that includes Russia and most of the Central Asian countries. Iran, on the other hand, was.
A Model Worth Emulating
Of course, none of this means that the West has already lost the battle for influence in Africa, Latin America and Asia. While Beijing cozies up to dictators, an approach the West cannot and should not take, America and Europe can compete, and even excel, in another area: by offering the ideal model of a democracy worth emulating.
There has been much speculation in recent months that developing countries could be increasingly eyeing China’s blend of a market economy and Leninism, economic diversity and strict one-party control as an attractive alternative to democracy. The United States engages too little in self-reflection while the Europeans are too involved with themselves, and both make themselves less attractive as a result, says former Singaporean diplomat and political science professor Kishore Mahbubani. He believes that China’s momentum is ultimately unstoppable. Many people in the West who have always viewed trade unions as disruptive and given little heed to human rights violations agree with him.
But even though the People’s Republic may have become more attractive for some authoritarian rulers, only a few see it as a model. Beijing has already installed more than 500 Confucius Institutes around the world, in hopes of promoting what it views as China’s cultural superiority. One of the results of a 10-fold increase in scholarships at Chinese universities is that almost twice as many Indonesians are now studying in China as in the United States.
But whether it’s Harvard, high-tech cell phones or Hollywood, people in many parts of the world still see the West as the home of everything desirable. Besides, many who flirt with Chinese-style dirigisme see it only as a transitional phase that makes sense from an economic point of view, and that ultimately — as in South Korea, for example — leads to a democracy with functioning institutions.
More Forceful Approach Required
What no one in Asia, Latin America or Africa wants is another messianic US president in the vein of George W. Bush, who believed that he could forcefully impose the American model on other countries. Many people in developing countries can easily distinguish between pompous arrogance and healthy self-confidence. And especially in China, people tend to regard an excessive willingness to compromise as a weakness, and the stubborn adherence to one’s own positions as a strength.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the woman at the helm of the world’s former top exporting nation, ought to take a much more forceful approach to dealing with the leaders of the current export champion than she did during her recent visit to Beijing. She ought to point out that Germany has to draw the line somewhere: for instance, that it will not support China’s bid for preferential status in the WTO as long as Beijing violates its rules. She should also make clear that Germany will not condone the ongoing industrial espionage activities of Chinese agents in German high-tech centers, the continued illegal copying of patents and the fleecing of German small and mid-sized companies in China.
When China asks for the lifting of visa restrictions, Germany should ask the Chinese what it can expect in return. And Berlin needs not be concerned that China could react to such criticism by no longer doing business with Germany. The People’s Republic acts out of self-interest and needs the West about as much as the West needs China. Besides, the Chinese are used to playing hardball.
How Taiwan Gets What It Wants
Ironically, Taiwan serves as a prime example of how to deal with Beijing. In a SPIEGEL interview 15 years ago, then Prime Minister Lien Chan complained to me that the People’s Republic was cutting the ground from under Taipei’s feet. He said that, although only 30 nations recognized Taiwan at the time, that would change. But it didn’t. In fact, the total is now only 23 nations.
Nevertheless, Taiwan’s new leadership is taking a pragmatic approach and, realizing that it cannot win against China, has decided to embrace the mainland Chinese. After tough negotiations, the Taiwanese are now making deals with their big brother. In a trade agreement signed in late June, Taiwan achieved a reduction in Chinese tariffs on $13.8 billion (€10.6 billion) worth of goods it sells to China each year, while Beijing came away from the trade deal with a reduction of tariffs on only $2.9 billion of the goods it exports to Taiwan.
“We did not make any compromises when it comes to our independence, and we achieved a favorable agreement,” says Wu-lien Wei, Taiwan’s representative in Berlin. Perhaps one needs to be Chinese in order to avoid being ripped off by Beijing.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan