Archive for May, 2014

China’s Pressure On Vietnam in the South China Sea Shows No Sign of Abating

May 31, 2014

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By Paul N. Hung

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Chinese warships inside Vietnam’s maritime borders, fighter jets that violate Vietnamese airspace…. At least 30 Vietnamese patrol boats hit this week. A fishing boat was sunk . Another was boarded by Chinese military boarding team.

Hanoi ( AsiaNews) – The escalation of tension in the South China Sea shows no sign of abating. Yesterday 100 Chinese patrol boats, four ships and about 40 military vessels (at least in appearance) surrounded Vietnamese coastguard and fishing vessels near an oil rig that China has placed in Vietnamese territorial waters. In addition, some Chinese fighter jets violated Vietnamese airspace to defend the platform .

Hanoi media claim that Chinese naval vessels had “pointed their guns” on the Vietnamese marine surveillance ships. Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng said that so far at least 30 patrol boats were hit and damaged by Chinese military vessels, described as “very aggressive .”

On 27 May, a Vietnamese trawler was rammed and sunk after being surrounded by dozens of navy ships and Chinese “fishing” vessels; 10 fishermen had to jump overboard and were rescued by other ships in the vicinity . In recent days, in an act of piracy at least 20 Chinese marines boarded a small Vietnamese boat at 9pm close to one of the Paracel Islands (Phú Lâm). The captain described the episode as a “night of terror” : Chinese sailors forced their way into his cabin and brutally beat him. The Chinese marines also attacked the other crew who were sleeping . The fisherman Tân S. Pham reports: “They beat me with sticks and a gun. Lê Anh [another sailor ] was shot in the chest and is still coughing and spitting up blood even now”.

For years, China has been claiming sovereignty over the small Spratly and Paracel islands contested by various Southeast Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines. After many promises to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner and through dialogue , in recent years , Beijing has launched an aggressive policy and a “fait accompli” by installing oil platforms, stationing troops and defending the area with warships. Scientists speculate that under the seabed there are enormous energy reserves. The area is also important for the protection of maritime shipping lanes.

The Shangri -La Forum between the United States and representatives of the governments of South- East Asia is currently underway in Singapore. U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel has accused China of wanting to “destabilize” the South China Sea and has ensured that the United States “will not look the other way”.

China, for its part, has accused the U.S. of  “making threats”.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/South-China-Sea:-Chinese-navy-assaults-Vietnamese-marine-surveillance-vessels-and-trawlers-31237.html

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Screen grab from video of a Chinese ship ramming a Vietnamese ship in the South China Sea, May 2014.

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A Vietnamese fishing boat much like this one was rammed by a Chinese ship on May 26, 2014. The Vietnamese vessel sank as a result of the ramming.
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BBC Map

China has claimed most of the South China Sea

On May 1, 2014, China moved its biggest China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) oil rig HD-981 into position in what Vietnam claims as its exclusive economic zone off the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands. China deployed some 80 ships to guard the rig, leading to several tense encounters between Chinese and Vietnamese ships.  Several Vietnamese maritime law enforcement officers were injured when China used water cannons on the smaller Vietnamese ships to chase them away.

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Fighting talk amid the shrinking of American might

May 31, 2014

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President Barack Obama

Obama arrives for the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York

Obama at the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York Photo: REUTERS

Obama is seeking to scale back US global responsibilities without signalling a retreat

By Christopher Caldwell

It looked like Barack Obama might do something rash when he travelled to West Point, New York, on Wednesday to deliver the commencement address of the US Military Academy. Foreign policy thinkers in both parties have accused the president of being unwilling to provide US leadership in the world. They urge him to look to his “legacy” and to think big. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recommended the Ukraine crisis as a “legacy opportunity” and even suggested a series of activist steps.

This is, alas, a typically American way of looking at history. The late historian Christopher Lasch marvelled in the early 1990s at the way Bill Clinton arrived in office “already obsessed with his ‘place in the history books’ . . . as if ‘history’ were just a kind of protracted version of the publicity industry, and you could reserve a room just by phoning ahead with a little advance hype”. Mr Obama does not need to bully anyone to secure a “legacy”. Changing US foreign policy after George W Bush’s two terms is the main thing he was elected to do. He has done it.

Mr Obama’s problem is different. When he says “America must always lead on the world stage”, there is no reason to doubt his sincerity. But such leadership comes at a price, and he is disinclined to pay it. He proposed bombing Syria at a point last year when Bashar al-Assad was alleged to have used chemical weapons but then abandoned the idea in the face of voter rage. He would rather gain a reputation for indecision than make a blunder. He cited a predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower: “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.” Mr Obama’s feelings on the matter may explain the uncharacteristic gracelessness with which he sometimes criticises Mr Bush.

Whatever they think of Mr Obama more generally, Americans share his diffidence about using force. Last autumn, a majority told the Pew Center, for the first time since 1964, that their country ought to “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own”. Today, the public is opposed to taking a “firm stand” against Russian mischief in Ukraine – only 29 per cent want that, according to a March poll by Pew.

Mr Obama is unpopular. His presidency is much diminished in recent months. But there was a lot of the old Mr Obama in his West Point speech, as he insisted that leadership and bellicosity are not synonyms. He has announced an end of the US Afghanistan mission by 2016 and sharp troop cuts by 2017. That would bring the size of the US army below 450,000 soldiers, the lowest since before the second world war. The goal of Wednesday’s speech was to arrive at a doctrine that would present this downscaling of responsibilities as something other than a retreat. Mr Obama did this by dividing US responsibilities into two kinds: national defence and “issues of global concern”, from counterterrorism to climate change. It is this second group of issues that really animated the president.

He is proposing that the US, through skilful use of international organisations, can exercise undiminished influence over the affairs of men, at diminished cost in blood and treasure

Mr Obama wants to convince Americans that the US can be confident when it acts through international institutions – including Nato, the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and international courts – because it has shaped them. In turn, these institutions will give America a fairer shake if it becomes a better global citizen – if, for instance, it is “more transparent” about drone strikes. He used every rhetorical tool at his disposal to sell his new approach. He was by turns boastful (insisting the US is still what Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, called “the indispensable nation”), patriotic (speaking of “my duty to you, and to the country we love”), politically correct (congratulating West Point on its “first all-female command team”) and idealistic (calling on America to act “on behalf of human dignity”).

The cadets in attendance appeared to be sitting on their hands. Mr Obama’s doctrine is squeamish. It will be uninspiring to martial minds. Where most presidents go to West Point to speak of sacrifice and honour, he promised the assembled warriors: “You will work as a team with diplomats and development experts. You will get to know allies and train partners.” International organisations can be very efficient redistributors of goods and power. Americans often distrust them for just that reason. But Mr Obama is not so far off the mark. He is proposing that the US, through skilful use of international organisations, can exercise undiminished influence over the affairs of men, at diminished cost in blood and treasure. It amounts to eating your cake and having it – an unrealistic foreign policy, and the very one Mr Obama’s voters have asked for.

The writer is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d6f891c0-e694-11e3-9a20-00144feabdc0.html#axzz33KYaxLbW

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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord — “Be assured of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit”

May 31, 2014

Today we celebrate Ascension Sunday, about 40 days after we celebrated Easter. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Ascension is the final appearance of Jesus. After this he is seen no more.

The Ascension tells us that Jesus is now in the glory of the Father. He is at the right hand of the Father. The Ascension signals an end — the end of the direct mission of Jesus on earth. It also is a beginning — the beginning of the age of the Church, the beginning of the full-scale work of the disciples and followers of Jesus.

The mission of Jesus continues. We continue that mission. In the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth.”

What does this empowerment mean and to what are we being asked to witness? The empowerment is obviously the Holy Spirit coming to us, filling us with grace, bringing us closer to God and to one another, enlightening our minds and energizing our hearts to continue Christ’s mission.

WHAT IS THIS MISSION?

The mission is the same as that of Jesus and his disciples. It is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, the reign of God, God’s message and life. How does one proclaim this message? As Jesus did — in general by teaching, preaching and healing. What specifically does one teach and preach? It is basically GOD’S LOVE, God’s forgiving and enduring love for each one and God’s special care and concern for the marginalized as a sign of this love. You will notice the former is such passages on the prodigal son, which is really about the totally loving and forgiving father, and the passages on the good shepherd. You see God’s genuine love for the poor and the outcast in Christ’s healing of the blind, the lame, the deaf and dumb, the lepers and the possessed and his association with sinners, and in such stories as the good Samaritan and the final judgment in Matthew chapter 25.

We are witnesses of Christ by what we say and do, witnesses especially by our example, by the way we live and the values we hold and project. One example is better than a thousand homilies.

It is easy to speak about Christ’s mission. It is difficult to put in into practice effectively today because times change very fast. One has to keep asking oneself how Christ’s mission of God’s enduring love and forgiveness can be effectively communicated today in a highly complex world. Today, for example, we are conscious that sin is not only individual and personal but also social and societal. We speak of the sins of groups, of nations, sins which are unjust structures and systems which bring about gross inequality and degradation. Think of rampant child prostitution and trafficking of women, wanton pollution and destruction of the environment, unabated smuggling and bribery, the serious poverty in large parts of the country. These are evil situations that cry out to God. To proclaim the mission of Jesus is to work to diminish and eradicate these and bring about greater justice, equality and peace among all people.

As we go about our work of bearing witness to Christ to the ends of the earth, we can be assured of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We can keep reminding ourselves that the Holy Spirit is with us, guiding us, inspiring us, giving us the courage to accomplish the mission. The mission will triumph. This is the assurance of Christ in his ascension to glory the Father.

(Fr. Asandas Blachand, S.J. or Fr. Balch as he is fondly called is Chaplain of the Infirmaries of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus and teaches theology in the Ateneo de Manila University.)

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

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Art: Ascension of Christ
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 – 1669)
Luke 24:36-53

Rembrandt’s Christian Art:

http://atonementlife.org/Paintings.html

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(Rembrandt, human frailty, and the ”poetry of imperfection.”)

China Says Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Using “International Law” As a Device To “Conjure Up Japan’s Militarist Past”

May 31, 2014

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his speech at the 13th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore, on May 30, 2014 — AFP

Japan will bring risks to the region as they will drive the discord among Asian nations

By Xinhua Writer Chen Jipeng, Zhao Jingjing

SINGAPORE, May 31 (Xinhua) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday used international law as a disguise to stealthily advance his dream for Japan to be again a militarist power.

At the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security forum, Abe said in a speech full of innuendoes that Japan would try its best to advocate respect for international laws in the region.

But such a rhetoric is fundamentally flawed when it came from the nationalist leader who has been trying to conjure up the militarist past of Japan in a drive to re-arm his country.

The fundamental spirit of international law is to maintain peace and stability by managing disputes, whereas what Abe did was trying to divide Asian countries and stoke flare-ups in the region.

“Listening to him, you can easily sense his nationalist ego behind the thin veil,” said Major General Yao Yunzhu, director of the Center on China-American Defense Relations, the Academy of Military Science, China.

“It is consistent with what he has been doing,” she added.

Abe talked about international law, particularly the international law of the sea. Beneath the surface, however, he was trying to justify Japan’s pursuit of revising the pacifist constitution that was put in place after World War II so that the country could be armed once again.

He lamented the capabilities of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were not enough to handle humanitarian operations, while at the same time could not help revealing his excitement at Japan being able to export its “superb defense equipment.”

As one of the world’s largest and most advanced economies, Japan has the capacity to arm itself to the teeth in a short time if it is allowed to. The Japanese navy is one of the most powerful.

Abe also said that he would give patrol vessels to the Philippines and is pushing forward a plan to give Vietnam such vessels, too, to support their maritime claims. He did not name China, but both the Philippines and Vietnam have had overlapping claims with China.

The fundamental approach to its national security, based on Abe ‘s speech, is to seek allies in the region to go against other countries. The Japanese prime minister said he would promote the new policy of “proactive contribution to peace,” a translation of the Japanese term that can also be rendered as “proactive pacifism. ”

This should be all the more worrying when it becomes the banner of a country that invaded and occupied a large part of Asia and still is reluctant to come to terms with its militarist past.

In an era of regional integration, such an approach to regional security should be abandoned, as cooperative security is the only way out to achieve shared security in the region.

The existence of traditional and non-traditional security threats also means that the approach to regional security should be comprehensive. The countries concerned should pursue common security by maximizing their common interests.

The only way out, therefore, is to pursue cooperative security instead of raising voices on differences.

The strategies adopted by Japan will bring risks to the region as they will drive the discord among Asian nations, which is more likely to eventually lead to losses than gains for all.

Asian countries should have a clear assessment of the regional security situation and not be swayed by negative influences. China shall also be confident enough to stick to its long-term pursuit of peace and stability through mutually-beneficial cooperation, including cooperative management of disputes.

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Japan’s Abe plays with international law in thinly-veiled move

SINGAPORE, May 31 (Xinhua) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played with international law to advance his thinly-veiled nationalist goals in a keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday.

While saying that Asia is a region with remarkable growth, the Japanese leader said Japan would give “its utmost support” to some of the countries in their maritime claims. Full story

13th Shangri-La Dialogue kicks off, China’s veteran female diplomat voices out

SINGAPORE, May 30 (Xinhua) — The 13th Shangri-La Dialogue, a multilateral forum mainly focusing on security issues in Asia, kicked off on Friday.

Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), leads the Chinese delegation to the dialogue this year. Full story

Asia-Pacific region should work together to reduce differences, build trust: Chinese official

SINGAPORE, May 30 (Xinhua)– All countries in the Asia-Pacific region should work together to find a way to reduce differences and build trust, Fu Ying, chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, said on Friday.

Over the past 20 years, the Asia-Pacific region has seen the largest poverty alleviation and fast economic growth in the world, due to sustained stability and peace, Fu said when attending the 13th Asia Security Summit, or Shangri-La Dialogue. Full story

China Voice: Why Vietnam, Japan play up “China threat”

BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) — A tragic hostility is unfolding in Asia while Vietnam and Japan, who share similar culture heritage with China, see their neighbor much more like a thorn in their sides.

After a Vietnamese fishing boat deliberately entered Chinese waters and collided in a kamikaze-style attack on a vessel protecting an oil rig in China’s Xisha Islands on Monday, Hanoi blamed it on China and quickly sought foreign aid to beef up its marine patrol. Full story

China Accuses U.S., Japan of Being “Full of Threats and Intimidating Language” — “Incitement for the Asia Regional Instability”

May 31, 2014

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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, meets with Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, right, China’s deputy chief of General Staff, Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Singapore. Hagel warned an international security conference Saturday that the U.S. “will not look the other way” when nations such as China try to restrict navigation or ignore international rules and standards. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)

By MAY  31, 2014
The New York Times

SINGAPORE — China struck back harshly at the United States and Japan on Saturday, as a senior Chinese military official accused Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan of acting in concert to sow controversy and division in the Asia-Pacific region.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/world/asia/china-accuses-us-and-japan-of-sowing-discord-in-asia-pacific.html?_r=0

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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, listens to Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, right, China’s deputy chief of General Staff, during the start of their meeting, Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Singapore. Hagel warned an international security conference Saturday that the U.S. “will not look the other way” when nations such as China try to restrict navigation or ignore international rules and standards. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)

By LOLITA C. BALDOR

A Chinese general took issue with Hagel’s comments, saying that “although I do think that those criticisms are groundless, I do appreciate your candor.”

Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the General Staff, told Hagel during a brief meeting after the defense secretary’s speech, “You were very candid this morning and, to be frank, more than our expectation.”

Reporters were taken from the meeting room before Hagel responded. But Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel told Wang that all regional disputes should be solved through diplomacy, and Hagel encouraged China to foster dialogue with neighboring nations.

As he did in 2013, Hagel used his appearance at the Shangri-La conference to single out China for cyberspying against the U.S. While this has been a persistent complaint by the U.S., it was less than two weeks after the Obama administration charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets.

The Chinese, in response, suspended participation in a U.S.-China Cyber Working Group, and released a report that said the U.S. is conducting unscrupulous cyberespionage and that China is a major target.

the suspension, Hagel said the U.S. will continue to raise cyberissues with the Chinese “because dialogue is essential for reducing the risk of miscalculation and escalation in cyberspace.”

In comments aimed directly at China, Hagel said the U.S. opposes any country’s use of intimidation or threat of force to assert territorial claims.

“All nations of the region, including China, have a choice: to unite, and recommit to a stable regional order, or, to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that has benefited millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific, and billions of people around the world,” he said.

China and Japan have been at odds over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that are controlled by Japan but claimed by both.

The U.S. has declined to take sides, but has made clear it has a treaty obligation to support Japan. The U.S. also has refused to recognize China’s declaration of an air defense zone over a large swath of the East China Sea, including the disputed islands.

In response, Maj. Gen. Yao Yunzhu of China’s People’s Liberation Army questioned whether the U.S. and its allies followed international law and consulted with others whey they set up air defense zones.

Yao, director of the Center for China-America Defense Relations at the PLA’s Academy of Military Science, also challenged how the U.S. can say it is not taking a position on the island sovereignty issue, while still saying it is committed to its treaty obligation to support Japan.

Hagel said the U.S. and allies consulted with its neighbors and, unlike China, did not unilaterally set up air defense zones.

While the two public exchanges with the Chinese officials were sharp, a senior U.S. defense official described Hagel’s private meeting with Wang as fairly amicable.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wang began by criticizing the speech, but also talked about increasing military cooperation with the U.S. and the two nations’ trade relationship.

The official said Wang indicated China was looking forward to participating in a major military exercise in the Pacific with the U.S. and other nations later this year.

U.S. officials also have raised concerns about Beijing’s decision to place an oil rig in part of the South China Sea also claimed by Vietnam. The move has led to a series of clashes between the two nations in the waters around the rig, including the recent sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat.

Chinese leaders have blamed the Obama administration’s new focus on Asia for emboldening some of the disputes.

But some Asian leaders have expressed worries that the U.S. is doing little more than paying lip service to the complaints, fueling doubts about America’s commitment to the region.

In an effort to address those concerns, Hagel also used his speech to reassure Asia-Pacific nations that despite persistent budget woes and increasing demands for military aid across Africa and Europe, the U.S. was strongly committed to Asia.

Allies have questioned how serious the U.S. is about its renewed focus on Asia, particularly as the recent unrest in Ukraine and terrorist threats in North Africa have garnered more attention. Also, President Barack Obama’s national security speech this past week made no mention of the Asia-Pacific.

“The rebalance is not a goal, not a promise or a vision — it is a reality,” Hagel said.

He laid out a list of moves the U.S. has made to increase troops, ships and military assets in the region, provide missile defense systems to Japan, sell sophisticated drones and other aircraft to Korea, and expand defense cooperation with Australia, New Zealand and India.

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Online:

Security conference: https://www.iiss.org/en/events/shangri-s-la-s-dialogue

SINGAPORE – MAY 30: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks as Dr. John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive of International Institute for Stategic Studies (IISS), listen during the opening plenary meeting at the 13th Asia Security Summit on May 31, 2014 in Singapore. Hagel traveled to Singapore to attend the 13th Asia Security Summit. (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais – Pool/Getty Images)

China’s Actions in the South China Sea Violate International Law, Threaten Regional Peace, Stability — Vietnam PM Says

May 31, 2014
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Nguyen Tan Dung, Vietnam’s prime minister, speaks during an interview in Hanoi on Friday, May 30, 2014. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

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China’s recent acts have seriously infringed upon Vietnam’s sovereignty, seriously violated international law and the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and seriously threatened regional peace and stability, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday.
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Full text of the interview:
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Bloomberg: According to this map, the area that China deploys its oil rig is into Vietnam’s 200 nautical miles waters as well as close to international maritime. What are the impact to the region and the world if the tension escalates to a conflict?
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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung: Conflict, war! I believe that you can easily imagine its devastating consequences.
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If military conflict breaks out, there will be no loser or winner. I wish to highlight that as approximately two-thirds of the global trade in goods are shipped via the East Sea [Vietnam’s name for the South China Sea], a single irresponsible act triggering conflict will immediately interrupt this huge cargo flow. As a result, not only economies of this region but even the whole world will be hurt by its unforeseeable consequences.
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How will Vietnam respond to China’s actions over the oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone? Is a military response possible and what is the risk of that?
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We have repeatedly highlighted that the independence and sovereignty of our Fatherland are sacred and inviolable. We will never agree to swap them for any other things.
.Vietnam has and will do its utmost to defend the sovereignty over its waters by peaceful means. Over the last month, we have made at least 30 communications with China to demand the latter withdraw its oil rig from the waters under the Vietnamese sovereignty. That is to say more than one communication per day on average.
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As for military action, I once again underline that the consistent defence policy of Vietnam is peace and self-defence. We will only resort to military action when we are forced to opt for self-defence.
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Will Vietnam take legal action against China? Is there a discussion about joining the Philippine case against China?
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Vietnam will resort to every peaceful means to defend the sacred sovereignty over its islands and waters. Legal action in conformity with international law is also a peaceful measure.
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Vietnam is considering this option.
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What type of that legal action is likely?
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As I have said, Vietnam will resort to every peaceful means to defend the sacred sovereignty over its islands and waters.
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We have prepared all evidence and legal dossiers. What we are considering is the appropriate timing.
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Vietnam and China have large trade and investment relationship, how will this incident and the unresolved escalation affect the trade ties?
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We are living in the age of extensive globalization and international economic integration. The whole world has become a single market. Economic cooperation between and among countries is based on market economy principles, equality and mutual benefit. The economic cooperation between Vietnam and China is no exception. To date, generally speaking, the bilateral cooperation in economy trade, investment and tourism still takes place as normal.
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China’s infringement on the Vietnamese waters has to certain extent impacted some sectors of the Vietnamese economy. We have adopted several appropriate solutions in response.
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The Vietnamese economy grew by more than 5.4 percent in 2013. The first five months of 2014 witnessed good progress toward our set targets. The macroeconomy remained stable. Inflation was well kept under control. Foreign reserve increased significantly. Exports surged by approximately 16 percent and the GDP growth for 2014 is expected to hit 5.8 percent.
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Several days ago in some provinces of the country, the Vietnamese people launched demonstrations against China’s infringement of Vietnam’s sovereignty. It was regrettable that some demonstrators were incited by individuals with ill intention into breaking the law. We have timely contained the incident and successfully prevented its reoccurrence. The lawbreakers were strictly punished. Vietnam has also provided timely and effective assistance to the affected enterprises, thus enabling most of them to resume normal production and business activities.
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At the Shangri-La Dialogue 2013, you had a speech focused on building strategic trust among Southeast Asian countries. Has that been achieved? You also called for the U.S. to play a larger role in the Asia region. What would Vietnam like the U.S. to do generally in countering China’s push into the South China Sea and in regard to the oil rig dispute?
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I underscore that rapid and sustainable economic development will not be possible without peace and stability; and peace and stability will also not be possible without strategic trust between and among countries – the strategic trust that is based on serious compliance with international law and respect for each other’s independence and sovereignty.
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Whether strategic trust has been attained in this region, I believe that you must have already had your answers.
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The United States is a global power, and also a power of the Asia-Pacific region. We hope that the United States will make stronger, more practical and more effective contributions to peace and stability in the region.
When or will you sign legislation raising the foreign ownership limits of public companies? How high beyond the current 49 percent cap will you lift it? In which scenarios would Vietnam consider allowing 100% foreign purchase of Vietnamese companies and banks?
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Vietnam is restructuring its economy and deepening its integration into the global economy. Vietnam is now a WTO member, and also a party to various economic cooperation frameworks and free trade agreements with partners around the globe. The country is actively negotiating new free trade agreements, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Therefore, we will continue to open up our markets, including finance and banking under roadmaps that match the demands of international integration and specific circumstances of the Vietnamese economy.
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I wish to emphasize that opening up markets is the must-go path of the Vietnamese economy, and such trajectory has been consistently pursued.
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Thank you very much!

Japan boosts regional security role; China wary

May 31, 2014

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By Ananth Krishnan

Japan’s moves to take a more “proactive” security role in Asia, outlined by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s offer on Friday to supply Vietnam and the Philippines with naval patrol vessels, has brought a wary response from China, which is embroiled in maritime disputes with the three countries.

Mr. Abe, speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Friday, a key regional security meet attended by defence ministers and military officials from the region as well as the United States, outlined a new and ambitious vision for Japan to play “an even greater and more proactive role than it has until now” in Asia.

Altering the status quo

While not directly referring to China through much of his address, the clear message from Mr. Abe was that his government was willing to play a more prominent role amid rising maritime disputes involving China and Asean countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

Japan, he said, will offer “its utmost support for the efforts of the countries of Asean as they work to ensure the security of the seas and the skies, and thoroughly maintain freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight”.

In another apparent reference to China, which is also involved in disputes with Japan over disputed East China Sea islands, Mr. Abe criticised “attempts to change the status quo through force or coercion” and said there “clearly… exist elements that spawn instability”.

Nationalist ego, says China

His remarks drew a sharp response from Beijing on Saturday.

“Listening to him, you can easily sense his nationalist ego behind the thin veil,” said People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Major General Yao Yunzhu, director of the Center on China-American Defense Relations at the Academy of Military Science, who is also attending the dialogue.

In his address, Mr. Abe drew attention to concerns among some countries in the region of an increasingly assertive approach from China to territorial disputes, saying it was “the least desirable state of affairs… to fear that coercion and threats will take the place of rules and laws”.

He also offered support to Vietnam, which has recently clashed with China over the sinking of one of its fishing vessels and the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters, and the Philippines, which has also sparred with Beijing over competing claims in the South China Sea. Japan will offer the Philippines 10 patrol vessels, and will also offer vessels to Vietnam, he said.

Mr. Abe specifically highlighted Japan’s close security ties with the U.S. and Australia, and also said he was eager to build both bilateral cooperation with India and closer three-way ties with India and the U.S. when he “welcomes Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tokyo”.

China’s official Xinhua news agency in a commentary on Saturday accused Mr. Abe of “trying to divide Asian countries and stoke flare-ups in the region”. It called on countries in the region to “not be swayed by negative influences. China shall also be confident enough to stick to its long-term pursuit of peace and stability through mutually-beneficial cooperation, including cooperative management of disputes.

China-Asean ties

Even as China has sparred with the Vietnam and the Philippines, it has in recent months sought closer ties with other Asean countries, with both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang visiting the region late last year in a charm offensive, pledging billions of dollars in trade and investment.

Only on Friday, Mr. Xi hosted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Beijing. On China’s approach to the contested South China Sea, he said, “We will never stir up trouble, but will react in the necessary way to the provocations of countries involved.”

 

President Barack Obama’s national security flops just keep coming

May 31, 2014

President Obama: A strange obsession with setting out his national security agenda is backfiring for President Barack Obama

Obama arrives for the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York

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Obama arrives for the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York Photo: REUTERS

The US leader President Barack Obama tried again this week to hit the reset button on his reputation as America’s guardian of national security.

While the issue plagues his poll ratings and his many speeches crowd out other more fruitful areas for a Democratic president, there he was again on Wednesday at West Point, outlining his foreign policy strategy.

The reception for the speech was dire.

The Washington Post declared that he had “marshaled a virtual corps of straw men,” in making an argument for an “Obama doctrine” that was at odds with every US president since the Second World War.

Aside from the very serious real-world consequences, Obama’s foreign policy failure also has serious political consequences.

During the heady days of 2008, and beyond, when the “hope and change” mantra was still popular, it looked like Obama might just be able to reorder the entire American political calculus.

After decades of Democrats reinforcing the negative stereotype that they were weak on national security and foreign policy, it seemed as if he was on the cusp of exorcising those demons to rebrand his party as the serious and competent custodians of the nation’s safety.

By ordering lethal force to end the Somali pirate standoff in 2009 to free Captain Richard Phillips and by ordering the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, Obama’s first term featured some big moments as well as his signature big speeches.

It seemed for a time his vision for using Special Forces and drones to make surgical strikes (as opposed to threats of boots on the ground) was a workable alternative for a war-weary nation that wanted to exert influence without getting its hands dirty.

But while Obama was racking up symbolic victories amongst pirates and terrorists, the geopolitical situation was deteriorating, and authoritarian regimes were watching. The most egregious misstep was Obama’s drawing — and then ignoring — a red line on chemical weapons in Syria. At worst, it invited provocation.

At best it made him look impotent. When one considers that Secretary of State John Kerry had just compared the Bashar al-Assad’s regime to Nazi Germany and its use of chemicals to the Holocaust. In that context it was hard to interpret this struggle as anything less than a moral crusade that could not be brushed aside.

When the president did just that the media hardly noticed.

It was a similar tale when the American consulate in Benghazi was stormed, leaving four, including the ambassador Chris Stevens dead. However the media largely bought the line it was a spontaneous attack brought on by a controversial YouTube video – certainly not a pre-planned terror attack (after all, Al-Qaeda was on the run).

During that same election season, Obama mocked Mitt Romney’s declaration that Russia was a geopolitical foe, suggesting that Romney was somehow stuck in the 1980s.

But when Russia invaded Ukraine this spring — occupying, and ultimately annexing Crimea — it seemed that Obama’s attempts to reorder the American electorate, making foreign policy and national security “Democratic issues” again, had finally hit an iceberg.

In May, it was revealed that as many as 40 military veterans may have died waiting for care from the Department of Veterans Affairs — and that the Phoenix VA had created fake wait lists to hide the delays. An audit report revealed that as many as 1,700 were never even scheduled a doctor’s appointment or put on a wait list. The firing of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was inevitable.

Over the Memorial Day holiday, Obama scheduled a surprise visit to Afghanistan (where he will eventually fulfill his 2008 campaign promise of ending the war.) It should have been a positive story, but a pall was cast when it was revealed that the White House had accidentally outed the CIA chief living in Afghanistan. And thus, an otherwise positive trip turned into a mockery.

Ultimately, Obama’s problem is that he lacks a coherent foreign policy. He is overly fond of theorising, but the hard worldly realities defy his attempts to resolve the messy issues on his desk.

And his foreign policy doctrine is unprecedented in modern America, somewhat arbitrary, ill-conceived, and utterly lacking in moral clarity. More and more, it appears he has reverse engineered a foreign policy, based primarily on doing the opposite of George W. Bush did, as opposed to overtly crafting a wise and coherent foreign policy strategy going forward.

Unfortunately for him, he now faces very serious challenges having to do with his fundamentally having no plan and a never-ending cascade of embarrassments and scandals.

Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor at The Daily Caller website in Washington, DC

U.S. and China Square Off at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

May 31, 2014

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Hagel meets Wang in Singapore

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) listens to Lieutenant-General Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, during the start of their meeting in Singapore May 31, 2014. REUTERS/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool

By David Brunnstrom and Lee Chyen Yee

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The United States and China squared off at an Asian security forum on Saturday, with the U.S. defense secretary accusing Beijing of destabilizing the region and a top Chinese general retorting that his comments were “threat and intimidation”.

Using unusually strong language, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took aim at Beijing’s handling of territorial disputes with its Asian neighbors.

“In recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” Hagel said.

He warned Beijing that the United States was committed to its geopolitical rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and “will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged”.

Hagel said the United States took no position on the merits of rival territorial claims in the region, but added: “We firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims.”

His speech at Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia biggest security forum, provoked an angry reaction from the deputy chief of staff of the Chinese Army, Lieutenant-General Wang Guanzhong.

“I felt that Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of hegemonism, threat and intimidation,” he told reporters just after the speech.

Wang said the speech was aimed at causing trouble in the Asia-Pacific.

Hagel’s comments followed the keynote address by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the same forum on Friday evening, who pledged “utmost support” to Southeast Asian countries, several of which are locked in maritime disputes with China.

“I felt that they were just trying to echo each other,” Wang said.

Hagel later held a bilateral meeting with Wang, where the Chinese military leader expressed his surprise at the U.S. defense secretary’s speech.

“You were very candid this morning, and to be frank, more than our expectations,” he said. “Although I do think those criticisms are groundless, I do appreciate your candor … likewise we will also share our candor.”

A senior U.S. defense official said that, despite Wang’s opening remarks, the tone of the meeting had been “businesslike and fairly amicable”.

While Hagel went over ground he covered in his speech, Wang spent most of the meeting talking about U.S.-China military-to-military contacts, including Chinese participation in forthcoming military exercises, the official said.

The U.S. official said Hagel’s speech had been well received by other Asian delegations with the exception of China.

ONLY IF PROVOKED

In Beijing, President Xi Jinping said China would not initiate aggressive action in the South China Sea but would respond if others did, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

“We will never stir up trouble, but will react in the necessary way to the provocations of countries involved,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying in a meeting on Friday with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia.

China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Seas, and dismisses competing claims from Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Japan also has a territorial row with China over islands in the East China Sea. Tensions have surged in recent weeks after China placed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, and the Philippines said Beijing could be building an airstrip on a disputed island. Japan’s defense ministry said Chinese SU-27 fighters came as close as 50 meters (170 ft) to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane near disputed islets last week and within 30 metres of a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo perceived an “increasingly severe regional security environment”.

“It is unfortunate that there are security concerns in the East and South China Seas,” he said. “Japan as well as all concerned parties must uphold the rule of law and never attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pitched his plan for Japan to take on a bigger international security role and told the Singapore forum that Tokyo would offer its “utmost support” to Southeast Asian countries in their efforts to protect their seas and airspace.

In a pointed dig at China, he said Japan would provide coastguard patrol boats to the Philippines and Vietnam.

JAPAN OFFER SNUBBED

Wang, China’s deputy chief of staff, also snubbed an offer for talks with Japan made by Defence Minister Onodera, the semi-official China News Service said.

“This will hinge on whether the Japanese side is willing to amend the erroneous policy towards China and improve relations between China and Japan,” he said. “Japan should correct its mistakes as soon as possible to improve China-Japan ties.” The strong comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue come as Abe pursues a controversial push to ease restrictions of the post-war, pacifist constitution that has kept Japan’s military from fighting overseas since World War Two.

Despite memories of Japan’s harsh wartime occupation of much of Southeast Asia, several countries in the region may view Abe’s message favorably because of China’s increasing assertiveness.

Hagel repeatedly stressed Obama’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific rebalance and said the strong U.S. military presence in the region would endure.

“To ensure that the rebalance is fully implemented, both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong and Masayuki Kitano in Singapore and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, June 1, 2014 — “Everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine”

May 31, 2014

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Jesus praying to God the Father in Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann, 1890.

Seventh Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 59

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First Reading

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Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14

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After Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

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Responsorial Psalm ps 27:1, 4, 7-8

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R/ (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R/ I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R/ I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R/ I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
or:
R/ Alleluia.

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Second Reading

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1 Peter 4:13-16

Beloved: Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.

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Gospel Cycle A

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John 17:1-11a

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

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Homily from the Abbot

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Ascension has passed and our hearts and beings are turned more completely to the Holy Spirit. These days are empty with the absence of Christ and the waiting for the Holy Spirit. We can only imagine those early followers of Christ who did not yet know what would be happening. They knew that they had to wait for the Spirit.You and I also have to wait for the Spirit. This means that we wait to understand and know more fully our relationship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ His Son. Thatrelationshipisonlyunderstoon in the Spirit. So we should be calling on the Holy Spirit every day of our lives: Come, Holy Spirit! Open our hearts and our minds to your presence!The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, simply repeats that these early followers did not know what to do other than wait. You and I must learn how to wait also. Far too often we jump into situations without asking for the Holy Spirit and not even thinking of what God might add to the situation. Come, Holy Spirit.The second reading, from the First Letter of Peter, reminds us that we must do all for Christ and that such actions, for Christ, often include suffering. This letter also reminds us that there are actions that are incompatible with our Christian living. We must never fool ourselves into thinking that Christ allows any and all actions. Rather, Christ has a fairly clear teaching and we want to follow it, no matter how much it may cost us.The Gospel tell us once again: Live for Christ, seek His Spirit. This is the prayer of Jesus Christ to His Father but it also teaches us about following Christ and seeking to do His will. It is not always easy to understand Christ and His presence on our earth and how He is present or how we sense His absence. Each of us knows his or her own struggles to be faithful to the Lord, to listen to Christ, to allow the Spirit to possess us completely. May this Gospel give us the courage to continue in the struggle to be faithful to Christ and to walk in His ways.Sometimes we can forget the power of the prayer of Jesus. Jesus wants us for His Father. Jesus wants our good. Jesus continues to pray for us and to intercede for us. We have God praying for us! What could be greater? Nothing could be more effective. And yet get caught up in our own weakness and forget this incredible gift of Divine Love for us.

My sisters and brothers, let us put ourselves in the hands of the living God! Come, Holy Spirit! Guide us in your way of peace! Amen. Alleluia.

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Our Lord prayed as a man, and as the Mediator of his people; yet he spoke with majesty and authority, as one with and equal to the Father. Eternal life could not be given to believers, unless Christ, their Surety, both glorified the Father, and was glorified of him. This is the sinner’s way to eternal life, and when this knowledge shall be made perfect, holiness and happiness will be fully enjoyed. The holiness and happiness of the redeemed, are especially that glory of Christ, and of his Father, which was the joy set before him, for which he endured the cross and despised the shame; this glory was the end of the sorrow of his soul, and in obtaining it he was fully satisfied. Thus we are taught that our glorifying God is needed as an evidence of our interest in Christ, through whom eternal life is God’s free gift.

Christ prays for those that are his. Thou gavest them me, as sheep to the shepherd, to be kept; as a patient to the physician, to be cured; as children to a tutor, to be taught: thus he will deliver up his charge. It is a great satisfaction to us, in our reliance upon Christ, that he, all he is and has, and all he said and did, all he is doing and will do, are of God. Christ offered this prayer for his people alone as believers; not for the world at large. Yet no one who desires to come to the Father, and is conscious that he is unworthy to come in his own name, need be discouraged by the Saviour’s declaration, for he is both able and willing to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him. Earnest convictions and desires, are hopeful tokens of a work already wrought in a man; they begin to evidence that he has been chosen unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. They are thine; wilt thou not provide for thine own? Wilt thou not secure them? Observe the foundation on which this plea is grounded, All mine are thine, and thine are mine. This speaks the Father and Son to be one. All mine are thine. The Son owns none for his, that are not devoted to the service of the Father.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=43&c=17

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Lectio Divina for John 17:1-11a

Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John is the end of a long reflection of Jesus, begun in chapter 15, on the mission in the world. The communities preserved these reflections in order to be able to understand better the difficult moment that they were going through: tribulations, abandonment, doubts, and persecution. The long reflection ends with the prayer of Jesus for the communities. In it are expressed the sentiments and concerns which, according to the Evangelist,indwelled Jesus at that moment in which he was going out, leaving this world and going toward the Father. With these sentiments and with this concern Jesus now finds himself before his Father, interceding for us. Because of this the Priestly Prayer is also the Testament of Jesus. Many persons, in the moment when they leave forever, leave some message. Everyone keeps the important words of a father and of the mother, especially when they are the last moments of life. To keep these words is like keeping the persons. It is a form of respect and of affection.

• Chapter 17 is a diverse text. It is a friendlier one rather than one of reasoning. In order to grasp well the whole sense, it is not sufficient to reflect with the head, with reason. This text has to be meditated upon and accepted also in the heart. It is a text not so much to be discussed, but to meditate on and to reflect. Therefore, do not be worried if you do not understand it immediately. This text demands a whole life to meditate it and to deepen it. Such a text should be read, meditated on, thought, read again, repeated, savoured, as one does with a good sweet in the mouth. One turns it and turns it in the mouth until it is finished. For this, close the eyes, keep silence within you and listen to Jesus who speaks to you, transmitting in his Testament his greatest concern, his last will. Try to discover which is the point on which Jesus insists the most and, which he considers the most important.

• John 17, 1-3: “Father, the hour has come!” It is the long awaited hour (Jn 2, 4; 7,30; 8, 20; 12, 23.27; 13, 1; 16, 32). It is the moment of the glorification which will take place through the Passion, Death and Resurrection. In reaching the end of his mission, Jesus looks back and proceeds to a revision. In this prayer, he expresses the most intimate sentiment of his heart and the profound discovery of his soul: the presence of the Father in his life.

• John 17, 4-8: Father, they will recognize that I come from you! In reviewing his own life Jesus sees himself as a manifestation of the Father for the friends whom the Father has given him. Jesus does not live for himself. He lives in order that all may have a flash of goodness and of love which are enclosed in the Name of God which is Abba, Father.

• John 17, 9-11a: All I have is yours and all you have is mine! At the moment of leaving the world, Jesus expresses to the Father his concern and prays for the friends whom he leaves behind; and that they will continue in the world, but they are not of the world. They are of Jesus, they are God’s, and they are signs of God and of Jesus in this world. Jesus is concerned about the persons who remain, and he prays for them.

For Personal Confrontation

• Which are the words which orientate your life and which are from persons whom you love? If you were about to die which would be the message that you would like to leave to your family and to your community?

• Which is the word of the Testament of Jesus which struck you the most? Why?

Concluding Prayer

Blessed be the Lord day after day,
he carries us along, God our Saviour.
This God of ours is a God who saves;
from Lord Yahweh comes escape from death. (Ps 68,19-20)

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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THE MISSION OF REVEALING JESUS AS THE GLORY OF THE FATHER BY LIVING GLORIFIED LIVES  – See more at: http://www.csctr.net/01-june-2014-7th-sunday-of-easter-world-communications-day/#sthash.PDA9r60b.dpuf
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On the feast of the Ascension, we celebrate Jesus’ entry into heaven and His return to the Father. Where Jesus is, we all are called to be.  We are called to share in the glory of the Father.  To share in the glory of God entails that man reflect the goodness of God in himself.

But the truth is that today, man and the world are not reflecting the glory of God.  Man wants to reflect his own glory instead.   Man does not want to share in the glory of God.  In various ways, man wants to enthrone himself in the place of God.  Atheism, which was the greatest threat to humanity in the 19th century, manifests itself in various guises under the name of science and freedom.  Today, atheism is not simply a theoretical atheism that denies the existence of God but a practical atheism that is to live as if God does not exist.   In modern atheism, the worship of God is replaced not simply by the worship of materialism but the worship of man.

The worship of man is manifested in the philosophies of our age, namely, individualism and subjectivism which can be subsumed under relativism.  Man is free.  He is the norm of everything.  There is no higher authority and norm for judgment, especially in moral matters other than man himself.  Man is the measure of all truths.  But since no one agrees on anything, but is subjectively interpreted, it also means that there can be no absolutes in life.  Everything is relative and dependent on the whims and fancies of human beings.

Against such a current, today, the gospel proclaims that Jesus is the Glory of God.  If we want to know who man is, then Jesus is the revealer of who man is and who God is.  If we want to know what is the meaning and purpose of life, then Jesus who is the man for others shows us how to live fully and joyfully.  In the person of Jesus, He reveals to us the love of the Father.  In fact, His whole mission was to reveal the Father’s love.  He said, “I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do.”

So the whole life of Jesus was to reveal the life of the Father.  How did He make the name of the Father known?  Surely, it is not by preaching alone.  He made the heart of the Father known by His deeds, miracles and His compassion for the poor, the sick and sinners.   Most of all, He revealed the Father’s love by His death.  It is in His death that the face of God is seen.  It is at that hour, the hour of His death on the cross that the glory of God is shown.

For us, if we want to share in the glory of God, then we must come to Jesus Himself.  This explains why Jesus prayed, “And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” In other words, eternal life is to share in the life of God, of which this life has been manifested in Jesus Christ.  Jesus who has been sent by the Father reveals to us the nature of God’s love.  There is no way to know the true God other than in Jesus who reveals the Father to us and there is no way to know man unless we look at Jesus, truly God and truly man.

Today, as the disciples of Jesus, we are called to communicate the glory of God given to us in Jesus. That is why today we celebrate World Communication Sunday.  How can we communicate Jesus to the world?  In the first place, we must make use of all the modern mass media at our disposal.  Even the Holy Father and the Church recognize the powerful means that the media can be employed for the spread of the gospel.  Television, Internet, newspapers, mobile phone, computer and all the other forms of mass media must be used for the service of the gospel.  It would be unfortunate if we do not make use of them. Failure to do so would be to put ourselves at a great disadvantage.

However, the media, important as it may be as a means of communicating the message of the gospel, is not sufficient.  The person cannot be replaced by words and images.  We are called to transmit not just pictures and words but a person.  Jesus is the content of the Good News that we want to proclaim.  To proclaim the Good News simply is to share with the world what Jesus has done for us in our lives; and the difference He has made in our lives.  Most of all, it is to share how in knowing Jesus, we have found peace, love, joy through a life of humble service and self-emptying.  Just as Jesus revealed the glory of God in His life, we are called to reveal the glory of Jesus in our lives.  In the final analysis, Christian witnessing cannot be replaced by any form of media.  Indeed, as Pope Paul VI often said, what we need are witnesses, not teachers today.  It is by our witnessing to the truth with our lives that become a living testimony to others.

Yes, as Christians, we must be ready and courageous in standing up for the gospel and the truths about life.  Surely, the world will hate us for speaking out against immorality because they find us an obstacle to their path.  The world cannot tolerate us because we claim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Saviour of the World, the Son of God.  This explains why negative news about the church is often picked up by the media rather than the good news we proclaim.

Necessarily, such witnessing always entails suffering. This is what the second reading reminds us.  St Peter, aware of what Christian witnessing entails, exhorted the Christians, “If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.”  Yes to share the glory of Christ is to share in his sufferings.  Accordingly, St Peter explains, “It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you.”   After all, in the understanding of St John it is the suffering of Christ especially His death on the cross that revealed the glory of God.

Thus, for us Christians to share in Christ’s suffering is a great privilege.  Indeed, He said, “None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.”  Yes, we must be ready to suffer for the truth and for love.  We must be ready to suffer because we want to promote the culture of life instead of the culture of death.  We must be ready to suffer for the good of humanity and society because we recognize that when society loses its moral values, it will be the beginning of the destruction and disintegration of family, society and the nation.  We who have received the Spirit of Truth must be vigilant and be the prophets for the world.

But we need not fear that we have to work alone.  Today, Jesus prayed for His Church.  He said, “I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.”  Yes, Jesus our head has gone before us but we as members of His Body continue to draw strength and life from Him.

Consequently, like the apostles and the mother of Jesus with the women of Jerusalem, we must spend time waiting in prayer, not with anxiety but in contemplation so that we can radiate God’s glory by living the life of Christ.  Jesus will send us the Holy Spirit to lead us to the fullness of truth and give us the courage to live out our Christian calling and dignity.  So before we begin the mission of proclaiming the Good News the Church invites to be like the early Christians in joining Mary in continuous prayer, asking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Only through prayer and a deeper contemplation of the face of Christ, and a deeper unity with the Body of Christ, the Church, can we be ready to face the challenges of the world.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/01-june-2014-7th-sunday-of-easter-world-communications-day/#sthash.PDA9r60b.dpuf