This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:
- Japan scrambles F-15 jets to challenge Chinese surveillance plane
- China commemorates the 1937 Massacre at Nanking (Nanjing)
- Russia admits that opposition may win in Syria
- Greece finally gets its bailout commitment
- Europe kicks the can down the road again
Japan scrambles F-15 jets to challenge Chinese surveillance plane
According to China:
“Chinese and Japanese aircraft were involved in astandoff in the skies above the [Senkaku/Diaoyu] Islands onThursday.
The situation remains under control, but Tokyo seems intent onupping the ante, observers said.
A Chinese marine surveillance plane, B-3837, was sent to joinvessels patrolling the territorial waters around the islands,which belong to China, on Thursday morning, said a statementissued by the State Oceanic Administration on its website.
The plane arrived in the area at about 10 am and conducted jointpatrols with a fleet of four surveillance ships.
The fleet ordered the Japanese ships that had entered China’sterritorial waters to leave the area immediately, the statementsaid.
Warned by the Japanese coast guard, the Chinese aircraft respondedthat it was flying in Chinese airspace, Japan’s JiJi Press quotedthe coast guard’s 11th regional headquarters in Naha, OkinawaPrefecture, southern Japan as saying.
The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force scrambled F-15 fighter jets tothe area, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported.
Japan’s Defense Ministry accused the air patrol of an “airspaceintrusion”.”
According to Japan:
“Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura says the jetswere sent in response to a Chinese Oceanic Administration airplanethat was spotted near the islands. He said Japan has lodged anofficial protest and summoned the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo.
conducted an airspace invasion of Japan’s territory today, on topof their intrusion of territorial waters for three days in a row,as of today, despite our repeated warnings.”
A spokesperson for the Japanese prime minister’s office confirmedto VOA that in addition to the F-15s, a E-2C “Hawkeye” observationaircraft was also scrambled from Naha, Okinawa.
The Japanese government described the incident as the first everairspace.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said the plane’smission was “completely normal.” “The Diaoyu Islands andaffiliated islands have been part of China’s territory sinceantiquity,” said Hong. “China’s surveillance plane flying inairspace over the Diaoyu Islands is completely normal. China callson Japan to halt illegal activities in waters around Diaoyuislands and airspace.””
It’s very hard to get past the feeling that China is planningsomething major very soon. In the South China Sea, China hasestablished a strong military presence, and has threatened to boardand seize foreign ships that enter its “territorial waters” — whichthey claim are the entire South China Sea, even areas thathistorically belonged to other nations. And now China has escalatedthe confrontation in the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands with a surveillanceplane. The amount of escalation seems to increase every week, andChina may be preparing for much more in the next few months.
China commemorates the 1937 Massacre at Nanking (Nanjing)
The confrontation between Chinese and Japanese aircraft occurred onthe 75th anniversary of the December 13, 1937, start of the “Massacreat Nanking (Nanjing),” during which Japanese soldiers allegedly raped,massacred and killed some 300,000 Chinese civilians. The Massacre atNanking is the most potent symbol of today’s Chinese nationalism andhatred of the Japanese. On Thursday, 10,000 people attended aceremony at the Nanking massacre memorial hall, built on a pit wherethousands of victims were buried. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
Russia admits that opposition may win in Syria
In what some people are describing as a major reversal of position by Russia,Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said:
“We have to face up to reality: The trend is that theSyrian regime, the government is increasingly losing control,losing more and more territory.
Sadly, a victory by the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out. …
[Syria’s Opposition Coalition] are saying that victory is justaround the corner: ‘We will soon take Aleppo and then we will takeDamascus,’ and saying they are in control of 60 percent ofterritory.”
It’s worth noting that in the last few days, the U.S. administrationmade an important concession to Russia’s point of view, by designatingJabhat al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist group in Syria, as we reported. Russia is plagued by al-Qaedalinked terrorists in its own North Caucasus southern provinces, it wasconcerned that an opposition victory in Syria would put additionalal-Qaeda linked terrorists in power, further threatening Russia in theCaucasus. Ria Novosti (Moscow) and Telegraph (London)
Greece finally gets its bailout commitment
A summit of European financial ministers agreed to release some 50 billioneuros in bailout loans in the next few months, allowing Greece to paymeet its immediate debt payments and avoid going bankrupt. According toGreece’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras:
“Over the next few months, we’ll get 52.5 billioneuros, which is something nobody had expected. About 40 billionof this will stay in the country [to recapitalize the banks andpay money owed to suppliers], and the rest is being used to reduceour debt. ‘Grexit’ [the slang term for ‘Greek exit from theeurozone’] is dead, Greece is back on its feet.
Within the next few weeks, we’ll complete the recapitalization ofour banks, which will help liquidity and boost job creation, whichis the top priority.
Some people expected us to be out of the euro and cannot believethat we are staying in. We have restored trust in Greece abroad;now we will restore the dignity of the Greek people.”
The Europeans also announced a “banking union,” which will bringcontrol of national banks under the control of the ECB. After monthsof “kicking the can down the road,” European officials arecongratulating themselves and each other for finally solving the eurocrisis. Kathimerini
Europe kicks the can down the road again
Over a year ago, I proposed the “Kick the Can Theory,” which says thatif you want to predict what Europe is going to do, always assume thatthey’ll do the minimum possible to get through today’s crisis,postponing the real underlying causes for a few weeks or months, afterwhich the next crisis will be worse. The “Kick the Can Theory” hasbeen proven true every single time so far, and the current agreementis no different.
Here’s a BBC interview with Peter Spiegel, Brussels Bureau Chief forFinancial Times (my transcription). He was asked his opinion ofThursday’s European agreements:
“To be perfectly honest, there are some deals that aredone, but as usual, there are things left undecided. They’regoing to have to come back to Greece, they’re going to have tocome back to banking union in the new year, and to be honest, themost pressing issues in both places have not been dealt with.
On the Greece side of things – look they still haven’t gottenGreece’s debt level back to a sustainable level, a level whereGreece can sustain itself. They postponed a huge chunk of thatdebt relief — they’re going to decide it next year, in some casesin 2014 because they didn’t want to take the hard decision, ofwhether they’re going to take haircuts on their own bailout loans,so real tough decisions postponed again on Greece.
And on banking union, yes, there was a major decision to set up asingle supervisor. The problem is that’s the easy part of thisnew banking union. The hard part is — who’s going to pay for it?If we’re going to say that the euro zone is going to centralizecontrol over banks, what happens when you have to bailout theSpanish banks again? Who pays for that?
And what is very clear from the words of both [German Chancellor]Angela Merkel and [German Finance Minister] Wolfgang Schäubleduring the banking union debate — they want to kick that can downas far as they can. It was originally going to be some time nextyear. It now looks like the middle of 2014.
That’s a day that’s way too late for some of these countries,particularly Ireland. Ireland’s supposed to come out of itsbailout program next year. It needs some certainty on what it’sgoing to be doing with its 60 billion euros in bank debt that wassupposed to be shifted away from the Irish sovereign and onto thisnew banking union.
So these are decisions that people felt as recently as June neededto be taken by the summit, by December. Clearly now the Germans,the Dutch, the Finns, some of these others are pushing that notinto next year, but potentially into the year after that.
[Question: [France’s president] François Hollande said the eurocrisis is behind us. You don’t think he’s right?]
His predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, almost said the exact same thinga year ago today. If you remember, there was the ECB with itsbazooka, came out with something called the LTRO which isbasically cheap financing for Europe’s banks. Everyone pattedthemselves on the back, said this crisis is over.
It is remarkable now, after another ECB intervention, that theFrench president is again patting himself on the back forresolving the crisis. I mean, call me skeptical. I’ve beencovering this now for over two years. Every time the crisis isdetermined to be done, and called “over,” it rears its bloody/uglyhead again, and if you look at places like – not just Greece butSpain, where the economy is really in a tailspin, their bankingsector’s still in real trouble, their private ability to borrow inthe private sector – there’s a real credit crunch there. The realproblem in Spain, a country that is much bigger than Ireland, thanPortugal, than Greece, that haven’t been dealt with. Call meskeptical. I’ve heard these declarations before, and I’m acynical reporter, I guess, but I just don’t think this crisis isdone.”
As I’ve said many times in the past, no solution exists for the Greeceproblem. It’s not that there are three or four different solutions,and the different European factions simply can’t agree which solutionto implement. The actual problem is that there are zero solutions, soall they can do is kick the can down the road.
The reasoning behind the repeated efforts to postpone the problem is thatpeople believe that if they can stall long enough, then the real estateand credit bubbles of six years ago will return. They keep saying thatthe economy will start to grow again next quarter and it never does,because the bubbles are still contracting, and will continue to do so.There will be no real growth again until well into the 2020s.
So anyway, the “Kick the Can Theory” is proven correct one more time.