Posts Tagged ‘China’

China steps up regulation of paid search results, search engines

June 25, 2016


The Associated Press

BEIJING — China has issued new regulations demanding search engines clearly identify paid search results, months after a terminally-ill cancer patient complained that he was misled by the giant search engine Baidu.

The Cyberspace Administration of China on Saturday announced the new regulations, which also ban search engines from showing subversive content and obscene information. Such prohibitions have been long in place.

It is the first time China explicitly regulates paid search results. The administration says search engines must review the qualifications of paying clients, clearly identify paid results, and limit the number of paid results on a web page.

Wei Zexi complained he was led to questionable and expensive cancer treatments after searching on Baidu. He later died.

North Korea: “It’s the United States that caused this issue.” — “They have to stop their military threats, sanctions and economic pressure.”

June 24, 2016


North Korea: We Won’t Abandon Nukes With US Gun to Our Head

The Associated Press

Jun 24, 2016, 3:47 PM ET

PYONGYANG, North Korea — The top North Korean official for U.S. relations told The Associated Press on Friday that his country is now a nuclear threat to be reckoned with, and Washington can expect more nuclear tests and missile launches like the ones earlier this week as long as it attempts to force his government’s collapse through a policy of pressure and punishment.

“It’s the United States that caused this issue,” Han Song Ryol, director-general of the department of U.S. affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in his first interview with an American news organization since assuming the post three years ago. “They have to stop their military threats, sanctions and economic pressure. Without doing so, it’s like they are telling us to reconcile while they are putting a gun to our forehead.”

Han defended the North’s test-launching on Wednesday of two medium-range ballistic missiles. Foreign military experts believe that, once perfected, such missiles could deliver nuclear warheads to U.S. bases in Japan and possibly to major U.S. military installations as far away as the Pacific island of Guam, where long-range U.S. Air Force bombers are deployed.

Kim Jong Un with North Korean fighter pilots

The tests indicated technological advances in the North’s missile capabilities. They were quickly condemned by Washington, Tokyo and Seoul as a “provocation” and a violation of United Nations resolutions.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said U.S. policy calling for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula hasn’t changed.

“The capabilities that the DPRK continues to pursue are doing nothing obviously to get us to that goal,” he said. “We urge the North to take the necessary steps to prove that they’re willing to return to the six-party talk process, so that we can get to that goal.”

Han dismissed the criticism, saying North Korea has no choice but to build up its military deterrent as long as the world’s largest superpower — and the country that first developed nuclear weapons — remains an enemy. He noted that the U.S. recently deployed nuclear-powered submarines and strategic bombers capable of dropping nuclear weapons on North Korea to the region, and earlier this year conducted training for precision airstrikes on North Korea’s leadership, along with simulations of an advance into the capital, Pyongyang, with the South Korean military during joint annual exercises.

“This launch was a significant and novel step that my country must take to produce a powerful nuclear deterrent,” Han said. “The real provocation is coming from the United States. … How can my country stand by and do nothing?”

Han said North Korea has never recognized a longstanding United Nations Security Council ban on its testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles, though the world body has ratified the resolutions and imposed heavy sanctions on North Korea for continuing them — including a round of new sanctions imposed after its latest nuclear test in January. North Korea says that test was its first of an H-bomb.

“The United States must see correctly the trend of the times and the strategic position of (North Korea) and must withdraw its hostile policy,” he said in the hour-long interview at the Foreign Ministry, located next to Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang. “My country is a nuclear state. In the past, my country has been threatened by the United States with its nuclear weapons, but I can now say proudly that the United States is being threatened by my country’s nuclear weapons.”

He held out the possibility of dialogue with the United States, but only if Washington agrees to “drop its hostile policies,” replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War with a lasting peace treaty, and withdraw its troops based in South Korea.

None of those proposals is new. North Korea has repeated them for years, but they have gotten virtually no traction in the U.S., which has instead stood by its own demand that North Korea show a willingness to give up its nuclear program before any meaningful talks can begin.

Han, who formerly served at North Korea’s United Nations mission and lived in New York, said it would require “political resolve” in Washington to change its policies toward North Korea. “There are many measures that the United States can take,” he said. In response, he said, North Korea is willing to follow suit, regardless of what has happened in the past.

But until that happens, he said, there are “clouds of nuclear war” on the Korean Peninsula.

Han said North Korea has only grown stronger under the “strategic patience” policy of the Obama administration, which focuses on sanctions and military pressure to weaken and isolate North Korea and has brought talks between the two countries to a virtual standstill. The policy was initiated after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in 2009. It has conducted two more nuclear tests since then and launched rockets that carried satellites into orbit, but which share technologies that could be used to produce rockets with warheads to strike the U.S. mainland.

“Day by day our country is becoming stronger, especially the military capacity,” he said. “It is natural that many Americans, including the critics, say that strategic patience is a failure. It gave a lot of time to my country to strengthen. So if the United States does not change its policy, which is based on the collapse and overturn of my country, without accepting it as a nuclear state, any policies in the future are fated to fail as well.”

He said he is not optimistic the election of a new U.S. president in November will bring much change.

“Since the founding of our country the United States has refused to accept our country as a sovereign state,” he said. “My country will be focusing on the new administration. But we don’t think it will change its policy, so we are preparing ourselves to deal with its policy to overturn our country … I can see dark clouds hanging over the sky of the Korean Peninsula.”

He said that as long as those dark clouds remain, Washington can expect more nuclear tests and missile launches.


Associated Press

Can Donald Trump and Paul Ryan Get Together on The Winning Agenda?

June 24, 2016

The two sovereigns in the House of Ryan and the family of Trump can hang together or they surely are going to hang separately.

Credit Lucas Jackson for Reuters

Could There Be a Trump-Ryan Condominium?

The Wall Street Journal
June 22, 2016 6:44 p.m. ET
“A Condominium envisions the joint exercise of sovereignty over a single piece of territory, often arising when two sovereigns cannot agree on the boundary between two territories which each controls alone.”

—UCLA Journal of International Law

The Republican presidential campaign is locked up because two sovereigns cannot agree.

Let us first hear from Paul Ryan, the sovereign known as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, on the subject of voting for what he called “a very unique nominee”: “The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience.”

Standing opposite on the Republican battlefield is Donald J. Trump, presumptive nominee of the GOP. Of the Ryan conscience alliance he says: “You know, the Republicans, honestly folks, our leaders, our leaders have to get tougher. This is too tough to do it alone. But you know what, I think I’m going to be forced to. I think I am going to be forced to.”
Consider the balance of forces between these two.

Paul Ryan leads a Republican House delegation that represents 247 congressional districts across the U.S. These men and women embody millions of individual voters.

Donald Trump, as he often notes, accumulated about 14 million votes from Republicans and independents in the presidential primaries.

One hesitates to call this a Mexican standoff. Still, no truer axiom exists today than that these two political bastions, the house of Ryan and the family of Trump, must hang together or they will hang separately.

Running by himself, as he is now, Mr. Trump is surely headed for the cliff. Landing atop him in historic ignominy will be Republican control of Congress.

The moment has come for a Trump-Ryan condominium.

The basis for the deal is lying in plain sight. It is the elements of Mr. Ryan’s House Republican policy agenda on the economy, taxes, energy, national security, health care and, yes, poverty.

Let us be clear about the current baseline: Donald Trump cannot win with what he’s doing now—running on little money and less policy.

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s substantive tank has run so low that as far as I can tell, he hasn’t mentioned “the wall” in about a week. The wall helped get him to this point, but it won’t be enough to get him to Pennsylvania Avenue.

He needs more to run on, and he needs it fast, before the Cleveland convention and its growing delegate rebellion.

The Ryan House agenda, “A Better Way,” is complete, published in short and long versions, and is the explicit consensus of the Republican Party, the party Mr. Trump promised to unify.

The House agenda is the Trump Rosetta Stone. It is an off-the-shelf template for getting through the next five months. It is a way for the party’s nominee and its stressed-out candidates to sing from the same hymnal rather than threaten to stab each other in the back.

Rosetta Stone

If Donald Trump doesn’t like the House sections on free trade, he doesn’t have to sing those parts. At least 90% of the ideas—which many House Republicans worked on, argued over and produced—would be common ground between them and Mr. Trump.

We’ll elaborate on just one element, which could cause anxiety among Democrats—poverty.

It’s long been thought that any Republican who could pull more than 15% of the black vote would put his Democratic opponent on thin ice. Black Americans, especially younger black Democrats, are disaffected. The Obama economy has been harder on them than on anyone.


The Ryan-House poverty proposal is about one idea: upward mobility, about not getting stuck for generations in the same welfare dead end. Donald Trump should deliver the Trumpian version of the House’s ideas on getting ahead to black voters in tough states. That’s what Chris Christie did in New Jersey and Bruce Rauner did in Illinois—and what Mitt Romney did not do in 2012.

There is also a crude case for a Trump-Ryan peace agreement: It can be the basis for fundraising. Big contributors aren’t losers. They got on the donor A-list because they succeeded at something in private life. Those people won’t give money without some concrete idea of what the Trump game plan is.

Absent a common policy agenda to normalize fundraising, these donors will transfer their money to a parallel Republican campaign to save the Senate or the House. They will let Mr. Trump sink, which he will without party support.

Donald Trump says he’ll rely on the Republican National Committee’s in-state campaign machinery. But the operations that those states and Reince Priebus created for 2016 are all treading water. Volunteers in a Virginia, Ohio, Florida or Colorado need something to talk about on doorsteps beyond stop Hillary and make America great again. The House Republican agenda is already printed up, with bullet points.

The Trump-Ryan condominium would finally put a GOP presidential campaign in forward motion. At least half the country’s voters think that moment is overdue.

Write to


Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to then Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Ji on September 5, 2012 (China got the South China Sea)

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov press a red button symbolizing the intention to “reset” US-Russian relations in March 2009. Photo: AP (Russia got Crimea, half of Ukraine, and Syria)

 (June 3, 2016)

Kremlin insider tells Al Jazeera that Moscow is considering sending special forces to fight against Syrian rebel groups.

U.S. Economy, Obama Legacy


 (Read the Associated Press report cited above)

 (Experts say this has added to the “burden” the government places upon businesses.)

American wages remain at 1997 levels as recovery fails to lift middle class

Will China Cash In On Brexit?

June 24, 2016


© AFP / by Benjamin Carlson | Brexit is a possible boon for China, say analysts

BEIJING (AFP) – Britain’s decision to quit the world’s largest single market presents China with a golden opportunity to seek better business terms with a more isolated UK, analysts said Friday, pointing out that London has not had its own trade negotiators for 40 years.

“Now that the referendum has happened, I would imagine that China will be quick to seize the opportunities,” Guy de Jonquieres, senior fellow at the European Centre for International Political Economy, told AFP.

If a departing Britain fails to secure good trade terms with the European Union or other potential partners, he said, it would be ‘very vulnerable’ negotiating with China.

London and Beijing have both proclaimed a new “golden era” of relations between the former imperial power — whose forces repeatedly invaded China in the 19th century — and the rising Asian giant, now the world’s second-largest economy.

Last year two-way trade between them reached $78.54 billion according to Chinese Customs — almost 14 percent of China’s total business with the EU — with the Asian country enjoying a surplus of more than $40 billion.

A falling pound will of itself make Chinese exports more expensive in Britain.

But since entering the European Union in the 1970s Britain has had no trade negotiators, said de Jonquieres, noting that London’s eagerness to court China would give it ?no leverage? with Beijing.

“The British government has acted in a way that suggests it is prepared to a large extent to woo China hard if not indeed to dance to China’s tune,” he added.

“The idea that Britain on its own could negotiate a deal that gives it better access to China?s market is implausible.”

Geo-strategically, he said, it was “an extraordinary opportunity to peel off a very close US ally, in fact the closest US ally in Europe”.

– Chance for bargains –

Many foreign firms setting up in Britain in recent decades have done so partly to gain access to European markets, a benefit which could come under threat following Brexit, with clouds of uncertainty hanging over their future relationship.

“It will be hard for (China), as an investor, to consider and make strategies for the EU and Britain as a whole in future like how it did before,” Cui Hongjian, director of department for European Studies at China Institute of International Studies, told AFP.

But Chinese investors are very “acquisition oriented” and will be looking out for bargains, said Christopher Balding, professor of political economics at Peking University HSBC Business School.

British finance minister George Osborne — a prominent Remain campaigner whose political future is now in doubt — has long sought to promote London as a hub for international trading of China’s yuan currency.

Britain was the first Western country to issue yuan-denominated sovereign debt and China?s central bank issued its first offshore yuan denominated note in London in 2015.

But ahead of the vote John Goodrich, an editor for Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, wrote on its website: “An exit from the EU would likely jeopardise that status.”

London had the largest pool of yuan deposits in Europe, he said, “but the strength of the city as a financial hub outside the European Union is uncertain”.

– Ruled the world –

Beijing respects the referendum result and was looking to the ?strategic long-term perspective? in its relationship with Britain and the EU, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday, adding: ?A prosperous and stable Europe serves the interests of all.”

But hours after the vote a commentary on the website of the state-run China Daily newspaper estimated it would take 500 British officials 10 years to negotiate a new trade deal with China.

While the two countries have knitted closer economic ties there have been bumps in the relationship, and last month Queen Elizabeth II was caught on camera saying some Chinese officials were ‘very rude’ during a state visit last year by President Xi Jinping that drummed up billions in Chinese investment.

Britain?s departure from the EU should prompt ‘more cooperation’ with China, Liang Haiming, chief economist of a Chinese investment company, wrote in the state-run Global Times days before the vote.

“The nation that once ruled the world” had “become less influential today”, and would need to look to China for mutual assistance “in the global landscape”, he said.

“So is it really bad for China if the UK withdraws from the EU?”

by Benjamin Carlson

China-led bloc keeps Iran at arm’s length despite Russian backing

June 24, 2016


The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a China-led security bloc, refused to initiate Iran’s accession on Thursday despite a request from Russia which backs Tehran’s bid, indicating possible divisions between Beijing and Moscow.

The bloc has served a platform for Moscow and Beijing to project influence in the region. But unlike Russia, China may be reluctant to give it a strong anti-Western flavor.

Iran has long knocked at SCO’s door and Russia has argued that with Western sanctions against Tehran lifted, it could finally become a member of the bloc which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders in 2015

“The Russian position is clear in its support of initiating the SCO admission process (for Iran) without delays, if possible,” Bakhtiyor Khakimov, a special SCO envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters as leaders of the bloc’s member countries met in Uzbekistan.

“We failed to reach an agreement with our colleagues this time, but the work continues.”

Khakimov said there were no objections to the idea “in principle”, but there were “technical nuances” related to the timing. He did not name the objecting parties.

A Chinese diplomat who also spoke to reporters in Tashkent on Thursday declined to comment on Iran’s bid. But Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, who visited Uzbekistan last month for a lower-level SCO meeting, said Beijing wanted to focus on the ongoing accession of India and Pakistan before moving on.

(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin and Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Taiwan Leader Makes 1st State Visit as China Keeps Watch

June 24, 2016

The Associated Press

June 24, 2016

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen departed Friday on her first overseas trip since taking office last month, amid speculation that China may seek to tighten its diplomatic stranglehold on the self-governing island it claims as its own territory.

Tsai left on separate visits to allies Panama and Paraguay, stopping in Miami on the way and in Los Angeles on the way home. She is due to attend the formal opening of new ship locks on the Panama Canal before delivering a speech to Paraguay’s parliament on Tuesday.

President Tsai Ing-wen.  Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with just 22 nations as a result of China’s efforts to isolate the island. Most allies are in Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.

Speaking ahead of her departure, Tsai said the main goal of her visit was to “raise Taiwan’s international visibility” and strengthen economic and trade relations with the country’s diplomatic partners in Latin America. She also stressed that Taiwan’s foreign relations should encompass countries that don’t recognize the island as well as non-governmental actors.

“Making friends should not be limited to official diplomatic relations,” she said.

Meetings with heads of state from Taiwan’s diplomatic allies could be especially important at a time when some observers see China preparing to increase its diplomatic pressure in order to compel the independence-leaning Tsai to explicitly endorse Beijing’s stance that Taiwan is part of China.

A renewed effort to win away Taiwan’s remaining allies, primarily through offers of economic assistance, would be an indication that China plans to get tough on her administration.

China in March established formal diplomatic ties with the small African nation of Gambia, which had severed relations with Taiwan in 2013. That was seen as a move toward abandoning the unspoken diplomatic truce between the sides that lasted for eight years under Tsai’s China-friendly predecessor.


Tsai on first state visit; many dissatisfied over status

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter
Taipei Times

With President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) set to embark on her first overseas state visit today, a survey published by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation yesterday showed that more than 60 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with Taiwan’s international status and diplomatic situation.

The survey, conducted from Sunday to Tuesday, sought to gauge public opinion on the nation’s foreign relations since former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) left office.

Of those polled, 61.4 percent said they were not content with the nation’s current global status and diplomatic situation, compared with 31.6 percent who expressed the opposite opinion.

While the majority of Taiwan’s 22 diplomatic allies are small countries in Africa, the Southern Pacific or Central and South America, the majority, or 56.3 percent, of respondents said that the number of diplomatic allies Taiwan has plays a significant role in the nation’s survival and development.

About 38 percent said the figure was of little importance, while 5.4 percent had no opinion, the poll found.

“It means that should Beijing decide to launch a diplomatic war, it would still strike a nerve with most Taiwanese,” the foundation said.

With regard to Ma’s oft-touted “viable diplomacy” policy, which essentially required Taiwan to obtain approval from China before making any diplomatic efforts, 54.4 percent of respondents said they did not support such a policy, while 35.1 percent said otherwise.

Amid Beijing’s persistent attempts to isolate Taiwan in the international arena, 61.6 percent of those polled said that the nation should aggressively fight for more international space, regardless of China’s reactions, with 33.8 percent opposing such an approach.

The poll found that 78.2 percent of respondents disagreed with Ma’s perceived prioritization of cross-strait ties over foreign relations, saying that Taiwan should not suspend its efforts to improve its international status, such as joining the UN and encouraging the president to make overseas state visits, simply to avoid irritating China.

On the politically sensitive issue of Taiwan’s long-term goal of joining the UN, between 76.8 percent and 84.8 percent of the respondents supported the nation’s continued endeavors to join, regardless of opposition from China, the US or both.

Nearly 50 percent of respondents found use of the nation’s official title “Chinese Taipei” in the international community acceptable, compared with 45.4 percent who disliked the appellation.

Should the nation be given the opportunity to choose its title in the international arena, 53.4 percent of those polled preferred the name Taiwan, followed by the Republic of China (ROC) at 31 percent and Chinese Taipei at 8.7 percent.

The telephone-based survey collected 1,077 valid samples. It has a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of 2.98 percentage points.

The Fight Inside China Over the South China Sea

June 24, 2016


Even Beijing isn’t sure what it wants. Small wonder regional tensions are flaring.

The Fight Inside China Over the South China Sea

With a decision from an international ad hoc tribunal tasked with reviewing China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea looming, regional tensions are running high. A key problem is that no nation involved in the current round of tension — not even China itself — has a crystal-clear view of what exactly Beijing is trying to achieve in the South China Sea. That’s because three different schools of thought are each struggling for dominance in Chinese analytical and policy-making circles. A look at the debate within China helps explain the lack of effective communication and the rise of strategic distrust between China, Southeast Asian nations with competing claims, and the United States.

China’s leaders — from President Xi Jinping to Foreign Minister Wang Yi to military leaders like Admiral Sun Jianguo — repeat the well-worn lines that the South China Sea islands have always been Chinese territory, China’s actions are legitimate measures to safeguard its own sovereignty, China will not pursue expansive policies beyond legitimate territorial claims, and limited military installations on newly built islands are for defensive purposes. Some countries in ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), however, find these explanations unconvincing, feel threatened by China’s island-building, and therefore want the United States to check Chinese power. Some U.S. officials have claimed that China is seeking “militarization” in the region, or even “hegemony.”

But in reality, it’s not at all clear that China itself really knows what it wants to achieve in the South China Sea. Broadly speaking, there are three schools of thought among Chinese analysts about optimal policies toward the region: let’s call them realists, hardliners, and moderates. Chinese academic publications, media reports, and online opinions offer a glimpse into these different views. Since last year, I have also talked to a large number of Chinese scholars, government officials, and ordinary citizens. These three camps are representative of the diversity of Chinese views, although they are certainly not exhaustive of all the different views.

Because of the intensity of current tensions, Chinese analysts are under pressure to reflect vague government talking points, and sharp criticisms are rarely aired. This may explain why the outside world has commonly missed those debates. But in fact, China’s domestic debates about the South China Sea are of major importance for understanding the future directions of Chinese policy.

China’s realists believe that the fundamentals of China’s current South China Sea policy are sound, with no adjustment needed.

China’s realists believe that the fundamentals of China’s current South China Sea policy are sound, with no adjustment needed. They recognize the diplomatic and reputational costs incurred, but tend to slight them because they value China’s physical presence and material capability much more highly than its image abroad. Their belief is underpinned by a crude realist understanding of international politics: material power — and not ephemeral (and in any case un-measurable) factors such as reputation, image, or international law — is the decisive factor in international politics. They thus think time is on China’s side, as long as China can manage its rise. This kind of realpolitik thinking now dominates China’s South China Sea decision-making.Realists think they are safeguarding China’s national interests by enhancing its material presence in the South China Sea. But they are uncertain about what to do with the newly constructed islands. Should Beijing push for a new round of military installations including placing offensive weapons systems, or are defensive equipments really sufficient for the status quo? Realists want power in the South China Sea, yet are unsure how much power is enough.

A second school of thought — the hardliners — provides alarming answers to the questions realists haven’t yet answered. Not only do they think China should present the seven new islandsconstructed out of existing features, including Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef — as faits accomplito the outside world, but China should further expand its territorial and military reach in the South China Sea. Such expansion could include: building the islands into mini-bases, conquering some if not all of the features currently under other countries’ control, or turning the Nine-Dash Line map, first published in 1947 and which now serves as Beijing’s legal basis for its claims in the South China Sea, into a territorial demarcation line, thus claiming most of the South China Sea’s territorial waters for China.

Hardliners have no regard for the concerns and anxieties of the outside world; they wish only to maximize China’s self-interest.

Hardliners have no regard for the concerns and anxieties of the outside world; they wish only to maximize China’s self-interest.It is clear that some international media reports about China claiming 90 percent of the South China Sea are actually describing this, and only this, school of thought inside China. The good news is that this view does not yet dominate high-level decision-making. Hardliners within government are usually found in the military and law enforcement agencies. A maximalist policy toward the South China Sea would certainly serve their parochial bureaucratic interests. But hardliners also reside in the Chinese general public, the vast majority of which only has a superficial and impressionistic view of the South China Sea situation. Grassroots hardliner calls for assertiveness are based on emotional nationalism, not a studied consideration of China’s interests.

The difference between the hardliners and the realists is that, while the hardliners’ views are also based on realpolitik, there is an additional underpinning of hyper-nationalism, making accommodation with other countries especially difficult. Although the hardliners are not dominating current policy, the leadership cannot easily ignore or dismiss them for fear of stoking popular nationalism, a grassroots force which can easily spin out of control.

The third group, the moderates, believe it’s time for China to adjust its policy to clarify, if only gradually, its goals in the South China Sea. Moderates recognize that Beijing’s current ambiguity about its territorial claims and strategic design is feeding the outside world’s fear and distrust. They fault the government for failing to provide a compelling strategic narrative and promote effective communication with the outside world. China’s habitual just-do-it approach when it comes to major strategic decisions such as island building is actually harmful to its own self-interest. By forgoing any attempt to legitimize island-building, it ensures international suspicion of rather than sympathy for China’s actions.

Moderates argue that China needs to gradually clarify the Nine-Dash Line. Maintaining deliberate ambiguity would simply make the map a historical burden and an unnecessary obstacle to reaching diplomatic compromise. In their view, it is counterproductive to interpret the map as a territorial demarcation line, because doing so would make China an adversary of most Southeast Asian states as well as the United States. Were China to go down this path, they argue, it would eventually face the ominous danger of strategic over-stretch. The biggest problem for China, the moderates observe, is that it lacks a clear and effective strategy for the South China Sea.

The moderates differ much from the realists and the hardliners. But the three share an extremely important area of agreement: the necessity of island-building.

The moderates differ much from the realists and the hardliners. But the three share an extremely important area of agreement: the necessity of island-building.During my extensive conversations with leading Chinese scholars and government officials since last year, I have not come across a single person who would say island building is a mistake. They may give different reasons for construction and offer different assessments of the consequences, but they all believe that this is something China must do, sooner or later. These reasons range from the more strategic to the more mundane; from establishing a strategic foothold in the South China Sea to providing better living conditions for Chinese personnel stationed there. But they all feel that given the current stage of China’s rise, Beijing must establish a presence in the South China Sea commensurate with its newfound power and status, especially since most other claimant states already have decades-old presences in the region.Members of the international community have repeatedly criticized China’s island-building. But given the apparent national consensus inside China, and also given the fact that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea does not strictly proscribe building on existing maritime features, is it a good policy to keep targeting island building activities themselves? Wouldn’t it be in every nation’s interest to move on to the more strategic question of creating a new but stable regional status quo?

A new status quo demands China clarify its strategic intentions. Right now, not even the Chinese leadership has a clear answer to that question. Among the three schools analyzed above, only the extreme hardliners have a quick, but highly destabilizing, answer. The rest of China is debating what China’s strategy toward the South China Sea should be. This is an important fact. It suggests that China’s South China Sea policy has not hardened yet, and is thus malleable.

The international community — especially the United States and ASEAN — should create favorable conditions for shaping China’s policy toward a more conciliatory and cooperative direction. In particular, they should help raise the importance of the moderates in Chinese decision-making, turning them from a minority view to a majority consensus. The unfortunate effect of some of the rhetoric from U.S. officials about Chinese “hegemony” in East Asia is to confirm the hardliners’ view that the United States wants to contain China, thus undermining the moderates’ position within China’s domestic debate. Among the three schools discussed above, only hardliners unequivocally seek some sort of military hegemony. If American officials take this view as China’s national policy, they will simply talk past their more moderate Chinese interlocutors, creating a potentially dangerous communication gap between the two sides.

For its part, China needs to clarify its policy goals and reassure its neighbors, as well as the United States. A veteran Chinese diplomat recently told me that Chinese diplomacy is currently in its “adolescence.” But a rising China with regional and global responsibilities needs to learn quickly to become an adult.



Indonesia’s President Widodo sails to South China Sea on warship — Just To Send China A Message on Sovereignty

June 23, 2016

The Associated Press

In this photo released by the Indonesian Presidential Office, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, third right, accompanied by, from left to right, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Navy Chief of Staff, Adm. Ade Supandi, top security minister Luhut Panjaitan, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and Riau Islands Governor Nurdin Basirun stands on the deck of navy warship KRI Imam Bonjol, on the waters of Natuna Islands, Indonesia, Thursday, June 23, 2016. AP
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited the Natuna islands Thursday in a move designed to send a message about the country’s commitment to protecting its sovereignty in the area at the edge of the South China Sea.
Jokowi, accompanied by top security officials, toured the area on the same naval ship that fired warning shots last week at Chinese fishing boats and detained one of the vessels and its seven crew members.
He then presided over a meeting on board the ship, discussing issues including development of the remote islands, about 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) north of Jakarta, the capital.
Senior political and security minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the visit would “send a clear message” that Indonesia is very serious about protecting its sovereignty.
KRI Imam Bonjol
“In the course of our history, we’ve never been this stern (with China),” the Jakarta Post newspaper quoted Pandjaitan as saying. “This is also to demonstrate that the president is not taking the issue lightly.”
On Sunday, China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement of protest over last Friday’s shooting incident, saying the Indonesian navy had “abused its military force.” It described the waters as China’s traditional fishing ground.
China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea do not include the Natuna islands, which are nearly 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) from the Chinese mainland.
But China’s “nine dash line,” which it uses to roughly demarcate its ambitions for its maritime boundaries, overlaps with a section of Indonesia’s internationally recognized exclusive economic zone extending from the Natuna islands.
The incident Friday was the third involving Chinese fishing boats in recent months. In March, Indonesia intercepted a Chinese fishing vessel off the Natuna islands. In May, an Indonesian frigate fired shots at a Chinese trawler when it refused to stop fishing, and then seized the vessel and its eight crew members.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, has taken a tough stance against illegal fishing since Jokowi took office in October 2014. It has blown up 176 foreign fishing boats caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters since then.
On Wednesday, a senior U.S. State Department official expressed concern over Chinese coast guard ships escorting Chinese fishing vessels in areas including waters off the Natuna islands.
“I think it is a disturbing trend to see Chinese fishing vessels accompanied by coast guard vessels used in a way that appears to be an attempt to exert a claim that may not be legitimate,” the U.S. official told Asian reporters in a teleconference. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
She said it pointed to an expanding use of Chinese military and paramilitary forces “that is provocative and potentially destabilizing.”


The Indonesian government has identified China as a major potential source of funds, and last year chose a Chinese consortium over a rival bid from Japan to fund and construct a high-speed railway line.


© Indonesia Navy/AFP | Indonesian War Ship KRI Imam Bonjol-363 arrests a Chinese fishing boat in Natuna water on June 21, 2016 — Charged with illegal fishing

China Used Toxic Industrial Waste In School Sports Facilities — Making students ill

June 23, 2016



 © AFP/File | Reports say toxic industrial waste was used to make school running tracks in China

BEIJING: Chinese authorities have shut down nine factories and detained some executives after reports that toxic industrial waste was used to make running tracks widely used at schools, official media said on Thursday.

Smelly synthetic sports fields and athletics circuits, along with students falling sick from exposure to them, have regularly made headlines in China in recent years.

Parents of pupils at an elite elementary school in Beijing have been protesting, saying that their children suffered from nose bleeds and allergic reactions after using running tracks, the latest health scare in a country where safety standards are frequently compromised for profits.

Incidents in Beijing are seen as particularly unsettling as many Chinese believe regulations are more strictly enforced in the capital than elsewhere.

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported this week that dozens of companies in Cangzhou and Baoding in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, had been producing running track materials from recycled industrial waste such as automobile tyres and electrical wires, which were believed to contain toxic chemical substances and heavy metals.

China’s toxic track — Children left a Beijing school where the track had been covered up on Thursday, June 23, 2016. Credit Ng Han Guan, Associated Press

The Cangzhou government set up an investigation team and local authorities have shut down nine plants, sealing their machines, materials and semi-finished products and putting “related personnel” in custody, said, the Hebei provincial government’s news portal, on Thursday.

Polluted air and contaminated food regularly worry Chinese parents, many of whom have only one child due to the country’s family planning policies.

Dozens of parents at the Beijing Number Two Experimental Primary School gathered to protest Wednesday after commissioning a private survey which found high levels of pollutants in the running track, a parent surnamed Ge told AFP.

School officials refused to meet them and around 50 took their protest to Beijing’s main thoroughfare Changan Street, she said, adding: “Parents are angry.”

In April, reports said almost 500 students were sickened after a top middle school in the eastern city of Changzhou relocated to a site close to decommissioned chemical factories.


BBC News

Chinese authorities to tear up ‘toxic’ school running tracks

A general view shows a sports track in a primary school on a public holiday in Beijing, China, 09 June 2016.

Beijing authorities have suspended all construction of new school athletic tracks. EPA

China’s Ministry of Education has said it will tear up running tracks at schools that have been blamed for making students ill.

Children across China have reported suffering nosebleeds, headaches and coughing after using the tracks.

On Tuesday, state broadcaster CCTV released a rare undercover report revealing the use of industrial waste in their manufacture.

The ministry said inspections would take place nationwide this summer.

Incidents of children falling sick after using the tracks have been reported in Jiangsu, Guangdong and other provinces, in at least 15 cities across China.

When children in Beijing began to experience problems, the authorities there ordered the inspection of all sports tracks and fields in the province.

Parents protested in front of local education authorities demanding the school remove the toxic running track.

Parents stand in front of the local education authority building demanding the school remove the toxic running track

In many cases, they revealed high levels of potentially poisonous chemicals in new synthetic running tracks, including formaldehyde.

At least one Beijing school has already begun tearing up its track.

But parents in Beijing protested against the safety standards last week, and complained that in many cases, the toxic tracks had not yet been removed.

The Chinese television investigation into several track manufacturers revealed the use of substandard waste, including discarded tyres, to reduce production costs.

Now the Ministry of Education has said environmental protection and quality watchdogs will inspect tracks across the country, and remove any that do not meet safety standards.

It said it was taking the problem “very seriously,” and added that those responsible for the negligence would “face resolute and serious punishment with no mercy given”.

It said construction of new tracks had been suspended, and oversight of officials involved in the process will be increased.

South China Sea: Plenty of Work Still To Do Following Arbitration Court Verdict

June 23, 2016


Reports quoting sources said China is planning to set aside the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). AP/Charles Dharapak

MANILA, Philippines – A favorable decision by an international arbitral court on Manila’s maritime case against Beijing is no guarantee of an easing of tensions in the South China Sea, a senior US official said yesterday.

Tension is likely to persist in the region, the official said, even if the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rules in favor of Manila, as China has made it clear it would not honor a verdict repudiating its expansive claim in the South China Sea.

Reports quoting sources said China is even planning to set aside the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The same official, who declined to be named, also said China is using its fishing fleets with armed escorts to bolster maritime claims in disputed territory. But the official, in a teleconference in Manila with journalists from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Beijing, said the US is not taking sides on the issue.

“We are expecting a ruling in the next several weeks in the arbitration case that’s been brought by the Philippines with respect to maritime entitlement in the South China Sea… South China Sea is an important maritime space for the international community. Asia is the most populous and economically dynamic region in the world and as such, South China Sea a global significance,” the senior US State Department official said.

As such, the state department official said the US will sustain its role in ensuring regional peace by continuously enforcing freedom of navigation and overflight operations over the South China Sea and East China Sea regions.

There were reports the UN court is handing down its verdict either before the end of the month or in early July.

The US has deployed two of its carrier strike groups to the Philippine Sea ahead of the verdict.

“Our freedom of navigation program globally is in that demonstrating that the US will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever the laws allow. So in that sense, I think that it has been successful in demonstrating in East Asia that that we will continue to uphold that policy,” the US official said while calling on China to refrain from making provocative actions.

The arbitration case presents a good opportunity to go back to principles and to attempt to steer the conversation about the South China Sea issue, the official said.

Solid backing

The official added that the Philippines will have the solid backing of the international community in exploring ways of convincing Beijing to abide by the court ruling.

“I would say that our security commitment to the Philippines under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is ironclad. We take anything that concerns Philippine security very seriously and we will be working with all our partners in the region to analyze the ruling and to respond to anything that may happen after that,” the US official said.

The official also expressed concern over China’s tactics of sending Coast Guard ships to escort its fleet of fishing vessels in disputed waters.

“It’s a disturbing trend to see Chinese fishing vessels accompanied by its Coast Guard vessel to assert a claim that is not legitimate,” the official said.

The comments came after Indonesian warships fired warning shots and detained a Chinese-flagged fishing boat and seven crew near the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea last week, in actions slammed by Beijing.

“I do think that it does point to an expanding presence of Chinese – sort  of military and paramilitary forces – and used in a way that is provocative and potentially destabilizing,” the US official added.

Unlike several other countries in the region, Indonesia has no overlapping claims with China to islets or reefs in the sea, but Beijing’s claim to fishing rights near the Natunas appears to overlap with Jakarta’s exclusive economic zone.

Last week’s incident was only the latest in a series of skirmishes between the two countries since Jakarta launched a crackdown on illegal fishing in 2014.

In March, Chinese coast uards rammed a Chinese boat detained near the Natunas and helped it escape as the Indonesians towed the vessel to shore.

And last month, the Indonesian navy opened fire on a Chinese trawler near the islands and seized the vessel.

Following last week’s confrontation, the commander of the Indonesian navy’s western fleet said the fishing vessel incursions were “structured,” indicating  Beijing had “given its blessing.”

“China protested because it thinks this area is theirs,” commander Achmad Taufiqoerrochman told reporters.

“Actually the (fish) stealing is just a ruse to stake its claim,” he added.

China has undertaken land reclamation works in the Spratly Islands, one of the South China Sea’s main archipelagoes which are also claimed by the

Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Beijing praises ally

China, meanwhile, praised its ASEAN ally Cambodia for siding with Beijing on the South China Sea row.

“We highly commend and appreciate Prime Minister Hun Sen’s remarks at the commencement of Cambodia’s academy of governance yesterday,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press conference in Beijing.

The Cambodian leader has voiced his country’s rejection of arbitration as means of settling the maritime dispute.

Chinese pressure was blamed for ASEAN’S retraction of a statement sounding alarm over Beijing’s island building in the South China Sea.

The original document, released by ASEAN member Malaysia and described as a joint statement from the bloc, warned that developments in the hotly contested South China Sea could “undermine peace, security and stability.”

“China will not accept any solution imposed upon it nor any unilateral resort to a third party dispute settlement procedure,” Hua said. “China remains committed to resolving relevant disputes through negotiation with sovereign states directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law,” she said.

The Chinese foreign ministry also accused the Western media of turning a “blind eye” to the  support by nations for Beijing’s position.

“It is no news to us that some western media sometimes call white black. But we know now that they also have problems with doing simple math,” Hua said, referring to media reports that only eight countries back China’s position.

“Some statements were reported, and some were not. Whatever way they chose, dozens of countries have made their voices heard,” she added. The countries backing China’s position are in Africa and are dependent on Chinese aid.

China’s top newspaper, for its part, has strongly criticized the US deployment of carriers to international waters near the Philippines.

The US carriers John C. Stennis and Ronald Reagan began joint operations in seas east of the Philippines at the weekend in a show of strength.

“The US picked the wrong target in playing this trick on China,” the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary.

It was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” a Chinese-language homonym for the phrase “voice of China” that is often used to express the paper’s views on foreign policy.

“Behind this misjudgment is Washington’s anxiety and arrogance, and it is the true expression of its hegemonic nature,” the paper added.

The US Navy chief said on Monday the deployment was a signal of the US commitment to regional security, adding that he hoped it would deter any attempts to destabilize the region.

The US Pacific Command (PACOM) said the carriers started their dual operations on Saturday, including air defense drills, sea surveillance, defensive air combat training and long-range strikes.

PACOM said the US last conducted a dual carrier operation in the Western Pacific in 2014. Two carriers operated in the South China Sea and East China Sea in 2012. – AP



The Indonesian government has identified China as a major potential source of funds, and last year chose a Chinese consortium over a rival bid from Japan to fund and construct a high-speed railway line.


© Indonesia Navy/AFP | Indonesian War Ship KRI Imam Bonjol-363 arrests a Chinese fishing boat in Natuna water on June 21, 2016 — Charged with illegal fishing


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