A couple of weeks ago, IHS Jane's, a leading British publishing company specializing in military topics, reported that China was reclaiming land at Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea and transforming permanently submerged features that do not qualify as an island under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea into an artificial island big enough to accommodate an airfield and a harbor, the largest Chinese naval facility in the Spratly Islands.
The frosty handshake between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the margins of the APEC meeting in Beijing is providing an opportunity for the two countries to end the downward spiral of the last two years, but this is by no means assured. Each must be cognizant of the sensitivities of the other side in an extremely unstable relationship.
The historic meeting between the leaders of China and Japan, hours before the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting convened in Beijing, hopefully will lead to an easing of tensions between the two countries, ending a period when the relationship was in free fall.
For someone whose public life is an open book, many people are still puzzled by China's leader Xi Jinping, who became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission two years ago.
An increasingly self-confident China is now seeking to reshape the world through playing leadership roles in international organizations, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum next week in Beijing. This is a rare opportunity, since APEC members take turns hosting the annual meetings, with China last playing host in 2001.
China's relationship with Russia has strengthened in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, despite Moscow's clear violation of the Chinese principle of noninterference in other countries' internal affairs.
Just as China and the United States are preparing for another Xi Jinping-Barack Obama summit next month, when the American president is scheduled to visit Beijing for the annual APEC leaders meeting, China is stepping up charges that Washington is secretly supporting student-led pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
"I'm a very modest man," Narendra Modi, who as a young man sold tea by the railroad but who became India's prime minister in May, told 18,500 cheering fans in New York's Madison Square Garden last week. "That's why I plan to do big things for modest people."4 Comments
Last week, President Xi Jinping addressed the International Confucian Association to mark the 2,565th anniversary of the birth of Confucius. This would have been impossible for a Communist leader in earlier times. During the reign of Chairman Mao Zedong, Confucius was subjected to vilification and contempt.1 Comment
China's Communist Party has announced that a plenary session of its Central Committee will meet next month and the focus will be on the rule of law. While no one expects the party to allow a fully independent judiciary, there may well be progress while leaving in place the ultimate role of the party.