The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Air Date: 
June 05, 2013

Photo, above: Filipinos protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, as part of a global protest over an escalating territorial row in the South China Sea. The territorial row centres on Scarborough Shoal, a tiny rocky outcrop in the South China Sea which the Philippines says is part of its territory because it falls within its exclusive economic zone. China, however, claims virtually all of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop huge oil and gas reserves, as its historical territory, even waters close to the coasts of other Asian countries


Co-hosts: Gordon Chang,; Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show; Francis Rose, Federal News Radio

Hour One

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Scott Harold, Associate Political Scientist at RAND Corporation, in re:  China has arrogated about 80% of the South China Sea, to the great concern of al neighbors and observers. This is not scholarship or an academic exercise: is an official move by PRC to consolidate its claim in the South China Sea. "oh, we're just claiming the rocks . . . "  May be a maximalist bargaining position, but no country but China considers the claim legitimate.  Were they just claiming he rocks, they'd draw the line around the rocks; but when you connect the line, there's only interpretation is as a national boundary. There's no doubt whatsoever that the South China Sea is intl waters. Any Chinese efforts to delimit what kind of vessels may transit would be net by refusal from the US and others.  China is beginning to use its navy to go into US and others's exclusive economic zones; PRC's position is not consistent.  China doesn’t seem to honor agreements. What they do is say, we accept the treaty as a whole but take exception to the following sections. It behooves us to be very careful, vigilant.

 China and the Biggest Territory Grab Since World War II   Yesterday, the New York Times reported that China’s mapping authority, Sinomaps Press, issued a new map of the country showing 80% of the South China Sea as internal Chinese water.  What’s at issue?  Each year, more than half of the world’s annual merchant tonnage passes through the South China Sea as well as a third of the global trade in crude oil and over half of LNG trade. 

       Beijing’s assertion of sovereignty over that body of water does not necessarily mean it will close the South China Sea off to international commerce.  Yet that would be the next step.  Given its extremely broad view of its right to regulate coastal traffic, Beijing will undoubtedly define the concept of “innocent passage” narrowly and require vessels entering that sea to obtain its permission beforehand and similarly require aircraft flying over it to do the same.  The South China Sea, bordered by eight nations, has long been considered international water.  The New York Times noted Asian diplomats have seen the map with the stunning claim.  Its release, the Times article states, was delayed from late 2012 “so that it could be formally authorized by the Chinese senior leadership.”  The map is not yet publicly available.

     Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China in 1947 issued maps with dashes at the edge of the South China Sea.  The ambiguous markings led to the term “cow’s tongue” because of the shape of the area defined by the dashes.  Mao Zedong’s victorious People’s Republic in 1949 adopted as its own Chiang’s expansive South China Sea claims.   Hopeful analysts had long maintained that the dashes—nine or ten of them depending on the map—signified China’s claim to only the islands inside the cow’s tongue.  Those islands are subject to competing claims by other shoreline nations, specifically, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Taiwan.  Moreover, there was great optimism when . . . [more]

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Africa calls China's behavior: The new colonialism.   Chinese are bldg the port, roads, pipelines and railroads from Lamu into Congo, Brazzaville, and north to the Sudan.  Kenya welcomes them because Kenya is a kleptocracy.  China drains resources similarly to how a vampire drains blood. China claims 7% annual GDP growth; stripped down closer to 3%. Have bought too much oil, will have to sell quickly and will thereby bring down world prices in some sectors.

China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraq Oil Boom

..  ..  ..

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Hotel Mars, episode n. Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, and William Harwood*, CBS News/Kennedy Space Center in Sand Point Idaho, in re: the possibility of the HST having an even longer life in orbit than currently planned.  Hubble health; Kepler illness; the wait for the James Webb.   The AL_ connects to the ISS without depending on the Russians.  Curiosity, arrived on Mars, got a half-mile to Gale Crater: on the verge of starting a new phase, is heading to Mount Sharp, in the center of Gale Crater; from older rock to younger rock.  Will take ten months to a year to get that five miles.  Every time they decide to stop en route to look at something, there's a dozen steps to work through, all of which together is time-consuming.  We've just celebrated he fourth birthday of the newly-restored Hubble: installed new instr, batteries, gyroscopes, the best-possible renovation. Performance so good they think it'll be scientifically viable not for five years but maybe for twenty.  Costs under $100mil PA, actual cost being $60mil, with a lot of grants. Enormous amt of hard work, but the instrument was designed to be serviced in space, making this possible. Jas Webb telescope, $8bil, can’t be svcd; it either works or doesn't. nervous-making.  Cf: Tommy John, baseball player whose busted elbow was operated on and then worked magnificently much longer than would have a normal human arm.

*CBS News, May 29: "Healthy Hubble raises hopes of even longer life in orbit."

Ten months after a spectacular landing in Gale Crater, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is wrapping up a second drilling campaign, mission managers said Wednesday, and the science team is gearing up to begin the long trek to Mount Sharp, a towering mound of layered rock 5 miles away that is expected to shed new light on the red planet's history and habitability.  But getting there will not be quick, with scientists saying they expect to stop and change course as required to study enticing targets of opportunity along the way.  To date, the rover has traveled about 2,400 feet -- less than half a mile -- across the floor of Gale Crater from the point where it touched down last August.  To reach the lower slopes of Mount Sharp, Curiosity will have to traverse more than 10 times that distance, a trip that could take another 10 months to a year or longer to complete.

The journey is expected to begin in a few weeks, after the science team completes a final series of observations to better characterize the region known as Glenelg, where three different types of terrain come together.  At the same time, scientists are studying high-resolution photographs from NASA's Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify potential paths from the rover's current location to Mount Sharp, on the lookout for scientifically interesting areas along the way.  Engineers also are factoring in the locations of discarded hardware used by Curiosity's "sky crane" landing system to determine if it might be feasible for the rover to take a closer look at some of the components as it slowly rolls toward Mount Sharp.   "We'll be planning the general path in the next few weeks," said Jim Erickson, the Curiosity project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "And then we'll start our trek to the base of Mount Sharp.  "Along the way, we will likely stop at some of the locations we eventually identify. ... We are on a mission of exploration. If we come across scientifically interesting areas, we are going to stop and examine them before continuing the journey."

Asked how long the trip might take, Erickson hedged his bets, saying that depended on how often Curiosity is directed to stop for close-up observations of rocks and soil along the way. "It's very difficult to say exactly how long it's going to take," he said. "I would hazard a guess of somewhere between 10 months and a year might be something like a fast pace. If there's really scientifically interesting things that we find, we'll stay until we've completed them." Despite the slow pace of the mission to date, Joy Crisp, the deputy project scientist, said the science team will not hesitate to stop.

"But there's nothing that we see from orbit that's like some super-compelling clue to life or something like that," she said. "What we have is a real desire to get to Mount Sharp, because there we see variations in the mineralogy, from the base of Mount Sharp going up in higher levels in the mountain, where we should see a record of a change in the environment."  She said the science team has been extremely pleased with the initial results of the mission. But even the science team is ready for a change of scenery.  "We've spent so much time in the Glenelg region, I think most people are getting a little antsy and actually do want to drive," she said. "It's like being on a vacation and you've spent a lot of time in a little area and you've really done a lot there. You want a change of pace."

Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Jillian Kay Melchior, NRO, in re:  unusual popularity of graffiti in authoritarian China. In New York, graffiti overwhelmed the subway, bldgs, sidewalks. In Beijing, rich young kids are eager to put their own human touch on the city.  Young man named Noise: sells graffiti paint cans, has never had a problem with the law.   The writers are pretty savvy, go to alternative/trendy places (not on old temples or historical bldgs). Sixty mil members of CCP; middle-aged moms and stable members watch over/rat on people; not watching in trendy districts.   Identifiable tags.  When they do risky stuff like paint trains, they shift their tags a little. May be a fight against dull uniformity. In New York in 1975: the writers were right – it was an unacceptable governance. 

Hour Two

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Stephen Yates, chief executive officer of D.C. International Advisory, in re:  China has been extracting information, hacking into US systems; US response: nada.  Finally, this year Gen Dempsey went to Beijing; Secy Kerry went to Beijing; Secy Lew went to Beijing – and it only increased. The Obama-Xi summit in Southern Caifornia.   Cyberhacking: which is worse – the state of the US under this Administration, or the Chinese economy?

Steve Eisenberg has a theory: the resumption of cyber activity is the opening salvo in their discussion.  @steveeisenberg5

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Michael Davis, Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong, in re:  Tien An Men anniversary.   Chen Xi-tung, former mayor of Beijing jailed not for his extreme corruption, but because he was a political opponent of Jiang. Mayor during Tien An Men, no apology. Commemoration of Tien An Men this year, on 4 June, brought a healthy-sized crowd.  Youth come out; PRC political system is still a problem.   Here in Hong Kong, we have a sense of tainted politics; people here are keen for democratic reform.  In 1997, HK was handed over to the Chinese; attendance figures at 4 June vigils declined – but now they're increasing.  People from Shenzen, come to HK for the vigils.  It’s no longer about only 4 June199, it’s about the present.    Head of HK corruption-fighting body is accused of throwing lavish banquets fro Mainland Party officials. Interestingly, HK people think of themselves not a =s Chinese first, but as Hong Kongnese first – because of the PRC's tyranny.  When leaders change, people always hope there'll be change, but anyone taking on the mantle has to show he'll stay the course. 

Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Michael Auslin, AEI, in re: In Wall Street Journal Asia, wrote on the "informal" summit at the Annenberg estate in Southern California on Fri and Sat.   Map arrogating the South China Sea; cyberhacking; then the summit.  Is this aggression by the princeling Xi Jinping? They just push to see how far they can get; if resistance, then back off a tad and start fresh from another angle.   Summit? It rewards bad behavior. Face time with US president is highly desirable. Comes on the heels of news of the scale of Chinese cybertheft – enormous; plus the context of PRC honchos pushing hard on territorial grabs. The whole meeting is a terrible idea.  . . .  It'd help if PRC could do the same kind of basic research the way the US, Taiwan and Japan can – to date, what they’ve done is pilfered technologies, secrets.  The population bulge has come and gone; they're now in a stew.   The educational system does not encourage creativity – it's emphasizing ever more Marxism and Maoism.    Chinese leaders love state visits and the panoply of power; accepting this "informal" mtg suggests that they're very confident; also that they 're worried they don't have a path for the coming years, that they don't have to give up anything in order to have this mtg. US military knows that the Chinese mil hates exchanges w the US; I think we should go ahead and do it for our intell purposes. When Ch flag ofcrs and senior colonels speak of vanquishing the US, there's something very wrong about our inviting them into RIMPAC, the Pacific naval exercise.

..  ..  ..

America's national security adviser and Pacific Fleet commander have been in China this week, bearing messages of goodwill and eagerness to deepen ties. Unfortunately, a leaked report on Chinese cyber espionage shows just how dysfunctional the Sino-U.S. relationship is. Washington needs to admit that it is in an abusive relationship, and then find the courage to protect itself against further mistreatment 

China's top military leader told U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon that Beijing wanted to create a "new type of major power relations." Apparently that new relationship entails robbing your partner blind of his most sensitive secrets, then welcoming him for tea while mouthing nostrums about good fellowship.

..  ..  ..

Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, business editor of WSJ Asia, in re:   Japan Needs a Bigger, Bolder Abenomics  The prime minister is steering too far clear of broad-based reforms. Still waiting for the third shoe to drop/third arrow in the quiver .  Big blueprint for ec reforms – with no real info. Worrisome. Sclerotic labor mkt, deeply inefficient agricultural industry. Good idea to speak of reforms soon before an election, no?  "Industrial metabolism of Japan." Japan has a two-class labor mkt: those protected, and those not.   Sick with perpetual nonperformance.  Difficult to restructure failing companies because difficult to fire any of the 60% protected.   The second arrow in Abe-nomics was blowing up the money supply, depreciating the yen. Neighbors worried about the flood of yen they expect in their economies; creating imbalances without a clear endgame in sight.

Hour Three

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Anne Stevenson-Yang, J Capital Research, in re: analysis of Chinese exports, and the winner of the Iraq war is: China.  China has gained much policy flexibility from its closed capital account and currency controls. It has also spawned a surging level of border-crossing financial innovation that not only circumvents capital-account and currency-conversion controls but profits from them. As with rain driving against a windshield, the greater the volume of financial innovation, the harder it is for those of us in the car to see clearly the real shape of China’s foreign trade.

My sense is that the senior leadership is not aware of the gravity of the situation in the PRC economy. They've been entirely focused on optics, making the Party appear cleaner, more f/b/o the country, and internal bureaucratic stuff.   Xi is trying to fortify his political position; hasn’t time to study the economy – which, in any case, is a complex issue. They keep changing their strategy for reporting. A lot of foreigners watch just accept Beijing's numbers as though they're accurate. Amazing.  PRC economy has been weak since first quarter of 2012; they live in a  closed currency system where they can keep printing RMB and ignore a lot of reality.  Right now, political system in disarray, a fragile economy – Xi is not in a position to make deals, or even speak for China.

China's factory activity shrank for the first time in seven months in May as both domestic and external demand softened, adding to concerns that the world's second-largest economy is losing momentum. The HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for May slipped to 49.2, the lowest level since October 2012 and down from April's final reading of 50.4.

The figure also was slightly lower than a preliminary reading of 49.6 released on May 23.

"The downward revision of the final HSBC China Manufacturing PMI suggests a marginal weakening of manufacturing activities towards the end of May, thanks to deteriorating domestic demand conditions," said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist at HSBC.

..  ..  ..

Running with Their Hair on Fire

Creating false trade flows to stoke the financial engine is the sort of “reform” that this government encourages. And what else can they do? Generating new cash to service old debt is like driving an open car faster and faster because your hair is on fire: if you slow down, you’ll get badly burned. For China, any slowing in new credit will be like slowing the car and tossing some kerosene into the driver’s seat.

  ..  ..  ..

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  John Batchelor: clips from WWII, Edward R Murrow, Gen Dwight David Eisenhower, John Snagger, London Calling news announcer; BBC European Messages.

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  Thomas Goltz, author, Azerbaijan Diary. Chechnya Diary, and Georgia Diary, in re: Turkish tumult over Taksim Gezi park, and larger objections to Islamism, Erdogan's rejection of secularism, the decrease of democracy brought in by the dogmatic and authoritarian AKP.  Ordinance of "no kissing on subways"; banning sale of alcohol overnight; the liberated Taksim Square is become a street party, but elsewhere in Turkey there's violence, pepper spray, masses of armored cops with spray and truncheons and water trucks. TV cameras suddenly everywhere – but govt channels were silent on events and much criticized therefore. Secularists in Cairo, early protests vs Mubarak; in Turkey, protestors cone from a large swath of Turkish society, but at the end of the day they'll  be a minority – from secularists to anti-capitalist Muslims.  Mr Erdogan still has at least 50% of the population on his side. It's said that 70% of those polled had no pol affiliation.   A huge banner: "Laz* [Georgians], Cherkez [Circassians], Kurds and Turks: let us stand shoulder to shoulder" - and the signatures of the four main football teams.  Erdogan will not take this lying down.

* A tribe in the ancient kingdom of Colchis, the Laz were early adopters of Christianity; the language is related to Georgian, Svan and Mingrelian.

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Jeff Foust, Space Review, in re: Kepler.

Hour Four

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way... by Patrick K. O'Donnell  (1 of 4)

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way... by Patrick K. O'Donnell  (2 of 4)

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way... by Patrick K. O'Donnell  (3 of 4)

 Wednesday 5 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way... by Patrick K. O'Donnell  (4 of 4)

..  ..  .. 


Hour 1:  Shaolin; Starship Troopers

Hour 2:  State of Play; Season of the Witch

Hour 3:  The Last Emperor; Saving Private Ryan; Babylon AD; Star Trek

Hour 4:  Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory; The Last Samurai