Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty’

John Bolton On the International Criminal Court

September 11, 2018

John Bolton gave his first public address Monday since becoming national security adviser, and surprisingly, the topic was not Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, or any other national security hot spot, but the International Criminal Court.

The ICC is certainly not a new obsession for Bolton, who, in the speech hosted by the Federalist Society on Monday in Washington, called his role spearheading the George W. Bush administration’s opposition to the court “one of my proudest achievements” and described the court as a “freewheeling global organization claiming jurisdiction over individuals without their consent.” The impetus for the current U.S. offensive against the ICC is that its judges are currently considering whether to authorize the prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan, including by the U.S. military and the CIA. The potential scenario of Americans being prosecuted by an international court for crimes committed abroad is exactly the scenario Bolton and other opponents warned about in the court’s early days.

By  
Slate

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U.S. national security adviser John Bolton speaks at a Federalist Society luncheon on Monday in Washington.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority has also been pushing the court to accelerate a long-running inquiry into alleged Israeli crimes in the Palestinian territories, one factor behind the decision announced Monday to order the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington. (The United States and Israel are not members of the court, but Afghanistan and, more controversially, the Palestinian Authority are, giving the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed there.)

For background, the U.S. has long had a fraught relationship with the ICC. When delegates originally gathered in Rome in the late 1990s to negotiate the formation of the court, many of them wanted it to have universal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes against humanity across the globe, but the U.S. pushed back, wanting to protect U.S. citizens and troops. The court that was eventually established has jurisdiction over crimes committed only in its member states (or those referred to it by the U.N. Security Council). This is what makes it so difficult today for the court to try abuses in places like Syria and Myanmar, which are not members.

Bill Clinton eventually signed the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2000, but it was never ratified by the U.S. Senate, and President Bush “deactivated” the signature in 2002. That year, Congress passed the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act, prohibiting cooperation with the court. Opponents dubbed it “The Hague Invasion Act” for a clause authorizing the use of force to secure the release of U.S. citizens detained for prosecution by the court.

Although not a member of the court, the United States has at times cooperated with it. To Bolton’s vocal dismay, the Bush administration eventually softened its stance on the ICC, choosing to abstain rather than veto a referral of allegations of war crimes in Darfur, Sudan, to the court. The Obama administration expanded the level of cooperation, offering rewards for suspects wanted by the court and voting to refer the situation in Libya under Muammar Qaddafi to the court. Judging by Monday’s remarks, that level of cooperation is not going to continue under Trump.

The actual policy measures Bolton announced in the speech sound more severe than they are. He vowed that if the court comes after U.S. or Israeli citizens, “We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and, we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”

However, these are more or less the measures already laid out with the 2002 ASPA law. As David Bosco, a professor at Indiana University and the author of Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics, told me, “It sounded dramatic, but it’s actually not much of a change. I thought it was interesting that he talked only about working within the bounds of existing legislation and didn’t seem to be calling on Congress to take up any additional legislation. I think what he did here was to try to take existing restrictions and frame them as dramatically as possible.”

Most of the speech was a familiar litany of Bolton’s objections to the court, again framed for maximum drama. He ominously warned the audience:

[The ICC] claims “automatic jurisdiction,” meaning that it can prosecute individuals even if their own governments have not recognized, signed, or ratified the treaty. Thus, American soldiers, politicians, civil servants, private citizens, and even all of you sitting in the room today, are purportedly subject to the court’s prosecution should a party to the Rome Statute or the Chief Prosecutor suspect you of committing a crime within a state or territory that has joined the treaty.

This is technically true. If you, a U.S. citizen, go to another country and become accused of a crime against humanity, and that country’s government decides that, rather than prosecute you itself, it will refer your case to the ICC, then yes, you could find yourself on the docket at the Hague facing judges elected by an international body rather than the U.S. government. Then again, I never got to vote for anyone in the Canadian government, but if I went and robbed a gas station in Calgary, the local authorities could prosecute me without anyone kicking up much of a fuss about national sovereignty.

One way to avoid having U.S. citizens be prosecuted by the court would be for the U.S. not to commit war crimes in other countries, or to investigate and prosecute those who do. The ICC is supposed to be the court of last resort that prosecutes the planet’s most serious crimes only when governments are unable or unwilling to. Bolton argued today that the Afghanistan investigation disproves this notion since “we know that the U.S. judicial system is more vigorous, more fair, and more effective than the ICC.” In other words, it’s simply inconceivable that the U.S. would fail to hold anyone accountable for war crimes, an argument contradicted by a number of cases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bolton may frame his argument as a defense of sovereignty, but it often comes across as a Nixonian case for impunity: If the United States did it, it’s not a war crime.

Bolton argued that the ICC is a weak and ineffective institution that is “hardly a deterrent to dictators and despots determined to commit horrific atrocities.” He has a point. Despite his indictment for crimes in Darfur including genocide, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir remains at largeand able to travel the world. Thanks to the fact that Syria and Iraq are not ICC members—coupled with inaction by the U.N. Security Council—ISIS and Bashar al-Assad are shielded from prosecution for their horrific crimes against humanity. As Bolton noted, “Since its 2002 inception, the court has spent over $1.5 billion while attaining only eight convictions.”

Read the rest:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/09/john-bolton-international-criminal-court-speech.html

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No one can ‘obliterate’ Taiwan’s existence, president says on departure for U.S.

August 12, 2018

Vowing that “no one can obliterate Taiwan’s existence”, President Tsai Ing-wen left on Sunday for the United States and two of its remaining diplomatic allies, amid pressure from China to try to stamp out references to the island internationally.

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FILE PHOTO: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

China, which claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own, has stepped up a campaign against the island as it tries to assert Chinese sovereignty. Beijing has ordered foreign companies to label Taiwan as part of China on their websites and is excluding Taiwan from as many international forums as it can.

Also, China has also been whittling down the number of countries that recognize Taiwan – now just 18 – with Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic switching relations to Beijing this year.

Speaking before her flight to Los Angeles, where she will spend one night prior to visiting Belize and Paraguay, Tsai struck a defiant tone.

“In going abroad, the whole world can see Taiwan; they can see our country as well as our support for democracy and freedom,” Tsai said. “We only need to be firm so that no one can obliterate Taiwan’s existence.”

China, which believes Tsai wants to push for Taiwan’s formal independence, has already complained to Washington about her U.S. stopovers, which include Houston on her way back.

The trip starts one day after Taiwan’s state-run refiner CPC Corp announced a deal valued at $25 billion to purchase liquefied natural gas from the United States over the next 25 years.

The deal was aimed at boosting trade relations with the United States by reducing its trade surplus and was also a sign of goodwill ahead of Tsai’s visit, a person familiar with the government’s thinking told Reuters.

Tsai, who says she wants to maintain the status quo with China, will also be looking to reaffirm Washington-Taipei ties and to shore up support ahead of local elections in Taiwan in November amid the escalating pressure from China.

During her U.S. stops, Tsai intends to meet Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, according to two people with knowledge of the plans.

She will also meet with business representatives to discuss how Taiwan could drum up investment and procurement with the U.S., they said.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is the island’s strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier.

Tsai’s U.S. stopovers come as China and the United States are engaged in a trade war, adding to Beijing’s irritation with Washington.

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Richard Borsuk

Reuters

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Social media manipulation — A global threat? — Social media used to enforce “norms” and “correct behavior” — But who is deciding what is “right”?

August 12, 2018

Technology-Enhanced Authoritarian Control with Global Consequences

The manipulation of public opinion over social media platforms has emerged as a critical threat to public life. Around the world, government agencies and political parties are exploiting social media platforms to spread junk news and disinformation, exercise censorship and control, and undermine trust in media, public institutions and science.

Now, a new report from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) at Oxford University, has found that despite efforts to combat computational propaganda, the problem is growing at a large scale.

“The number of countries where formally organised social media manipulation occurs has greatly increased, from 28 to 48 countries globally,” says Samantha Bradshaw, co-author of the report. ‘The majority of growth comes from political parties who spread disinformation and junk news around election periods. There are more political parties learning from the strategies deployed during Brexit and the US 2016 Presidential election: more campaigns are using bots, junk news, and disinformation to polarise and manipulate voters.’

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This is despite efforts by governments in many democracies introducing new legislation designed to combat fake news on the internet. ‘The problem with this is that these ‘task forces’ to combat fake news are being used as a new tool to legitimise censorship in authoritarian regimes,’ says Professor Phil Howard, co-author and lead researcher on the OII’s Computational Propaganda project. ‘At best, these types of task forces are creating counter-narratives and building tools for citizen awareness and fact-checking.’

Another challenge is the evolution of the mediums individuals use to share news and information. ‘There is evidence that disinformation campaigns are moving on to chat applications and alternative platforms,’ says Bradshaw. ‘This is becoming increasingly common in the Global South, where large public groups on chat applications are more popular.’

Automated bot accounts still continue to be a well-used tactic. Online commentators and fake accounts are used to spread pro-party messages, as well as being used to strategically share content or post using keywords to game algorithms and get certain content trending. They are also being used to report legitimate content and accounts on a mass scale, causing them to be taken down temporarily. ‘We suspect new innovation will continue to emerge as platforms and governments take legal and regulatory steps to curb this type of activity,’ says Howard.

Overall, the use of organised social media manipulation campaigns is a big business. ‘We estimate that tens of millions of dollars are spent on this type of activity,’ says Howard. ‘Some of the money may be spent on legitimate advertising on social media, but there is certainly a growing industry for fake accounts, online commentators, and political bots.’

http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2018-07-20-social-media-manipulation-rising-globally-new-report-warns

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Neuroscience may help explain a current lack of social and emotional skills, impulse driven decision making and mob-like behavior in society…

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Social media is making children regress to mentality of three-year-olds, says top brain scientist

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China’s social credit system ‘could interfere in other nations’ sovereignty’

System, criticised as an Orwellian tool of mass surveillance, is shaping behaviour of foreign businesses, report says

The Chinese government says its social credit system – whereby people can be blacklisted for transgressions such as smoking on trains, using expired tickets or failing to pay fines – is a way of encouraging moral behaviour by its citizens.
 The Chinese government says its social credit system – whereby people can be blacklisted for transgressions such as failing to pay fines – is a way of encouraging moral behaviour by its citizens. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

China’s social credit system, a big-data system for monitoring and shaping business and citizens’ behaviour, is reaching beyond China’s borders to impact foreign companies, according to new research.

The system, which has been compared to an Orwellian tool of mass surveillance, is an ambitious work in progress: a series of big data and AI-enabled processes that effectively grant subjects a social credit score based on their social, political and economic behaviour.

People with low scores can be banned or blacklisted from accessing services including flights and train travel; while those with high scores can access privileges. The Chinese government aims to have all 1.35 billion of its citizens subject to the system by 2020.

But a new report by US China scholar Samantha Hoffman for the ASPI International Cyber Policy Institute in Canberra claims the system’s impact beyond China’s borders has not been well understood, and is in fact already shaping the behaviour of foreign businesses in line with Chinese Communist party preferences. It has the “potential to interfere directly in the sovereignty of other nations”, she said.

She said recent incidents where Chinese authorities pressured international airlines in the US and Australia to use Beijing’s preferred terminology to refer to Taiwan and Hong Kong were high-profile examples of this new extension of the social credit system rules to foreign companies.

“The civil aviation industry credit management measures that the airlines are accused of violating were written to implement two key policy guidelines on establishing China’s social credit system,” she explains. “Social credit was used specifically in these cases to compel international airlines to acknowledge and adopt the CCP’s version of the truth, and so repress alternative perspectives on Taiwan.”

As of 1 January 2018, all companies with a Chinese business licence – a necessity for operating in the country – were brought into the social credit system through the new licence requirement to have an 18-digit “unified social credit code”. Through this business ID number, the Chinese government keeps track of all businesses, reporting transgressions on its National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System, Hoffman said. The system extends to non-profits, NGOs, trade unions and social organisations after 30 June.

“Companies don’t have a choice but to comply if they want to continue doing business in China,” Hoffman told the Guardian Australia.

Sanctions for companies so far have come in the form of fines, she said, citing the example of the Japanese retailer Muji, which was fined 200,000 yuan in May for labelling on products sold in China that listed Taiwan as a country. The fine cited a violation of PRC advertising law banning activity which damages “the dignity or interests of the state”, but the violation was also recorded on the social credit system’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System. This listing can trigger further fines from other state agencies, Hoffman said.

It is not clear whether foreign companies have access to the information kept on their social credit record, nor if foreign citizens could find out if their nation’s companies have made concessions or changed their behaviour as a result.

Guardian Australia unsuccessfully sought comment from Qantas, which announced earlier this month it would change the language used on its global websites in accordance with the Chinese government’s preferred terminology for Taiwan.

Hoffman is a visiting academic fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin. Her report, Social Credit: Technology-enhanced Authoritarian Control with Global Consequences, was published on Thursday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a security-focused thinktank which has urged the Australian government take a harder line on Chinese government interference in its democracy.

The report comes amid a difficult period in Australia-China relations; in the same week Australia’s parliamentary committee released a bipartisan report paving the way for the passage of new draft laws against covert, coercive or corrupt foreign interference.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/28/chinas-social-credit-system-could-interfere-in-other-nations-sovereignty

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Ethnic Uighur children in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province © Getty

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South China Sea: China’s Illegal Message to Outsiders is ‘Leave immediately and keep far off’ — This is International Airspace Over International Waters

August 11, 2018

A U.S. Navy ocean surveillance aircraft recently visited the South China Sea on a routine maritime patrol in international airspace over international waters. China told the U.S. P-8 to leave — an illegal order since the claim of sovereignty by China in the South China Sea was disallowed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12, 2016.

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China has ignored international law in the South China Sea, much as Russia has done in Georgia and the Ukraine (Crimea).

Are we becoming a world where nations take what they want? Is the concept of international law dead? The answers could be “yes”.

Above: CNN Video

See also:

BBC Video:

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-45152525/south-china-sea-leave-immediately-and-keep-far-off

The Full CNN report:

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

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Above: China has built seven military bases near the Philippines in the South China Sea

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Philippines, China work on framework of joint oil hunt

http://manilastandard.net/news/top-stories/272639/philippines-china-work-on-framework-of-joint-oil-hunt.html

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Above: military intelligence planners say China may next declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea

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Banners declaring the Philippines a province of China appeared in various parts of Metro Manila on July 12. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the apparent prank.(Contributed photo)

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Wang Yi

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  (This is what China cares about what people think….)

(Why give away what you own?)

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One of the islands China built at Subi Reef — and then built a huge military base on top. This is an area china claims but that claim was not allowed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague in 2016

China sends warning to US ocean surveillance plane flying over South China Sea—report

August 10, 2018
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A US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane flying 16,500 feet from China’s man-made islands over South China Sea was warned six times by Chinese military to get out of their territory.

The flight included CNN International, which was able to witness the exchanges between the US and Chinese military.

“US military aircraft, this is China. Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” a voice said.

The US Navy crew responded with: “I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state. In exercising these rights guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states.”

The US plane flew over four of China’s artificial islands — Fiery Cross, Subi Reef, Mischief Reef and Johnson Reef.

 / 09:21 PM August 10, 2018

“What we saw [include] an incredible amount of infrastructure and development in the three years since CNN last boarded one of these planes and was able to fly through that area,” said CNN correspondent Ivan Watson in his report.

China claims most parts of the South China Sea, including waters close to the shores of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

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The ruling on a challenge brought by the Philippines, the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s sweeping claim in July 2016.

But the Duterte administration set aside the ruling in exchange for economic opportunities and friendly ties with Beijing.

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Early this year, the Inquirer published close-up surveillance images of China’s reclaimed features now equipped with runways, radar towers, missile shelters and other military facilities. The photos showed that the bases are almost operational and awaiting the deployment of personnel and aircraft.

China insists that the facilities on its man-made islands in the Spratlys are primarily for civilian purposes and they have “indisputable sovereignty” over the area. /jpv

RELATED STORY
EXCLUSIVE: New photos show China is nearly done with its militarization of South China Sea

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/168969/china-sends-warning-us-spy-plane-flying-south-china-sea-report-navy-china-us-military-afp-cnn#ixzz5Nn4wRIz6
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

China Warns Away US Navy Aircraft Over South China Sea — International Waters, International Air Space

August 10, 2018

High above one of the most hotly contested regions in the world, CNN was given a rare look Friday at the Chinese government’s rapidly expanding militarization of the South China Sea.

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Aboard a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane, CNN got a view from 16,500 feet of low-lying coral reefs turned into garrisons with five-story buildings, large radar installations, power plants and runways sturdy enough to carry large military aircraft.
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During the flight the crew received six separate warnings from the Chinese military, telling them they were inside Chinese territory and urging them to leave.
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“Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” a voice said.
The US Navy jet flew past four key artificial islands in the Spratly chain where China has built up fortifications: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef.
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On Subi Reef, the Poseidon’s sensors picked up 86 vessels, including Chinese coast guard ships, moored in a giant lagoon, while on Fiery Cross Reef rows of hangers stood alongside a lengthy runway.
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“It was surprising to see airports in the middle of the ocean,” said Lt. Lauren Callen, who was leading the air combat crew aboard the Navy flight.
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Each time the aircraft was challenged by Chinese military, the US Navy crew’s response was the same.
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Chinese military base at Subi Reef. Under international law, this area is owned by the Philippines
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“I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state,” the response said.
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“In exercising these rights guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states.”
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CNN has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.
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CNN gets rare access on board a US military surveillance flight over the hotly-disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Competing claims

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The Chinese government staunchly maintains large areas of the South China Sea have been part of the country’s territory “since ancient times.”
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Beijing’s “nine-dash line” extends more than one thousand kilometers from its southernmost province, taking in more or less the entirety of the waters, through which the United Nations estimates one-third of global shipping passes.
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The South China Sea is also believed to contain rich oil and natural gas reserves that have yet to be fully explored.
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Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all claim overlapping portions of the sea which spans 3.6 million square kilometer (1.4 million square miles), but the most far-reaching claims have been made by China.
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Beijing’s sovereignty claims are considered by most other countries as unsubstantiated, a view backed by an international tribunal in 2016.
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Despite this however, little has changed in China’s approach to the region in recent years.
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To reinforce its claims of sovereignty, Beijing has been reclaiming land on and around reefs and shoals to construct artificial islands which are then militarized with airfields and radar equipment.
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China has spent much of the past two years fortifying these islands, including placing missiles on the Spratly island chain during naval exercises in April.
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This is despite a promise made by President Xi Jinping to then-US President Barack Obama in 2015 that the Chinese government would not be militarizing the artificial islands.
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The US Navy's P8-A Poseidon plane which carried a CNN crew from Okinawa, Japan, over the South China Sea on August 10.

Rapid expansion

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The last time CNN was given access to a US Navy mission over the South China Sea was in September 2015, when the aircraft was also warned off by Chinese military.
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Since then, Beijing’s island building in the contested waters has moved forward at a rapid pace.
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Flying over Fiery Cross Reef on Friday, a five-story building was visible, as well as a large radar installation, which looked like neatly arranged golf balls on the Navy plane’s infrared camera.
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Though no Chinese missiles were seen on Friday’s flight over the South China Sea, Navy officers said some of the structures seen could potentially be used to house them.
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Cmdr. Chris Purcell, who leads Patrol Squadron Four which undertook Friday’s mission, said the US has been doing these flights for five decades and they show US commitment to maintaining free passage in international waters.
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“The reason we’re here hasn’t changed,” Purcell said. “The reason (the Chinese) are here has changed.”
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Within hours of the trip, Chinese state tabloid Global Times posted a reaction to CNN’s report on its Chinese-language website. The article called for all readers to “give a thumbs-up to Chinese servicemen” for their defense of China’s territory.
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Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. Some say the problem is Chinese arrogance while ignoring international laws and norms….

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China claims US sparking militarization

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Beijing says its growing military presence in the South China Sea is necessary to protect its sovereignty, blaming Washington and its allies for tensions in the region.
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Source: CNN reporting
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Chinese military exercises in April included the largest naval parade in the country’s history, with President Xi Jinping overseeing drills that included 10,000 troops, 48 naval vessels and 76 fighter jets.
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Beijing points to the regular US Navy patrols and flyovers of the South China Sea as an example of US militarization and provocations, and a justification for the increased Chinese military presence.
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“By playing up the so-called China’s militarization in the South China Sea, certain people in the US are staging a farce of a thief crying “stop thief”,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in May. “It is self-evident to a keener eye that who is militarizing the South China Sea.”
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying
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In the past year, the US has stepped up freedom of navigation operations in the region, sailing US naval vessels within miles of China’s artificial islands across the South China Sea.
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The exercises, which the US also conducts in other parts of the world, assert the navy’s right to travel wherever it pleases in international waters, a vital component of Washington’s naval power across the world.
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Time may be running out to effectively challenge China’s claims in the South China Sea however.
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Adm. Philip Davidson, the recently installed head of the US Pacific Command, told Senators during a confirmation hearing in April that China is already very firmly entrenched.
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“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” Davidson said.
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  (propaganda)

  (This is what China cares about what people think….)

(Why give away what you own?)

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Above: China’s seven military bases near the Philippines in the South China Sea

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

Pentagon predicts military buildup to counter China in South China Sea

August 9, 2018

U.S. allies may expand their naval presence in the South China Sea in order to counteract China’s assertion of sovereignty over one of the most vital shipping lanes in the world, a senior Pentagon official predicted Tuesday.

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China has laid claim to South China Sea waterways as far as 1,000 miles away from the Chinese coast, far more than the 200 miles reserved for a given country under international law. That has set the stage for diplomatic contests and perhaps military confrontation between China and five other claimants in the region, including the U.S.-allied Philippines.

“I think what you’ll see is certainly a continuation of freedom of navigation [operations],” Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said at the American Enterprise Institute. “I think you’ll see perhaps more countries joining in presence activities … Presence in the South China Sea is very important because China claims the whole thing up to the Nine-Dash Line.”

The Communist regime uses a “Nine-Dash Line” to argue that, historically, China has enjoyed sovereignty over the vast majority of the South China Sea. But under international law, a country’s territorial sovereignty extends just 12 nautical miles from the coastline, although each country has exclusive economic rights to resources within 200 miles of the coast.

“And so if you’re the Vietnamese and that Chinese claim is accepted, you’re essentially a landlocked state,” Gregory Poling, a regional expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained during a Nixon Foundation event in February. “You have no fishing rights, at least no exclusive fishing rights, you have no rights to undersea oil and gas, you have no rights whatsoever except those that China gives you. The Philippines it’s almost as bad. You have one coastline, not two.”

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

That’s a problem for the United States, in two ways. First, if China ever sinks a Philippine ship, an American president will have to decide how to defend a key ally. “And if we don’t, then every ally that the U.S. has globally is gonna start wondering what the price is on their head because the Philippines aren’t worth standing up for,” Poling said.

And if China wins the crisis, then other countries will take note. “And pretty soon after that the Russians will start claiming vast swaths of the Arctic, and the Iranians will demand special rights to restrict the Persian Gulf, and it’ll be a race to grab the ocean,” he predicted. “Then what we’ll basically have is a system in which big navies in big countries get to make their own rules.”

China has deployed military facilities to artificial islands constructed in the sea, while arguing that the United States has no right to challenge the issue because it lacks territorial sovereignty in the area. “The United States has no right to make irresponsible remarks about this,” China’s Defense Ministry said in March.

U.S. officials are looking at an array of options to punish the activity and similar moves elsewhere, Schriver said.

“I think you’ll potentially see more cost-imposition, even if it’s not directly on point,” he said at AEI. “We don’t have to do something in the South China Sea, per se, to express our concern about what China is doing in the South China Sea themselves. “

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/pentagon-predicts-military-buildup-to-counter-china-in-south-china-sea

Related:

  (propaganda)

  (This is what China cares about what people think….)

(Why give away what you own?)

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Above: China’s seven military bases near the Philippines in the South China Sea

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

Commentary: A sober assessment of the recent ‘breakthrough’ on the South China Sea

August 6, 2018

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakirishnan called new developments to the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea “yet another milestone”. There’s no room for complacency until the code is agreed upon, says one observer.

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By Koh Swee Lean Collin

A breakthrough was reached on Thursday (Aug 2).

Following the adoption of a draft framework on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea last August, barely a year later, China and the ten Southeast Asian countries of ASEAN agreed this week on a single draft document that will serve as a “living document and the basis of future code of conduct negotiations”.

Describing this new development as “yet another milestone”, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that the parties arrived at the first draft during talks held a couple of months back in Changsha, China. Besides this single draft text, the 11 foreign ministers also agreed on the key modalities for future rounds of negotiations.

This is certainly a noteworthy development. But it is necessary to look past the fist pumps and delve into the realities.

Of course, the apparent rapid progress since August last year – from adoption of the draft framework to commencement of negotiations in March this year and then agreement of a single draft text this month – gives the impression of all things going well so far.

But is this really so?

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REALITIES IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA ‘GROUND ZERO’

True, there has been no more reported incidents of major aerial and maritime standoffs registered since August last year. But it does not mean the concerned parties have truly stopped whatever they have been doing, short of building new artificial islands.

Against the backdrop of regular wargames of varying force size in the South China Sea, Beijing has upped the ante where it comes to boosting its military presence in the area – deploying long-range missiles to the Spratly Islands, landing strategic bombers in the Paracel Islands, and testing electronic jammers in the disputed waters over the past year.

Such developments were unprecedented.

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Subi Reef Chinese military base. The Philippines claims is island but there are no Filipinos there… Philippine Inquirer photo

And it was precisely because such actions ran counter to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2015 Rose Garden pledge to refrain from militarising the South China Sea, that the Chinese Navy was disinvited from the multilateral Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii this year.

Chinese officials howled protest at this move, at the same time emphasising that non-participation in RIMPAC is a small price to pay for safeguarding the country’s sovereign rights and interests in the South China Sea.

The disinvite may have been a major loss of face for Beijing.

Yet, already beleaguered by the trade row with the United States, and international “debt trap” controversies surrounding Chinese overseas investments couched under the Belt and Road Initiative, it is not entirely unimaginable to think that the Chinese Government needs a foreign policy win – something that can help mollify the bad press it has received to date.

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Not to forget that with the island-building work complete and fortifications mostly in place, all Beijing has to do is to further consolidate its gains in the South China Sea. So it finds itself now in a much stronger position to encourage progress, instead of foot-dragging, on the issue.

READ: Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship a chance to make practical progress on South China Sea, a commentary

READ: How heated exchanges on the South China Sea between US, China can spiral into peace, a commentary

ASEAN TRYING TO STAY ALIVE

Meanwhile, it is not difficult to see that ASEAN has every incentive to push for the single draft text. With the ongoing militarisation in the disputed waters and potential escalation in the future, the urgency felt by the bloc to make continued progress on the Code of Conduct is real.

Image may contain: one or more people and people standingASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Singapore
ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore

ASEAN too has to ensure its relevance. Progress on the Code of Conduct is key, indispensable, and almost like a “litmus test”.

It’s no surprise different ASEAN countries took different national positions as they work towards the draft text. Vietnam offered the strongest opposition to Beijing’s activities whereas there was little sign of serious resistance from other ASEAN member states.

The Philippines, which oversaw the promulgation of the draft framework last August in its earlier capacity as ASEAN chair, certainly has a significant role to play.

Taking over from Singapore after Thursday’s meeting to now serve as the bloc’s coordinator of ASEAN-China relations, Manila has every reason to facilitate this outcome if one notes recent developments on the South China Sea confronting President Rodrigo Duterte, who faces enormous pressure to do something on this front.

A recent Social Weather Station survey last month showed that four out of five Filipinos rejected the Duterte administration’s inaction on the issue, and 87 per cent of Filipinos polled wanted the government to regain control of the disputed waters.

Amidst public doubts over the lack of transparency on the Filipino government’s relations with China, Manila even had to clarify that there were no “secret deals” reached with Beijing on the South China Sea dispute.

NO ROOM FOR COMPLACENCY

That said, ASEAN countries would have likely agreed to reach a single draft text for the code to help ease subsequent negotiations. In any case, they can reserve their positions.

The devil still lies in the details – the wordings, language and tone that determine the texture of the eventual mechanism that all 11 countries deem fit to agree on. So the prospect of an eventual promulgation of this Code of Conduct is uncertain at best.

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File photo of ASEAN flag and flags of ASEAN member countries. (AFP/Romeo Gacad)

Until the code is agreed upon, we can foresee that short of provoking major incidents in the disputed waters, the various claimants – not least China – will continue business-as-usual with their current set of activities, which could still be after all couched under the ambiguous and debatable notion of “defensive preparations”.

The likelihood of a maritime or aerial incident in the future also cannot be discounted, notwithstanding this latest progress on the Code of Conduct.

Any miscalculation on the ground in such a contingency may potentially result in escalatory actions that may have dire consequences – possibly to the point of even derailing negotiations on the code.

As such, while observers may expend time ruminating over the details of the code, in the interim it is necessary for countries to get on with existing confidence-building measures – for example the inaugural ASEAN-China maritime exercise, the table-top phase of which is being held this week in Singapore and the field training phase is slated for later this year.

This activity will be based on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), adopted at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in 2014 in Qingdao.

CUES in particular will remain a significant bulwark against close-proximity encounters between opposing forces which will still continue to operate in the South China Sea.

While talks on the Code of Conduct persist, it is essential to not only implement CUES but also push for an expanded participation, especially among regional countries including those who are not signatories to this naval mechanism.

READ: To manage the South China Sea dispute, keep incidents at sea in check, a commentary

Whether the Code of Conduct materialises eventually, CUES in more holistic forms – extended to the aerial and underwater dimensions, and involving maritime law enforcement agencies – will become ever more critical in guaranteeing peace and stability in the South China Sea, and securing understanding among forces on the ground in avoiding conflict.

Koh Swee Lean Collin is research fellow with the Maritime Security Programme, at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, based in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Source: CNA/nr(sl)
Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/south-china-sea-code-of-conduct-draft-framework-living-document-10585420

Vietnam, Using a Page From China’s Book, Whips Up More Communist Party Repression in ‘Red Flag’ Propaganda Effort

August 5, 2018

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Performers dance with large national flags marking an anniversary of Vietnam’s communist regime in Hanoi, February 3, 2017. Photo: AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam

The Facebook page of Nguyen Thanh Tuan, a retired lieutenant general in the Vietnamese military, seethes with his critical commentary of the newly released book Gạc Ma: Vòng Tròn Bất Tử, a historical account of China’s annexation from Vietnam of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Tuan, along with a growing number of online voices who refer to themselves as “red flag nationalists”, felt the volume was textbook “historical revisionism” that was both unpatriotic and disrespectful to national heroes, and agitated for the ruling Communist Party to censor the work.

In recent days, Vietnamese authorities have appeared to acquiesce by ordering a temporary halt to the book’s distribution, reportedly to make corrections to contentious passages.

It was yet another victory for Vietnam’s rising online “red flag” movement, named after the country’s starred scarlet banner. Some analysts who monitor its online posts have likened it to the xenophobic and illiberal Alt-Right movement in the United States.

Active mainly on Facebook and Youtube, the “red flag” groups message is clarion: They want more, not less, Communist Party repression against liberal voices and for it to restore the nation’s founding socialist credentials.

It is at times nationalistic and militaristic, but more than anything it is overtly anti-Western. As well as grassroots agitators, many prominent voices within these groups are current or retired members of the security apparatus, from both the police and military. And while most are ardent supports of the Communist Party, many complain that it has lost its way.

In particular, they argue that the Party has been too lenient on liberals, mistaken in its nominal advocacy for “democratization” of society and often dishonors the Party’s heroes like Ho Chi Minh by forging closer relations with America, the group’s bete noire.

A bust of Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh at the Independence Palace museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A bust of Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh at the Independence Palace museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For some, they are part of the polarization of Vietnamese society, seen most clearly online by antagonistic ideological groups. First and foremost is the sizable pro-human rights and democratic movement, which openly campaigns for a transition to a multi-party system in Vietnam.

Many of this movement’s activists have banded online around groups like the Brotherhood for Democracy, a network established in 2013 which has been severely hit by government repression in recent months, with six of its prominent members imprisoned in April.

Another component group are the so-called “yellow flags,” a reference to the flag of the Republic of Vietnam, the anti-communist South that fell to the North in 1975. Many of its proponents are from diaspora communities, especially in America where many supporters of the Saigon regime fled after the communist’s victory in 1975.

In seeming response, the regressive “red flag” groups have emerged with a vengeance in recent months. A popular YouTube channel known as Viet Vision, which at its height had 97,000 subscribers before reportedly ceasing operations in March, was thought to be a major voice for the movement.

Before shuttering, it published lengthy videos attacking liberal activists like prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and Pham Doan Trang, a well-known blogger and journalist who was recently placed under house arrest.

One of Viet Vision’s most well-known commentators was Tran Nhat Quang, a prominent “red flag nationalist” who gained notoriety in 2015 when he tried to resurrect vigilante “people’s courts” to punish, or at least to report, people who disrespected the country’s flag, defamed national heroes or showed support for the old South Vietnam.

This centered on the case of Nguyen Lan Thang, a human rights activist who Quang claimed had defamed the honor of revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh. Thang said that he was constantly followed and attacked by unknown vigilantes, supposedly from “red flag” groups, who painted red insignia on the front door of his home.

Vietnam – Tran Nhat Quang – Red Flag – Nationalism – Youtube

“Red flag” nationalist Tran Nhat Quang cries out at a rally. Photo: Youtube

Although it is primarily an online movement, its members often physically act on their threats. In September 2017, for example, group associates based in the nation’s southern provinces entered a church in Dong Nai province brandishing pistols and batons.

They came to threaten a Catholic priest, Nguyen Duy Tan, who had called for a referendum on certain social issues on his Facebook page. Eleven individuals were later fined over the incident. In another incident in 2017, Quang and associates reportedly attacked two priests in Nghe An province.

The “red flag” movement is known to be vehemently anti-Catholic, most likely because of its members’ articulated hatred of French colonialism and the old Republic of Vietnam regime, whose leaders and state apparatus privileged Catholics.

There are various opinions on the importance of the emerging hardline movement. Some commentators reckon they are paid by the state and only act and comment when the Party wants them to, particularly when the regime wants to silence liberal critics.

Another interpretation is they are just a consortium of a few voices, mainly retired military officials, who are glorified online “trolls.” Some spectators call them the new “Red Guards” of the Party, reference to the paramilitaries who previously ferreted out anti-regime elements.

But relationships with the Party differs from “red flag” individual to individual, and at least in the early days authorities were certainly not entirely supportive of the groups.

For example, when some “red flag” members counter-protested a memorial demonstration led by liberal activists in Hanoi in March 2015, the capital’s police chief Nguyen Duc Chung, who is now chairman of Hanoi’s People’s Committee, considered their actions inappropriate.

Some high profile members lost their government jobs as a result while others quit their nationalistic activism

Vietnamese veterans march and wave flags during a parade held at the former presidential palace in Ho Chi Minh city to mark an anniversary of the Vietnam War's Tet 1968 offensive. Photo: AFP/Stringer

Vietnamese veterans march and wave flags during a parade held at the former presidential palace in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: AFP/Stringer

Nowadays, however, there is very little push back from the government. Indeed, last year the propaganda branch of Ho Chi Minh City’s party apparatus started a Facebook page called “Cờ Đỏ TPHCM”, or “Ho Chi Minh City Red Flags,” reportedly under pressure from proponents living in the southern economic hub where most “red flag” members are based.

The “red flag” groups relations with Force 47, a 10,000-strong cyber-warfare unit controlled by the military tasked with spreading pro-Party propaganda and flagging up content for authorities to investigate. Analysts say that “red flag” groups actually grew because of what they considered an inadequate response by authorities towards “anti-state” content published online.

“From a psychological point of view, their members regard participating in a so-called cyber-warfare against liberal activists and commentators as a ‘people’s war’… paradoxically as a human right to have a greater say in the nation’s politics,” contends a political risk analyst who requested anonymity.

In many ways, the “red flag” are comparable in outlook to the so-called “New Left” which formed in China during the 1990s reform era. Taisu Zhang, of Yale Law School, has described the “New Left” as combining nationalist sentiments, particularly anti-Western ones, with demands for a “reconstruction of socialism.”

But unlike China’s “New Left,” which chiefly emerged from intellectual circles, Vietnam’s “red flag” movement often lacks a coherent ideological standpoint on big questions and issues.

For example, some partisans oppose globalist and pro-capitalist economic reforms, “but fervently support any economic policy… as long as they are government-initiated – regardless of being ostensibly progressive or outright anti-socialist economic measures,” says one analyst who monitors the movement online.

Their foreign policy outlook is also often confused. Many present themselves as patriotic by being critical of China, Vietnam’s historic enemy and source of much nationalistic fervor in the country. Yet they often express envy at Beijing’s model of governance and tend to drop anti-China sentiment when it comes to Vietnam’s improved relations with America.

Vietnamese and Chinese communist youths wave flags to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (both not pictured) at a meeting in Hanoi on November 6, 2015. Xi said he hoped for a "higher level" partnership with Vietnam on a visit that has angered Vietnamese nationalists at a time of bubbling conflict over the South China Sea. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Na Son Nguyen / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Na Son Nguyen

Vietnamese and Chinese communist youths wave flags to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at a meeting in Hanoi on November 6, 2015. Photo: AFP/Na Son Nguyen

At the basest level, “red flag” nationalists consider America to be a much greater threat than China. They broadly oppose what they see as a worrying trend in Vietnamese society, which some of them term “bài Trung, phò Mỹ,” or “shunning China and being a prostitute to the US.”

China’s “New Left” and Vietnam’s “red flag” groups share concerns about their respective nations’ “post-ideological” eras, the 1990s in China and more recently in Vietnam.

Small wonder, then, that former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who was instrumental in forming closer relations with America during the 2000s and veered away from ideology in favor of more individualistic rule, is widely panned in “red flag” circles.

During Dung’s decade-long tenure, communist ideologues were replaced by both technocrats, in line with the nation’s transition to more market-oriented economics, as well as capitalistic rent-seekers whose only interest in politics was for financial gain.

Vietnam’s “red flag” groups are now openly calling for the reconstruction of socialism in its most illiberal form. They have found a natural champion in current Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. For some, Trong has “re-ideologicalized” Vietnamese politics.

Unlike his predecessors, Trong has reemphasized the country’s – and Party’s – moral and ideological cravings. He often speaks about socialism and the dangers of “peaceful evolution,” Party lexicon for democratic reforms.

Improving the morality of Party members will decide “whether the revolution will succeed or fail,” Trong said in May, around the same time that he introduced new performance assessments for Party members.

Communist Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong applauds after delivering a speech at the closing ceremony on the final day of the 12th National Congress of Vietnam's Communist Party in Hanoi on January 28, 2016. country. Photo: AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam

Communist Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong applauds after delivering a speech at the 12th National Congress of Vietnam’s Communist Party in Hanoi. January 28, 2016. Photo: AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam

Trong’s asserted his dominance over the Party at the 2016 Party Congress, when his conservative allies forced the less-ideological and Dung, out of office.

“The campaigns against ordinary and ideological corruption are for Nguyen Phu Trong the fruit of a lifetime of effort,” wrote David Brown, a former US diplomat and Vietnamese linguist, in April.

“At 73, the General Secretary is already well past retirement age and impatient to fulfill his mission of cleansing the Party and restoring its authority,” he added.

Since the 2016 Party Congress, Trong has unleashed a monumental anti-corruption drive to restore the Party’s morality as well as purge Dung loyalists. He has also led a crackdown against Party critics and liberal activists, of which more than 100 are now thought to be imprisoned.

“I would say the crackdown on liberals these days is part of a trend where the conservatives at the top are gaining more influence, including the ‘red flags’. They have for a long time complained that the government has been too lenient on liberal forces,” says an analyst.

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It’s a repressive trend that is likely to intensify as Trong and the “red flag” groups essentially sing from the same hymn book. Yet it would be wrongheaded to think of the nationalist groups as unswerving Party loyalists and hence represent a double-edged sword for the communists, say analysts.

Whether the groups morph into the sort of movement that challenges the Party’s current configuration and outlook, like the Tea Party did to the Republican Party in the US, is yet to be seen. But the “red flag” groups are clearly driving greater polarization in Vietnamese society between liberal and illiberal groups and through violent acts and rhetoric threaten to tip the stability the regime has long given primacy.

http://www.atimes.com/article/reactionary-red-flags-tilt-vietnam-to-the-alt-right//

Related:

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Protesters hold a banner which reads “No Leasing Land to China even for Anytime” during a demonstration against a draft law on the Special Economic Zone in Hanoi, Vietnam June 10, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

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The protests come at a time of rising tensions over the disputed South China Sea, nearly all of which is claimed by China.

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No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

 

Philippines: Senator Calls Foreign Affairs Secretary “A Snake” Over Scarborough Shoal, South China Sea Affair (China Is Winning)

August 5, 2018

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Chinese bomber over the Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal

Rosette Adel (philstar.com) – August 5, 2018 – 4:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV on Sunday slammed Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano for suddenly questioning the Aquino administration’s efforts over the Panatag (Scarborough) standoff.

For this, Trillanes called Cayetano, his former colleague and vice presidential rival a “political snake.”

“Sec. Cayetano has proven to be a political snake. The Panatag standoff happened in 2012 during which time Cayetano was still a loyal ally of the Aquino administration, so obviously, he never saw anything wrong with how PNoy resolved it then,” Trillanes said in a lengthy statement.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV called Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, his former colleague and vice presidential rival a “political snake.”

Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez, file
Cayetano earlier said the Philippines lost control over the Panatag Shoal under former President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.

READ: Cayetano fires back at Aquino: We both lost our hair, you lost Scarborough

The foreign affairs chief also questioned Trillanes’ back channel talks with Beijing, noting that the senator made 16 trips to China as Aquino’s emissary.

Cayetano claimed Trillanes had refused to reveal the purpose and nature of his trips when asked during a Senate session by then Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

Trillanes aired his side and said Cayetano previously defended him during his exchange with Enrile, citing that the DFA chief, was his minority leader then.

“In fact, I clearly remember telling him, as well as the other senators then, of the gist of my mission as back channel negotiator,” Trillanes said.

“For that matter, I had multiple media interviews about it but, again, Cayetano never saw anything wrong with it then,” he added.

Trillanes added that Cayetano is “pretending to be blind and deaf.”

The senator explained that he was designated as the back channel negotiator by Aquino in May 2012 to “de-escalate the tension in the shoal.” He said this was during the height of the Panatag standoff when there were about 80 to 100 Chinese vessels going in and around the shoal.

He clarified that Panatag Shoal is in Zambales area and is not part of the Kalayaan Island Group in Palawan.

Trillanes said part of his mission was to reduce the number of Chinese ships in the area and that sovereignty was not covered and was never discussed.

“The negotiations lasted for about 3 months, at the end of which we were able to reduce the number of Chinese ships in the area to just 3, all of which were positioned outside the shoal. In short, I was able to accomplish his mission,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes said the refusal of China to remove the three remaining ships in the shoal prompted Aquino to file the arbitration case which we eventually won in 2016.

“Those are the facts and the circumstances about this issue and I will not allow Cayetano to twist them,” Trillanes said.

‘Why not defend Philippines’ sovereignty?’

Trillanes, a fierce critic of the president, also questioned Cayetano and Duterte.

“Why didn’t you follow through on our historic victory at the arbitration court? Or better yet, Why aren’t you fighting for our sovereignty the way you promised during the campaign?”

In April 2016, Duterte vowed to personally ride a jet ski and plant the Philippine flag on the Spratlys Island or Scarborough Shoal so he could assert the country’s sovereignty amid China’s encroachment. He made the promise during the third presidential debate for the 2016 elections.

However, two years into his presidency, only National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and the president’s son Sebastian Duterte rode jet skis in the waters of Casiguran to assert claim on the undisputed Philippine Rise.

Duterte explained that he was not advised by the Presidential Security Group to push through with the jet ski plan due to lack of fuel.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/08/05/1839882/trillanes-calls-cayetano-political-snake-over-change-stance-panatag-standoff#OYkWRl7DebHOK5uM.99

Related:

Cayetano to Aquino: Who was in charge when you lost Scarborough Shoal?

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/662900/cayetano-to-aquino-who-was-in-charge-when-you-lost-scarborough-shoal/story/

  (propaganda)

  (This is what China cares about what people think….)

(Why give away what you own?)

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Above: China’s seven military bases near the Philippines in the South China Sea

Related:

No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. China occupies the South China Sea illegally. Asean seems ready to agree to China’s “de facto ownership” — even though it violates rule of law.