Posts Tagged ‘China’

Beijing May Have Pressured Malaysia to Stop Democracy Advocate Joshua Wong’s Travel, Speech

May 26, 2015

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Tenacles of China’s financial relationships give it hidden persuasion in many venues.

Student leader Joshua Wong is scolded by government supporters (L) during a promotional event on electoral reform in Hong Kong, China April 25, 2015. REUTERS By TYRONE SIU

KUALA LUMPUR/HONG KONG |

Malaysia on Tuesday denied entry to a prominent teenage Hong Kong activist for a series of talks on democracy in China, raising concerns that Beijing may have put pressure on Kuala Lumpur.

Joshua Wong, 18, was one of the leaders of last year’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that paralyzed key roads in the city for 79 days and presented China’s Communist Party leadership with one of its biggest political challenges in decades.

Wong and other protest leaders were accused by China’s state media at the time of trying to foment a “color revolution” to undermine Beijing’s rule.

He had been invited to Malaysia to participate in academic talks ahead of the 26th anniversary of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square demonstrations and bloody crackdown on June 4.

“I don’t rule out that there is pressure from the Chinese government,” Wong told reporters on arrival at Hong Kong airport.

Wong was detained soon after arriving at the airport on the island of Penang on Tuesday morning, then put on a plane back to Hong Kong soon after. He said a Malaysian immigration official had told him it was a “government order” to deny him entry.

Penang immigration authorities declined immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. The Malaysian Consulate in Hong Kong confirmed that Wong was listed as “not allowed to land” but declined to provide any additional information.

China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong couldn’t be reached for any immediate comment.

“We are still demanding that the government make clear why they stopped Joshua Wong from coming here,” said Malaysian human rights activist Ng Yap-hwa, who helped organize Wong’s visit.

“We’re angry at the government’s actions because there’s no reason that the Malaysian government should stop us from organizing any international talk on the democracy movement.”

In December 2012, Malaysia returned six ethnic Uighurs from China’s restive Western region of Xinjiang, who were seeking asylum from China, Human Rights Watch reported, criticizing Malaysia for putting their lives at risk.

Malaysian authorities discovered and detained another 155 ethnic Uighurs last October. They were transported to Kuala Lumpur airport but it is unclear what happened to them. Uighurs are a Muslim minority from Xinjiang, an area beset by violence that Beijing blames on Islamist militants and separatists.

It is not only Chinese activists that Malaysian authorities have stopped. In 2013, Australian senator Nick Xenophon was refused entry on national security grounds after participating in an illegal street rally for electoral reforms a year earlier.

(Reporting by Anuradha Raghu and Yantoultra Ngui and Shan Kao; Additional reporting byJames Pomfret and Nicole Li; Editing by Clare Baldwin and Nick Macfie)

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From the BBC

Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong became a hero to many protesters in Hong Kong demanding free elections

A student activist who helped run last year’s Hong Kong protests has been denied entry to Malaysia by immigration authorities.

Joshua Wong, 18, had been invited to the country to take part in academic talks on democracy in China.

He was detained shortly after arriving at an airport on the northern island of Penang and sent back to Hong Kong.

The organisers of the event at which Mr Wong was due to speak have demanded to know why he was refused entry.

“We’re angry at the government’s actions,” said Ng Yap-hwa, a human rights activist.

“There’s no reason that the Malaysian government should stop us from organising any international talk on the democracy movement.”

Penang immigration authorities have yet to comment.

‘Government order’

Mr Wong was one of the main leaders of the Hong Kong protests, which saw tens of thousands of demonstrators flood the streets demanding the right to fully free leadership elections.

He was arrested twice and took part in a hunger strike in a bid to force the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to engage in talks about the 2017 election.

Protestors and student demonstrators gather during a demonstration outside headquarters of the Legislative Counsel on 28 September 2014 in Hong Kong

The protests brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for more than two months

His Facebook page showed he had been invited to participate in a series of seminars across Malaysia including one in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Writing on the social networking site he said: “Malaysia’s government doesn’t allow me to enter, now on my way back to Hong Kong.”

Mr Wong said a Malaysian immigration official told him a “government order” had been given to deny him entry.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he had knowledge of the incident,according to news website Malaysiakini.

A spokesman for Hong Kong’s immigration department said the entry of its residents to other countries was “out of the control of the Hong Kong government”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32882510

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How Much of Mainland China Money Will Hong Kong Get?

May 26, 2015

By Shuli Ren

Beijing last Friday announced that retail investors in China can invest in Hong Kong mutual funds starting July 1. The new scheme, termed Mainland Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds, is not unlike the Hong Kong China Stock Connect launched last November.

How much money are we talking about? The hope is of course some of that mainland Chinese money will come to Hong Kong and boost the market here.

The mutual fund connect will have a daily southbound quota of 300 billion yuan ($49 billion), larger than the 250 billion yuan ($41 billion) daily quota allowed on the Stock Connect.

Assuming both quota under the mutual fund connect and the individual stock connect, as well as the $90 billion quota under the Qualified domestic Institutional Investor program (which allows mainland Chinese funds to invest overseas), are used, the total inflow from China will make up of slightly over 6% of Hong Kong’s total market cap.

Checking in on prices, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index jumped 2.9% playing catch-up to Shanghai after a long weekend.

This month, the iShares China Large Cap ETF (FXI) was little changed, the iShares MSCI China ETF (MCHI) gained 0.2%, but the Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI300 China A-Shares Fund (ASHR) advanced 6.8% – and check this out – the Market Vectors China AMC SME ChiNext ETF (CNXT), which benchmarks against smaller, technology stocks, has jumped 24.8%.

See also my earlier blog “China Launches Another Connect, For Mutual Funds: Stocks To Benefit“.

http://blogs.barrons.com/asiastocks/2015/05/25/how-much-mainland-chinas-money-will-hong-kong-get/

Enemies of the State: Beijing Targets NGOs

May 26, 2015

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Fear of foreign infiltration behind a draft law that turns civic groups into security risks

By Andrew Browne
The Wall Street Journal

SHANGHAI—It takes a special kind of courage to run a foreign nonprofit in China these days.

And not just because of the challenge of dispensing humanitarian services across such a vast country, everything from HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns to environmental clean-ups and care for orphans. Regulations are so onerous it’s virtually impossible for many civic groups to operate legally. On top of that, there’s a pervasive suspicion among the authorities that overseas-funded groups are secretly plotting against the regime.

Still, thousands persist, often counting on sympathetic local police and officials to turn a blind eye to infractions.

That kind of indulgence may soon be ending. A Chinese draft law treats the entire sector of foreign nonprofits as potential enemies of the state, placing them under the management of the Ministry of Public Security.

To drive home the point, the law is being readied as part of a package of legislation that also includes a national-security law and an antiterrorism law—and it contains similar language, according to Western legal experts who have studied the texts.

Beijing’s message is clear, says the director of one children’s-education group: “We’re not welcome anymore.”

“It’s insulting,” she adds, asking not to be identified.

China isn’t alone in stepping up pressure on nonprofits. In Cambodia, nonprofits are alarmed by a proposed law that makes connections between NGO funding and money-laundering. Indian authorities have been scrutinizing the finances of the Ford Foundation and have frozen the bank accounts of Greenpeace’s Indian arm.

Chinese children in a village dominated by migrant workers and families on Beijing’s outskirts. Foreign nonprofits are involved in activities from environmental clean-ups to poverty and education programs across China. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

There’s a long history of suspicion about Westerners and their civic works in China: The missionaries who flooded in during the 19th century did so under the protection of gunboats and “unequal treaties” that pried open the country against its will. In the same way, Chinese authorities today cast nonprofits as agents of a new kind of imperialism seeking to undermine Communist ideology. Lurking at the back of their minds are memories of covert CIA activities in Tibet during the Cold War aimed at destabilizing the regime.

Critics say the new law reflects a gathering sense of siege within the administration of President Xi Jinping.

Increasingly, they say, views of America and the West within the leadership are darkening, driven by fears that what state media calls “hostile foreign forces” are infiltrating the country. During last year’s “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong, a Chinese general accused foreigners of whipping up the student unrest, while the nationalist-leaning Global Times railed against “black hands” from abroad.

Foreign nonprofits are widely viewed as a bridgehead for subversion. Intensely suspicious of any networked activity it doesn’t directly control, the government is especially wary of the grants they scatter that have allowed the domestic NGO sector to flourish.

In a preamble, the draft law says its aim is to protect the “rights and interests” of foreign NGOs while “promoting exchange and cooperation.”

But it piles on new layers of bureaucracy. Nonprofits will have to pay tax and hire Chinese accountants to conduct regular audits. They’ll have to go through approved agencies to hire staff and recruit volunteers. To enforce compliance, police will have unchallenged rights to enter offices, seize documents and inspect bank accounts.

The upshot is that smaller operations may have to pack up and leave, say nonprofit workers. Already,individuals have been forced out. Among them was British national Tim Millar who was working to improve legal protections for the disabled. He had to go after police caught him on a visa technicality.

In a U.S.-China relationship marked by constant frictions, people-to-people exchanges have helped keep overall ties on an even keel. But what’s deeply troubling to Western legal experts is the law’s sweeping definition of NGOs—all groups operating outside the scope of government and commerce. This will bring under police watch not just traditional nonprofits but also the activities of foreign colleges and their alumni clubs, sports and artistic bodies and professional associations.

Theoretically, notes Carl Minzner, a professor at New York’s Fordham Law School, it could even complicate trips to China by American high-school marching bands. That’s because even the most innocuous NGO activity will require a Chinese sponsor. Since NGOs are being treated as potential security threats, that won’t be easy.

“This could wreak serious collateral damage on U.S.-China ties,” warns Mr. Minzner.

Some critics believe that the new law reflects a more general anti-Western bias within the leadership.

Fiercely cracking down on advocates of so-called Western values, including human-rights lawyers, academics and bloggers, Mr. Xi is reaching into China’s own Confucian culture, as well as its punitive legal traditions, for solutions to China’s social problems. Just last week he warned that religions must be free from foreign influence.

Taking their cue, authorities are tearing down crosses from the rooftops of Christian churches in Zhejiang province, where pastors and their congregations organize social welfare for the neediest.

Lester Ross, the senior partner at the Beijing offices of law firm WilmerHale calls the draft law “totally egregious,” although he’s hopeful that if authorities hear enough objections they might roll back some of the harsher provisions before it passes, possibly later this year.

Meanwhile, the director of the children’s group is digging in for a long struggle between police and nonprofits, one that could leave a deep mark on Chinese society. She’ll stay on, she says, “until they throw me in jail.”

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

http://www.wsj.com/articles/enemies-of-the-state-beijing-targets-ngos-1432622054

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A crane winching a large red cross from one Guantou’s three domes

A crane winches a large red cross from one of three domes on the Guantou church in Wenzhou, China
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Four bulldozers started demolishing Sanjiang church in Wenzhou on Monday, after six weeks of protests

Four bulldozers started demolishing Sanjiang Christian church in Wenzhou after six weeks of protests

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Southeast Asian Nations Increase Naval Forces Amid Rising Tensions in the South China Sea

May 26, 2015

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Credit Tomohiro Ohsumi — Bloomberg News, via Getty Images

Reuters

SINGAPORE —Southeast Asian nations are prioritising spending on their navies and coastguards amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, but as their capabilities grow, so does the risk that any confrontation in the contested waterway will be harder to contain.

Annual defence spending in Southeast Asia is projected to reach $52 billion by 2020, from an expected $42 billion this year, according to IHS Janes Defence Weekly.

The 10 nations of Southeast Asia are expected to spend $58 billion on new military kit over the next five years, with naval procurement comprising a large chunk, it said.

Much of this equipment is likely to be used in and around the South China Sea, where Beijing’s creation of artificial islands has alarmed some Asian countries and stoked tension between China’s navy and the U.S. air force.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

Warships of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy

“As their capabilities in the maritime space expand, it means the range and lethality of (Southeast Asian) strike forces will also increase,” said Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Asia.

“If there is a confrontation and it escalates, there is a potential for a more lethal conflict.”

The interest in beefing up maritime capabilities was apparent last week at the IMDEX Asia maritime defense show in Singapore, where regional naval chiefs and defense procurement officials mingled with contractors from the United States, Europe, Israel and other parts of Asia.

Mock-ups of state-of-the-art submarines and warships, patrol vessels and amphibious boats as well as surveillance aircraft and drones were all on display.

“I had no free time. Several senior officers visited our stand and were keen on what we had to offer,” said an executive from a major European defence contractor.

It’s not all about geo-politics.

Regional governments are also concerned about piracy and the smuggling of goods and people.

Malaysia and Indonesia have sent their navies out to search for thousands of migrants from mainly Myanmar and Bangladesh who are believed to be adrift at sea.

But while the maritime wish-lists are long, Southeast Asian budgets are tight everywhere except Singapore.

“Military officers are being told to repair and keep using equipment that should have been replaced decades ago,” one regional military source, who declined to be identified, said on the sidelines of the IMDEX show.

An Indonesian military source said the new government of President Joko Widodo was focusing on maritime defense, but that the build-up would take time.

Southeast Asian government sources said there had been a deliberate move to acquire capabilities that allow naval forces to operate more effectively in coastal zones.

After Singapore built six Formidable-class multi-role frigates in partnership with France’s state-controlled naval contractor DCNS, others followed suit, said Richard Bitzinger, a security expert at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Singapore’s Formidable Class Frigate RSS Supreme

Malaysia has ordered six corvettes worth around 9 billion ringgit ($2.50 billion) from DCNS. Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand are also in talks with suppliers from Russia and Europe.

Submarines are also popular.

Vietnam has taken possession of three Russian-built Kilo-attack submarines and has three more on order, something experts say underscores Hanoi’s determination to counter China’s more powerful navy.

Singapore, which has four second-hand submarines, has ordered two from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Indonesia has ordered three from South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding.

“Submarine force development suggests the navies are wary of maritime power projection capabilities in the region,” said Rukmani Gupta, senior armed forces analyst at IHS Janes.

Amphibious ships that can carry tanks, helicopters, troops and perform search and rescue missions are also in vogue.

Singapore’s ST Engineering is building four Endurance-class vessels for Singapore’s navy and one for Thailand, while Indonesia and the Philippines are looking to add similar ships to their fleets.

“These multi-purpose vessels can be fitted for a range of missions. They are ideal for Southeast Asian navies, which have small budgets but a range of needs,” said Huxley.

The Philippines hopes to get by year-end the first of 10 coastguard vessels Japan is building for it. Japan is also supplying used navy patrol boats to Vietnam.

Japan soryu class submarine

There has also been renewed interest in fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that improve maritime patrol capabilities.

Earlier this year at a Malaysian defense show, Boeing promoted its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, which includes the radars and sensors that are on its P-8 Poseidon planes but not its anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

“As Southeast Asian navies add new capabilities for warfighting, any future conflict in the region is likely to be faster, more intense and more lethal, and therefore perhaps more devastating,” Bitzinger wrote in a research paper this month.

P-8 Poseidon

Related:

 (Contains links to related previous articles)

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Technicians talk to the pilots after a successful drill flight. Photo: Tuoi Tre

http://tuoitrenews.vn/features/28222/beholding-vietnams-russianmade-king-cobra-su30mk2-warplanes

Truong Sa Lon Island (An island possession of Vietnam in the South China Sea)

http://tuoitrenews.vn/gallery/detail-gallery/28098

Above: Russian Built Vietnam Navy Kilo-class submarine

Scouting around Vietnamese media, it seems as if there is a meaage being sent to China that reads: “Don’t under-estimate us.”

Japan to join U.S., Australia war games amid growing China tensions

May 26, 2015

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By Matt Siegel
Reuters

SYDNEY — Japan will join a major U.S.-Australian military exercise for the first time in a sign of growing security links between the three countries as tensions fester over China’s island building in the South China Sea.

While only 40 Japanese officers and soldiers will take part in drills involving 30,000 U.S. and Australian troops in early July, experts said the move showed how Washington wanted to foster cooperation among its security allies in Asia.

The Talisman Sabre biennial exercises, to be held in locations around Australia, will encompass maritime operations, amphibious landings, special forces tactics and urban warfare.

“I think the U.S. is trying to get its allies to do more,” said Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

“There is an obvious symmetry between Japan as the upper anchor of the Western Pacific alliance and … Australia as the southern anchor.”

All three nations have said they were concerned about freedom of movement through the seas and air in the disputed South China Sea, where China is creating seven artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, a vital shipping corridor.

Some security experts say China might impose air and sea restrictions in the Spratlys once it completes construction work that includes at least one military airstrip. China has said it had every right to set up an Air Defense Identification Zone but that current conditions did not warrant one.

U.S. and Australian military leaders at Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011

China claims most of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

The Japanese personnel will embed with U.S. forces while 500 New Zealand troops will join Australian contingents, according to the Australian Defense Force website.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani rebuffed suggestions the exercises were aimed at China, telling Reuters that Japan simply wanted to improve military cooperation with the United States and Australia.

Security cooperation between Canberra and Tokyo has already flourished under Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe, with Japan seen as the frontrunner to win a contract to supply next generation submarines to the Australian navy. U.S. commanders have publicly supported such a tie-up.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear highlighted Washington’s goal of boosting cooperation between its allies in testimony to the U.S. Senate this month.

“To expand the reach of these alliances, we are embarking on unprecedented trilateral cooperation,” he said.

“In some cases this cooperation directly benefits our work on maritime security. For example, we’re cooperating trilaterally with Japan and Australia to strengthen maritime security in Southeast Asia and explore defense technology cooperation.”

Winning the submarine deal would be a big boost for Japan’s defense industry and potentially pave the way for the sale of advanced Japanese weapons to countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, which are at loggerheads with Beijing over the South China Sea, experts have said.

Australia also hopes to sign a deal with Japan this year that would smooth the passage of military personnel into one another’s country for joint exercises, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported over the weekend.

Deals such as this would likely become more common as Abbott and Abe push to cement the security ties they have fostered before they leave office, said the Lowy Institute’s Graham.

“There will be more of this, and it’s important in the next couple of years that the relationship beds in because otherwise … you could quickly find it isn’t a self-sustaining relationship,” he said.

Related:

 

 

China beefs up ‘open seas protection’ as it reveals construction of lighthouses in disputed South China Sea

May 26, 2015

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Policy document on military strategy says naval forces will now focus on ‘open seas protection’ as well defending waters off China’s coast

By Andrea Chen
South China Morning Post

China has unveiled a more assertive military strategy with a focus on ‘complicated threats and challenges in the oceans’ on the same day it confirmed the construction of two lighthouses on reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands.

The pledge to increase its navy’s duties from offshore defence to “open seas protection” comes in a white paper released as China is embroiled in a diplomatic spat with the United States over its territorial claims in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, its Ministry of Transport hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef, “so as to improve the navigation safety in the South China Sea”.

US Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech last week that China’s activities in the area, including building artificial islands in waters it lays claim to, are adding to tensions in the region and increasing the risk of conflict.

Senior Colonel Wang Jin told a press conference that the shift in naval strategy was to meet the needs of the times.

“China is faced with complicated threats and challenges in the oceans and needs a navy that can guard its sovereignty and perform multifaceted military missions,” Wang said.

Areas of the South China Sea are claimed by various countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

The white paper highlights four critical security domains, including the ocean, outer space, cyberspace and nuclear weapons.

“The PLA Navy will gradually shift its focus from the sole strategy of offshore waters defence to the combined one of offshore waters defense and open seas protection, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The military’s overall strategy will be “active defence”, Xinhua said.

“We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked,” it quoted the white paper as saying.

The Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said during the press conference that China’s reclamation works in the South China Sea have been subject to media hype recently “only because a certain country sent reconnaissance aircraft to the region more frequently”, adding that some people reported the issue “deliberately and repeatedly”.

“[We] do not rule out the possibility that a certain country is looking for excuses for their further actions [in the regions],” said Yang, adding that PLA’s response to the recent reconnaissance flights was “necessary, lawful, and professional”.

“In terms of sovereign, the constructions on Nansha Island (The Spratly Islands) are no different from any other construction projects across the country,” Yang told the reporters.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1808948/beijing-pledges-increase-range-role-navy-amid-tensions

Rise of the Regional Hegemons — Russia, Iran and China are advancing as the U.S. retreats

May 26, 2015

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China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Photographer Alexander Nemenov for AFP via Getty Images

Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to sell S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran over U.S. objections is more than an embarrassment to the Obama Administration. It is also the latest evidence of an emerging new threat to world order and U.S. security: the rise of authoritarian regional powers.

China, Russia and Iran are taking advantage of American retreat to assert political and (perhaps eventually) military dominance over their corners of the globe. They share a goal of reducing U.S. influence, bending neighbors to their political will, and ultimately using that regional base of power to diminish the global sway of Western democracies, especially the U.S. In addition to the rise of Islamic State, this will be the biggest strategic challenge for the next President.

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Americans can’t say they weren’t warned. Twenty-three years ago, in the waning days of the George H.W. Bush Administration, the Pentagon planning shop published a strategy document that set blocking the rise of regionally dominant powers as one of America’s most important security goals.

The Pentagon’s first two goals were to deter and defeat an attack on the U.S. and strengthen America’s global defense alliances. Then came the warning:

“The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the reemergence of a global threat to the interests of the United States and our allies. These regions include Europe, East Asia, the Middle East/Persian Gulf, and Latin America. Consolidated, nondemocratic control of the resources of such a critical region could generate a significant threat to our security.”

For 20 years and through administrations of both parties, the U.S. managed to contain the emergence of such regional threats. But that containment has broken down in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia during President Obama’s second term. Consider these regions in turn:

• Iran is combining Shiite Islamist revolutionary fervor with traditional Persian imperialism in a bid to become the dominant power across the Middle East. Its militias or proxies already dominate Lebanon and much of Iraq and Syria and are making a play in Yemen.

Tehran has also used its nuclear ambitions brilliantly as a lever to gain Western concessions. Under Mr. Obama’s “framework” accord, Iran is likely to emerge as a nuclear-threshold state free from sanctions with more resources to spend on regional militias and global terrorist promotion.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani

• Perhaps the greatest long-term regional threat is a rising China with its rapid economic growth and desire to restore the Middle Kingdom to what its leaders see as their rightful dominance in East Asia. New Supreme Leader Xi Jinping has jettisoned Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of foreign-policy caution in favor of a new muscular nationalism.

Mr. Xi is fast building China’s military, including a blue-water navy and upgraded nuclear strike force. Beijing has asserted dubious legal claims over territory in the East and South China seas, and it is acting to make such claims a fait accompli. It is building new islands on shoals in international waters that will be air and naval bases to project Chinese power, and then protesting when U.S. planes fly overhead.

The U.S. has countered with a “pivot” to Asia and by seeking to shore up alliances with Japan and in Southeast Asia. But the pivot has not been backed by adequate military resources, and our allies fear Mr. Obama would rather be rid of the burden. As China presses ahead with little resistance, the chance of a military miscalculation or confrontation increases.

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Some readers may concede much of this and say, so what? These powers are merely seeking to dominate their natural spheres of influence, and the U.S. should adjust and accommodate to what is inevitable. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration’s expectation has been that “the international community” will replace receding American power with a new cooperative order working through the United Nations. That hasn’t happened, and it won’t.

Instead we can already see the rising costs and dangers in a world where authoritarians grow in power. These emerging regional hegemons reject democratic values and the post-World War II liberal world order. They view the U.N. and other institutions as a means to check U.S. power not adhere to global norms.

They protect other despots and search for ways to undermine U.S. allies. They can also form alliances with one another, as Russia has with Iran on Syria and by selling its anti-aircraft system to Tehran. Over time regional powers can also become global threats, as Japan and Germany did a century ago, especially if they form authoritarian alliances.

This is the dangerous new-old world that Mr. Obama is leaving his successor. The next President will need an urgent strategy to contain and counter the rising threats.

South China Sea: Philippines Urges China To Stop Damaging Environment and “Bullying Smaller Nations” In Illegal Land Seizure

May 26, 2015

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Filipino environmental activists display placards during a rally outside China’s consular office in Manila on May 11, 2015, against China’s reclamation and construction activities on islands and reefs in the Spratly Group of the South China Sea that are also claimed by the Philippines. The group is accusing China of destroying the fragile ecosystem and livelihood of fishermen during their reclamation project.

Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea despite China’s warnings to its planes, President Aquino said on Monday.

Aquino told reporters there was no declared air defence identification zone by China over what it claimed were parts of its territory in the South China Sea.

“We will still fly the routes that we fly based on international law….We will still exercise our rights over our exclusive economic zone [in the West Philippine Sea],” Aquino said.

Philippine President Aquino

“We know what’s happening, and we have a calculated response to all these incidents that are happening,” he said, adding that “the bottom line is we will defend our rights to the best of our abilities.”

The President also pointed to the disparity in the military strength of China and the Philippines, saying China should not bully a smaller country because it would hurt its image as it tried to build goodwill with its trading partners.

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

Dozens of Chinese dredges and service craft work to build up an island in the South China Sea. The ownership or sovereignty over this islands is confused by overlapping claims by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

China has been reclaiming land around atolls and reefs in the Spratly archipelago to build artificial islands and strengthen its claim to nearly all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea.

Recent satellite images indicate that China has made rapid progress in filling in land around at least seven reefs and in building an airstrip suitable for military use and that it may be planning another.

Warning to aircraft

China has also been challenging Philippine and US aircraft flying over the disputed area, indicating it is moving toward declaring it an air defence identification zone.

On April 25, a Chinese naval vessel used powerful light on a Philippine Navy surveillance plane near Zamora Reef (Subi Reef) in the West Philippine Sea and radioed it to leave “Chinese territory.”

The pilots ignored the Chinese ship’s actions to avoid a confrontation, according to Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

On May 20, the Chinese Navy challenged a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane flying over Philippine-claimed Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) with a CNN news team on board.

“This is the Chinese Navy . . . This is the Chinese Navy . . . Please go away . . . to avoid misunderstanding,” the Chinese radioed the pilots.

There were eight such warnings during the P-8’s flight over Kagitingan, one of the sites of China’s land reclamation in the Spratlys, CNN reported.

In each case, the American pilots replied that they were flying through “international airspace.”

The US Navy released a video of the tense exchange to underscore the United States’ determination to focus global attention on China’s massive land reclamation in the South China Sea.

The United States vowed to keep up air and sea patrols in international waters in the South China Sea despite China’s warnings.

A U.S. Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.

Next US step

The Pentagon also said US surveillance aircraft and naval ships had yet to test China’s territorial claims around the artificial islands it was building in the Spratlys, but that could be “the next step.”

US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel told reporters in Washington that the United States would go further to preserve the ability of all countries to move in international waters and airspace.

“Nobody in their right mind is going to try to stop the US Navy from operating-that would not be a good bet,” Russel said.

A number of lawmakers have urged President Aquino to convene the National Security Council for discussion of the Philippines’ options in the face of China’s increasing assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea, waters in the South China Sea within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone.

The President has refused, saying the Cabinet security cluster and the legal cluster are enough and can adequately deal with the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

PAF Fokker F-27-200 MPA

China has previously warned off Philippine Air Force Surveillance Aircraft from the same area patrolled by the U.S. P-8. President Aquino says these flights will continue.

PH strategy

In his talk with reporters on Monday, Aquino also cited his consultations with the heads of other government agencies on the formulation of the Philippines’ strategy in the West Philippine Sea dispute.

“All of these decisions, although I am supposed to be the main architect [of] foreign policy, we have tried to get as many voices from the different branches of government to have different perspectives and come up with the best solution to this problem,” Aquino said.

When asked about what coordination the Philippines is having with its military ally, the United States, to deal with the West Philippine Sea problem, Aquino said the two countries were helping each other but that he could not disclose details.

“Even in basketball, you don’t reveal all your moves to the other coach,” Aquino said.

UN arbitration

The Philippines has taken the dispute to the United Nations arbitral tribunal, and is waiting for a ruling that will clarify the entitlements of the claimants to territory in the South China Sea.

Besides China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim parts of the South China Sea, a strategic waterway crisscrossed by sea-lanes through which $5 trillion in global trade passes every year.

All claimants but Brunei have military facilities on the Spratly islands they control.

The islands, reefs and atolls in the Spratlys are also believed to be sitting atop vast oil and gas reserves.

China insists it is entitled to keep watch over airspace and seas surrounding the artificial islands it is building in the Spratlys, saying it has “undisputed sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/aquino-philippines-defy-china#sthash.2ytFl2Sz.dpuf

Related:

 (Contains links to several previous articles)

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Experts say the dispute is over huge reserves of oil and natural gas below the South China Sea, food security and fishing, plus who controls the air and sea routes in Asia. Some say this is China’s move to end U.S. dominance and start a new global order and is a key part of China’s new Silk Road initiative.

Anti-China riots ripped across Vietnam in May 2014 as the people became aware of China’s illegal land grab in the South China Sea.

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Photo provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines shows construction on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef in the Spratly Islands.

China’s newly built runway and buildings still taking shape on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea. It is not at all clear that China owns this land….

South China Sea and West Philippine Sea has more frequent visits from Chinese tourists.

Divers who went down to visit a sunk World War II era Japanese warship off the coast of Palau were surprised to find that someone had recently erected a large Chinese national flag.

Chinese tourists and sports fishermen have been observed harvesting protested species

Image: Chinese fishing vessels are seen anchored at Fiery Cross Reef — part of the Spratly islands — and under the watchful eye of China’s navy. There is a huge economic aspect of China’s interest in the South China Sea. Immense reserves of petroleum and natural gas are below the South China Sea and the sea itself is teeming with marine life and other foods valuable to the Chinese. The islands in this region are claimed partially or in their entirety by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei. AFP photo

The Philippines tries to resupply a Philippine Marine platoon posted at Ayungin Shoal onboard BRP Sierra Madre on March 29, 2014. The larger ship in this image is a Chinese ship trying to interfere with the smaller Filipino re-supply boat.

Screenshot of a Chinese Coast Guard vessel ramming a Vietnamese vessel in May 2014

Related:

In 2009, China published the so-called “nine dash line”: a line on a map submitted to the United Nations that demarcated Chinese territory in the South China Sea. China bases this claim on historical maps and statementsgoing back as far as the third century A.D.

All in all, the nine-dash line claims 1.35 million square miles, approximately 90 percent, of the South China Sea as Chinese territory. Much of this territorial grab, in addition to claiming what were previously international waters, conflicts with competing territorial claims from Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Brunei.


(Anson Chan said “I think it is important for the United States to pay attention to what is happening in Hong Kong — if only as an indication of how Beijing regards its international treaty obligations.”)

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

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

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

 

China Land Seizure Gets Rough: Woman ‘dragged out of shower’ — disabled uncle beaten and house demolished

May 26, 2015

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Family allege disabled relative also assaulted during eviction in Changsha, according to newspaper report

By Laura Zhou
South China Morning Post

A woman in central China has claimed that her mother was dragged out of the shower and her disabled uncle beaten when officials evicted them from a family home late one night earlier this month, according to a newspaper report.

The woman alleged that dozens of officials removed family members from the house owned by her 80-year-old grandmother in Changsha in Hunan province, the Legal Evening News reported.

Her mother, uncle and his wife were locked in an office nearby while the house was pulled down, the report said.

The family also allege that the tomb of the grandmother’s husband was destroyed during the demolition.

The report did not say why the house was demolished or what developers were planning to build on the site.

A government official in the Tianxin district government said they were investigating the incident on May 14, the newspaper reported.

Disputes over land seizures, evictions by the local authorities to make way for building work and rows over compensation are regularly reported by state media in China.

China’s Army Plays Down South China Sea Island-Building — Says U.S. is smearing China’s military

May 26, 2015
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BEIJING — May 26, 2015, 4:11 AM ET

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