Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Duterte fires Dangerous Drugs Board chief for ‘contradicting official government’ stats (that were never correct in the first place)

May 24, 2017
/ 08:56 PM May 24, 2017
rodrigo duterte

DUTERTE ARRIVES FROM RUSSIA / MAY 24, 2017 — President Rodrigo Duterte arrives from his visit to Russia at NAIA Terminal 2.INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

President Rodrigo Duterte fired the chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board for allegedly using contradicting statistics.

“And I would like to put to task publicly this (Benjamin) Reyes. You know five years ago, Santiago who was the PDEA chief gave us a figure of three million,” Duterte said after arriving in Manila from Moscow.

“Ang binigay ni Reyes sa chairman sa Dangerous Board, ‘yung accomplishment ni Bato ng PNP. That’s 1.8. And dala-dala ng babae was 1.8. When I have been telling everybody, everything that there’s about four million drug addict(s),” the President said.

The Dangerous Drugs Board has been using a 2015 survey that says there were 1.8 million drug users in the country.

“You’re fired today. Get out of the service,” Duterte said. “You do not contradict your own government…You’re just a civilian member of a board.”

Duterte said Reyes is not an “implementor of the law.”

“The correct count is the police and the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency),” Duterte said.

In an interview with ANC on Tuesday, Reyes used the statistics of 1.8 million drug users but he also reportedly said that they have information that the number can go up to 3 million or 4 million.

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Duterte fires drugs board chair for ‘contradicting government’

The Dangerous Drugs Board shares its Quezon City office with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. File photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday announced he was firing Dangerous Drug Board Chairman Benjamin Reyes for “contradicting your own government” by presenting drug user data based on a government-commissioned survey.

“I would like to put to task publicly this Reyes,” the president said in a speech upon his return from Russia, a trip that had to be cut short because of the crisis in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

 

Duterte said that former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Dionisio Santiago told him five years ago that the country had an estimated 3 million drug users.

It is unclear what Santiago’s basis was since, according to a Rappler report on government drug data, the PDEA did not release data to the public except in 2008, when there were 1.7 million drug users in the Philippines.

“Ang binigay ni Reyes sa chairman sa dangerous board [sic]… yung accomplishment ni Bato… ‘yung PNP. That’s 1.8 (million),” the president said.

But the figure of 1.8 million is actually from the DDB’s 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines, the results of which were released in September 2016.

READ: 4M drug users ‘in the realm of possibility,’ DDB insists

If anything, Reyes, in an interview with Philstar.com in February, tried to justify Duterte’s figure of 4 million drug users.

“Pero may margin of error kasi iyan na plus or minus five percent, so it can even go as high as—so 2.3 plus 5 percent, that’s 7.3 percent. That’s even higher than the global average,” Reyes said then. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates a global average of 5.2 percent.

 

But Alyson Yap, a full-time member of the faculty at Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Quantitative Methods and Information Technology, said in February that Reyes’ assessment was incorrect and that the chairman was making a dangerous conclusion.

Yap, who teaches combined statistics and operations management, said that using the the rate and confidence level used in the DDB report, the range would actually be “between 0.0185 to 0.0267 or between 1.85 percent to 2.67 percent only.” That is around 1.4 million to 2 million people.

“Dala-dala nung babae, 1.8 … na I have been telling everybody that there is about 4 million drug addicts… and here comes a chairman… you’re fired,” the president said on Wednesday.

Duterte may have been referring to UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who has been critical of the government’s drug war, and who was at a drug policy forum at the University of the Philippines this month. Reyes, as DDB chair, also spoke at the forum.

“You do not contradict your own government,” the president said.

The president said that the figures of the PDEA and the Philippine National Police is the “correct count,” adding the “civilian” Reyes is not an “implementer” of the law.

The Dangerous Drugs Board, which is attached to the Office of the President, sets the country’s drug policy. The PDEA and PNP are technically civilian agencies.

PDEA: 4.7M drug users in Philippines

At a forum earlier this month, the PDEA claimed that the number of drug users is at 4.7 million.

The DDB survey indicated that more than 4.74 million persons in the country, or 6.1 percent of the population aged 10-69, have used illegal drugs at least once in their lifetime.

But, when Philstar.com sent PDEA a Freedom of Information request on what the basis for the estimate of 4.7 million was, the PDEA said the DDB and the PNP would be able to answer the questions better.

In a response to Philstar.com, PDEA Director Adzhar Albani, a PDEA 11 decision maker, said:

You asked for Basis for PDEA estimate of  4.7 million drug users.

The 4.7 million drug users is based on the the survey conducted by the Dangerous Drug Board itself plus based on the survey & operations as well of the Philippine National Police dubbed as the “Oplan Tokhang”

Please note that we are only able to provide such information to what you have requested. If you wish to get a copy of the data on how they conducted their survey, parameters used etc,  you may address your request directly to the Dangerous Drugs Board and/or the Philippine National Police.

 

The 1.8 million figure from the DDB survey was also the basis for the PNP’s drug targets for 2016.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/24/1703250/duterte-fires-drugs-board-chair-contradicting-government

Peace and Freedom Note: Duerte may think the higher number of drug users may give him a better excuse for his human rights abuses, thus lessening criticism from the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. He may also be hoping that the higher number will encourage more financial assistance from China and Russia.

Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters: NYT

May 24, 2017

Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Philippines’ Duterte mulls imposing martial law nationwide — “Martial law of Mr Marcos was very good,” Duterte said — (The most lawless nation in Asia goes one step beyond…)

May 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Philippine policemen check a car at a checkpoint in Iligan City, on the southern island of Mindanao, on May 24, 2017

MANILA (AFP) – 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he may impose martial law throughout the nation, after declaring military rule in the southern third the cof ountry to combat Islamist militants.

Duterte on Tuesday announced the imposition of martial law in the region of Mindanao, home to about 20 million people, after militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group rampaged through a city there.

Duterte said he was considering also imposing martial law through the central third of the Philippines known as the Visayas, because this region is very close to Mindanao.

He then also raised the prospect of the northern third of the Philippines, known as Luzon and home to the capital of Manila, falling under martial law.

“If I think that the ISIS has already taken foothold also in Luzon, and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people,” he said.

Duterte warned martial law would be similar to military rule imposed by dictator Ferdinand Marcos a generation ago.

Marcos’s two-decade rule ended in 1986 when millions of people took to the streets in a famous “People Power” revolution.

“Martial law of Mr Marcos was very good,” Duterte said.

Duterte said his own version of martial law meant security forces could conduct searches and arrest people without warrants.

He also said there would be curfews for some provinces in Mindanao.

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Human Rights: Jailed Chinese lawyer force-fed medication he didn’t need while held in Chinese custody — Chained for long periods of torture — Xi Jinping responsible

May 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Joanna CHIU | Wang Qiaoling says her husband, lawyer Li Heping, was force-fed medication he didn’t need when he was held in Chinese custody

BEIJING (AFP) – 

When human rights lawyer Li Heping returned to his home in Beijing after a two-year incarceration, his wife did not recognise the frail white-haired man standing in her hallway.

“He is only 46 years old, but I thought he was an old man,” Wang Qiaoling told AFP. “He had lost 15 kilogrammes (33 pounds) and looked completely different.”

Wang, speaking on Li’s behalf because she said he remains under strict police control, alleges her husband was force-fed medication and sometimes chained for long periods during his detention in the neighbouring city of Tianjin.

Best known for defending blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, Li also represented members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual sect, environmentalists and victims of forced eviction.

The Beijing Global Law Firm partner was detained by police during the so-called “709 crackdown” in the summer of 2015, when some 200 legal staff and activists were rounded up.

He was released earlier this month after a court handed him a three-year suspended sentence following a secret trial, convicting him of inciting subversion of state power.

In a 2014 photo, Li appeared youthful with plump cheeks and jet black hair. But in a video of Li emotionally reuniting with his wife and their daughter, he looked gaunt with thinning, grey-white hair.

Shortly after his arrest, “a doctor from the police investigation team told him he needed blood pressure medicine. My husband has never had blood pressure issues and told the doctor he didn’t want it, but he was forced to take the pills six days a week,” Wang said.

The side effects made “his muscles hurt, his vision blurred and he had trouble thinking clearly… He was kept drugged until shortly before his release,” Wang said.

She also claims Li’s hands and feet were shackled together for the entire month of May in 2016, with a chain so short that he could not stand up or lie down.

“They tried many ways to coerce him to confess,” she said.

Police in Beijing and Tianjin did not respond to requests for comment.

Amnesty International has noted several cases of detainees in the 709 sweep saying they were force-fed blood pressure drugs.

“It’s an ill-treatment method that is difficult to investigate as the medicines would only stay in their blood for a period of time,” Amnesty China researcher Patrick Poon told AFP.

Li went to a private doctor shortly after his release, who said his body was “damaged” and noted black spots on his face, Wang said.

“The doctor could not confirm if he took blood pressure medicines, because it was 10 days after he was sentenced and there couldn’t have been medicine left in his blood,” Wang said.

– ‘Pathetic condition’ –

Chinese President Xi Jinping has overseen a tightening of controls on civil society since assuming power in 2012, closing avenues for legal activism that had opened up in recent years.

“Evidence is gradually leaking out that detainees are sometimes being forced to absorb unneeded medicines and drugs that adversely affect their mental and physical capacity,” said Jerome Cohen, an expert in Chinese law at New York University.

“This alleged misconduct may help explain the pathetic condition of some of the leading rights advocates victimised by the current campaign to suppress them,” Cohen said.

Other allegations about the use of suspicious medicines on detainees go further back.

Yin Liping, a Falun Gong practitioner, told the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China last year that she was cuffed to a bed in a labour camp’s clinic and injected with an unknown drug for over two months in the early 2000s.

Yin said she temporarily lost her vision and developed endocrine disorders, incontinence and has had blood in her urine.

Last Thursday, Wang and other wives of Chinese lawyers testified to the US Congress about their husbands’ ordeals.

In a video message, Wang said Li had to sit for hours in stress positions or shackled.

“He suffered from very cruel and sick torture,” she told the congressional hearing.

Authors called on Xi Jinping to uphold international law if China truly wants the responsibility of a global power.

Many have called on Xi Jinping to uphold international law if China truly wants the responsibility of a global power. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Beijing has an obligation under the UN Convention against Torture to impartially investigate torture allegations.

But China’s politicised system “makes it very difficult for the government to set up a credible impartial investigation,” said Frances Eve, researcher at the Chinese Human Rights Defenders non-governmental organisation.

Earlier this month, Xie Yang, another 709 detainee, was released on bail after pleading guilty to inciting subversion. At his trial, he recanted his claims that he was tortured.

His wife, Chen Guiqiu, told AFP she thought her husband sounded “strange” on the phone, but she is unable to verify his health condition because she and her daughters are now seeking asylum in the US.

by Joanna CHIU
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Peace and Freedom Note: Many who have seen Li Heping since his release have commented to us on his “looking like he aged 40 years.”
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NATO breaks partnership deadlock over Turkey-Austria dispute

May 23, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | A soldier stands in front of a Patriot missile system at a Turkish military base in Kahramanmara in 2013

BRUSSELS (AFP) – 

NATO reached a deal Tuesday to unblock partnerships with around 40 non-member countries which had been paralysed by a dispute between Turkey and Austria, officials said.

Turkey, with the second-biggest military in NATO, had vetoed all cooperation with neutral Austria after Vienna called for the European Union to halt membership talks with Ankara.

That in turn blocked the whole partnership programme with dozens of other non-NATO countries covering most of Europe, plus many countries in the Middle East and Asia.

But on Monday the 28 NATO nations agreed to change the system so that cooperation “will be planned on an individual basis, rather than collectively,” said a NATO official who asked not to be identified.

“This will substantially reduce the risk of blockages to cooperation with partners across the board,” he said.

Turkey is expected to uphold its veto on Austrian participation, officials said.

Ties between Turkey and Austria have soured badly since Vienna called for the EU to suspend Turkey’s accession bid because Ankara did not meet EU rights and democratic standards.

Press reports in Vienna cited Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil as saying Turkey’s block was putting “Europe’s security interests in danger.”

The NATO official said the alliance was not ending its cooperation with Austria, which was a “long-standing NATO partner and we greatly appreciate its valuable contributions to our shared security.”

“We hope the bilateral issues between Austria and Turkey will be solved as quickly as possible.”

The NATO partner scheme is aimed at building up inter-operability, capacity and goodwill.

Partner countries do not sign up to the NATO collective defence commitment, but the agreements are seen as an important political signal, for example in countries such as Georgia and Ukraine locked in bitter disputes with their Soviet-era master Russia.

Austria has been a neutral country since a Cold War accord between Washington and Moscow agreed its status.

Turkey restarted European Union accession talks in 2005 but they have made painfully slow progress amid growing questions in Brussels over the country’s human rights record.

Philippine President Declares Martial Law in Mindanao: Spokesman

May 23, 2017

(Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared martial law in southern Mindanao province after fighting raged in southern Marawi City between the army and militants linked to Islamic state.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made the announcement in Moscow, where the president is on a visit.

A meeting with Dmitry Medvedev will be canceled on Wednesday but Duterte will remain in Russia, Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano said in a televised news conference.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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President Duterte Once called The Philippine Police “Corrupt To The Core” — When will it get better? — Maybe When China Takes Over

May 23, 2017

By 
Philippine Inquirer

police

The streets of Manila are stressful to drive in on a daily basis. The heavy traffic is enough to make anyone groan, and bad drivers can get pretty ruthless. While there needs to be better law implementation and effective enforcement from the police, we don’t see any progress at all.

Recent incidents also heightened calls for safer and organized streets, especially when police officers are either confused or ignorant of the law. As concerned citizens, we want to bring up a few points on what can be improved when it comes to driving.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa (R) during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017. © NOEL CELIS / POOL / AFP

When the Anti-Distracted Driving Law was put into motion, I thought it was about time that drivers were told to not use their phones. But mere days after its implementation, both police and drivers are dumbfounded by the law’s grounds. There were stories that ride-sharing vehicles were being stopped because they were looking at Waze from their dashboards. This is despite the fact that it’s allowed as long as it doesn’t obstruct your view.

Not only that, even rosaries and other religious icons were being banned under the law. Of course, this garnered a reaction from the church, saying that the LTFRB “is absolutely missing the point.” And they’re not wrong.

This prompted senators to call for the law’s suspension until it’s fixed and made less complicated. “We rarely hear of road accidents that result from the use of navigational apps,” said Sen. JV Ejercito. Definitely, texting and tinkering with a mobile phone while driving is a no-no. But when it is used as a navigational aid and it is properly place, it is okay.”

However, that’s not the only issue that citizens face with the police. Coleen Garcia recently recounted how an ex-cop harassed her driver and scratched her face. What made the ordeal worse was that police officers were merely watching and not helping the actress. “I’m still disappointed by the way the marshals handled (or failed to handle) the situation, but the police officers at the station were very helpful with everything,” she wrote on her Facebook account.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcoleengarcia.x%2Fposts%2F1392395414162218&width=500

She also emphasized how ex-cops in the Philippines “can get away with anything he wants” regardless if they throw threats or pull out a gun.

This is just a few instances wherein the police force somehow doesn’t do their job right to ensure our safety. This should open our eyes to the reality that there still needs work to be done with these matters, be it traffic regulation or abuse of power.

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl — killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs — looks like it has been put out with the trash….. Presidential spokeman Abella said the war on drugs is for the next generation of Filipinos.
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Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kline also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

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Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/08/1600763/cop-linked-drugs-tortured-killed

 (December 23, 2016)

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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

 (November 16, 2016)

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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China’s Cybersecurity Law takes internet censorship to a new high.

May 23, 2017

China’s new Cybersecurity Law takes effect on June 1. Together with regulations issued over the past month by the Cyber Administration of China (CAC) — including on news reporting and commentary — the new legal landscape threatens to tighten what is already one of the world’s most restrictive online environments. What happens next will depend on a combination of Chinese government actions, citizen pushback, and international readiness.

Past experience suggests that the government’s enforcement of the regulations will be uneven and selective but a worst-case scenario would include three features.

First, social media accounts would be closed on a large scale across multiple platforms. This has already been taking place in a more piecemeal fashion. Since 2013, online opinion leaders with millions of microblog followers on Sina Weibo have had their accounts shuttered. In March 2014, dozens of public accounts on WeChat that shared information on current affairs were closed or suspended. More recently, some journalists and academics have reported having their personal WeChat accounts shuttered. Under the new rules, millions of social media accounts sharing information on even apolitical news topics could be subject to such censorship.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.Second, there would be an increase in arrests of ordinary users, including based on private information obtained by Chinese security forces from internet companies. The foreign business community and internet freedom advocates have expressed concern regarding the Cybersecurity Law’s requirement that user data be stored on servers inside China, which would make users more vulnerable to having their private communications seized or used for prosecutions.

The Chinese authorities have made clear that they are willing to imprison ordinary citizens based on content shared or viewed via social media. A February 2017 Freedom House study on religious freedom found that Falun Gong practitioners had been jailed for posting messages about the spiritual group or human rights abuses to WeChat or QQ, and that young Uyghurs had been imprisoned for viewing online videos about Islam. Last month, Wang Jiangfeng of Shandong Province was sentenced to two years in prison for referring to “Steamed Bun Xi” — a banned nickname for President Xi Jinping — in a group message on WeChat.

Third, full enforcement would mean greater government control over private media companies and news portals. The CAC rules promulgated on May 2 significantly restrict the space for investment and editorial input by foreigners, requiring editors in chief, for example, to be Chinese passport holders. They also mention “special management shares.” According to former journalist Feng Kecheng, now a media studies doctoral candidate in the United States, private web companies that provide news may have to issue such special shares to the government and possibly grant it a seat on their boards.

These provisions reflect Chinese leaders’ attempts to bring the online news industry into closer alignment with the domestic print and broadcast sectors, in which all outlets are owned by the state or party. Yet some Chinese media observers remain cautiously optimistic, since it is doubtful that the CAC will close millions of WeChat, Weibo, and QQ accounts or imprison tens of thousands of people for sharing “unlicensed” news.

Meanwhile, online businesses and news websites, which must still compete for users, are likely to continue dragging their feet on compliance and might engage in outright defiance. In August 2015, following deadly chemical explosions in Tianjin, several news portals produced original reporting about the cause of the blasts, although they were technically barred from doing so even under previous regulations.

Netizens, technologists, and their counterparts outside China will continue to develop ways to disseminate uncensored information on important topics and protect user privacy. Last month, Radio Free Asia reported that as local governments in Hebei and Guangdong provinces stepped up monitoring of public WiFi hotspots, a free mobile application called WiFi Master Key — which encrypts user activity — was downloaded over 900 million times. Similarly, after Apple was pressured to remove the New York Times mobile app from its stores in China, downloads for a less easily blocked Android version continued unobstructed.

China’s internet is still a contested space. Indeed, regime insecurity about this contestation is precisely what is driving the latest effort to consolidate control. “Online, the government is fighting like a cornered beast,” says journalist Zhu Xinxin. “They can’t exercise total control over online public opinion.”

Xi is facing simultaneous political and economic pressures, raising the stakes of the struggle, but it is precisely during times of crisis that Chinese netizens have shown a greater tendency to seek out uncensored information. This occurred in 2012, amid a national scandal centered on Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai; in 2014, when Instagram was blocked at the height of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution; and in 2015, following the Tianjin explosions.

All those with an interest in Chinese people’s access to information — whether they are foreign governments, technology companies, civil society groups, or ordinary citizens — should be prepared with contingency plans and funding to support circumvention tools and other means of getting uncensored news into and out of China at critical moments.

With a major Party Congress approaching in the fall, environmental problems multiplying, and North Korea advancing its nuclear program, the next moment of crisis in China might be just around the corner.

Sarah Cook is a senior research analyst for East Asia at Freedom House. She directs its monthly China Media Bulletin and is author of its recent report The Battle for China’s Spirit: Religious Revival, Repression, and Resistance under Xi Jinping.

http://thediplomat.com/2017/05/chinas-next-internet-crackdown/

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China’s President Xi Jinping Wasn’t Trying to Bully the Philippines When He Threatened War — Philippine Foreign Secretary Says — “Better Ask Vietnam” Expert Says

May 23, 2017

By Norman P Aquino and Andreo Calonzo

May 22, 2017, 2:01 AM EDT May 22, 2017, 4:40 AM EDT

Bloomberg

Image result for philippines, china, photos

China’s President Xi Jinping wasn’t trying to bully the Philippines at a recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Southeast Asian nation’s top diplomat.

In a speech last Friday, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte expressed an intention to drill for oil in the disputed South China Sea.

“It is but natural that when you talk about peace and you talk about conflict that the word ‘war’ may or may not come up,” new Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said at a televised briefing in Manila on Monday. “My interpretation of the meeting is that there was no bullying or pushing around.”

Since taking power last year, Duterte has sought to improve ties with China while deflecting criticism at home that he’s failed to assert Philippine claims to disputed territory. China’s claim to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea has prevented the Philippines and Vietnam from exploring valuable oil and gas deposits.

An international court ruled last July that China had no historic rights to resources in waters claimed by the Philippines in a case brought by Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino. Duterte has sought to put the ruling aside in his dealings with China, which has ignored the ruling. That stance has won Duterte $24 billion in loan and investment pledges from China.

‘Common Development’

Cayetano said Duterte only disclosed details of the meeting with Xi because he was “being barraged with comments with what he should do.” He added that the Philippines won’t form a military alliance with China, nor would it try to raise emotions against the Chinese.

“I hate the fact that China is claiming part of the territory of the Philippines but I love the Chinese,” Cayetano said in a speech during a flag-raising ceremony in Manila on Monday. “Why? Because we hate the sin but we love the sinner.”

Without specifying when or where his meeting with the Chinese president took place, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte asserted his nation’s sovereignty over the South China Sea by citing last year’s arbitration tribunal ruling upholding the Philippine claim.

“Well, if you force this, we’ll be forced to tell you the truth. We will go to war. We will fight you,” Duterte quoted Xi as saying.

When asked to confirm Xi’s comments at a press briefing on Monday, China foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying referred reporters to Cayetano’s earlier remarks.

“We are committed to resolving the dispute with parties directly concerned, including the Philippines, through dialogue and negotiation,” Hua said. “Pending final settlement, we advocate shelving the dispute for common development.”

Image result for philippines, china, photos

Officials from both countries agreed to discuss “mutually acceptable approaches” to South China Sea issues during a bilateral consultation in the Chinese city of Guiyang last Friday, according to a joint statement released by the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.

No Disrespect

Cayetano, who claimed to have been present at the meeting, said he couldn’t divulge the exact conversation between the two leaders but claimed it was meant to “increase mutual trust and respect.”

“There was no language or even tone that would lead any of the two presidents to believe that there was disrespect for them or their countries,” he said.

After hosting a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders in Manila last month, Duterte said discussing China’s recent actions in the South China Sea would have been useless.

“For those who are peace loving just like me, I don’t want trouble,” Duterte said. “You have to be very careful. Whenever we talk about a buildup it would be useless. It would be useless except for fighting terrorism,” he said, adding that the Philippines intended to ask China for more help to develop its economy.

In a communique released after the summit, Asean welcomed “progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea” by the middle of this year, and recognized the long-term benefits of peace, stability and sustainable development in the region.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-22/china-war-threat-not-serious-philippine-foreign-secretary-says

One of our Asia experts at Peace and Freedom said, “The Philippines better ask Vietnam if the threat of war from China is significant or not. They have longer experience with China.”

Related:

FILE - Vietnam People's Navy personnel carry their country's national flag.

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: China’s Real Choice to The Philippines: Ignore International Law, Or Face War — Is This How The One Belt One Road System Will Be Built? On Coercion?

May 23, 2017

FINALLY, President Rodrigo Duterte confronted his Chinese counterpart with the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague that generally favored the Philippines’ legal challenge to China’s expansive claim over most of the South China Sea.

And look where such audacity, right in Beijing during the recent Belt and Road Forum, had brought him.

After China President Xi Jinping shot back to his face a threat of war if the Philippines dares to dig for oil in its maritime areas that are also being claimed by China – President Duterte found himself alone, virtually defenseless.

Image result for Photos, Beijing, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping

Duterte taken prisoner by China: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. AP

The threat has not been withdrawn – so we take as true and accurate the revelation of President Duterte that Xi warned him that China would go to war if the Philippines insisted on its rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that both countries have signed with more than 165 other UN members.

Three days after Mr. Duterte disclosed China’s war threat, Beijing has not denied it. Neither has Malacañang’s interpreters of presidential statements clarified what he said or meant in his speech in Davao City last Friday.

Filipinos grown familiar with Dutertespeak will understand better the broadcast versions of his Taglish narration. (Sorry, we have no provision for translation.) Here is an account by ABS-CBN, never mind if Mr. Duterte questions the TV network’s credibility:

“I said, Mr. Xi Jinping, I will insist that it is ours and we will drill oil. Sinabi ko talaga harap-harapan, that is ours and we intend to drill oil there. My view is I can drill the oil.

“Ang sagot sa akin, ‘Well, we are friends. We don’t want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain warm relationship, but if you force the issue we will go to war.’

Ano pa bang sabihin ko?” (On other occasions, the Commander-in-Chief has conceded that Filipinos would be massacred in a war with China.)

Mr. Duterte went on: “Pinag-aawayan natin, ‘akin ito’. Sabi mo, ‘iyo ‘yan.’ Eh sabi ko, ‘atin ito, I’ll drill the oil.’ Sabi niya, ‘please do not do that because that is ours.’ ‘That is according to you.’ ‘But I have the arbitral.’ ‘Yes, but ours is historical and yours is legal of recent memory.’

“‘Amin mga Ming, Ming dynasty pa.’ ‘But that’s too far away. It’s almost alien to us to hear those words because we were never under Chinese jurisdiction.’ Sabi niya, ‘Well, if you force the issue, we’ll be forced to tell you the truth.’

“‘So, what is the truth?’

“‘We will go to war. We will fight you!’”

• Indeed, war is not an option

PRESIDENT Duterte has said time and again that the possibility of an armed confrontation with China is the reason why he chooses to pursue friendly relations and seek amicable resolution of disputes with the neighbor.

Besides, as he has lamented, he is not sure if even the Philippines’ supposed ally the United States would come to its succor if the former colony were attacked. The two countries’ Mutual Defense Treaty has not been tested in war since its signing in 1951.

Doubts about the readiness of the US to make good its security commitments despite the many wars where Filipinos and Americans had fought side by side – not to mention his unpleasant brushes with the Yankees – have contributed to Mr. Duterte’s disenchantment with America.

China has seized the moment. Its tireless Ambassador Zhao Jianhua in Manila caught Mr. Duterte on the rebound.

While Washington in the midst of a presidential election campaign was either scolding Manila or not paying attention, Beijing was assiduously courting the mayor-suddenly-turned-president.

Mr. Duterte may have simple needs in his still provincial lifestyle, but his being thrust into the presidency on a populist platform has suffused him with a grand dream of achieving peace and prosperity for the masses within the six short years given him.

That may explain why he seems to be in a hurry. Witness his promise to lick the drug, crime and corruption problems in six months, later adjusted to one year – which we doubt is achievable given the complexity of the issues and the inertia of the past.

Lack of time and resources may hobble his agenda-in-a-hurry, including his “Build! Build! Build!” infrastructure program. This has pushed him to the waiting arms of a China promising massive investments, loans and aid.

Skeptics may think Mr. Duterte is not exactly equal to the tasks he has assigned to himself. The spirit is fired up, but the body may not be up to the job. That is why the team he has assembled is crucial to his success.

After President Xi showered this small neighbor with tantalizing promises to help Mr. Duterte realize his dream for the country – then jabbed him with a war threat to force him to toe Beijing’s line, even somebody as tough as “Digong” must have been shocked.

The challenge is not aimed at Rodrigo Duterte alone, but to the Filipino people. Clearly, the President now needs all the help that can be mustered in and outside the country.

We due respect, we urge the President to rethink things, including his domestic priorities, his foreign policy, his demeanor as Chief of State, and his attitude toward human life.

As a seasoned fighter, he knows that before going to battle, one has to know his allies, enemies, potential allies, and potential enemies – and strategize accordingly. The Commander must now make a wise – shrewd, if we may suggest – sorting out of all forces on the field.

He should exert effort to keep the country’s friends of long standing and renew commitments to solemn international covenants.

As he deals with the reality of an unmasked warlike expansionist China, President Duterte can assume that all his countrymen are his allies or potential allies.

* * *

ADVISORY: Postscript archives can be accessed at www.manilamail.com. Follow us on Twitteras @FDPascual. Email feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/05/23/1702685/rody-finally-raises-arbitration-ruling

Related:

FILE - Vietnam People's Navy personnel carry their country's national flag.

No automatic alt text available.
For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.