Friday, April 20, 2007

China Matters Reporting Scorecard

China Matters has had a good run of reporting and analysis particularly on North Korea and Banco Delta Asia and pats itself on the back for various feats of prescience:

Concerning the implications of the BDA debacle for US efforts against Iran...

China Matters, April 17:

If the sanctions against BDA were removed explicitly to facilitate the Six Party Agreement, then the legitimacy of Patriot Act Section 311 investigations—and their intimidating aura of implacable, inexorable malice—would be lost.

And Daniel Glaser and his boss, Stuart Levey, would look like jerks who had been using the pretext of supposed U.S. law enforcement obligations to promote a secret, unilateral, destabilizing North Korea policy under false pretenses.

Which, in my opinion, is exactly what they did.

And now I think the world—and Beijing--knows it.Which means the credibility of Patriot Act Section 311 investigations is shot. European banks (and governments) leery of the U.S. approach on North Korea and Iran will find it easier to opt out of an explicitly politicized Section 311 investigation and sanctions regime. [emphasis added]

Financial Times, US under fire for anti-Iran tactics, by Stephen Fidler and Roula Khalaf in London and Guy Dinmore in Washington, April 19 2007

John Bruton, the European Union ambassador to Washington, expressed concern on Thursday that Treasury officials touring Europe might be threatening European companies with application of extra-territorial US legislation. The EU would “question the wisdom” of the US seeking to impose such sanctions, either retroactively or in the future. The EU-US summit to be held in Washington on April 30 would include discussions on Iran policy, he told reporters.

Concerning what was really going on when Daniel Glaser sat in Beijing for over a week...

China Matters, April 8, 2007:

Daniel Glaser had to come to Beijing to help “implement” the agreement—and, I suppose, explain to a rather grim-faced collection of Asiatics that what he had really meant by “implementation” was that he really didn’t want much of the money returned after all.

That perhaps made for some awkward moments.

I assume the Chinese demanded an explicit written waiver from the Treasury Department stating that Bank of China would be subject to no investigations or potential sanctions stemming from its role in handling the North Korean funds.


China Matters, April 10, 2007:

What sophisticated maneuvers did Daniel Glaser come up with during his two weeks in Beijing to “implement” a way out of the difficulties that the Treasury Department had created?

Apparently nothing.

Certainly not the written waiver for Bank of China to handle the funds that I thought Beijing would get.

Reuters, April 20,2007:

Bank transfer said snagging North Korea deal, Diplomatic Corresponent Carol Giacomo

But Michael Green, former top Asia specialist at the White House's National Security Council, said the Bank of China, which is listed on the international stock exchange, would not accept the money because of concerns it might be sanctioned.


"The Chinese wanted the Treasury Department to pledge that they would not sanction any bank that took this money ($25 million) but Treasury wasn't willing to do that. Our law won't allow us to do that, to give that kind of 'get out of jail free card,'" Green told a briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies where he is a senior adviser.

And cat food...

And as a bonus for dog and cat lovers, it looks like our exclusive analysis of the probable source of the melamine-tainted wheat gluten in Shandong, Binzhou was correct:

Via Tapped:

TIP-OFFS. In a story that would be utterly hilarious were the consequences less lethal, agricultural giant Wilbur-Ellis has submitted to a national recall of their rice protein concentrate, which has been tainted with Melamine and is poisoning the pet foods. From their press release:
Last Sunday, April 15, Wilbur-Ellis notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that a single bag in a recent shipment of rice protein concentrate from its Chinese supplier, Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd., had tested positive for melamine. Unlike the other white-colored bags in that shipment, the bag in question was pink and had the word ‘melamine’ stenciled upon it.

To elaborate, based on the specs we tracked down for the wheat gluten implicated in the original Menu Foods cases, we had traced the supplier past the exporter in Xuzhou to a probable source in Binzhou. Now another U.S. importer of vegetable protein—Wilbur-Ellis--is admitting their material came from the same area. That’s corroboration that somebody in Binzhou is going to have to answer a lot of questions.

So, the good news is readers of China Matters may pride themselves on knowing tomorrow’s news today.

The bad news is that the generally lazy and credulous reporting on North Korean issues is slowly becoming a thing of the past, so we’ll have to dig harder for our scoops.

Back to work!

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