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China no threat, Chinese general says on U.S. trip

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A top Chinese general rejected growing American concerns about China’s military buildup Wednesday, telling audiences at the National Defense University and the Pentagon that the People’s Liberation Army was no threat.

“The world has no need to worry, let alone fear … China’s growth,” said General Chen Bingde, chief of the PLA general staff, in a rare address to a packed room of U.S. military officers and faculty at the National Defense University.

But the reassurances by Chen during a high-profile visit to the United States were also accompanied by fresh warnings against any future U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which underscored the fragile nature of the relationship.

As members of Congress press for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a renegade province, Chen warned that new U.S. weapons sales to the self-ruled island would damage military ties.

“As to how bad the impact will be, it will depend on the nature of the weapons sold to Taiwan,” Chen told a Pentagon media briefing.

With an occasional smile, Chen quoted U.S. presidents including Abraham Lincoln to drive home his points. He turned to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” trying to allay concerns about China.

Military ties are perhaps the weakest link in relations between the world’s two largest economies — which have also been tested in the past year by disputes over trade, currency, North Korea and human rights.

Chen is the highest ranking official to lead a military delegation to the United States since Beijing cut off ties to the United States in 2010 over a U.S. arms sale to Taiwan worth up to $6.4 billion.

Those ties appeared to gain new footing during Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ January trip to Beijing, even though it was overshadowed by a test flight of China’s J-20 stealth fighter that again stoked concerns about its military buildup.

China also plans to develop aircraft carriers, anti-ship ballistic missiles and other advanced systems which have alarmed the Asian powers and the United States, the dominant power in the Pacific. U.S. officials accuse Beijing of designing their weapons system to counter U.S. capabilities.

DECADES BEHIND THE WEST?

Chen played down Chinese military advances on his trip, telling the audience of U.S. military officers and faculty at the National Defense University the People’s Liberation Army lagged at least 20 years behind developed Western nations.

“To be honest, I feel very sad after visiting (the United States), because I think, I feel and I know, how poor our equipments are and how underdeveloped we remain,” Chen said.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chen’s host, stressed the importance of renewed dialogue to minimize the risk of misunderstanding.

“What he and I have both talked about is a future that is a peaceful future and a better one for our children and grandchildren. That does not include a conflict between China and the United States,” Mullen told reporters.

But some members of Congress criticized the U.S. military for too openly engaging with Chen and his delegation, particularly his access to U.S. military facilities. Chen will visit Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, home to some high-tech U.S. defenses.

“There can be no doubt that every scrap of information this expert delegation collects will be used against us,” said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a statement.

“The Chinese military openly regards the United States as an enemy,” she said. “We should not undermine our own security by thinking we can make friends with self-proclaimed adversaries with hospitality and open arms.”

Still, the Chinese and U.S. economies, Chen noted, are inextricably linked. China has the world’s biggest foreign exchange reserve, with about two-thirds estimated to be held in dollars. Jokes about U.S. dependence on China to finance its debt are commonplace in the United States, and Chen appeared to seize the opportunity in Washington.

Talking about fiscal constraints on China’s military, Chen got a long round of laughter from his U.S. audience by joking: “If you can lend us some money, I think that would be easier.”

Provided by NewsDaily

Russia may take action over U.S. missile shield

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Russia says it may take action if Washington and Moscow fail to agree on a joint missile shield

Russia’s deputy defense minister has said action could be taken if the United States deploys its new missile defense system near Russia’s borders.

In a news conference on Friday, deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov said the Russian military was looking at ways to “protect our nation if Russia is not consulted in talks with NATO.”

“There is not only talk, some serious work is also being done,” Antonov said. “The Defense Ministry should allow for the worst possible scenario.”

His comments come just hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Kazakhstan that the talks were going through a complicated phase.

“So far this matter is proceeding with difficulty, but the [U.S.] Secretary of State [Hillary Clinton] has assured us that measures are being taken on her side,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov added that he had met Clinton during an Arctic Council meeting in Greenland on Thursday and had discussed missile defense.

“We agreed that it was necessary to give a political impulse to the work of experts, so that before our two presidents meet in Deauville for the G8 summit it will be possible to set out some results,” Lavrov said.

The United States and Romania announced last week a deal to deploy missile interceptors in Romania as part of its plan to erect a missile shield over Europe.

The move immediately drew criticism from Russia, which fears the scheme may compromise its security by weakening its nuclear missile arsenal.

But U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher said Moscow need not worry.

“We have good relations with Russia. We have just ratified the New START treaty, we are working together on various other issues,” she was quoted as saying in media reports last week.

“It is a system that will defend NATO and, if Russia chooses to work with us in a cooperative manner, the system will defend Russia, too.”

Russia agreed to cooperate on NATO’s European missile defense program at a NATO summit in Lisbon last year.


Russia ‘disappointed’ by U.S. failure to provide missile guarantees

Moscow is concerned by the United States’ refusal to provide legally binding guarantees that its European missile defense system will not be directed against Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday.

“The Americans are insisting on the importance of launching practical cooperation without any preconditions,” he said, adding that Russia “cannot start cooperation on specific projects without legal guarantees that a future system will not be directed against our security interests.”

Moscow reserves the right to pull out of the new START Treaty, he warned.

“The new START Treaty may become hostage to the U.S. approach,” the official said.

“The qualitative and quantitative buildup of the U.S. missile defense system, which will jeopardize Russia’s strategic nuclear capability, can be regarded as an exceptional event under Article 14 of the said Treaty whereby Russia has the right to withdraw from this agreement,” Ryabkov said.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile shield during the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system.

Russia is opposed to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.

Via Rian & Russia

Between us, we’re worth $1 trillion: The world’s richest dinner party

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Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

It’s difficult to imagine a wealthier set of guests than those invited to the home of Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr earlier this year, in the mega-wealthy enclave of Woodside, California. Together they represent companies worth nearly $1 trillion.

By all accounts, Obama didn’t have an easy ride – many of the diners are generous political donors and the President was criticised for slow progress on policy promises. The dinner lasted two hours, and is expected to be the first in a series that Obama holds with Silicon Valley’s leaders.

So what was on the menu? Chef Yigit Pura would only reveal that Obama said, ‘Banana cream pie was solid,’ as he kissed his fingers.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to ditch his hoodie for more formal attire – normally, the only suits he’s acquainted with are of the legal variety…

ERIC SCHMIDT

Title Chairman, Google

Worth $7 billion

Google market valuation $171.8 billion

In his ten-year tenure, Schmidt oversaw Google’s transformation into the global internet giant that it is today. He stepped down as CEO last month and is now a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

ARTHUR D LEVINSON 

Title Chairman, Genentech

Worth Earned $850,000 in 2010

Genentech market valuation $46.8bn

Founded in 1976, Genentech (now owned by Roche) pioneered using human genetic information to develop medicines, including cancer treatments. Levinson stepped down as CEO in 2009, and now sits on Apple’s board of directors.

JOHN T CHAMBERS 

Title CEO, Cisco Systems

Worth $1 billion

Cisco market valuation $96 billion Chambers raises his glass extra-high to Obama, showing that there are no hard feelings on the part of this co-chair of John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid. He earns his seat as chairman of Cisco, the dotcom boom’s most valuable company.

JOHN DOERR

Title Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Worth $2.2 billion

The host for the evening, Doerr is a tech investor with a knack for backing a winning idea. Back in 1999, KPCB led a $25 million investment in upstart Google. KPCB has participated in over $2.3 billion of investments since May 2010.

LARRY ELLISON 

Title CEO, Oracle

Worth $39.5 billion

Oracle market valuation $177.6 billion

Currently the fifth wealthiest human being on the planet, Ellison co-founded Oracle in 1977. In true billionaire fashion, he splashed out over $100 million to ensure that his BMW Oracle sailing team won the America’s Cup last year.

REED HASTINGS

Title Co-founder and CEO, Netflix

Worth Earned $5.5 million in 2010

Netflix market valuation $12 billion

In 1997 Hastings co-founded Netflix, an online subscription service for movies and TV which now has over 20 million members across North America. He once taught maths in Swaziland during a two-year stint in the US Peace Corps.

JOHN L HENNESSY

Title President, Stanford University

Worth $31.4 million

Stanford endowment $15.9 billion

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford has a long association with the area’s tech companies, many of whose founders  –  including those of Google, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo!  –  passed through the university.

CAROL BARTZ 

Title CEO, Yahoo!

Worth Earned $47.2 million in 2009

Yahoo! market valuation $23.7 billion

Bartz, who joined Yahoo! in 2009, holds the honour of having topped a 2010 list of executives paid too much for running underperforming companies. Although Yahoo! remains a global internet brand, it’s still considered to be in decline.

DICK COSTOLO 

Title CEO, Twitter

Worth $120 million

Twitter market valuation $3.7 billion

A computer science graduate and former improvisational comedian, Costolo sold FeedBurner  –  a provider of management tools for website owners  –  to Google in 2007 for a rumoured $100 million. Last year he took over as CEO of Twitter.

MARK ZUCKERBERG 

Title CEO, Facebook

Worth $13.5 billion

Facebook market valuation $50 billion

The Social Network’s complex antihero, Zuckerberg is ‘trying to make the world a more open place by helping people connect and share’, according to his own Facebook profile. Luckily for him, he’s becoming filthy rich in the process.

STEVE WESTLY

Title Managing partner and founder, The Westly Group

Worth $500 million

A Democratic Party supporter, venture capitalist Westly served as a California co-chair for Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign. The Westly Group has participated in over $178 million of investments since April 2010.

BARACK OBAMA 

Title President, USA

Worth $10.5 million

USA $14.7 trillion (GDP)

Obama is noted for his love of technology: he embraced social media in his election campaign, and was reportedly gifted an iPad 2 a month before they went on sale. His aide Valerie Jarrett also attended the dinner (seated to Zuckerberg’s right).

ANN DOERR 

Title Philanthropist

The hostess, as the wife of John Doerr, is no stranger to technology herself, holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering. An environmental activist and trustee of the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund, she works alongside her husband in his philanthropic endeavours.

STEVE JOBS 

Title Co-founder and CEO, Apple

Worth $8.3 billion

Apple market valuation $323.3 billion

Jobs has transformed the tech industry several times. After his pioneering early years at Apple, he left the firm to set up NeXT (which created the machine on which the Web was developed), before returning to spearhead the ‘iRevolution’.

Via DailyMail

Bush tells Obama on bin Laden: “Good call”

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Former President George W. Bush, who spent years searching for Osama bin Laden, had two words for President Barack Obama when Obama told him of the al Qaeda leader’s death: “Good call.”

Bush, who has shied away from the public eye since leaving office in January 2009, spoke about the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden in remarks to a conference of hedge fund managers. An ABC News contributor attended the event and reported on them.

Bush said he was eating souffles at a Dallas restaurant with his wife, Laura, and two friends when he got word that Obama, his successor as president, was trying to reach him.

“I excused myself and went home to take the call,” Bush said. “Obama simply said, ‘Osama bin Laden is dead.'”

After Obama described in detail the secret U.S. raid on Osama’s compound in Pakistan and the decision he made to go ahead with the mission, Bush said he told Obama: “Good call.”

ABC News said Bush told the group that bin Laden’s death was a victory for the American people and “a great victory in the war on terror.”

He said U.S. intelligence services deserve a lot of credit for tracking down bin Laden and spoke of meeting in Afghanistan with Navy SEAL Team Six, the highly skilled strike team that reportedly conducted the raid.

“They are awesome, skilled, talented and brave,” he added. “I said, ‘I hope you have everything you need. One guy said, ‘We need your permission to go into Pakistan and kick ass.'”

Bush escalated a U.S. hunt for bin Laden after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, but the al Qaeda leader escaped from the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan and ended up living in a large house in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, apparently for years.

Bush’s predecessor, President Bill Clinton, launched missile strikes against bin Laden’s compound in Afghanistan in 1998 in an unsuccessful effort to kill bin Laden following al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham)

Via NewsDaily

Written by Nokgiir

May 14, 2011 at 6:32 am