Straight from the Specialists
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
India’s Defence Minister A. K. Antony is in Beijing on an official visit and a provocative curtain-raiser was provided by a retired major general of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who cautioned India not to “provoke new problems and increase military deployments at the border area and stir up new trouble.”
Predictably, this statement by Major General Luo Yuan, who is associated with the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences, hit the headlines in both countries. Luo is no stranger to such controversy and has in the past made shrill and hostile remarks to local media and in Chinese cyberspace about Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. One assertion – since denied – was that China should bomb Tokyo if Japan stepped out of line in relation to the long-standing island dispute between the two East Asian neighbours.
Luo is among a handful of former PLA personnel who have been taking an extremely hardline stand and advocate Chinese military assertiveness to deal with complex territorial disputes that the political leadership in Beijing is trying to address through political dialogue. The question that engages China watchers in the region and globally is the degree to which such views are reflective of the tension between hardliners and moderates in the Chinese political leadership – and among the opaque strategic community that is grappling with many such issues under the veil of authoritarian secrecy.
Luo’s remarks are in sharp contrast to the more official position echoed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting in Brunei this week said his discussion with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid had been cordial:
(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)
The first report of the three major investigations commissioned by the Japanese government into the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011 was released in Tokyo on Thursday. The findings of the investigation, chaired by Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa challenged the dominant assumption that this tragedy unfolded due to a confluence of natural calamities of tectonic proportion — namely a tsunami and an earthquake — and concluded that Fukushima was alas, ‘man-made’ and occurred due to “a multitude of errors and wilful negligence” that implicated the government, safety regulators and the operator of the nuclear plant.