Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

China punishes hospital for operating room “selfies”

December 22, 2014

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese health authorities put a hospital president on probation and fired three other supervisors following public outrage over photos posted online of smiling medical staff posing with patients in the middle of surgery.

The photos were taken in August at privately owned Fengcheng Hospital in the north-central city of Xi’an and leaked on social media over the weekend. Online commentators criticized medical staff for being unprofessional and disrespectful of patients, while others defended the photos, saying they were intended to be private and were taken at the end of surgical procedures.

Tensions have run high between health workers and patients in China. Patients often complain about poor medical services and high costs, especially the need to bribe doctors and nurses in exchange for competent services. Chinese health workers say they are overworked, underpaid and underappreciated.

The Xi’an Bureau of Public Health, which handed out the punishment, said in a statement Sunday that the staff at Fengcheng took the photos to memorialize the operating room, which was to be relocated.

Nevertheless, the bureau said the picture-snapping violated proper medical procedures and had a negative social impact. It requested everyone involved in the photo scandal to offer “deep” self-criticisms. The bureau also put the hospital president on probation for one year and fired a deputy president, the head nurse and the person in charge of anesthetics.

The bureau also demanded that the hospital issue an open apology and rectify its management to avoid similar incidents in the future.

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Wall Street Journal (Blog)

Senior executives and a team of medical staff at a Chinese hospital in the central city of Xi’an are under fire after the medical workers took to snapping and posting online a series of jolly selfies in the operating room after successful surgeries.

In a case that seems tailor-made to underline the dangers of abusing social media at work, the doctors and nurses, clad in green and masked in blue, are seen in the selfies mugging for the camera while posing next to apparently still-unconscious patients. Some have their arms akimbo. Others have torn their masks aside to show their winning beams. One of them holds his fingers aloft in a V-sign.

The Xi’an Bureau of Public Health took action after the images, taken in August, made their way into the Internet and eventually to media outlets in Shaanxi province, where Xi’an is situated. In a statement Sunday, the government bureau said it’s cashiered two top executives and several other medical staff at the privately-run Xi’an Fengcheng Hospital.

The hospital’s executive president, surnamed Yan, was put on a year’s probation and had three months’ pay docked, the bureau said. A hospital vice president surnamed Chen also had three months’ pay deducted. A chief of anesthesiology and the chief nurse surnamed were removed from administrative duty, and had part of their bonuses cut. The bureau declined to reveal the staff’s full names. Fengcheng didn’t respond immediately to calls for comment.

The government agency also ordered the hospital to make a public apology and “carry out reform.” All others found participating in the selfies – technically, these are “wefies”– were also told to write “self-reflection reports” and had their bonuses cut, the bureau said.

The punishments didn’t come soon enough to stop the “surgery selfie” hashtag from surging to the top of Chinese microblogging platforms on Monday morning, with the post on the subject from a local newspaper scoring 52 million views.

There have been other cases of selfies that triggered massive social backlash. But in China, where public frustration with the quality of medical care runs high and doctor-patient relationships have a disturbing tendency to erupt into violence, the smocked-up selfies appeared to have touched a nerve.

“These are serious procedures, the patient is still lying there, and the doctors are posing for selfies! This is malicious provocation,” one blogger wrote.

– Chuin-Wei Yap. Follow him on Twitter @YapCW.

Experts Say Despite Less Income As Oil Prices Decline, Iran Will Find A Way To Fund Nuclear Bomb

December 22, 2014

DUBAI Mon Dec 22, 2014 6:21am EST

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani gives a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani gives a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York September 26, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

(Reuters) – A big oil price slide will hurt Iran’s attempts to rescue battered living standards, but economic pain is unlikely to soften its stance in nuclear talks or end aid to allies such as Syria, matters seen by its ruling clerics as strategic priorities.

Economic misery due to sanctions and mismanagement has been a reality for years, and while social strains in the 76 million population are deep, the clerics will seek to contain them, say experts examining Iran’s budget plans for 2015.

The largest drop in oil prices since the 2008 financial crisis means more budget pressure for the OPEC member, already bereft of tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue due to Western sanctions and years of economic mismanagement.

 And tougher economic times may spur Tehran’s determination to end a nuclear dispute and lift sanctions that isolate it from the global banking system and deter most foreign investors.

But significant changes in Iran’s regional strategy including its approach to any nuclear deal are unlikely.

That is partly because funds for security affairs come from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not the government. He also decides nuclear policy.

“Our support to our brother Assad will never change,” said a senior Iranian official, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Because of (declining) oil prices we face economic hardship … but we will mange to continue our support to Syria, militarily and financially.”

Ali Vaez, of the International Crisis Group think-tank, said the oil price fall would hurt, but was unlikely to make Iran accept a nuclear deal “that it views as lopsided”.

“Iran’s support for its allies in Iraq and Syria is not a questions of means, it’s a strategic necessity. This is why neither the fall of the rial in 2012 or economic malaise in 2013 affected Iran’s support for its Syrian and Iraqi allies.”

Iran and world powers are negotiating to end a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear goals. Tehran denies Western charges it is seeking nuclear weapons.

President Hassan Rouhani presented a “cautious, tight” budget on Dec. 7 in response to falling oil prices, now almost $10 a barrel below the $70 his budget was based on.

Spending was six percent above this year, a real terms cut due to inflation of 20 percent.

But with revenues pressured, plans to hike defense spending 33 percent prompted speculation that Rouhani wants to placate security hardliners, hoping they will indulge his bid to win a nuclear deal and end sanctions.

POWERFUL HAWKS

Powerful anti-Western hawks in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who report to Khamenei, have been wary of the negotiations.

They have tolerated the talks, diplomats speculate, largely because his big 2013 election win revealed the depth of anger over economic mismanagement and support for his aim of ending Iran’s international isolation.

Mehrdad Emadi of Betamatrix International Consultancy suggested Rouhani had to consider the IRGC in setting economic policy because it could spoil any nuclear deal.

Greater defense spending was aimed at “giving them a big piece of the public pie so they can stop kicking up a fuss when it comes to negotiations, especially those with the Americans.”

“The IRGC are extremely sensitive to any reduction of ‘military aid’ to what they see as strategic allies.”

The IRGC could ruin any rapprochement with the West it felt might hurt its interests.

Last year, Iran granted Syria a $3.6 billion credit facility to buy oil products, with another $1 billion for non-oil products.

Domestically the government has ways of mitigating the pain.

One is gradual depreciation of the official exchange rate at which it converts oil revenues from dollars into rials. This allows a progressively smaller amount of dollars to supply the same rial revenues.

The central bank’s official exchange has dropped to 27,043 from 25,651 at the end of June and 24,774 at the end of last year. Next year’s budget is based on a rate of 28,500, showing the government plans to continue this strategy.

Meanwhile, the free-market price of the rial has stabilized at about 35,000, far from lows near 40,000 two years ago. That suggests most Iranians think that while cheaper oil will pressure the rial, they do not yet expect an economic collapse or a run on the currency.

Emadi said Rouhani would try to shield the poorest from spending cuts to avoid any repeat of the unrest that followed 2009’s disputed presidential election.

A 30 percent rise in bread prices on Dec. 1 rattled Iranians, but there was no major unrest. Emadi said the government later took steps to compensate poorer households.

There could be further subsidy cuts but open protest was unlikely since “the regime’s machinery of repression still makes this very risky”, said Scott Lucas of EA WorldView, a specialist website on Iran and Syria.

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi, Andrew Torchia and William Maclean; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Nickel Shortage Propels Philippines Mining Boom

December 22, 2014

By Ian Sayson
Bloomberg

Michael Defensor is racing to mine and ship nickel from projects across the Philippines to plug the gap in global supplies left by Indonesia’s ore-export curbs.

“Indonesia’s ban affected us positively,” said Defensor, chairman of Pax Libera Mining Inc. and the nation’s environment secretary from 2004 to 2006. He’s preparing four new sites for next year after opening two in the past two years. “We will maximize this window and ship as much as we can.”

The Indonesian curbs, designed to promote local processing, started in January and were upheld in court this month. The ban initially drove prices to a two-year high in May, before larger-than expected Philippine exports and slowing Chinese growth reversed the rally. Citigroup Inc. says it’s still bullish on nickel because the country won’t be able to expand supply much more and a global shortage will emerge.

Futures on the London Metal Exchange, the global benchmark for the metal used to make stainless steel, traded at $15,750 a metric ton today, from this year’s high of $21,625 in May. The price is still 13 percent higher for the year, making nickel the best performing industrial metal on the LME.

“Everyone will try to max out their permit,” said Ramon Adviento, a mining analyst at Maybank ATR Kim Eng Securities in Manila. “The low-hanging fruit has already been harvested even before the ban, so there is probability that the Philippines won’t meet the gap” left by Indonesia, he said.

Canatuan Copper Mine in the Philippines

Nickel Content

While ore exports from the Philippines to China rose 24 percent to 31.2 million tons in the first 10 months, some of that came from stockpiles, Citigroup analysts wrote in a Dec. 1 report. Volumes probably won’t expand much in 2015 even with more mining, they said. Ore from the Philippines typically has less nickel content than from Indonesia, which was the world’s largest mined producer before the ban.

The global market will swing to a deficit of 62,400 tons in 2015 from a 25,100-ton surplus in 2014, according to Citigroup, which expects prices to average $21,625 next year and $25,250 in 2016. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has a 2015 forecast of $17,500, rising to $20,000 in 2016, and Morgan Stanley listed nickel this month as its top metals pick for 2015.

The forecasts for supply shortages contrast with gains in global inventories. Those tracked by the LME surged to a record this year, expanding 55 percent to 406,812 tons by Dec. 19.

Economic growth in China, the biggest buyer of ore from Southeast Asia and the largest nickel user, is slowing to the weakest since 1990.

Bullish Outlook

The Philippines undermined the bullish outlook for nickel, shipping more ore than expected, Credit Suisse Group AG analysts said in a Dec. 15 report. They cut their 2015 forecast by 21 percent to $17,625, citing in part the “mighty influx” of metal into LME-monitored warehouses.

Nickel Asia Corp. (NIKL), the Philippines’s biggest producer, is among those gaining from the ban. Ore sales rose 38 percent in the first nine months, boosting profit more than fourfold to a record. Shares of the company have tripled this year as the Philippine Stock Exchange Index climbed 21 percent.

More companies are seeking permits, said Leo Jasareno, director of the Manila-based Mines & Geosciences Bureau. The office authorized two more nickel mines this year, including one for TVI Pacific Inc. pending for about 15 years, he said.

“If Indonesia’s ban goes on we’ll see more new mines in five years,” Jasareno said. “Nickel will be the darling of mining in the next 10 years.”

Nickel Ore Mine in the Philippines

Each of the four new mines may produce about 2 million tons of ore a year, Defensor said. Its Tawi Tawi project in the Mindanao region may provide as much as 3 million tons, he said. It can operate year-round, whereas mines in some other areas have to halt for months during the annual rainy season.

“Ore is in demand and there are many aggressive buyers,” said Defensor. “We’ll keep the machine efficient, so when the ban ends and prices correct, we can still operate.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Sayson in Manila at isayson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net Jake Lloyd-Smith

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-21/nickel-shortage-propels-philippines-mining-boom-southeast-asia.html

China Again Sends Senior Chinese Leader to Vietnam Amid Sea Tension

December 22, 2014

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China's Yu Zhengsheng (C), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) , is escorted by staff members as he arrives at the Foreign Ministry in Rabat. Picture taken on November 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s Yu Zhengsheng (C), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) , is escorted by staff members as he arrives at the Foreign Ministry in Rabat. Picture taken on November 3, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Stringer

(Reuters) – A senior Chinese leader will visit Vietnam this month, China‘s state media said on Monday, amid tension between the neighbors over competing claims in the South China Sea.

Yu Zhengsheng, who heads a largely ceremonial advisory body to China’s parliament but is ranked fourth in the Communist Party leadership, will be going at the invitation of Vietnam’s Communist Party, the official Xinhua news agency said.

It provided no other details.

Anti-Chinese violence flared in Vietnam in May after a $1 billion deepwater rig owned by China’s state-run CNOOC oil company was parked 240 km (150 miles) off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea.

Since then, though, China has sought to make amends with Vietnam, including sending senior officials to Hanoi.

However, the two countries clashed again this month after Vietnam submitted its position to an international arbitration tribunal, initiated by the Philippines, over the festering dispute that involves several countries.

Communist parties rule both countries and their trade has swelled to $50 billion annually, but Vietnam has long been suspicious of its giant neighbor, especially over China’s claims to almost the entire South China Sea.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the potentially energy-rich waters that are crossed by key global shipping lanes.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Related:

(November 29, 2014)

 (Includes links to two weeks prior articles on this subject and related)

 (November 14, 2014)

 (Includes links to two weeks prior articles on this subject and related)

 

Collision: An example of what Vietnam and the Philippines call  China’s “lawlessness” at sea: A Chinese ship rams and collides with a Vietnamese vessel in contested waters of the South China Sea in May 2014. Photo: AFP photograb

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China claims to own all the South China Sea inside the “nine dash line” as seen here.

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

 

Russian Minister Talks Up The Ruble

December 22, 2014

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The Associated Press

MOSCOW — A senior Russian minister says he’s expecting the ruble to extend its recent gains and said the government is not planning to introduce currency controls on Russian companies.

Igor Shuvalov, the deputy prime minister overseeing the economy, said in comments to Russian news agencies on Monday that the government “opposes” currency controls as a way to tackle the ruble crisis.

The ruble has been the worst performing currency this year along with the Ukrainian hryvnia, having lost half of its value. Its collapse in the past weeks sparked a consumer boom as worried Russians flocked to the shops to buy cars and durable goods before the prices rise further.

The ruble was 5 percent higher in early afternoon trading on Monday at 56 against the U.S. dollar.

First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov

Subversive Christmas Carols? Hong Kong’s democracy protesters add their own messages into Christmas carols

December 22, 2014

Protesters campaigning for greater democracy in Hong Kong sing subversive Christmas carols

Hark the Herald Angels Sing to “stay united and stand up to the Chinese Communist Party”.

Hong Kong protesters sing carols with a twist at Tsim Sha Tsui seafront Photo: Ellie Ng

ByEllie Ng,Hong Kong

The Daily Telegraph

For months, Hong Kong protesters paralysed the city, camping on the streets, blocking traffic and waving yellow umbrellas.

Now, after police finally managed to clear them away, the protesters have donned Father Christmas hats and are gathering to sing subversive carols.

On Friday and Saturday, a group of around 200 people serenaded shoppers in Hong Kong’s busiest streets.

“Everyone has head injuries and bloody limbs,” they sang in Cantonese, to the tune of O Come All Ye Faithful. “Evil police angrily wave their batons, hoping to kill a few pedestrians!”

To the tune of Hark the Herald Angels Sing they noted that Hong Kongers were angry at proposals from Beijing for the next election and urged the public to “stay united and stand up to the Chinese Communist Party”.

The carol singers were organised by the Narrow Church, a politically active Christian church, and were closely followed by around 100 policemen, who occasionally warned them to stay on the pavement.

“We wanted to raise morale and remind people that the democracy protests are still going, said Tam Tak-Chi, a comedian and a minister of the Narrow Church.

He added that he feared that Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong “will only get worse in the coming years […] so we must keep putting direct pressure on the authorities.”

Since the end of the 79-day occupation of downtown Hong Kong earlier this month, activists have organised sudden road blocks and tried to temporarily blockade the luxury fashion boutiques that are popular among mainland Chinese tourists.


Tam Tak-chi, front left, and David Cheung, front right, sing in Times Square ( Ellie Ng)

There are more plans for Christmas Day, when Denise Ho, a popular singer who has taken part in the protests, will help to organise carols in the three main sites in Hong Kong that were occupied by protestors.

Meanwhile, Times Square has cancelled this year’s New Year’s Eve countdown, fearing disruption.

“We will be back right here on Christmas Eve,” announced Mr. Tam to more than 300 bystanders and nervous security guards at Times Square on Saturday night. “We will count down the days until CY Leung steps down as well as tell the world our Christmas wish: genuine universal suffrage.”

Related:

  (Includes links to articles on Hong Kong from 2 prior weeks)

Protesters holding yellow umbrellas are stopped by police after trying to gain access to the area where Chinese President Xi Jinping is staying in Macau on December 19, 2014 (AFP Photo/Isaac Lawrence)

Chinese Stocks Rise in Hong Kong as Banks Lead Large-Caps Rally

December 22, 2014

By Weiyi Lim and Kana Nishizawa Dec 22, 2014 3:36 AM ET

Chinese stocks trading in Hong Kong rallied the most in two weeks amid speculation the government will take more measures to support economic growth and the slump in oil prices may be excessive.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (601398) and PetroChina Co. jumped at least 3.5 percent as financial and energy shares led the advance. Power producers paced gains in Shanghai as Huaneng Power International Inc. surged 10 percent on prospects for industry reform. Leshi Internet Information & Technology Co., the second-biggest company in the ChiNext small-caps index, plunged 10 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) rose 3 percent to 11,744.02 at the close, the most since Dec. 4. Chinese stocks have rallied this year amid speculation the central bank will cut lenders’ reserve-ratio requirements after lowering interest rates for the first time in two years last month. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said the petroleum market will recover after crude prices jumped last week.

“The market needs money and the central bank may take action,” said William Fung, investment manager at Tanrich Securities Co. in Hong Kong. “Investors are expecting China will cut interest rates or the RRR by year-end. Oil prices may have bottomed and energy shares may be good to chase.”

The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) rose 0.6 percent to 3,127.45 at the close, while the ChiNext, dominated by technology and drug stocks, slumped 4.9 percent after the 21st Century Business Herald reported that the China Securities Regulatory Commission will set up a special task force to crack down on stock manipulation.

Stock Manipulation

Financial companies are “blue chips that did not rebound as much before and are lower in valuation, so they are catching up now,” said Mao Sheng, an analyst at Huaxi Securities Co. “Reports that the regulator is cracking down on stock manipulation is impacting stocks that rose too much earlier, especially the small caps, so you see the ChiNext slumping today.”

The CSI 300 Index climbed 0.3 percent. The Hang Seng Index gained 1.3 percent. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index added 1.3 percent in New York on Dec. 19.

ICBC, the nation’s biggest lender, jumped 3.4 percent in Hong Kong and surged 6.8 percent in Shanghai. China Construction Bank Corp. (939), the most heavily weighted stock in the H-shares gauge, gained 3.4 percent in Hong Kong and soared 8.2 percent in Shanghai. Chinese banks were the cheapest in the world at 6.2 times estimated earnings as of Dec. 18, the lowest for lenders with a market value of more than $10 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Cheap Banks

“Banking stocks are not expensive” and concerns about rising bad loans “have been reflected in stock prices,” May Yan, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Barclays Plc, said today.

China also eased rules for foreign banks to open branches and enter the yuan business as it opens up its domestic financial industry. The government will no longer require a minimum amount of operating funds to be transferred from a foreign bank’s parent to a newly established Chinese branch, according to a statement posted on the State Council’s website on Dec. 20.

PetroChina jumped at least 2.8 percent in Shanghai and Hong Kong. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. added 3.5 percent in Hong Kong. Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. climbed 2.7 percent in Shanghai.

Oil Rebounds

Brent oil added 0.9 percent to $61.91 a barrel, extending Dec. 19’s 3.6 percent surge, the most since October 2012. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 1.1 percent today to $57.73 per barrel after soaring 5.1 percent at the end of last week. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said at a conference in Abu Dhabi at the weekend that the oil market will recover and fossil fuel will remain the main source of energy for decades to come.

The Shanghai index has rallied 48 percent this year, while the H-shares gauge has climbed 8.6 percent. Shanghai’s stocks trade at 11.7 times 12-month projected earnings, the highest level in three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Still, that’s about a third of the ChiNext, which trades at a multiple of 33.

Trading volumes in the Shanghai index were 69 percent above the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The measure gained as much as 2.6 percent today and fell as far as 0.6 percent, sending its 30-day volatility to the highest levels since November 2010.

The Hang Seng China AH Premium Index rose 0.7 percent to 124.64 today, the highest since October 2011. A 27 percent gain for the Shanghai index over the past month, the most among major global gauges, has driven the 14-day relative strength index, measuring how rapidly prices have advanced or dropped during a specified time period, to 78.9. Readings above 70 indicate a price may be poised to fall. The H-shares gauge has advanced 13 percent since Nov. 21.

‘Window Dressing’

“With window dressing this month, fund managers are buying, pushing up the index and making their portfolio value look a bit better so the money flow is still coming to the market,” said Simon Lam, research director at Christfund Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong

A gauge of utilities in the CSI 300 rose 7 percent for the steepest gain among 10 industry groups. Huadian Power International Corp. surged by the daily limit of 10 percent.

China may announce a power reform plan soon, China Business Media reported on Dec. 20, without citing anyone. The plan has been submitted to the State Council and may be released in the near future, it said.

CSRC Probe

The CSRC is investigating 18 stocks, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, citing commission spokesman Zhang Xiaojun. President Xi Jinping pledged last year as he came into power to give markets a “decisive” role in the $9 trillion economy as part of the most sweeping set of reforms since the 1990s. His anti-corruption campaign has ensnared officials spanning all of China’s provinces and largest cities.

Cloud Live Technology Group Co., Shanxi Baiyuan Trousers Chain Management Co. and Shandong Xingmin Wheel Co., which were among the 18 companies cited, slumped by the daily limit. Leshi, whose chairman said this month that the maker of Web-enabled televisions will build electric cars in China, posted its biggest loss since July 2014. The shares have rallied 214 percent since the start of last year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Weiyi Lim in Singapore at wlim26@bloomberg.net; Kana Nishizawa in Hong Kong at knishizawa5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Patterson at mpatterson10@bloomberg.net Allen Wan, Ravil Shirodkar

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-22/china-stocks-rise-to-four-year-high-as-power-steel-shares-rally.html

World View: Philippines and Vietnam Launch Military and Legal Buildup to Confront China

December 22, 2014

By John J. Xenakis

A Philippine supply boat and a Chinese maritime police boat have a confrontation near Second Thomas Reef March 29, 2014

Philippines and Vietnam launch military and legal buildup to confront China

With China taking aggressive military actions to annex Philippine and Vietnamese territories in the South China Sea, both of these countries are building up the military capabilities, though nothing that their plan would have more than a small token resistance when facing the massive Chinese military — until the United States got involved.

The Philippines aims to buy two frigates, two helicopters, and three gunboats for deployment in the South China Sea. South Korea, Spain,
France, Italy and Indonesia are bidding on the contracts to supply the weapons.

India is planning to sell to Vietnam several warship — four patrol boats at first, with seven more later. The sale of these warships has strategic implications for India as well as Vietnam, since India has oil drilling blocks off the coast of Vietnam. New Delhi TV and Reuters

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China’s Achilles’ Heel — the law of the sea

China continues a massive military buildup in the South China Sea, even going so far as to build an artificial island to use for its air force. But on the legal front, China continues to hide behind bluster.

Outside of China, there are few international law experts who believe that China’s South Sea China claims, or their notorious “nine-dash-line” doctrine, have any basis in modern international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China has been nothing but evasive in response to arbitration procedures in front of the UN Arbitral Panel in the Hague, initiated by the Philippines in 2013 and later joined by Vietnam and supported by the United States. China has refused to recognize any form of arbitration, and last week missed an important deadline in submitting a statement of defense to the panel. No one seriously believes international law will affect China’s vast military operation in the South China Sea, but for the time being, the law of the sea is an embarrassment to China. Straits Times (Singapore) and National Interest and VOA

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China: Vietnam and Philippine militaries are no match for China

According to an analysis by China’s military, the countries of the South China Sea are no match militarily for China, but among them, Vietnam is the strongest, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines.

  • Vietnam: In order to secure the islands that China is threatening, the Vietnamese military needs to adopt two defensive approaches. First, it must establish a defensive system by combining field and permanent fortifications and building both combat and living facilities. Second, it must form a defensive system by building dotted defensive facilities such as water chalets and bunkers.
  • Malaysia: Starting in August 1983, Malaysia dispatched its Marine Corps to occupy South China Sea reefs and islands belonging to
    Malaysia, and since then has developed some of them into a famous tourist resort. To adapt to the battle need in the South China Sea,
    Malaysia has energetically intensified its naval submarine construction and bought two Scorpène-class submarines and the retired
    French submarine Agosta in succession. However, Malaysia is very careful in striking a balance between the territorial disputes over
    islands and reefs in the South China Sea and the multilateral friendly relations.
  • Philippines. The Philippines, with weak economic and military strengths, can barely sustain low-intensity battles. So it employs a
    different tactic: It’s migrated hundreds of civilians and a few dozen soldiers to the islands and reefs that belong to the Philippines. On
    one of the islands, there are only four soldiers and a simple wooden barrack. A Philippine warship visits the island once every month to
    send supplies and rotate soldiers, who use M-16 assault rifle and grenades. What the Philippines has in mind is to accelerate its
    military modernization on the one hand, and further merge into the military system established by the US in the Asia Pacific on the other hand, so as to leverage on American forces.
  • Brunei: Since independence in 1984, Brunei has claimed sovereignty of Nantong Reef at the south end of the South China Sea, but has no military presence in the South China Sea.

China Military Online

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, South China Sea, Philippines, Vietnam,
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS,
Malaysia, Brunei, India

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2014/12/20/world-view-philippines-and-vietnam-launch-military-and-legal-buildup-to-confront-china/

Related:

 (Includes links to two weeks prior articles on this subject and related)

 (November 14, 2014)

 (Includes links to two weeks prior articles on this subject and related)

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

 

China building large military base to contest Japan’s East China Sea claims

December 22, 2014

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Photo: A Japanese self-defense force P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft flies over the east China sea islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Both nations claim the islands.

Kyodo in Tokyo

China’s military is building a large-scale base on islands near the Diaoyu Islands, several Chinese sources said yesterday.

Construction is underway in the Nanji Islands, in Zhejiang Province, about 300km northwest of the Japanese-administered, uninhabited Diaoyus in the East China Sea. Japan calls the Diaoyus the Senkakus.

The new base is expected to enhance China’s readiness to respond to potential military crises in the region, as well as strengthen surveillance over the air defence identification zone that it declared over part of the East China Sea in November last year, the sources said.

Senkaku Islands (call the Diaoyu in China)

Sources said several large radar installations had been built at high points on the main Nanji Island.

Several landing strips had been paved – likely for use by aircraft based on warships or patrol vessels – while more landing strips were set to be constructed on an island next to Nanji Island starting from next year.

As the archipelago of 52 islands and islets is located about 100km closer to the Diaoyus than Okinawa’s main island – home to bases of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces and the United States military, the new base is likely to shake up Japan-US security strategies relating to the defence of the Diaoyus.

Japan-China relations – tainted by territorial and wartime historical issues – were somewhat thawed by a meeting last month in Beijing between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping.

Military expansion may require the relocation of the roughly 2,500 civilians who live in the archipelago, most engaged in fishing, as well as the restriction of tourism at the summer vacation spot.

The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation listed 15 of the islands as a biosphere reserve in 1998, reflecting the diversity of the archipelago’s marine life.

East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ)

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North Korea threatens to attack White House over hacking claims

December 22, 2014

Pyongyang cranks up its anti-American rhetoric and accuses Barack Obama of spreading rumours that it was behind cyberattack on Sony

Kim Jong Un applauding in front of the participants in the Second Meeting of KPA Exemplary Servicemen's Families

Kim Jong Un Photo: Alamy
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The Associated Press
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President Barack Obama is “recklessly” spreading rumours of a Pyongyang-orchestrated cyberattack of Sony Pictures, North Korea says, as it warns of strikes against the White House, Pentagon and “the whole US mainland, that cesspool of terrorism”.

Such rhetoric is routine from North Korea’s massive propaganda machine during times of high tension with Washington.

But a long statement from the powerful National Defence Commission late on Sunday also underscores Pyongyang’s sensitivity at a film whose plot focuses on the assassination of its leader Kim Jong-un, who is the beneficiary of a decades-long cult of personality built around his family dynasty.

The US blames North Korea for the cyberattack which escalated into threats of terrorist attacks against American cinemas, leading Sony to cancel The Interview’s release.

Mr Obama, who promised to respond “proportionately” to the attack, told CNN’s State of the Union in an interview broadcast on Sunday that Washington was reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The National Defence Commission, led by Mr Kim, warned that its 1.2 million-member army was ready to use all types of warfare against the US.


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