Posts Tagged ‘China’

MH370 Hijacking: The nightmare scenario is that the plane has landed

March 15, 2014

This post is a little low on fact and high on speculation.

Considering the deliberate nature of the actions, the sophistication involved and the success in keeping things quiet,  it would be foolish to think that the hijackers did not have an end-game planned. And such an end-gane would not have been just diving into the sea or running out of fuel.

This is the map issued by the Malaysian authorities. The red lines are the two possible corridors where MH370 was detected by a satellite over the Indian Ocean. (I have emphasised the track and the text).

Air corridor location of MH370

Air corridor location of MH370

The Northern Track suggests the aircraft is on land somewhere from Northern Thailand into Tibetan China and all the way to Kyrgyzstan. The track  from the Andaman Sea to join this corridor would go through Myanmar and just touch Bangladesh and a bit of India but seems to miss Bhutan and Nepal. The Southern track goes southwards deep into the Southern Indian Ocean where there are only a few isolated islands. 

The most likely location for MH370 according to some officials is on land somewhere near the Chinese/Kyrgyztan border. If it has landed then it has been there for over a week. By now it is surely well camouflaged and the passengers must be in some kind of camp.

Possible land location MH370

Possible land location MH370

But where was the Thai and Chinese (and Myanmar and Indian and Bangladeshi) military radar?

There are 239 lives at stake of course. But the nightmare scenario is if this incident is not yet over. If they are still alive and being held as potential hostages to be used again.

  • With a hijacking virtually confirmed, the likelihood is high that China would have been/ will be the target.
  • If China is the target then the focus is on the Uighurs.
  • But Beijing city itself could not have been the target since the flight was already cleared for that flight path.
  • Support for the Uighurs in their struggle against China is evident in many Islamic countries.
  • This could have been an attack to follow up on the Kunming Railway Station attack – presumed to be by Uighurs. 
  • Thailand is not friendly to Uighurs seeking refuge and usually deports them back to China. 
  • The fake passports were lost in Thailand – whether or not the two Iranians using those fake passports were involved.
  • The Uighurs have sympathisers in Malaysia.
  • Malaysian police and Interpol are apparently combing through the personal backgrounds of passengers and crew on the missing Boeing 777-200, especially a 35-year-old passenger of Uighur descent.
  • There were reports last week soon after the plane vanished that the Chinese were playing down warnings of a forthcoming attack that they had received.
  • The aircraft flew for 7 hours after normal communication ceased. It has been tracked – sort of – for about 4 hours but where it went in the last 2 -3 hours is unknown.
  • The intelligence and security communities are hoping it was lost at sea and has not landed safely somewhere.

China was quick to criticise Malaysia for slow responses and lack of information  but the focus will now be on the Chinese and what they knew and what they know.

The nightmare scenario unfolds if the hijacked aircraft is not lost at sea but has been landed and can be used again. How would countries react if this aircraft suddenly appeared in their airspace? Would they have any option but to shoot it down? Even if it was carrying innocent hostages? And there are potentially 230+ hostages.

MH370: Chinese media blame Malaysia but were they expecting an attack?

March 10, 2014

The blame game has started but it has started much too early.

For the Chinese media, blame is already clear. It is either Malaysia (if terrorism) or Malaysia Airlines (if aircraft fault) to blame. For the Malaysian Home Minister it is incompetence among his passport control staff. (Note that this is passport control for passengers leaving the country). Malaysia Airlines is also being criticised for not even knowing where and when the aircraft disappeared.

The rush to judgement by the Chinese does make me wonder whether they were expecting something. The recent knife attack by terrorists at Kunming Railway station where 29 died may not be irrelevant. The Chinese media were not pleased then, when the Western media were divided in calling the knife-wielding attackers “dissidents” or “terrorists”. I have the distinct perception – from their response and their allocation of blame – that the Chinese know much more about MH370 than they are letting on.

China does not also seem entirely satisfied with the search efforts for the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 and are stepping up their own efforts to locate it:

XinhuaChina creates search plan for Malaysia Airlines jet

Chief of China’s Maritime Search and Rescue Center He Jianzhong said Monday the country has created a plan for the search and rescue of a missing Malaysia Airlines jet. The search and rescue plan involves four patrol and rescue vessels and two naval warships. The search range of the six ships has also been clarified, said He, who is also vice minister of transport.

Chinese warship Mianyang and a marine police vessel with hull number 3411 have begun searching the sea where the Beijing-bound MH370 flight from Kuala Lumpur might have lost contact, he said. He said that three more patrol and rescue vessels under the command of the transport ministry are expected to arrive in the area on Monday and Tuesday. Their hull numbers are 115, 31 and 101.

Most of the passengers on MH370 were from China and there is an assumption in the Chinese media that a terrorist act must have taken place and there is a growing criticism of Malaysian security arrangements and their speed of response. The Malaysian Home Minister is rattled – see previous post- and is looking for scapegoats. The acting Malaysian Transport Minister does not know very much. For the Chinese media, if it was an aircraft problem then it was clearly the fault of Malaysian Airlines and if it was a terrorist act then it was equally clearly the fault of Malaysian security. (But I think the Chinese are protesting too loudly and much too quickly. They were – perhaps –  expecting some kind of an attack).

BBCA commentary in the Beijing Times notes that Premier Li Keqiang said he was “very worried” over the missing plane and added that his government will continue to be a “strong shield” for people who are overseas.

“When the citizens are out of the country, their dignity is closely linked to the dignity of the country. When the country is strong and prosperous, especially if it respects the citizens and protects them, citizens will feel confident and proud when they are abroad,” it says.

Criticising Malaysia for not responding swiftly during the initial stages of the problem, the Global Times Chinese edition says the incident shows there were “obvious loopholes in security checks” in Malaysia. The daily calls for better security for Chinese holidaymakers.

“The Chinese society is no longer in the era of poverty, life is no longer cheap. We demand safety of food, air, water as well as transportation. So we pay great attention to the safety situation in holiday destinations in other countries which are popular among the Chinese,” it says.

ChannelNewsAsia:

China’s state-run media on Monday lashed out at Malaysia and its national carrier over their handling of the missing passenger jet, calling for a swifter response effort and tightened airport security.

Nearly two-thirds of the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 were from China, and if the loss of the aircraft is confirmed, it would be China’s second-worst air disaster in history. 

“The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities,” the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, wrote in a scathing editorial. “The initial response from Malaysia was not swift enough.

“There are loopholes in the work of Malaysia Airlines and security authorities,” it said.

“If it is due to a deadly mechanical breakdown or pilot error, then Malaysia Airlines should take the blame. If this is a terrorist attack, then the security check at the Kuala Lumpur airport and on the flight is questionable.”

The China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial that “terrorism cannot be ruled out”, with Malaysian and international authorities still at a loss to explain how at least two passengers were able to board with stolen Italian and Austrian passports.

“Who were they and why were they using false passports?” the paper asked.

“The fact that some of the passengers on board were travelling with false passports should serve as a reminder to the whole world that security can never be too tight, at airports in particular, since terrorism, the evil of the world, is still trying to stain human civilisation with the blood of innocent lives,” it added.

China issues report on US Human Rights record

February 28, 2014

Pots calling kettles black and the kettles claiming the pots are even blacker!!

For the sake of balance…..

From Xinhua News:

BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) — China published a report on the United States’ human rights record on Friday, in response to U.S. criticism and “irresponsible remarks” about China.

“The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013″ was released by the Information Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, in response to “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013″ made public by the U.S. State department on Thursday.

  • The U.S. government spies on its own citizens to a “massive and unrestrained” degree, the report says. The report calls the U.S. PRISM surveillance program, a vast, long-term mechanism for spying on private citizens both at home and abroad, “a blatant violation of international law” and says it “seriously infringes human rights.” The U.S. intelligence services, by virtue of data provided by Internet and telecom companies — including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo — “recklessly” track citizens’ private contacts and social activities. 
  • Since 2004, the U.S. has carried out 376 drone strikes killing 926 civilians. 
  • The U.S. has not ratified, or participated in, a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 
  • Solitary confinement is prevalent in the U.S., the report says. In U.S. prisons, inmates in solitary confinement are enclosed in cramped cells with poor ventilation and little or no natural light, isolated from other prisoners; a situation that takes it toll on inmates’ physical and mental health. About 80,000 U.S. prisoners are in solitary confinement. Some have been held in solitary confinement for over 40 years. 
  • Rampant U.S. gun culture breeds violence that results in the death of 11,000 Americans every year. 
  • Firearms were used in 69.3 percent of the nation’s murders, 41 percent of robberies, and 21.8 percent of aggravated assaults. 
  • In 2013, 137 people were killed in 30 mass murder events (four or more deaths each). A rampage in the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington D.C. left 12 people dead. 
  • Unemployment for low-income families has topped 21 percent. 
  • The homeless population in the U.S. has climbed 16 percent from 2011 to 2013. 
  • There are also many child laborers in the agricultural sector in the U.S. and their physical and mental health is seriously compromised.

Jade Bunny declared dead – reincarnation possible?

February 12, 2014

UPDATE!

BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) — China’s moon rover Yutu is awake after its troubled dormancy but experts are still trying to find out the cause of its abnormality, a spokesman with the country’s lunar probe program said on Thursday.

“Yutu has come back to life,” said Pei Zhaoyu, the spokesman. ….. “Yutu went to sleep under an abnormal status,” Pei said, adding that experts were concerned that it might not be able to survive the extremely low temperatures during the lunar night.

“The rover stands a chance of being saved now that it is still alive,” he said.

================================================

The Jade Bunny which was discovered to be in a coma on January 25th on the moon has now been declared dead.

RIP

Jade Bunny RIP

Jade Bunny RIP

Chang’e 3′s Jade Bunny begins gambolling on the moon

December 15, 2013

Chang’e 3 landed on the moon on Saturday and her Jade Bunny has now started gambolling on the moon.

China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Picture was taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

Xinhua:China’s first moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, separated from the lander early on Sunday, several hours after the Chang’e-3 probe soft-landed on the lunar surface.

The 140 kg six-wheeled rover touched the lunar surface at 4:35 a.m., leaving deep trace on the loose lunar soil. The process was recorded by the camera on the lander and the images were sent to the earth, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

After the separation, the rover and lander will take photos of each other and start their own scientific explorations.

Engineers made final checks of the environment of the landing site, the situation of the probe and the solar incidence angle late night on Saturday and sent signals of separation to Chang’e-3.

Yutu, atop the probe, extended its solar panel and started to drive slowly to the transfer mechanism at 3:10.

The transfer mechanism unlocked at 4:06 with one side reaching the moon’s surface, allowing the rover to descend to the surface following a ladder mechanism.

Chang’e-3 landed on the moon’s Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, at 9:11 p.m. Saturday, making China the third country in the world to carry out such a rover mission after the United States and former Soviet Union. 

In ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu was the white pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang’e. The name for the rover was selected following an online poll that collected several million votes from people around the world. 

The rover, 1.5 meters long with its two wings folded, 1 m in width and 1.1 m in height, is a highly efficient robot controlled by the command center from the earth. It will face challenges including temperature differences of more than 300 degrees Celsius on the moon. 

Yutu will survey the moon’s geological structure and surface substances and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will conduct in-situ exploration at the landing site for one year.

 

Chinese Jade Bunny took off for the moon tonight

December 1, 2013

UPDATE!! 1st December 2013 2030 GMT

Xinhua: The probe’s carrier, an enhanced Long March-3B rocket, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 1:30 a.m. Chang’e-3 is expected to land on the moon in mid-December to become China’s first spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.

It is also the first moon lander launched in the 21st century. The probe entered the earth-moon transfer orbit as scheduled, with a perigee of 200 kilometers and apogee of 380,000 kilometers. “The probe has already entered the designated orbit,” said Zhang Zhenzhong, director of the launch center in Xichang. “I now announce the launch was successful.”

========================

Various Xinhua reports

China will launch the Chang’e-3 lunar probe to the moon at 1:30 a.m. Monday from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, The Chang’e-3 programme encompasses a lander and a moon rover called “Yutu” (Jade Rabbit). The Chang’e-3 mission is the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth. It follows the success of the Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.

Artist's conception of the Chinese moon rover, called Yutu. Credit: CNSA

Artist’s conception of the Chinese moon rover, called Yutu. Credit: CNSA

The probe will be launched to orbit aboard an enhanced Long March-3B carrier which is more than three meters in diameter and 56.4 meters high. The mission will be the 25th launch of the Long March-3B, which is the most powerful launch vehicle in the Long March fleet.

After entering lunar orbit, Chang’e-3 will go through six stages of deceleration to descend from 15 km above to the lunar surface. The soft-landing processes of the U.S. and former Soviet Union’s unmanned spacecraft had no capacity to hover or avoid obstacles. Chang’e-3, on the other hand, can accurately survey landforms at the landing site and identify the safest spots on which to land.

In order to land quickly, the probe is equipped with high-precision, fast-response sensors to analyze its motion and surroundings. The variable thrust engine (completely designed and made by Chinese scientists) can generate up to 7,500 newtons of thrust.

But the real story I like of Chang’e and her Hou Yi and the reincarnation of Hou Yi as a Jade Bunny is this one from Over A Cuppa Tea. A Jade Bunny is much more evocative than a Jade Rabbit. Chang Er is perhaps a better phonetic rendition of Chang’e.

Once upon a time, there live two immortals in the Heaven, they are Hou Yi and Chang Er. Hou yi and Chang Er were lovers who goes through great obstacle before their love is approved by the Heaven.

The Heaven was ruled by the Jade Emperor and his Empress. One day, ten sons of Jade emperor accidentally transformed into the sun, and revolves around the earth playfully, causing great drought and suffering to the mortals below.

Worried and concern for the mortals, the Jade emperor summons the imperial archer, Hou Yi to help him solve the problem. Hou Yi then went to Earth and shot down nine of the Jade Emperor’s sons. The emperor had thought that Hou Yi would not harm any of his sons. Now that his sons are dead, the emperor was very furious. In anger, the emperor took away Hou Yi and his wife’s immortality and condemn them to live on Earth forever.

Chang*e and her jade bunny on the moon

Chang Er was grief stricken with her loss of immortality. Hou Yi could not bear to see his saddened wife, and so, he decided to steal the immortality pill from the heavenly medicine manufacturer so that both of their immortality could be restored. He manage to steal the pill from heaven, and brought it to Chang Er. He told her that they only need to take half of the pills to regain immortality.

In the meantime, the Jade Emperor found out about the stolen immortality pill, and command an imperial guard to retrieve the pills and catch both Hou Yi and Chang Er so that he could punish them for their misdeed.

And so, the imperial guard went down to earth in pursuit of the couple and the pill of immortality. But the guard himself was tempted by the idea of immortality. So he waited until Hou Yi is not at home, and attacked Chang Er who is defenseless at home. He demanded for the pill but Chang Er refused to hand it to him. Hou Yi, who seems to forget his arrows went back home to get it and discovered that his wife is in danger. He fought the imperial guard courageously.

Unfortunately, Hou Yi is an archer, not a fighter. He was stabbed right in his heart in front of Chang Er. Chang Er was grief stricken, and wishes to die with her husband too. However, Hou Yi’s dying wish was for Chang Er to regain her immortality and live happily for all eternity.

So, Chang Er took out the pill from her sleeves and swallowed the whole pill so that the guard would not be able to get it and obtain immortality. Right after swallowing the pill, Chang Er started to float towards the sky, and after flying for some time, she landed on the moon. She cried and grieve for her husband’s death.

Her cries was heard by a group of Jade Bunnies that lives on the moon. They went to her and listened to her story. These Jade Bunnies were captivated by Chang Er’s beauty and kindness towards them, so they built a palace for her to stay, knowing that she could never return to Heaven or Earth. They hailed her as their goddess and pledge allegiance to her. These bunnies can be seen pounding on the face of the moon on some cooking utensil.

It is believed that these Jade Bunnies are trying to make resurrection pills so that they could revive their Goddess’s love. It’s said that the resurrection pills is shaped like a mooncake. But it’s not dictate anywhere on whether Hou Yi was revived or not, but in many folklore, it’s told that Chang Er would bestow blessing of love and happiness to lovers who pray hard and sincere enough to the moon during mid-autumn.

According to my husband, however, there’s only one Jade Bunny on the moon, and it’s actually the reincarnation of Chang Er’s husband. He told me that the Jade Empress took pity on the couple, and so reincarnate Hou Yi as a Jade Bunny so that Chang Er will not be lonely on the moon. That explains why Chang Er can always be seen with a bunny everywhere she goes on the moon.

China relaxes highly successful one-child policy

November 15, 2013

It was no doubt authoritarian and draconian and there may well be many unforeseen emotional and psychological side-effects to come for many generations, but the bottom line is that the Chinese one-child policy has done the trick insofar as population numbers is concerned. The Chinese population will reach its peak of just under 1.4 billion around 2020 and will then decline dropping to less than 1 billion by 2100. Around 2020, India’s population will exceed the Chinese population and will continue to increase until about 2060 reaching a peak of about 1.7 billion. Then by 2100 the India population will have declined to about 1.5 billion.

ReutersChina unwrapped its boldest set of economic and social reforms in nearly three decades on Friday, relaxing its one-child policy and further freeing up markets in order to put the world’s second-largest economy on a more stable footing.

The sweeping changes helped dispel doubts about the leadership’s zest for the reforms needed to give the economy fresh momentum as three decades of breakneck expansion shows signs of faltering.

The chart below is based on an analysis of the World Population Prospects 2010 and not on the latest 2012 projections. However the numbers and trends are largely the same.

WPP2010 Population projections till 2100

WPP2010 Population projections till 2100

Even if fertility rates now increase much more than predicted, the Chinese government now has a tried and tested – if disliked – population control method to fall back on. An increased fertility rate is now absolutely necessary to avoid a major aging challenge after about 2050 when the ratio of the working population to the supported population could reach crisis levels.

India conducts joint military exercises with Russia and with China

November 5, 2013

I suppose there is no better way to follow Sun Tzu’s advice to “know your enemy” than to conduct joint military exercise with potential enemies.

  • “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” 
  • “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” 
  • “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” 
     Sun Tzu

There are many potential scenarios which could involve armed conflict between India and China but fewer which would involve conflict between India and Russia. Scenarios in which India cooperates with Russia or China in some military adventures are also not impossible. “Terrorists” make for good common enemies. China would love to label the Dalai Lama as a “terrorist” but this would be unthinkable in India. India labels some “rebel” groups in the North east as “terrorists” but the Chinese prefer to stay on the fence. Both India and Russia dislike “terrorists” in Afghanistan but may not see entirely eye-to-eye on who is a “terrorist” and who is a “freedom fighter”.

Of course Russia is a major equipment supplier to the Indian military and exercises with the Russian military using similar equipment could be of great benefit for India. I suspect the military exercises with China have far greater political and intelligence objectives – for both participants – than the development of any protocols for military cooperation.

The Russian exercise was carried out at the end of last month as part of the Indra series (Indra 13). This was the sixth exercise since 2005.

Desert Storm: Tanks, helicopters and troops practice the art of war in Bikaner during ‘live fire’ Indian-Russian military exercise

25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 00:12 GMT, 26 October 2013
Elite detachments of the Russian and Indian armies concluded combat activities of ‘Indra-13′ exercise on Friday.

The exercises were conducted in the midst of references about raids of the type ‘which got Osama’ in a terrain ‘not dissimilar to that in Afghanistan’.  Held in the semi-desert conditions in Rajasthan’s Mahajan Field Firing Range, the combat exercise witnessed the participation of an array of armoured and mechanised forces. 

Storming the sand: The Indra-13 exercise in Rajasthan saw live firing by T-72 tanks

Storming the sand: The Indra-13 exercise in Rajasthan saw live firing by T-72 tanks – Daily Mail

Operating for the last seven days, both the armies jointly plotted taking control of rebel-held territories, neutralising leaders and destruction of camps in a ‘newly born nation torn apart by strife’.

Towards this, live firing was carried out by T-72 tanks, BMP infantry combat vehicles, attack helicopters and other small arms. 

Both sides pitched a complement of 250 officers and men each in which the Russians were represented by their 11 Airborne Battalion and Indians by 6 Independent Armoured Brigade. 

Despite the exercise focussing on armoured and mechanised warfare, the Russians came without any such assets, under a pre-decided arrangement. 

They were then provided Indian equipment to use for the exercise. …….

The military equipment supplied by Russia to India is, I expect, a shade less advanced than their own equipment in performance and in specifications. Which could explain why the Russians did not bring their own – more advanced – equipment to India for the exercise. Or perhaps I am being too cynical?

There was serious border tension between India and China  earlier this year with incursions by both into the other’s claimed territory. And so the 10 day military exercise just starting in China is the first in 5 years and has more significance (real and symbolic) than usual.

With focus on terrorism, India-China begin joint military drills

November 6, 2013

India and China on Tuesday began a 10-day joint military drill on counterterrorism — the first such exercise between the neighbours in five years — in southwestern China, with around 300 soldiers from both countries taking part in exercises aimed at boosting trust between the militaries.

The drills began on Tuesday morning in Miaoergang, a town southwest of Chengdu — the provincial capital of the western Sichuan province — with displays of Kungfu by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) contingent and the Gatka martial art, from Punjab, by Indian soldiers. Soldiers also conducted weapons displays with the objective of allowing the other side to become more familiar with the characteristics of weaponry used across the border.

Over the next 10 days, the two contingents — comprising around 160 soldiers each, according to Indian officials, from the 16 Sikh Light Infantry and the 1st Battalion Infantry division of the PLA — will conduct counter-terrorism drills involving tactical hand signals, arrest and escort, hostage rescue, joint attacks and “a comprehensive anti-terror combat drill”, the Chinese State-run Xinhua news agency said.

The drills — the first held in five years — take place only a week after both countries signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to expand confidence-building measures.

Chengdu is the headquarters of one of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) seven Military Area Commands (MACs). The Chengdu MAC holds responsibility for the entire Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as well as the middle and eastern sections of the border with India.

The drills, analysts say, are more symbolic than substantial: the counterterrorism drills are nowhere near as comprehensive as a full-fledged exercise between two armies. The larger objective is to expand confidence and trust between two militaries, which are often grappling with tensions along the border.

At the same time, the 10-day counterterrorism drill has been seen as being particularly significant in China for two reasons. For one, the exercise follows the recent signing of the BDCA during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in late October.

Also, the issue of terrorism has come under renewed attention in China in recent days, after last week’s incident in Tiananmen Square where a jeep carrying three Uighurs from the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region drove into a crowd, killing two tourists and injuring 40 others. ….. 

Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia, leader of the Indian Army observer group, speaks at the inauguration of the India-China joint military drill on counterterrorism at Miaoergang, near Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province on Tuesday. Photo courtesy: PIB

Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia, leader of the Indian Army observer group, speaks at the inauguration of the India-China joint military drill on counterterrorism at Miaoergang, near Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province on Tuesday. Photo courtesy: PIB

Horse fighting still allowed in China

October 29, 2013

It may be the 21st century but what passes for civilised behaviour is still in the mind.

And this – in my mind – does not pass the test.

Barbarism is alive and well.

Of course, just banning such events is not a sustainable answer. That will only come when the behaviour of humans becomes civilised – and then any ban will no longer be necessary.

People watch horses fight during a traditional local event held by the Miao ethnic minority in Rongshui county, Liuzhou, Guangxi ethnic Zhuang autonomous region, China October 26, 2013. Horse fighting is a 500-year-old custom for the Miao people.  REUTERS-Stringer

People watch horses fight during a traditional local event held by the Miao ethnic minority in Rongshui county, Liuzhou, Guangxi ethnic Zhuang autonomous region, China October 26, 2013. Horse fighting is a 500-year-old custom for the Miao people.
REUTERS/Stringer

Horse fighting has now been outlawed almost worldwide. It still thrives, however, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, China and South Korea.

To start the competition, two stallions are brought in. A mare in heat is then presented to them and removed. The horses who do not immediately go into battle for the mare are whipped into a fury or gunshots are fired to incite them through fear.

Countries staging horse fights defend it as a cultural tradition that has gone on for hundreds of years, and resist any attempts to ban it.  Gambling appears to be the real and primary reason for its continued existence.

Wang versus Wen at the Chinese Academy of Sciences

October 23, 2013

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), formerly known as Academia Sinica, is the national academy for the natural sciences of the People’s Republic of China. Collectively known as the “Two Academies”  along with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, it is an institution of the State Council of China, functioning as the national scientific thinktank and academic governing body, providing advisory and appraisal services on issues stemming from the national economy, social development, and science and technology progress. It is headquartered in Beijing, with branch institutes all over mainland China. It has also created hundreds of commercial enterprises, with Lenovo being one of the most famous.

Sun tzu

Being selected as  a full member of the Academy is the most sought after position for a Chinese scientist. Selection takes place every two years and this year there are 391 “candidates” and probably no more than 5 – 10% will be selected. At the end of 2008, there were 692 CAS members, including 40 female members and 51 foreign members. So roughly one in 2 million Chinese gets to be a member of the Academy.

Politicking and lobbying are not unknown in the selection of new members. This can be quite cut-throat and vicious as is quite normal in academic rivalry. In this particular case Physics Professors Wang and Wen were competing for a place. Wang – in a master-stroke worthy of Sun Tzu – accused Wen of academic misconduct with regard to a paper published in Nature Communications. Each fired off their ammunition on their blog posts. Three co-authors claimed – or were persuaded to claim – that their names had wrongly been included on the paper by Wen. This effectively killed Wen’s chances. While Wang had won the battle he may have lost the war. The Academy was not amused. Wang had rocked the boat too much. And in the latest development Wang  has now withdrawn – or has been persuaded to withdraw – his candidature. It could be some time before he is allowed to be a candidate again.

South China Morning Post:

A prominent physics professor at Nanjing University, Wang Mu, 51, announced on his blog on Monday his intention to withdraw from this year’s selection race for new members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), a title only given to leading scientists and academic authorities in China.

His decision has shocked many in Chinese academic circles. To many, the reason behind it is even more shocking. Wang has withdrawn from the race so he can investigate another candidate, his colleague, 49-year-old physics professor Wen Hai Hu, for alleged academic fraud.

On September 15, Wang informed the Division of Mathematics and Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences that in May Wen had published a fraudulent research paper in Nature Communications, a journal focusing on advancements in the field of physical, biological and chemical science.

According to Wang, three co-authors of the published paper didn’t participate in any of the experiments or analysis mentioned in it, and they had never seen the article before it was published. Wang said that in July this year the editorial department of Nature Communications had received a request from the three co-authors to remove their names from the paper. …..

….. While many were disappointed by Wang’s decision, some questioned his motive, which provoked further discussion on whether the CAS member system should be abolished.

“As far as I know, it is a close race between them. To Wang, Wen has become an obstacle on his path to promotion. The fact that Wang bypassed the university and reported to CAS directly has killed Wen’s hopes of becoming a member of CAS. The last thing CAS wants is to see a dirty fight,” a commenter posted on sciencenet.cn.

On October 13, the Ministry of Education of China ordered Nanjing University to investigate the scandal. And the Chinese Academy of Sciences also formed a team to conduct an independent investigation.

UPDATE!

The paper in question seems to be this one:

Influence of microstructure on superconductivity in KxFe2−ySe2 and evidence for a new parent phase K2Fe7Se8, Xiaxin Ding, Delong Fang, Zhenyu Wang, Huan Yang, Jianzhong Liu, Qiang Deng, Guobin Ma,Chong Meng, Yuhui Hu & Hai-Hu Wen, Nature Communications 4, Article number: 1897 (2013) doi:10.1038/ncomms2913

 If the news story is correct Hai-Hu Wen is the senior author and 3 of the 9 other co-authors are the ones who have apparently written to the Editor complaining that their names have “been used in vain”!!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 446 other followers