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NightWatch 20110609


For the Night of 9 June 2011

North Korea-China: Update. Ground-breaking ceremonies for the Hwanggumphyong and Wihwa Islands Economic Zone and the Rason Economic and Trade Zone to be jointly developed and operated by the North Korea and China took place on 8 and 9 June.

That ceremony was followed by announcing the start of the reconstruction of the Rajin Port-Wonjong road, ground-breaking ceremonies of the Athae Rason Cement Factory and the Rason, North Korea-Jilin Province, China, High Efficiency Agricultural Model District and departing ceremonies of Chinese domestic freight transit transportation via Rajin Port and private car tourism as the first phase projects for the start of the joint development of the zone.

Officials of the two countries also cut tapes commemorating ground-breaking ceremonies of the reconstruction of the Rajin Port-Wonjong road and the project for the object to be jointly developed and operated in the Rason Economic and Trade Zone and the departing ceremony of Chinese domestic freight transit transportation via Rajin Port.

Comment: The plans for the joint development zone in the Yalu River estuary appear to be more advanced than previously indicated. Kim Chong-il appears to have walked away from Korean self-sufficiency in the interest of having some kind of economic progress. This is no longer the North Korea of Kim Il-sung, its founding father. It at least was able to feed itself when the elder Kim was in charge.

China is integrating some border regions of northwestern North Korea into the development plans for adjacent Chinese provinces. In doing so, it is taking a considerable risk, similar to the risks it takes in other under-developed countries.

What remains a mystery is what China got from North Korea in the short term, because these projects have few prospects for turning a profit for years. North Korea, for example, already has at least eight cement factories.

China-South China Sea: A Foreign Ministry spokesman urged Vietnam to stop all activities in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha Islands. He said China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha islands and the surrounding waters, which belong to the South China Sea. The spokesman accused Vietnam of using armed ships to chase Chinese fishermen from the Vanguard Bank, in the Spratlys.

Vietnam: Vietnam accused a Chinese fishing boat of intentionally ramming its exploration ship in the South China Sea on 9 June. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the incident occurred when the Viking 2, chartered by state oil and gas giant PetroVietnam, was conducting a seismic survey inside Vietnam's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

"Despite the warning flag from the Vietnamese side the fishing boat No. 62226 intentionally rammed into the exploration cables of the Viking 2." A "cutting device" from the Chinese vessel got trapped in a net attached to the Viking 2, affecting the ship's ability to operate normally. Two Chinese fishing enforcement ships and other fishing boats arrived to assist the Chinese boat.

She said the area in question is completely under Vietnamese sovereignty according to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Comment: The above incidents punctuate a Chinese statement on 8 June that it fully supports the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea. The recent incidents are the prelude to a naval clash and test of strength.

The Vietnamese Navy will stand up to China and inflict casualties, but will probably lose, unless it gets very lucky. But that clash is still some time in the future.

Eventually the Chinese aircraft carrier will join in the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.

Saudi Arabia: Too good to omit. Police in Saudi Arabia arrested five women on 9 June for breaking the ban on female drivers, one woman said, according to Agence France-Presse. They were arrested north of Riyadh in the Hettein district while they were practicing to drive three cars in an empty plot, she said. The women, all between 20 and 30, were taken to the police station on Sahafa Street. The woman said they did not break the law because they were not driving on the road.

Yemen: "On 10 June, millions will rally on the Friday of loyalty in the Al-Sab'in Square, capital Sanaa, and all capitals of the Yemeni governorates to thank God for the safety of the president," according to a government spokesman.

Comment: Friday promises to be another day of demonstrations in several Arab states, after prayers.

Palestinian Authority- Hamas: Hamas spokesmen issued contradictory statements today about the group's political future. One spokesman said Hamas would not participate in a government after new elections because political involvement has caused the movement to abandon its founding principles. (Note: prominent among these principles is single-minded dedication to the destruction of Israel.)

A different spokesman said that Hamas should be given the post of Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority after new elections.

Comment: Hamas apparently has split into two factions over whether it should stay in and cooperate with Fatah under the new reconciliation agreement. Hamas has been unable to enforce discipline among its rank and file and affiliates in the Gaza Strip, despite administering the enclave. As a member of the larger Palestinian political entity, the divisions will deepen and the discipline problems will be more intractable. That means there probably will be more random violent provocations against Israel, as a by-product of Palestinian fractiousness and indiscipline.

End of NightWatch for 9 June.

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