Lots of buzz on the internet recently about this video from Chinese state television purporting to show Chinese soldiers passing live explosives around as “an exercise that sharpens co-ordination, teamwork and mental strength.” I think this is wrong – one, the smoke, explosives tend not to do that any more, unless a slow fuse is involved; second, the final guy throws the satchel at his feet and not into the bunker. It seems to me that this is a public demonstration, an open day at a base perhaps, and the satchel is a dud, but the explosives in the crater are very real. This makes it considerably less dangerous (but not with risk), but also a long way from the way it is being reported by the English language media.
The US State Department released its World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 2005 report last week with a ton of stats for you to wade through. This and future WMEAT reports will only be available online. Welcome to the future.
A series of reviews of Jonathan D. Pollack’s new IISS Adelphi Paper. For those of us outside academia, the actual monograph itself will be far too expensive pick up ourselves, so this review is possibly the next best thing.
It’s somewhat common to pour over the details of public opinion polls on the US-Japan relationship for signs of strength or cracks, but William Brooks does just this with the Cabinet opinion poll and the recent Yomiuri-Gallup poll. What he finds is a disjuncture between the two. It makes for an interesting read as he tries to shine light on the differences.
Start your week off with a Hu Jintao serenade: [via FP Passport]
Associate staff writer Jonathan Masters at the Council of Foreign Relations discusses the US shift towards Asia:
Many observers see the shift toward the Asia-Pacific region as a natural, if long overdue, transition for the United States as it draws down in Iraq and Afghanistan. CFR President Richard N. Haass says the U.S. “rediscovery” of East Asia and the Pacific is a welcome development after Washington’s long preoccupation with the Middle East. On ForeignPolicy.com, Patrick M. Cronin says, thus far, China has taken advantage of a light U.S. military footprint in the region. A failure to address the imbalance directly, coupled with U.S. military cuts exceeding Pentagon recommendations, “will accelerate China’s relative rise,” he cautions.
But critics suggest the U.S. move toward Asia could reinforce China’s fear of encirclement and prompt further militarization of an already unstable region. Writing in The Hill, Gen. Stephen A. Cheney and Joshua Foust of the American Security Project say the “the prospect of a major conflict with China is remote, and assuming one is inevitable poses the danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.”