DTN News: Afghanistan In Pictures Of The Day January 27, 2010 *Source: DTN News
(NSI News Source Info) - January 27, 2010: Afghanistan In Pictures Of The Day January 27, 2010, military activities and actions by Afghan National Army, US Forces, ISAF Forces to contain terrorism by Ismalic militants, Taliban and al Qaeda elements in Afghanistan.Men with an Afghan security division monitor traffic for suicide bombers and Taliban along a busy shopping street on January 27, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan. A major international conference on stabilizing Afghanistan is set to begin in London this coming Thursday. Attendees to the event will include foreign ministers, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.U.S. Army Spc. Jeremey Foley runs to deliver a 120mm mortar bomb to fellow members of his team, which barraged a nearby Taliban position, at Combat Outpost Michigan, in the Pech Valley, Kunar province, northeastern Afghanistan, Wednesday Jan. 27, 2010. The soldiers from the 2-12 Infantry, Task Force Lethal at COP Michigan regularly receive small and large-arms fire from Taliban militants who operate in the hillsides overlooking the base.U.S. Army mortar teams deliver a barrage of 120mm mortar bombs at a nearby Taliban position, at Combat Outpost Michigan, in the Pech Valley, Kunar province, northeastern Afghanistan, Wednesday Jan. 27, 2010. The soldiers from the 2-12 Infantry, Task Force Lethal at COP Michigan regularly receive small and large-arms fire from Taliban militants who operate in the hillsides overlooking the base.German Bundeswehr army soldiers of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) instruct Afghan National police men during their drill in the German army camp in Feyzabad, north of Kabul, September 21, 2008. It would be a mistake to set a concrete date for the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan because it could encourage the Taliban, Chancellor Angela Merkel said January 27, 2010. Germany on Tuesday outlined a news strategy for its role in Afghanistan, saying it would send at least 500 extra soldiers there and nearly double its civilian aid to help create the conditions to start a withdrawal from next year.U.S. Army mortarman Spc. Jeremy Foley, right, who was working guard duty, and an Afghan soldier, open the gate to let out a convoy, at Combat Outpost Michigan, in the Pech Valley, Kunar province, northeastern Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010. COP Michigan regularly receives fire from Taliban militants who operate in the hillsides of the Pech Valley.
DTN News: Soldiers Train Iraqis In Fuel Tanker Operations*Source: U.S. DoD issued January 27, 2010 By Army Capt. Jeffrey Witherspoon Special to American Forces Press Service
(NSI News Source Info) CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq,- January 27, 2010: Soldiers of the 121st Brigade Support Battalion are training the Iraqi army’s 10th Motorized Transport Regiment to operate the Iraqi unit’s new fuel tankers. Army 1st Sgt. Owen Alexander speaks to senior leaders of the Iraqi army’s 10th Motorized Transport Regiment at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Miranda (Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Prior to receiving 15 new tankers, officials of the Iraqi unit requested training from the U.S. Army battalion’s logistics training and advisory team.
The team serves as a bridge between Iraqi and U.S. forces and synchronizes training in an effort to increase the Iraqi army’s ability to sustain itself.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Tellez, the team’s lead noncommissioned officer, along with petroleum experts from the battalion’s distribution company, contacted the CEO of the tankers’ manufacturer, International Trucks, and collected manuals and schematics to assist in conducting the training.
The tankers arrived with all the basic issue items, Tellez said, but the technical manuals were in English.
The training team had the manuals translated into Arabic and, together with the battalion’s fuel specialists, focused on establishing a permanent fuel handler’s course in conjunction with the new equipment training.
Before beginning the instruction, the U.S. soldiers helped the Iraqis learn to park the vehicles properly.
This allowed the team to teach safety considerations when staging fuel tankers in a consolidated area. Because no baseline Iraqi field manual existed for fuel operations, the team referred to the U.S. Army standards.
They covered optimal and minimum distances between parked vehicles, grounding, parking vehicles away from electrical lines and sources, ways of capturing and avoiding spills to prevent fires, and leaving clear lanes to each tanker for fire control personnel and equipment.
Once the vehicles were parked correctly and all safety considerations had been addressed, instructors focused on the functional parts of the fuel tankers.
Tellez, a former instructor from the Army’s Quartermaster Center and School, demonstrated the proper preventive maintenance checks and service procedures for the vehicles while honing in on identifying specific types of leaks.
Even a small fuel leak on a tanker could lead to a catastrophic fire, Tellez noted. The tankers have dual hoses, allowing for fueling from either side. The hoses were unrolled, and the operators were taught how to check for cracks, cuts and dry rot.
The instructors highlighted that, with the pressure of fuel pumping through the hose, a hole or cut could result in large amounts of fuel spillage and a hazardous-materials nightmare.
The instructors also covered “refuel on the move” procedures, which extend the time forces can spend on an objective.
(Army Capt. Jeffrey Witherspoon serves with the 121st Brigade Support Battalion.)
DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated January 27,2010 *Source: DoD issued January 27, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 27, 2010: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Contracts issued January 27, 2010 are undermentioned;
~Arriba Corp., Norfolk, Va.* (N40080-10-D-0495); Allen & Shariff Corp., Columbia, Md.* (N40080-10-D-0496); Corinthian Contractors, Inc., Arlington, Va.* (N40080-10-D-0497); and G-W Management Services, LLC, Rockville, Md.* (N40080-10-D-0498), are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity small multiple-award construction contract for various large dollar construction projects within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington’s area of responsibility (AOR). The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, for all four contracts combined is $500,000,000. The work to be performed provides for construction services. The contractor shall provide all labor, supervision, engineering, materials, equipment, tools, parts, supplies and transportation to perform all work described in the specifications. All work on this contract will be performed within NAVFAC Washington’s AOR, to include Maryland (55 percent); Virginia (30 percent); and Washington, D.C. (15 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of January 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with 10 proposals received. These four contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.
~Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $202,696,561 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-09-C-0007) to exercise an option for the procurement of 196 fiscal year 2010 Tomahawk Block IV all-up-round missiles. The Tomahawk Block IV missile is capable of launch from surface ships equipped with the vertical launch system (VLS), submarines equipped with the capsule launch system (CLS), and submarines equipped with the torpedo tube launch system (TTL). This contract provides for 132 VLS missiles, 53 CLS missiles and 11 TTL missiles. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (32 percent); Walled Lake, Mich. (9 percent); Camden, Ark. (8 percent); Anniston, Ala. (5 percent); Glenrothes, Scotland (5 percent); Huntsville, Ala. (4 percent); Fort Wayne, Ind. (4 percent); Minneapolis, Minn. (4 percent); Ontario, Calif. (3 percent); Spanish Fork, Utah (3 percent); Westminster, Colo. (2 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (2 percent); Middletown, Conn. (2 percent); Largo, Fla. (2 percent); Vergennes, Vt. (2 percent); Farmington, N.M. (2 percent); and various locations inside and outside of the contiguous United States (12.8 percent). Work is expected to be completed in July 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.
~Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., Santa Ana, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $30,000,000 firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity architect/engineering contract for renovation/repair and new construction of various facilities in the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest area of responsibility (AOR). The work to be performed includes architectural and engineering design; studies and site investigation reports to support new development of facilities on raw land, or re-development of existing facilities on developed sites; preparation of requests for proposals for design-build projects; preparation of fully designed plans and specifications for invitation for bid projects; architectural and engineering design analysis, reports, cost estimates, evaluations, and preparation of facility planning documents; construction inspections; and construction support services. Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps facilities and other government facilities within the NAVFAC Southwest AOR including, but not limited to, California (87 percent); Arizona (5 percent); Nevada (5 percent); Colorado (1 percent); New Mexico (1 percent); and Utah (1 percent). Work is expected to be completed by January 2015. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the NAVFAC e-solicitation Web site,with 53 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62473-10-D-5403).
~L-3 Systems Co., Camden, N.J., is being awarded a $13,073,867 firm-fixed-price contract for design and production of a machinery control system (MCS) for Military Sealift Command’s T-AOE 6-class fast combat support ships. MSC’s four fast combat support ships provide one-stop shopping to the U.S. Navy by providing underway replenishment of fuel, ammunition, food, and other cargo. This contract includes 12 options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $44,739,422. Installation support work will occur at two locations in the United States. If all options are exercised, work is expected to be completed in December 2016. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with two offers received. The solicitation was issued on an unrestricted basis, using full and open competitive procedures via the Military Sealift Command, Navy Electronic Commerce Online, and Federal Business Opportunities Web sites. The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00033-10-C-7501).
~Tompco-Triton, LLC, Bremerton, Wash., is being awarded $6,671,449 for firm-fixed price task order #0011 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N44255-08-D-3018) for the design and construction of the renovation and expansion of the Naval Exchange at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The work to be performed provides for all labor, materials, equipment and associated costs for the renovation and expansion. Work will be performed at Whidbey Island, Wash., and is expected to be completed by June 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $6,671,449 will not expire at the end of fiscal year. Three proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest, Silverdale, Wash., is the contracting activity.
~United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $5,905,395 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus incentive fee/award fee contract (N00019-08-C-0033) for additional initial spares for the Air Force conventional take off and landing Joint Strike Fighter propulsion system. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn., and is expected to be completed in February 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.
DTN News: Oshkosh Corporation Receives Orders Valued at $325 Million For M-ATV Parts, Repair Kits*Source: DTN News / Oshkosh Corporation
(NSI News Source Info) OSHKOSH, Wis. - January 27, 2010: Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) on Jan. 25., announced its Defense division received two delivery orders valued at more than $325 million from the U.S. Army Tank- automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC) to supply spare parts and repair kits for the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV).
Timing for the delivery orders is expected to begin in August 2010 and be completed by the end of January 2011. To date, Oshkosh has received awards valued at more than $3.9 billion to deliver 6,619 M-ATVs, as well as spare kits and aftermarket in-theater support.
“These M-ATV spare parts and repair kits are being produced to ensure they are available to our Armed Forces as operations require,” said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh Corporation chairman and chief executive officer. “We have a continued commitment to our Warfighters to keep a robust aftermarket parts support program running parallel to the needs in the field.”
Oshkosh Defense provides the complete spectrum of service and support for the M-ATV fleet in the Afghan theater. The company already has field service representatives (FSR) to support the M-ATV program in-theater. Building on its experience from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Oshkosh FSRs can operate service facilities on any of the forward operating bases that might require training and more support than internal assets can provide.
Existing Oshkosh manufacturing facilities have available production manufacturing capability to deliver these M-ATV orders and vehicles for all other Defense programs, including the U.S. Army’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), as well as any surges in production. The company has exceeded the accelerated vehicle delivery schedule every month since being awarded the M-ATV contract on June 30, 2009.
Using the Oshkosh-patented TAK-4® independent suspension system, the M-ATV features a 70-percent off-road profile capability and 16 inches of independent wheel travel to deliver the superior off-road mobility that is needed for Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain and unimproved roads. The TAK-4 system is being retrofitted on more than 2,400 legacy MRAPs for improved mobility in Afghanistan and has undergone more than 500,000 miles of government testing.
Oshkosh teamed with Plasan North America to provide an advanced armor solution for the M-ATV. Plasan also developed the armor system used on more than 5,000 legacy MRAPs and thousands of Oshkosh Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) Armored Cabs already in theater.
About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, is an industry-leading global designer and manufacturer of tactical military trucks and armored wheeled vehicles, delivering a full product line of conventional and hybrid vehicles, advanced armor options, proprietary suspensions and vehicles with payloads that can exceed 70 tons. Oshkosh Defense provides a global service and supply network including full life-cycle support and remanufacturing, and its vehicles are recognized the world over for superior performance, reliability and protection. For more information, visit www.oshkoshdefense.com.
About Oshkosh Corporation
Oshkosh Corporation is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty access equipment, commercial, fire & emergency and military vehicles and vehicle bodies. Oshkosh Corp. manufactures, distributes and services products under the brands of Oshkosh®, JLG®, Pierce®, McNeilus®, Medtec®, Jerr-Dan®, Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles, Frontline™, SMIT™, CON-E-CO®, London® and IMT®. Oshkosh products are valued worldwide in businesses where high quality, superior performance, rugged reliability and long-term value are paramount. For more information, log on to www.oshkoshcorporation.com.
DTN News: Taiwan TODAY January 27, 2010 ~ U.S. To Sell Weapons To Taiwan
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TAIPEI, Taiwan - January 27, 2010: The Obama administration has notified Congress that it has decided to sell weapons to Taiwan, a move expected to worsen already tense ties between China and the United States, senior congressional aides said Monday.
China considers Taiwan a renegade province and will vehemently object to the arms package, which is likely to include UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles and material related to Taiwan's defense communications network.An Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF) plane takes off during an air force exercise at the Ching Chuan Kang military base in Taichung, central Taiwan January 27, 2010. The U.S. and China are currently at odds over an arms sales to Taiwan, according to local media.
The aides said the administration has been consulting with Congress about Taiwan's defense needs ahead of a formal announcement of the sale. Meetings began last week and are continuing this week.
The aides, who have direct knowledge of the meetings, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of arms sales to Taiwan and because the notification is not yet official.
The package appears to dodge a thorny issue: The aides say the F-16 fighter jets that Taiwan covets are not likely to be included.
The sale would satisfy parts of an $11 billion arms package originally pledged to the self-governing island by former President George W. Bush in 2001. That package has been provided in stages because of political and budgetary considerations in Taiwan and the United States.
The aides say it is unclear when an official announcement will come but that it could be soon. The sale has been widely expected, and Beijing has already warned of a disruption in ties with Washington.
Taiwan is the most sensitive matter in U.S.-China relations, with the potential to plunge into conflict two powers increasingly linked in security and economic issues. Many in Washington expect that a temporary break in military ties is inevitable.
China vows to eventually bring Taiwan under its control and aims more than 1,000 ballistic missiles at the island; the U.S. government, on the other hand, is bound by law to ensure the island is able to respond to Chinese threats.
The arms sale package will test the Obama administration's China policy, which U.S. officials say is meant to improve trust between the countries, so that the inevitable disagreements over Taiwan or Tibet don't reverse efforts to cooperate on nuclear standoffs in Iran and North Korea, and attempts to deal with economic and climate change issues.
It was only in November that President Barack Obama met with Chinese leaders in an attempt to secure cooperation on global hotspots. Since then, tensions have spiked, with the United States criticizing Chinese Internet freedom and China worrying over a possible meeting next month between Obama and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader China accuses of pushing for independence.
The United States also faults China's double digit annual percentage increases in defense spending. Washington has said that China's massive defense spending would spur continued U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to maintain a military balance in the potentially dangerous Taiwan Strait.
In 2008, China suspended most military dialogue with Washington after the Bush administration approved a $6.5 billion arms package to Taiwan that included guided missiles and attack helicopters.
DTN News: Germany To Send More Troops To Afghanistan *Source: DTN News / AP
(NSI News Source Info) BERLIN, Germany - January 27, 2010: Germany plans to increase its troop contingent in Afghanistan by up to 850 and focus more strongly on training local security forces, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday. Germany has the third-largest army in Afghanistan — nearly 4,000 troops — but they are limited, by law, to non-combat roles. When that law expires, in December, will Berlin give its soldiers permission to start shooting? And, will they be ready to join more war-like nations, on the front lines? Or, are they too soft? (Photo/Daily Mail) By David Axe
Berlin plans to send 500 extra troops to Afghanistan.
It also expects to adjust the parliamentary mandate under which they serve to allow for another 350 soldiers to be deployed as a "flexible reserve," to help with events such as elections if necessary, Merkel said.
She gave the figures after meeting with ministers to thrash out Germany's position for this week's London conference on the future of Afghanistan.
CBSNews.com Special Report: Afghanistan Germany currently has nearly 4,300 soldiers in northern Afghanistan.
They serve under a parliamentary mandate that sets the maximum number at 4,500;
Merkel did not specify what the new upper limit might be. "We will set up training and protection battalions that will ensure that, by the end of 2011, the necessary training of Afghan soldiers can be achieved," the chancellor told reporters.
The number of soldiers involved in training Afghan forces will be increased from 1,400 from 280 at present, she said. The move is being coordinated with Scandinavian countries also stationed in the north, which also will set up a training battalion, Merkel added.
Separately, the number of German police offers on the ground training their Afghan counterparts will rise to 200 from 123.
The troop deployment is unpopular at home, and Merkel concentrated heavily on civilian reconstruction as she outlined Germany's "overall package" for Afghanistan. She said that "it opens a new stage - a stage of responsibly handing over to the Afghan government." Merkel said Berlin is not setting a withdrawal date for its troops.
Still, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Germany aims to start handing over security duties to Afghans this year. "We want to start reducing our own contingent in 2011 and we want to accomplish the handover of security responsibilities to Afghanistan in 2014," he said. Germany will nearly double its civilian reconstruction aid starting this year, Merkel said.
It is set to increase from 220 million ($311 million) per year so far to 430 million, and be targeted at improving roads, water and power supplies, education and employment opportunities in northern Afghanistan.
Germany also will pay into a planned international fund to help reintegrate insurgents into Afghan society, Merkel said.
She put the fund's total value at $500 million, or 350, over five years, and said Germany would contribute 50 million of that. The northern region where German troops are stationed has long been relatively calm, but there has been increasing violence over the past year in the Kunduz area.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was due in Berlin Tuesday evening to meet Merkel ahead of the London conference, which takes place on Thursday. Westerwelle will represent Germany in London.
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY January 27, 2010 ~ Bomber Strikes Near U.S. Base In Afghanistan
*Source: DTN News / NY Times By Rod Norland and Abdul Waheed Wafa
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - January 27, 2010: A Taliban suicide bomber wounded eight American soldiers in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon, in what appeared to be an attack on their convoy during the evening rush just outside the gates of a United States military base, Camp Phoenix. At least eight civilians were wounded as well, but there were no confirmed reports of fatalities.U.S. troops keep watch at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul January 26, 2010. A suicide car bomber blew himself up near a U.S. military base in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, wounding six civilians, an Afghan security official said.
The Taliban immediately said it had carried out the attack, and a spokesman for the group, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed in a telephone interview that the bomber had succeeded in “killing and wounding” 10 American soldiers and destroying three military vehicles.
The American military, however, said none of its troops had been killed, although eight American service members had minor wounds. “There has been no indication of any fatalities associated with this incident, despite reported claims by the Taliban,” the military said in an e-mailed statement. Agence France-Presse reported that the Kabul police chief, Abdul Rahman, said that three American military interpreters were among the wounded.A Turkish soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) keeps watch at the site of a suicide car bomb in Kabul January 26, 2010. A suicide car bomber blew himself up near a U.S. military base in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, wounding six civilians, an Afghan security official said.
The suicide bomber approached the main gate of Camp Phoenix, located on Jalalabad Road, a busy highway in the eastern part of the capital, about 4:45 p.m. and detonated the explosives in his Toyota minivan.
Sayed Abdul Ghafar, head of the criminal investigation division of the Kabul police, said the explosion damaged 11 civilian vehicles in the immediate area and wounded eight civilians, mostly day laborers who at that time would normally be heading out of the base at the end of the workday. All were in stable condition, said an Interior Ministry spokesman, Zemary Bashary.
“The target of the suicide attacker seemed to be foreign forces, but we couldn’t see any American vehicle damaged there, because the road was blocked by American forces,” Mr. Ghafar said. “We don’t know exactly the casualties among the foreign forces.”
The American forces blocked off the area, closing the highway to all traffic. “They won’t even let the Afghan National Police near it,” said an Afghan policeman about 300 yards from the camp gates.
The Taliban had previously attacked Kabul on Jan. 18, when militants detonated at least four suicide bombs and battled against Afghan commandos 50 yards from the gates of the presidential palace, an attack aimed at unnerving the Afghan capital. The attack was repulsed, but not before three members of the security forces and two civilians were killed.
On Monday night, four police officers were killed at a checkpoint outside a government office in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, officials said.
Dawoud Ahmadi, a provincial spokesman, described the attacker as someone who had been a guest at the police post a few hours earlier, and after leaving, he returned to kill the officers, escaping with their weapons and vehicle. Mr. Ahmadi said authorities believed the attacker had ties to the Taliban. The location was less than 300 yards from the governor’s office.
Taliban militants frequently carry out ambushes on Afghan police posts throughout the country, and particularly in Helmand.
More American and NATO personnel have been killed in Helmand than in any other Afghan province, and some of the additional 30,000 United States troops being sent to the country are expected to be deployed there.
Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar and an employee of The New York Times from Helmand Province.
DTN News: As China Rises, Conflict With West Rises Too *News Analysis: By Katrin Bennhold Published: January 26, 2010
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) DAVOS, Switzerland - January 27, 2010: As recently as 2008, when China was still an emerging economy eager to put its best foot forward for Western consumers, it lifted censorship, at least temporarily, on several Web sites before the Beijing Olympics. At the same time, it responded to pleas from U.S. and European politicians to cooperate on several other fronts.An investor walks past electronic screens showing stock information at a brokerage house in Wuhan, Hubei province, January 26, 2010. China implemented a planned increase in required reserves for some banks on Tuesday, sources said, sparking knee-jerk selling of Asian stocks which underscored how sensitive global investors are to Beijing's tightening of monetary policy.
These days, China is no longer emerging. It has emerged — sooner and more assertively than had been expected before the wrenching global financial crisis, which badly damaged all the established industrial powers, from the United States to Europe and Japan.
Its currency, the renminbi, is frozen at an undervalued level, and Internet controls are stricter than ever — even as Google, one of America’s most prominent companies, threatens to leave.
The severe recession has fast-forwarded history, catapulting an unprepared world into a period of uneasy cohabitation between the United States, the No. 1 economy, and its eventual successor.
“China is the West’s greatest hope and greatest fear,” said Kristin Forbes, a former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and one of hundreds of top officials and executives flocking to this winter resort for the annual World Economic Forum, which is taking place Wednesday through Sunday.
“No one was quite ready for how fast China has emerged,” said Ms. Forbes, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Now everyone is trying to understand what sort of China they will be dealing with.”
For the first time, economists point to Chinese spending — not the U.S. consumer — as the key to a global recovery. China’s gross domestic product could overtake that of the United States within a decade, one report predicted this month, while others speculated about when the renminbi might start to challenge the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
And as developing countries everywhere look for a recipe for faster growth and greater stability than that offered by the now-tattered “Washington consensus” of open markets, floating currencies and free elections, there is growing talk about a “Beijing consensus.”
China’s rise will be on prominent display in Davos this week, with the biggest Chinese delegation in the World Economic Forum’s history. The local Chinese restaurant has been fully booked since early January. The 54 Chinese officials and executives — including the presidents of the country’s sovereign wealth fund and export-import bank — were expected not only to rub shoulders here but also, as one put it bluntly, to “go shopping.”
When the United States was snapping at the heels of the British empire, the global hegemon of the early 20th century, the situation caused plenty of friction, even though both countries spoke the same language, shared similar cultures and were liberal democracies.
China, in contrast, is a Confucian- Communist-capitalist hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state that has so far resisted giving greater political freedom to a growing middle class. Now its ascendancy is about to set off what many officials and experts see as a backlash on both sides of the Pacific.
“It’s not surprising that China’s remarkable economic rise would be unsettling to some,” said Pascal Lamy, the director general of the World Trade Organization.
So far, the backlash against China has been largely rhetorical. Stephen Roach, the Asia chairman of Morgan Stanley, counts 45 anti-China legislative measures introduced in the U.S. Congress between 2005 and 2007. None passed.
That could change, as tricky midterm elections loom in the United States and politicians there and in Europe become more outspoken in blaming China’s currency peg to the dollar, which gives its industries a competitive edge, for rising joblessness at home.
Some targeted tariffs have been imposed in recent months. Washington has penalized imports of Chinese tires and coated paper products. Both the United States and the European Union are restricting Chinese steel.
But none of those measures go as far as climate change proposals in France and the United States, which call for border taxes on products from countries — China in particular — that do not accept higher costs for carbon emissions in producing energy and making goods. If “the U.S. opts for friction,” Mr. Roach said, “the Chinese can be expected to respond in kind.”
China has its own version of political jockeying. Several foreign companies already complain that doing business in China has become more difficult. Lured until a few years ago by tax rates less than half of those applying to Chinese companies, executives now cite an increase in red tape and a growing number of “buy China” mandates from government procurement offices.
The standoff with Google has illustrated the difficulties foreign business faces in China. It has also starkly raised the question of who will have the upper hand in future negotiations.
“The operating environment is tougher than ever for Western companies,” said James McGregor, head of the government relations committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. “But unlike Google, most Western companies also need China more than ever.”
China is the biggest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world: 450 of the Fortune 500 companies have business presences there, and many of those still reeling at home are doing brisk business in China. “G.M. is hurting anywhere else, but here things are quite profitable,” Mr. McGregor said.
Business interests in China could make it harder for Western politicians to lash out. “It’s a situation the U.S. was in for a long time,” said Ms. Forbes, the M.I.T. professor. “Many people didn’t like U.S. policy, but you had to be in the U.S. market.”
If business executives are looking to China for its low manufacturing costs and sizable market, political leaders are studying a state perceived to have found a recipe for lifting millions out of poverty with fast growth, even if that means a stiff measure of domestic repression. “You hear more and more people talking about a Beijing consensus,” Ms. Forbes said.
But what exactly is the Beijing consensus? Some see it as a form of economic management with greater government involvement that is on the rise across the world. Others interpret it to mean more strictly controlled capital markets, which have made a re-appearance even in previously open countries like Brazil. Policy makers in Malaysia and Dubai focus on replicating China’s special economic zones, which afford generous terms to foreign investors in manageable geographic areas.
Some suggest that China’s lack of democracy is an advantage in making unpopular but necessary changes. “It is more challenging for democratic systems because every day they come under public pressure and every short period they have to go back to the polls,” said Victor Chu, chairman of First Eastern Investment Group in Hong Kong, the largest direct investment firm in China. “China is lucky to have the ability to make long-term strategic decisions and then execute them clinically.”
With China’s rising clout, the West has less leverage over Beijing. When China was seeking to join the World Trade Organization a decade ago, it accepted compromises to U.S. and European demands. At climate talks last month in Copenhagen, however, China blocked a comprehensive deal and refused to go beyond its earlier promises. Portrayed as a deal breaker in the Western media, at home it was celebrated as the country that stopped the West from imposing its terms on developing countries, Mr. Chu said.
Western diplomats complain about the way Beijing is dragging its feet more than Moscow on sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program and is propping up unsavory regimes across the world in its hunt for the natural resources to power its growth.
Some say Chinese officials are using their country’s $2.4 trillion in foreign currency reserves as a bargaining chip, knowing that any hint of reducing those reserves would rattle currency markets.
“As China is emerging on the global stage with unprecedented power and influence,” said David Shambaugh, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University who is in China as a Fulbright scholar, “it is not proving to be the global partner the United States and E.U. seek.”
In the world of power politics, that is not particularly surprising. Like many Western countries, China will act only when it is in its interest.
Mr. Chu of First Eastern Investment said he expected China to resume a gradual appreciation of the renminbi later this year, not because Washington was lobbying for it but because signs of inflationary pressure and bubbles in the Chinese credit and housing markets were mounting. This month, the Chinese authorities raised interest rates and moved to curtail bank loans.
Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University who just spent two weeks in China, warns that the country will face its share of economic troubles in the years ahead. But that will not change the underlying trend, he said.
While China remains much poorer than the advanced industrial powers of the West on a per-capita basis, its rapid growth should enable it to pass Japan this year as the world’s second-largest economy.
A new report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts that China could overtake the United States as the largest economy as early as 2020. In 2003, Goldman Sachs made waves by suggesting that the Chinese G.D.P. might match that of the United States by 2041. Five years later, the forecast was revised to 2027.
According to Mr. Rogoff, over the next four decades or so, the Chinese renminbi will gradually come to rival the dollar as the world’s leading reserve currency, making China’s response to its increasingly central role in the global economy critical.
The risk, Mr. Shambaugh of George Washington University said, is that “the world will be asking more and more of China but getting less and less in return.”
DTN News: North Korea, South Korea Exchange Fire Near Disputed Border*Source: DTN News / AP
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - January 27, 2010: North Korea fired artillery and South Korea responded with warning shots along their disputed western sea border Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties and the North later said its barrage was part of a continuing military drill.A cave with coastal artillery (C) is seen at the North Korean village of Haeju where North Korea's military units are stationed in this undated photo taken from South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, near the western maritime border between the two Koreas, 11 km (7 miles) from North Korea and about 115 km (71 miles) northwest of Seoul, released January 27, 2010. North and South Korea on Wednesday exchanged what appeared to be artillery fire near a disputed sea border with the South off the west coast of the peninsula, Yonhap news agency reported government officials as saying. South Korea's presidential Blue House said both sides were firing into the air and there were no casualties, according to Yonhap. It has called a meeting of top national security officials.
North Korea fired about 30 artillery rounds into the sea from its coast and the South immediately responded by firing 100 warning shots from a marine base on an island near the sea border, an officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said.
He said no casualties or damage were immediately reported, and that the North's artillery fire landed in its own waters while the South fired into the air. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.
Later Wednesday, North Korea issued a statement saying it had fired artillery off its coast as part of an annual military drill and would continue to do so.
Such drills ''will go on in the same waters in the future,'' the General Staff of the (North) Korean People's Army said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
The exchange of fire came two days after the North designated two no-sail zones in the area, including some South Korean-held waters, through March 29.
South Korea's Defense Ministry sent the North's military a message expressing serious concern about the firing and saying it fostered ''unnecessary tension'' between the two sides.
It also urged the North to retract the no-sail zones, calling them a ''grave provocation'' and a violation of the Korean War armistice.
The western sea border -- drawn by the American-led U.N. Command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War -- is a constant source of tension between the two Koreas, with the North insisting the line be moved further south.
Navy ships of the two Koreas fought a brief gunbattle in November that left one North Korean sailor dead and three others wounded. They engaged in similar bloody skirmishes in 1999 and 2002.