Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

China’s Plan For Asia and Onward To Iran — Involves Domination on Land and Sea — “Without firing a shot. That’s Sun Tzu.”

March 26, 2017

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China’s “One Belt, One Road” master plan for Asian land and sea trade starts and ends with China itself.

Vietnamese in Hanoi are already starting to chit chat about what to do when Vietnam becomes a Chinese province.

Vietnamese with money and other assets are already heading to Canada, Australia, Europe and the U.S.

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President Duterte in the Philippines seems to have some kind of secret accord with China. There must be a big chunk of gold or currency hidden for Duterte somewhere.

Our sources in Asia tell us everyone with resources is taking an angle to make what they can from the notoriously corrupt Chinese in case there is a bloodless takeover by China.

The Chinese are already fortifying the South China Sea, intimidating Singapore, and moving in with Malaysia.  Maybe Mr. Najab can have his 1MDB debt “fixed” by Chinese backers….

Pakistan is already prepared to stand with China as the Indian Ocean Super Power.

Iran has helped China and Russia immensely in Syria, Yemen, North Korea and elsewhere. Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal took worries about Iran as a dangerous nuclear power out of the headlines as they hone their ground and sea forces and perfect the Republican Guards. They are still a dangerous nuclear power. Just more discrete — or below the radar in the nuclear research arena.

Isreal seems to have fewer and fewer friends.

Yet Donald Trump pledged to stand behind Israel.

But he also pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare — so let’s wait and see what he is really able to accomplish….

From the Peace and Freedom Strategy Team, March 26, 2017

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What is China’s Plan For Asia? —

March 26, 2017

Moved to:

https://johnib.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/chinas-plan-for-asia-and-onward-to-iran-involves-domination-on-land-and-sea-without-firing-a-shot-thats-sun-tzu/

 

Why are Chinese moving to Malaysia by the thousands?

March 25, 2017

With an election looming, the country’s often fraught race relations are as complicated as ever, but that hasn’t dented its appeal to a ‘third wave’ of immigrants from China

BY TASHNY SUKUMARANCOCO LIU

South China Morning Post
25 MAR 2017

Paul Ying Qian, 32, first tried durian when he was 10 years old in his home town of Hunan ( 湖南 ), China. A family friend had sent his mother the pungent fruit, which the whole family enjoyed. Paul tried durian again when he was studying in Australia, but it was expensive and didn’t match the taste in his memory.

Now he lives in durian-obsessed Malaysia, but it isn’t the fruit that brought him here. It was the temperate weather, cleaner air and mix of Asian values and Western infrastructure. “It’s easy to join in the culture here, and not feel like a total outsider. The different races get on well, and it’s quite near China – much nearer than Australia. The education is good, and the country maintains its traditional face while also experiencing development. Back home the seasons are very dramatic with extremely hot summers and very cold winters. Malaysians are very friendly. I feel this is a good place for my next generation.”

Paul Ying Qian and his wife moved from China to Malaysia as part of the Malaysia My Second Home programme in 2009. Both of his young children were born in Malaysia.

Paul, who gained his residency through the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, is one of thousands who have settled under the scheme. He has been here since 2009, and his two children, aged one and three, were born in Malaysia.

“I travel between here and China, spending about four months a year in my home town Wuhan (武漢) to take care of the family business. My wife Sophy stays in Malaysia with the kids,” he said.

He discovered Malaysia thanks to his father, who travelled the region in his youth.

“He went to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia. He liked it best and moved here when he was older. After I completed my undergraduate degree in Australia, I came here to do an MBA and stayed on. My parents actually live in the same building as me,” he said, pointing to the tall tower behind him ensconced in the leafy upmarket suburb of Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

Paul and his family are comfortable in the nation’s capital, even with MM2H’s no-work clause. His real estate and wholesale business dealings in China allow him to support his family, while he has also invested in the Malaysian hotel industry. And in his spare time he and his family go on road trips, travelling to hawker haven Penang or idyllic Langkawi just because they can.

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in George Town on Penang Island. Photo: Travel Post Magazine

Although Malaysia has a history of mistreating migrants, particularly refugees and foreign workers, those under the MM2H scheme are considered “expats”, an elite, high-earning group.

The scheme allows successful applicants largely unrestricted travel into and out of Malaysia as well as various incentives and tax exemptions. However, it comes with stringent eligibility criteria as well: liquid assets of 350,000 Malaysian ringgit (HK$615,000) to 500,000 ringgit, fixed deposits and a minimum price cap on purchasing property so as to curb speculation.

In 2016, more than 1,000 Chinese signed up for the scheme, fleeing the freezing cold winters and dangerous pollution levels of their homeland – 43.9 per cent of applicants were Chinese, with Japanese a distant second at 9.2 per cent.

Chinese have shown the most interest in the scheme. Official government statistics put the number of successful Chinese applicants at 7,967 from 2002 to 2016, out of a total of 31,732 successful applicants from around the world – 25.1 per cent of the share.

Malaysia is experiencing a “third wave” of Chinese migration – after a 15th century influx and a tin mining boom in the 19th century – these days that isn’t at all limited to just MM2H participants, but also includes foreign workers, some of whom are undocumented. A fair number of these migrant workers are usually employed in low-skilled sectors such as construction or factory lines. Recently, 127 Chinese nationals were rounded up by the Sarawak Immigration Department and 16 of them lacked valid travel documents.

China’s Ambassor to Malaysia Huang Huikang. Photo: Handout

This influx of Chinese migration comes at a time when Malaysia’s often fraught race relations are more complicated than ever, with a general election – always a good time for race to be made a political football – looming. In 2015, a pro-Malay protest with anti-Chinese sentiments drew the ire of Ambassador Huang Huikang, who said China would not ignore “infringement on China’s national interests or violations of legal rights and interests of Chinese citizens and businesses”, reported the media.

However, MM2H applicants brush aside such concerns, reporting friendliness from the Malaysians they meet. Since many divide time between China, where they deal with business obligations, and Malaysia, any concerns about racial tensions are lessened as they have someplace else to go.

Hu Xiaolong, 65, moved to Malaysia from Shanghai to be closer to his daughter after she married a Malaysian. Before he became part of the MM2H programme, he could not stay for longer than a month.

“I now spend a few months in Shanghai and a few months in Malaysia visiting my daughter. I found Malaysia a nice place for the elderly, so my wife and I bought an apartment in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Young drummers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: AP

“Kuala Lumpur is nicely developed and everything is still quite cheap. Much cheaper than Shanghai. I have travelled to over 30 countries and I think Malaysia is a good fit for me. Chinese can live harmoniously with Malays and Indians here. There is no conflict among different ethnic groups.”

The only problem, he says, is when his wife tries to order food with her limited command of English. “But that’s why she usually goes for buffets,” he noted wryly.

Hu said he had urged friends to sell their properties in China and move to Malaysia.

“I told a friend that if he sells his apartment in Shanghai, he can buy a luxury home in Kuala Lumpur and still have some money left. My friend refused, saying that his social circle is still in China. But some friends are considering the second home scheme and they want to come here to have a look.”

Sea-view apartments are hard to come by in Shanghai, but not in Penang, Malaysia. Photo; iStockphoto

Hu Yiqing, 48, fell in love with the sea when she visited her aunt in the island state of Penang. “You could see the sea from her home. We are from Shanghai and it’s rare to have a sea-view apartment in Shanghai. She told us about the scheme so once we went back to China, we immediately started applying … We filed all the papers in May and by August we relocated to Penang.”

Penang’s laid-back vibe appealed to homemaker Hu and her husband, who runs a financial services company. They do not miss the bad traffic and poor air quality in Shanghai.

She said her husband split his time between Penang and Shanghai. “If we had a better internet connection my husband would stay the whole year. But even now, we still don’t want to go back to China,” she said, adding that the pair and their son integrated into local life quickly due to the high number of Chinese-speaking Malaysians in Penang.

“There are so many Chinese that you can integrate into the society easily. My friends are from Chinese parents in international schools or Chinese from local churches.”

Hu said her son could go to an international school for half the price of Shanghai. “The education quality is pretty much the same – in fact, I like the international school in Penang better. In Shanghai, even if you study in an international school, kids are still being pushed by teachers to study hard and compete with each other. I disagree with their way of teaching.”

Visitors walk past a giant rooster installation as part of the Chinese Lunar new year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: AP

She has praised the scheme to her friends, many of whom are now applying.

“So many Chinese have been coming to Penang. It’s hard for children to enrol in an international school now. They are all packed.”

Retiree Maurice Choy, 55, left Hong Kong for Malaysia because of its weather and reasonable cost of living. Fishing, swimming and badminton are on his list of priorities.

“I travelled to Malaysia many times over the last 20 years for work and holiday, and I found Penang a nice place to retire. I bought an apartment there several years ago and applied for the scheme. This month I will settle permanently in Malaysia with my wife.

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Shutterstock

“Malaysia is much more affordable than Hong Kong. It’s easy for us to have a high-quality life with our pension. The weather is good, too. I actually migrated to Canada 10 years ago but had to come back because I’m not used to cold weather. The weather in Penang is good the whole year round.”

Despite Malaysia’s tendencies towards xenophobia and its sometimes strained race relations – balik Cina (go back to China) and apa lagi Cina mau (what more do the Chinese want) are slurs sometimes hurled at the Malaysian-Chinese community – these migrants appear shielded from it all or have not encountered such unpleasantness. Many MM2H participants have praised Malaysia for its friendliness.

However, some Malaysians wonder how the country benefits from the programme. “In terms of cultural impact, it honestly depends on how the incoming Chinese population behave in a social setting. There won’t be a large economic impact unless a huge number come in with enough capital to invest in business,” said Hafidz Baharom, 34, the former communications head for the Malay Economic Action Council.

How Malaysia’s golden goose of ecotourism, Sabah, keeps the visitors coming

Accountant Tarsem Singh, 31, said that because MM2H minimum property thresholds were high, most programme applicants would only be able to buy homes that were out of the reach for most Malaysians. The minimums include 2 million Malaysian ringgit in Selangor and 1 million Malaysian ringgit in Kuala Lumpur. In Penang , on the island it is 1 million Malaysian ringgit for a condominium and 3 million Malaysian ringgit for landed properties.

Langkawi, Malaysia, offers many outdoor adventures, including excursions along its many rivers. Photo: Post Magazine

“I am not sure how we benefit, other than property developers who get to sell their expensive homes,” Singh said, adding that immigration priorities should focus on young and skilled migrants to stimulate wealth creation and prevent brain drain. This was echoed by independent analyst Khoo Kay Peng: “Most who come here are retirees or run smaller businesses. The high net worth individuals prefer the US or Australia and other OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries.”

While MM2H is a good programme, lawyer Ong Yu Jian, 35, said that it needs to be kept in check with policies that limit artificial growth. His home state, Penang, recently raised the minimum price cap for foreigners purchasing property.

“In the short term, it boosts growth and makes the numbers on any economic paper look good. But the potential long-term trade-off may be the displacement of our own locals in terms of economic footholds and nation-building. If the Chinese do so, it may cause resentment and heightened tensions,” he said.

Formed more than half a billion years ago, Langkawi has a unique ecology; Gunung Matchincang, one of the island’s peaks, was the first part of Southeast Asia to rise from the seabed during the Cambrian period. Photo: Post Magazine

Malaysian Chinese Association Youth Chief Chong Sin Woon, however, dismissed the possibility of racial tension, saying that such animosities were the domain of a tiny minority of extremists.

“It’s a small group of radicals who harp on about this issue. Generally we are accepting of these migrants.”

Analyst Hwok-Aun Lee, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, agreed, attributing this to biases based on economic standing.

“Unfortunately, humankind tends to discriminate immigrants by class, viewing highly qualified and wealthy entrants more favourably.

“At the same time, opulent immigrants can also breed resentment. I would like to see a greater emphasis on human rights and dignity, mutual respect and appreciation of diversity, and conscious efforts to avoid group alienation or enclaves separated from society,” he said.

Faisal Hazis, of the National University of Malaysia’s Asian Studies Centre, warned that Malaysians might “not be comfortable with a glut of foreigners coming to Malaysia and potentially doing business or eating into the market. If this happens it may strain the relations between Malaysians – regardless of race – and Chinese nationals.”

Why Malaysia is fighting Singapore over a rock

And although the programme promises investment opportunities along with lower costs of living and tax-exempt offshore incomes, many participants, such as housewife Zhang Wei, 40, just want room to breathe.

“We used to live in Beijing. Air quality is so bad that my two kids couldn’t spend much time outdoors. Now my kids can spend a lot of time outdoors. They are happy, so am I.”

Last August she settled in Putrajaya, the country’s administrative capital, after deciding against the US due to its distance from China where her husband has business dealings.

Malaysia, she said, was better for living than for working or investment.

“Some of my friends have businesses in Malaysia so they want to live here, like a friend who runs a tourist company specialising in bringing Chinese newlyweds here for honeymoons,” she said.

“But I don’t think the business environment here is that great and I didn’t see any good investment opportunities. When we decide where to invest, we need to compare it with China. If there is an opportunity, we will invest – but we are still looking.”

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2080869/why-are-chinese-moving-malaysia-thousands

Duterte says Philippines can’t afford oil rigs, open to sharing resources with China in disputed sea

March 24, 2017

South China Morning Post, AFP and Reuters

Friday, 24 March, 2017, 1:09pm
 Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature
The Haiyang Shiyou oil rig, the first deep-water drilling rig developed in China, 320 kilometres southeast of Hong Kong in the South China Sea in 2012. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was open to sharing resources with Beijing in flashpoint South China Sea waters over which Manila has been given exclusive rights by an international tribunal. File photo: Xinhua

China prosecutes captain, shipper in Singapore troop carriers case — “Make no mistake: Everyone that crosses China will be punished.”

March 24, 2017

Reuters

Fri Mar 24, 2017 | 1:10am EDT

Growing Conflict in Asia Sparks Japan’s Military Expansion

March 23, 2017

GROWING CONFLICT IN ASIA SPARKS MILITARY EXPANSION IN JAPAN

BY ON 3/22/17 AT 1:07 PM

US Defence Secretary sees no need for US military action in South China Sea
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Japan unveiled its second helicopter carrier, the Kaga, Wednesday, sending a message of military strength to China amid growing conflict over the South China Sea and other strategic waterways in Asia. The new vessel is the latest sign of Japan’s ongoing military expansion as it seeks greater international influence.

Roughly 500 people attended the unveiling ceremony at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo. The vessel was parked next to Japan’s other helicopter carrier, the Izumo, Reuters reported Wednesday. 

Japan wasn’t shy about its motivation. Vice Minister of Defense Takayuki Kobayashi said at the ceremony Tokyo was deeply concerned about China’s construction of islands and military bases in the South China Sea waterway, which is claimed by multiple Asian nations.

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Japan’s Izumo now has a sister ship named Kaga

“China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases, and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community,” he said.

Roughly $5 trillion in global trade passes through the South China Sea each year. Both Japan and the U.S. have urged Beijing to honor open travel in the waterway. Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim the South China Sea, which is known for its fishing and oil and gas deposits. Japan, meanwhile, is engaged in its own territorial dispute with China over the neighboring East China Sea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has increasingly called for Japan to seek a bigger international role in global military conflicts in recent years and urged lawmakers to reconsider Japan’s pacifist constitution that forbids using force in international disputes. His remarks have alarmed China and many Japanese voters who enjoy the country’s post-World War II pacifism.

“If Japan persists in taking wrong actions, and even considers military interventions that threaten China’s sovereignty and security… then China will inevitably take firm responsive measures,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing last week.

Japan plans to send its Izumo helicopter carrier through Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka starting in May before joint naval exercises with India and the U.S. in the Indian Ocean in July.

China’s and Japan’s economies are the world’s second- and third-largest.

http://www.newsweek.com/growing-conflict-asia-sparks-military-expansion-japan-572250

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Singapore prime minister visits Vietnam to strengthen trade — Vietnam asks for South Korean help in South China Sea

March 23, 2017

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

March 23, 2017 at 18:20 JST

Photo/Illutration

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, left, speaks during a joint press briefing with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on March 23. (AP Photo)

HANOI–Vietnam and Singapore have signed several business agreements as the island state seeks to boost investment and trade with the communist country during a visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Among the six memorandums of understanding that were signed Thursday and witnessed by Lee and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, two were for industrial parks to be developed by Singapore’s Sembcorp in central Vietnam.

“I’m very glad to be back to Vietnam after more than three years in order to take our relationship another step forward,” Lee told reporters at a joint press briefing with Phuc.

Lee told reporters that he hoped Singapore, one of Vietnam’s top investors and trading partners, would increase its investments in the country.

“With more intensive business links and with more tourism between both sides, travel between Vietnam and Singapore has increased substantially,” Lee said.

Phuc said the two leaders were committed to enhancing the partnership between Vietnam and Singapore in all fields.

Lee said the two discussed regional and security issues and in particular the South China Sea, where he said issues should be resolved “in accordance with the international law including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea … and also on the freedom of navigation on the important artery of global commerce in the South China Sea.”

Vietnam and China along with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan claim parts of or all of the South China Sea.

Vietnam is the vocal opponent of China’s expansion in the South China Sea.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703230053.html

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Vietnam seeks South Korean support in South China Sea

HANOI: Vietnam’s Prime Minister sought support for the nation’s stance in the South China Sea when he met South Korea’s foreign minister in Hanoi on Monday.

Vietnam is the country most openly at odds with China over the waterway since the Philippines pulled back from confrontation under President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The Prime Minister proposed that South Korea continue its support over the position of Vietnam and Southeast Asia on the South China Sea issue and to help the country improve its law enforcement at the sea”, the government said in a statement on its website after the meeting between Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

The statement did not say whether South Korea backed Vietnam’s position on the South China Sea.

Yun did affirm his country’s willingness to promote ties despite instability in South Korea after the ousting of President Park Geun-hye over a graft scandal.

South Korea is Vietnam’s biggest foreign investor thanks to companies like Samsung.

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South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se is welcomed by Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

South Korea and China are currently in dispute over deployment of the U.S. anti-missile defence system. South Korea on Monday has complained to the World Trade Organization about Chinese retaliation against its companies over the deployment.

Last week, Vietnam demanded China stop sending cruise ships to the area in response to one of Beijing’s latest moves to bolster its claims to the strategic waterway.

China claims 90 percent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the route, through which about US$5 trillion of trade passes each year.

(Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Julia Glover)

Singapore: New Smart Nation and Digital Government Office to be formed on May 1

March 20, 2017

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21 Mar 2017 00:18

SINGAPORE: Staff from digital and technology teams in several ministries will form a new office in charge of digital transformation in the public service on May 1, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Monday (Mar 20).

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), to be formed under the Prime Minister’s Office, will comprise staff from the Ministry of Finance’s Digital Government Directorate, the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Government Technology Policy department and the Smart Nation Programme Office.

The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) will also be placed under the Prime Minister’s Office as the implementing agency of SNDGO.

Together, GovTech and SNDGO will form the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).

The SNDGG’s responsibilities include driving digital transformation for the public service to strengthen the Government’s information and communications technology infrastructure and improve public service delivery.

The group will lead the development of a national digital identity framework to facilitate digital transactions as well as a national platform to support Government agencies’ use of Internet of Things applications, which link physical items such as cars, health devices and home appliances to the Internet.

It will work with other Government agencies, industries and the public to apply technologies to improve Singaporeans’ lives in areas such as urban mobility, the Prime Minister’s Office said. For example, the SNDGG will work with the Land Transport Authority on technologies to improve public transport, enhance urban logistics and reduce congestion.

It will also build on ongoing work by GovTech to enhance data sharing through the data.gov.sg portal and collaborate with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to promote e-payments.

NG CHEE KHERN TO BE PERMANENT SECRETARY OF SNDGG

Permanent Secretary of Defence Development in the Ministry of Defence Ng Chee Khern will concurrently lead the SNDGG as Permanent Secretary from May 1.

The SNDGG will be overseen by a ministerial committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim will be the deputy chairman. Other committee members include Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Higher Education and Skills Ong Ye Kung – who has been appointed to champion public service innovation – and Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education Janil Puthucheary, who will be the Minister-in-charge of GovTech.

Mr Ng will also retain his appointment as chairman of the GovTech Board, which will oversee GovTech’s operations and guide the agency’s efforts to support Smart Nation and digital government, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

RE-ORGANISATION WILL “TURBO-CHARGE” GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS

Dr Balakrishnan said the reorganisation will put the Smart Nation’s master planning, policy and implementation together and “turbo-charge” the Government’s efforts towards this goal.

“This is not really a technical or technological issue per se. It requires a change in mindset, a change in relationships, the way we work together as a whole of Singapore,” he said.

For example, it requires a whole-of-Government effort to put together a common platform for e-payments, along with the cooperation of the whole private sector as well as banking and financial institutions, Dr Balakrishnan said.

Dr Puthucheary also said efforts to improve the way the Government is run will not work as well as desired without “excellent people”.

“A big part of what we want to do is to build a deep engineering talent in Singapore, bringing more people into engineering, into ICT engineering, cyber security engineering, data analysis, whether they’re here in Singapore or Singaporeans residing overseas.”

He added that there are many talented Singaporeans working in these fields overseas. “We’re hoping we can attract people back into Singapore to build that engineering team here.”

“It’s not just a job. It’s an adventure.”

March 20, 2017

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Half-way trough a very mediocre college career, I decided I needed more adventure.

All my classmates wanted the same kinds of things. Nice, safe, well paying jobs. A huge house in the suburbs. Winter vacation in Florida.

I wanted none of that.

Nobody mentioned adventure.

I wanted adventure.

Actually, I had already experienced a little adventure by working briefly for a U.S. Congressman. I met Joe Biden, then a freshman Senator.

Congress didn’t look like the adventure I’d really like. I could tell I needed more adventure than Joe Biden (no offense intended).

In that same job I almost got arrested —  along with Ted Kennedy — during a George McGovern rally. I thought at the time: Ted Kennedy is probably TOO MUCH adventure for me.

When my picture appeared in Newsweek —  standing next to Ted Kennedy — my Dad called me home. That was way too much adventure for him.

So I joined the U.S. Navy — where, it turned out, adventure surely did exist in large measure.

And it still does today.

I wish I could show you a pile of adventure-filled pictures but most of them were lost in the divorce — which is a clue that I did get too much adventure in me.

Shooting missiles and big guns was adventure. The U.S. Navy sailors were fun, funny, joyful and adventuresome. When hard work was called for we all worked hard together. When it was time to go on “liberty” — Katie bar the door!

As some of my relatives still say, I lived for a couple of years in “the basement of an airport.” Actually, an aircraft carrier is about 1,000 times more adventure than an airport. It’s a moving airport. We rescued refugees from Vietnam and visited all the far-away places. Hong Kong. Singapore. The Philippines. Sri Lanka. Thailand. Kenya. Japan.

When the Iranians adopted the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, we served as a resolute vigil of power — with aircraft on deck in “Alert 5.” Alert 5 meant that from the “go” signal, the pilot and his warbird had to be off the deck and ready for battle in just 5 minutes. The pilot might sit in his cockpit for hours, with the jet full of fuel, fully armed, and the catapult ready to throw him and his warbird off the ship at breakneck speed. All he had to do was start his jets, give the thumbs up, and fly.

When “the word” came over the ship’s announcing system, “Launch the Alert 5 Fighter” — every man on the ship learned forward in anxious anticipation.  Several thousand members of the crew and support staff rooted for the warriors running their fighter jet engines to full power — for the launch.

I still get chills. Just thinking about it.

One time I went to sea on a submarine — a breathtaking experience. Got to fly in dozens of awesome aircraft. Participated in a murder investigation. Went to weddings, baptisms and funerals. Fortunately, mostly the first two.

Worked with some of the real technical geniuses of our times — 19 and 20 year old sailors taking care of hight tech weapons systems, aircraft, and communications. They work tirelessly in the toughest and most stressful jobs without complaint — from nuclear power to nuclear weapons.  They make tremendous sacrifices in pay, never earning anything close to what the civilian sector would pay them. They make tremendous sacrifices of time at home with family — often they are away from home more than at home in any given year. And they are serving all the American people all the time. That hugely outweighs any drawbacks.

I wish I could start life all over again at age 19.

I’d go into the U.S. Navy. And do it all again. Bigger. Better. Today.

 

China pledges firm response if Japan interferes in South China Sea

March 17, 2017

Reuters

China on Thursday pledged a firm response if Japan stirs up trouble in the South China Sea, after Reuters reported on a Japanese plan to send its largest warship to the disputed waters.

The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned only two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and U.S. naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July, sources told Reuters.

The trip would be Japan’s biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

“If Japan persists in taking wrong actions, and even considers military interventions that threaten China’s sovereignty and security… then China will inevitably take firm responsive measures,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.

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Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

China said on Tuesday that it was waiting for an official word on why Japan plans to send the warship on the tour through the South China Sea, but that it hoped Japan would be responsible.

Hua did not say on Thursday if China had received confirmation of the plan, but said that the South China Sea issue did not involved Japan and that the country should “reflect deeply” on its “disgraceful” past invasion of the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

Japan controlled the islands during World War Two until its surrender in 1945.

China claims almost all the South China Sea and its growing military presence in the waterway has fueled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.

Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year.

Japan does not have any claim to the waters, but has a separate maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea.

China regularly states that the dispute should be resolved without interference from non-claimants.

Beijing has been speaking with 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations since 2010 to agree to a set of rules aimed at avoiding conflict in the South China Sea.

Addressing a news conference at the end of the annual meeting of China’s parliament on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that China hopes to push forward with the negotiations for the code of conduct to maintain stability.

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Writing by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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 (Contains links to other recent South China Sea news)