View Full Version : The New Chinese Era

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 09:57 AM
Post all your news and opinion articles, and your thoughts on the People's Republic of China right here. It is after all the new age of China.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 10:04 AM
Witnesses to Tiananmen Square struggle with what to tell their children

Tiananmen Square crackdown: Twenty-four years ago, on June 4, 1989, hundreds of Chinese pro-democracy demonstrators were killed when tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in central Beijing to squash a six-week student-led protest.

By William Wan, Monday, June 3, 9:03 AM E-mail the writer

BEIJING — From a young age, Qi Zhiyong’s daughter asked him how he lost his leg.

To everyone else in the world, Qi always responded to the question with an unflinching, often angry, answer: He lost his left leg when soldiers fired on him and other unarmed civilians during protests at Tiananmen Square in one of modern history’s most brutal crackdowns.

But when his daughter asked, Qi choked back the words.

“I lost it in an accident,” he mumbled for years.

The lie, however, burned at him, he said.

In the 2 1/2 decades since the protests’ violent end, China’s government has largely scrubbed Tiananmen from history. Bullet holes on the streets of Beijing have long been patched over. The government has barred any independent inquiry and censored all mention online. Instead, Tiananmen Square has been reduced to a single euphemistic sentence in most school textbooks, making vague reference to “political turbulence in 1989.”

But for those who were part of the student-led protests against government repression and corruption, those dark morning hours of June 4, 1989, remain etched in memory and, in cases like Qi’s, on their bodies. That generation must now decide what to tell their children about that day, if anything at all.

For many, the decision is colored by how their own views have changed over time. In interviews with more than a dozen survivors, a few now wondered if the democratic cause they fought for was misguided by youthful passion. Others have won asylum abroad, and when they talk of Tiananmen to their children, it is as history — just one part of their life’s larger story.

But the dilemma is often more complicated for those who remain in China, where public mention of Tiananmen can result in government retribution. To this day, officials maintain that the decision was necessary for stability, and the anniversary is marked with thousands of police patrolling the square and chasing off journalists, while Internet forums are stripped of content.

Those who have found successful careers in business, law and academia often talk of it only in private, fearful of consequences for themselves and their offspring.

Even some of those who have soldiered on as activists deliberately say little of Tiananmen to their children, who grow up not fully understanding why police barge into their homes each year as the anniversary approaches to interrogate and spirit away their parents for weeks without explanation. Some children experience restrictions and warnings themselves at school.

For most parents, it comes down to a choice between protecting their children from the past or passing on dangerous and bitter truths about the authoritarian society they continue to live under.

It is something Qi and his wife have wrestled with throughout their 14-year-old daughter’s life. The two have fought so often and so heatedly on the subject that neither dares mention 1989 at home anymore.

‘The veil was lifted’

A 33-year-old construction worker at the time of the Tiananmen protests, Qi took a detour that night toward the central Beijing square with co-workers out of curiosity, not activism. Qi, who later converted to Christianity, now likens the moment troops fired without warning at the crowd around him to a baptism of sorts.

“The veil was lifted from my eyes, and I saw the party for what it really was,” he said.

In the hospital, he said, as doctors tried to salvage his bullet-torn left thigh, he took a purple antiseptic liquid and, to their chagrin, angrily scrawled on his leg: “This bullet belongs to the Communist Party’s army.”

After the amputation, he was forced to give up his construction job and has not found work since. By the time Qi Ji was born in 1998, her father had become a full-time activist, protesting the government’s maltreatment of the handicapped and democracy advocates, along with other human rights abuses.

Qi’s wife warned him early on: Say what you want about the government to everyone else, but Ji is too young. Why create problems for her, his wife argued, why poison her against the society she must live in?

“But I don’t think it’s a bad thing for her to understand this government,” Qi said on a recent afternoon while waiting for his daughter’s return from school. “I want her to be prepared to handle life and to face these problems. Why should we cover up the truth and let her live in illusion?”

For Qi, the Tiananmen crackdown — or June 4, as it is commonly referred to in China — has become the defining moment of his life.

While most people, including some former Tiananmen protesters, have learned to avoid the topic, Qi carries business cards listing his job title as “Disabled Victim of June 4.” His home telephone number, cellphone number and e-mail address end with deliberately chosen digits: “89 64.” And on the back of his cards, he has emblazoned this slogan: “Facts written in ink cannot conceal the truth written in blood.”

His family lives in a cramped Beijing apartment, dependent on his wife’s $320-a-month job as a drugstore sales assistant, while Qi cares for their daughter and supports human rights causes — work that has resulted in long stretches of detention and frequent government harassment.

Qi’s wife, Lu Shiying, wishes he would let go of what happened 24 years ago. She recently declined to meet with foreign journalists and warned Qi against it.

“How come others are able to move forward?” she often asks him, he said. “You were not the only victim on June Fourth.”

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 10:05 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

‘Nothing to be gained’

Kong Weizhen was also shot and lost the use of his left leg that night. But after seeing the danger and futility of his anti-government activism, he abandoned the opposition work that had brought him to the streets. Instead, he tried to make a new life for himself within the existing system.

He became a salesman and worked his way up to owning a computer store. He even tried in vain to join the Communist Party at one point — an attempt, he says, to increase his pay for the sake of his 12-year-old daughter.

“My family is now my first priority,” he explained in a phone interview. “There’s nothing to be gained from telling her about June 4. If I tell her, she may form some dangerous resentment against the party. . . . I just want her to have a safe and happy life.”

The only reason he would tell her, he said, is if another anti-government protest erupted. “If that happened, I would use my own example to teach her what such movements can accomplish and what they cannot. And I would ask her to get as far away as she can.”

But even those who have devoted their lives to fighting for the democratic ideals of 1989 disagree on how much to tell their children. Many of them form the core of China’s dissident community.

“I don’t want my children to know,” said Zhang Lin, a rights activist in Anhui province who has spent many years in jail on state subversion charges.

In February, authorities pulled his 10-year-old daughter, Anni, from school as an apparent punishment to her father. The incident spurred dozens of other activists to stage a hunger strike in front of the school. Weeks later, Anni was allowed to resume class, but only in another town far away.

His daughter now loses her temper easily, Zhang said, and has become obsessed with cartoons in which the good guys beat up the bad. “I don’t want my children to follow the same path as me,” he said.

In a phone interview, his daughter said, “I don’t know why the police keep coming,” though she knows it’s related somehow to her father.

When asked about June 4, she responded: “What is June 4? I haven’t heard anything about it.”

‘I have no regrets’

Qi said he doesn’t begrudge other parents their personal decisions, but he worries that staying silent contributes to the gradual purge of China’s collective memory.

To this day, he said, his amputated stump hurts whenever he hears the crack of fireworks. He avoids passing Tiananmen Square, he said, because he tastes blood whenever he gets too close.

In the end, suppressing all mention of June 4 in front of his daughter proved impossible. And after his daughter turned 10, a teacher made passing reference to the date while talking about the physical space of Tiananmen Square.

That night, with Qi’s wife still at work, his daughter mentioned it to him, and the memories poured out. The clacking advance of tanks. The shocking sound of gunfire. The blood he saw all around him and the sudden pain and darkness.

In the years that followed, he secretly told her more and more. They watched banned videos about that day on overseas Web sites. They talked about the party and its instinct for self-preservation.

He watched both proud and pained as June 4 began to color her worldview as it had his.

She became both more rebellious and more mature, he said. Like her parents, she now refers to the police watching their home as “dogs,” but she accepts without questioning when school leaders exclude her from trips abroad and from student parades at Tiananmen celebrating China’s communist rule.

Lately, she’s talked of becoming a kindergarten teacher so she can teach kids how to think for themselves about what’s right and wrong.

“All parents want their children to live a happy life, but I have no regrets about telling her,” Qi said. “Only after she first tastes the bitter can she know what the sweet is.”

Qi’s wife now knows that her daughter knows. But recently, the family reached a kind of detente — similar to the one in Chinese society at large. When together at home these days, they simply avoid all mention of Tiananmen Square, June 4 and what happened that day 24 years ago.

Zhang Jie in Beijing contributed to this report.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 10:36 AM
Will Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese dream’ include the rule of law?

By Fred Hiatt, Monday, June 3, 8:19 AM E-mail the writer

As he accepted the Communist Party’s designation to be China’s president and supreme military leader in March, Xi Jinping vowed “to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Xi’s speech to the National People’s Congress won plaudits from the press. “His crisp yet rich voice and frank yet resolute gaze revealed a power to invigorate the people,” the China People’s Daily reported.

But the speech left analysts guessing about what sort of rejuvenation — also translated as “revival” or “renaissance” — the new leader has in mind. Presumably President Obama will be looking for clues when he meets with Xi later this week in California.

Does Xi mean a “Chinese dream” of prosperity, as the “American dream” is often interpreted — a promise to continue the historic progress of the past three decades in moving people from poverty into the middle class? Does he have in mind a campaign against the widespread corruption and growing inequality of wealth that rankles many Chinese? Or is he focused on raising China’s influence and profile beyond its borders? He has hinted at all three possibilities.

Many prominent scholars, the Economist magazine recently reported, signed a petition urging China to rejuvenate based on the rule of law — placing the constitution higher than arbitrary one-party rule.

A turn in that direction could help with all three “revival” goals. Dictators from Stalin to South Korea’s Park Chung-hee have managed to wrench their nations from abject poverty to mid-level industrialization, but further growth — escape from the *“middle-income trap” that worries many Chinese officials — almost always is accompanied by political liberalization.

An independent judiciary would tame corruption more effectively than periodic purges and Communist Party disciplinary campaigns. And China would win more friends abroad, and drive fewer neighbors into the shelter of U.S. alliance, by respecting international norms than through bullying.

Alas, there is little evidence so far that Xi is tempted in the direction of constitutionalism. While he has, like past leaders, mentioned democracy as an eventual goal, he also has said, “The Chinese dream is an ideal. Communists should have a higher ideal, and that is communism.” When the People’s Daily posted an online survey about the “Chinese dream,” about 80 percent of respondents said they did not support one-party rule — and the survey was quickly taken down.

Xi is still settling in, though; he himself may not be entirely sure what direction he will take. While his choices will be determined primarily by internal factors, global perceptions and responses will matter, too. That makes it even more important than usual for Obama to explain why mutually beneficial U.S.-China relations would be served by Chinese respect for the rule of law.

Obama should make clear, for example, that when Chinese officials promise their U.S. counterparts that human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng can emigrate with no adverse consequences to his relatives, and then those relatives are arrested, beaten and harassed, U.S. trust is affected.

When a longtime resident of North America, democracy advocate Wang Bingzhang, is lured to a meeting on the Vietnam-China border, kidnapped by Chinese security agents and thrown into solitary confinement in a remote prison — that affects perceptions, too. (Full disclosure: I have a personal interest in Wang’s case, having become friends with his daughter, Ti-Anna Wang, and written a novel for young adults inspired in part by his story.)

And when a literary critic such as Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobois imprisoned for peaceful advocacy of free speech — and his wife is put under house arrest with no due process — outsiders have to doubt the confidence that Chinese officials claim to feel in their model of governance and development.

Here’s something else Obama might say: No country is likely to win respect for greatness if it lives in fear of citizens like Chen, Wang and Liu. Nor is “rejuvenation” likely to be more than a slogan unless it is built on the principle that all three men spoke for — the principle of rule of law.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 10:40 AM
U.S. & China: Regularly disappointing each other

By John Pomfret, Published: May 4, 2012

John Pomfret, a former Beijing bureau chief for The Post, is writing a book on the history of interactions between Americans and Chinese.


The past two months in China have revealed something profound about the outsized expectations that China and the United States have for each other and the often-feeble returns on what many call the most important bilateral relationship in the world.

Many Chinese place the United States on a pedestal that looms even higher from the capital of a nation facing a deep crisis in belief. The Chinese vest the United States with a moral authority that Americans are flattered by but are often loath to accept. For its part, the United States, in need of a hand around the globe, wants China to start acting like a superpower. But the Chinese — for tactical reasons or otherwise — reject the responsibilities inherent in big-power status even as they, too, are beguiled by the attention.

Ever since aggressive young U.S. merchants first washed up on China’s shores and earned the sobriquet “the new people,” the two sides have expected great things from each other. But over the 229 years that Americans and Chinese have interacted, they have rarely been satisfied. And yet irrationally, almost magnetically, they keep coming back to each other for more.

The current cycle began in February, when the first of two very different Chinese men sought shelter in a U.S. diplomatic outpost. The first one, Wang Lijun, is a policeman famed for his brutality but also known as someone who had run afoul of his political godfather — once one of the most powerful men in China, Bo Xilai. On Feb. 6, Wang left Chongqing, where he had overseen a reign of terror against Bo’s enemies, and drove 200 miles to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. There, Wang requested protection because he feared for his life. He apparently had been investigating Bo’s wife in connection with the murder of a British businessman. The upshot of Wang’s day-long stay in the consulate sent shock waves through China’s political hierarchy. Bo was purged from the party. His wife, Gu Kailai, was arrested. And the Americans handed Wang back to the Chinese.

Why did Wang seek U.S. help after laboring for years in the belly of a system that, according to its internal documents and even some public speeches, views the United States as an “enemy”? For the same reason that many of China’s leaders park their children in U.S. universities and their money in U.S. real estate. Political correctness in China disallows expressions of admiration, affection, respect and unity of purpose with the United States; officials make them at their peril. But these constraints mask a more complicated reality. Chinese remain moved by America. So while apparatchiks toe the party line, privately they still want their children at Harvard, cluck at an American-born grandson (as did China’s late paramount leader Deng Xiao*ping) or run — when there’s no place to hide — to the U.S. Consulate.

Predictably, Wang was not granted any form of protection. But his gambit might have saved his life, and it definitely altered the course of China’s upcoming political transition. When U.S. officials handed Wang back, they gave him to an official of the Ministry of State Security from Beijing. If Wang had stayed in Chongqing, chances are he would have died with his story.

Then there is the tale of the second man. For years, Chen Guangcheng has been on the receiving end of the attention of men like Wang Lijun. Chen is a blind lawyer who has represented clients forcibly sterilized by officials carrying out China’s one-child policy. For those “crimes,” he has been jailed, kidnapped and beaten. He was released from prison in September 2010, only to be held in Shandong province by a team of police and local thugs in a makeshift jail. There were no charges against him, but that did not matter. The security services in China are all-powerful; their budget is bigger than that of China’s military.

Last month Chen escaped and made his way to Beijing. Where was the safest place for a human rights lawyer on the lam from a gang of toughs? And who could best guarantee his security in China going forward? Again the answer was a U.S. diplomatic facility.

The he-said, she-said of the negotiations between China and the United States over Chen’s fate are still being reported. Did U.S. officials rush the talks so they would not interfere with the annual economic and trade talks opening this week in Beijing?

That forum, by the way, is a testimony to the exaggerated U.S. expectations for China. By grouping hundreds of officials from the bureaucracies of both sides, it seems more like an exercise to convince China of its importance than a meeting with any practical utility. Did U.S. officials somehow apologize to the Chinese — an act that the Beijing government demanded publicly but that would privately sadden many of those same officials?

One thing is clear. Once Chen left the U.S. Embassy to seek medical treatment, he had second thoughts. Perhaps he should have requested asylum, he told reporters. Despite a deal that he would be protected from the goons who have menaced his family, he is on his own if he ends up staying in his own country. Kurt Campbell, the State Department’s point man on Asia, told reporters that an incident such as Chen’s would not happen again, but given Chinese expectations about America, that seems hard to guarantee.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 10:41 AM
Making China keep its promise to dissident Chen Guangcheng

By Editorial Board, Published: May 13

JUST A WEEK or so ago, we raised the question on this page about whether the Chinese would keep their promise to investigate abuses against the family of Chen Guangcheng, the blind dissident lawyer who escaped from his illegal home detention in Shandong province last year, was sheltered briefly in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and eventually came to New York. We also questioned the commitment of the United States to keep the pressure on China to honor its pledge at the time Mr. Chen left the embassy and the country.

Mr. Chen lamented to us recently that neither side is living up to its promises. He said that his relatives continue to be harassed in China, with beer bottles and bricks thrown at their houses, cars vandalized and posters put up accusing them of treason. Some relatives were also told by prosecutors that they would be criminally charged. Mr. Chen felt these actions were intended to silence his potent criticism of human rights in China.

On May 9, China delivered a new punch to the gut. According to Bob Fu of ChinaAid, who has been deeply involved with the case, Mr. Chen’s older brother, Chen Guangfu, was riding a motorbike at 9:45 a.m., about two miles from his home, when he was stopped by a black car without a license plate. Two men got out of the car and beat him and wrecked the motorbike. The beating was near a police station in Mengyin county of Shandong province. Chen Guangfu immediately reported the incident to the police, but they have taken no action to find the assailants.

The beating seems to be a defiant message that China could not care less about the promises made last year to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. This kind of beating does not happen without the instigation and approval of higher officials; it suggests that China is far more determined to intimidate Mr. Chen than to honor any pledge made to Washington. Thugs beating up a brother on a lonely country road sends a message loud and clear.

Last Thursday, acting deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said “we remain deeply concerned” about reports of continued harassment of the family and the beating of Chen’s brother. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a written protest to Foreign Minister Wang Yi about the beating. Such a response suggests the United States isn’t going to make a public fuss.

Often in managing a relationship as complex as the United States and China, it pays dividends to balance conflicting imperatives — security, economics, human rights and politics, among other things. But there are also times when the United States ought to stand up and shout that something is amiss. This is one of those moments. Some forceful, public comments by Mr. Kerry and President Obama might ease the Chen family’s nightmare at the hands of thugs, and remind China’s leaders that their promises should not be simply crumpled up and discarded whenever they feel like it.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 10:50 AM
Chinese communist leaders denounce U.S. values but send children to U.S. colleges

Xi Jinping is the heir apparent to lead China’s Communist Party. His daughter is at Harvard University.

By Andrew Higgins and Maureen Fan, Published: May 19, 2012 E-mail the writer

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When scholars gathered at Harvard last month to discuss the political tumult convulsing China’s ruling Communist Party, a demure female undergraduate with a direct stake in the outcome was listening intently from the top row of the lecture hall. She was the daughter of Xi Jinping, China’s vice president and heir apparent for the party’s top job.

Xi’s daughter, Xi Mingze, enrolled at Harvard University in 2010, under what people who know her there say was a fake name, joining a long line of Chinese “princelings,” as the offspring of senior party officials are known, who have come to the United States to study.

In some ways, the rush to U.S. campuses by the party’s “red nobility” simply reflects China’s national infatuation with American education. China has more students at U.S. colleges than in any other foreign country. They numbered 157,558 in the 2010-11 academic year, according to data compiled by the Institute of International Education — up nearly fourfold in 15 years.

But the kin of senior party officials are a special case: They rarely attend state schools but congregate instead at top-tier — and very expensive — private colleges, a stark rejection of the egalitarian ideals that brought the Communist Party to power in 1949. Of the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the supreme decision-making body of a Communist Party steeped in anti-American rhetoric, at least five have children or grandchildren who have studied or are studying in the United States.

Helping to foster growing perceptions that the party is corrupt is a big, unanswered question raised by the foreign studies of its leaders’ children: Who pays their bills? Harvard, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and living expenses over four years, refuses to discuss the funding or admission of individual students.

Grandchildren of two of the party’s last three top leaders — Zhao Ziyang, who was purged and placed under house arrest for opposing the military assault on Tiananmen Square protesters in June 1989, and his successor, Jiang Zemin — studied at Harvard.

The only prominent princeling to address the question of funding publicly is Bo Guagua, a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His father is the now-disgraced former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, who, like Xi Jinping, is the son of an early revolutionary leader who fought alongside Mao Zedong.

Bo Guagua did not attend the seminar at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, which focused on his family’s travails. But in a statement sent a few days later to Harvard’s student-run newspaper, the Crimson, he responded to allegations of ill-
gotten wealth. He said he had never used his family name to make money and, contrary to media reports, had never driven a Ferrari. Funding for his overseas studies, he said, came entirely from unspecified “scholarships earned independently, and my mother’s generosity from the savings she earned from her years as a successful lawyer and writer.”

His mother, Gu Kailai, is in detention somewhere in China on suspicion of involvement in the death of Neil Heywood, a Briton who served as a business adviser to the Bo family. After what Chinese authorities say was a falling-out over money, Heywood was found dead, apparently poisoned, in a Chongqing hotel room in November.

Bo Guagua “is very worried about what might happen to his mother,” said Ezra F. Vogel, a Harvard professor who said he had received a visit from a “very anxious” Bo last week. Bo’s image as a wild playboy, Vogel added, is “greatly exaggerated.”

In China’s “dog-eat-dog” political culture, Harvard scholar Roderick MacFarquhar told the Fairbank Center seminar, the family is both “a wealth-generating unit” and a “form of general protection.” As a result, he added, “you have a party that is seen as deeply corrupt.”

Before his ouster, Bo Xilai had an official annual salary of less than $20,000. But his son attended Harrow School, an exclusive private academy in London with annual fees of about $48,000; then Oxford, which, for overseas students, costs more than $25,000 a year just in tuition; and the Kennedy School, which, according to its own estimates, requires about $70,000 a year to cover tuition and living expenses.

‘Top of the food chain’

“This is about haves and have-nots,” said Hong Huang, the stepdaughter of Mao’s foreign minister Qiao Guanhua and a member of an earlier generation of American-educated princelings. “China’s old-boy network . . . is no different from America’s old-boy network,” said Hong, who went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and whose mother served as Mao’s English teacher.

“There is something about elitism that says if you are born in the right family, you have to go to the right school to perpetuate the glory of the family. Going to an elite college is a natural extension of that,” said Hong, now a Beijing-based style guru and publisher. Among her ventures is iLook, an edgy fashion and lifestyle magazine that offers tips on how to enjoy what a 2010 cover story proclaimed as China’s “Gilded Age.”

Noting that the Communist Party has drifted far from its early ideological moorings, Hong said she sees no contradiction between the desire for an Ivy League education and the current principles of the ruling party and its leaders: “What part of China is communist, and what part of Harvard is against elitist authoritarianism?”

Hong’s stepfather, Qiao, was purged as foreign minister in 1976 and his ministerial post passed to Mao’s former interpreter, Huang Hua, whose son, Huang Bin, also went to Harvard. At the time, China’s education system lay in ruins, wrecked by the *1966-76 Cultural Revolution and Mao’s vicious campaigns against intellectuals, who were reviled as the “stinking ninth category.”

Today, Chinese universities have not only recovered but become so fiercely competitive that getting into them is difficult even for well-connected princelings. Even so, top American universities still carry more cachet among many in China’s political and business elite, in part because they are so expensive. A degree from Harvard or the equivalent ranks as “the ultimate status symbol” for China’s elite, said Orville Schell, a Harvard graduate and director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 10:54 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

“There is such a fascination with brand names” in China that “just as they want to wear Hermes or Ermenegildo Zegna, they also want to go to Harvard. They think this puts them at the top of the food chain,” Schell said.

The attraction of a top-brand university is so strong that some princelings flaunt even tenuous affiliations with a big-name American college. Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former prime minister and ex-Politburo member Li Peng, for example, has long boasted that she attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a “visiting scholar at the Sloan Business School.” MIT says the only record it has of attendance by a student with Li’s name was enrollment in a “non-degree short course” open to executives who have “intellectual curiosity” and are ready to spend $7,500 for just 15 days of classes.

Discipline case

The welfare of princelings studying abroad can become a matter for the Chinese government.

During his final year at Oxford University in England, Bo Guagua ran into trouble because of inattention to his studies. When the university initiated a disciplinary process against him, the Chinese Embassy in London sent a three-person diplomatic delegation to Oxford to discuss the matter with Bo’s tutor at Balliol College, according to an academic who was involved in the episode and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be able to speak candidly. The embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

The embassy trio pleaded on Bo’s behalf, stressing that education is very important to the Chinese, the academic said. The tutor replied that Bo should, in that case, learn to study more and party less. The intervention by Chinese diplomats didn’t help Bo and, in December 2008, he was “rusticated” for failing to produce academic work of an adequate standard, an effective suspension that, under Oxford regulations, meant he lost his “right of access” to all university facilities. Barred from college housing, Bo moved into a pricey local hotel. He was, however, allowed to take a final examination in 2010. Despite his banishment from classes, he performed well and received a degree.

“He was a bright student,” said the Oxford academic, who knew Bo Guagua at the time. But “in Oxford, he was suddenly freer than anything he had experienced before and, like a good many young people in similar circumstances, it was like taking the cork out of a bottle of champagne.”

Most other princelings have kept a far lower profile.

On the manicured, sun-drenched grounds of Stanford University in Silicon Valley, Jasmine Li — whose grandfather, Jia Qinglin, ranks fourth in the Politburo and has made speeches denouncing “erroneous” Western ways — blends in seamlessly with fellow American undergraduates.

Photographs have appeared online showing her wearing a black-and-white Carolina Herrera gown at a Paris debutante ball in 2010, and she shares with Bo Guagua a taste for horse riding. As a freshman last year, she rode with the Stanford Equestrian team.

But her presence on campus is low-key, like that of Xi’s daughter at Harvard, whom fellow students describe as studious and discreet. Li rides a shiny red bicycle to and from classes, has an American roommate and joined a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. She often studies after class in the sorority house’s high-ceilinged living room alongside fellow members.

Reached at her sorority, Li declined to comment on her time in the United States or her ambitions, saying, in unaccented English, that she needed to consult first with her family in China.

‘Achilles’ heel for the party’

The stampede to American campuses has delivered a propaganda gift to critics of the Communist Party, which drapes itself in the Chinese flag and regularly denounces those who question its monopoly on power as traitorous American lackeys. A widespread perception that members of the party elite exploit their access and clout to stash their own children and also money overseas “is a big Achilles’ heel for the party,” said Harvard’s MacFarquhar.

Bitter foes of the ruling party such as the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong have reveled in spreading sometimes unfounded rumors about privileged party children. New Tang Dynasty TV, part of a media empire operated by Falun Gong, reported, for example, that 74.5 percent of the children of current and retired minister-level Chinese officials have acquired either green cards or U.S. citizenship. The rate for their grandchildren is 91 percent, said the TV station, citing an anonymous Chinese blog posting that in turn cited supposed official U.S. statistics. No government agency has issued any such statistics.

Though of dubious accuracy, the report stirred a storm of outrage on the Internet, with Twitter-like micro-blogs denouncing the hypocrisy of the party elite. Most of the comments were quickly deleted by China’s army of Internet censors. But a few survived, with one complaining that officials “curse American imperialism and capitalism all the time but their wives and children have already emigrated to the U.S. to be [American] slaves.”

Symbol of excess

Similar fury greeted photographs that showed Bo Guagua cavorting at parties with Western women at a time when his father was promoting a neo-Maoist revival in Chongqing and urging the city’s 33 million residents to reconnect with the austere values of the party’s early years.

Bo, a poster boy for princeling excess, stopped attending classes this spring and last month moved out of a serviced apartment building with a uniformed doorman near Harvard Yard. (Rents there range from $2,300 to $3,000 a month.) People who know him at Harvard say he had earlier split up with his girlfriend, fellow Harvard student Sabrina Chen, the granddaughter of Chen Yun, a powerful party baron. Before his death in 1995, Chen took a hard line against the “infiltration” of Western values and, along with Bo Guagua’s grandfather, Bo Yibo, pressed for a military crackdown against student protesters who gathered in Tiananmen Square around a plaster statue inspired by the Statue of Liberty.

The cook at a fast-food eatery near his Cambridge apartment building said Bo Guagua used to come in regularly but didn’t make much of an impression. “He just ordered the usual stuff, BLTs. Nothing special,” said the cook, who gave his name as Mustafa.

Staff at Changsho, a Chinese restaurant, however, remember a more extravagant customer. Late one evening, for example, Bo came in alone, ordered four dishes and left after barely touching the food. “He didn’t even ask for a doggie bag,” recalled a restaurant worker, appalled at the waste.

Fan and special correspondent Yawen Chen reported from Palo Alto, Calif.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 11:03 AM
Restraint is the new red in China

President Xi Jinping is pressing the Communist Party's elite to cut back on lavish living amid growing public resentment. The economic effect is far-reaching.

By Don Lee, Los Angeles Times

May 19, 2013, 8:38 p.m.

BEIJING — Exports of elegant Swiss watches to China have plunged. Sales of Mercedes-Benz and other premium sedans are slowing. And high-end restaurants, coming off their worst Chinese New Year festival in years, are starting to change their menus to lure ordinary families.

At a Montblanc shop in downtown Beijing, sales clerks recall the days when they rang up as many as 10 of the top-selling fountain pens every day. And never mind the $1,400 price tag: The platinum-plated pen capped with a half-carat diamond was a particular favorite. Nowadays the store sells one such pen every two to three days, said a saleswoman surnamed Ren, adding sadly that her pay is commission-based.

Such is the state of living large in the world's second-largest luxury market. Yet the cause of the downturn is not economic — it is political.

In the last few months, China's new leader, President Xi Jinping, has been pressing a campaign to rein in the lavish ways of the nation's political and military elite. Warning that corruption could threaten the Communist Party's survival, Xi has waged a highly public effort to rid officialdom of ostentatious living.

Ceremonial red carpets and floral decor are out. Flying coach is in. Party cadres are being told to double up in hotel rooms.

And in what has become a particular crowd pleaser with the public, Beijing is going after those who have long abused the privileges of military license plates, which almost guarantee immunity from traffic laws and other such inconveniences.

It's a much-debated question here whether this wide-ranging campaign is aimed at the root causes of corruption and income inequality, or only addressing the most visible symptoms. Whichever the case, Xi and his lieutenants have good reason for their frugality program.

Beijing has long maintained control in part by tacitly promising that over time everyone will benefit from the country's new wealth. Rampant corruption and the garish displays of affluence by senior officials and their families strike at the heart of Beijing's promise that it is working to make life better for all. Ordinary Chinese, often through microblogs and other social media, have increasingly lashed out at what they see as a privileged class of political elites.

Minxin Pei, an expert on Chinese governance at Claremont McKenna College, thinks Xi has two objectives with his anticorruption program: "To appease the Chinese public to show that he has heard their voice … [and] to tell officials throughout the system that the new leadership has absolute authority."

Whatever the government's purpose, the campaign has affected spending on all kinds of high-end goods and services. Some analysts blame Xi's crackdown for China's disappointing economic growth in the first quarter, which has brought financial pain to many workers.

The repercussions of the austerity drive aren't just domestic. Official visits sponsored by government entities to the United States and other countries are rapidly declining, according to travel industry sources. That is sure to be felt by California, a popular destination among the Chinese.

Most purveyors of luxury goods in China are sitting tight for now, betting that the freeze will end soon.

"I still believe that gift-giving, as long as it is not conspicuous, will remain an important behavior in China," said Pierre Coppere, chairman of distiller Pernod Ricard Asia, reassuring analysts recently after a double-digit drop in revenue from sales of Scotch whiskey during the Chinese New Year period.

Gift-giving is a way of life for many Chinese businesses and bureaucrats, as are bribes. Over the years, Communist Party officials have found plenty of ways to pocket gains from land sales, hiring and operation of businesses on the side.

In many cases, the extravagant spending comes from official entertainment funds. Even though the party's manuals spell out standards for purchases in detailed fashion — specifying, for example, the maximum engine size that each level of government can buy for its fleet — the regulations have seldom been enforced.

Civil servants earn modest incomes — no more than $850 a month for a mid-level central government official, some state media reports say — but many have spruced up their lifestyles by traveling first class, dining at premium restaurants and holding lavish ceremonies, all on the taxpayers' dime. Officials charged an estimated $57 billion worth of expenses on about 10 million government-issued credit cards last year, according to Emerging Asia Group, a research firm in Shanghai.

Xi has made examples of officials who have been publicly criticized, fired or prosecuted, mostly at low levels of government, for using taxpayer money on banquets and trips, for example, or keeping a public vehicle for personal use.

It's less clear how effective he has been in going after flagrant cases of corruption in the upper ranks of power, although last week, the deputy head of China's main economic planning agency, Liu Tienan, was dismissed amid allegations that he had colluded with a private business for personal gain.

State-run media reported that in the first quarter of the year, there were more than 3,600 prosecutions of corruption involving $87.5 million. Those numbers put Xi on pace to outdo his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who also sought to clean up the party in his first year in office, in 2003. But the quarterly report didn't break down the cases by levels of government. Though Xi's crusade has already gone on longer and been more sweeping than those of his predecessors, many experts think the frugality fervor won't last. Once the campaign ends, they say, officials who are lying low will probably go back to their old ways.

Beyond that, Xi's actions do little to address what most see as the root of the problem: a lack of public accountability.

"At the end of the day, all this is a charade," said Pei, of Claremont McKenna.

Zhang Ming, a political scientist at People's University in Beijing, said the key was "whether they're willing to set some hard rules and allow independent supervision." So far, he said, "there aren't any signs that the government is planning to bring that kind of change."

Other Chinese scholars are a little more hopeful, saying Xi's campaign is pushing against an endemic political culture and that it will take time for things to change.

During nearly three decades, Lin Zhe, a professor at the Central Party School, had grown accustomed to lavish meals at official meetings, with cigarettes, wine and fruit always on the table. But at a party lunch last month, she said, everybody was served two dishes and a bowl of soup, cafeteria-style. They got little else except for a bottle of mineral water, and were instructed to take the bottle home if not finished.

When the meeting adjourned, Lin wasn't given a sweater or some other souvenir as before, just a stack of reading material. "They told us to empty and clean our plates."

Lin says the frugality campaign's effect on the national economy shows how much China's rapid growth was being fueled by a corruption bubble. Restaurants and other businesses should "improve the quality and grow by competition and development, not by relying on corruption," she said.

The actual effect of political austerity on the Chinese economy is hard to measure. China's catering and hotel business, for example, accounted for just 2% of the economy in 2010, the latest year for which such data are available.

At the same time, the government sector represents a huge consuming force. Roughly 10 million people hold administrative positions at nearly 400,000 central and local government units, with tens of millions more working at public schools, hospitals and state-owned enterprises.

Some officials complain that Xi's campaign, while good for the economy in the long run, is having the opposite effect at the moment, hampering efforts to bolster domestic consumption.

What's more, some have responded to the crackdown by taking their spending underground, with state media citing reports of lavish sauna-bath receptions held in farmyards and officials drinking premium liquor disguised in mineral water bottles.

Even merchants know how to play the game.

At a Gucci shop in Beijing recently, a saleswoman showed off a $1,500 handbag for men, boasting its Florence-made leather imprinted with the brand's double-G logo. Asked whether it would make a good gift for someone in government, she demurred, pointing instead to another model decidedly more understated but nearly as expensive.

"I don't know if this is suitable," she said. "The logo is too obvious."

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 09:03 AM
Tiananmen crackdown mayor dies—report

Agence France-Presse

6:39 am | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

BEIJING—The former mayor of Beijing who was believed to have played a prominent role in the Tiananmen crackdown died at the weekend, it was reported Tuesday, 24 years after the military repression.

Chen Xitong died in Beijing on Sunday at 9:54 a.m., according to the Hong Kong China News Agency, an outlet linked to the state-run China News Service.

Chen fell from grace in one of China’s biggest political scandals and was widely seen as the official who pushed for the use of military force against the student-led protests in the heart of the capital.

He was sentenced to 16 years in jail on corruption charges in 1998, but won medical parole in 2006, according to the HKCNA report.

He died aged 84, the report said, shortly before his jail sentence would have ended had it been fully served.

His political downfall came after he was promoted to Communist Party secretary of Beijing and made a member on the all-powerful Politburo, China’s de facto ruling body.

His rise in the party was widely seen as a reward for his role in the Tiananmen episode.

Chen said he was “sorry” for the tragedy and that the deaths could have been avoided in an interview contained in a book released last year titled “Conversations with Chen Xitong.”

He also attempted to shift the blame, saying he was merely acting on orders from the top leadership.

But Zhao Ziyang, the former communist party secretary who was purged and held under house arrest following the protests after he sympathized with students, blamed Chen for the tragedy in his memoir.

Other senior figures within the Communist Party also said Chen was one of the masterminds of the crackdown.

The report of his death emerged as tens of thousands of Hong Kongers attended a candlelight vigil marking the 24th anniversary of the crackdown, as Beijing blocked commemoration attempts.

The Chinese Communist Party branded the Tiananmen protests a “counter-revolutionary rebellion.” Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people were killed in the June 3-4 onslaught in Beijing in 1989.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 10:21 AM
Tiananmen anniversary puts Chinese government and activists on hyper-watch

By William Wan

Jun 04, 2013 06:37 PM EDT

The Washington Post

Published: June 4 | Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2:37 AM

BEIJING — Democracy activist Hu Jia said he spent Tuesday alone in a hotel room in southern China, where he has been confined for the past week under the watchful eyes of eight to nine plainclothes security agents.

The restrictions on him and other dissidents have become an annual routine on June 4 — the anniversary of the government’s violent suppression of the 1989 protests in and around Tiananmen Square — when much of the country is placed on a lockdown of sorts by the ruling Communist Party.

On Tuesday, China’s restricted Internet was more finely edited than usual, with censors deleting posts that contained even the vaguest reference to that day 24 years ago when the government forces opened fire on unarmed civilians. The square itself was flooded with uniformed and plainclothes police.

The heaviest surveillance, however, was reserved for dissidents such as Hu, who are often put under house arrest on the anniversary or taken by police to provinces far from Beijing.

The annual ritual of hypervigilance and attempts to evade it has evolved into a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Bloggers use increasingly creative means of outflanking the censors. And dissidents form elaborate plans weeks in advance to ensure that their messages can be circulated if their communications are cut off.

For all the absurdities that can result, activists say their efforts at least help keep alive the memory of those who died during the student-led protests against government repression and corruption.

In Hu’s case, he had continuous access to the Internet though he was confined to the hotel room. So he spent Monday and Tuesday promoting a campaign for citizens to wear black T-shirts in solidarity with the dead.

It was an idea he had incubated for months with other activists, he said in a phone interview Tuesday from the hotel in Guangzhou. “The authorities can’t do anything about T-shirts. There is no law forbidding wearing them,” he said.

Some people posted pictures of themselves in black shirts online, but it was impossible to gauge the popularity of the campaign because censors took down many of the images.

Others deployed different tricks online. With the date “June 4” and its numerical equivalents — “64,” “six 4” and “6 four” — censored on microblogs, some used “0.8*8” as a workaround for “6.4.”

One particularly widespread post on weibo, Chinese microblogging Web sites similar to Twitter, was a doctored version of the iconic photo of a man standing defiantly in front of Chinese army tanks. In the photo, the tanks were replaced with giant yellow rubber ducks, a joking reference to a recently popular inflatable art piece in Hong Kong’s harbor.

In response, the phrase “big yellow duck” was quickly censored, along with pictures of lighted candles, the word “today” and a Lego variant of the tank-man picture.

For a few days leading up to Tuesday, weibo seemed to be experimenting with a more sophisticated way of censoring searches. Instead of simply blocking queries on banned words, users were diverted to what appeared to be carefully chosen but largely irrelevant results. But by Tuesday, the regular method of blocking was back in place.

Some had hoped that with a new slate of top leaders in place this year, the party would reconsider its long-standing position on Tiananmen — that the protest was a counterrevolutionary rebellion and that the crackdown was necessary for stability.

Over the weekend, the government responded furiously to a statement by the U.S. State Department calling for a full accounting of those killed in the crackdown; the estimates range from hundreds to 7,000.

In a response available only via the government-run Xinhua News Agency’s English platform, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei said Saturday that “a clear conclusion has already been made concerning the political turmoil that happened in the late 1980s.” The United States should stop its “rude interference in China’s internal affairs,” Hong added.

On Friday, a group representing parents whose children were killed at Tian*anmen released an open letter criticizing new Chinese President Xi Jinping for maintaining the party’s stance on the crackdown and continuing to persecute Tiananmen survivors.

Ding Zilin, a former Peking University professor who heads a group of Tiananmen mothers, could not be reached Tuesday by cellphone, home phone or e-mail and was reported by other activists to be under house arrest.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people gathered in a Hong Kong park for a vigil Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported. The attendees held candles in remembrance of those slain.

Earlier, some Hong Kong reporters trying to interview people in Tiananmen Square said they were detained for almost an hour.

Hu, who has spent many previous June 4 anniversaries either in prison on state subversion charges or under house arrest, said the security seemed even heavier this year.

“They started even earlier,” he said, noting that authorities began following him and restricting his movements as early as May 25. “I don’t think China’s new leadership has resulted in any improvements at all.”

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 10:24 AM
‘Fool’s errand’: Why China censors rubber duckies on Tiananmen anniversary

By Max Fisher, Published: June 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm)

On May 1, 1989, one month before Chinese troops killed hundreds of protesters in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Zhao Zhiyang, made his case for compromise in a private session of the Politburo. “Democracy is a worldwide trend,” he said, according to former Washington Post reporter Philip Pan’s excellent book “Out of Mao’s Shadow.” Zhao went on: “If the party does not hold up the banner of democracy in our country, someone else will, and we will lose out. I think we should grab the lead on this and not be pushed along grudgingly.”

Zhao lost out, as did the protesters. But Chinese leaders were not content to simply shut down the protesters and fire Zhao. They, and the movement for political liberalization they represented, were considered so dangerous that they had to be forgotten completely. Zhao was banished to house arrest, where he lived out his years in forced isolation. As for the protests and massacre in Beijing, they never happened. Discussion of the events on June 4 remain so taboo and so heavily censored that, when people do dare to discuss them, they often refer to “May 35th.”

This year, the censorship around Tiananmen’s anniversary is reaching new heights. The Wall Street Journal’s Josh Chin reports that Chinese social media sites are not just blocking Tiananmen-related search terms but even oblique, tertiary references. Chinese Web users can’t search for the phrase “black shirt,” for example, presumably because a Chinese activist named Hu Jia had called on people to wear black T-shirts in a subtle nod to the anniversary.

Even mentions of yellow rubber duckies are blocked on the Chinese Web. Not because they’re a potent or politically charged symbol of the anniversary but because some anonymous person in China, referencing the giant rubber duck currently floating in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor, posted an image on social media of the famous “tank man” photo with giant rubber ducks replacing the tanks. It probably took about 20 minutes in Photoshop, but it was enough to get not just the image deleted from Weibo but searches for all things yellow rubber duck-related blocked.

You could be forgiven for seeing the extent of the censorship as a bit absurd; are rubber duckies really so dangerous to one of the most entrenched single-party states on Earth? But the censorship isn’t just about preventing even the slightest hint of possible 1989-style unrest – although that’s certainly part of it. It’s also about delaying the conversation that Zhao (and, in their own way, the protesters) tried to start.

“Can a one-party system ensure the development of democracy?” Zhao asked Mikhail Gorbachev when the Soviet leader visited Beijing shortly before the crackdown. “Can it implement effective control over negative phenomena and fight the corruption in party and government institutions?” Can China’s Communist Party, in other words, continue resisting change and still survive?

Today’s Communist Party leaders are no dummies; they give every indication of wondering about these very same questions today. And they have, in fact, slowly reformed the political system, which is more open today than it was in 1989, though not as open as Zhao wanted. Still, Chinese leaders such as Hu Jintao, who led the country and the party from 2002 to 2012, did much more to kick that can down the road, to delay the party’s dilemma over its maintaining single-party power without risking more of 1989′s instability, than he did to address or resolve it. And that’s still the status quo.

This is a problem that China’s leaders have addressed repeatedly since 1989 and, as with the almost laughably broad censorship of rubber ducks for the marginal association with Tiananmen, they have consistently avoided the issue. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a 2011 interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, channeled the view of many so-called “China bears,” or skeptics of the Communist Party’s long-term viability. Goldberg noted that Chinese authorities had appeared frightened of the “Arab Spring” uprisings half a world away. “Well, they are,” Clinton said. “They’re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it. But they’re going to hold it off as long as possible.”

Maybe Clinton is right that the Communist Party can’t “stop history” and maybe she’s wrong. Maybe Chinese leaders will one day try to answer Zhao’s questions from May 1989. But, for the time being, they would repress the memory of Tiananmen than try to reconcile with that dark day in Chinese history.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 10:26 AM
Why it’s good news for the U.S. that China is snapping up Iraq’s oil

By Max Fisher, Published: June 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm

If you thought that the U.S.-led Iraq War would at least open up the country’s vast oil reserves to American firms, perhaps defraying some of the war’s enormous costs, then the New York Times has some bad news for you: Iraqi oil is increasingly flowing east, to China.

“China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields,” the Times’s Tim Arango Clifford Krauss report. A former Pentagon official who worked on Iraqi oil policy during the Bush administration told the reporters, “We lost out. The Chinese had nothing to do with the war, but from an economic standpoint they are benefiting from it.” The implicit message is that Iraqi oil was supposed to be our spoils of war, but they’re getting scooped up by China instead.

On Twitter, the Atlantic’s James Fallows summed up the general reaction to China’s growing interest in Iraqi oil, writing, “Would be crude & reductionist to say U.S. fought Iraq, and China won. But wouldn’t be wrong.”

Fair enough. And it’s true that the Iraq War came nowhere close to paying for itself, as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others suggested it would. And that’s just considering the cost in dollars, much less American and Iraqi lives, U.S. credibility abroad and in the middle east particularly. So, even if the Iraqi oil did end up going mostly to U.S. rather than Chinese firms, that would not even remotely outweigh the dollar-costs of the war.

But, looking in isolation just at the growing Chinese stake in Iraqi oil and putting aside for a moment the symbolic power of that trend, it’s worth remembering that the global energy supply is not exactly a zero-sum game. And things that help China don’t necessarily hurt the U.S. Despite the broader narrative of a post-war Iraq that’s far from a reliable American ally (which is true), there are some real silver linings for the U.S. to this story. Here are a few:

(1) Reduces Chinese competition for oil in other countries.

One reason Chinese firms are outperforming Western firms in Iraq is that Baghdad has tight restrictions on drilling rights that reduce the firm’s profit. That makes it less attractive for American or British firms, who would rather drill in places where they can enjoy higher margins. But Chinese firms are just after energy, not profit, so they don’t mind it as much. That’s good both for China and, believe it or not, for the U.S., because it reduces Chinese demand in more U.S.-friendly markets. In other words, the more oil that China buys in Iraq, the less it will want to buy in, say, Angola, which means that U.S. firms can get it cheaper there than they otherwise would. That’s better for everybody.

(2) China is paying for Iraq’s infrastructure development, which benefits us.

A big reason that the Iraq War never ended up “paying for itself,” other than the rapidly escalating costs, is the fact that the oil sector had been badly degraded by years of sanctions and mismanagement. It was always going to be a huge, costly, long-term project to get it up to fuller production. The New York Times story says it takes $30 billion in annual investment; neither the U.S. nor Exxon Mobil was likely to foot that bill. But China is just oil-hungry enough to do it. Those investments will pay off for generations, increasing the global energy supply and alleviating upward pressure on prices. That’s good for everyone who buys oil on the global market, including the U.S.

(3) Reduces China’s reliance on Iran.

As China diversifies its energy imports, buying more and more form Iraq, it will need Iranian oil less and less. International sanctions on Iran, potential political instability and fears of war all make Iran an increasingly unattractive source of oil for China. This makes Beijing more likely to enforce sanctions against Iran, which – hopefully – will in turn pressure Tehran to finally compromise on its nuclear program.

(4) Forces China to care more about peace and stability in the Middle East.

As I’ve written before, China’s increasing investment in foreign markets is actually great news for the U.S., which is finding it harder and harder to be the world’s policeman. Although this sometimes gets portrayed as scary resource competition, it’s also forcing China to act less like a free-rider on a U.S.-enforced international system and more like a responsible stakeholder in global peace and stability. Iraq in particular badly needs outside aid and attention to keep its political system and economy together. The more money and interest China has tied up a stable Iraq, the harder it will work to keep it that way – something that very much benefits the U.S.

(5) Protects global energy market from China-driven price spikes.

China is the world’s biggest oil importer and its demanding is only going up. That puts upward pressure on prices, making American imports more expensive as well. China is very reliant on a small number of oil exporters. If one of those exporters went offline – let’s say, for example, that protests in Sudan spiral out of control and political instability cuts exports – then China still needs to import oil, so it would just start paying more. That kind of demand spike could raise prices for everyone, including the U.S. Diversified Chinese imports reduces the odds of that happening and the severity if it did.

To be clear, none of this is to say that the Iraq War is proving to be anywhere near balance positive for the U.S. economy. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the global energy market is just that – a global market – and that the U.S. and China have mutual interests in keeping it running.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 10:27 AM
Nicholas Kristof’s hair-raising dispatch from Beijing, June 4, 1989

By Max Fisher, Published: June 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Looking back on the Beijing protests and crackdown of May and June 1989, it can be easy to lose perspective. It was long ago – 24 years – and China has changed so much since then. The event feels very remote, and its legacy has been so meticulously repressed within China itself, that the desperation and horror of that day in June have largely receded.

As part of our coverage of the anniversary, it’s worth pausing to remember that June 4, when New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof’s famous story appeared on the paper’s front page. He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, won a Pulitzer the next year for their coverage of the events that are now a part of history. It’s not hard to see why.

Revisiting the article 24 years later helps us better understand what it felt like at the time and reminds us of just how bad it really got. Try reading the below excerpt, of the first three paragraphs, and imagine that you didn’t know what country it was from. Does it sound more like China or, say, Syria?

BEIJING, Monday, June 5 — Army units tightened their hold on the center of the Chinese capital on Sunday, moving in large convoys on some of the main thoroughfares and firing indiscriminately at crowds as outraged citizens continued to attack and burn army vehicles.

It was clear that at least 300 people had been killed since the troops first opened fire shortly after midnight on Sunday morning but the toll may be much higher. Word-of-mouth estimates continued to soar, some reaching far into the thousands. Outbreaks of firing continued today, as more convoys of troops moved through the city.

The bloodshed stunned Beijing and seemed to traumatize its citizens. Normal life halted as armored personnel carriers and troop trucks rumbled along debris-filled roads, with soldiers firing their automatic weapons in every direction. Smoke filled the sky as workers and students vented frustration and outrage by burning army vehicles wherever they found them separated from major convoys, in side streets or at intersections.

Kristof wrote, as it would turn out, correctly, “By ordering soldiers to fire on the unarmed crowds, the Chinese leadership has created an incident that almost surely will haunt the Government for years to come.” He also relayed, as best he could, the still-sparse information about what exactly transpired:

When troops finally seized Tiananmen Square early Sunday morning, they allowed the student occupiers who held on to the center of the square for three weeks to leave and then sent tanks to run over the tents and makeshift encampment that demonstrators had set up. Unconfirmed reports rapidly spread that some students had remained in the tents and were crushed to death.

The troops sealed off Tiananmen Square and started a huge bonfire. Many Beijing residents drew the conclusion, again impossible to verify, that the soldiers cremated corpses to destroy the evidence.

Another thing that struck me about reading this story now is that Kristof is still writing for the New York Times, as a columnist. June 1989, as long ago as it feels, is really not so old. As jarringly incompatible as this story feels with the China we know today, the past and the present are not so distant from one another. Current Chinese President Xi Jinping was 35 at the time. Former Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong, a mastermind of the crackdown, died on Tuesday, just a few hours into the crackdown’s 24th anniversary.

Sam Miguel
06-07-2013, 09:30 AM
Between China and America

By Jose Ma. Montelibano

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:19 pm | Thursday, June 6th, 2013

We are in between worlds, established superpower America of the West and emerging superpower China of the East. It is a contrast territorially and ideologically. The contrast of sunrise and sunset had carried with it much conflict historically. When the West discovered the East, expansionism by conquest and/or trade was the order of the day. For several centuries, relationships were defined by violence and greed.

The West mastered expansion by conquest. Although it had its Renaissance and awed the world with its creativity and artistry, the West was primarily about the use of power to establish control. From within its boundaries, member states waged so many wars against each other that, including those between Christians and Muslims, there were more wars than years.

The East had its own version of violent relationships and encounters, among tribes and among member countries. That the great massive land of China had fallen to foreign control described a China weakened by intramurals that Western countries were quick to exploit. By historical time, it did not take that long before the Chinese rallied towards their own solidarity to expel their foreign masters. The history of England was much more pitiful—1,500 years of subjugation by different countries before their warring tribes learned to fight together.

Filipinos and Chinese are blood brothers as they are trading partners. This history of blood brotherhood and trading partnerships go a long way and is a feature of our pre-Hispanic times. It could very well be that China and the Philippines were once physically connected by land bridges. But the seas have not deterred Chinese and Filipino engagement. Both peoples have used the seas like highways and trading routes that it is not surprisingly for the Philippines and China to claim ownership of common waters and islands.

However, we are blood brothers with China not because we have visited each other that long that that often, but because Chinese have come here without us going to China. Blood brotherhood is territorial and limited to Filipinos and Chinese within the Philippines. It seems that Filipinos were seafarers but mostly intra-islands, our islands. There were more Chinese adventurers and traders who sailed farther from their native shores and reached our islands. It was more of a one-way street, from there to here.

With these little pieces of history, we may catch clues why China claims islands that are so far from their mainland and so much nearer to ours. It may be because they have taken routes from China to the Philippines that passed these same islands routinely. Since we did not travel to China in the same frequency as Chinese traveled to the Philippines, they could have regarded some contested islands today as theirs because of their historical use. It was not till very modern times when the world began to use the exclusive 200-mile from shore as standard to measure territorial boundaries.

Bullying, well, bullying does not need too much explanation. For one, there is size. Apparently, size is a major factor where bullying occurs. A much bigger size really makes one feel a bit superior, if not actually much more superior, over another who is smaller or much smaller. There are a few examples and many more of lesser visibility to the world but not to their neighbors. Take America, take Russia, take Iran. Size when matched with bigger populations tends to having an attitude of superiority.

When the natural conditions of bigger size and bigger population are joined by pressure, internal or external, bullying is almost a foregone conclusion – except that the bully country does not really believe that it is bullying. It acts from a sense of entitlement – meaning. “I’m bigger than you, I’m more than you, so I deserve more than you.” Unfortunate for the victim, and very dangerous, too.

As China must be feeling more entitled, from size, population and from history, the United States shares this feeling as well. Its history in the region is much shorter than what China shares with all Asian nations but it is very current, very fresh in the memory. After all, when China was still being beset by its own internal problems and exploited by everyone else because of these, America was king in Asia, ably supported by mother England. The United States gained entitlement when it won the last World War at a steep cost. Besides, the big bad atomic bomb set it apart as a nation that built it first – and used it first (and last so far) against an enemy.

Having become used to being boss, and gaining much from it in terms of its own economic growth, the United States is having difficulty accepting China’s great emergence as the next superpower. The 7th Fleet is an awesome force and Asia is its beat. It cannot invade China but it can rain nuclear missiles from the seas. And while figures on firepower shown parity between China and the United States, China has had little practice with warfare at this level compared to America. From WWII up to today, the United States has used modern warfare technology in a way that no other country has.

One thing nice about bullying is when two bullies face off. They are not used to having the kind of competition that can badly hurt them, or even destroy them. When this situation arises, bullies can be very sober, and somber. They growl but do not like to bite. They will circle each other and wait, looking for substantial advantage, waiting for allies to gain courage and enter the conflict, and most probably, look for a way out that mutually satisfies.

The Philippines may believe that it is a principal player in its own territorial dispute with China. But it is not in the league of giants, not competitive to bullies, and only a pawn in geopolitics. There is only one trait that can elevate it to the level of those much bigger, the only factor that equalizes difference in size – and that is its willingness, the willingness of its citizens, to do or die whatever the cost.

Sam Miguel
06-07-2013, 10:39 AM
China is not the world’s other superpower

By Fareed Zakaria Jun 05, 2013 11:21 PM EDT

The Washington Post

Published: June 6E-mail the writer

In February 1972, Richard Nixon went to China and restored Sino-U.S. relations that had been broken for 23 years. During that visit, Nixon held a series of critical meetings with China’s premier, Zhou Enlai, and they discussed the broad strategic framework that would guide bilateral relations. President Obama’s meetings with President Xi Jinping this weekend have the potential to be a similarly historic summit — but with an important caveat.

China has always played a weak hand brilliantly. When Mao Zedong and Zhou met with Nixon and Henry Kissinger, China was in the midst of economic, political and cultural chaos. Its per capita gross domestic product had fallen below that of Uganda and Sierra Leone. Yet Beijing negotiated as if from commanding heights. Today, it has tremendous assets — but it is not the world’s other superpower, and we should not treat it as such.

The United States has been accused of having a confused, contradictory foreign policy, as each administration reverses its predecessor. This is often a mischaracterization, never more so than with China policy. Since Nixon and Kissinger opened the door, U.S. foreign policy toward China has been remarkably consistent over 40 years and eight presidents. Washington has sought to integrate China into the world, economically and politically. This policy has been good for the United States, good for the world and extremely good for China.

But many of the forces that pushed the two countries together are waning. For the first two decades of relations, Washington had strategic reasons to align with Beijing and shift the balance of power against the Soviet Union. While China was in its early years of development, it desperately needed access to U.S. capital, technology and political assistance to expand its economy. Today, China is much stronger and is acting in ways — from cyberattacks to its policies in Africa — that are counter to U.S. interests and values. For its part, Washington must respond to the realities of Asia, where its historic allies are nervous about China’s rise.

That’s why the meetings between Obama and Xi are important. Both countries need to take a clear-eyed look at the relationship and find a new path that could define a cooperative framework for the future, as Nixon and Zhou did in 1972. Both sides should seek to create a broad atmosphere of trust rather than to work through a “to-do” list.

Some Americans want to see these meetings as a “G-2” alliance of sorts between the world’s largest economies. That would not serve U.S. interests nor those of broader global stability and integration.

China is the world’s second-largest economy and, because of its size, will one day become the largest. (On a per-capita basis, it is a middle-income country, and it might never surpass the United States in that regard.) But power is defined along many dimensions, and by most political, military, strategic and cultural measures, China is a great but not global power. For now, it lacks the intellectual ambition to set the global agenda.

The scholar David Shambaugh, who has always been well-disposed toward China, put it this way in a recent book: “China is, in essence, a very narrow-minded, self-interested, realist state, seeking only to maximize its own national interests and power. It cares little for global governance and enforcing global standards of behavior (except its much-vaunted doctrine of noninterference in the internal affairs of countries). Its economic policies are mercantilist and its diplomacy is passive. China is also a lonely strategic power, with no allies and experiencing distrust and strained relationships with much of the world.”

Beijing wants good relations with the United States and a general climate of external stability. That’s partly because it faces huge internal challenges. Chinese leaders want to embark on serious reform at home (described as “rectification”) and are searching for a way to generate greater legitimacy for the Communist Party, experimenting with both a return to Maoist rhetoric and a revival of nationalism. Beijing wants to rise without creating a powerful anti-Chinese backlash among Asia’s other powers.

The United States should seek good and deep relations with China. They would mean a more stable, prosperous and peaceful world. Further integrating China into an open global system would help maintain that system and the open world economy that rests on it. But this can happen only if China recognizes and respects that system and operates from the perspective of a global power and not that of a “narrow-minded” state seeking only to maximize its interests.

In other words, when China starts acting like a superpower, we should treat it like one.

Sam Miguel
06-07-2013, 10:42 AM
Will Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese dream’ include the rule of law?

By Fred Hiatt Jun 03, 2013 12:19 AM EDT

The Washington Post

Published: June 3E-mail the writer

As he accepted the Communist Party’s designation to be China’s president and supreme military leader in March, Xi Jinping vowed “to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Xi’s speech to the National People’s Congress won plaudits from the press. “His crisp yet rich voice and frank yet resolute gaze revealed a power to invigorate the people,” the China People’s Daily reported.

But the speech left analysts guessing about what sort of rejuvenation — also translated as “revival” or “renaissance” — the new leader has in mind. Presumably President Obama will be looking for clues when he meets with Xi later this week in California.

Does Xi mean a “Chinese dream” of prosperity, as the “American dream” is often interpreted — a promise to continue the historic progress of the past three decades in moving people from poverty into the middle class? Does he have in mind a campaign against the widespread corruption and growing inequality of wealth that rankles many Chinese? Or is he focused on raising China’s influence and profile beyond its borders? He has hinted at all three possibilities.

Many prominent scholars, the Economist magazine recently reported, signed a petition urging China to rejuvenate based on the rule of law — placing the constitution higher than arbitrary one-party rule.

A turn in that direction could help with all three “revival” goals. Dictators from Stalin to South Korea’s Park Chung-hee have managed to wrench their nations from abject poverty to mid-level industrialization, but further growth — escape from the *“middle-income trap” that worries many Chinese officials — almost always is accompanied by political liberalization.

An independent judiciary would tame corruption more effectively than periodic purges and Communist Party disciplinary campaigns. And China would win more friends abroad, and drive fewer neighbors into the shelter of U.S. alliance, by respecting international norms than through bullying.

Alas, there is little evidence so far that Xi is tempted in the direction of constitutionalism. While he has, like past leaders, mentioned democracy as an eventual goal, he also has said, “The Chinese dream is an ideal. Communists should have a higher ideal, and that is communism.” When the People’s Daily posted an online survey about the “Chinese dream,” about 80 percent of respondents said they did not support one-party rule — and the survey was quickly taken down.

Xi is still settling in, though; he himself may not be entirely sure what direction he will take. While his choices will be determined primarily by internal factors, global perceptions and responses will matter, too. That makes it even more important than usual for Obama to explain why mutually beneficial U.S.-China relations would be served by Chinese respect for the rule of law.

Obama should make clear, for example, that when Chinese officials promise their U.S. counterparts that human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng can emigrate with no adverse consequences to his relatives, and then those relatives are arrested, beaten and harassed, U.S. trust is affected.

When a longtime resident of North America, democracy advocate Wang Bingzhang, is lured to a meeting on the Vietnam-China border, kidnapped by Chinese security agents and thrown into solitary confinement in a remote prison — that affects perceptions, too. (Full disclosure: I have a personal interest in Wang’s case, having become friends with his daughter, Ti-Anna Wang, and written a novel for young adults inspired in part by his story.)

And when a literary critic such as Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobois imprisoned for peaceful advocacy of free speech — and his wife is put under house arrest with no due process — outsiders have to doubt the confidence that Chinese officials claim to feel in their model of governance and development.

Here’s something else Obama might say: No country is likely to win respect for greatness if it lives in fear of citizens like Chen, Wang and Liu. Nor is “rejuvenation” likely to be more than a slogan unless it is built on the principle that all three men spoke for — the principle of rule of law.

Sam Miguel
06-07-2013, 10:43 AM
A power test for the U.S. and China

By David Ignatius May 31, 2013 11:24 PM EDT

The Washington Post

Published: June 1E-mail the writer

U.S. officials describe a common frustration in dealing with China over the past decade. Beijing wants to be recognized as a rising economic power but refuses to be an active partner in maintaining security. Beijing has seemed to want a free ride, without the corresponding responsibilities.

The next week will test whether China’s new president, Xi Jinping, intends to play a more engaged role with the United States and the world. Xi will spend two days in secluded strategic talks with President Obama, in what Chinese officials have been describing over the past year as a search for “a new type of great power relationship.”

The dilemma of great power relations that Xi and Obama will explore is often likened to the anxiety that the rise of Athens provoked in Sparta. As Harvard professor Joseph Nye noted back in 2005, the Peloponnesian War resulted from Sparta’s fears of an economically powerful Athens, but conflict wasn’t inevitable. It could have been averted by negotiations and wise policy. So, too, with America and China.

In the run-up to the meeting that will begin Friday at the Sunnylands estate east of Los Angeles, Xi has offered a demonstration of China’s new stance. He bluntly warned a North Korean emissary in May that Pyongyang should back away from its reckless nuclear threats and negotiate peace with China, the United States and others. “The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula . . . is what the people want and also the trend of the times,” Xi said.

U.S. officials think the Chinese stopped waffling on North Korea for three reasons: They fear that a nuclear North Korea will force neighboring South Korea and Japan to have nuclear weapons, too; they worry that North Korea will proliferate technology to rogue nations and terrorists; and, perhaps most important, they fear the United States will take military actions to protect itself that will reduce China’s security.

If the Chinese become a more reliable, stand-up regional power, what do they get in return? That surely will be on top of Xi’s list of questions for Obama. The most dangerous test is a small chain of islands in the East China Sea that the Chinese call the Diaoyu and the Japanese the Senkaku. The Japanese have recently asserted a stronger claim of sovereignty over the islands, and the Chinese have pushed back with gunboat diplomacy. The United States wants the issue to go away — taking no position on sovereignty and urging de-escalation — but it could be compelled by its defense treaty with Japan. It’s enough for now that Xi and Obama talk honestly about the issue.

The Chinese also want a partnership in managing the global economy. Vice Premier Wang Yang told visiting national security adviser Thomas Donilon last week that the two nations should “strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, and jointly promote world economic recovery and growth.”

Beijing has come a long way from its skepticism during the depth of the Great Recession, when U.S. capitalism seemed like the god that had failed. In a speech at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, then-Prime Minister Wen Jiabao chided “inappropriate macroeconomic policies” and greedy banks and called the U.S. model “unsustainable.” The Chinese have changed their tune, thanks to solid economic measures by the Obama administration. Now they want even more free-market policies, on the American model.

The toughest nut will be cyber-issues. Here, Chinese behavior has been egregious, as they have stolen hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. technology over the past decade, including many of the most secret U.S. weapons systems. Donilon said in March that the United States wants three things: a Chinese recognition that this is a real and urgent problem, a Chinese commitment to investigate, and an agreement to cooperate on a framework for cyber-protection. That will be the agenda at Sunnylands, but U.S. officials say they are looking for a strategic discussion rather than a “deliverable.”

The U.S.-China relationship is the biggest play on the board of international relations. This is an area where Donilon’s hyper-organized approach, which sometimes annoys his colleagues, has paid dividends. The United States has been building the groundwork for a new relationship with Xi for more than a year, and Donilon rightly says it could be Obama’s “signature achievement.”

U.S. officials stress in every speech about China the paramount need for military-to-military dialogue. Perhaps history would have been different if Spartan and Athenian commanders had been friendly, though I’m not sure. But given the stakes, this week’s summit meeting between Obama and Xi deserves the term “historic.”

06-16-2013, 10:16 AM
China: A superpower with no moral principles?

By Ted Laguatan

12:57 pm | Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

A nation can be compared to a train where the citizens are passengers. The leaders are the engineers who direct the train and the speed with which it travels. If the engineers recklessly run the train along tracks beside a cliff at a rate of unsafe speed, it could very well derail and fall hundreds of feet down killing or seriously hurting its helpless passengers.

Arrogance of power and false dangerous ego based nationalism can blind a nation’s leaders and many of its people – leading them towards a dangerous path headed for sure disaster. How can leaders of nations and many of its citizens be so irrational or be so blind as not to see that they are bringing their people to hell?

The history of mankind is full of stories of charismatic ego driven leaders who impressed upon their people that it is their manifest destiny to rule the world and that their time has come for these glorious moments. Leaders might be labeled by their own people as being “great” especially when they have conquered other nations – but in actuality, they were not only terrible scourges to the people they conquered but also were curses to their own people who eventually suffered much because of their blind ambitions to rule the world.

Within human beings are the seeds of good and evil. There is a terrible frightening force within us that operates on a personal and group level that makes us blind to the evil that we do – even causing us to see the evil we do as good. Hitler’s attack or invasion of neighboring economically and militarily weaker countries: Poland, France, England, Holland, etc. – swelled the hearts and minds of many Germans with national pride. They even closed their eyes and numbed their consciences to the mass slaughter of innocent Jews as necessary for the motherland to conquer the world. They saw Nazism as good instead of the horrible evil that it was. What terrible forces blinded them from clearly seeing the evil that they were doing and made them even think they were doing something good?

In the case of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Japan’s Tojo governments in WWII, it was a combination of group ego, false nationalism and power tripping over lording it over weaker helpless nations. Their lack of respect and brutality towards other nations eventually led to their defeat, the destruction of their countries and much suffering for the Japanese and German people.

These evil leaders had their temporary victories and glories, but over time, they incurred the combined wrath of those countries they invaded and oppressed which in turn regrouped and made them and their people pay heavily for their bullying oppressive grabbing ways. Hannibal, Napoleon, Japan’s military leaders in WW II, Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein – are some examples of ego driven leaders who initially successfully invaded and conquered other countries but eventually paid heavy prices for their megalomania and dragged their people down with them. Eventually, other countries they had not yet invaded realized that they could be the next victims. They allied themselves with those similarly situated and went to the rescue of the conquered countries whose citizens also fought from within to defeat the invaders.

Is China heading towards the same destructive direction? With its recent remarkable economic success, China has expanded and re-armed with modern weapons its armed forces – now the largest in the world in terms of number of military personnel. Will China’s arrogant behavior of immoral policy decisions and showing no respect to other nations who are much weaker militarily – lead the Chinese people along a dangerous path where eventually, the whole world will ally to bring China down as a rogue evil nation?

Here’s the thing:

The primary obligation of any government is to provide a good honest efficient government that constantly attends to the general welfare of its people. Ideally, governments should provide its citizens with the basics of: economic opportunities for honest livelihood, defense against foreign invaders, protecting the citizenry from dishonest individuals in the private and public sector, education and health services and promulgating conditions that would enable many to reach their highest potentials as human beings. This also means having a non-strangulating political environment for individuals that affords free legitimate self-determination choices for happy fulfilling lives.

But in addition to these, governments also have a moral obligation to its citizens of maintaining the respect and goodwill of other nations by avoiding aggressive immoral illegitimate ego and greed based oppression of weaker nations that cause a sense of outrage in the global community. The lessons of history show that no nation, however big, wealthy or powerful – can carry on with unjustified coercive policies against other nations without risking the security of its own people or internal strife among its own people.

Noveaux rich China with its aggressive bullying territory grabbing military actions against weaker nations, support of corrupt oppressive governments and non-respect for the patent rights and intellectual property belonging to citizens of other countries – is fast heading towards a downward road to hell for its citizens.

As in Hitler’s Germany, some of China’s current political and military leaders and many of its citizens may be ego tripping with their new wealth and military might. It appears that they are escalating their abuse of power in many ways – seeing themselves as clever with their nefarious ways. Hopefully, the more rational among the Chinese people will look at history and see that the present course they are on will lead their nation to self-destruct – and that they should do all that they can to prevent this.

Consider some of China’s policies. According to Transparency International, China has very close ties with many of the most corrupt and oppressive human rights violator nations – supplying them with armaments, equipment and various infrastructures – in exchange for concessions to their oil, minerals and other natural resources. These include countries like: Sudan, Chad, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, the Congo, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, etc. Billions of dollars go to the pockets of the dictators in these countries instead of benefiting the impoverished hungry populations which rightly own the wealth of their countries. How much bad will is China incurring with the victim citizens of these countries?

In the Philippines and other surrounding countries, China’s leaders are outrageously claiming that territories within 200 miles of these countries rich in fish and vast energy resources are theirs – even if the United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) affirms otherwise. China bases its claim on what is obviously recognizable pure fiction simply used as a reason to oppress weaker nations to take over their territories and valuable resources.

China’s premises its claim on an ancient Han Dynasty map and also on an arbitrary map made by an individual in Chiang Kai Sheks’ Kuomintang government in 1948 – which indicated China’s territory with a U shaped (like a cow’s tongue) so called “9 dash line.” Even some Chinese scholars indicate that the Chinese claim is so arbitrary that it cannot be sustained on factual or legal grounds.

If China’s leaders are acting in good faith and truly believe that they have a valid claim, then they should have no problems in having their claim and the conflicting claims of other countries adjudicated in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) utilizing the UNCLOS law to which they are signatories. Why won’t China agree to this fair objective process meant to resolve ocean territorial disputes between countries unless China’s leaders themselves know that they are pushing a bogus claim which cannot withstand judicial scrutiny?

They want to take over Philippine territories because of the enormous resources found there so they simply are using brute force by squatting and claiming fictitious rights on these. Initially, being cautious, China was first using veiled methods to take over islands in Philippine territories – such as claiming that they were merely putting a resting station for their fishermen in Mischief Reef. It turned out later that what they built was a permanent military garrison. To take over Scarborough Shoals, they sent in over a hundred disguised fishing boats accompanied by armed patrol boats.

In the interest of peace, seeking to avoid armed heated confrontation with the giant Chinese dragon and seeking a diplomatic solution, the Philippines has agreed to cool the situation in Scarborough by withdrawing its ships from the area with the understanding that China would do the same. Not only did China not withdraw its ships, it even increased their numbers and also roped off the area preventing Philippine fishing and patrol boats from entering Philippine territory which is only 120 miles from the Philippines’ Zambales province and over a thousand miles from China. Some reports indicate that Chinese ships were recently observed unloading construction materials in the Scarborough area.

06-16-2013, 10:20 AM
^ (Continued)

Emboldened by its strategy and the ease with which it can gain valuable territory without a fight, China is using the same strategy to take over other areas clearly inside the Philippines 200 mile economic zone. Only now, their takeover plans are no longer veiled but includes outright arrogant declarations that these waters and land inside Philippines territory is theirs and that it is the Philippines which is trespassing. Not only do their fishing boats now come in and out of Philippine waters without permission but Chinese cruise ships and missile carrying war ships do the same. Three of these recently deployed themselves near Ayungin Shoals, their next target for occupation.

At the Shangri-la Dialogue Conference in Singapore on June 2, 2013, Chinese Lt. General Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the Chinese Liberation Army – openly declared Philippine territory as theirs: “We don’t see any necessity to resort to an international tribunal. Patrols by Chinese warships and surveillance vessels within our own territory are totally legitimate and uncontroversial.”

Major General Zhang Zhaozhang, a professor at China’s National Defense University, recently openly disclosed in a television interview the Chinese strategy to take over Philippine territories: Chinese warships have been “wrapping Panatag (Scarborough) like a cabbage” successfully keeping Philippine patrol and fishing boats away. “We can adopt this method elsewhere.”

Zhaozhang gleefully added: “We have successfully sealed the area. If the Philippines wants to get in, they have to ask our permission…Our fishermen can carry out their production safely while our country’s marine rights and sovereignty are safeguarded.”

These statements clearly indicate China’s strategy from the start and for the future. They were feeling out how the Philippines and the US, its major superpower ally – would react if they took a small piece of Philippine territory using bully tactics and coercive intimidation. Having had two seemingly successful grabs, they now believe that they can now proceed with their cabbage strategy at will – grabbing one area after the other until they possess everything.

Engaged in obvious duplicity, at the same time that they are engaged in these blatant territorial grabs, they are telling the world that their intention is to have peaceful relationships with their neighbors and want only mutual cooperation and development – as General Qi did in the Shangri-la dialogue.

China’s political and military leaders are outsmarting themselves and going on a very dangerous deadly course of action for its people. The Philippines, the United States, the surrounding countries – are not exactly fools and are very aware of China’s trickery and insincerity. The more China’s leaders engage in these immoral activities, the more they incur the ire and resentment of the global community.

Very clearly, the Philippines now knows what China’s takeover plans are from the very beginning and for the future. If nothing is effectively done to stop China from carrying out its cabbage and other devious strategies, within a short time, not only will Chinese war boats, patrol and fishing boats be regular fixtures in Philippine waters, Chinese oil rigs and oil tankers will also be common sights.

Given these blatant immoral actions on the part of China, what should the Philippines do?

Here’s my take on this:

China or at least its leadership is generally no longer the China guided by the principled thoughts of its great philosopher sages like Confucius, Lao Tzu, Mencius and others who were concerned about humanist values such as: human rights; love and respect for family and neighbors; a commitment to truth and justice.

While the world should rightfully rejoice with the long suffering Chinese people on its new found prosperity, it should also be aware of the dangers that face the Chinese people and the world – because of the dark directions where some of her leaders are taking them.

The official modern China of today, sad to say, has incorporated in its present thinking much of the ugliness found in western corporate culture: Insatiable greed; the loss of spirituality; a callousness to the sufferings of exploited people; a willingness to use military force and other devious methods to grab the territories and resources of weaker nations; supporting oppressive corrupt foreign dictators and a lack of sensitivity to notions of fairness and justice.

Like a vampire constantly thirsty for blood to sustain its life, China constantly is now constantly lusting for oil, minerals and other resources to fuel her continued hunger for continuous wealth. If only she were willing to play by the rules and pay fair amounts for these resources as other nations do, she would be viewed more favorably by the world. Instead, she has taken the way of brigands and pirates deciding to take these resources by force. As such, she has targeted resource rich Philippines and other neighboring militarily weak countries to be her victims.

Victim countries like the Philippines must now take a bold firm stand to defend themselves against China’s grabbing bullying tactics. It’s now or never. Given her track record of duplicity, China cannot be expected nor trusted to take the moral high ground in its dealings. China’s cold hearted leaders appear to be mainly preoccupied with economic, military and political power concerns and the hell with who gets hurt.

Given the reality that the Philippines and neighboring countries are facing a heartless mighty dragon who wants to take what is not hers, what choices does the Philippines have? Filipinos must either fight or run away and live with the unpalatable thought that they and their country are being abused, raped and pillaged before their very eyes.

Many Filipinos have been lulled into inaction by the thought that we have already brought this matter to the United Nations for arbitration. This is hardly a solution. China’s officials have hinted that they will not submit to the jurisdiction of the UN Court on this matter. Moreover, it will take at least four years before this arbitration process is completed. Meanwhile, China continues to take and occupy strategic points in our territories. When these points are connected, China will then claim that the area enclosed by the lines all belong to them.

There are also those who keep on floating the idea that the solution can be found through diplomatic means. China has repeatedly announced that they are open to discussions. But they condition these discussions to bilateral negotiations where only China and the Philippines will be involved: no input from the United Nations or other countries. Correctly, the Philippines as well as former US Secretary Hillary Clinton, have rejected this arrangement. The results are predictable. China’s tremendous leverage over the Philippines, as Clinton pointed out, will leave the Philippines with little bargaining power. Diplomacy will work only if both sides are in good faith.

In dealing with a country like China where moral principles are not primary considerations, we can expect that the only forces that will serve as leverage for the Philippines are factors that affect China’s national pocketbook and the risk for them that other countries will ally with the Philippines including superpower USA which will equalize the face off.

I believe that if the Philippines wants to retain its territories and resources, it has no other choice but to immediately defend against China’s intrusion. But this must be done intelligently. We must try to ally with as many countries as possible and get the support of the majority of the global community. The world must clearly be informed through a concerted public and social media campaign of the truth about China’s immoral use of its military might to grab the Philippines and other countries’ territories and resources.

The Philippines must learn from the experience of Vietnam in 1988. Unarmed Vietnamese sailors were dispatched by the Vietnamese government to Johnson Reef which was well within Vietnam’s economic zone to keep Chinese sailors from occupying the area. China also claims this area as theirs. When the Chinese Navy ships got there, they massacred the unarmed helpless Vietnamese sailors with 37mm anti-aircraft guns killing 64 of them and seriously wounded many. The Chinese filmed this episode and proudly displays it. It can easily be accessed in YouTube.

The Philippines must place well trained and well-armed men with heavy artillery in different areas within its 200 mile economic zone. Aside from professional soldiers, these fighters can also include civilian volunteers who understand the risks involved which might mean giving their lives for a noble cause. Even long term prisoners who can be trained to fight and who might want to volunteer to be stationed in these areas for at least three years, in exchange for their freedom, should be considered.

The Filipino people are called upon at this important time – to fight for the wellbeing and welfare of generations of Filipinos and defend the country against the obvious greed of a foreign aggressor.

06-16-2013, 10:23 AM
6 Chinese students in France attacked in ‘xenophobic’ act

Agence France-Presse

6:45 am | Sunday, June 16th, 2013

BORDEAUX—Six Chinese oenology students were attacked in the early hours of Saturday in France’s wine-producing region of Bordeaux, the interior ministry said, describing the violence as an act of xenophobia [hatred of foreigners].

The students, who had arrived in France only two months ago, were allegedly “violently attacked” by three local men who were visibly drunk and previously known to the police, a ministry statement said.

Two of the alleged attackers have been detained and are now in police custody.

A female student was seriously hurt in the face by a glass bottle which was thrown at her.

“She happens to be the daughter of a Chinese political figure,” said Sud Ouest newspaper on its website.

According to other sources, the political figure is no longer in office.

“I cannot confirm the name, but it is someone who has now retired, having been the mayor of a big city,” said Georges Jousserand, who heads the school in Bordeaux where the six Chinese between the ages of 22 and 30 were studying.

The students were attacked at their home in Hostens, a small village of 1,300 inhabitants located about 50 kilometers south of Bordeaux in southwest France.

Police had apparently called on the three suspects that night over the din they were making.

Following that incident, the alleged attackers went to the residence where the Chinese students were living, perhaps thinking that the students had complained to police about the noise, a source close to the case said.

“When the Chinese student opened the door, he was attacked. And while the other students were trying to push the assailants out, it was then that one of the attackers threw a bottle straight in the face of the female student,” according to Jousserand.

“Two of the attackers were particularly violent,” he added.

Another source close to the affair said the three were very drunk. They knew exactly where the Chinese students lived and hurled “racist insults” at them, said the source.

The mayor of Hostens, Michel Viallesoubranne, said that the students behaved calmly, while Jousserand said they were “perfectly integrated in this small village.”

‘Xenophobic act’

Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned “severely this xenophobic act, for which the culprits must answer to before justice.”

The students were meant to be studying in France for a year.

Concern has grown in China in recent months over the increasing number of cases of thefts and attacks against Chinese tourists.

In March, a group of 23 Chinese tourists were robbed in a restaurant shortly after they landed at Paris airport. French Tourism Minister Sylvia Pinel was forced to come out to say she would do everything to find the perpetrators.

The latest attack came on the eve of one of the biggest wine shows in the world, Vinexpo, which is held in the region. China, which is the French winemakers’ third-biggest market, has increased its participation at the show, with 18 exhibitors expected this year, up from two in 2011.

Chinese investors have begun buying up vineyards in Bordeaux, not always to the pleasure of locals.

French winemakers have recently also sounded the alarm over an anti-dumping probe launched by Beijing into wine imports from the European Union, in an apparent retaliation act over Brussels’ decision to slap tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports.

06-22-2013, 11:42 AM
US hits China bullying in disputed waters

Top envoy talks tough in confirmation hearing

Associated Press

12:27 am | Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

WASHINGTON—The nominee to become the top US diplomat in East Asia delivered pointed comments about China in his confirmation hearing on Thursday, saying there’s no place for “coercion and bullying” in the region’s seas.

Danny Russel told a Senate panel that he will do everything in his power to “lower the temperature” in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas and push claimants, including China, toward diplomacy.

He also said it was “unacceptable” for China to demand only bilateral negotiations with the other claimants, and voiced strong US support for efforts by Southeast Asia to negotiate as a bloc and frame a “code of conduct” to manage the disputes—an issue to be taken up at regional security talks in Brunei later this month.

Russel is currently White House senior director for Asian affairs. He is nominee to become assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, replacing Kurt Campbell, who resigned in February to enter business.

Russel is a 28-year career diplomat, less ebullient than Campbell, with long experience in Japan and Korea. His association with Asia began in his 20s when he spent three years studying martial arts in Japan.

He has played a central role in the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot” to Asia. That has seen the US stake out a diplomatic position on maritime issues that has irked Beijing, with Washington saying it has a national interest in the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea (part of which is called West Philippine Sea by US ally the Philippines).

Six claimants

Six countries have overlapping claims to tiny reefs and islands across those resource-rich waters, with China claiming it has sovereignty over virtually all of it. While the United States itself is not a claimant, it says it has a stake in the freedom of navigation in its busy sea lanes, which are crucial to world trade.

“I certainly will do everything in my power to try to lower the temperature, push claimants, including China, into a diplomatic track and continue to warn them that the region in which China will flourish is a region of law, a region of order and a region of respect for neighbors, not one in which there is space for coercion and bullying,” Russel said.

Standing by allies

He said that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have raised the issue of China’s behavior on the seas with its leaders, and the Chinese “are in no doubt that America stands by our allies.”

The most volatile maritime disputes involving China in the past couple of years have involved US treaty allies, the Philippines and Japan—nations that Beijing has blamed for triggering tensions.

While acknowledging US-China competition, Russel said the United States supports the rise of China that is stable, prosperous and abides by international rules and norms. He said the United States seeks “practical cooperation” that benefits both countries and the region.

He said positive cooperation with China would be “essential” in getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Russel confirmed that he has visited Pyongyang during his time at the White House. He said helping to achieve a halt or rollback in the North’s atomic program would be a top priority if he becomes assistant secretary of state.

The full Senate must confirm his appointment.

06-22-2013, 11:58 AM
China’s New President Sets Up a Potential Showdown, With Himself


Published: June 21, 2013

The turbulence that struck China’s banks this week is the latest episode in a political drama likely to play out in coming months: President Xi versus President Xi.

The country’s new leader, Xi Jinping, has ignited expectations of bold economic liberalization, but he has also cast himself as a resolute defender of Communist Party control, leaving even insiders uncertain about how far he will push changes that could strain the webs of state patronage and unsettle the stability that he and many other officials also prize.

The changes proposed by some Chinese officials include rolling back certain state controls on prices of energy and natural resources, encouraging private business in industries long dominated by state conglomerates and bringing more market competition into the financial sector.

But such ambitions could falter in the face of opposition from other officials and state-owned companies, as well as the concerns of party leaders about social instability and slowing growth. The turmoil of bank-to-bank loans is but one example of the kind of economic jitters and pitfalls that Mr. Xi and his colleagues could confront as they grapple with these policy choices, analysts said.

“So much risk has already been accumulated, but they need to avoid panic while pushing forward real reforms,” said Tao Ran, an economics professor and director of the China Center for Public Economics and Governance at Renmin University in Beijing. “It’s politically very difficult.”

The interest rates that banks charge to lend to each other shot up Thursday and lending between banks nearly seized up after the People’s Bank of China uncharacteristically failed to intervene to relieve a cash squeeze. The move seemed to be part of the government’s effort to force state banks to cut lending to inefficient or risk-laden programs favored by local officials and politically connected investors, many of them state-owned companies.

On Friday, the People’s Bank of China appeared to retreat a bit from its hard-line stance, and financial industry executives said the central bank was releasing more money for lenders, calming investors whose worries about China’s growth had rippled across stock markets. Bank-to-bank rates climbed down from Thursday’s record highs, but the situation remained volatile.

“I thought that was a show of policy makers’ determination,” Yiping Huang, chief economist for emerging Asia at Barclays Capital in Hong Kong, said of the cash crunch. “They want to impose some near-term pain for long-term benefits. What they are doing is preparing steps for liberalization and, hopefully, for better market discipline.”

In China, the Communist Party’s power rests on a marriage of political and economic control, but Prime Minister Li Keqiang and other officials have said market liberalization is needed to foster new sources of growth.

Yet those changes could require painful, even risky, surgery on the party’s limbs of power: state-owned banks, local governments, and companies and investment vehicles controlled by the government. And that is the conundrum facing China’s leaders: they want to maintain the growth needed to satisfy an increasingly prosperous and vociferous society, yet worry that the proposed changes could erode the political reach and stability they see as underpinning one-party rule.

“Economic reform, I mean real reform, undoubtedly now involves questions about the political system, because excessive state power is a key issue,” said Deng Yuwen, who was dismissed this year as an editor at a party newspaper, The Study Times, after bluntly criticizing state policies.

Mr. Xi, as party leader, must come up with at least part of his answer to these questions by autumn, when the party’s Central Committee gathers. With slightly more than 200 senior officials as full, voting members, the committee meets in seclusion at least once a year to approve policy priorities. This meeting, or plenum, is the third for this cohort of the committee — by custom, third plenums set the direction for economic policy — and Mr. Xi and other officials have indicated that they want this gathering to unveil major changes.

“The plenum is going to be a watershed one way or another,” said Christopher K. Johnson, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Either because of what it says about the direction of reform or about the degree of stagnation in the party.”

The most famous third plenum, in 1978, is portrayed by the party as the start of Deng Xiaoping’s transformative era. Mr. Xi appears to hope that the next plenum will give him some of Mr. Deng’s aura. He has assigned Liu He, an adviser who advocates faster steps toward a market economy, to prepare for the meeting, said a Chinese businessman close to several leaders. He spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his access to officials.

Mr. Xi told President Obama in California this month that he was determined to remold the Chinese economy. “We must deepen reforms to promote healthy and sustained economic development,” Mr. Xi told Mr. Obama, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.

Mr. Liu is overseeing teams of officials and researchers developing proposals that may be endorsed at the Central Committee meeting later this year. According to the Chinese businessman who requested anonymity, those proposals include gradually freeing bank interest rates from state controls; lifting barriers preventing rural residents from being officially absorbed into cities; allowing private companies to invest in some sectors until now controlled by state companies; and giving competition a bigger role in setting prices for natural resources and energy.

“These may not be the final programs to be implemented, but these are organized by the government, so that at least shows to me that they’re serious and determined to make changes,” said Mr. Huang, the Barclays economist, who has also described the proposed changes.

Mr. Liu’s roles include running the office of an elite party group that steers economic policy. Now 61, he studied at Seton Hall University for a year and graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard with a master’s in public administration in 1995.

“I think there’s no question: Liu He is clearly pro-market,” said Barry J. Naughton, a professor at the University of California in San Diego who studies Chinese economic policy.

Nor is Mr. Liu the lone voice advocating market overhauls. Mr. Li, the prime minister, has praised market competition and the private sector, and Lou Jiwei, the finance minister, has advocated financial liberalization.

Yet the Chinese government’s economic agenda is rife with tensions about the pace, focus and sequence of possible changes. “People may shout the same slogans, but there’s a lot of controversy over just what needs reforming,” said Hua Sheng, an economist at Southeast University, in Nanjing, China, who has been a prominent voice in policy debates.

Senior officials have put off considering at the coming plenum how to deal with state-owned corporations, which dominate swaths of the economy — often inefficiently, sometimes corruptly — according to the Chinese businessman close to senior officials.

“They have become a very powerful group, and many of the senior managers are senior party officials themselves,” said Mr. Huang, the economist, speaking of state-owned enterprises, known as SOEs. “We’re not going to see outright privatization of SOEs any time soon, but that’s to be expected.”

China’s previous leader, Hu Jintao, vowed economic changes at a Central Committee meeting a decade ago, but he squandered chances to act on those vows, many economists and, in private, quite a few officials say. If Mr. Xi does the same, the risks will be worse, analysts said. The room for easy growth in China is tapering off as the population of cheap labor ages and shrinks, and land and natural resources become costlier.

But another fear is that the government could act too hastily, removing state controls on the financial system before more market-driven growth has time to kick in, said Professor Tao of Renmin University. Rash moves in the finance sector could expose and exacerbate the debt-related problems of state-run companies and local governments, he said.

“If financial reforms are started first without real sectoral reforms, then you don’t get new sources of growth, and you could make asset bubbles even worse,” Professor Tao said. “This system is already fragile.”

Neil Gough contributed reporting.

Sam Miguel
06-25-2013, 09:04 AM
Bullies and coercers

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:03 pm | Monday, June 24th, 2013

The good news is that the United States has spoken out against China’s belligerence. Danny Russel, tapped to become the next assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, lambasted China for “coercion and bullying” in the China Sea region and said it was “unacceptable” for it to demand only bilateral talks with claimants of the disputed territories. He affirmed US support for the efforts of Southeast Asian nations to negotiate as a bloc, an initiative the Philippines has embarked on.

“I will do everything in my power to try to lower the temperature, push claimants, including China, into a diplomatic track and continue to warn them that the region in which China will flourish is a region of law, a region of order and a region of respect for neighbors.”

It’s a welcome statement, one that helps to internationalize the issue. Indeed, one that helps the Southeast Asian countries, with the exception of Cambodia which is only too willing to do China’s bidding, mount a common front against China. True enough, the Middle Kingdom has been engaged in coercing and bullying its Southeast and East Asian neighbors and can do with being stopped dead in its tracks by world condemnation. We need all the help we can get, and if the United States is willing to go out on a limb here, we’ll take it wholeheartedly.

The willingness to go out on a limb comes from the fact that the United States is currently locked in a love-hate relationship with China, with love being more in the agenda of late. The Economist in its June 8-14 issue had this for its main story, depicting in its cover the American and Chinese leaders in “Brokeback Mountain” poses. Its title went: “The Summit: Starring Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.” With the blurbs: “He stole his heart (and then his intellectual property)” and “‘Team America’ meets ‘Kung Fu Panda’.”

The hate owes to China becoming a growing power, which has American and Chinese hawks warning of an eventual military confrontation between the two. The love owes to the doves trying to prevent such a pass, and indeed proposing that cooperation between the two countries should immensely benefit both. The bilateral summit between Obama and Xi earlier this month was meant to push the latter idea.

Russel’s statement comes amid that context. Of course he’s not exactly high up in the bureaucratic ladder, but his words do carry weight, his office being directly in charge of these affairs. Of course too, the United States has been known to say one thing and do another, condemning Tiananmen and various human rights abuses in China while its businesses push and shove to gain a foothold into the coveted Chinese market. Russel’s statements look more like an attempt to score brownie points with the beleaguered Southeast Asian nations than anything else. It’s part of the game superpowers play.

The bad news is that these statements may spark more hilarity than comfort in the hearts and minds of these nations. The United States isn’t exactly the most credible entity to say those things, or it is credible only in the sense that it takes a thief to recognize a thief, or it takes a thief to catch a thief.

One of the Southeast Asian nations is Vietnam, a country that may not thoroughly appreciate America’s proffered role of nemesis of coercers and bullies. Not too long ago, at least as the Vietnamese memory goes, which is unlike the Filipino one, aided in no small way by nearly every Vietnamese family losing a member during the War, the United States was busy torching Vietnam’s forests with napalm. A thing that did not just raze down the trees, thereby leaving the Vietcong with no cover to hide under, but peeled off the skin of men, women, and children, quite apart from those of the guerrillas and wild animals, thereby giving to know horrible deaths. Coercing and bullying are benign words to describe that atrocity.

The reason for it was to give the Vietnamese freedom and progress, both of which they’ve had, quite apart from pride and dignity, after they kicked the coercers and bullies out. Indeed, the reason for it was to prevent China from spreading communism from Vietnam to the rest of Southeast Asia, called the domino theory, which never happened long after the Vietcong won in 1975. What happened in fact is that Vietnam is now locked in enmity with China. To this day, the United States has not apologized to the Vietnamese.

Just as well, it wasn’t too long ago—only 10 years last March in fact—when the United States shocked and awed the Iraqi population into submission with smart bombs that smartly killed far more, including children, than those in 9/11. It shocked and awed the world as well not just for the murderousness of the attacks but for the willingness of the United States, under the leadership of the demented Dubya, to defy the United Nations and mount the invasion on the grounds that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Naturally, they were never found. They never existed.

To call the Iraq invasion coercion and bullying is to call the Holocaust an exercise in lack of restraint.

The point is simple: China is a threat. It is growing and flexing its muscles. We need all the help we can get to push it back, not least from America. If Vietnam can welcome such a support, all of us can. But we need to exercise discernment too, we need to exercise shrewdness too. It’s one thing to welcome that support, it’s another to sing the praises of that particular supporter. A thing that particularly applies to us, believing as we do that the one country to have subjugated us and robbed us of our pride and dignity is our eternal patron and friend. We do need to affirm that our region is a region of law, a region of order, and a region of respect for neighbors. But that doesn’t just apply to China.

That applies to every bully and coercer.

08-01-2013, 11:38 AM
'China is target of Manila's transfer of forces to Subic'

(philstar.com) | Updated July 30, 2013 - 5:29pm

MANILA, Philippines - Experts from China are claiming that the Philippines is targeting the Asian giant in its plan to move some military forces to Subic, Zambales.

Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in a report by the China Daily that Manila is building up and concentrating its military forces near the West Philippine Sea with China as its "clear target."

Li said in the report that the recent move of the Philippines "increases the risks of conflicts in the region."

"If all related parties resort to military means as Manila has for a resolution, the region will surely become a powder keg," Li was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Su Hao, a professor of Asia-Pacific studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said in the same report that external forces sharing the Philippines' goal of containing China "are complicating the regional South China Sea issue."

"What Manila sometimes did was to meet the needs of Washington and US allies, to seek more support from them," he said.

The Philippines, China, and other Southeast Asian nations are currently in a territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea, with the Asian giant claiming indisputable sovereignty over nearly all the disputed waters.

The Philippines decided to take the issue before an international tribunal after exhausting all other means to peacefully settle the sea dispute.

The country is seeking to stop Chinese incursions into its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and to invalidate China’s sweeping claim to the disputed waters.

Amid the territorial row, the Philippine government has recently expressed its plan to move its Air Force and Navy to Subic to closely monitor the country's maritime domain.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Sunday that as soon as relocation funds are available the government plans to transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay, which has become a busy free port since the 1992 departure of the U.S. Navy.

"It's for the protection of our West Philippine Sea," Gazmin said from South Korea, where he was on a visit, using the name adopted by the Philippine government for the disputed South China Sea.

"We're looking now for the funding," he said.

Subic Bay is a natural deep harbor that can accommodate two large warships acquired recently by the Philippines from the United States, a defense treaty ally, he said, especially compared to shallower harbor at the naval fleet base at Sangley Point in Cavite province, south of Manila.

A confidential defense department document obtained by The Associated Press says Subic's location will cut reaction time by fighter aircraft to contested South China Sea areas by more than three minutes compared with flying from Clark airfield, also north of Manila, where some air force planes are based.

"It will provide the armed forces of the Philippines strategic location, direct and shorter access to support West Philippine Sea theater of operations," the document said. - With Jim Gomez, Associated Press

Sam Miguel
10-22-2013, 10:15 AM
China asks SoKor: Don’t sell fighter jets to Phl

By Pia Lee-Brago

(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 22, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - China asked South Korea not to sell FA-50 fighter jets to the Philippines, according to a report in one of South Korea’s national dailies.

A report in The Chosunilbo yesterday cited Yomuiri Shimbun’s Oct. 18 report that China made the request prior to President Aquino’s state visit to South Korea on Oct. 17.

Korea reportedly declined, saying it cannot accept “interference” in arms exports, which Seoul considers an issue of national interest.

The Philippine and South Korean governments have agreed to fast-track Manila’s procurement of 12 lead-in fighter jets to upgrade the defense capabilities of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Aquino said on Friday the acquisition of the FA-50s for P18.9 billion had the approval of South Korea President Park Geun-hye. He said both sides have agreed to expedite the purchase and delivery of the planes.

The President said it is a government-to-government procurement, which came after South Korea offered several models of fighter jets.

He said Park also thanked him for Manila’s decision to buy the FA-50 jets.

The Chosunilbo also reported that an official of the South Korean government said the sale of the fighter jets to the Philippines would push through.

It added that the South Korean government denied the Yomiuri report, but officials privately admitted it.

Aquino said the Philippines would procure more aircraft as well as armored vehicles and command-and-control equipment to boost the defense capabilities of the military and protect the country’s maritime territory.

Meanwhile, Aquino said there is no change in the plan to purchase 12 fighter jets from South Korea.

“I have no information on that matter,” he told reporters in a chance interview at Solaire Resort and Casino, where he was the guest of honor of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI), referring to reports that China advised South Korea against the sale. – With Delon Porcalla

11-04-2013, 02:18 PM
The Chinese are anxious over the future

By Fred Hiatt, Monday, November 4, 9:05 AM E-mail the writer


Traveling here last week after America’s partial government shutdown and near-default, I expected to encounter a surge of confidence in China’s inevitable, eventual emergence as the world’s greatest power. That is not what I found.

Some people here do take pleasure in the travails of democracy in the world’s greatest hectorer on the subject. Some shed crocodile tears about America’s decline and President Obama’s failure to attend a recent summit in Asia.

But whatever people’s views of America, what is striking in many cases is their uncertainty and, at times, even pessimism about China’s future.

I don’t mean the usual refrain that China, despite having overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, remains a developing country. That has long been a standard line of Chinese officialdom and has the advantage of being both true and convenient: True, because long after China’s economy overtakes America’s, people here will remain poorer on average; convenient, because it can be used to deflect calls for greater contributions to peacekeeping, confronting climate change and other global causes.

What I’m talking about is a deeper-seated anxiety about navigating the next stages of growth. In interviews and informal conversations organized for me and three other journalists by the Committee of 100, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to U.S.-China mutual understanding, two themes emerged. “The easy part is over” was one. The second was: the next stages of economic reform will depend on political reform that the Communist Party may not be willing or able to deliver.

One result is that not only China’s billionaires but also, increasingly, the new middle class is hedging bets, thinking about obtaining foreign passports and moving money abroad. The mirthless joke is that President Xi Jinping’s inchoate slogan of “a Chinese dream” refers to getting your kids into an American university.

The challenges are well understood. People have to bribe their children’s teachers for a desk near the front of the class and bribe their bosses for a promotion. Political power has become a ticket to loot: The 50 wealthiest members of the U.S. Congress have assets of $1.6 billion, the Economist recently reported, while their 50 Chinese counterparts have amassed $95 billion.

The Communist Party pledges to weed out this corruption. But police and judges are subservient to the party, and so far the party dares not allow an independent rule of law.

Last Tuesday the sun, when visible, was an eerie orange disc behind the smog. People in Beijing and many other cities won’t let their children play outside for fear of the poisoned air, and they worry too about poisoned rivers and adulterated foods. Again, the party pledges reform. Again, it’s hard to know whether reform can succeed as long as well-connected polluters need not fear the law.

China needs to transition from a catch-up, copy-cat economy to one that innovates. But can you have unbridled innovation in a society where the media are controlled, books are censored, and bloggers, while much freer, are punished or silenced if they stray too far?

China needs a more rational system of development and urbanization as more than 10 million people per year pour into new and established cities. But without land ownership rights, local officials’ whims and greed can play a larger part than urban planning or economics in where and how development occurs.

There is growing inequality. There is unfavorable demography: Thanks to longer lives and the enforced one-child policy, China will have fewer and fewer workers to support more retirees. There is tension with Tibetans and Uighurs, who want more autonomy.

Since Mao Zedong’s disastrous Cultural Revolution ended in 1977, party leaders have accomplished amazing things. More people have moved out of poverty in a short period of time than ever before in world history. Chinese enjoy personal freedoms and economic well-being to an extent that Mao never could have imagined. They’ve built an economic behemoth. It’s not really fair to call all that “the easy part.”

But it is fair, many Chinese say, to ask whether the top-down, one-party authoritarianism that got them this far can cope with the more complex challenges they face now. That doesn’t mean they’re pining for instant multi-party democracy; fear of instability is deep-seated, understandably given China’s history. But many people say there need to be checks and balances, accountability, transparency and the rule of law.

Party leaders, with the Soviet collapse never far from their minds, fear that tugging on one thread of their authority could unravel everything. In his first year in office, Xi has improbably tried both to crack down politically and to expand economic reforms. No one knows whether this is the path he has chosen for his likely decade in office or a prelude, while he consolidates power, to a different approach.

This week China’s leaders will hold a meeting that is expected to provide some clues. China’s people, having had no say in Xi’s selection, will be watching, anxiously, to see what they have in mind.

Sam Miguel
11-14-2013, 08:55 AM
World must oppose China maritime claims – US Congress leader

By Jose Katigbak

STAR Washington Bureau

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 1, 2013 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – China’s maritime claims in the East and South China Seas are dubious and its grand designs must be opposed by the free world if peace in the region is to be preserved, Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the US House subcommittee on foreign affairs, said.

At a subcommittee hearing on China’s maritime and other geographic threats on Wednesday, Rohrabacher – a Republican from California – said Beijing’s long-standing, deliberate strategy was to extend, provoke, challenge and ultimately dominate the region.

The US pivot to Asia is hollow if America is not clear about the threat in this theater, he said.

Richard Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in his testimony said China’s use of military pressure in pursuit of its territorial claims is increasing the prospect for military clashes, especially with Japan and the Philippines.

Beijing’s military buildup and intimidation of US allies is intended to challenge Washington’s ability to defend its friends and thereby diminish the credibility of US alliance commitments in the region, he said.

Japan has been in a near constant state of non-violent engagement with China’s military and paramilitary forces over control of the Senkaku/Daiyou Islands, but the chances of a military incident are increasing, he said.

The Philippines is also being pushed by Chinese forces from areas in or near its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Steven Mosher, head of the Population Research Institute, an advocate for human rights in China, said a government that rules its own people by brute force is naturally inclined to treat its smaller, weaker neighbors the same way, especially if they were tributary states in the past.

This accounts in part for the palpable disdain with which Beijing treats the other claimants in the South China Sea dispute, including Vietnam and the Philippines, both of which have stronger claims to the Spratlys and Paracels than does China itself, Mosher said.

Only the continued presence of the Japan-based US Seventh Fleet in the Far East stays China’s hand.

Without the Seventh Fleet, there is little doubt that China would occupy the remaining islands in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea by force, ejecting the garrisons of other nations, he said.

China could then demand that ships transiting its “interior waters” first seek permission to do so or run the risk of being boarded and quarantined.

11-19-2013, 09:08 AM
No, Your Kids Don't Have To Start Learning Chinese

At least according to former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers

S. Mitra Kalita Nov 18 2013, 11:41 AM ET

A few years ago, my daughter’s school switched from Spanish once a week to Mandarin Chinese. Having studied both languages, I was very much opposed to the move, but the decision was made with little input. And so my 9-year-old is studying the language everyone says is our future.

Except Larry Summers.

“Hitching the cart of the future global economy to the horse of the Asian giants carries substantial risks.”

Earlier this month, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, warned the San Francisco Federal Reserve that “Asiaphoria”—as they dub it—can’t last. Now the text of that paper is out, complete with the charts and analysis that form their argument.

It’s 35 pages of riveting reading, especially when you consider everything these days, from office expansions to investment decisions to foreign-language instruction, is based on the idea of continued growth from China and India. The economists conclude:

Other notable takeaways (my paraphrases in bold):

It can’t last

“… China already holds the distinction of being the only country, quite possibly in the history of mankind but certainly in the data, to have sustained an episode of super-rapid growth for more than 32 years.”

There are many unknowns

“We have lived through a series of major events in our lifetime none of which were widely predicted by experts in the appropriate domain. Not just the obvious example of the financial crisis or perhaps idiosyncratic individual events like the attacks of 9/11 but major geopolitical shifts like the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Arab Spring (and its seasonal sequalae) have not been anticipated.”

Especially in these places

“All that said, we suspect that the reason for slowdown that will come in China and India is for a similar reason but which will manifest differerntly [sic] given the very different politics. That is, in neither country does investor confidence rely on rule of law. In both countries there are plausible scenarios in which disrptions [sic] of the current ‘political settlement’ that is providing a climate for ‘ordered deals’ … will be disrupted. This disruption of the arrangements that provide settled expectations of investors can easily create processes with non-linear sudden stops.”

Beware, for fast growth comes to a grinding halt

“India and even more so China are into essentially historically unprecedented episodes of growth. China’s super-rapid growth has already lasted three times longer than a typical episode and is the longest ever. The ends of episodes tend to see full regression to the mean, abruptly.”

China and India have weak institutions

“It is impossible to argue that either China or India have the kinds of ‘quality institutions’ that have been associated with the steady dynamic of growth in the currently high productivity countries. The risks of ‘sudden stops’ are much higher with weak institutions and organizations for policy implementation. China and India have very different modalities of this risk, but both have tricky paths to continued prosperity.”

Indeed, my opposition to mandatory Mandarin stemmed not from the difficulty of the language but also from economics—and a sinking feeling I had seen this before. In the early 2000s, I was a reporter covering education in a wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C. Decades earlier, the schools there had adopted Japanese instruction in droves, thinking it was necessary for Americans to stay competitive. “What are our kids supposed to do?” vice president Walter F. Mondale infamously asked. “Sweep up around the Japanese computers?”

But by the 21st century, there were new players, new makers of hardware and software, new languages to learn. Students started to drop Japanese and schools could no longer fill the classes they had added. This report shows that the teaching of Japanese and Russian in U.S. schools has fallen steadily, while Chinese and Arabic is on the increase.

Who would have known? Summers and Pritchett:

While there were some concerns raised about a bubble in Japanese real estate, we remember almost no one predicting in 1991 that Japan’s real GDP per capita would be only 12 percent higher in 2011 than 20 years earlier …

In recent months, Summers has been in the spotlight not so much for his economic prowess as his political; he was an unsuccessful contender for the Fed chairman job. Last week, as Janet Yellen began Senate confirmation hearings for the job, Quartz contributor and economist Miles Kimball (also a former student of Summers’s) wrote that it would be a mistake to discount Summers’s continued relevance as an economist. This latest paper only confirms that point of view—and emboldens mine that my daughter’s school should have stuck to Spanish.

11-19-2013, 09:13 AM
Six Consequences of One-Child Policy Reform

China's decision to allow more families to have two children ends a drastic 33-year social experiment. But is it too little, too late?

Adam Pasick Nov 15 2013, 10:26 AM ET

China is finally dropping its one-child policy for around one-third of the population: couples that are urban and Han Chinese in which one parent is an only child. (Couples that are rural, non-Han, or where both parents were only children were already allowed to have two kids.) The policy will remain in force only for urban Han parents who were both the product of two-child homes—a fairly small proportion.

Bank of America estimates that the change will lead to about 9.5 million new births a year, but just as importantly the change largely marks the end of a 30-year-old social engineering experiment that changed the face of China’s society and played an important, if contentious, role in its re-emergence as an economic powerhouse. Quartz has reported extensively on what such a change might mean, for better and for worse. Here’s a roundup:

A larger labor force—eventually

China’s approximately 930-million-person labor force shrank last year for the first time in decades, and will decline further as a population bulge of people now in their 40s and 50s pass into retirement. A baby boom would help compensate, and—when the babies grow up—increase the number of people who can support that aging population. However, it may be too little too late, given that the labor force is estimated to begin declining by as much as 10 million a year starting in 2025. Any population rebound will take decades, and could be offset if families start averaging fewer than two children as they become wealthier and more urban.

More consumer spending—at least on baby formula

Allowing more couples to have more children now should boost consumption almost right away for goods like infant formula, food and clothing, and education services. Shifting China’s export-driven economy further towards consumption-led growth is one of the government’s key economic goals.

Happier people

Perhaps the most important effect of changing the one-child policy is that it could end human-rights abuses like forced abortions and signal that the leadership is serious about reforms. “We believe that the reform-minded president Xi and premier Li will use the opportunity of abolishing the one-child policy to build up their authority, show their determination in making changes and convince the Chinese people that they do have a roadmap for reforms,” wrote Bank of America China economists Ting Lu and Xiaojia Zhi.

A smaller gender gap

China’s cultural preference for boys meant that, for many years, parents used various ways to avoid having a daughter, including abortions of female fetuses and even infanticide. That meant that many more boys were born than girls; in 2004, the highest year on record, 121.2 boys were born for every 100 girls. As a result, by 2020, there will be between 30 million and 35 million more Chinese men of marrying age than women. Removing the one-child policy won’t change the cultural preferences, but may ease the pressure on parents if their first child is a girl.

A healthier housing market—in time

Because they lack siblings, many Chinese couples 34 and younger are the sole inheritors of four parents’ wealth. When the parents die, their offspring get at least two extra homes (and, given investment trends, likely more). Though home prices, especially in cities, are currently sky-high, this extra supply of homes was expected to eventually making the housing market collapse. The policy’s end should eventually forestall that trend—but it won’t come fully into effect for decades.

Increased strain on natural resources

The purpose of the one-child policy was to give China sufficient per capita resources to quickly develop its economy. The extra 9.5 million people born each year will need food, water, and housing. That’s already a problem: per capita arable land in China is half of the global average and 40 percent of that is considered “degraded,” meaning it is less economical or uneconomical to farm. And the government has warned that demand for water might outstrip supply by 2030.

11-19-2013, 09:15 AM
China's Colorful Family Planning Propaganda

As Beijing announces plans to relax the one-child policy, photographs from the Chinese countryside reveal how the government uses billboards, murals, and signs to promote population control.

Adam Century Nov 18 2013, 11:17 AM ET

Last week, the Chinese government unveiled a plan to loosen the country’s one-child policy, announcing that couples in which one member is an only child will soon be able to apply for permission to have a second. The news is the most publicized reform to result from the Third Party Plenum, the Communist Party leadership meeting that concluded on November 12.

In a press conference held on November 11, a spokesperson from the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the entity in charge of implementing the one-child policy, claimed that the Commission had prevented more than 400 million births over the past 40 years, a figure that is widely challenged by independent scholars and research organizations. The one-child policy was officially implemented in 1979, but other less stringent family planning initiatives were introduced as early as 1971.

“China is already facing numerous development problems with its current population of 1.3 billion people,” said Mao Yuqun, the spokesperson from the government commission. “If family planning had not been implemented when it was, perhaps China would now have 1.7 or 1.8 billion people, further exacerbating these problems.”
Related Story

Under the new guidelines, couples will still be required to apply for permission from their provincial governments before they can conceive a second child, and priority will be given to applications made by “older couples,” the report stated. The report also failed to provide an implementation timeline, raising the possibility that certain provinces will lag behind others in applying the guidelines.

There have long been inconsistencies in the enforcement of the policy, with affluent Chinese sometimes circumventing the law by paying steep fines, bribing officials, or not reporting the births of their subsequent children. Many wealthy Chinese also give birth to second children abroad or in Hong Kong and then send them to live with relatives, an option so popular that the Hong Kong government recently reduced the quota of births set for non-local women in public hospitals.

“My parents decided that they wanted to have a boy, but my mother could not openly give birth to another child after I was born,” Li Fang, a 27-year-old female software engineer whose father is a Communist Party official in Henan province, told me. “To avoid attention, my mother went into hiding before she had my brother. He was then raised by relatives before being sent abroad to an American boarding school.”

Last May, the celebrated film director Zhang Yimou triggered a national uproar when it was revealed that he had fathered seven children with four different women. But the phenomenon is hardly limited to Zhang: A 2007 article published by Xinhua News Agency stated that between 2000 and 2005, as many as 1,968 government officials in Hunan province were in violation of the policy.

The most uneven implementation of the one-child policy is between China’s countryside and its cities. Rising incomes and urbanization have historically led to falling birthrates, and many contemporary couples in China’s prosperous eastern cities would prefer to have only one child.

But in the countryside, the policy has often been administered with brutal force, leaving behind a painful legacy of illegal abortions and sterilizations. The fines are far too expensive for most in rural China to pay, and a lingering preference for male offspring has led to a spike in sex-selective abortions and even infanticide.

For visitors to urban China, evidence of the one-child policy is barely noticeable, but in the countryside, the policy constitutes a central—and highly visible—aspect of local life. Every village has a “family planning service center” where abortions are conducted and local officials keep close tallies of population figures. Unlike Chinese cities, where commercial advertisements abound, small villages often feature government-sponsored family planning murals, the most common of which assert the policy’s importance to economic development or attempt to debunk the gender stereotypes that give rise to sex-selective abortions. The following photographs, taken during a recent cross-country road trip I took through several provinces, provide a glimpse into how Beijing approaches the subject of family planning in rural China.

11-20-2013, 07:09 AM
Why China matters

By Kevin H.R. Villanueva

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:27 am | Saturday, November 16th, 2013

The inexorable rise of China to the status of a superpower holds out a unique opportunity for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to follow its quest in building a “rules-based community.” Why is this so? I shall make my argument in three moves.

First, what does the term “rules-based community” really mean? The idea of a rules-based organization was foreshadowed in the signing of the Asean Vision 2020 (in Kuala Lumpur, 1997) when the 10 heads of state signed up to a set of “rules of agreed behavior” in order to be able to deal with problems of a regional scale. Such concerns included “environmental pollution and degradation, drug trafficking, trafficking in women and children, and other transnational crimes.”

With the adoption of the Bali Concord II (in Bali, 2003), the term “community” was defined, emerging from the creation of three pillars of cooperation—political-security, economic, and sociocultural. Hereafter, the Asean Community—and not any one, a pair, or an odd number of its member-states—was vested as the institution that would eventually interpret what constituted such rules of behavior.

On the heels of this last document came the formulation of the Asean Political-Security Blueprint (in Cha-am Hua Hin, 2009) that envisaged a rules-based community of what was then called “shared values and norms.” These shared values and norms are the shorthand for the Asean all-time aspiration to be a peace-loving, stable and secure region that will be sustained by the principles of solidarity, cohesiveness and harmony.

The second move is to engage with the parallel question: Can we dismiss the influence of Chinese foreign policy in the region? By dint of China’s rivalry with the United States, and its obvious geographic proximity, the answer appears pretty straightforward: China will either balk or altogether break the initiatives underway because Asean can destabilize its imminent hegemony. Recall that Chinese predilection on the South China-West Philippine Sea issue has been to opt for bilateral negotiations (see my article in Inquirer, Aug. 5, 2012). Asean, in the Chinese board game, distracts and detracts.

The reason that any deal with China requires patience and hard work is embedded in history and the ethos of Asean itself. The organization is splintered by divergent security orientations and a variety of normative and political traditions, making the pursuit of any regional partner presently elusive. The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia share alliances with the West, while Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have had ties with China and/or Russia that defy facile classification.

Asean has come a long way from being what some critics have called a gentleman’s club to a bloc that has chosen and fought for its identity to become a concert of free and independent states. And it now seeks to speak with one voice. For Asean, therefore, there is something attractive—something almost inevitable, indeed—about coming to terms with this once-sleeping giant at its doorsteps. But in international politics, one is almost always only as good as those with whom one is able to deal with as equals.

Now this is not the first time that Asean will be put to the test. Scholar Bernard Ong shared his findings (Pacific Review, September 2012) based on US declassified diplomatic records on how American foreign policy formally recognized Asean as a bona fide entity—but only after the latter’s engagements with the European Economic Community (EEC), and with Japan. Apropos its relations with the EEC, Asean wished to be included in the tariff exemptions extended by the Europeans to developing countries. At the same time, it was also thought to be repositioning itself on apprehensions of US withdrawal from the region under the Nixon Doctrine.

Malaysia, in the meantime, had successfully rallied the original four other members in scuttling the “indiscriminate expansion” of Japan’s synthetic rubber industry that threatened its unrivalled share of rubber production (55 percent worldwide) as well as the economies of Indonesia and Thailand. On account of these early maneuvers, a “cumulative effect” prompted and drove members of the international community, including but most importantly, a reluctant America, to accord recognition to the Asean bloc.

From a refusal to recognize Asean regionhood, US Ambassador to Indonesia Francis Galbraith and his counterparts in Malaysia and Singapore proposed to the State Department to shift US foreign policy: “In addition to providing material support for development of such nations (Asean)… we must strive to improve the tone and style of our economic diplomacy. In this connection greater efforts are needed to persuade them that we accept them as equals in an interdependent relationship.” This was back in the 1970s.

The final move consists of bringing my two previous observations together: If Asean as the sum of all 10 countries, therefore, wants to matter in the construction of a peaceful and harmonious region (read: rules-based community), then China matters. It must matter because it stands as the litmus test for Asean in this century. An insight from the crucial piece of history that Ong has discovered is that the most potentially divisive issues—military power and the economy—are also, potentially, the points of collective action. The negotiations on the South China Sea in this respect meet the criteria.

Both the 23rd Asean Summit and the 16th Asean-China Summit, which came to a close in October, manifest that the game has taken a new turn. There has been a move away from bilateral consultations to “official consultations” between the leaders of Asean and China. Talk of an “early harvest” on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea by establishing “hotlines of communication” and joint search and rescue operations all point in the direction of “rules.” Rules will guarantee that the exploration and management of this massive marine resource will redound to the benefit of all, not just in this generation but also in those to come.

The dialogue between Asean and China began in 1996. It was a gesture of civilization. But negotiating with China, as a rules-based community, is just about to begin. Both parties will find themselves on a cusp in their “strategic partnership” on security. It is something new, brave and bold. It is, as the Chinese are wont to say, about taking that proverbial first step further down the journey of a thousand miles. It would be foolish, I believe, if either of them fails to see it to its good end.

Kevin H.R. Villanueva is a research fellow of the HZB School of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Philippine Women’s University and a university research scholar in international politics and human rights at the University of Leeds (United Kingdom). The views expressed in this article are his own.

Sam Miguel
03-14-2014, 09:09 AM
China’s harassment

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:25 am | Friday, March 14th, 2014

Last Sunday, Chinese Coast Guard ships drove away two civilian fishing boats contracted by the Philippine Navy to resupply the Philippine military outpost in Ayungin Shoal. This was the first time China stopped a routine supply mission in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, proving that China has now reached a higher, even more irresponsible, level of assertiveness in pressing its territorial claims.

It is only right that China’s outrageous conduct be denounced, that diplomatic protests be filed, and that international pressure be applied.

Why are China’s most recent actions so lacking in goodwill, so counter to longstanding assurances of a “peaceful rise” for great-power status? We are not alone in thinking that China is taking a harder line against the Philippines because it has no real answer, in multilateral forums or legal tribunals, to Philippine claims.

Ayungin Shoal is only 105 miles west of the Philippines, well within the exclusive economic zone defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which China is also a signatory. Since 1999 the Philippines has maintained an unusual military presence in the area, which is part of the sprawling Spratlys: A World War II-era ship run aground serves as decrepit base for a detachment of eight soldiers. But Ayungin is also part of a barangay that has been administering what the Philippines calls the Kalayaan Island Group since the 1970s.

China only has its nine-dash line theory, a grand historical claim that actually goes back only to 1947, was never recognized by other countries, was not advanced during the lengthy deliberations that led to the Unclos, and was not enforced until China’s rapid economic takeoff in the 1980s. There is no valid historical basis for the nine-dash line, and even if it did, it would no longer be valid. The international community cannot accept a Chinese claim to almost 90 percent of the entire South China Sea.

But the community of nations would accept a fait accompli, and that is the real objective of China’s increasing belligerence: to force the Philippines (and other claimant-countries, including especially Vietnam) to withdraw from the disputed areas or to accept a diminished position, and then to dare the international community to accept the new state of affairs. Possession is nine-tenths of the law; the old legal axiom has its geopolitical equivalent, too.

This explains what happened with Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef), beginning in 1995. The cluster of huts allegedly for the use of Chinese fishermen turned over time into a military fortress; for all intents and purposes, Mischief Reef is now Chinese territory.

This explains what is happening to Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal). In June 2012, after a tense standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels, the international community brokered a deal, an agreement for a mutual pullout. Unfortunately, only the Philippines withdrew. The Chinese vessels stayed, and today China has effective control of the area, too.

Ayungin Shoal is next on the list. In a popular multimedia narrative titled “The Shark and the Minnow,” the New York Times last year ran a riveting feature on what it called “an unlikely battleground in a geopolitical struggle that will shape the future of the South China Sea and, to some extent, the rest of the world.”

The report notes that the People’s Liberation Army had already listed Ayungin Shoal (Ren’ai Shoal, for the Chinese) in its “series of achievements.” It quotes from a TV interview given by the PLA’s Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong:

“We should do more such things in the future. For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the cabbage strategy (a strategy of enveloping layers), you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands. Without the supply for one or two weeks, the troopers stationed there will leave the islands on their own. Once they have left, they will never be able to come back.”

We are glad to know that an airdrop last Monday allowed the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide fresh supplies to our eight-man detachment in Ayungin Shoal. But given the PLA’s avowed strategy of increasing attrition, we must continue to protest Chinese harassment at every international forum, and together with our Asean allies press China to agree, once and for all, on the long-promised Code of Conduct.

Sam Miguel
04-01-2014, 10:52 AM
Who has ‘solid basis’?

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:10 am | Monday, March 31st, 2014

We realize that the Chinese foreign ministry has very little say in the shaping of Chinese foreign policy, often deferring to the increasingly assertive stake-claiming of the People’s Liberation Army. But the latest rationalization offered by a ministry spokesperson is nothing short of ridiculous. To explain Beijing’s continued refusal to take part in a United Nations arbitral tribunal where Manila had lodged an unprecedented case questioning China’s sweeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea, the ministry’s Hong Lei told a news conference: “China will never accept nor participate in the international arbitration unilaterally initiated and pushed by the Philippines, and China’s position has a solid basis in international law.”

But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? If China’s position has a solid basis in international law, why doesn’t it take part in the proceedings? Like Manila, Beijing too is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). The landmark Unclos treaty
itself provides for the arbitration process which the Philippines used when it filed its case in January last year; the process is exactly the kind of forum where conflicting maritime claims can be resolved, or at least discussed amicably. In terms of procedure, then, it is the Philippines’ position which has a solid basis in international law.

In terms of substance, Manila has a strong case; not only are the disputed islands in what is now known as the West Philippine Sea well within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone defined under the Unclos, an outcrop like Ayungin Shoal forms part of the country’s continental shelf, whether that term is defined legally or geographically. Yesterday, Manila filed a memorial or formal pleading before the arbitral tribunal, meeting the deadline set last August for the Philippines to argue the merits of its case.

Against the Philippine position, Beijing can only offer vague and sweeping historical claims, its arbitrary nine-dash-line theory—and economic and military muscle. There is no question that Philippine security forces are dwarfed by those of China, and that despite nearly similar growth rates last year, the Chinese economy is several multiples the size of that of the Philippines. These factors help explain why Beijing insists on bilateral negotiations with Manila, and why Manila is right to opt for a multilateral approach. The bullying that has been on display since 2012 will only get worse in two-country negotiations.

Consider the latest skirmish over Ayungin Shoal. Earlier this month, the Chinese Coast Guard stopped two Philippine fishing vessels that had been chartered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to resupply the Philippine outpost on the shoal. While Beijing has contested Manila’s claim to this outcrop actively since at least the 1990s, it has never stopped any supply run. Its decision represents an escalation of tensions in the area. And just this weekend, the Chinese Coast Guard again tried to stop a research vessel operated by the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources from reaching Ayungin Shoal with new provisions and replacement troops. Fortunately, the vessel was able to reach the outpost by heading straight for shallow waters, where the Chinese Coast Guard ships could not follow.
Reaching the outpost through a navigational maneuver was a small, scrappy victory—but we should not let the good news obscure the terrible reality: That to reach one part of our own territory, we needed to run a Chinese gauntlet. This is unacceptable, but we might have to do it again, and again, in the future. Alternatively, we might be forced to bear the brunt of Chinese arrogance through some form of economic retaliation.

What happened at Ayungin Shoal this month, therefore, shows the true dynamic of that bilateral negotiation Beijing has been insisting on: Its superior resources make Manila’s solid claims and undisputed ties all but irrelevant, and all we can look forward to is the occasional small and scrappy victory. This will not do.

International law is the right way to resolve our conflicting claims. Beijing’s increasing assertiveness at sea is an outrage, but its refusal to participate in the Unclos process itself is a disgrace. It shows that China’s position does not, in fact, have any solid basis after all.

Sam Miguel
04-01-2014, 10:54 AM
Countering Beijing’s octopussy diplomacy

By Walden Bello

4:41 pm | Monday, March 31st, 2014

The recent brazen moves of Chinese maritime surveillance vessels operating over 1,100 kilometers from China’s coast to prevent Philippine civilian vessels from resupplying the tiny marine garrison aboard the BRP Sierra Madre beached on Ayungin Shoal, 200 km from Palawan, are steps in the execution of the so-called “cabbage strategy” articulated last year by Chinese General Major General Zhang Zhaozhong. The aim is to surround Bajo de Masinloc, Ayungin Shoal and other Philippine territories in Spratly Islands with a massive Chinese naval presence to starve Filipino detachments and prevent reinforcements from reaching them.

A cabbage is the wrong image for such a bellicose approach. Perhaps it is time to call it what it really for is: an “octopus strategy” designed to strangle our forces island by island, reef by reef, till they drive us out of Pag-asa Island that is the strategic center of the municipality of Kalayaan of the province of Palawan.

With China dead-set on imposing its ridiculous claims using its naval advantage, the Philippine government must respond in ways that maximize our advantages. To borrow James C. Scott’s terms, we must deploy the “weapons of the weak.”
Weapons of the weak

First of all, we must press our legal advantage. The submission of the 4,000-page “memorial” delineating our entitlements in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal is a giant step in this direction. Beijing knows it does not have a leg to stand on in international law, which is why they have been pushing us to drop the case on pain of “damaging bilateral relations.” As Vietnamese analysts told me during a recent visit to Hanoi, our raising the case to the United Nations blindsided Beijing and upset China’s careful calculations. According to one expert on Chinese diplomacy, “the reason they’re upset is because they already have five battlefields—the political, diplomatic, mass media, security, military—and now you’ve added a sixth: the legal battlefield.” Beijing, in other words, feels very much at sea on the legal front, where experts in international law will be calling the shots.

Second, we must up the diplomatic ante. President Benigno Aquino III must summon Ambassador Zhao Jianhua to Malacañang and tell her in no uncertain terms that our country will tolerate no further aggressive moves.

We must also press our Asean partners to remind Beijing to live up to the commitment to negotiate a binding code of conduct on maritime behavior in the West Philippine Sea that it made at the foreign ministers’ meeting in Brunei last year. Having been attacked and humiliated by the Chinese government and state media during the MH 370 crisis, Malaysia, which is one of the Spratly claimants, is probably now more open to collective Asean action on the South China Sea since it just experienced what feels like to be at the other end of China’s bullyboy diplomacy. As for Vietnam, we should press it to move to more active cooperation with us, including implementation of the joint Vietnamese-Philippine naval patrols in the South China Sea that both governments agreed to in 2012. We should underline to both countries and to the fourth Asean claimant, Brunei, that Beijing is playing salami tactics with Asean, that once it finishes with the “weakest link,” they’re next.

Still on the diplomatic track, we should prepare the ground at the United Nations General Assembly for the eventual introduction of a resolution condemning Beijing’s unilateral annexation of over 80 per cent of the South China Sea, brusquely disregarding other littoral states’ rights to their continental shelves and 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones. There’s a very good recent precedent: Beijing’s aggressive annexationism based on its arbitrary Nine Dash Line claim is essentially similar to Russia’s gobbling up of Crimea, which the General Assembly condemned last week.

Not entirely powerless

Third, we must not neglect the military side of things, though we should tread carefully here since this is where Beijing is strong. But we are not entirely powerless. China’s maritime surveillance ships may be big but they cannot operate in shallow waters owing to their deep drafts. Relying on civilian craft with experienced pilots that can move deftly in and out of shallow waters to pierce the blockade of Ayungin Shoal, as one supply ship was able to do successfully a few days ago, will do for now. But we should be prepared for all eventualities, including that of being forced to resort to resupplying the Ayungin garrison with air drops. The Philippine Air Force has several medium sized aircraft, like the P3 Orion long-range maritime surveillance plane based in Puerto Princesa, that can be outfitted for light resupply missions. We must remember that while our air force is small and weak, China’s suffers from the “tyranny of distance.” As former Westcom chief General Juancho Sabban pointed out, the Chinese mainland is so far away that by the time Chinese military aircraft get to the Spratlys, they are low on fuel and have to turn back.

We must also reinforce the garrison at Ayungin. Bringing up the troop complement to platoon size would be a strong message to the world that we mean business and will defend Ayungin from all trespassers. Of course, such a defensive move will evoke protests from Beijing, but we have every right to reinforce our garrison with personnel and modern arms that will assure the defenders a minimum level of security and lend credibility to our government’s commitment never ever to give up the reef.

Economic development: Key to permanent possession

Finally, we must accelerate the development of Pag-asa Island, the strategic center of the Kalayaan Island group of seven reefs and two islands that belong to us. The development of modern harbor facilities is long overdue. When Reps. Ben Evardone, Kaka Bag-ao, Teddy Baguilat, and I visited Pag-Asa as members of a Peace and Sovereignty Mission from Congress in July 2011, we came away with a strong sense of the potential of the island as a fishing station and tourist site, and this was a message that we carried to our executive agencies. It is time that Malacañang moves on long-proposed economic development plans, something that the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese have apparently undertaken in the parts of the Spratly archipelago they occupy. Once things get going, this will lead to a rapid increase in the civilian population from the 300 that are there at present. A larger civilian population is the key to permanent possession of Kalayaan.

Sam Miguel
12-16-2014, 08:05 AM
Thai flight forced to return by unruly Chinese passengers

Agence France-Presse

Posted at 12/13/2014 2:08 PM

BANGKOK, Thailand - A low-cost flight carrying passengers from Thailand to China was forced to return to Bangkok after a Chinese passenger threw hot water at a cabin attendant, the airline said Saturday.

Thai AirAsia Flight FD9101 departed Bangkok's northern airport Don Mueang for Nanjing at 5:55 pm on Thursday with 174 passengers and six crew onboard, but was forced to turn back after one of the passengers attacked a steward.

"During the flight a Chinese female passenger was not satisfied with the service and when the cabin attendant came she threw hot water at the cabin attendant," the airline said in statement.

An official said the woman and her travelling companion were initially angered at not being seated together. Other passengers moved seats allowing them to sit side by side but the pair started to argue with each other before the attack took place.

The captain of the flight, which was still in Thai airspace at the time, decided to return to Don Mueang where four Chinese passengers were ejected and detained at a police station.

The flight departed Don Mueang again at 10:45 pm on the same day and arrived in Nanjing Friday morning.

The airline official said police fined the Chinese passengers, adding that they left the country on Friday.

The cabin attendant received first aid on board from colleagues and was now fine, the official added.

China has seen rapid growth in outbound trips in recent years, and Chinese travelers are now the biggest source of international tourism cash in the world, according to a the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

But the behavior of some Chinese tourists overseas has caused embarrassment at home.

In May 2013 a Chinese tourist was tracked down by furious netizens after it emerged he had defaced an ancient Egyptian monument.

The same month a top Chinese official said the dire manners and "uncivilized behavior" of some Chinese tourists overseas was harming the country's image.

12-17-2014, 09:29 AM
^ Barbarians.

But I'm surprised that the chinese government didn't claim irrefutable historical ownership of Thailand and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of those tourists, although umalis din naman pala agad yung mga lintek.

Sam Miguel
05-22-2015, 09:56 AM
China versus Edca

Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:20 AM | Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Politically correct Filipinos are caught in a bind. On the showdown with Beijing in the West Philippine Sea, the nationalist position is to oppose China’s aggression, expose its outrageous “nine-dash line,” and resist its creeping conquest of contested islands. But on strengthening the Philippines’ military alliance with the United States, nationalist Filipinos have not forgotten the demeaning reminders of our colonial past, and instinctively reject any role for Uncle Sam in our national security.

Perhaps it’s time Filipinos confronted the ironies of political correctness and considered the reality that careful and calibrated cooperation with the United States is better than outright loss of national territory and energy deposits to China.

It’s a difficult choice, but there it is. Politically correct Filipinos may agonize about ideological compromise, but when China starts landing its jets on the newly reclaimed “islands,” driving away our fishermen and oil exploration vessels, and indeed demanding that our navy first get its permission to access our own islands, all that the ideologues will say is that military self-reliance is the key.

Last week in Washington, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario launched the US-Philippines Strategic Initiative, a partnership among Manila-based think-tank Stratbase ADR Institute, the business group Philippines Inc., and the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The CSIS was the first group that raised the alarm over China’s stealthy construction of artificial islands, and posted the disturbing photos on its website. The Obama administration has announced its “pivot to Asia” strategy, now renamed “rebalance to Asia.” The Initiative seeks to ensure that the Philippines is, not a passive partner in this rebalancing, but a proactive and coequal participant.

A few days later in Beijing, US Secretary of State John Kerry called out China for the pace and scale of its reclamation activity and expressed America’s concern over its military implications. Other US government officials announced that they were considering sending military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation in the area of the reclamation, to leave “absolutely no doubt that the [United States] remains committed to maintaining freedom of navigation” in this part of the world.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded: “The determination of the Chinese side to safeguard our own sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock, and it is unshakable.” He said China would not back down because the reclamation “is something that falls fully within the scope of China’s sovereignty.”

China’s strident attitude is why the Strategic Initiative wants the Philippines to move forward with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States, which, as the Initiative points out, makes the US commitment unmistakably known to China.

The Edca, against which there are pending petitions in the Supreme Court, provides for the “storage and prepositioning of equipment, supplies and materiel” to ensure quick access when needed, whether for military or humanitarian and disaster-relief situations.

But the Philippines must also abandon its America-centric defense position and broaden the alliance to include Japan, Australia and other like-minded states that can all benefit from access to the “prepositioned” materiel should we consent.

The Philippines must, as the Department of Foreign Affairs has already done by filing suit in The Hague, recast the debate as a legal contest to be decided according to fixed rules, and not as a turf fight between warring bullies.

Finally the Philippines must add a new, environmental dimension to the debate, erstwhile solely a matter of defense and security. It must ask not just who owns the islands, reefs and islets but who cares about them most and nurtures them best. It must sound the clarion call to environmentalists the world over to stop China’s reclamation and systematic harvest of endangered species for commercial use. Greenpeace once sent its flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, to disrupt French nuclear testing in the Pacific (the vessel was bombed and later sunk). Mao’s now fattened successors may have yet to meet their match in the tree-huggers’ guerrilla tactics.

The Philippines, according to its best interests, must strengthen its present defense needs against China and its united front with other nations likewise threatened by the Chinese behemoth.

salsa caballero
05-25-2015, 09:03 AM
Third, we must not neglect the military side of things, though we should tread carefully here since this is where Beijing is strong. But we are not entirely powerless. China’s maritime surveillance ships may be big but they cannot operate in shallow waters owing to their deep drafts. Relying on civilian craft with experienced pilots that can move deftly in and out of shallow waters to pierce the blockade of Ayungin Shoal, as one supply ship was able to do successfully a few days ago, will do for now. But we should be prepared for all eventualities, including that of being forced to resort to resupplying the Ayungin garrison with air drops. The Philippine Air Force has several medium sized aircraft, like the P3 Orion long-range maritime surveillance plane based in Puerto Princesa, that can be outfitted for light resupply missions. We must remember that while our air force is small and weak, China’s suffers from the “tyranny of distance.” As former Westcom chief General Juancho Sabban pointed out, the Chinese mainland is so far away that by the time Chinese military aircraft get to the Spratlys, they are low on fuel and have to turn back.

We must also reinforce the garrison at Ayungin. Bringing up the troop complement to platoon size would be a strong message to the world that we mean business and will defend Ayungin from all trespassers. Of course, such a defensive move will evoke protests from Beijing, but we have every right to reinforce our garrison with personnel and modern arms that will assure the defenders a minimum level of security and lend credibility to our government’s commitment never ever to give up the reef.

Economic development: Key to permanent possession

Finally, we must accelerate the development of Pag-asa Island, the strategic center of the Kalayaan Island group of seven reefs and two islands that belong to us. The development of modern harbor facilities is long overdue. When Reps. Ben Evardone, Kaka Bag-ao, Teddy Baguilat, and I visited Pag-Asa as members of a Peace and Sovereignty Mission from Congress in July 2011, we came away with a strong sense of the potential of the island as a fishing station and tourist site, and this was a message that we carried to our executive agencies. It is time that Malacañang moves on long-proposed economic development plans, something that the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese have apparently undertaken in the parts of the Spratly archipelago they occupy. Once things get going, this will lead to a rapid increase in the civilian population from the 300 that are there at present. A larger civilian population is the key to permanent possession of Kalayaan.[/QUOTE]
Ok na sana, kaso wala naman tayong P3 Orion sa PAF :-/

06-05-2015, 10:26 AM
Artillery outposts in Spratlys alarm region

Amando Doronila


Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:09 AM | Friday, June 5th, 2015

CANBERRA—US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter alarmed Asia-Pacific security officials on May 29 with the disclosure that China has installed two large artillery vehicles on one of the artificial islands that it is building in the South China Sea. It raised concerns that China may try to use its land reclamation projects for military purposes.

The revelation came as Carter began an 11-day trip to the Asia-Pacific. Speaking the next day at the international security summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore, Carter revealed the discovery made by the United States several weeks ago. According to Pentagon spokesperson Brent Colburn, America was aware of the artillery, but he declined to provide details, saying it was an intelligence matter. Defense officials described the weapons as “self-propelled artillery vehicles,” adding that these posed no threat to the United States or its territories. US officials have been watching the rapidly expanding land reclamation by China, reported to now total more than 2,000 acres in the South China Sea.

US and other regional officials have expressed concern about the island-building—that it may be a prelude to navigation restrictions or the enforcement of a possible air defense identification zone over the South China Sea. China has declared such a zone over disputed Japanese-held islands in the East China Sea.

America has been flying surveillance aircraft in the region, prompting China to file a formal protest after a US Navy P-8A Poseidon recently flew over one of the sites. Carter on Wednesday made it clear that the United States will “fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” but so far he has said little about what it is willing to do to get China to stop the island construction.

Asked about the latest imagery suggesting that China had put weapons on one of the reclaimed islands in the Spratlys, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was “not aware of the situation you mention, but China has clearly reiterated its position several times on the islands in the South China Sea.” Responding to Carter’s criticism, she said the United States should be “rational and calm, and stop making any provocative remarks, because such remarks not only do not help ease the controversies in the South China Sea, but they also will aggravate the regional peace and stability.”

Carter has been vocal about US opposition to Chinese land reclamation. He flew over the crowded Strait of Malacca, in part to emphasize the need for continued freedom of navigation in the region. The busy waterway is “a very striking example of the link between security and prosperity and the importance of having security and stability in the Pacific,” a Pentagon official in the Carter survey observed. The waterway is 550 miles long but just 1.7 miles wide at its narrowest point. About a third of global shipping—or about 50,000 ships a year—moves through it. “Any accidental or deliberate blockage of the strait would force ships to switch to longer and more expensive routes,” said the official.

Carter told the Shangri-La Dialogue that China’s actions in the area were “out of step” with international rules. China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, resulting in overlapping claims with its neighbors. Other countries have accused China of illegally taking land to make artificial islands with facilities that could potentially be for military use. Carter said he wanted the “peaceful resolution of all disputes,” and to that end, “there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants.” He acknowledged that other claimants, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan, had reclaimed pockets of land or built outposts in the area, but “one country has gone much faster than any other.”

China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined, and more than in the history of the region. And China did so in only the last 18 months.

“It is unclear how much farther China will go,” Carter said. “That is why this stretch of water has become the source of tension in the region and front-page news around the world. The United States will maintain a substantial presence in the region.” His statements were reported as some of the toughest on China’s island-building strategy that have come from a senior US official.

The key question is what the United States will actually do about it. It has been pointed out that recent overflights by US maritime patrol aircraft have been met by terse radio traffic, with the Chinese demanding that they leave the area. “The fear is that this kind of activity might lead to some kind of incident in the air or at sea that may only further inflame tensions between Washington and Beijing,” BBC said in a commentary.

It added: “China takes the view that it is doing nothing wrong—and certainly nothing that other countries are doing. However, it is clearly the pace and scale of what China is doing that worries many.”

At the Singapore security summit, Vietnam’s deputy defense minister, Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, told Reuters that China’s reported installation of mobile artillery weapons on a reclaimed island in the South China Sea was “a very worrying development.” He said that according to US satellite images, the artillery could pose a threat to nearby Vietnamese bases, also on disputed territory.

He cited US images showing that China had added some 2,000 acres to five outposts in the Spratlys, including 1,500 acres this year.

06-15-2015, 01:32 PM
PH envoy to UN: Sea row a global concern


By: Christine O. Avendaño


Philippine Daily Inquirer

01:09 AM June 15th, 2015

THE reclamation activities of China in Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), has progressed in a few months, latest satellite images showed.

As the Philippines marked Independence Day on Friday, the United Nations was listening to the country’s call for an expression of global concern over China’s massive land reclamation in the South China Sea.

Speaking at the annual meeting of State Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) at UN headquarters in New York, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lourdes Yparraguirre said China’s massive land reclamation activities to build artificial islands in the South China Sea should concern the entire international community.

“[China’s island-building] threatens the integrity of the convention, our constitution for the oceans,” Yparraguirre said, referring to the Unclos, which 167 countries, including the Philippines and China, have signed.

The Unclos “defines the rights and responsibilities” of the signatories “with respect to the use of the world’s oceans, and establishes guidelines for businesses, the environment and the management of marine natural resources,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Sunday.

In her speech, Yparraguirre cited instances of China’s violations of Philippine territory and sovereignty that deprived the country of its rights to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

She said that in 2012, China reneged on a mutual agreement to withdraw naval presence from Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), located 223 kilometers west of Luzon, well within the Philippines’ 370-km EEZ, and 1,440 km southeast of the nearest Chinese coast.

To this day, China controls the shoal, barring Filipino fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds there, she said.

Conduct of claimants

Yparraguirre said that by its large-scale reclamation work in the South China Sea, China also violated the 2002 Association of Southeast Asian Nations-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

“To undertake this … ocean filling or reclamation [China] … has had to dredge out and pulverize entire systems of coral reefs that took many centuries to grow, reducing them [to] landfill, and thus devastating the already fragile marine ecosystem and biodiversity of the region by irreparably destroying the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of marine life,” she said.

Citing data from marine experts, she said China’s destruction of coral reef systems in the South China Sea and their transformation into 800 hectares of landfill had resulted in an estimated economic loss of $281 million annually.

“There should be no attempt to assert territorial or maritime claims through intimidation, coercion or force, including through unilateral and aggressive action such as massive, large-scale land reclamation. There should be no pattern of forcing change in the status quo in order to advance a [claim] of undisputed sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea,” Yparraguirre said.

PH-claimed reefs

Recent satellite photos showed Chinese land reclamation at Philippine-claimed reefs in the Spratly archipelago, including Mabini (Johnson South), McKennan (Hughes), Panganiban (Mischief), Calderon (Cuarteron), Gavin (Gaven) and Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) reefs.

The photos also showed what appeared to be barracks, port facilities and an airstrip under construction, raising fears that China intends to use the artificial islands for military purposes.

Yparraguirre said China was building artificial islands at the reefs to change the features in the area ahead of a ruling from the UN arbitral tribunal on the Philippines’ petition to nullify Beijing’s claim to almost all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea.

Besides the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim territories in the South China Sea.

The United States, which is rebalancing its naval forces to the Asia-Pacific region, has called for an “immediate and lasting” halt to China’s island-building, warning that it is escalating tensions and undermining peace and stability in the region.

On June 10, Yparraguirre, speaking in a forum organized by the Philippines on the sidelines of the Unclos meeting, said the South China Sea was “already an environmental crisis” and reminded the signatories to the convention that they all shared the duty to protect and preserve the marine environment.

Edgardo Gomez, professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute and National Scientist of the Philippines, told the forum that the annual loss of $281 million due to the destruction of coral reefs in the disputed areas affected the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and China.

The DFA said Gomez “applied calculations of ecological economics” to arrive at the figure.

Gomez called for a stop to the destruction of coral reefs, as well as to the exploitation of endangered species and overfishing and destructive fishing in the South China Sea.

‘Peace park’

Another expert who addressed the forum, Youna Lyons, senior research fellow in the Ocean and Policy Program of the Center for International Law of the National University of Singapore, proposed a moratorium on further development and dredging to build new features in the South China Sea “in order to save what can be saved.”

Lyons also proposed the establishment of a “peace park,” as suggested by marine science experts, focusing on a representative network of shallow features in the Spratly archipelago in the middle of the South China Sea.

10-18-2015, 02:01 AM
China-US war will start in the Spratlys.

Can anyone tell my why the US is all over the globe?


11-28-2017, 07:22 AM
U.S. charges three Chinese for hacking Moody's, Siemens

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 28 2017 04:45 AM

The U.S. Justice Department charged three Chinese computer security experts Monday with hacking and stealing materials from Moody's Analytics, Siemens, and Trimple, a GPS technology firm.

The three were associated with Guangdong-based Guangzhou Boyu Information Technology Company, known as Boyusec, which some Western security analysts allege has links to the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

The indictment named Boyusec co-founder Wu Yingzhuo, executive director Dong Hao, and Xia Lei, an employee.

It said they hacked the email server of Moody's Analytics in 2011, obtaining access to the emails of a person described as a high-profile economist who represented the Moody's brand -- a description that matches Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi.

Moody's did not confirm or deny that, but said it had "worked closely" with the investigation, and had not lost any customer or employee data to the hackers.

In 2014 the three Chinese hackers broke into German industrial giant Siemens' computer networks, stealing large amounts of files and data from its energy, technology and transportation businesses, according to the U.S. indictment.

It added that in 2015-2016 they stole newly developed hardware and software information from a new global satellite navigation system being developed by Trimble.

The three were charged with computer fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, and theft of trade secrets.

The indictment did not say what Boyusec did with the information, some of which had clear commercial value.

"Once again, the Justice Department and the FBI have demonstrated that hackers around the world who are seeking to steal our companies' most sensitive and valuable information can and will be exposed and held accountable," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente.

In 2015 then-president Barack Obama extracted a pledge from Chinese leader Xi Jinping to halt Chinese theft of trade secrets. Since then industry and US intelligence experts say the practice has significantly diminished, but not disappeared.

Boyusec has been watched as a suspicious actor by Western security firms for several years.

Earlier this year the threat intelligence firm Record Future -- which is supported by the US Central Intelligence Agency -- said Boyusec works "on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security" and is behind hacking attacks known as APT3.

"APT3 has traditionally targeted a wide-range of companies and technologies, likely to fulfill intelligence collection requirements on behalf of the MSS," Recorded Future said.

02-07-2018, 10:38 AM
Thinking the way the bully wants

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:11 AM February 07, 2018

The aerial photographs obtained by Inquirer.net’s Frances Mangosing show incontrovertible proof that China's militarization of its South China Sea outposts is almost complete.

To this latest outrage, another demonstration of Xi Jinping's contempt for compromise commitments his predecessors entered into with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Duterte administration offered … a collective shrug, combined with a finger pointed in the usual direction.

"If the Aquino administration was not able to do anything about these artificial islands, what [do] they want us to do? We cannot declare war — not only is it illegal, but it is also contrary — but it’s also … impossible for us to declare war at this point," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, once a credible lawyer with experience in human rights law and expertise in international law, told reporters.

Among many other dismaying statements he made, he also said this: "Our position is everything found on these islands were already there when the President took over. So let’s not talk of a militarization that happened under the Duterte administration, if there is such a militarization which China denies."

He should have at least read the news report before opening his mouth. The story quoted Eugenio Bito-onon Jr., former mayor of Kalayaan town on Pag-asa Island, the largest part of the Spratlys occupied by the Philippines, thus: "I flew with HBO before the elections in 2016. We got repeated warnings from the Chinese because we were circling over the islands. I see there are now additional vertical features."

To this categorical statement from someone who lives in the area, one can add any number of scholarly or intelligence assessments, including from independent institutions, which assert that the Chinese have not only aggressively reclaimed land in the seven reefs they occupy in the Spratlys, they have built military facilities on them.

Not even China denies that new facilities have been built that can be converted to military use; Beijing only denies that the new facilities are military in objective.

Why the official speaking on behalf of the President of the Philippines should prioritize what China says ("if there is such a militarization which China denies") over the informed judgment of Filipino citizens and indeed of the Philippine military is a riddle.

Why that same official, a lawyer like the President he speaks for, would assert easily disprovable lies ("If the Aquino administration was not able to do anything") is a mystery.

Why he would think that his answers, and the Philippine government's position, meet the national interest ("let's not talk of a militarization that happened under the Duterte administration") is an enigma.

The truth is: Only Beijing thinks that the alternative is war. To be more precise, Beijing wants us to think that the only alternative to the current state of affairs is war.

President Duterte himself said so. Referring to Xi, China's all-powerful leader, he said: "His response to me, 'We're friends, we don't want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.'"

Tellingly, no Chinese government agency ever denied or confirmed these remarks - and why would they? To hear the president of a sovereign state say these words is victory enough for the Chinese. If the only alternative is war, why would a small carabao butt heads with an enormous dragon?

But in fact, other alternatives exist.

The sweeping legal victory the Philippines won at the arbitral tribunal, in the case the previous administration filed, is proof that other options are available.

It is nothing short of tragic that the first administration to be led by a lawyer since Ferdinand Marcos' does not believe in the efficacy of the law.

It would have taken time, but Manila stubbornly insisting on its rights recognized by the landmark ruling of July 12, 2016, would have had the support of many influential members of the international community.

Instead, we have the tragic spectacle of the President's spokesperson, lying about the objective facts, blaming those who actually fought for the country's best interest, and spreading China’s own black-and-white, war-or-else gospel.

History repeats itself, first as spectacle, then as capitulation.

02-27-2018, 10:02 AM
Specter of one-man rule looms as China lifts Xi's term limit

Associated Press / 07:49 AM February 27, 2018

BEIJING, China - For some Chinese, their feelings about plans to lift term limits to allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely can be represented best by a cuddly stuffed bear.

Social media users shared images of Winnie the Pooh hugging a jar of honey along with the quote, "Find the thing you love and stick with it."

The Disney bear’s image has often been compared to Xi, prompting periodic blocks on the use of Pooh pictures online.

Other online commenters wrote, "Attention, the vehicle is reversing" - an automated announcement used by Chinese delivery vehicles - suggesting that China is returning to the era of former dictator Mao Zedong or even imperial rule.

Analysts say the ruling Chinese Communist Party's move to enable Xi to stay in power indefinitely will ensure some degree of political stability while also reviving the specter of a return to one-man rule.

In a sign of the leadership's sensitivities, Chinese censors moved quickly Monday to remove satirical online commentary about the development.

A day after the party announced a proposed constitutional amendment ending term limits, internet users found it difficult to signal approval or disapproval by changing their profiles. Key search topics such as "serve another term" were censored.

The country's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, is all but certain to pass the amendment when it meets for its annual session early next month. Under the 1982 constitution, the president is limited to two five-year terms in office, but Xi - already China's most powerful leader since Mao - appears to want additional terms to see through his agenda of fighting corruption, eliminating poverty and transforming China into a modern leading nation by mid-century.

Or, some speculated, he may simply wish to retain near-absolute power for as long as possible.

"It is most likely that it will turn into a post of lifelong tenure," said Zhang Ming, a retired political scientist who formerly taught at Beijing's Renmin University.

A retired Beijing railroad worker, who gave only his surname, Liu, said he approved of Xi's performance over his first five years in office and voiced no objection to the lifting of term limits.

"As the leader, he has done pretty well in terms of reform and economic growth," said Liu, 67. "In foreign policy, he also did a good job by taking tough positions in the face of provocations from the U.S."

Xi has made robust diplomacy and a muscular military posture in the South China Sea and elsewhere a hallmark of his rule and more can be expected, experts said.

In terms of trade relations with the U.S., entrenched differences between the world's No. 1 and No. 2 economies will likely remain, said James Zimmerman, former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

"This announcement on the one hand potentially means continuity, predictability, and stability. But, on the other hand, it also means more of the same; namely, stalled market reforms and limitations on market access," Zimmerman said.

Professor and political commentator Hu Xingdou said he doubted that Xi wants to be president-for-life, but there were concerns that China could "slide into a kind of fascism or personal dictatorship which will cause very serious consequences."

"Many consider this a lifetime tenure, but I think it will probably be extended to three or four terms. Maybe an unspoken agreement has been reached inside the Chinese Communist Party that one has to step down after three or four terms," Hu said.

Others pointed out that authoritarian rule without term limits often leads to abuses and severely complicates the succession process.

In the near term, "this move could actually increase stability, since there would presumably be less jockeying for power," said William Nee, an Amnesty International researcher on China. "In the long run, however, this will probably further complicate the perennial problem that authoritarian states confront in finding a way to peacefully and orderly transfer power."

However long Xi wishes to hold on to office, he currently faces little opposition from within the party or mainstream society. Xi already has a firm grip on power as head of the military and party general secretary, a position for which there are no term limits, and has eliminated all challenges to his leadership.

China holds no competitive elections for leadership posts, and the body responsible for reappointing Xi to a second five-year term and amending the constitution next month generally approves the party's pre-ordained decisions.

Xi appeared to signal his intention at last year's party national congress by breaking with the convention of appointing an heir-apparent to the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

In addition, Xi has already won two highly significant victories in being named the "core" of the current generation of party leaders, and having his eponymous governing philosophy inserted into the party constitution at last year's congress.

Recent months have also seen a growing number of references in state media to Xi as "leader," a minimalist title reserved up until now for Mao. "People love the leader of the people," read a commentary on the website of state broadcaster CCTV on Monday.

Yet, extending his rule while centralizing power also poses political risks for Xi, making him solely responsible for dealing with knotty problems including the ballooning public debt, an anemic public welfare system, unemployment in the bloated state sector and pushback against China's drive for regional dominance and global influence.

In recent months, critics have pointed to two major policy missteps.

An effort to cut winter air pollution in the frigid north by slashing coal use had to be reversed after factories were left idle and millions of people shivering in their homes.

Around the same time, a push to clear unregistered residents from Beijing and other cities in the name of safety and social order was roundly criticized for throwing migrant families out of their homes in the dead of winter.

Xi's rule has been characterized by a relentless crackdown on critics and independent civil society voices such as lawyers netted in a sweeping crackdown on legal activists that began in July 2015.

Following the passage of the constitutional amendment, "there will be even less tolerance of criticism," said Joseph Cheng, a long-time observer of Chinese politics now retired from the City University of Hong Kong.

"The regime will be even more severe in all kinds of repression," Cheng said. /cbb

02-28-2018, 01:50 PM
Why is the world silent about Xi Jinping's power grab?

By Kerry Brown

Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT) February 26, 2018

Source: CNN

Kerry Brown is a professor of Chinese studies at King's College London and director of the Lau China Institute. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Leaders in the West have been suspiciously quiet about the expected changes to the Chinese constitution that would remove the two-term limit on the presidency - which would allow President Xi Jinping to rule the country unchallenged for decades to come. Why the silence?

Firstly, most countries that deal with China will have assumed that Xi was here to stay anyway.

They know China is a one-party state, and that the Communist Party holds sway over everything. So unilaterally changing the rules its gives itself would not harm anyone. Most international observers will have been baffled the restriction was ever there in the first place.

But there is also a more pragmatic reason for silence. For all the Western complaints about the parlous state of human rights, in their hearts they know they need a country which is stable and predictable - even if it is a stable and predictable autocracy.

A China that contributed to uncertainty in a world where Donald Trump is US president, the UK is trying to leave the EU, where the Middle East looks like it is perpetually inflamed by unrest, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo seems to be slipping toward yet more civil war would be a truly scary place.

A fifth of humanity could become refugees. The world's key supply source for so many manufactured goods could be disrupted or shut down. An uncertain China would make the various crises the world faces today look tame.

For Western leaders, it is a simple calculation. Who is better to speak to about dealing with the problem of a nuclearized and threatening North Korea - a Xi Jinping strong enough to be able to maneuver a non-time limited country leadership rule change, or an uncertain, weak Beijing leadership where no one is quite certain who has final say?

For all the West's unease about a one-party state having such dominance at the moment, because of the stability it gives over such a crucial region, the Communist Party's total control of China is something Western leaders buy into and support.

Their mouths might say one thing, to appease critical constituencies back home. But their heads know that a China following the path of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s would be a catastrophe.

It would destabilize a region already worryingly febrile because of Pyongyang's antics, cause economic calamity and add to their woes back at home through impact on capital and goods flows.

Xi Jinping might find surprising sources of opposition within China - groups and people inside and outside the party that we, and he, might not know about. But one thing is almost certain. Western leaders will not be the ones he needs to fear. Strong, stable, predictable leadership in China is key for them. And to achieve this, at least as far as they are concerned, he can rewrite as many parts of the Constitution as he wants.

03-07-2018, 10:36 AM
Emperor Xi

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:09 AM March 07, 2018

The news that emerged out of Beijing on Feb. 25, the proposed constitutional amendment that will be ratified as a matter of course by the Chinese legislature meeting this week and next, is startling but not entirely unexpected.

The proposal to lift the two-term limit on the presidency of China is part of a pattern, the continuing consolidation of power by Xi Jinping, the most dominant Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. Still, it comes as a surprise to those who see Xi as a suave politician, sophisticated in his ways.

The real source of power in China is the Communist Party; that power, in turn, is backed by the People's Liberation Army (which is under party, not state, control).

Xi has a firm hold on both. He is general secretary of the party, and chair of the Central Military Commission. (The paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, the wily survivor who led the so-called opening of China, never held the top party position but served for years as chair of the commission overseeing the military.)

Both positions are not restricted by term limits, and the official justification offered by the Chinese government for the proposed constitutional amendment referred to this fact.

In imitating the party's rules regarding these two positions, the change in the state constitution "benefits protecting the authority of the party center and collective leadership with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and benefits the strengthening and perfecting of the national leadership system," Reuters quoted Zhang Yesui, a vice minister and spokesperson of the legislature, as saying.

What the amendment means, in fine, is that Xi can stay as president for longer than the two five-year terms that the collective leadership under Deng fashioned out of the chaos of Mao’s despotic rule.

The first Chinese president to follow these term limits was Jiang Zemin; the second was his successor and Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao. Xi proposes to end this tradition even before it has taken firm root.

Why would he do so? Unlike Jiang, Hu, and even Deng, to whom the Communist Party of China owes its formula for survival, Xi has elevated his policies into the party constitution, enshrined as "Xi Jinping Thought for a New Era," and succeeded in having himself named as "core leader" - a new honorific, symbolic of Xi's central position in the Chinese universe.

Jiang himself engineered a few more years as chair of the Central Military Commission even after he stepped down from the presidency; Xi could have availed himself of the same option at the end of his second term in 2023.

The answer seems to lie in that international reputation of Xi we had mentioned, as a sophisticated statesman of the international order.

While it would have been possible for Xi to remain as party general secretary or as military commander in chief even after his presidency, he would not have been able to represent China and take the lead in global affairs.

As The Economist noted: "The answer must be that it is because of the kind of leader he wants to be: with his power on full display, not hidden behind the scenes. A reason for wanting this is that he is trying to project Chinese influence round the world. Because of diplomatic protocol it is easier to meet foreign leaders as president than as general secretary."

The end of term limits would effectively mean the end of Deng’s ideal of collective leadership. And if Chinese history itself is any guide, it would exchange short-term stability (Xi's continuing crackdown on corruption has led to the arrest and incarceration of high party and government officials) for long-term leadership succession chaos. As Deng himself argued, post-Mao, the "overconcentration of power" leads to "arbitrary rule."

But Xi is not seeking changes in the country's constitution to benefit only himself. He is seeking to entrench the Communist Party's monopoly on power even further.

As The Economist warned, another constitutional amendment that has been proposed and that will be ratified as a matter of course seeks to reword the first of the Chinese constitution’s general principles, to this: “The socialist system is the fundamental system of the People's Republic of China. The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics."

The first sentence is not new. The second is, and like Xi, promises to be around a long time.

04-16-2018, 10:16 AM
Duterte’s Chinese chimera

By: Richard Heydarian - @inquirerdotnet 06:05 AM April 16, 2018

“More than anybody else at this time of our national life, I need China. I will not say something which is not true,” President Duterte said on Monday, ahead of his third visit to China since taking office.

Mr. Duterte rarely misses the chance to express his “love” for Chinese President Xi Jinping, or promote instances when China offered assistance, no matter how limited relative to its resources or the magnitude of the crisis at hand, to the Philippines.

Last year, when US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Manila, Mr. Duterte was quick to highlight the (small-scale) military assistance from China during the Marawi crisis, although it was traditional allies America and Australia that provided the cutting-edge intelligence, training and equipment that helped end the terrorist siege of the country’s largest Muslim-majority city.

Nor does the President miss the chance to play down or ignore China’s rapidly growing military footprint in the Kalayaan Group of Islands; its large-scale reclamation activities on Philippine-claimed land features in the South China Sea; continued jurisdictional control of Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal) at the expense of Filipino fishermen; and blatant defiance of the 2016 arbitral court ruling at The Hague, which is, under international law, “final” and “binding.”

More recently, the government has been busy dismissing concerns over China’s suspicious activities in Philippine Rise (formerly known as Benham Rise), including its unilateral naming of seabed features within our waters. During his chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) last year, Mr. Duterte used his position to tell the international community to keep out of the South China Sea disputes, much to the delight of China.

Promise of investments

Mr. Duterte has even discussed “co-ownership” with China of disputed resources in the West Philippine Sea. At the heart of his justification for his strategic acquiescence is Beijing’s promise of large-scale investments in the Philippines.

In his worldview, China is the answer to the Philippines’ national development needs. But facts on the ground show a more sobering picture.

In the first year of Mr. Duterte’s presidency, Japan (P31.48 billion) out-invested China (P1.61 billion) by a factor of 23. The United States, which has been at the receiving end of Mr. Duterte’s nonstop invectives, invested five times more than China (P8.36 billion).

Last year, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the bulk of foreign direct investments (FDIs) came from Japan, the United States and Europe.

In fact, so far, it’s Japan and private conglomerates, not mainland Chinese companies, that have led big-ticket infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

An authoritative study by Rand Corp. that analyzed Beijing’s pledges of investments around the world in recent decades shows a huge gap between Chinese pledges of investments, on one hand, and the actual amount delivered, on the other.

In many cases, including in friendly authoritarian countries, China’s actual pledge was up to five times larger than what it actually delivered.

Astute power

And China is in no rush to actually invest in the Philippines, since it’s getting all the concessions it seeks with minimum effort. Mayor-turned-President Duterte is dealing with an astute power that is guided by thousands of years of strategic wisdom.

More than two millenniums ago, the legendary Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu advised every wise king that the supreme art of war was “to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Both at the height of its power as well as in its darkest days, China largely pursued its strategic interests with minimum reliance on force, but maximum reliance on charm and cunning.

At the heart of this “charm offensive” strategic doctrine is Liu Ching, an imperial adviser during the Han dynasty who argued that the best way for China to dominate peripheral states was through “induced economic dependence.”

In many ways, the works of Sun Tzu and Liu Ching served as the foundation of China’s manifold economic initiatives in its neighborhood, including the Maritime Silk Road Initiative, as well as offerings of billions of dollars to smaller neighbors like the Philippines.

As Henry Kissinger, who has met Chinese leaders throughout the decades, explains: “In no other country is it conceivable that a modern leader would initiate a major national undertaking by invoking strategic principles [from ancient thinkers].”

Even if China were to commit large-scale investments, there would still be concerns over whether its state-backed companies could clear our domestic laws on competitive bidding, environmental sustainability, and good government.

There is also the broader concern over Chinese companies insisting on employing not only their own engineers and managers but also workers for overseas projects.

False promises

The real concern, as some analysts prematurely argue, isn’t the “debt trap” by China, as we have seen in smaller economies like Sri Lanka and Laos. Instead, it’s a “Chinese chimera,” where Beijing extracts major geopolitical concessions from Mr. Duterte based on (false) promises of large-scale investments that never come true.

Modern China might as well come up with a new strategic dictum: Lure your enemy by offering heaven on earth.

04-19-2018, 07:58 AM
Solons urge protest over PH reef incident

By: DJ Yap - Reporter / @deejayapINQ 07:00 AM April 19, 2018

An opposition lawmaker warned on Wednesday that it was only a matter of time before China deployed warplanes on its artificial islands in Philippine waters, after the Inquirer published surveillance photos showing Chinese military transport planes on Panganiban Reef.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, together with Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, called on the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest with China.

Asked about the Inquirer photographs after he spoke to foreign correspondents on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano refused to say whether the Philippines would raise the matter with China.

Cayetano gave assurance, however, that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was “taking all diplomatic actions necessary to protect our claim and to communicate to them our desire to return features to their original state.”

But he did not say what his department would do about the landings on Panganiban, reiterating his stance that actions taken by the DFA on the South China Sea dispute should be kept from the public.

“The Chinese did not reclaim Mischief Reef for nothing. The construction of a military grade airstrip there is not for display only,” Alejano said, referring to Panganiban Reef by its international name.

The reef is located 232 kilometers west of Palawan, well within the Philippines’ 370-km exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea locally known as West Philippine Sea.

Besides Panganiban, China has also transformed Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Calderon (Cuarteron), Burgos (Gaven), Mabini (Johnson South), Zamora (Subi) and McKennan (Hughes) reefs—all claimed by the Philippines—into artificial islands with communications and surveillance capabilities.

China has also topped Kagitingan and Zamora reefs with runways capable of receiving military planes.

“It is [only] a matter of time before the Chinese deploy their fighter aircraft [on] their reclaimed islands as part of their strategic objective of controlling [the South China Sea],” Alejano, a former Marine captain, said in a statement.

Chinese military aircraft

Alejano called on President Rodrigo Duterte to file a diplomatic protest against China after seeing aerial images in the Inquirer of two Xian Y-7 transport planes on Panganiban Reef, the first reported presence of Chinese military aircraft in the area.

“We should not be deceived by China’s pronouncements that it will not militarize [the South China Sea]. Therefore, the [Philippines] must continuously and persistently call out such move that destabilizes the region,” Alejano said.

“I am hoping that Duterte will file a diplomatic protest this time around unlike before [when] government officials were reduced to spokespersons [for] China by justifying Chinese aggressive actions in [South China Sea],” he added.

Fragile peace

Zarate, in a separate statement, condemned China’s “continued militarization of the West Philippine Sea.”

“China is obviously flexing its military muscle and endangering the fragile peace in the West Philippine Sea. This is highly condemnable and the Philippines should protest this provocative Chinese action,” Zarate said.

“Also this move of China is a clear violation of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and is a way of asserting its contempt of the court as well as its dominance in the area,” he said.

Zarate was referring to the arbitral court’s July 2016 ruling that invalidated China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea and recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore for resources in its own EEZ.

But President Duterte has shelved that ruling, preferring to improve relations with China and courting it for aid and investments.

“The Duterte administration should be taken to task for not doing anything on this blatant violation of our sovereignty. The Philippine government should not take this sitting down,” Zarate said.

“We are calling on the Filipino people here and abroad to protest this newest affront of China to our sovereignty,” he added.

‘Illegal occupation’

Senator Pangilinan said the government should protest China’s “illegal occupation” of Panganiban Reef and that the military should state what it intended to do to deal with China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

In a text message to the Inquirer, Pangilinan said he shared the concern of former National Security Adviser Jose Almonte, who had warned the Duterte administration against too much cozying up to China.

“It would be foolish to expect any other nation to uphold our sovereignty and our interests as a nation,” Panganiban said.

Security expert Francisco Ashley Acedillo said the Duterte administration should have issued “a sternly worded” response to emphasize that Panganiban Reef is within Philippine territory.

“The latest movement of Chinese military aircraft in these illegally constructed islands in a clearly disputed area merely confirms what China has peddled as a lie all along—that these islands are for civilian use and that they do not intend to militarize these disputed areas,” Acedillo said. - [I]With reports from Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Christine O. Avendaño and Nikko Dizon