Wednesday, 31 December 2008


Taiwan and mainland China inaugurated direct transport and postal links following a 59-year hiatus. when 15 container ships and 16 schedule flights set out across the Strait. An apparently overjoyed President Ma Ying-jeou declared that the mainland and Taiwan "are reconciling and not going back to the animosity and conflicts of the past". Amen!

Dispute Settlement

China lost her first case before the WTO in a dispute brought by the US, EU and Canada in connection with China's tariff treatment of auto parts imports. The WTO Appellate Body upheld most of the rulings by a panel which found the Chinese measure in violation of the WTO rules. While the Ministry of Commerce expressed “regret” over the decision, the always self-righteous government now has to live with the reality that it must comply with a ruling imposed against its will by an outside body. Industry analysts said, however, that the impact of the case on domestic auto industry would be minimal.


After the Bush administration cabled about 100 countries, practically begging them to take over Guantanamo Bay detainees (including 17 Chinese Uighurs), half a dozen European countries, notably Germany and Portugal, indicated their willingness to accept the prisoners, provided that the US would attach no strings and accept some "common legal principles in the fight against terrorism". German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly agreed in principle to resettle the Uighur prisoners in Germany without sacrificing relationship with China.

Territory -- Diaoyu Islands
Law of the Sea

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said two Chinese survey ships spending nine hours within the territorial waters off the Diaoyu Islands was "irreproachable". Japan lodged a protest and demanded to know the purpose of the intrusion. The answer seems to have been supplied by a Chinese publication, which claimed that the ships were "on an official mission to enforce the law" and called it a "landmark" achievement.

Law of the Sea - Pirates
Use of Force
Hong Kong

Following attacks by Somali pirates on Chinese merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden, China sent two destroyers and one supply ship to join an international mission against pirates in waters off Somalia. The operation is seen as the first active deployment of Chinese warships beyond the Pacific in the 600 years since Ming dynasty voyager Zheng He's venture to the Cape of Good Hope. While the expedition served clearly to "register the presence of the Chinese Navy", the PLA made clear that the Navy would "strictly abide by relevant UN Security Council resolutions and international law". Rear Admiral Du Jingchen , commander of the mission, said, "We are expected to encounter conflicts where we might have to fire on pirates, but our primary target is not striking them but dispersing them."

The PLA protection extends to Hong Kong ships traversing the waters off Somalia, although only one of the seven early applications for protection from Hong Kong ships was approved. Meanwhile, on its second mission, the PLA Navy escorted a Taiwanese tanker through the Somali waters.