divendres, 13 de juny de 2014

Vietnam faces limited options in South China Sea dispute

Vietnam has curbed the violent anti-China protests that swept the country after a Chinese oil rig began drilling in contested waters. But authorities have not dropped their opposition to the Chinese operation, sending boats to harass the drilling, considering waging a legal case in international courts to resolve the dispute, and courting regional allies like the Philippines.

China tightened the screws on Vietnam this week by sending a “position paper” to the United Nations on the operations of its $1 billion-oil rig in a part of the South China Sea that Vietnam also claims.

It accused Vietnam of ramming its vessels, sending frogmen and “other underwater agents” in waters which it says are indisputably Chinese.

China has always resisted third party intervention in disputes between rival claimants over territory in the South China Sea, but this shift could put Vietnam in a difficult position, says Professor Carl Thayer from the Australian Defense Force Academy.
“Is China trying to provoke a debate in the general assembly, making countries make a decision to put up or shut up? Trying to isolate Vietnam by having those countries which are most concerned about China to shut up because they wouldn’t want to be seen as forced out into the open like Brunei, they just abstain and duck for cover," Thayer suggested.

Vietnam cannot compete with China’s military muscle and remains heavily reliant on Beijing for trade. Vietnam is believed to be considering waging a legal case for the disputed territory, but taking its claims to an international court could take years.

According to Thayer, one option could be to take advantage of the Philippines’ challenge of the legality of China's maritime claims at an international tribunal in The Hague.

“The best approach politically, if relations between China are irreparable, would be to join the Philippines and try to bolster its claim as a friend of the Philippines," Thayer said.

Vietnam’s coalition with the Philippines took a lighter tone on Monday when the country played football, volleyball and tug of war with sailors on an island in the Spratly archipelago.

In the past the two governments would have been wary about organizing such an event, lest they appear to be “ganging up” on China, says Alexander Vuving, a security analyst at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii.

However, things have now come to a point where both countries can step up and show their solidarity.

Vietnam can look also look outside the region for support, he said.

“India is far away but has also indicated its support for Vietnam so looking at the core interest for both nations I think that the casual allies, if you want to use the term, would be the Philippines, Japan and the U.S. and India," Vuving said.

He added that Vietnam has been moving closer to the U.S. even before the oil rig crisis in a “continuing rapprochement to the rise of China”.

But Vietnam’s politburo are divided on how close they get to Washington. Some do not want political reform and others have vested interests in economic ties with China.

“I think fundamentally modernizers want to get closer to the U.S., not just for defense of the territory but also for economic reform," Vuving explained. " But they are not very well represented in the politburo right now.”

Meanwhile, at home Vietnam is preparing for the long haul. On Monday the National Assembly passed a plan to spend $760 million to support fishermen and coast guards.

The money will be used to buy equipment for patrols and build offshore fishing vessels for the Vietnam Coast Guard, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Force and fishermen.

This includes construction of 3,000 steel-clad fishing boats, Tran Cao Muu, General Secretary of the Vietnam Fisheries Association said. The current fleet of around 100,000 boats are made of wood.

He said policies to exploit resources in Vietnamese waters are not new, but the issue has become “hotter” following China’s aggressive actions in the sea.

Vietnam has accused China of ramming its ships over 1,400 times, once causing a fishing boat to sink.

Despite the increased dangers, Muu said Vietnam's fishing ships were operating as normal in the sea.

* Notícia publicada a The Voice of America. Compartim aquest article, clarificador de com el contenciós al Mar del Sud de la Xina no té, ara per ara, aturador.

dilluns, 9 de juny de 2014

El Port d Barcelona mantindria el seu potencial en cas d'indepedència de Catalunya*

Com afectaria al Port de Barcelona, una de les principals infrastructures del país, la independència de Catalunya? 'Des del punt de vista operatiu, el port té plena autonomia financera i de funcionament, té una estructura pròpia i no depèn d'altres institucions', explica en una entrevista a l'ACN el president de l'Autoritat Portuària de Barcelona, Sixte Cambra. Destaca, a més, que l'activitat del port és 'fonamentalment internacional', i que 'un dels objectius que tenim és anar guanyant quota en el mercat francès. Canalitzem comerç internacional, turisme'.

'El ritme inversor privat ha estat molt elevat al Port aquests darrers anys i se segueixen executant projectes amb total normalitat', ha indicat. Cambra ha posat d'exemple la segona fase de la terminal de contenidors BEST de Hutchison al Moll Prat.

El president del Port de Barcelona ha recordat que la logística té cada cop un pes més gran en els costos de la indústria i que la manca d'inversió en el Corredor Mediterrani dificultarà la consolidació de l'àrea metropolitana i de Catalunya com un pol logístic.

El president de l'Autoritat Portuària de Barcelona ha valorat com a 'molt important' l'execució del corredor mediterrani en la seva totalitat. Pel que fa al Port, Cambra ha assenyalat que la connexió amb França -que avui ja està operativa amb ample de via internacional o UIC- afecta especialment l'estratègia de desenvolupament del seu 'hinterland'. En aquest sentit, s'ha mostrat 'preocupat' per l'eficiència d'aquesta connexió, ja que 'els serveis no són tot el competitius que haurien de ser'.

Un altre projecte clau del desenvolupament del 'hinterland' del Port lligat a l'execució d'aquesta infraestructura ferroviària és el corredor Lió-Barcelona-Madrid, l'anomenat projecte CLYMA. 'És important perquè ens connecta amb el quadrant nord-est de la península ibèrica i amb Madrid, l'altre eix de desenvolupament estratègic del Port de Barcelona', ha indicat. En aquest cas, Cambra també ha expressat 'preocupació' perquè no s'impulsin 'més ràpidament' qüestions 'elementals' com l'habilitació per a trens de 750 metres de llarg.

Els accessos ferroviaris definitius al Port de Barcelona també formen part del Corredor Mediterrani. En aquest sentit, Cambra s'ha mostrat 'confiat' que el Ministeri de Foment complirà el seu compromís i licitarà la infraestructura aquest estiu. 'Amb aquest calendari, és complicat que els accessos estiguin operatius el 2015 i esperem que l'execució no vagi més enllà de 2016', ha sentenciat el president del Port de Barcelona.

De totes maneres, Cambra ha celebrat que 'afortunadament' es van executar els accessos ferroviaris provisionals, que donen servei a la zona del Moll Prat i permeten fer les tasques que demanden els operadors portuaris en amples de via ibèric i internacional. Segons Cambra, 'seria molt lamentable que es perdessin oportunitats' per la inacció de Foment en els accessos definitius, sobretot després del gran volum d'inversió que han realitzat operadors privats com Hutchison.

* Notícia publicada a Vilaweb. Celebrem que el Port de Barcelona funcioni tant bé, malgrat els pals a les rodes de l'administració central. Esperem que ben aviat pugui desencadenar tot el seu potencial.

dissabte, 7 de juny de 2014

Normandia, 70è aniversari

En primer lloc, Blau Naval vol demanar disculpes per no haver fet aquest article en el dia corresponent, és a dir, el 6 de juny. Dit això, volem fer constar el nostre record als caiguts en combat per durant l'Operació Overlord. Per més que ho intentem, qualsevol cosa que diguem serà redundant i és per això que compartirem un seguit d'enllaços. Ara bé, com a catalans no ens podem estar de recordar que la Llibertat sempre té un preu.

HMS Belfast fent foc de preparació el Dia D

dimarts, 3 de juny de 2014

Drop the double standard on Japanese defense*

Japan is currently in the midst of a domestic political debate about whether or not it can participate in collective defense with the United States. This raises the question whether the time might be right for the international community to drop the double standard that it applies to the military roles and capabilities of the Japanese defense forces (SDF).

This double standard derives from Japan’s war history and holds that Japan presents a perennial risk of revived militaristic nationalism. It therefore judges Japan’s military activities much more critically than those of other neighboring states. It mistakenly assumes that a militarily more powerful Japan must necessarily become a threat to the rest of Asia rather than a stabilizing influence, and that Japan, even in the midst of provocative actions by other states, particularly China, must refrain from any new military commitments.

Japan has followed a slow, incremental and politically fraught path to defense normalization spanning decades. Both the Japanese people and the international community have demanded a high standard of justification for even the most modest addition to the functions of the Japanese military, even when these additional roles have not involved the use of force, such as providing logistical support for UN peacekeeping operations and rear area support for U.S. forces under the defense cooperation guidelines.

The constitutional and legal strictures under which the Japanese defense forces operate continue to impose some of the tightest rules and regulations on any military in the world. First and foremost, what the SDF are permitted to do and where must conform to the long-standing interpretation of Article 9 (Peace Clause) of the Japanese Constitution. Second, and by no means less importantly, what the SDF can do is strictly controlled by legislation. If laws, including the SDF Law, do not authorize a particular function, then it is proscribed. The legal basis for SDF action means that the domestic political requirements for major changes in Japanese defense policy are that new proposals be incorporated into legislation and formally approved by a majority in the Diet. These democratic processes of lawmaking have, in the past, helped to ensure that despite the desires of some Japanese leaders to push the boundaries of SDF action, changes have been limited to piecemeal advances.

The question now is whether, how and to what extent due political process will circumscribe the ambitions of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to expand the roles of the Japanese military forces, including authorization of a collective defense role. The convoluted and extended discussion currently being conducted in Japan on this question illustrates once again the tortuous political process that each step towards Japan’s defense normalization must take.

The formal-legal requirements of defense policy change sit alongside an additional, compelling political constraint – the need for support from the so-called “national defense consensus.” Inevitably, proposals for change elicit strong opposition from sections of the general public and media, and from political groups, including political parties, stemming from an entrenched “culture of antimilitarism.”

Not surprisingly, politically entrenched pacifist elements in Japanese society and politics have surfaced to hold the Abe administration to account. Objections to the Japanese military forces participating in collective defense are even being raised openly by senior members of Abe’s own government. The path forward will not be smooth.

In this context, it is important to maintain the distinction between militarism and expanded military roles and capabilities. They are not the same thing. Prewar Japanese militarism was built into the very ethos of the state. The 1934 “Basic Principles of Japanese Defense and Proposal for Defense Buildup” declared that “war is the father of creation and the mother of culture.”

Postwar, militarism has been excised from state ethos and replaced with the peace ethos of Article 9. Perhaps this explains why Japanese pacifists hold the spirit of the Constitution so close to their hearts. They bear in mind the maxim of former Foreign Minister Zentaro Kosaka who said in 1970, “Militarism is a ghost that we must always watch closely.” The Japanese people watch this ghost closely and so continue to distrust military and political leaders who are historical revisionists such as Shinzo Abe. They accuse the prime minister of wanting to attack the Constitution in order to “shake free of the postwar regime.” In their view, because Abe sees the Constitution as a symbol of the postwar order that was imposed by the occupation forces, he regards it as in need of amendment in order for the Japanese people to regain pride. In this way, Abe has put himself on the “watch” list.

The argument about Abe’s unhidden agenda to change the constitution may have a point. What is qualitatively different about the current plan for Japan to assume a collective defense role is that it proposes to dump a long-standing (since 1981) interpretation of Article 9, which permits the Japanese military to act only to defend Japan in the event that it is attacked directly and to use the minimum necessary level of military force to do so – the absolutely fundamental principle of “exclusively defensive defense” that is deemed compatible with Article 9 and which permits Japan to maintain military forces. This makes the debate about Japan’s assuming a collective defense role significantly more consequential compared with previous additions to SDF roles, which did not challenge this fundamental principle to anything like the same degree.

What is more, the major change in interpretation would be made by the cabinet rather than through any processes involving the Diet or the voters, which places the Constitution itself under possible future threat of revision by reinterpretation rather than by undergoing the formal (and politically difficult) amendment procedure. Abe and his clique of historical revisionists, including Minister of Education Hakubun Shimomura, National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya, and Minister of State for Regulatory Reform Tomomi Inada, could use the change in constitutional interpretation not only as a precedent but also as a stepping-stone to achieving formal amendment of the Constitution itself. Abe has justified his advocacy of collective defense by saying that “under the current Constitution, we can’t participate in combat outside the country, and so it [the Constitution] cannot protect the people’s lives.” In other words, exclusively defensive defense is no longer sufficient to protect Japan. Superficially this is a powerful argument, but it does not stand up to close scrutiny. Participating in combat “outside the country” does not necessarily enhance Japan’s ability to defend itself. In fact, it may endanger Japan’s security further by drawing it into a conflict that it might otherwise have avoided.

On the other hand, while Abe and others who support his goals have certainly been assertive in their ambitions to shake off Japan’s historical legacy, there is a world of difference between what they are proposing and Japan’s prewar military expansionism. The government must observe due political process and remains politically accountable to a population that is steadfastly cautious and anti-militarist, and would never countenance military action that was anything more than legitimate self-defense in the face of an increasingly dangerous regional environment.

It is also important to separate Abe’s personal motives from a dispassionate and objective assessment of what Japan needs to do in order to deal with new kinds of security threat. The collective defense proposals include others that affect areas where Japan’s own ability to defend itself is debatable. The question remains whether Japan has the capability to deal with “grey zone” threats to remote islands in the Southwest, which fall between the cracks of permissible SDF and Japan Coast Guard functions.

As a gesture to solidify the alliance with the United States, Japanese participation in collective defense is also important. Indeed, the political value of collective defense to Japan may outweigh its security value in an alliance context. It is designed to elicit a stronger U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan, particularly to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. It is ironic that a potentially significant development in the U.S.-Japan alliance relationship is occurring at a time when the current American and Japanese administration basically don’t like each other. In particular, figures close to the prime minister view the Obama administration coldly and, to some extent, the feeling is mutual. The White House is wary of the Abe administration because of America’s vested interest in regional stability and the record of extreme Chinese reactions to Abe’s symbolic gestures of historical revisionism (by, for example, visiting the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo) as well as Japanese unwillingness to acknowledge a sovereignty dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu.

Aurelia George Mulgan is professor of Japanese Politics, University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia. Author of six books on Japanese politics (the latest “Ozawa Ichiro and Japanese Politics: Old Versus New,” Nissan/Routledge 2014).

* Notícia publicada a The Diplomat. Interessant reflexió que, malgrat les enormes diferències entre la història del Japó i la del nostre país ens porten a la conclusió que el pacifisme(tot i poder ser una idea lloable) ens condueix a situacions de greu risc.

Details of Type 039B submarine revealed: Kanwa*

The details of China's Type 039B submarine, which is reportedly to be sold to Pakistan this year, have been revealed by the Canada-based Kanwa Information Center, reports Huanqiu, the website of China's nationalistic tabloid Global Times.

The Pakistani Navy has reportedly required that China install air-independent propulsion systems on the submarines it has chosen for the transfer of these related technologies in order to assemble the submarines in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan.

China has called for tenders for its type S20P submarine, which is another version of the type 0369B submarine that the country builds to export. Pakistan hopes to obtain six type S20P submarines to obtain stronger underwater combat capabilities along with its three existing Agosta-class 90B submarines. Currently, China's PLA Navy has nine type 0369B submarines in service.

The type 0369B submarine is reportedly 66m long and 8.2m high, can dive as deep as 300 meters and has 1,850 tons of displacement above water and 2,200 tons underwater. Its maximum speed reaches 18 knots and it can propel up to 8,000 nautical miles at 16 knots. The double-hull submarine is highly automated and only requires 38 crew members.

The submarine is also equipped with an advanced seven-blade curved propeller and an X-shaped rudder. It carries Yingji 83 anti-ship missiles that have an attack range of 180 kilometers. The sonar and radar installed on the submarine are also state-of-the-art but their details have not been revealed.

Kanwa's report said the Pakistani Navy may ask China to integrate its cruise missile Babur, which can be launched underwater and has an attack range of 500 kilometers. The report also said the 039B submarines have been produced in Shanghai and Wuhan. The first of them is likely to be shipped to Pakistan while the remaining of them are to be assembled in the country.

* Notícia publicada a Wantchina Times. Amb la disminució de les capacitats submarines de l'Índia(envelliment, renovació massa lenta, accidents,...) que el Pakistan pugui disposar de nous submarins és quelcom desestabilitzador.

dilluns, 2 de juny de 2014

Work begins on Vietnam’s sixth Kilo-class submarine *

Russia has laid down the sixth Kilo-class submarine being built for the Vietnam Navy at Admiralty shipyards in St Petersburg.
Developed as part of a $2bn contract to deliver six submarines, the new subs are aimed at strengthening Vietnam's defences.
RIA Novosti quoted an anonymous defence industry source as saying: "This is the latest submarine in this series."
Vietnam has already taken delivery of two submarines, with the third currently undergoing sea trials and a fourth being floated out in late March. The final two are currently under construction.
"The improved Kilo-class submarines are capable of carrying out anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in shallow waters."
"Two submarines have already been transferred to the Vietnamese Navy, [and] the third is to be transferred this year and the remaining three in 2015-2016," the source added.
Featuring stealth technology with an extended combat range to strike targets on land, sea surface and underwater, the improved Kilo-class submarines are capable of carrying out anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in shallow waters.
Equipped with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air missiles, they also feature low noise, advanced-hull architecture and an optimal level of control-process automation, while offering high reliability with minimal maintenance.
They can cruise at a speed of 20k with a range of 400 miles. In addition, they can accommodate a crew of 52 and patrol for 45 days.

Image: The Russian-built Kilo-class submarine is claimed to be one of the quietest diesel-electric vessels. Photo: courtesy of DoD.

*Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Ja hem parlat de la millora de les capacitats militars vietnamites. Vet aquí un graó més.