Posts Tagged ‘China’

It Could Be Time To Rename the South China Sea — “China is The Problem, Not The Solution”

August 23, 2016

By Steve Mollman
Quartz

For all the complexities of the territorial struggle between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea, there’s a growing recognition that part of the problem is simply the name of the place.

.
Indonesia became the latest country to propose a renaming last week, when the government announced it will submit a proposal to the United Nations regarding the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding its Natuna Islands. “If no one objects… then it will be officially the Natuna Sea,” said Ahmad Santosa, who heads an agency combating illegal fishing.

The Natuna Sea

.
In 2012 the Philippines officially renamed part of the South China Sea on its own maps and government correspondence. Manila declared that waters falling within its EEZ would be called the West Philippine Sea, an important step to clarifying “which portions we claim as ours,” president Benigno Aquino said at the time. The nation submitted its administrative order and an official map to the United Nations.

[Vietnam often calls it “The East Sea”]

Of course, getting the international community to go along with a name change is another matter. Government agencies in Manila might use “West Philippine Sea,” but “South China Sea” is still common usage.

Photo: Filipino fisherman holds up his catch

.

UN submission or no, “Natuna Sea” might be similarly ignored outside of Indonesian government circles.

.
Vietnam, for its part, has long called the waterway the East Sea. Malaysia goes with South China Sea, although after the tribunal’s ruling some are questioning why that is.

.
China claims nearly all the strategic waterway as its own territory, based on a nine-dash line drawn up after World War 2. Though an international tribunal invalidated the line in a July ruling, Beijing continues to uphold its expansive claims.

A contested sea.

.
A Change.org campaign started about five years ago that proposes a name change to the “Southeast Asia Sea” brings up some interesting points. Among them:

.
–The countries of Southeast Asia encompass almost the entire South China Sea with a total coastline measuring approximately 130,000 km (81,250 miles) long; whereas the Southern China’s coastline measured about 2,800 km (1,750 miles) in length.

.
–Other proposals have included the “Indochina Sea” and the “Asean Sea,” though that last one bumps into the problem of Cambodia, a member of ASEAN, siding more with China (and earning Beijing’s appreciation along the way).

Filipino fishermen call it “The West Philippine Sea” —
Credit: WILLIE LOMIBAO, INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

The sea has had a variety of names throughout history, with “South China Sea” being a relatively recent invention (paywall), coming into use in the 1930s as a way to distinguish the waterway from the East China Sea.

.
China can play the name game, too. In the Chinese language, the sea is called simply Nanhai, or the South Sea. Some have proposed renaming the southern Hainan Province, which faces the sea, to “Nanhai Province.” Proponents contend the name change would help fortify China’s claims to the sea.

.
In English, changing the name of the sea to “South Sea” might work, argued Ellen Frost, a senior adviser at the East-West Center, earlier this year. Chinese nationalists would surely reject the “Southeast Asia Sea,” she noted (pdf). But they’d have a harder time arguing against the “South Sea”—even though it removes “China”—since in Chinese the name “Nanhai” has been around for centuries.

.
That change, she contended, “would signal a small, seemingly technical, but meaningful contribution to peace.”

Source: http://qz.com/763161/it-is-time-to-rename-the-south-china-sea/

Related:

While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton began what was called the “U.S. pivot to Asia.” In this photo, Hillary Clinton talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. on September 5, 2012. Today Hillary Clinton is running to become the next President of the United States and China’s former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has been promoted to the number three leadership within the Chinese Communist Party. China seems to be in control of most of the South China Sea and is pressuring all U.S. allies from Japan to Australia to Singapore to ally themselves with China or face consequences. In 2012, Hillary Clinton was a big advocate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). After Donald trump said the TPP was not a good deal for American workers, Hillary Clinton became against the TPP.

Related:

.

.
.
.
.
.

Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, right, with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua pose for a picture during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP
.

.
China calls the South China Sea simply: OURS. Photo:China’s missile destroyer CNS Harbin conducts live fire exercises during a naval drill in 2014 with Russia. Credit Zha Chunming, China Daily
.
.
.
.
.
Pictured: The flags of the ASEAN nations
.
.
.
PLA Air Force H-6 Bomber over Scarborough Shoal. Xinhua photo
.

 (Contains links to many related articles) (The Chinese government seems to be indicating it will take over the East China Sea and deny Japan its claims)

.

Japan protested after China put a radar on this East China Sea natural gas rig. Japan says it has proof. China has not responded.

 (July 11, 2016)

.

 (New York Times Editorial)

 

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign policy, on Wednesday in Beijing, July 9, 2014. Credit Pool photo by Jim Bourg

Our friends in Asia say many diplomats call Yang Jiechi “Stonewall” because nobody ever gets anywhere with him.

.

Photo: U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, left, and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. July 25, 2016. AP Photo

A New Measure for China’s Economy: The ‘Repression Index’ — “Warning signs are flashing” — Private investment collapsing

August 23, 2016

Arrests, censorship, military imagery point to political insecurity at the top as economic reforms stall

Chinese legal rights activist Hu Shigen at his trial in Tianjin earlier this year. He was sentenced to 7½ years in prison on subversion charges. More than 300 legal professionals and activists were briefly detained or interrogated last year, and several dozen were formally held.
Chinese legal rights activist Hu Shigen at his trial in Tianjin earlier this year. He was sentenced to 7½ years in prison on subversion charges. More than 300 legal professionals and activists were briefly detained or interrogated last year, and several dozen were formally held. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
.

Updated Aug. 23, 2016 3:46 a.m. ET

SHANGHAI—As the Chinese economy slows, the regime is ramping up an assault on dissidents and others it brands as troublemakers.

Call it the repression index. One of the best indicators of the country’s economic direction is now a political one.

The crackdown is telling us that the leadership, despite outward displays of confidence, is growing increasingly insecure as it grapples with faltering growth, the mainstay of the Communist Party’s legitimacy. That translates into crippling indecision; leaders seem unable to summon the resolve to implement tough yet necessary economic overhauls.

Meanwhile, evidence of policy disarray is growing with President Xi Jinping and his premier, Li Keqiang, apparently disagreeing on how aggressively to add stimulus. A People’s Daily article in May by an “authoritative person,” most likely a proxy for the president, read like a rebuke of Mr. Li for going off on a credit binge this year.

.

China Sentences Human-Rights Lawyer, Activists
Video:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-measure-for-chinas-economy-the-repression-index-1471926512

.
China recently began a series of trials of human-rights lawyers and activists, as President Xi Jinping continued to clamp down on potential sources of dissent.

.
These are perilous times for the party. It knows that an accelerated economic transition from a wasteful investment-led model to one driven by services, consumption and innovation will deliver a hit to growth and likely generate social unrest—with no guarantees of ultimate success.

.
Switching gears was always going to be more of a political challenge than an economic one. It will entail redistributing the benefits of growth from large state-owned corporations toward households.

This isn’t the revolution that party stalwarts signed up for; it implies a transfer not just of wealth, which has helped fill the bank accounts of families of the governing elite, but power.

And the process threatens to destabilize the system. State enterprises bankroll the regime, provide social services and keep workers in line.

Moreover, they are huge employers, in particular the loss-makers that operate old-fashioned steel furnaces and cement plants and keep exhausted coal mines alive.

In purely economic terms, closing down these industrial relics is a no-brainer. They add to rampant overcapacity, as well as choking pollution. They’re the zombies at the heart of the country’s growth dilemma: More and more credit is producing less and less output. Mounting corporate debt threatens to crash the financial system. “Warning signs are flashing,” writes David Lipton, the first deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund.

Yet apparently that prospect isn’t as troubling to the regime as the specter of unemployed workers flooding the streets.

Hence, the slow pace of factory closures, along with the desire to continue chasing an unrealistically rapid growth target.

By contrast, the political crackdown is imbued with urgency. A repression index would prominently feature data on the plight of rights lawyers. More than 300 legal professionals and activists were briefly detained or interrogated last year, and several dozen formally held. Show trials are now under way.

An index would also track new restrictions on civil society groups, capture the intensity of censorship and count references in state media to “hostile foreign forces” trying to subvert the government, a phrase that since Mao’s day has been a reliable gauge of paranoia among the ruling elite.

A sub index might measure television hours devoted to images of missiles, military jets and warships. Rising nationalism is the other corollary of political insecurity.

‘Warning signs are flashing.’
—David Lipton, first deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund

.
The political chill recalls the immediate aftermath of the bloody army crackdown that ended the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Not coincidentally, the economy was in trouble then too.

Tank Man at Tienanmen by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press.

Public-interest lawyers are in the crosshairs because of their ability to coordinate and channel scattered public grievances at a time of growing economic distress. They offer the means, in other words, to empower a citizenry increasingly aware of its rights. That runs against the control instincts of a top-down Leninist party.

And there’s the rub. Can an economic transformation be successful without a loosening of the reins? Censorship is at odds with a knowledge economy. Ideological dogma suppresses free inquiry essential to creativity.

The political signals are unsettling the private sector, which creates almost all the new jobs and drives innovation in products and services. Private investment is collapsing, despite the government’s instruction to local officials to “chant bright songs” about the economy.

The reluctance to invest can only partially be explained by factors such as falling returns amid global economic weakness, on top of worries about currency depreciation. It also reflects what analysts at the Chinese investment bank CICC call an “uncertainty trap”—doubts about the “timetable, road map and implementation” of reform.

According to one school of thought, the repression is setting the stage for bold and politically risky economic overhauls. In effect, the government is battening down the hatches in preparation for hard times.

Entrepreneurs aren’t so sure: the key group that will make or break reforms—and can’t be easily coerced—is making a free choice to sit it out.

Write to Andrew Browne at andrew.browne@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-measure-for-chinas-economy-the-repression-index-1471926512

Related:

President Xi Jinping of China, center, was applauded when he visited the newsroom of People’s Daily in Beijing. Credit Lan Hongguang/Xinhua, via Associated Press

.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth speaks to Commander Lucy D’Orsi during a garden party at Buckingham Palace in London on May 10, 2016. PHOTO by REUTERS

China’s state run media seems to be attacking other nations with renewed energy lately….

 (Propaganda)

Bookseller Lam Wing-kee (C) takes part in a protest march with pro-democracy lawmakers and supporters in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2016.
REUTERS/BOBBY YIP

China blocks VPN services that let users get round its ‘Great Firewall’ during big political gatherings in Beijing

 (Contains many  links to articles on the Chinese human rights lawyers)

New Hillary Clinton emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Department — U.S. Government Corruption, Lies, Cover Up, Criminality and Ineptitude?

August 23, 2016

.

By 
The Washington Post
August 22 at 7:18 PM

 

A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.

The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.

In each case, according to emails released Monday from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, the requests were directed to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and confidante, Huma Abedin, who engaged with other top aides and sometimes Clinton herself about how to respond.

The emails show that, in these and similar cases, the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting.

Huma Abedin, center, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, was often a point person for those requesting time or favors from Clinton at the State Department. Not all of those requests were granted.

.
But the exchanges, among 725 pages of correspondence from Abedin disclosed as part of a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, illustrate the way the Clintons’ international network of friends and donors was able to get access to Hillary Clinton and her inner circle during her tenure running the State Department.

The release of the correspondence follows previous disclosures of internal emails showing a similar pattern of access for foundation contributors, and it comes as Republicans allege that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, used her perch in the Obama administration to trade favors for donations. Clinton and the foundation have vigorously denied the charge.

[Emails show that Clinton Foundation donors got access at State Department]

Huma Abedin, longtime aide to former US Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, Photo: Getty Images

The disclosures also cast new doubts on Clinton’s past claim that she turned over all her work-related email from her private server to the State Department for eventual release to the public.

Judicial Watch said Monday’s release from Abedin’s inbox included 20 previously undisclosed exchanges with Clinton that were not included in the approximately 55,000 pages of correspondence the former secretary gave to State. Also Monday, the State Department said the FBI had turned over nearly 15,000 emails and other documents that investigators discovered during a probe of Clinton’s email setup that she had not previously returned to State.

Clinton has said about 30,000 personal emails were deleted from the server. The FBI batch includes emails and attachments that were sent directly to or from Clinton, or that were part of email chains.

FBI Director James B. Comey has said there is no evidence that emails were purposefully deleted with an intent to conceal them, and a State Department spokesman said Monday that some of the records included emails that were purely personal.


FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016. Getty Images

It is not clear when the documents discovered by the FBI will become public, but attorneys for the State Department and Judicial Watch are negotiating a release that is likely to begin before the election and continue long after.

Josh Schwerin, a Clinton campaign spokesman, said in a statement Monday that Judicial Watch is a “right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s” and that the group is “distorting facts to make utterly false attacks.”

“No matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as Secretary of State because of donations to the Clinton Foundation,” he said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday that there is “no clear sign” donors received access for their contributions.

The emails released Monday showed how requests from donors would often come through Doug Band, a longtime Bill Clinton aide who helped create the foundation, with Abedin as a primary point of contact. Band declined to comment on the newly released emails, and attorneys for Abedin did not respond to a request for comment.

There is no indication from the emails that Abedin intervened on behalf of Casey Wasserman, an L.A. sports executive who in 2009 asked Band for help getting a visa for a British soccer star trying to visit Las Vegas. Band indicated that the office of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had already declined to help, given the player’s criminal record. A Boxer spokesman described the request to her office as “routine” but one with that Boxer did not assist, “given the facts of the case.”

“Makes me nervous to get involved but I’ll ask,” Abedin wrote to Band in May 2009 after he forwarded to her an email from Wasserman.

Band responded: “then dont.”

Wasserman’s charitable foundation has given the Clinton Foundation between $5 million and $10 million. In 2009 and 2010, his investment company paid Bill Clinton $3.13 million in consulting fees.

A spokeswoman for Wasserman said the businessman never contacted Bill Clinton on the matter and the visa was never granted.

Band and Abedin also responded dismissively when asked if they had any ideas on how to help Bono get his space station transmission: “No clue,” they each responded in turn.

The appeal appears to have had more success in the case of Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain. In June 2009, Band emailed Abedin that the prince would be in Washington for two days and was seeking a meeting with Hillary Clinton. “Good friend of ours,” he added.

Abedin responded that the prince had already requested a meeting “through normal channels” but that Clinton had been hesitant to commit. Two days later, Abedin followed up with Band to let him know that a meeting with the prince had been set. “If u see him, let him know. We have reached out thru official channels,” she wrote to Band.

Bahrain has a spotty human rights record but full relations with the U.S. government.

In a statement, the court of the crown prince said his participation at a 2005 foundation event “happened years before and was wholly unrelated to any meeting with Secretary Clinton,” adding that the prince is deputy head of state of an American ally and so he often meets with U.S. officials.

The new disclosures come as the Clinton Foundation and its international network of powerful donors have returned to the forefront of the presidential campaign.

On Monday, Bill Clinton sent an email to foundation staff and supporters outlining new steps and offering a defense of the foundation’s accomplishments. He wrote that the foundation would stop accepting corporate and foreign donations if Hillary Clinton was elected and that he would step down from the charity’s board, along with the board of a related Boston-based health organization. While he said his role would change, “the work itself should continue because so many people are committed to it and so many more are relying on it.”

[The inside story of how the Clintons built a $2 billion global empire]

The announcements did little to quell Republican attacks. The GOP nominee, Donald Trump, on Monday called for the foundation to be shut down altogether, describing the charity as “the most corrupt enterprise in political history.”

The newly released emails underscored the central role played by Abedin, a top adviser to Clinton’s campaign who has been working for her since Clinton’s time as first lady.

When S. Daniel Abraham, a major Democratic donor who had also given to the foundation, was visiting Washington in May 2009 and wanted to see Clinton, the emails showed that he placed a call to Abedin. “Do u want me to try and fit him in tomorrow?” Abedin emailed Clinton, who appeared to indicate in her response that she was willing to make time.

Abraham said in an interview Monday that he talked with Clinton about the Middle East and that his status as a donor had nothing to do with his ability to secure time with the secretary.

“It was about the issue that I have worked hard on for many, many years, Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he said. “I have been friendly with the Clintons since their White House days. As far as I am concerned it was all good. She never asked me for anything.”

Longtime Clinton friend and fundraiser Maureen White wrote Abedin in July 2009, saying that she would be in Washington three days later. “Would she have any time to spare?” White wrote.

“Yes I’ll make it work,” Abedin responded.

White went on to serve in the State Department under Clinton. White said she and her husband, Steven Rattner, gave $31,000 to the foundation before 2009 and $25,000 to the foundation in 2012. White said that she did not remember the specific exchange but that she has met often with Clinton as a longtime supporter and has worked on refugee and humanitarian issues in several capacities in and out of government.
“Usually when I told Huma I wanted to meet with Hillary Clinton, Huma made it happen,” White said.

In another email exchange, Democratic donor and activist Joyce Aboussie of St. Louis wrote to Abedin requesting a meeting between Clinton and a top executive of St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, one of the world’s largest coal producers.

“Huma, I need your help now to intervene please,” Aboussie wrote in June 2009. “We need this meeting with Secretary Clinton, who has been there now for nearly six months. This is, by the way, my first request.”

Abedin responded: “We are working on it and I hope we can make something work . . . we have to work through the beauracracy [sic] here.”

It is not clear whether the meeting took place. Neither Peabody officials nor Aboussie, who donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, responded to requests for comment.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/emails-reveal-how-foundation-donors-got-access-to-clinton-and-her-close-aides-at-state-dept/2016/08/22/345b5200-6882-11e6-8225-fbb8a6fc65bc_story.html

Related:

 (Wall Street Journal)

.

******************************************

Hillary Clinton’s 15,000 New Emails to Get Timetable for Release

WASHINGTON — The dispute over Hillary Clinton’s email practices now threatens to shadow her for the rest of the presidential campaign after the disclosure on Monday that the F.B.I. collected nearly 15,000 new emails in its investigation of her and a federal judge’s order that the State Department accelerate the documents’ release.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/us/politics/hillary-clintons-new-emails-release-state-department.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Read the rest:

 

Great white sharks rapidly heading for extinction — Off the Coast of South Africa, Scientific, Ecological and Political Controversy

August 23, 2016

By Renee Graham
The Associated Press and Phys.org

August 23, 2016
Off South Africa’s coast, great white sharks are threatened

.

In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, a great white shark swims past researchers as they chum the ocean looking for sharks in the waters off Gansbaai, South Africa. Extensive research by shark expert Michael Rutzen and his marine biologist partner Sara Andreotti has found that great whites off the South African coast are rapidly heading for extinction. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
 .
On the edge of a boat off this coastal village, Michael Rutzen stubs his cigarette into a soda can and stares pensively out to sea.

.

He has free-dived with great white sharks for nearly 20 years, and he has never known it to be this difficult to find them.

.

In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, Marine biologist Sara Andreotti, left, holds her camera as she waits for great white sharks as part of her researcher in the waters off Gansbaai , South Africa. Extensive research by Andreotti and her shark expert partner Michael Rutzen has found that great whites off the South African coast are rapidly heading for extinction. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

.
Extensive research by Rutzen and his marine biologist partner, Sara Andreotti, has found that great whites off the South African coast are rapidly heading for extinction. The area long has been one of the world’s best places to see the sharks, which also live off Australia, the United States and Japan.

.
Streams of fish blood and oil trail in the water behind other cage-diving boats nearby. Rutzen phones one of his spotters, who has been searching for hours.
“Nothing here, let’s move on,” Rutzen tells his crew.

.
Rutzen started free-diving with the sharks in 1998 to show they are not the monstrous creatures they are portrayed to be. He has built a successful business in Gansbaai’s shark diving industry, which has prided itself on almost guaranteed interactions with great whites and has boomed in the past two decades.

.
His clients have included Halle Berry, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, the king of Jordan and Prince Harry.

.
But while it once was not unusual to see 15 to 20 great white sharks per trip, Rutzen now counts himself lucky if he sees one or two.

.
Andreotti, who works with Rutzen to photograph and take DNA samples from sharks, estimates there are 333 breeding animals left in the area. For a healthy, growing population there needs to be at least 500, she says. The sharks here have not been known to breed with sharks from other parts of the world.

.
“The great white sharks on the South African coast are heading for extinction,” Andreotti says. “That has massive implications for the ocean’s ecology. White sharks are top predators. They are much like lions. If you take top predators out of the environment, the rest of the environment will collapse.”

.
The conservation group WWF has warned that the number of great whites is decreasing worldwide.

.

In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, a great white shark swims past researchers as they chum the ocean looking for sharks in the waters off Gansbaai, South Africa. Extensive research by shark expert Michael Rutzen and his marine biologist partner Sara Andreotti has found that great whites off the South African coast are rapidly heading for extinction. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

.
The White Shark Research Group, a team of scientists studying all major areas where the sharks gather off South Africa, believes the study done in Gansbaai needs further research. The study assumes that Gansbaai “represents the entire South African white shark population. However, we are not convinced that this is true,” said Alison Kock, a member of the research group.

.
She said it is possible that the total population has been underestimated, but she agrees that the sharks are low in number and vulnerable to humans’ impact. “This would not be the first time that estimates of population sizes of white sharks and other species have been disputed,” Kock said in an email. “It is a consequence of the difficult nature of such investigations.”

.
With fewer great whites as predators in the local waters, the population of Cape fur seals has grown rapidly, which has a negative effect on fish populations and the rest of the ecosystem.

.
Pollution, baited hooks and shark nets are some of the main factors behind the decline in the number of great whites.

.

“We are polluting the oceans, and as top predators they tend to accumulate heavy metals in their bodies and that can be very detrimental for their survival,” Andreotti says.

.
Poaching is another problem. “People want the jaws of a great white shark hanging in their pub,” she says.

.
Both Rutzen and Andreotti believe that great white sharks, which are listed as vulnerable animals by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, should be listed as endangered species at the next CITES conference in South Africa in September.

.
After several hours out at sea and two brief shark sightings, Rutzen and his team pull up the anchors.

.
“Within three years, all the great white sharks off the shore of Gansbaai will be gone, mark my words,” Rutzen says.

.

In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, a great white shark swims past researchers as they chum the ocean looking for sharks in the waters off Gansbaai, South Africa. Extensive research by shark expert Michael Rutzen and his marine biologist partner Sara Andreotti has found that great whites off the South African coast are rapidly heading for extinction. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-08-south-africa-coast-great-white.html#jCp

****************************

South Africa sources tell Peace and Freedom that there are always Chinese fishermen at or near South African waters seeking the great white sharks for their medicinal value in China — plus the value for shark fin soup.

South African say this is one of the hidden impacts of Chinese global expansion.

Chinese fishing vessel Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186 detained in South Africa

Related:

 (Links to several related articles)

Philippines: Fishermen Silver Lopez and Raymart de Claro remove old paint and scratches, scrape off patches of barnacles on the 9-meter fishing boat, Marvin I. They told us they gave up on fishing near the Philippines due to constant attacks by Chinese fishermen.


Chinese fishing ship sinks near Argentina

Thailand: Bombing Trial For Alleged Erawan Shrine Killers Breaks Down as The Accused Uighurs of Chinese of Nationality Claim They Were Tortured

August 23, 2016

Thailand says  no Uighur-language translator was available….

Two members of China’s Uighur minority appear in military court over last year’s blast that killed 20 people in Bangkok.

 The Bangkok blast was the worst assault of its kind in Thailand's recent history [Jorge Silva/Reuters]The Bangkok blast was the worst assault of its kind in Thailand’s recent history [Jorge Silva/Reuters]
.

Two Chinese nationals are going on trial for their alleged roles in a deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine one year ago, but more than a dozen suspects allegedly involved in the incident remain at large.

The trial, which has started on Tuesday, is being held at a military court in Bangkok and is expected to last more than a year.

It is taking place just days after a wave of unexplained explosions hit Thailand’s resort areas, killing at least four people and wounding 35 others, including tourists.

The August 2015 bombing – the worst assault of its kind in Thailand’s recent history – killed 20 people and wounded more than 100 others. The motive of the attack remains unclear.

.
READ MORE: Analysis – Thailand shields tourist trade after wave of bombings

The attack, which was carried out with small but powerful bomb packed with ball bearings, targeted the Erawan shrine in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district.

The Hindu shrine is popular among ethnic Chinese visitors, who made up a majority of the dead with five from Malaysia, five from China and two from Hong Kong.

Members of China’s Muslim minority Uighur population, Yusufu Mieraili and Bilal Mohammed have been charged with involvement.

Thai military charged Mieraili, left, and Mohammed with involvement in the 2015 August blast [EPA]

 

“The suspects appearing at the court are alleged to have acted as foot soldiers in the attack,” said Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from just outside the court in Bangkok.

“However, more than a dozen suspects officials are trying to get hold of are still at large.”

He said analysts and officials believe the Erawan shrine blast and the recent bombings around the country were not related on the basis of available evidence, including the differences in the type of ammunition used.

‘Uighur connection’

Analysts have largely coalesced around the theory that the shrine bombing was in revenge for the Thai military government’s forcible return of 109 Uighurs to China weeks earlier.

Thai authorities insist the bombing was carried out by a people-smuggling gang angered by policing successes against human trafficking.

The Uighur minority say they face cultural and religious repression in their homeland of Xinjiang in northwest China, and many are believed to have fled the region in recent years.

The military government’s deportations led to international condemnation and violent protests outside Thailand’s diplomatic missions in Turkey, which has given refuge to many of the Turkic-speaking group.

The August 2015 bomb blast targeted Erawan shrine in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district [EPA]

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/bangkok-blast-trial-begins-suspects-large-160823042427380.html

*******************************************

Suspects in the Erawan shrine bombing identified Yusufu Mieraili, left, and Adem Karadag in April CREDIT: AFP

The Associated Press

A Thai military court on Tuesday rejected allegations by two Uighur defendants that they were tortured in custody to confess to bombing a popular Hindu shrine in Bangkok last year that left 20 people dead. The court then postponed the rest of the hearing to next month because no Uighur-language translator was available.

In previous preliminary hearings, the two men who are from the Uighur-speaking region of China have said they were tortured and mistreated by their jailors in military detention, and on Tuesday pleaded to be moved to a different correctional facility.

“After investigating these claims, the court finds them to be false and the defendants will remain where they are since this is a case of national security,” one of the three judges on the panel ruled.

The judges, who have not been identified in keeping with protocol in military trials, said the defendants’ safety may be at risk in a regular correctional facility because of the high-profile nature of the case, and that they were safer in military detention.

The ruling came on what was to be the first day of the trial of the two ethnic Uighurs of Chinese nationality. But the opening day, which was set aside for recording witness testimonies, got off to a shaky start when the court realized that there was no Uighur-language translator available.

The makeshift translator in previous hearings was also a Uighur, who was arrested in a separate criminal case. Defense lawyers said he had apparently skipped bail and disappeared.

The hearings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday were then postponed to Sept. 15-16 while authorities try to bring a new translator.

The two defendants — Mieraili Yusufu and Bilal Mohammad, also known as Adem Karadag — have pleaded not guilty. At a recent pre-trial appearance they broke down in tears alleging mistreatment and torture by Thai authorities.

They are the only two men in custody out of the 17 people that authorities say were responsible for the Aug. 17, 2015, bombing of the Erawan shrine in Bangkok’s most famous shopping district of Ratchaprasong. It was one of the deadliest acts of violence in Thailand in decades.

Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine, that was bombed on 17 August, 2015

The Erawan shrine, dedicated to Hindu god Brahma, is popular among Chinese and other tourists. Of the dead, 14 were tourists. Many Chinese were among the 120 people injured.

Thai authorities have said the bombing was revenge by a people-smuggling gang whose activities were disrupted by a crackdown. However, some analysts suspected it might have been the work of Uighur separatists angry that Thailand in July had forcibly repatriated scores of Uighurs to China, where they may be persecuted.

Chuchart Kanpai, the lawyer for one of the defendants, has told reporters in the past that Bilal had been tortured to admit that he was the person seen in surveillance video planting the bomb. Bilal says his captors poured cold water into his nose, threatened to send him back to China and had a barking dog frighten him.

Police say the case against the two men is supported by closed-circuit television footage, witnesses, DNA matching and physical evidence, in addition to their confessions. Police believe Yusufu detonated the bomb minutes after a backpack containing the device was left at the shrine by Bilal.

Since a May 2014 coup installed the military in power, its courts in Thailand have handed criminal cases deemed to involve national security.

The two men have been held at an army base since their arrest in late August and early September 2015. No other details of their interrogation have been revealed. Some of the 15 other suspects are Turks, with whom Uighurs share ethnic bonds, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community. Beijing charges that some Uighurs are Islamist terrorists and that some have been smuggled out of China to join Islamic State fighters in Syria via Turkey.

Related:

Bombings seem to be happening with increased frequency in Thailand and the government is working to make sure its tourist industry doesn’t go into decline….

Related:

A tourist receives treatment on the street after being injured in an explosion in the Thai seaside resort of Hua Hin on Thursday night. The country has been hit by a wave of co-ordinated bomb attacks targeting areas popular with visitors

A tourist receives treatment on the street after being injured in an explosion in the Thai seaside resort of Hua Hin on Thursday night, August 11, 2016. The country has been hit by a wave of co-ordinated bomb attacks targeting areas popular with visitors

 (Contains links to more stories about terrorism in Thailand)

 

Foreign Ministers of Japan, Korea and China To Meet

August 22, 2016

Meeting finally confirmed following earlier reports that disagreement over territorial issues would postpone it

By Catherine Wong
South China Morning Post
Monday, August 22, 2016, 6:19 p.m.

 
A file picture of Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) taken at a meeting in Beijing this month. Photo: AFP

Foreign ministers from China, Japan and South Korea will meet in Tokyo on Tuesday and Wednesday to exchange views on cooperation and regional and international issues, their foreign ministries said on Monday.

.
“Cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea are significant to the region,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in the afternoon regular press conference. “We hope the trilateral meeting could [help ] maintain this cooperation and work towards the goal of setting up an economic community by 2020.”

.
Little chance of thaw in Sino-Japanese ties at G20 summit

.
A senior Japanese foreign ministry official said last month that Japan was considering hosting the annual trilateral meeting in late August, but a flare-up in Sino-Japanese tensions had stoked worries that the meeting may not take place.

.
Kyodo news agency reported on Monday afternoon, citing Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the foreign ministers will have a dinner reception on Tuesday and their formal meeting on Wednesday.

.
Earlier on Monday, a Japan-based Chinese language media outlet reported that Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had delayed his Monday trip to Tokyo for the meeting.

 

The online news outlet Ribenxinwen.com reported that Wang delayed his trip to Tokyo “because both sides had failed to reach a compromise over how to handle their dispute” over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

.
Japan controls the islands, which they call the Senkakus, but both nations claim sovereignty over the territory.

Chinese fighter ‘flies within 50km’ of disputed Diaoyu Islands

On Sunday, Japan’s deputy foreign minister Takeo Akiba told reporters after attending a working-level meeting with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts in Tokyo that the three sides had failed to fix a meeting of foreign ministers.

.
The working meeting was attended by China’s deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin and South Korea’s deputy foreign minister Kim Hyoung-zhin, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

.
The Chinese government was initially lukewarm about the talks until recently, Yonhap reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

.
Tokyo warns Beijing over Chinese maritime push near Diaoyu Islands

China has sent a record number of ships close to the Diaoyus in recent weeks, putting further strain on ties with Japan.

.
Relations between China and South Korea have also been tested in recent months over Seoul’s decision to deploy an advanced US-developed missile defence shield.

.
Seoul says the system is needed to defend against North Korea’s missile programme, but Beijing says it poses a threat to the China’s security.

.
Additional reporting by Reuters

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2007304/chinas-foreign-minister-puts-meeting-japan-no-agreement

Related:

 

What Trump’s Foreign Policy Gets Right

August 22, 2016

The GOP nominee’s speech last week was a serious contribution, in sharp contrast with Clinton and Obama’s non-strategy.

.

Aug. 21, 2016 6:30 p.m. ET

Had one of Donald Trump’s Republican opponents during the campaign for the GOP nomination given the same speech on combating global terrorism he gave last week, it would have raised few eyebrows. Naturally, competing candidates would have disputed particular points—some vigorously—but the speech’s overall analysis fits well within mainstream conservative and Republican thinking.

Some Trump opponents and supporters alike will be distressed by this news, but the speech visibly sharpens the contradictions with Hillary Clinton, who clearly would continue President Obama’s nonstrategy concerning radical Islam—now confirmed to include paying ransom for hostages. More broadly, the speech underlines why terrorism and other grave national-security threats should take center stage in the presidential race.

Mr. Trump rightly sees an ideological war being waged against the West by a hateful, millenarian obsession targeting core American constitutional and philosophical principles. From that assessment flow several policy consequences, most important the imperative to destroy the terrorist threat rapidly and comprehensively before it kills and maims more innocent people. Mr. Trump correctly argues that, in combating Islamic State, al Qaeda and others, “we must use ideological warfare” as well as stronger military and intelligence operations, and be “a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers.” This strategy is entirely consistent with what Jordan’s King Abdullah II and other Arab leaders characterize as a civil war within Islam.

 

In contrast, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton still believe terrorism is a law-enforcement issue. They fail to grasp the ideological war we are in and therefore refuse to combat the enemy effectively. There were once those who did not see Communism as an ideological threat. They played down their views publicly because U.S. public opinion was overwhelmingly contrary, as Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are doing now regarding terrorism. Mr. Trump should emphatically move the debate about radical Islam into the campaign spotlight. Let’s see who stands where.

Mr. Trump’s speech also demonstrated his willingness to face the hand dealt an incoming president, rather than following ideological abstractions, as Mr. Obama has consistently done. Although Mr. Trump restated his opposition to President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and overthrow of the dictator Saddam Hussein, he nonetheless argues correctly that Mr. Obama’s “reckless” withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011 rested on an “election-driven timetable” that “surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS,” thereby constituting “a catastrophic mistake.”
The wider implications of Mr. Trump’s speech were apparent in the subsequent commentary on two points: The GOP nominee’s immigration views as they intersect with terrorism, and his disdain for “nation building.” Let us take them in turn.

Mr. Trump correctly identified the terrorist threat as fundamentally ideological. It would be inexcusable for America not to combat that ideology in multiple ways, both offensively and defensively. Countering Islamic State’s successful propaganda and recruitment efforts, especially digitally, and exposing them for the barbarians their conduct proves them to be are critical elements of a winning plan.

Confronted with ideological threats, America is entirely justified in raising appropriate immigration protections, which is neither unprecedented nor contrary to existing law. Even now, a central statutory requirement for U.S. naturalization is that applicants be “of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution . . . and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.” That sounds very much like Mr. Trump’s speech, and hardly earth-shaking. Whether existing authorities suffice or whether new legislation is needed is unclear, but the broad policy isn’t.

On nation building, the debate is confused, with many advocates mistakenly conflating it with “intervention.” The two are different. President George H.W. Bush’s November 1992 decision to intervene militarily in anarchic Somalia, and his successor Bill Clinton’s far-different policies, highlight the distinction.

Agree or disagree with President Bush’s Somalia intervention, he precisely defined his limited objective of opening channels for humanitarian supplies. Although the military operations were blessed by the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Bush was always clear that they would be under U.S. command. So fixed was Mr. Bush on the intervention’s limits, he showed remarkable deference to President-elect Clinton by offering to withdraw all American forces by Jan. 20, 1993.

But Mr. Clinton had much grander objectives, namely practicing “assertive multilateralism.” Somalia was his chosen vehicle for nation building. Mr. Clinton’s ambassador to the U.N., Madeleine Albright, praised Security Council action endorsing the president’s nation-building project, saying, “With this resolution, we will embark on an unprecedented enterprise aimed at nothing less than the restoration of an entire country as a proud, functioning and viable member of the community of nations.”

Disaster soon followed. And subsequent American nation-building efforts in other countries fared little better. Although bilateral financial, technical and military assistance can advance U.S. foreign-policy objectives, the local peoples themselves must know what they are about. We can’t do it for them and shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

This foreign-policy reality has been clear since the Marshall Plan. Following World War II, Washington provided assistance in various forms but insisted that European states conduct nation rebuilding, relying on existing legal, political and cultural foundations far stronger than those prevalent in less-developed regions. Mr. Trump isn’t committing heresy by saying America’s recent attempts at nation-building haven’t ended well. He’s telling the truth.

More important, whether Mr. Trump is “interventionist” or “noninterventionist” in his proclivities is really a nonissue, as are academic flights of fancy such as characterizing U.S. “multilateralism” positively and “unilateralism” negatively. These are essentially word games about tools rather than policies, like asking in the abstract “do you favor using a knife or a spoon?” Obviously, the critical question for real policy makers is “to do what?”

National security should be central to the 2016 presidential contest. Mr. Trump’s speech is a serious contribution to that end. He needs to maintain his focus and discipline, and by so doing compel Mrs. Clinton to defend her intention to continue President Obama’s failed polices.

Mr. Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

http://www.wsj.com/articles/what-trumps-foreign-policy-gets-right-1471818609

U.S. Faces Setback in Asia if TPP Trade Deal Doesn’t Pass

August 22, 2016

Obama administration has painted Pacific pact as counterweight to the rise of China

President Barack Obama, center, flanked by Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, holds official talks with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi in May.
President Barack Obama, center, flanked by Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, holds official talks with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi in May. PHOTO: HOANG DINH NAM/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
.

Updated Aug. 21, 2016 8:09 p.m. ET

President Barack Obama’s troubled Pacific-region trade deal is threatening to become a foreign policy failure in Asia, where the U.S. loaded the accord with strategic significance as a counterweight to the rise of China.

U.S. officials have billed the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership for years as central to a shift of U.S. military and other resources to Asia. Now, with opposition toward the pact mounting on both the right and left in Washington, the likelihood of its ratification in Congress appears bleak.

Failure at this point, experts say, would dent U.S. credibility on everything from trade to its commitment to a region where U.S. might has underpinned security since World War II.

“For the simple reason that the U.S. invested so much in it, the deal acquired a kind of totalistic value that goes way beyond its economic merits,” said Euan Graham, a former U.K. foreign officer who studies regional security at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney. “To leave Asian partners hanging now would be disastrous for U.S. leadership in the region.”

The administration continues to hold out hope for the TPP’s passage. “We’re a vote away from either cementing our leadership in the region or handing the keys of the castle to China,” said U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman.

But that argument hasn’t helped solidify backing in Congress, where the pact is opposed by most Democrats and now lacks the support of key Republican lawmakers who have championed the TPP and other trade pacts for years. Both major presidential candidates also have attacked the deal.

Last week, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, former president of the Club for Growth, a bastion of free-market economics, came out against the TPP in a bid to win working-class voters in his close Pennsylvania re-election race.

At the same time, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has said she opposes the pact in its current form, is under increasing pressure from the left to make a clean break with the deal, which she supported while serving as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state.

The U.S. “pivot” to Asia, unveiled in 2011, reflected concern about China’s bid to turn economic might into hard power in a region with growing importance. Tensions have risen, with China testing U.S. military dominance by making claims on the South China Sea and protesting a U.S. antimissile installation in South Korea.

The proposed pact, which was finalized last year, would cut or reduce some 18,000 tariffs for a group of Pacific Rim nations in the Americas, Asia and Oceania—an area accounting for 40% of the global economy.

China, not part of the Trans-Pacific deal, is negotiating a separate Asia pact without the U.S. China is also pledging more regional loans through a new bank and a $40 billion Silk Road fund.

Many trade experts say the Obama administration is exaggerating when it depicts the deal as a make-or-break moment for whether the U.S. or China writes the rules of global trade. The China-backed accord doesn’t create new trade frameworks: It is a run-of-the mill, tariff-cutting exercise, and less ambitious than the TPP. The two pacts aren’t mutually exclusive. Asian nations always intended to join both.

But freighting the TPP accord with geopolitical implications has raised its stakes. “For America’s friends and partners, ratifying [the trade pact] is a litmus test for your credibility and seriousness of purpose,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Washington this month. Observers saw Mr. Lee as speaking for the other Asian signatories: Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, with Indonesia, South Korea and others considering it.

To be sure, the U.S. is deeply integrated with Asia through big trade relationships with China and other economies, as well as defense treaties with nations such as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Such U.S. ties to Asia are unlikely to change, regardless of the trade pact’s fate, many experts say.

But Asian leaders who spent political capital to support the pact will be less likely to do so again if it fizzles, experts say. Smaller countries that balance relationships with both China and the U.S. may doubt the U.S. and become accommodating to Beijing.

“Obama went around convincing countries to do things as part of an effort to show that we can stand up to China in some way,” said Yukon Huang, a former World Bank chief for China and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But now if it doesn’t pass, they will take a much more skeptical approach.”

Take Vietnam, seen as the pact’s big winner, with an estimated 11% boost to its economy by 2025. Four decades after fighting a war, the U.S. and Vietnam are becoming closer amid shared concerns over China’s expansion in the South China Sea, waters Vietnam also claims. This year, the U.S. lifted a ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam. The Communist nation got special exceptions to join the pact.

“We still hope that Obama will be able to ratify the deal during his last months in office,” said Luong Van Tu, Vietnam’s former deputy trade minister.

Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, shown at his official residence in Tokyo in August, has been a strong backer of the TPP trade deal.
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, shown at his official residence in Tokyo in August, has been a strong backer of the TPP trade deal. PHOTO: AKIO KON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

But no one has more at stake than Shinzō Abe, the prime minister of Japan, the closest U.S. ally in the region. Mr. Abe made the pact central to his domestic and foreign strategies—and faced significant opposition from Japan’s powerful farm lobby and other local interests to do it.

Mr. Abe’s “Abenomics” plan to pull the world’s third-largest economy from its long morass relies on the pact as a driver of growth and reform. On the international stage, the deal is also key to Mr. Abe’s broader strategy to contain China by organizing East Asian nations under an umbrella of U.S. economic influence.

If the TPP fails, “there will be a very negative impact from the viewpoint of economic security,” said Yorizumi Watanabe, a former Japanese trade official and professor at Keio University in Tokyo.

The Pacific deal was less of a strategic play when talks began under President George W. Bush. China even considered joining. That changed as China sent more outwardly aggressive signals and the Obama administration adopted it as an economic anchor for a beefed-up Asia strategy.

Ironically, the deal is stumbling now because it became too much about foreign policy and not enough about economic benefits, according to Michael R. Wessel, a member of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

“The argument shifted very early from jobs to the need to support foreign policy goals in the region,” said Mr. Wessel, who has worked for many Democrats, as well as with labor unions that have long opposed trade deals. “Well, the American worker was sick and tired of giving up jobs for foreign policy goals.”

Write to John Lyons at john.lyons@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-faces-setback-in-asia-if-tpp-trade-deal-doesnt-pass-1471814373

South China Sea: China Seems To Have The Upper Hand — “The U.S. seems unable to make any diplomatic, policy or military moves to help out Japan or anybody else” — Diplomat

August 22, 2016

A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves:

DUTERTE TAKES LOW-KEY APPROACH TO DISPUTE WITH CHINA

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said last week that he would not raise maritime disputes with China at a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos next month, preferring to talk quietly with Chinese officials.

“I will only bring the issue when we are together face to face,” he told reporters. “Because if you quarrel with them now and you claim sovereignty, make noise here and there, they might not just even want to talk.”

Duterte has been lukewarm in his support for the international arbitration case filed by his predecessor and has said he was adopting “a softer approach” to resolving the disputes.

He said last week that his special envoy to China, former President Fidel Ramos, is paving the way for possible talks with China.

“Let us create an environment where we can sit down, talk directly, and that is the time when I would say, we proceed from here,” he said.

Ramos flew to Hong Kong earlier this month to meet the Chinese legislature’s foreign affairs chief, Fu Ying, and a leading government-backed scholar on the dispute, and they agreed on the need to reduce tensions through talks.

China welcomed him to visit Beijing for discussions, but the tribunal ruling was not directly discussed, Ramos told reporters. He gave no indication of when any talks might be held.

___

PHILIPPINES RECEIVES COAST GUARD SHIP FROM JAPAN

The Philippine coast guard took possession last week of the first of nine multi-role response vessels being provided by Japan in an effort to boost a chronic shortage of maritime assets amid Manila’s territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

The 44-meter (144-foot) BRP Tubbataha was formally received at the port in the capital, Manila, after having left Japan on Aug. 11 with a dozen officers and sailors on board. The ships are being built by the Japan Marine United Corporation’s Yokohama shipyard.

Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Tubbataha

Alongside the U.S. military’s heightened emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, Japan has been upping its presence in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, partly to counter China’s growing footprint. Aside from their close geographic proximity, the Philippines and Japan are both U.S. treaty partners who are locked in maritime territorial claims with Beijing.

While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton began what was called the “U.S. pivot to Asia.” In this photo, Hillary Clinton talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. on September 5, 2012. Today Hillary Clinton is running to become the next President of the United States and China’s former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.  has been promoted to the number three leadership within the Chinese Communist Party. China seems to be in control of most of the South China Sea and is pressuring all U.S. allies from Japan to Australia to Singapore to ally themselves with China or face consequences.

The Philippines challenged the validity of China’s claims and aggressive actions in the South China Sea after Chinese government ships took control of disputed Scarborough Shoal following a tense standoff in 2012. China, meanwhile, claims sovereignty over a string of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan and has lately stepped-up coast guard activities in the area.

Closer cooperation between Japan and the Philippines is sure to anger China, which suffered from Japanese invasion in World War II and warns constantly of a resurgence of militaristic sentiments within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative government.

___

CHINA, ASEAN AGREE ON RULES GOVERNING SEA ENCOUNTERS

Senior officials from China and Southeast Asian Nations met in northern China last week to agree on rules governing unexpected encounters at sea in hopes of avoiding conflicts.

Representatives from Beijing and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations discussed implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed in 2002.

That agreement was intended to promote “peace, stability and mutual trust in the South China Sea,” but has been largely shoved aside by China’s decision to assert its own claim to virtually the entire strategic water body.

Despite that, all parties say they want to avoid hostile encounters that could spark a larger conflict. The agreed on Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea had already been adopted by several, but not all ASEAN countries, at a meeting in China in 2014.

“The code itself is technical, but applying the code has political significance. It is politically important to prevent potential risks on South China Sea,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told attendees at the meeting in the city of Manzhouli in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region.

China and ASEAN are still discussing a South China Sea Code of Conduct that would more explicitly define rights and obligations among countries with overlapping territorial claims in the crucial water body.

___

CHINA HOLDS LIVE-FIRING EXERCISES IN GULF OF TONKIN

China’s coast guard launched live-firing exercises in the Gulf of Tonkin on Monday, the latest in a series of military drills that come amid a renewed focus on the multinational dispute over maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The Maritime Safety Administration said ships and boats were barred from the area, called the Beibu Gulf by China, from Monday to Wednesday. The gulf lies between China’s southern island province of Hainan and the northeastern coast of Vietnam

China’s navy and air force have held a series of drills in surrounding waters since an international arbitration panel in The Hague issued a ruling last month invalidating Beijing’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, where six governments in all claim territory.

China angrily rejected the ruling and said it would begin flying regular air patrols over the strategic waterway while continuing to develop airstrips, harbors and other infrastructure of military value on man-made islands it controls in the disputed Spratly group.

China also plans joint naval exercises with Russia in the South China Sea next month in a move criticized by the U.S. as harming regional stability.

****************

A Japanese diplomat who wanted to remain anonymous told Peace and Freedom: “The U.S. seems unable to make any diplomatic, policy or military moves to help out Japan or anybody else.”

Related:

.

.
.
.
.

Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, right, with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua pose for a picture during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP
.

.
.
.
.
Pictured: The flags of the ASEAN nations
.
.
.
PLA Air Force H-6 Bomber over Scarborough Shoal. Xinhua photo
.

 (Contains links to many related articles) (The Chinese government seems to be indicating it will take over the East China Sea and deny Japan its claims)

.

Japan protested after China put a radar on this East China Sea natural gas rig. Japan says it has proof. China has not responded.

 (July 11, 2016)

.

 (New York Times Editorial)

 

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign policy, on Wednesday in Beijing, July 9, 2014. Credit Pool photo by Jim Bourg

Our friends in Asia say many diplomats call Yang Jiechi “Stonewall” because nobody ever gets anywhere with him.

.

Photo: U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, left, and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. July 25, 2016. AP Photo

U.S. Conundrum in Syria: Russia, Iran and China Team Up

August 21, 2016

From Sputnik

China’s recent announcement of an increase of its humanitarian support for the Syrian people and that it would provide additional training to the Syrian forces comes as a “headache for the US,” according to the American media.

“As if the multi-party war in Syria weren’t complicated enough, it now appears that the People’s Republic of China has decided to take a more active role in the conflict, providing increased humanitarian assistance and possibly military training to Syrian forces,” says the New York-based news website The Fiscal News.

The website notes that Beijing’s announcement comes just a day after Russia announced that it had launched strikes against Daesh from an airbase inside the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Combined, these two events create a major foreign policy conundrum for the Obama administration, as three of the countries, most resistant to the US on the global stage, appear to be teaming up against a non-state actor that has frustrated the US for years,” it further notes.

This point of view is echoed by The New York Times, which says that Russia now has “the ability to strike from virtually all directions in a region where it has been reasserting its power — from Iran, from warships in the Caspian Sea, from its base in the Syrian coastal province of Latakia and now from the Mediterranean.”

The newspaper however notes that the decision to fly the long-range bombers from Iran rather than from Moscow is even “far more important militarily”: if it continues, this “could result in a more devastating air war over a long period of time.”

The outlet explains that “while both Russia and the US say they share the goal of defeating the Islamic State group (Daesh) in Syria, they are waging parallel but separate wars against the militant group while simultaneously backing opposite sides in the conflict between Russia’s ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and his other opponents, including rebels backed by the US.”

Meanwhile on Wednesday Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that he US has acknowledged that it has been unable to separate the opposition in Syria from terrorists.”Regrettably, our partners in fact acknowledged that they cannot do this,” Lavrov said.

“But we are not making a tragedy out of this. The directions of our work now allow switching to a coordinated and a more efficient cooperation in the fight against terrorists,” Russia’s top diplomat added.

Earlier in August Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said that the US was unprepared to separate terrorist organizations from the moderate opposition in Syria.

“The Syrian government has embarked on the separation of terrorists from the moderate opposition and the civilians.. Our colleagues in Washington were not ready to do for political reasons, and did not intend to do throughout the past months in defiance of the signals and the promises they gave us,” Ryabkov added.

Russian-US partnership in Syria cannot be genuine as long as Washington puts forward additional demands, according to the diplomat.

“We have repeatedly drawn the Americans’ attention to the fact that after each successful round of closed negotiations and after reaching certain agreements, Washington begins putting forward additional requirements that violate the entire balance and prevent progress immediately afterward,” Ryabkov then said.

He added that “there are regular Russia-US contacts along various lines. Both foreign and defense ministries are involved in these contacts.
“We attribute as unflattering the assessments we hear from our American colleagues,” he said.

“Washington has been completely inconsistent in its actions in Syria, putting forward demands to stop fighting terrorists as soon as the Syrian army has achieved real success in fight against terrorists”, Ryabkov said.

As soon as the Syrian government and the armed forces have achieved, with Russian support, a real progress in the fight against terrorists, the Americans began to use unacceptable methods, demanding, in essence, the cessation of the fight against terrorists.

US Secretary of State John Kerry made the promise to separate the groups as part of the understandings underlying the February 22 cease-fire, but never delivered on it.A central issue in the US-Russian cease-fire negotiations in February was the fact that the opposition groups supported by the CIA operate in close proximity to and full cooperation with units of al-Nusra Front.

Last year the former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford (2010-2014), admitted that the Obama administration had long “looked the other way while the [al-]Nusra Front and armed groups on the ground, some of which are getting help from the US, have coordinated in military operations against the regime.”

Now, backed with US weaponry, these same groups are a significant barrier to upcoming peace talks in Geneva.

Source: http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20160820/1044457514/russia-china-iran-syria.html

Related:

.
.
.
 (Obama legacy is the loss of a free South China Sea and the loss of much of the Middle East, Crimea, Ukraine)
.
.
.
.

Russian Tupolev Tu-22 M3 strategic bomber of the Russian Air Force are now taking off from Iran to bomb hospitals and American allies in Syria

.
.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,047 other followers