1) Chinese govt ships in disputed island waters: Japan
Chinese government ships were back in waters around Japanese-controlled islands Tuesday, the coastguard said, a week after they last left and days after heated exchanges at the UN General Assembly. The four maritime surveillance ships entered the waters shortly after 12:30 pm (0330 GMT), Japan’s coastguard said in a statement, adding that it was telling the ships to leave the area. “Patrol ships from our agency have been telling them to sail outside of our territorial waters.
There has not been any response” from the Chinese ships, the agency said. Two other Chinese officialvessels were sailing near the island chain, but not in what Japan claims as its territorial waters, the coastguard also reported in a separate statement. It was the first time in about a week that Chinese ships had entered the waters, and came after a lull in a fearsome diplomatic spat over the sovereignty of the islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Official Chinese vessels repeatedly sailed into the archipelago’s waters until last week, defying warnings from Japan’s well-equipped coastguard. And last week Chinese and Japanese diplomats at the United Nations in New York traded insults, with China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi accusing Japan of theft. The islands lie in rich fishing grounds and on key shipping lanes.
seabed in the area is also believed to harbour mineral reserves. Japan’s deputy UN ambassador Kazuo Kodama retorted that the islands were legally Japanese territory and said “an assertion that Japan took the islands from China cannot logically stand”. Historical grievances stemming from Japan’s wartime expansionism also complicate the argument, as does a claim of ownership by Taiwan. That claim was pressed last Tuesday when dozens of fishing boats were escorted into island waters by the Taiwanese coastguard, sparking water cannon exchanges with Japanese coastguard vessels.
The decades-old dispute came to the fore earlier this year when the China-baiting governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, announced he wanted to buy the island chain from its private Japanese landowner. Nationalists from both sides staged island landings before Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stepped in to outbid Ishihara, who had amassed well over a billion yen ($12.8 million) in public donations towards the cost. The government completed its purchase of three of the five islands in the chain — it already owned one and leases the fifth — on September 11. Observers said Noda’s move to nationalise the islands had been an attempt to hose down an issue that looked set to become an international problem. But Beijing reacted furiously and unleashed diplomatic vitriol on Tokyo, while tens of thousands of protesters poured onto streets in cities across China.
2) Bahrain court upholds jail terms on protesting medics
Bahrain’s highest court on Monday upheld jail terms issued against nine medics convicted for their role in last year’s pro-democracy uprising, state news agency BNA reported, a decision that could further fuel unrest in the Gulf Arab state. The controversial case has drawn international criticism of the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab kingdom, which has been in turmoil since the protests led by its Shi’ite Muslim majority were crushed by the Sunni rulers.
Bahrain, home base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, accuses regional Shi’ite power Iran of encouraging the unrest and has promised a tough response to violent protests as talks with the opposition have stalled. BNA quoted Attorney General Abdul-Rahman al-Sayed as saying that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation rejected all appeals presented by the defendants and confirmed the previous rulings of prison terms ranging between one month to five years. In June, the appeals court sentenced Ali al-Ekry, former senior surgeon at the Salmaniya hospital in Manama, to five years in jail and gave eight others prison sentences ranging from one month to three years. It also acquitted nine others.
Two medics previously sentenced to 15 years each did not appeal and they are believed to be in hiding or to have left the country. The doctors were released last year after an outcry over allegations of torture during detention. Ekry, a senior orthopaedic surgeon at Salmaniya who was convicted, among other charges, of inciting hatred and calling for the overthrow of Bahrain’s rulers, said Monday’s ruling might be politically motivated “We did not get a fair trial…We think we are a card being used by the regime to negotiate with the opposition,” he told Reuters by telephone from Manama.
Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said Monday’s verdict was final with no recourse for further appeal but there might be still a chance for a pardon by the king. The medics’ case highlights the schism in Bahraini society over the protest movement and political reform. The doctors and nurses, who are all Shi’ites, say they were victimised for treating protesters and helping bring world attention to deaths caused by security forces. Washington and rights groups have criticised the June ruling, with Amnesty International saying it was a “dark day for justice”.
3) White House confirms cyber-attack on ‘unclassified’ system
The White House has confirmed it was the target of a cyber-attack but says the breach hit an unclassified network. An unnamed administration official told US media that there was no indication any data had been removed.
The conservative Washington Free Beacon reported on Sunday that hackers linked to the Chinese government had breached the White House Military Office. The White House would not say if the attack originated in China, describing it as a “spear-phishing” attempt. “Spear-phishing” typically works by sending fake e-mails that look like legitimate correspondence, but which link to a malicious website or file attachment.
“These types of attacks are not infrequent and we have mitigation measures in place,” the official, who was not authorised to speak on the record, told the Associated Press and other US media. Cyber-attacks from Chinese-linked hackers have been an increasing concern among US government offices, including the Pentagon, the head of intelligence for US cyber defence told Reuters last week. “Their level of effort against the Department of Defense is constant,” Rear Admiral Samuel Cox said.
In 2011, Google blamed computer hackers in China for a phishing effort against Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including senior US government officials and military personnel. That November, senior US intelligence officials for the first time publicly accused China of systematically stealing American high-tech data for its own gain.