June 09, 2018

Quote of the Day: Nirmala Sitaraman on China's BRI

The kind of economic assistance being extended(by China) to many of our neighbours are all very clearly impacting the economies there, probably helping to bond a relationship with those countries. As a result, even a strategic presence could be enabled. I see a linkage. This is something which I think all of us, you (Chennai Centre for China Studies) as a think tank, and we as a government, constantly be alert to and understand its ramifications,” 

Nirmala Sitaraman, Indian Defense Minister

Microsoft tests putting the cloud under the ocean


By: Kelsey Atherton 

For an experiment in efficient cooling, Microsoft set a tiny data center in a water-tight capsule on the ocean floor outside of Orkney, Scotland. (Screenshot from BBC, captured by Kelsey D. Atherton)

The ocean always keeps its cool. This is as much a truth about the resistance of water to changes in temperature as it is any poetic rambling about the durability of the sea, and it’s for that former reason that Microsoft is experimenting with a data center in a capsule under the ocean.

The theory: keeping the data center underwater off the coast of Orkney, Scotland, where the ocean will naturally cool the hot computers inside, will prolong the life of the servers enough to offset the fact that the closed capsules cannot be repaired by humans.

Microsoft is already a major data center provided for the Department of Defense.

From the BBC:

The data centre, a white cylinder containing computers, could sit on the sea floor for up to five years. An undersea cable brings the data centre power and takes its data to the shore and the wider internet — but if the computers onboard break, they cannot be repaired.

If successful, the project could demonstrate a new way to rapidly expand data center capacity in coastal regions, lowering capsules built on land into an architecture placed underwater, with minimal needs for additional cooling or other infrastructure.

The shape of the internet, the physical places it inhabits and the ways those places link to each other, remain a mostly obscure field — the realm of telecommunications giants and infrastructure nerds. The possibility that a data center could be assembled on land, then lowered into an offshore location for secure and efficiently cooled operation, holds promise for the world writ large and also for a forward-deployed military with tremendous data demands.

We could even see a future where U.S. Naval Stations also house military cloud computing in capsules underwater, vital information storehouses reachable only by submarines or the internet

What new Russian weapon took out this Ukranian drone?

C4ISRNET Magazine

What’s the frequency, Putin? 5 questions about Russia’s EW capability

By: Kelsey Atherton    4 days ago

In the center of this Pantsir-S1 weapon systems is an EHF phased array tracking radar. Two twin-barrel 2A38M automatic anti-aircraft guns are mounted above and behind it, and 12 ready-to-launch missile containers are mounted on the sides. EW is the enabler that makes this whole system work together. (Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

Electronic warfare is the art of the invisible. Or at least, the invisible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the signals sent through it and detected by machines.

Given the reliance of modern war fighting by the United States and its NATO allies on successful mastery of the electromagnetic spectrum, it’s worth taking a close look at exactly what they might encounter in a near-peer adversary. To get that closer look, we asked Samuel Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, to give us the run-down on Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities.

What unique threat does Russian electronic warfare pose to U.S. and NATO forces in Europe?

Russian EW is a developed, mature technology that has continued to develop after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While U.S. technology may have been superior to the Soviet analogue, Americans basically shelved their EW capacity after the end of the Cold War due to the absence of threat that Moscow used to represent prior to 1991. So over the past several years, Americans were suddenly confronted with their atrophied capability when compared to Russian EW tech and concept of operations. Objectively speaking, the United States can catch up to the current Russian capacity ― but it would take time.

Has that threat changed in the last five years?

Over the past five years, Russians have been testing and evaluating a variety of EW technologies ― those that operate at close range to those that can potentially function at hundreds of kilometers. Russians have also been practicing their operations and techniques, tactics and procedures under possible Western EW attack so that their troops and technologies can learn to function in the absence of technology that has grown ubiquitous on the battlefield, like GPS and GLONASS, the Russian version.

Have we seen any new EW platforms deployed in Russia’s proxy wars, like Syria, Ukraine or elsewhere?

In Ukraine, there have been reports of Leer-3 EW platform ― a UAV-carried cell tower-suppressor delivered via a team of two to three Orlan UAVs. In Syria especially ― where Russian military has tested close to 200 different military technologies ― the Krasuha and Moskva EW systems were sited, along with the aforementioned Leer-3.

Last week, on the outskirts of Donbas, a Ukrainian non governmental organization encountered what appears to be a new counter-drone system from Russia.

By: Kelsey Atherton

In Syria, Russians are laying the foundation for what they call a “layered defense,” where EW systems are paired with the early warning radars and air defense systems like Pantsir-S. It was this layered defense that shot down a swarm of enemy UAVs in January this year and that continued to defend Russian military bases and assets in the country.

Are there any particular EW platforms that observers in the U.S. or NATO should be paying more attention to?

In Syria and in the Black Sea, Russians are collecting vast amounts of signals intelligence from all kinds of Western assets ― from missiles to aircraft to other electronic signatures. This, more than anything, may represent a potential threat to Western technological dominance since Russian EW systems may learn how to counter American/NATO military tech by targeting their very specific electronic signals and signatures. Russians are even saying that some EW systems they will field ― like Bylina ― will feature artificial intelligence capacity based on machine learning. Such learning would come from collecting Western sigint.

Have we seen an developments by NATO countries to counter Russian EW?

On Western countries countering Russian EW: I have seen debates about electromagnetic spectrum and the urgency in the U.S. military to ramp up their technological capacity in EW systems.

What’s also needed is an understanding that Russians are seeking to integrate their EW capabilities across their entire fighting force, and that they are learning how to conduct offensive and defensive EW maneuvers that may negate Western technological dominance in precision-guided munitions and advanced air-, space- and sea-based systems

June 08, 2018

World update on Security: Just Security



“I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude,” President Trump said yesterday of his planned June 12 summit meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and stating that he was “totally prepared to walk away” from the talks but expects the meeting to be a “great success.” Rebecca Ballhaus and Vivian Salama report at the Wall Street Journal.

The summit would “not be just a photo-op,” Trump said, adding that, at a minimum, the talks may be the start of a good relationship and that Pyongyang must commit to denuclearization before the U.S. eases sanctions. Michael Crowley, Cristiano Lima and Louis Nelson report at POLITICO.

Trump told reporters that he would invite Kim to the U.S. if the summit “goes well,” suggesting that the White House could host the North Korean leader. The BBC reports.

“We could absolutely sign an agreement” to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, Trump said, explaining that in a “strange” way, the signing of such an agreement is “probably the easy part” and that normalizing relations with Pyongyang would be much harder. David Smith and Justin McCurry report at the Guardian.

Trump has driven most of the preparation for the upcoming summit and will trust his intuition above detailed briefings about what to expect when he meets Kim, according to aides and former administration officials. Steve Holland reports at Reuters.

“[Trump’s personal lawyer] Rudy [Giuliani] doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation and this set of issues,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday, responding to Giuliani’s comments that Kim “got back on his hands and knees and begged” for the June 12 summit to go ahead when Trump canceled it at the end of May. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

Reports of a rift between Pompeo and the White House national security adviser John Bolton on North Korea policy are “a complete joke,” the Secretary of State said at a briefing yesterday, explaining that any disagreements are just natural differences of opinion. Cristiano Lima reports at POLITICO.

Pompeo has asked the U.K. for its nuclear expertise “to dismantle Kim Jong-un’s nuclear missile,” the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said at a closed-door meeting in London yesterday. Alex Spence reports at BuzzFeed News, revealing Johnson’s range of comments on issues such as Russia, Trump’s approach and China.

The U.S. faces significant challenges when trying to ensure effective verification and inspection of North Korea’s nuclear sites and weapons. Michael R. Gordon, Jessica Donati and Jonathan Cheng explain at the Wall Street Journal.

An overview of the planned summit and the key issues is provided by the BBC.

An explanation of the various views on the possible outcome of the summit is provided by Foster Klug at the AP.

The summit is still a good idea despite the unpredictability of Trump and Kim and the lack of groundwork ahead of the negotiations. Eugene Robinson writes at the Washington Post, arguing that the decades-long policy of refusing direct engagement has been ineffective and that North Korea is “a de facto member of the nuclear club.”

If Trump uses Iran as his “yardstick” for negotiating with North Korea, “he will surely fail,” Wendy R. Sherman, the former under secretary of state for political affairs and leader of the U.S. negotiator on the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement writes at POLITICO Magazine.



Trump and his foreign counterparts have traded criticism ahead of today’s meeting of G-7 countries in Quebec. The acrimony between the president, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron relates to Trump’s approach to trade and other issues. Kevin Liptak, Michelle Kosinki and Jeremy Diamond report at CNN.

Macron, Trudeau and other leaders could also clash with Trump on his approach to the Paris climate accord and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, with Macron warning in a message on Twitter that the other 6 nations in the G-7 would be prepared to sign an agreement without the U.S. if Trump intends to isolate his country. The BBC reports.

There has been anger among U.S. allies over Trump’s reliance on national security arguments to justify imposing tariffs. Damian Paletta, David J. Lynch and Heather Long report at the Washington Post.

Trump will leave the G-7 summit earlier than planned “in anticipation of his coming meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un Tuesday,” the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday, but made no mention the war of words with world leaders over Trump’s trade policy. Vivian Salama reports at the Wall Street Journal.

“Our [European] partners probably thought that these counterproductive policies would never affect them,” the Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday, claiming that Trump’s trade policies had given Europe a taste of the way the U.S. had long treated Russia. Anton Troianovski reports at the Washington Post.



The Taliban has not formally responded to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s announcement of a ceasefire from June 12-19. Ghani made the declaration yesterday and the commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said the U.S. military would honor the ceasefire, Craig Nelson and Habib Khan Totakhil report at the Wall Street Journal.

The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres yesterday welcomed the weeklong ceasefire and urged the Taliban to accept Ghani’s offer to engage in peace talks. The U.N. News Centre reports.

It is unclear what the ceasefire could mean for the prospect of peace talks, particularly as the Taliban has been making gains on the battlefield. Mujib Mashal reports at the New York Times.

At least three people have been killed by attackers in Afghanistan’s eastern Nagarhar province today. The attack was targeted at a lawmaker who was not at home at the time and no one has immediately claimed responsibility, the AP reporting.

Afghan security forces killed 10 Taliban militants today in eastern Nangarhar province, according to an official. Reutersreports.

Gen. Nicholson today said that U.S. forces would intensify their efforts against the Islamic State group in the southern part of Nangarhar province. Robert Burns reports at the AP.



At least 35 people have been killed and 8o wounded in an airstrike on a town in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, paramedics and the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said today, with the Observatory saying that the airstrike was carried out by Russian warplanes. The AP reports.

The head of the Manbij Military Council in northern Syria said that no Turkish troops or allied Syrian fighters would be deployed inside the town in accordance with a deal struck between Turkey and U.S. that expects the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish Y.P.G. militia withdraw from the area. Sarah El Deeb reports at the AP.

Russian troops will stay in Syria “for as long as it is to Russia’s advantage, and to fulfil our international responsibilities,” President Vladimir Putin said yesterday, adding that his country is not building “long-term [military] installations” and could withdraw forces at short notice. Al Jazeera reports.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 41 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between May 25 and May 31. [Central Command]



“Iran is not the same country that it was a few months ago,” Trump claimed yesterday, saying that the U.S. decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal had already curbed Iran’s activities in the Middle East. Mark Landler reports at the New York Times.

Trump suggested yesterday that special counsel Robert Mueller should investigate the waiver issued by the Obama administration in early 2016 to allow the Iranian government to briefly access newly unfrozen funds from an Omani bank. Louis Nelson reports at POLITICO.



Significant Palestinian protests at the Israel-Gaza border are expected today. The APreports.

The Israeli military has warned Gazan residents to stay away from the border fence. They urged people not to become “a tool” of the militant Palestinian Hamas group and not to further the agenda of Iran whose mission is to “inflame tensions in the region for the sake of its religious and sectarian interests,” the BBC reports.

The Israeli military published a video yesterday attempting to portray the Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar as a “human shield” for Hamas. The 20-year-old was killed by Israeli forces last week and her death has sparked widespread outrage and condemnation, Herbert Buchsbaum reporting at the New York Times.



A provision limiting U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has been included in the annual defense policy bill being considered by the Senate this week. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.) has withdrawn 71 of its staff from Yemen due to security threats and has urged all parties to the conflict to provide “concrete, solid and actionable guarantees so that it can continue working in Yemen.” Al Jazeera reports.



Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to host a meeting with Trump this summer, a request that the White House has said it is considering. Bojan Pancevski and Peter Nicholas report at the Wall Street Journal.

Putin yesterday demanded that Russia take part in the investigation into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia and to be given consular access to Yulia. Andrew Roth reports at the Guardian.



Trump allies have lashed out at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for backing Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-S.C.) assessment of the F.B.I.’s role in the investigation into the Trump campaign and possible links to Russia. Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian report at the Washington Post.

Former Senate Intelligence Committee aide James Wolfe was arrested yesterday on charges of lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with reporters as part of an investigation into classified information leaks. The court documents describe contacts between Wolfe and a reporter who published an article about the attempts by Russian spies to recruit the former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page in 2013. Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner report at the New York Times.



The Chinese Foreign Ministry said yesterday that it would help the U.S. to understand the unexplained health symptoms suffered by U.S. employees working at the consulate in Guangzhou. The incident bears similarity to the mysterious symptoms suffered by American diplomats and their families in Cuba in 2016, Jane Perlezx and Steven Lee Myers report at the New York Times.

Infrastructure work has taken place at the Guantánamo detention facility as the Trump administration seeks to keep the jail open and allow the Pentagon to bring new prisoners there. Ben Fox reports at the AP.

Google said yesterday that it would not allow its artificial intelligence (A.I.) products to be used in military weapons and has set out a new set of ethical principles and guidelines. Douglas MacMillan reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Many staff members at the State Department have expressed disappointment about the hiring practices under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s leadership. Officials welcomed Pompeo’s comments on staffing following former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s departure, but some have felt let down that more positions have not been opened. Robbie Gramer reports at Foreign Policy.

China's Strength Is in Making the West Doubt the Value of Doubt

5 June 2018

China’s supreme confidence and unity under Xi Jinping is forcing the West to re-examine its assumption that self-criticism is a virtue.

Professor Kerry Brown

Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programm

A poster promoting Xi Jinping's 'Chinese Dream' slogan in Beijing. Photo: Getty Images.


We look to power to be visible. We seek signs and clues about it. Xi Jinping standing surveying the vast, new naval fleet in April affirmed something many in the Pacific region suspected; this is a country that means to have impact. It was a great performance. Dressed in military gear with the grand panorama of different vessels in the water around him, his statement was simple. A great power needs a strong military, the ability to project its will, the assets to enforce its desire on the world around it.

Meanwhile, in Washington, it is clear the counterattack has started. Donald Trump’s threatened trade wars are proxies for the power play underneath them. China has been winning too much. It has skewed the global trading system. This is an iniquitous outcome. The deal, made during the era of engagement in the past, was for it to do this but also to change – to become rich and like the West, a liberal, multi-party democratic country.

Frustration at the failure of this grand Western gambit with China was the essence of a long complaint made in The Economist earlier this year. How did things get to such a pass? Economic development was meant to lead China closer to the West, to become more like the West, not so it could surround it, dictate to it, start to threaten it and still remain the same – a one-party state.

The problem for the West is that this is no cold war. In that era, at least it knew where the shadows were. There was a neat iron curtain, a line of demarcation. The Soviet Union was a more straightforward antagonist – one that clearly wanted a zero sum outcome. It got it in the end, but alas, as the defeated not the conqueror.

China does not fit this template. There are no neat lines of demarcation. It operates in a capitalist mode, with a communist mentality. As a power that regards itself as exceptional, it does not want to win, not at least in the neat wars that America and its allies might like to imagine fighting. Its influence is subtle, subliminal, a shadow beneath even the shadows. It operates, so it is said, in the depths of the dark web and in the underbelly of the global system, supporting but also contesting it, playing to the rules of the game as set by entities like the World Trade Organization, but incrementally and slowly changing them by making them almost irrelevant.

In the era of a grand psychological struggle, where most battles are virtual and in our minds rather than the physical world, we can look to the strategic thinking in Chinese texts – from the Warring States period two-and-a-half millennia ago to the Han era that ended almost a thousand years later – to understand where we are.

Everyone knows Sun Tzu and the much-translated Art of War. But there are many other works from the same era, some far darker. The stern legalist philosophy of Han Fei, for instance, with its strict injunctions to trust no one. Or the Secret Teachings of T’ai Kung with its primitive demands for complete revolution. Wei Liao-tzu’s eponymous work from the fourth century BC is striking though for its focus on two aspects of struggle in a time of crisis – the necessity of preserving and fortifying a nation’s chi ,or life force, and the need to win through finding, and then playing, on the doubts of your opponent.

'One whose strength is divided will be weak; one whose mind has doubts will be turned against,' the book states (in the translation The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China by Ralph D Sawyer). Even if a plan has been decided on, even if there is clarity of purpose and favourable circumstances, 'if the commander’s mind is already doubtful and troops inclined to rebellion' then success will be uncertain. The general is the mind of the army. Above all, they cannot ever demonstrate doubt. And the best way of achieving this is to have no doubt in themselves.

One of the remarkable aspects of China’s presence today is the way it has combined supreme confidence under Xi and exposed doubts in particular countries and communities newly exposed to it and engaging with it. In Australia, Europe and the United States, this plays alongside rising self-doubt about the values and systems that these countries have been operating for decades (even centuries).

Their self-induced confusion contrasts with the image of coherent power that Xi’s leadership projects. China, many suspect, might not be quite as together and robust as it appears. But few cracks are appearing on the surface for now. Its politicians speak a uniform language. Its military seems mechanical in its loyalty. Businesspeople and academics, openly at least, mostly deliver the language of unified commitment. China is rising and soon will be risen. This is its right, a moment of justice and retribution. This is not about Communism or political values per se. It is a matter of a nation’s right.

Under Xi, as never before, China has proved good at reading the doubts of Western societies and politicians. After all, these are open societies where vulnerabilities, scepticism and questions are not buried away, but discussed and dealt with in the open. That is part of their values and identities. These polities believe that weaknesses, self-criticisms and challenges have to be faced and exposed to public scrutiny.

But for a country enjoying, at least at the moment, an era of uniformity and highly focused strategic purposefulness, as China under Xi is, the openness and self-doubting nature of democratic societies is a vulnerability – a space to exploit and question. The Chinese delegation to Washington in May proved this – pitting experienced negotiators against novices, securing a reprieve for ZTE despite domestic American pressure and departing with ambiguous outcomes where China on the trade front lives to fight another day.

This is the essential clash, to which no one knows the final outcome: will the open societies which articulate their doubts prove resilient, or will the true resilience lie in the sort of strict, disciplined, enforced unity that we see embodied under Xi? The current doubts of the West are its weaknesses and China is showing that every day. But in the end, it will boil down to just how much the West is certain that doubts are a source of strength.

That is the highly paradoxical situation the West finds itself in – an age in which conviction in the need to doubt and be critical and sceptical is being tested as never before. And where Western societies have to believe passionately that doubt will make them not weaker, but stronger.

This article was originally published in theSouth China Morning Post.

Meeting With North Korea Is a Win for America

7 June 2018

It's good for the United States to talk with its enemies, even if no deal is in the offing.

Micah Zenko

Whitehead Senior Fellow, US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House

Mike Pompeo, then CIA director and now US secretary of state, shakes hands with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang. Photo: The White House.



Early in US president Bill Clinton’s first term, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung reportedly asked visiting American scholars: 'If Bill Clinton can meet with the president of South Korea, why couldn’t he meet with me?'

Toward the end of Clinton’s second term, Marshal Jo Myong Rok of the Korean People’s Army met with the president in the White House, where he pleaded with Clinton to meet with Kim Il Sung’s son Kim Jong Il: 'I need to secure your agreement to come to Pyongyang. I really need to take back a positive answer.'

Clinton would come close but ultimately never agree to meet with a North Korean leader; neither would George W Bush or Barack Obama. Now, it appears that Kim Jong Un will accomplish what both his grandfather and father failed to achieve — a face-to-face meeting with a sitting US president.

Not everyone is happy about the on-again, off-again, on-again diplomatic summit between President Donald Trump and Kim. Many observers have raised concerns about the utility and morality of meeting with one’s avowed enemy. Yet, by any objective reading, Trump’s decision to meet Kim deserves praise. US leaders should generally be far more willing to engage in personal diplomacy with enemies, including authoritarian leaders credibly accused of mass human rights violations.

That’s so for several reasons. First, it is impossible to reach a settlement without some form of communication between two parties. This can be done through tacit silent bargaining, third-party intermediaries, or directly. Trump benefits from an immense intelligence apparatus that strives to infer the long-range intentions of leaders like Kim. As Keren Yarhi-Milo presents in her masterful book Knowing the Adversary, all presidents use or ignore such information to varying degrees. But it is only through direct communication that you can receive the clearest and most vivid picture of an adversarial leader’s mindset and motivations.

Second, all governments employ some degree of bluff or deception to mask their interests, intentions or plans. North Korea is no different in this regard, although it has been comparatively transparent about the development of its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. But that’s why true diplomatic breakthroughs are almost never achieved in one day but rather are based on iterative confidence-building measures and small, verifiable changes in both sides’ behaviors. If Trump or Kim expects a 'big bang' of complete disarmament or fully normalized relations soon after they shake hands, they will both be disappointed. They will test each other’s sincerity and trust and have to do so over successive diplomatic engagements.

Third, there are no adversaries so immoral or evil that they should never be engaged. As Mitchell Reiss details in his book Negotiating With Evil, ever since George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson authorized annual payments of naval supplies to the Barbary pirates, virtually all presidents have consulted and compromised with adversaries who were — at the time — considered to be the most despicable and vile individuals imaginable. The presidents did so because the alternative of not consulting and compromising with them made it far less likely that America’s interests could be achieved. Finally, if conducted in a straightforward and unceremonious manner, diplomacy does not bestow legitimacy upon a government and its leadership. It simply acknowledges the reality of who has the power and authority to deliver what you want delivered.

Fourth, meeting with your adversaries is not a concession to them. Rather, it is an opportunity to better grasp their ideas and motivations and to explore if there is the possibility of brokering an understanding or agreement over disputed positions. You must negotiate and ultimately compromise when you cannot obtain your objectives unilaterally or not at a level of cost that is tolerable. Moreover, not meeting with your adversaries increases the probability of misperception, escalating rhetoric, coercive threats and war.

Fifth, you cannot control how the adversary will portray diplomacy. Many critics of Trump’s current approach to North Korea worry about what this signals to the international community.

As I have noted previously, excessive concerns about signaling in global affairs are generally misplaced. Foreign policymaking is not an omnidirectional antenna that clearly emits messages in all directions, which are correctly interpreted and acted upon by the intended audiences. Though you may attempt to manage it, you cannot control how those audiences perceive you. Indeed, refraining from pursuing diplomatic initiatives because of how an adversary might characterize that initiative is surely a signal of weakness. And in the case of North Korea, allowing the propaganda efforts of a totalitarian government to influence US policymaking priorities is just self-crippling.

Sixth, and most importantly, it is not the act of face-to-face negotiations that matters but the manner in which they are prepared and conducted. Here, Trump has shown how tone and process can derail diplomacy or make the probability of it failing more likely and consequences more dire. Trump and his senior aides have needlessly hyped expectations, raised the audience costs, and assigned generally benign intentions upon North Korea’s leadership (while at the same time assigning exclusively malicious intentions upon Iran’s leaders). The administration chose this approach all while it has made (at least publicly) conflicting demands on North Korea — some maximalist and highly improbable and others of little consequence and therefore achievable. The ad hocism that has defined US foreign-policy making over the past 17 months is once again prevalent.

It is too soon to know whether the diplomatic meeting apparently still scheduled for 12 June will be mere televised fanfare or a productive discussion of the differences between two adversaries that leads to inevitable follow-on talks. The ramifications could not be higher, as a public embarrassment for Trump would undoubtedly shorten the timeline for a preventive attack against North Korea. Despite the Trump administration’s missteps and mixed messages thus far, diplomacy with North Korea is worth pursuing.

This article was originally published in Foreign Policy.

8th June, The Day Of Baloch Missing Persons

8th June, The Day Of Baloch Missing Persons

Shayan Baluch

The Balochistan Post

Baloch missing person’s case, one of the aggravated problem that has gracelessly failed to yet gain concrete attention nationally and internationally. The plight of missing’s unknown whereabouts under custody of Pakistani military and associated forces has created a concentrated uncertainty among the people whose beloved are still missing. The process of disappearances in Balochistan initiated at the time when exactly the insurgency of the Baloch against Pakistani occupation and brutalities intensified a decade ago. This continuity of the disappearance in this resource-rich land took thousands of innocent civilians and political activists behind the bars as a way to suppress and subjugate the Baloch people.

Balochistan after the British Rule, was an independent state being run under the khanate of Kalat supervision along with its princely states, namely Kharan, Lasbella and Makuran. But this couldn’t be digested by the Pakistani rulers and they fiercely started their conspiracies under the leadership of Mr. Jinnah to annex Balochistan. Later on, when the entire tragedy of annexation occurred the occupiers tried to make the international community believe that Kalat (Balochistan) annexed with Pakistan on March 27, 1948 in their own aspirations. However, in reality this was an invasion and suspension of the Khanate rule. On the proceedings Balochistan was kept deliberately backward and deprived.

Since the date of annexation Balochistan has been under the claws of firm occupation. Pakistan could never tolerate a voice raised from Balochistan and will always repeat the same reaction if it observes a slight jolt of resistance from any corner of it. Henceforth, despite of being such an enormously resourceful land with its highly effective geographical importance the wealthy owners of the lengthy coastline, abundant mines reservoirs, Silver, Gold, Methane Gas etc. still have been deliberately kept suppressed to have any kinds of rights of freedom expression and every raised finger has been swirled down.

The issue of Baloch missing persons is an apparent example of this cruelty over the Baloch. Here in Balochistan on daily basis Baloch people are disappeared to unknown places by the open handed law enforcement authorities and the squads they have made have been given full impunity. This incurable disappearance issue even compelled the missing persons families to join Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) on a grueling 2,800 kilometer march from Quetta to Karachi and finally to Islamabad just with hope of recovery of the ones who are missing.

On the issue of this appalling disappearance the UN fact-finding mission, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance (WGEIDD) visited Pakistan in 2012. On this 10-day mission they also had a touch to Balochistan where the Baloch Missing person’s family demonstrated their protest and despite of the consolidations from the team not even a single case of a Baloch could get justice, which created a massive mistrust among the people.

In addition to that, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has also declared an investigation bench for the cases of the missing people from Balochistan and issued warnings to the governmental machinery over recovery of the disappeared ones but all efforts went in vain.

Abdul Qadeer Baloch, fondly known as Mama Qadeer, an unshaken voice of missing persons forum (VBMP) once told AFP that, “our main objective is to secure release of our beloved ones who are in disturbingly higher number but unfortunately we have not yet received any attention from any forum, globally too”.

Repeatedly seeing a negligence from all human rights defenders, Baloch Students Organization-Azad declared 8 June the day for missing hoping to raise the voice of all disappeared person’s cases. The day, 8 June, 2009 has very emotional attachments as on the same day a great leader of BSO-Azad, Zakir Majeed Baloch, who was the then Senior Vice Chairman of BSO-A was abducted. He was kidnapped by Pakistan’s Intelligence Agencies from Mastung, Balochistan. Zakir Majeed was a student of Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences. This 8th June of 2018 completes his nine years of missing.

Zahid Baloch, former Chairman of Baloch Students Organization-Azad was abducted from Quetta in front of his colleagues on March 18, 2014 and another activist Shabeer Baloch, 22 years old, was also abducted by same forces in an area of Turbat, Balochistan. Both are among the missing without any justification. Above and beyond these many other political activists have been disappeared by a continuous series of abductions of individuals from all spheres of life, whose whereabouts are still unknown.

BSO-Azad on the issue of missing persons decided to raise a voice as an appeal to the global judiciary panels like International court of justice to play their role in recovery processes of the missing ones and put efforts to create an international awareness about the human violations in Balochistan.

BSO-Azad on the occasion of this day requests all the concerned global authorities to have their must involvement in dealing and taking a serious step to build up a trust which is deficient among the people of Balochistan who are being treated cold-bloodily by the occupier, Pakistan.

June 07, 2018

SupChina: Newsletter on Developments in China

Thursday, June 7, 2018

China’s security picture, from North Korea to the South China Sea

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GIF by Lucas Niewenhuis. View pronunciation video from Jia.

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1. ZTE pays to play

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC today that his department had struck a deal with beleaguered Chinese telecom giant ZTE to end sanctions for its business dealings with Iran and subsequent failure to comply with U.S. demands.

ZTE must pay a $1 billion fine, in addition to $1.19 billion in fines paid earlier. ZTE must also put $400 million in escrow to cover any future violations.ZTE must change its board of directors and executive team within 30 days, and work with a compliance team chosen by the U.S. "We are literally embedding a compliance department of our choosing into the company to monitor it going forward. They will pay for those people, but the people will report to the new chairman," Ross said in the CNBC interview.Qualcomm shares jumped on the news, CNBC then reported, both because ZTE is a major customer for its chips and because Qualcomm is still waiting on Chinese regulator approval on its proposed merger with Dutch semiconductor company NXP. ZTE’s survival makes that merger more likely.Many American voices have wondered about or opposed the sudden rescue of ZTE, but as Gizmodo puts it: Trump is saving China's ZTE for some reason and Congress can't do jack shit about it.Yale Law School fellow and scholar of Chinese tech and legal issues Graham Webster tweeted about the deal:

“Mistakes re ZTE, not exhaustive…
—Imposing penalty disproportionate to a still-serious offense
—Saying change to penalty was due to Xi talks
—Blending law enforcement, natsec & trade deals
—Once blended with trade, giving in with little in return
—Still no details on natsec risk”

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

2. Propaganda and finger vein recognition: China’s 2018 college entrance exams

The gaokao (高考 gāokǎo) is a three-day college entrance test that covers literature, science, math, and English (see SupChina’s brief history of the exam). This year more than 9.75 million students are taking the test, according to Sixth Tone.

Propaganda is big this year. Today’s morning test session was for Chinese language and literature and included an 800-character essay. Quartz reports: “Of the nine essay questions asked across the nation — there are some regional variations — five were directly related to propaganda terms put forward by the Chinese president.”Cheating on the gaokao already carries a penalty of up to seven years in jail, but Chinese authorities are instituting additional measures this year. Test centers in Inner Mongolia will use finger vein recognition (as opposed to fingerprint recognition) to verify test takers’ identities, according to the South China Morning Post. Metal detectors, facial recognition, and fingerprint recognition are expected to be commonplace around the country.

—Lucy Best

3. China pulls plug on solar subsidies, giving opportunity to India

On May 31, the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, and National Energy Administration issued a surprise joint statement (in Chinese) that sent shudders through the Chinese solar industry.

The government had decided that “in order to promote the sustainable development of the solar industry,” no new solar energy projects for the rest of 2018 would receive subsidies. Additionally, the incentive for producing solar energy from the projects currently being built would be scaled back by 0.05 yuan per kilowatt hour, starting June 1. Depending on the region, this amounted to “a cut of 6.7 to 9 percent,” according to the SCMP. Stocks for multiple solar companies immediately dropped by the daily limit of 10 percent, Caixin reported.

Now the solar industry is fighting back, Reuters reports, as “executives from 11 Chinese solar firms” sent a letter to the Xinhua state news agency arguing that the subsidy cut was ill-timed, and that they “still needed another three to five years of government backing.”Officials from the National Energy Administration said they had “promised to speed up the launch of a quota system forcing regions to buy more renewable power,” the day before the complaint letter was published, Reuters says.A budget deficit: Both the solar subsidy shrinkage and a move last month to make the “awarding of all new wind farm development rights...subject to competitive bidding” are aimed at “keeping in check the more than 100 billion yuan (US$15.6 billion) deficit in a state-run renewable energy fund, which is financed by a surcharge on power users’ bills,” the SCMP points out.The U.S. looks to be a loser: “Slower demand in China will increase competition, exacerbate a panel glut and drag down prices. That will mirror the conditions that prompted some struggling U.S. panel makers to seek tariffs last year,” Bloomberg writes(paywall).But India looks to be a winner: The country, which Quartz notes imports 90 percent of its panels and is building some of the world’s largest solar parks, will greatly benefit from falling prices of Chinese panels. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts(paywall) “module prices to drop 34 percent this year and a further 10 percent to 15 percent in 2019,” as the Chinese policy is expected to add to a supply surplus that was already building.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

4. Three things

Xi Jinping plans to award “friendship medals” to foreigners who have contributed to China’s objectives overseas — see Xinhua report (in Chinese). Director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham Jonathan Sullivan tweeted: “Long history of seeking endorsement of Chinese greatness through conferral of ‘foreign friendship.’”Use WeChat to cross Hong Kong-China border: Tencent announced a new service in cooperation with the government for a “biometric data-based E-card scheme” that would allow mainland and Hong Kong citizens to travel between the two regions, Reuters reports.Hackers: DEF CON, the hacking convention that began in Las Vegas in 1993, recently hosted its first event in China. Kevin Collier of BuzzFeed reported on the event: China has some of the best hackers in the world. Its government wants to keep them there.On Tuesday, June 19, Kaiser and Jeremy will record a Sinica Podcast in front of a live audience with Kevin and Priscilla Moriuchi former East Asia and Pacific cyber threat specialist for the NSA. Click here to buy your tickets

—Lucy Best


Firefighters rescued 20 dogs and cats from pet store fire

Firefighters rescued about 20 dogs and cats from a local pet store in flames in Hefei, Anhui Province, on May 31.


Sinica Podcast: China’s security picture, from North Korea to the South China Sea

In this week’s episode of Sinica, Kaiser chats with Bonnie Glaser in a crossover show that will appear both on Sinica and on the ChinaPower Podcast from CSIS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Bonnie is a well-known specialist on China’s security issues, and this week, we tour several locations where the Chinese military has evolving plans: the Korean Peninsula, Japan, the South China Sea, and Taiwan.

Subscribe to the Sinica Podcast via Apple PodcastsOvercast, or Stitcher, or plug the RSS feed into your favorite podcast app.

From propaganda to pollution to smartphones: A history of gaokao essay questions

No other assessment test has been taken by more people than the gaokao, China’s national college entrance examination. As the gaokao essay prompts often reflect the Chinese government’s attitudes, it would not be a stretch to say that there’s a parallel between the evolution of gaokao essay questions and how the country itself has changed over the past 40 years. Let's take a look.



Push and pull on the Belt and Road
EU warns UK-centered China import scam may shift to Europe's 'Silk Road' / Reuters
“European Union anti-fraud investigators suspect Greece and Hungary may have become the main EU centers of a multi-million-euro scam involving imports of Chinese clothing and footwear that uses the infrastructure of China’s new ‘Silk Road.’”
Sri Lanka pushes forward plans for Chinese investment zone in controversial port / Reuters via SCMP
“Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved a proposal for Singapore-based urban planning consultancy Surbana Jurong, owned by state investor Temasek Holdings, to draw up a plan for a Chinese investment zone in the country’s southern port city of Hambantota, a government spokesman said on Wednesday. The move comes after a delay of more than 18 months.”
China eyes role as world’s power supplier / FT (paywall)
“Chinese companies have announced investments of $102bn in building or acquiring power transmission infrastructure across 83 projects in Latin America, Africa, Europe and beyond over the past five years, according to RWR. Adding in loans from Chinese institutions for overseas power grid investments brings the total to $123bn.”Bike sharing
As bike rentals cool, Ofo chooses to stand alone / TechNode
“A cooling of the availability of capital, intense competition, uncertain profit models, a saturating market, and tightening regulation all contributed to swift market consolidation.”The rise of Douyin
Short videos, big ambitions / Caixin (paywall)
“Douyin, launched in 2016, overtakes 5-year-old Kuaishou as top video app in China.” How did that happen?Crackdown on capital outflows — ATM cards
Macau money chiefs order UnionPay clampdown over illicit mainland China cash fears / SCMP
“A new crackdown on UnionPay cards has been launched by Macau monetary chiefs, as fresh concerns surface over illicit capital flows out of mainland China.”Alibaba
Big tech listings in China loom after final rules released / Bloomberg (paywall)
“China published final rules of a trial program for securities that would allow companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to list on domestic exchanges, a major step in the country’s push to bring some of the world’s biggest technology firms back home.”
Exclusive: Alibaba gets into farming – without getting its hands dirty / Tech in Asia
“From their smartphones, farmers can now monitor whether bugs are munching away on their apple fields, or if grapes are ready to be picked.”Luxury boom
Luxury sales are rebounding in China. Just not in stores. / NYT (paywall)
“After several years of slumber, China’s luxury market is finally returning to growth.”Blockchain, a triad boss, and Cambodia: What could possibly go wrong?
Former Macau triad boss ‘Broken Tooth’ Wan Kuok-koi to use blockchain and overseas Chinese links in Cambodia venture / SCMPElectric scooters — Chinese design and manufacturing 
Letter: Electric scooters aren’t selfies, they’re selfie sticks / The Atlantic
“These electric scooters [in San Francisco] reflect the growing influence of Chinese manufacturing on our global urban environment. Many of the electric scooters seem to be rebranded Xiaomi products, and they are part of the larger global phenomenon of dockless transport reshaping urban life.”


Mystery illness in U.S. Guangzhou consulate
China pledges to investigate fears of sonic attacks on U.S. diplomats / NYT (paywall)
“China said on Thursday that it is prepared to help get to the bottom of a mysterious illness that has sickened Americans working at the United States Consulate in the southern part of the country and led to the evacuation of a number of diplomats this week.”
A diplomat's mysterious illness could jeopardize China's relationship with the US / Washington Post
More US gov’t staff evacuated from Guangzhou, China over mystery illness / AFP via HKFP
“The department said Wednesday that ‘a number of individuals’ were sent to the United States for further evaluation following initial screenings.”U.S. and Taiwan military ties
U.S. bill calls for Pentagon to send troops to take part in Taiwan military drills / SCMP
“The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has passed a draft bill calling for American troops to take part in Taiwan’s Han Kuang exercise — the island’s most important annual war games — in another move that is expected to provoke Beijing.”
Taiwanese think tank floats South China Sea base plan for U.S. troops / SCMP
An “unnamed pro-independence think tank” has suggested through Taiwanese media that “Washington could benefit from stationing troops on Taiping as it continued to face off with Beijing over the South China Sea.” Taiping is part of the Spratly chain of islands, and though it is controlled by Taiwan, an “international arbitration tribunal has ruled that it is merely a land formation over which no claimants are entitled to claim sovereignty.”North Korea: Singapore summit
China may send fighter jet escort for Kim Jong-un when he flies to Singapore to meet Trump / SCMPCensorship
China fires, probes top newspaper chief who 'opposed censorship' / Radio Free Asia
“The ruling Chinese Communist Party has expelled its Party Secretary at the Qinghai Daily News newspaper in the northwestern province of Qinghai for ‘disciplinary violations,’ the Party's disciplinary arm announced on Wednesday…’He opposed censorship and illegally kept secret Party work documents in his possession,’ the CCDI said”Rights of prisoners and citizens in Hong Kong 
Yip Kai-foon inquest finds Hong Kong prisoners should have access to Chinese medicine / SCMP
Hong Kong’s ‘“King of Thieves,” the AK-47 wielding jewelry store robber Yip Kai-foon 叶继欢, died of cancer while serving a 41-year jail term last year, but today a Hong Kong inquest posthumously approved his demand for the right to be treated with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong seeks compensation after being ‘dragged’ into police van and cuffed at protest / Hong Kong Free Press
“Activist Joshua Wong 黄之锋 was ‘dragged and pulled’ onto a police van and handcuffed at a protest last year during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, the Small Claims Tribunal heard on Thursday. Wong is suing the Commissioner of Police for assault and false imprisonment on the grounds that it was unlawful for the police officers to handcuff him without first placing him under arrest.”Top official praises Taiwan for not having a Cultural Revolution
Top Chinese Communist Party cadre criticizes Cultural Revolution for damage to tradition / SCMP
“The Cultural Revolution eliminated a large part of both the essence and the dregs of traditional culture on the mainland,” said Wang Yang 汪洋, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. He added, “But Taiwan preserved it well.”Russia — Putin’s heading to Beijing
Putin state visit to China reflects strengthening of Sino-Russia ties amid US pressure / SCMP
“Just a month after beginning his new term in office, Russian President Vladimir Putin is heading to China for a state visit, underscoring how mounting pressure from the United States is drawing the two countries increasingly close.”Chinese warships in Africa
28th Chinese naval escort taskforce visits Ghana / Chinese Ministry of Defence
“The 28th Chinese naval escort taskforce consisting of the guided-missile frigates Yancheng and Weifang and the comprehensive supply ship Taihu arrived at the Port of Tema of Ghana on June 4 for a four-day friendly visit. This is the first time for the Chinese naval ships to visit Ghana.”South China Sea
Vietnamese see special economic zones as assault from China / SCMP
Opinion: Trump's Indo-Pacific strategy: Where's the beef? / Washington PostChina and Europe
MERICS Interview: Documenting China’s influence in Europe / China Digital Times
China's love affair with oak a mixed blessing for France / SCMP


Contemporary music from Shanghai
Modernizing the accordion / Neocha
A short video, essay, and photo gallery about independent accordion improv musician CK, or Chen Kai 陈楷.On-demand nurses
Apps that let users hire nurses for home visits spark heated debate in China / Abacus
“From rental pets to 24-hour couriers, it seems like you can hire pretty much anything through apps these days. Now there’s one more: home nurses.”Chinese food in Canada
The best Asian food in North America? Try British Columbia / NYT (paywall)
“With a robust immigrant population and access to fresh seafood and produce, Richmond, B.C., has become a one-stop paradise for lovers of Asian food.”Confronting mortality 
Taboos make it hard to discuss mortality in China / Economist (paywall)
“People often feel that it is their filial duty to ensure that sick parents receive curative treatment, even when doctors advise that there is no chance of recovery and the treatment will be painful. Applications to build hospices are sometimes challenged by local residents who resent the presence of death on their doorsteps.”
Will-writing is becoming more popular in China / Economist (paywall)
China has no tradition of will writing, but it is becoming more popular as the first beneficiaries of China’s reform and opening up enter their old age. But, the Economist says, “the rich worry about recording their wealth.”551 million-year-old footprints
Scientists discover 'oldest footprints on Earth' in southern China dating back 550 million years / Independent
“They potentially date to 10 million years before the Cambrian Explosion, when arthropod and other animal life rapidly flourished, and when creatures with pairs of legs capable of leaving such footprints were thought to have arisen.”Civil society — support for the marginalized
Disabled speakers offer Shandong prisoners inspiration, empathy / Sixth Tone
“Somehow, I can feel a kind of connection between disabled people and prisoners: Both of us are vulnerable groups living in fear of discrimination and suffering from inequality.”Acts of heroism
Chinese Spider-Man saves boy, 2, hanging from fifth-floor window / SCMP
“A former soldier scaled a building to save a two-year-old boy dangling from the grille of a fifth-floor window in central China, in a scene reminiscent of the recent ‘Spider-Man’ rescue in Paris.”


Prada and the recycler

A man carting materials to be recycled on a three-wheeled bike pauses in front of a Prada store in Beijing. Photo taken by Naomi Xu Elegant.

View on SupChina View all photos

The Torture

By: Ruzn Baloch 


I come back from the duty; hard running day it was, I was really very tired. 

Not tired physically, but mentally.

Give me a glass of water; I told my 8-year-old daughter.

“What happened, Sarkar (Chief)?” My wife asked me? 

“Nothing, I am just tired.” I replied in a cold tone. 

“I am going to sleep, do not disturb me.” I told my wife. 

I took a pillow and tried to sleep.


“Aaaaaaaah! (Screaming caused by third degree physical torture), stop please stop, I did nothing, I am just a student. Stop, please stop.” I was dreamt this scenario. 

Suddenly, I woke up. 

“What happened?” My wife sleeping beside me asked. 

“I saw a worse dream.” I replied. 

I perspired because of the dream. 

My wife passed me a glass of water. 

We both were silent. 

“Are you okay?” My wife asked me. 

“Yes.” I replied. 

After having the glass of water, I tried to sleep again, but I failed. 

At exactly 8 o’clock at the morning I had to be on duty. 

I was a junior soldier and a sweeper in a secret detention center of Paksitan Army.  

I belong to Pushtun ethnicity and living in Quetta for last two decades.  

The secret detention in which I was in was a torture cell where the Baloch Missing Persons were detained and suffering with severe torture.


Again, the senior officer was in children’s torture cell. The detainee’s age was about 12 or 13-year old. If my son could alive, he would also be of the same age. My son died in an accident. 

I don’t know whenever I see Ulfat, the 12 or 13-year-old boy in secret detention center, I miss my child, but I never express my emotions.


“Tell me where your family members are?” The officer was asking the same question continuously and hitting the young boy with a quirt. 

“I don’t know.” Ulfat was crying and saying the same answer repeatedly. “Tell me, your uncle is a Sarmarchar, a freedom fighter, right? 

“No, not at all, my uncle is only a labor.” Ulfat replied screamingly. 

“No, all you people from Awaran, Mashkay, Jahu, and even men from rest of the areas of Balochistan are Sarmarchar. Tell me, where are your family men?” Asked the interrogating officer to Ulfat. 

Each question contains one quirt. 

The quirt was a short-handled riding whip with a braided leather lash. A lather lash hit on a kid’s body can reach him to death due to its severe pain.


Whenever the officer hit this young boy who was brought in this secret detention center from Karachi last year, I feel very much resisted but as I am the part of Pakistan Army, I have to control my emotions but how to control; at least I am a human.


I was suffering from anxiety and mental pressure since 3rd November 2017, because this was the day when Ulfat was brought here, and I saw him for the first time. 

Ulfat was detained in Karachi along with 5 or 6 more boys on October 28, 2017. Before they were in Karachi Cell but on November 3rd, they had been brought here. 

Whenever I see Ulfat, I feel that I see my own child in him. 

I was already suffering from mental pressure because of seeing all the torture on daily bases. It wasn’t easy or I think I was not capable for Pakistan Army. I wasn’t an officer but only a soldier who was seeing all the torture daily live. 


“Saqib, where are you lost?” Suddenly an officer asked me. 

“Nowhere sir, I just finished my work and waiting for you to come and allow me to go.” I replied him. 

“Yes, it’s late. You should go now but wait a bit, first go and give this plate of rice to the man at the last cell in the row right to you, and then leave.” Said the officer to me. 

“Which one sir?” I asked. 

”The last one man, I think the cell number is 309.” Said the officer to me. 

I was still watching the officer suspiciously.

“The boy, I don’t remember his name but the one who is here for last nine years.” The officer tried to remind me.


While going to the last cell, I was thinking about the man who was detained here for nine years. Nine years is not only a number but an age. 

“Open the door.” I asked the guard standing outside the cell. 

A boy with long hair and beard was sitting in front of me. 

He was too weak. He was young but seemed as an old man superficially. 

“Your food.”  I told him while throwing the plate near to him. 

He said nothing in respond. He was sitting like a statue. 

I stood in that cell for 10 minutes just to see him respond anything, but he didn’t. He was silent at all.

I came out from the cell and took a deep breath. 

I was fighting with myself, but couldn’t say anything. No one can understand that what was happening inside me.

This was normal for all people because detention of Baloch and torturing him is going from decades but I could not bear this. I feel very much pain when I see these teen aged children in detentions. 

But “this is war, war for dominancy for us or may be identity for them.” Whatever the war for is but I am tired. I sighed 


The days were going the same; the same torture, the same screams but of different voices. But a different thing happened to me few days later.


One night, a Land Cruiser car stopped in front of my door. I live in an army compound where only the army personnel and the governmental people were allowed to come. 

I was thinking, who it would be. I saw a minister coming out of the car. 


“Was a teenage boy brought in your cell about few days ago?” The minister from Balochistan Assembly asked me.

“I don’t know.” I replied. 

Privacy is important in army. 

“Listen Saqib! I know that you know all the things. The family of the detainee is very much pressurizing me; they are observing hunger strike outside the Press Club. 

His sister is doing her best for safe release of her brother. I can’t ask any other army man about this, because we are not allowed to ask them, but you’re a good man, you tell me please.” The minister requested to me. 

But I was silent. 

“Saqib, is the teenage boy in your torture cell?” The minister questioned again. 

“If I answer you what will you do about that? Or what can you do?” I asked the minister. 

“I can’t do anything in front of the army.” The minister replied helplessly. 

“But I can satisfy the family so that they would shut their mouth. I am facing media pressure a lot.” The minister said this moodily. 

“Yes, he was brought to our cell.” I told the minister. 

The words of minister were circulating in my mind. On next morning, I did not go to the cell but to the press club. 


When I reached at the press club, I saw a young girl observing hunger strike. A girl sitting at the right hand of the hunger striking girl was saying that she strives for the safe recovery of her brother, and the girl sitting beside her left hand was weeping for her missing brother.


Beside that girl, one other girl was sitting, she was very much worried, and her eyes were telling all the story. 


I went to the hunger strike camp as a journalist. 


“Tell me that for how many days will you sit here?” I asked the woman sitting in camp; probably she was a sister of a missing person. 

“Till the day our loved ones are released or brought to the court.” She replied. 

“What is your name?” I asked the woman sitting beside the sister of the missing teenage. 

She did not say anything.


“What is your name?” I asked again. 

“She does not speak.” One of the girls sitting beside her replied me. 

“”But why?” I asked.


“Her name is Ganjal, her husband had been abducted by the Pakistan army from Balochistan in 2013. She was living with the pain of disappearance of her husband and suffering from anxiety, but her pain increased multifold when her beloved cousin, Shabir Baloch, was also abducted by the Pakistani Army in 2016. Since that day she is silent, queered and unhealthy.” One of the girls sitting in camp told me.

I felt clemency very much. 


I came back to home and continuously thinking about that woman Ganjal. Few days later, I saw news on Twitter by the so-called Baloch freedom activists that Bibi Ganjal Baloch, wife of Safar Khan, died of mental pressure caused because of waiting for her husband and her brother like cousin, Shabir Baloch.

Unofficial Communication, Citizen Diplomacy, and Multi-track Diplomacy

In situations in which official, diplomatic communications between countries or between a government and an insurgent group have broken down, unofficial channels can often operate effectively. The terms "track two" or "citizen" diplomacy refer to unofficial contacts between people–usually ordinary citizens– which can later pave the way for official "first track" or "track one" diplomacy.

As originally conceived by Joe Montville, the term "track two diplomacy" refers to private citizens negotiating topics that are usually reserved for official negotiations–the formal resolution of an ongoing conflict or arms reductions, for example. Over time, however, the term has come to be used more broadly: to encompass processes such as problem-solving workshops, dialogues, cultural and scientific exchanges, traveling artists, sports teams, or any other contacts between people whose groups are currently engaged in an intractable conflict. John McDonald and Louise Diamond invented the term "multi-track diplomacy" to convey the sense that there are many ways to bring people together in addition to official negotiations.

They list nine tracks:

1) official (track one) diplomacy;
2) unofficial, yet professional conflict resolution processes,
3) international business negotiations and exchanges,
4) citizen exchanges (such as teacher exchanges),
5) international research, education, and training efforts,
6) activism,
7) contacts and exchanges between religious leaders and followers,
8) international funding efforts, and
9) public opinions and communication programs.

The value of such unofficial contacts between opposing sides is that they can often de-escalate a conflict before any official negotiations can do so. These contacts can build bridges between people, increase trust, and foster mutual understanding. They can serve to correct misperceptions and unfounded fears, and can reverse the trend toward dehumanization and the entrenchment of enemy images that often occurs in escalated conflicts. Often the de-escalation that results from such contacts is necessary, before official negotiations will be considered politically possible

International news and events

Be sure to visit www.justsecurity.org throughout the day for the latest analysis from the Just Security team.  And now with the news:   

Sign up for Today on Just Security, a daily email with all of that day’s posts.



Satellite imagery suggests that North Korea is in the process of destroying facilities used for testing its dangerous midrange ballistic Pukguksong-2 missiles, with a “key missile test stand” used for testing missile ejections from canisters demolished at a test site near Kusong in the northwest of the country, according to analysis published on monitoring website 38 North yesterday. Choe Sang-Hun reports at the New York Times.

Former State Department official Joel Wit commented that the destruction represents a small step intended to illustrate the North’s seriousness about halting its long-range missile programs, but that the likelihood of more significant steps in the near future remains uncertain. The AP reports.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani commented yesterday that Kim “got on his hands and knees and begged” that the summit with the president should go ahead, after Trump canceled the meeting it last month. Felicia Schwartz reports at the Wall Street Journal.

“They also said they were going to go to nuclear war with us, they were going to defeat us in a nuclear war,” Giuliani said in comments to reporters in Tel Aviv, adding that “we said we’re not going to have a summit under those circumstances.”  John Bowden reports at the Hill.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton will travel to Singapore as part of President Trump’s entourage for the summit, with senior adviser to the president Kellyanne Conway commenting that “the national security adviser is going. He’s going to Singapore. He’s going to be a part of those talks.” Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.

Bolton appears to have taken a back seat to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and although Bolton is expected to be in Singapore for the occasion, Pompeo has taken the lead as the administration has adopted a more conciliatory tone towards Pyongyang. Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom report at Reuters.

Former White House aide Sebastian Gorka and news host Sean Hannity will also be present in Singapore, with Fox News confirming that Hannity will host his show live from Singapore for three days next week. Justin Wise reports at the Hill.

Singapore prepares for a significant logistical challenge on June 12. Chun Han Wong, P.R. Venkat and Jonathan Cheng report at the Wall Street Journal at the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. officials have laid the groundwork for a possible second day of meetings in Singapore, should the two leaders indicate that they want to continue discussions following the June 12 summit, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Jeremy Diamond and James Griffiths report at CNN.

Trump is considering making an offer to Kim for a follow-up summit at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, with a Florida summit in the fall only likely if the leaders get on well in Singapore. Luis Sanchez reports at the Hill.

Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is making a two-day visit to North Korea ahead of next week’s summit, reportedly at the invitation of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. Balakrishnan is also set to meet Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the AP reports.

White House official Joseph Hagin, widely credited for having arranged the summit, is reportedly preparing to step down as soon as the meeting is over, despite having served as a driving force in negotiations with Pyongyang. The Daily Beast reports.

Trump has complained to officials about spending two days in Canada for a summit of world leaders, believing the trip to be a distraction from the upcoming summit with Kim, according to three people party to the president’s opinions. Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker report at the Washington Post.

Democrats in Congress are responding to Trump’s diplomatic efforts “in a quite Trumpian way,” argues Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times, commenting that “they seem more concerned with undermining him than supporting a peace process with North Korea.”

Kim Jong-un’s focus on international diplomacy may reap rewards for his generals, given the deep links between the military and all aspects of the North Korean economy, Eric Talmadge comments at the Washington Post.

Russia hopes the status quo remains undisturbed in North Korea, while Pyongyang no longer depends on Russia for economic and political survival. Mansur Mirovalev comments at Al Jazeera.

Friendship with Pyongyang provides the U.S. with a perfect opportunity to form a bloc against China, S. Nathan Park comments at CNN.

“Complete, verifiable, irreversible” denuclearization (C.V.I.) for North Korea is believed by experts to be an almost unachievable goal, David Welna comments at NPR.

A meeting with North Korea is a positive step and worth pursuing, irrespective of whether no deal is reached, Micah Zenko argues at Foreign Policy



Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani today announced a weeklong ceasefire with the Taliban that will begin on June 12, which will mark the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The AP reports.

Ghani said in a televised address that fighting would continue against other armed groups like the Islamic State, adding in a message on Twitter that the ceasefire would be “an opportunity for Taliban to introspect that their violent campaign is not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating.” Al Jazeera reports.

There has been no immediate reaction from the Taliban and the announcement follows a meeting of Islamic clerics this week who declared a fatwa on Taliban attacks and recommended a ceasefire. The meeting was hit by a suicide bombing which was claimed by the Islamic State group and killed 14 people, Hamid Shalizi reports at Reuters.

Up to 30,000 Afghan police forces on the front line against the Taliban have been denied pay for months, according to officials, which is due to the U.S.-led coalition decision to withhold funding to prompt the forces’ leaders to engage in proper accounting and to clamp down on corruption. Mujib Mashal, Taimoor Shah and Najim Rahim report at the New York Times.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has discussed Afghanistan and other issues with Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, according to a statement released by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert. The AP reports.



The State Department evacuated at least two more Americans from China yesterday amid concerns about mysterious health symptoms suffered by employees at the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou. The incident contains parallels with the ailments suffered by diplomats and their families at the U.S. embassy in Cuba and there are various theories as to the cause of the symptoms, Steven Lee Myers and Jane Perlez report at the New York Times.

The State Department announced yesterday that it has sent a medical team to Guangzhou. Eli Watkins and Ben Westcott report at CNN.

Taiwan today carried out military exercises simulating the countering of a Chinese air assault on a major base, amid increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait and vocal U.S. support for Taiwan in the face of pressure from China. The AP reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to fly to China for a state visit with meetings set to begin tomorrow. The trip takes place as the two countries have grown increasingly close due to U.S. pressure and the personal chemistry between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Vladimir Isachenkov reports at the AP.



Iran opened a new uranium enrichment facility at its Natanz site yesterday, the move coming after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal. Amir Vahdat reports at the AP.

Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) Reza Najafi said yesterday that France, Britain and Germany had a few weeks to save the deal, adding that “no one should expect Iran to go to implement more voluntary measures” but emphasizing that this “does not mean that right now Iran will restart any activities contrary to the [deal].” Francois Murphy and Sudip Kar-Gupta report at Reuters.

“We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a message on Twitter yesterday, saying that the U.S. is “watching reports” of Iran’s plans to increase uranium enrichment. Reuters reports.



The U.S. plans to return a U.S. citizen accused of supporting the Islamic State group back to Syria against his will. The unidentified man was captured on the battlefield and has been detained overseas by U.S. forces while the Trump administration and the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.) have been engaged in a court battle over his fate, Tracy Connor reports at NBC News.

The A.C.L.U. condemned the U.S. plan as “disgraceful” and a de facto “death warrant,” with the A.C.L.U. attorney Jonathan Hafetz saying that the Trump administration “want[s] to dump an American citizen onto the other side of the road in a war-torn country without any assurances of protection and no identification.” Spencer S. Hsu reports at the Washington Post.

The demographics of the northern Syrian region of Afrin has changed following the Turkish assault on Syrian Kurds and there are fears that this will threaten relations between Arabs and Kurds and lead to conflict. Martin Chulov and Kareem Shaheen report at the Guardian.

Iran and the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah group will not leave Syria until it is “fully liberated from terrorists,” the Lebanese parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said yesterday, adding that Russia and Iran are present in Syria on request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and that the crisis would only be solved through negotiations with all interested parties. Al Jazeera reports.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 41 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between May 25 and May 31. [Central Command]



The U.N. Security Council yesterday adopted a France-drafted presidential statement and gave strong backing to holding elections in Libya, which rival Libyan factions would like to hold in December. Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.

The U.S. Africa Command stated yesterday that it had killed four Islamic State militants in a precision strike. Reuters reports.



N.A.T.O. defense ministers are meeting in Brussels today. The ministers are expected to unveil new plans on troop levels in Europe and the strengthening of maritime operations in the face of increased Russian presence, Lorne Cook and Robert Burns report at the AP.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday that he does not believe the ongoing dispute about U.S. import tariffs would damage the N.A.T.O alliance, telling reporters that he believes it is “premature” to call the situation a trade war between the U.S., Canada and Europe. Robert Burns reports at the AP.



House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) yesterday disputed President Trump’s criticism of the Justice Department and its handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign, telling reporters that he has seen “no evidence” to corroborate Trump’s claims that his campaign was spied on by federal government. Susan Davies reports at NPR.

Ryan expressed the view that Trump should not attempt to pardon himself – despite the president’s assertion on Monday that he has the legal authority to do so – remarking that “I don’t know the technical answer to that question, but I think obviously the answer is he shouldn’t ... And no one is above the law.” Nicholas Fandos reports at the New York Times.

Ryan sided with Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-S.C.) defense of Mueller’s investigation, telling reporters at his weekly news conference that “Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate, but we have more digging to do.” Melanie Zanona reports at the Hill.

The Justice Department intends to offer an additional briefing to a select group of senior lawmakers, including Ryan, who have requested details about the F.B.I's use of an informant to contact associates of the Trump 2016 campaign. The “Gang of Eight”, also including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), will be allowed to review documents not shown to the group during a high-level classified briefing last month, Kyle Cheney and Rachel Bade report at POLITICO.

Ryan’s comments come at a time when House Republicans are debating whether the retiring speaker should remain in post through the election as he hopes to. One former top Trump campaign official has commented that “he needs to go … now,” Rachel Bade reports at POLITICO.

Mueller's team is making the request that witnesses hand in their personal phones, in a move aiming to enable the team to inspect encrypted messaging programs, including WhatsApp, Confide, Signal and Dust. Brian Schwartz reports at NBC.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday that she does not regret answering a question last August about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting held between Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign officials and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Sanders added: “I wish that we spent a lot less time focused on things that the American people don't care about, I wish we spent a lot less time talking about this witch hunt, and that we talked about things that impacted everyday Americans,” Sophie Tatum reports at CNN.



 The Senate’s version of the defense policy bill formally known as the National Defense Authorization Act (N.D.A.A.) was released in full yesterday. The bill, approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee, would authorize the Pentagon to conduct surveillance on individuals conducting hacking or disinformation campaigns on behalf of the Russian government, Morgan Chalfant reports at the Hill.

Cybersecurity experts at threat intelligence organization Talos have cautioned that a sophisticated Russia-linked hacking campaign has infected more devices than previously reported, with malware known as VPNFilter affecting a greater number of small- or office- routers than thought, as well as having more advanced capabilities. Olivia Beavers reports at the Hill.

Former Director at political research firm Cambridge Analytica Brittany Kaiser met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last year to discuss the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to embassy visitor logs obtained by The Guardian. Josh Bowden reports at the Hill.



The U.N. has produced a draft peace plan for Yemen in an effort to end the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. According to the documents and sources, the plan would call on the Houthis to give up their ballistic missiles in exchange for an end to the coalition bombing campaign. Warren Strobel, Yara Bayoumy and Phil Stewart report at Reuters.

At least 16 people have been killed and 35 wounded by an explosion at an arms depot in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad yesterday. According to a senior police source, the blast was caused by heavy weapons belonging to an armed group and stored in a house in the Shi’ite Sadr City district, the AFP reports.

The Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday unveiled the full text of the National Defense Authorization Act (N.D.A.A.) which sets out $716bn for the military and includes provisions aimed at threats from Russia and China. Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.

The U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell “does not, and should not, represent the United States,” the New York Times editorial board writes, expressing dismay at the ambassador’s undiplomatic comments about “empowering” far-right and nationalist movements in Europe.

The Gulf crisis has entered its second year and it appears that Iran is the only party that has something to gain, Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post, providing an overview of the diplomatic isolation and blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain due to Doha’s alleged support for terrorism and its close ties with Iran