Chinese sub tails US aircraft carrier

china sub1.jpgThe Washington Post reports that a Chinese submarine was spotted tailing a US aircraft carrier battler group last month, just off Okinawa. 

Bill Gertz, who breaks the news, thinks its all a bit embarrassing for the US, particularly for the hopes of closer co-operation between the US and Chinese militaries: 

The submarine encounter with the USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying warships also is an embarrassment to the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. William J. Fallon, who is engaged in an ambitious military exchange program with China aimed at improving relations between the two nations’ militaries.

I can’t really see why, though.  The whole point of a submarine is to travel undetected.  If anything, the Chinese Navy have done their American counterparts a favour, by demonstrating just how vulnerable carrier groups can be to comparatively puny submarines – even the diesel ones that everyone seem to write off these days.

Moving on, the Iowa Voice has posted some background information.  Of particular interest to British readers might be the news that an Argentine submarine – the San Luis – managed to successfully tail the British carrier fleet during the Falklands War.  Only faulty wiring in the San Luis’ missile systems saved them from what could have been a catastrophic suprise attack.  


Coup in Thailand

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shiniwatra thought he’d take a trip to make a speech to the UN General Assembley.  Instead, his military have taken the opportunity presented by his absence to overthrow him in a coup.

The dramatic timing is perfect – this coup could have been made for Hollywood.

Pajamas Media have a great roundup, and a number of bloggers are liveblogging from within Thailand as events unfold.

The UN General Assembley have re-arranged their agenda for today to allow the newly exiled Thai PM to speak sometime during the next few hours. 

It will be interesting to hear how he reacts, and whether he can rally any significant support – either international or domestic – from this unique pulpit. 

Has anyone ever addressed the UN mid-coup before, I wonder?

Japan in Central Asia is doing a great job of covering Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Central Asia.  Particularly interesting is this post about how Japan is trying to set itself up as an intermediary between Uzbekistan and the United States.

Koizumi’s taking on a tough job – it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on, although I certainly think it’s useful for the US and Uzbekistan to have some back channel communications.  And Japan gets a boost out of it too, raising its international profile that little bit more in its quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

McDonalds rejects Mongolia

A Year in Mongolia reports on a recent scouting trip to Ulaan Baatar:

Apparently, McDonalds recently sent a survey team to Mongolia to scout out the country as a potential market. The rumor is, however, that they decided against opening up a franchise here. Part of the supposed reason is that they couldn’t compete with the pricing of items like khuusuur, which you can get for around ten cents apiece, and partially, Mongolia has such a low population density that UB would be their only possible market, and it just isn’t that big.

As he goes on to say, though, give it time.  I can’t imagine why, in a few years, there wouldn’t be a market in Mongolia’s capital for symbols of Western consumerism like McDonalds.   

Who needs friends when you’ve got nukes?

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il looks like he’s decided friends are just too much bother for a man in his position:

NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong Il has criticised close allies China and Russia as unreliable, a news report said yesterday.

Japan’s Kyodo News agency said that Kim’s remarks were conveyed at a meeting in Pyongyang by the North’s ambassadors to other countries last month, shortly after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the North’s recent test-firing of seven missiles.

So he’ll not be too worried if China decides to not bother sending any food or energy supplies this month, then…

Update: The Korea Liberator explains, in great depth, exactly how nutty Kim Jong Il actually is.

Japan still too isolationist for UN Security Council

In terms of it’s size, economic strength and… whisper it… military strength, Japan has to be a prime contender for a seat on an expanded UN Security Council.

But does Japan really deserve a seat?

Not just yet, if this report from TCS Daily is true – Japan is still an isolationist country at heart:

According to the Foreign Ministry, 82 countries have never been visited by a Japanese cabinet minister as of last month.

That’s almost half the countries in the world that have never been visited by someone as lowly as a Japanese cabinet minster, let alone someone senior, like the Foreign Minister or Prime Minister, in over 50 years.

If Japan can change it’s image, though, and engage more deeply with the world, it will have an indisputable claim for a seat.

It’s heartening, therefore, to see that Japan is beginning to take a few tottering steps onto the global security scene – sending the odd small, non-combat, force to support UN peacekeeping missions, or the international presence in Iraq. And it’s decision this week to dispatch emissaries far and wide can’t hurt either:

The Cabinet Secretariat therefore picked about 20 of those countries and allocated them to ministers for visits over the summer.

The lucky countries include Estonia, Latvia and Uganda.

Update: has more on Japanese diplomacy in Central Asia.  Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan each get the privilege of a visit from the Japanese Prime Minister himself.  Probably because they’re more important than places like Estonia, Latvia and Uganda in the grand scheme of things…