Night Watch

China-Southeast Asia: The meeting in Burma of the ASEAN Regional Forum last week to discuss sovereignty issues in the South China Sea ended without progress. Although the US delegation said it succeeded in conveying its points to China, the Chinese ignored the US position to restate theirs - that the waters and land areas of the South and East China Seas belong to China.

A Philippine proposal sought to give the United Nations jurisdiction over disputes. The Chinese rejected the proposal, asserting there is no dispute, so there is no basis for UN meddling.

US and Australian delegations said the US and Australia would monitor China's activities.

Comment: The stated purpose of the meeting was to craft an arrangement to reduce tension and the risk of confrontation and to agree to not undertake actions to raise tension.

The UN is always the last resort of weak states to try to hobble more powerful states. The US sided with the weak states against China. The Chinese will remember this.

India-Pakistan: On his second trip in two months to Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today visited Kargil, where a massive crowd turned up to hear him speak.

Addressing soldiers at his first stop, Leh, Modi said Pakistan "has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism."

Comment: Today's trip is a minor landmark. It is Modi's second visit to Jammu and Kashmir State since May when he was elected. Indian Prime Ministers rarely visit this state, which remains one of the poorest in India.

Modi made his remarks in Kargil, the scene of the fourth India-Pakistan war in 1999. He is the first Prime Minister to visit the region since the war. Finally, his speech is his first attack against Pakistan, which supports Kashmiri insurgents who are based in Pakistani Kashmir.

His comments seem deliberately calculated to provoke the Pakistan Army, which prides itself on its conventional military power. Modi, however, is correct, though his statement is hardly news. Pakistan can begin a conventional war with India, but could not sustain it without resorting to nuclear weapons. That condition has existed since 2002.

It uses a variety of terrorist groups as force multipliers against India and other enemies. The leadership of the Afghan Taliban has resided in Quetta or Karachi since 2001 with no apparent restrictions.


Night Watch

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