Wisdom

In this hour of national mourning for the downing of Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER registration no 9M-MRD on a scheduled flight MH17 AMS-KUL with 298 souls onboard 17 July 2014, all Malaysians should come together.

The hostile fire which brought the 200 tons aircraft down should be regard not only attack against Malaysia’s sovereignty but also a hedious crime against humanity.

The importance of understanding what happened to the final hour of the doomed aircraft and who is directly or indirectly responsible by no means of lessen the priority of retrieving the remains of the 298 souls and sorting it out for the sake of grieving loved ones.

Of course, the diplomats and civil servants have to do what is expected from them. They are now busy sorting out all the internal laws and protocols necessary to present the case against this rare tragedy. Even the expertise of international legal professionals amongst Malaysians are sought, to build the case.

The fact is that there is an internal conflict in Ukraine for several months. There are many Eastern Ukrainians either want to go back with the Russian Federation or be independent away from the former Soviet Union republic.

The site where Mike Romeo Delta was shot down is an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

As such, rescue workers and investigators at this point of time have been barred to enter into the ground zero area, to do their work. Ukrainian forces do not have access to ensure safe passage and Russia is sluggish to admit they have direct access to this conflict area.

This shocking tragedy already sent ripples across Malaysia. Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak on Friday requested a special Dewan Rakyat sitting on Wednesday 23 July 2014 to debate a motion on the downing of MH17.

However there are some really half-baked imbeciles attempted to make a big fuss about the motion.

This is really sad. Even pro-Opposition news portal set the priority to stand up to be Malaysians, first.

Stop blaming Malaysia Airlines for downed MH17

BY JAHABAR SADIQ, EDITOR

Published: 19 July 2014

Malaysia Airlines shares its ‘MH stands for Malaysian Hospitality’ experience with all and sundry. It has every right to a safe flight over Europe or anywhere else in the world. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 19, 2014.
Malaysia Airlines shares its ‘MH stands for Malaysian Hospitality’ experience with all and sundry. It has every right to a safe flight over Europe or anywhere else in the world. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, July 19, 2014.
No words can take away the great pain that all of us feel for flight MH17. Nothing could have prepared us for what happened on July 17 as much as nothing had prepared us for flight MH370’s mysterious disappearance on March 8.
No country, no airline and no one deserves a single or double tragedy that has struck Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia and Malaysians. And those who died or vanished in either MH17 or MH370.

It goes without saying then that we should not add words to deepen the pain in our hearts for these two tragedies. Malaysia Airlines – one of the world’s safest carrier – lost 510 passengers, 27 crew member and two planes in the space of 131 days.

But no, some people want to speculate and assign blame immediately to our flag carrier and linking what happened to its lacklustre financial performance. Would any airline try to save fuel and fly over a conflict area?
Several journalists in international magazines and business websites are asking that question. Even the PAS Youth leader is asking why the Malaysia Airlines pilot took a risky route and that MH17 should have followed other commercial planes and flown around Ukraine.

Here’s the thing. The route was declared safe above 10,000 metres and MH17 was not operating in restricted airspace, according to a preliminary assessment from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The Flightglobal website said while eastern Ukraine has been the scene of armed conflict, including attacks on low-flying military transports, IATA stated that the airspace in which the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER was flying “was not subject to restrictions”.

Why this condescending attitude that it is Malaysia Airlines’ fault?

Would it be fine if the pro-Russian separatists’ boast that it shot down an AN-26 transport plane was correct? Would it be different if another commercial jet crashed?

“They were the wrong airline in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Vivian Lines, global vice-chairman and crisis-management expert at Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Singapore, told the Wall Street Journal.

But is there ever a right airline, a right place and a right time? Any commercial jet that is brought down by a missile is wrong. It does not matter where.

No one here wants to state the obvious. That the 298 people on board MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17 had nothing to do with the conflict raging 10,000m below them.

Based on American intelligence that says a missile brought down MH17, it is logical to say that the person who ordered or who pulled the trigger to launch a missile had no business aiming it at any plane in the sky.

They don’t own the sky. The passengers and crew of MH17 were entitled to a safe flight over Europe or anywhere else in the world. Why blame Malaysia Airlines for using that route when others use it, too?

This is the typical mindset of people who also blame skimpy clothed women for rape cases. The only cause of rape is the rapist, not the victim. So it is with MH17.

Malaysia Airlines’ business is to fly people to their destinations. It has suffered so much over the years, due to mismanagement and lopsided deals, but it has given its “MH stands for Malaysian Hospitality” experience to all and sundry.

The flight and cabin crew have done exemplary work, so it is illogical that any of them would take such a risk if they were told of potential dangers flying over Ukraine.

It speaks so much for Malaysia Airlines that MH17 was packed and some had to take another flight to Malaysia and thus saved from the tragedy.

It also speaks much about those who question Malaysia Airlines or Malaysia, just because both performed badly in the MH370 disappearance.

Both events are separate. We still do not know what happened to MH370 but we know what happened to MH17. But in both cases, let us not assign blame to the Malaysia Airlines flight crew without any evidence.

The prime minister is right to say we are united by grief but you know what, we as a country should be united by purpose.

The political bickering since election 2008 and election 2013 must be set aside and the government must run the country as much as some politicians should stop taking the opportunity to score cheap political points.

Perhaps it is true that Malaysian politicians from all sides have a unique ability to put their foot in when opening their mouths. That could explain the PAS Youth leader’s appalling and disgusting comments.

We need to nurse Malaysia Airlines back to good health because it carries our flag colours and our name. We need to heal this sick divisiveness in Malaysia and come together to mourn the 298 souls on MH17 and 239 on MH370.

Can we do that? Or are we way past caring and having any empathy? – July 19, 2014.

* Jahabar Sadiq runs The Malaysian Insider.

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There is another interesting fact. The constant critics of Malaysia Airlines who all along been taking pot shots against the losses accumulated by the national carrier despite increased in revenue and strong cash position must be surprised that all MH aircrafts bearing the 9M registration are even insured against “War and terrorism”.

It means that the financial losses from the downing of this aircraft and liability that is possibly incurred are covered.

At no accord, anyone would hoped for tragedy in any form. Never the less, the wisdom of the management and business and operational policies of an experienced full service airline is being implemented here, at this lowest point of crime against humanity of a commercial carrier in international airspace.

 

Published in: on July 20, 2014 at 19:00  Comments (7)  

Let the professionals do what they are trained to do

The downing of MH17 AMS-KUL with 298 souls at 1415GMT yesterday brought unsurpassed shock through spine of hundreds of millions global television viewers, not just Malaysians. The fact that high on speculation is that the downing is believed to be caused by hostile fire, from unidentified forces on ground in the eastern most parts of Ukraine brought the complication another notch down.

Again from the experience of the missing MH370 on 8 March earlier this year, speculations are freely offered especially in the advancement of communication technology which include round-the-clock international news networks and social media.

Arm chair critics, experts and philosophers suddenly pop from the least expected corners, where Malaysians are part of them.

The fact is that, Malaysia Airlines as the commercial national carrier and Malaysian Government as the custodian and steward of Malaysian interests more over if it involve lives  and asset of GLCs, are working very hard to sort things out.

Hence, they would need time to do all the necessary in the standard operating procedure already prepared for crisis such as this. This include contacting all the families and kins of the 298 souls who are believed to have died instantly when the B777-200 mysteriously exploded at 10% short of the speed of sound, six miles above the ground almost twenty nautical miles to the Russian Federation border.

Let them sort out what they need to do first, high on the priority list. When they are ready, they would come and face the world media.

Yes, the world demand minimal answers to this shocking story. However the world should owe it to the grieving families, kins and loved ones of the 298 souls onboard before they want to satisfy their curiosity.

As for now, all the conspiracy theory about the pro-Russian Federation separatists versus the Ukranian hardliners could just wait. Remains of the 298 souls got to be sorted out first and the bereavement of the affected families and loved ones must be the priority.

This include the 22 Malaysian passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew onboard.

Published in: on July 18, 2014 at 13:30  Comments (5)  

Mike Romeo Delta “MH 17″ downed in East Ukraine

A 17 years old Malaysia Airlines B777-200 with 280 passengers and 15 crew was believed to be shot down in East Ukraine. The aircraft 9M-MRD departed Amsterdam Schipol at 1215pm (local time) on 17 July 2014, was downed just after two hours in flight towards KLIA.

Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s statement:

18 July 2014

Statement by Prime Minister Najib Razak:

Malaysian Airlines flight 17

Yesterday evening, I was informed of the terrible and deeply shocking news that a Malaysia Airlines jet went down in eastern Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that the jet was Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
The flight departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm, local time. It was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6.10 am, local, Malaysian time.
The aircraft was a Boeing 777-200.
The aircraft’s flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
And International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that the aircraft did not make a distress call.
The flight was carrying a total number of 295 people – comprising 280 passengers and 15 crew members.
Malaysia Airlines is in the process of notifying the next-of-kin of the passengers and crew. All possible care will be provided to the next-of-kin.
The Government of Malaysia is dispatching a special flight to Kiev, carrying a Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, as well as a medical team.
According to information provided by Kiev Air Traffic Control, the location of the plane’s emergency locator beacon is 48 degrees 7 minutes and 23 seconds North; and 38 degrees 31 minutes and 33 seconds East.
The Ukrainian authorities believe that the plane was shot down.
At this early stage, however, Malaysia is unable to verify the cause of this tragedy.
But we must – and we will – find out precisely what happened to this flight.
No stone can be left unturned.
If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice.
Emergency operations centres have been established. In the last few hours, Malaysian officials have been in constant contact with their counterparts in Ukraine and elsewhere.
And I will be speaking to a number of world leaders over the coming hours.
I have had several conversations with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
I have also spoken to the President of Ukraine. He has pledged that there will be a full, thorough and independent investigation, and Malaysian officials will be invited to take part.
The Ukrainian president also confirmed that his government will negotiate with rebels in the east of the country, in order to establish a humanitarian corridor to the crash site.
Just now, I received a call from President Obama.
He and I both agreed that the investigation must not be hindered in anyway.
An international team must have full access to the crash site.
And no one should interfere with the area, or move any debris, including the black box.
This is a tragic day, in what has already been a tragic year, for Malaysia.
As we work to understand what happened, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those onboard the flight.
I cannot imagine what they must be going through at this painful time.
The flight’s passengers and crew came from many different countries.
But today, regardless of nationality, we are all united in grief.
ENDS

Published in: on July 18, 2014 at 06:00  Leave a Comment  

Lessons from Paracels XVIII: Kungfu Panda

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China strikes back at the annual internattional military and geo-political forum Shangri-La Dialogue 2014, against what it deemed as United States and Japan instigating Asian nations to gang up against the Asian Super Power which has been seen as very agressive and  the ‘neighbourhood bully’.

The Channel News Asia story:

China denounces US, Japan for “provocative” remarks

POSTED: 01 Jun 2014 10:25

PHOTOSVIDEOS

Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Wang Guanzhong speaks during the fourth plenary session at the 13th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore. (AFP/ROSLAN RAHMAN)
ENLARGECAPTION
SINGAPORE: China strongly denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and United States Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel Sunday for “provocative” remarks accusing Beijing of destabilising actions in contested regional waters.

Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), told an Asian security forum in Singapore that the comments had been “unacceptable”.

Abe opened the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday by urging countries to respect the rule of law — an apparent reference to perceived Chinese aggression over disputed islets in the South and East China seas.

Hagel followed on Saturday by warning China against “destabilising actions” in the South China Sea and listed a number of alleged infractions, including against the Philippines and Vietnam.

“The Chinese delegation… have this feeling that the speeches of Mr Abe and Mr Hagel are a provocative action against China,” said Wang, dressed in full military regalia.

He cast aside his prepared speech and said he needed to respond to the remarks, accusing Abe and Hagel of “coordinating” with each other to attack China at the conference.

“This is simply unimaginable,” said Wang, the highest ranking military official in the Chinese delegation, adding that the speeches were “unacceptable and not in the spirit of this Shangri-La Dialogue”.

“The speeches made by Mr Abe and Mr Hagel gave me the impression that they coordinated with each other, they supported each other, they encouraged each other and they took the advantage of speaking first… and staged provocative actions and challenges against China,” he said.

Stressing US commitments to allies and friends in Asia, Hagel had called for a peaceful resolution of maritime disputes and issued a blunt message to Bejing.

“In recent months, China has undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” the Pentagon chief said.

He accused China of restricting the Philippines’ access to Scarborough Shoal, putting pressure on Manila’s long-standing presence in Second Thomas Shoal, beginning land reclamation at various locations and moving an oil rig into disputed waters with Vietnam.

Hagel said that while the United States does not take sides on rival claims, “we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims”.

“The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged,” he warned.

Abe pledged that his country would play a larger role in promoting peace in Asia, as his administration moves to reshape the Japanese military’s purely defensive stance.

Laying out a vision of Tokyo as a counterweight to the growing might of China but without naming any country, Abe offered Japan’s help to regional allies “to ensure security of the seas and skies”.

He said Japan and the US stood ready to bolster security cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote peace.

“Japan intends to play an even greater and more proactive role than it has until now in making peace in Asia and the world something more certain,” Abe said.

China is locked in heated disputes with various Southeast Asian countries over waters and territories in the South China Sea.

Beijing and Tokyo also contest islands in the East China Sea.

Wang said he preferred Hagel’s directness by directly naming China, compared to Abe who did not mention any country.

“If I am to compare the attitude of the two leaders, I would prefer the attitude of Mr Hagel. It is better to be more direct,” he said.

“He (Abe) may name the (country) or not but all the audience know that he was targeting China.”

- AFP/ac

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The fact is that China is bad in playing this geo-political opera. PLA Navy (PLAN) have had serious military stand off with Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and proven to use military might as a projection of force to Malaysia.

China has been proven to be the ‘aggressor’ around the region, South China Sea and Sea of Japan. This is not withstanding the fact that China invaded Paracel islands in Jnauary 1974.

United States and Japan are allies, at the moment have the necessary assets and resources, confidence and clout to stand against the might of PLAN.

China’s CNOPC mobilise this oil rig right in Vietnamese EEZ, early May 2014

Gen. Wang should present indisputable facts about “United States and Japan are being provocative”, rather than just a mere soundbite as a geo-political reaction. He should start with the mobilisation of the USD 1 billion oil rig into disputed territories, which should be deemed part of Vietnamese EEZ in the first place.

Then he and Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying should also substantiate the claims and rights on the imaginary ‘Nine-Dash-Line’, which trespass the EEZ areas provided under United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

Signatories to the DOC

Signatories to the DOC

Gen. Wang and Madam Fu should also explain why China has demonstrated blatant disregard towards the Document of Conduct (DOC) which it signed with ASEAN nations in November 2002. The agreement inked in Phnom Penh stipulated that issues pertaining to multiple claims and disputed borders were agreed to be resolved through diplomatic means and talks using principles of UNCLOS.

Whilst at it, they should also present China’s case on why it vehemently rejected the Philippines move to bring the case of Scarborough Shoal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague.

A detailed map of China's claims into ASEAN nations' EEZ

A detailed map of China’s claims into ASEAN nations’ EEZ

This crude attempt to play the geo-political game demonstrated China’s gross self-serving arrogant attitude and blatant disregard for others. The thought that on its own is already, somewhat “Provocative”.

Published in: on June 1, 2014 at 22:00  Comments (7)  

Lessons from Paracels XVII: Panda Bluff and Snuff, Continuum

China encroaching into neighbours EEZ territories as defined by UNCLOS (1982) and relationship is sliding downwards

China encroaching into neighbours EEZ territories as defined by UNCLOS (1982) and relationship is sliding downwards

Panda bluff. Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying calls for the Asia-Pacific community to work together and form greater trust in the region, for mutual co-operation and progress.

CCTV story:

Asia-Pacific region should work together to reduce differences, build trust: Chinese official

Editor: Bai Yang 丨Xinhua

05-30-2014 21:46 BJT
SINGAPORE, May 30 (Xinhua)– All countries in the Asia-Pacific region should work together to find a way to reduce differences and build trust, Fu Ying, chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, said on Friday.

Fu Ying (R), chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress, attends the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, May 30, 2014. Shangri-La Dialogue, which opened on Friday in Singapore, is a multilateral security dialogue forum that brings together senior military and political officials from nearly 30 countries to discuss regional security and cooperation. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

Fu Ying (R), chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s
Congress, attends the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, May 30, 2014. Shangri-La Dialogue,
which opened on Friday in Singapore, is a multilateral security dialogue forum that brings together
senior military and political officials from nearly 30 countries to discuss regional security
and cooperation. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

Over the past 20 years, the Asia-Pacific region has seen the largest poverty alleviation and fast economic growth in the world, due to sustained stability and peace, Fu said when attending the 13th Asia Security Summit, or Shangri-La Dialogue.

Fu said in order to tackle the regional security challenges and for a better development, closer and greater cooperation are needed.

She said the Asia-Pacific region currently stands at the doorstep of choices.

It is time to reflect on whether to continue the path of building trust, having cooperation and resolving differences that have been proven correct in the past decade, or to enlarge the differences.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently said at the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia summit that China would like to see a new security approach in Asia focusing on cooperation, coordination and sustainability.

Xi emphasized the importance of candid dialogues and peaceful means in addressing challenges confronted China.

Fu said China is faced with difficult challenges such as the incident that Japan’s government nationalized Diaoyu Islands.

China has to respond effectively to protect China’s interest and prevent provocation from escalating clashes as well.

“That’s important for preserving peace and stability as well. But in the final analysis, it’s very important to come back to dialogue, negotiations and consensus that we are trying to resolve the issues through peaceful means,” Fu said.

She expressed her concern that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “making Diaoyu Islands a bigger issue” and tried to convey the message to the world that China had posed a threat to Japan, using that as an excuse to amend the security policy of Japan.

On China-ASEAN relations, Tommy Koh, Chairperson on the High- Level Task Force on the Drafting of the ASEAN Charter who also attended the activity, said ASEAN’s mission and agenda is to promote peace, cooperation and mutual trust in the Asia-Pacific region.

He noted that ASEAN needs to play a positive role in increasing trust of the region, given that both the phenomena of high-degree of cooperation and deficit of trust coexist in the region.

Koh believe that the ASEAN-China relation is mutually beneficial and develops in a positive direction.

“Do we have a deficit or do we have a newly created mistrust? It’s a question we need to reflect on. But it’s important that all the leaders in the region are duty-bound to continue build the trust,” Fu responded to Koh in this way.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, a multilateral forum organized by the London-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies, has been one of the key events for defense professionals in the region to exchange views on security issues.

Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), leads the Chinese delegation to the dialogue this year.

The Chinese delegation will expound China’s point of view on security during the dialogue and discuss with other parties on ways to jointly safeguard regional peace, security and stability.

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What China’s top diplomat conveniently omit when she was on stage is the fact that the aggressor in the region is China. Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has been  playing the protagonist role, eminently threatened its neighbours and countries around the region with the aggressive military maneuvres as projections of force and power.

China invaded the Paracel Islands (then part of South Vietnam) in January 1074. China also exerted claims over Scarborough Shoal and the imginary ‘Nine-Dash-Line’.

Despite a signatory of the United Nations Convention Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) and Document of Conduct (DOC) with ASEAN countries in November 2002 where all agreed to resolve multiple claims and disputed territories through diplomatic channel and using UNCLOS as the basis for terms of reference, China rejected the Philippines move to bring the Scarborough Shoal case to ICJ at the Hague.

A detailed map of China's claims into ASEAN nations' EEZ

A detailed map of China’s claims into ASEAN nations’ EEZ

How would China expect ‘trust and working together’ when it cannot honour its own commitments?

The fact China’s interpretation of ‘working together’ is to submit the communist nation’s whims and fancies and jointly develop resources in disputed territories where it would benefit China more than the others, despite these areas are within areas stipulated as ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’ (EEZ) clearly defined under UNCLOS.

US Defence Secretary described China’s maneuvres mobilising military assets, units in aggressive fashion around the region especially around disputed areas in South China Sea and Sea of Japan as “Destabilising the region” and warned against strong-arm tactics against neighbours Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

BBC story:

31 May 2014 Last updated at 09:17

Chuck Hagel: Beijing ‘destabilising’ South China Sea

 

The US defence secretary has accused China of “destabilising” the South China Sea, saying its action threatened the region’s long-term progress.

Chuck Hagel said the US would “not look the other way” when nations ignored international rules.

Mr Hagel was speaking at a three-day summit – the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore – that involves the US and South-East Asian countries.

He also urged Thailand’s coup leaders to restore democratic rule soon.

The forum comes amid growing tensions between China, Vietnam and the Philippines, with Japan-China ties also strained over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The summit gives senior delegates from the region a chance to meet face-to-face to try to resolve tensions.

‘No to intimidation’
“In recent months, China has undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” Mr Hagel said in his address on Saturday.
Chinese and Vietnamese vessels have confronted each other in disputed waters in the South China Sea
“We firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims,” he added, referring to the way China has claimed territorial rights over areas of the South China Sea close to Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

“All nations of the region, including China, have a choice: to unite, and recommit to a stable regional order, or, to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that has benefited millions of people.”

He said he supported Japan’s offer to play a greater and “more proactive” role in regional security, as promised by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his keynote speech on Friday.

Michael Bristow, BBC Asia analyst

These are strong words from the US defence secretary. Although a number of nations make loud claims for parts of the South China Sea, Chuck Hagel sees China as the destabilising force in the region.

He could point to a number of unilateral moves taken by Beijing over recent months. Deploying a giant oil rig off the coast of Vietnam is just one.

Analysts see a trend. Many think that while the squabbling continues over who has sovereignty over the South China Sea – and the East China Sea – Beijing has quietly decided to take action: by changing the situation on the ground, it makes it hard for other nations to resist its demands.

And China appears to be testing the resolve of the Americans to defend US interests, and those of its allies, in the region. Defence Secretary Hagel said the US would not look the other way. But what can America do? And how far does China have to go before Washington decides to resist?

What are the disputes in South China Sea?
Prime Minister Abe earlier offered to provide coastal boats to neighbouring countries wary of Beijing’s tactics.

Chinese officials said Mr Abe was using the “myth” of a China threat to strengthen Japan’s security policy.

Tensions have flared recently, with China declaring an air defence zone in the East China Sea and adopting a more confrontational stance over the disputed islands in the South China Sea, correspondents say.

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Japan’s prime minister wants to play a more active role in regional security, Sharanjit Leyl reports
They say that although some Asean members will be reluctant to antagonise China because of their economic and political ties, others are likely to welcome an increased role from Japan.

Beijing claims a U-shaped swathe of the South China Sea that covers areas other South-East Asian nations say are their territory.

Military aid suspended
Turning to recent events in Thailand, Mr Hagel called on the coup authorities to release those it had detained and immediately to hold free and fair elections.

Until this happened, he said, the US would suspend all military assistance and engagement with Bangkok.
Thailand’s Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha gave his first televised address since the coup
His remarks came hours after Thailand’s coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said elections would not be held for more than a year, speaking in a televised address.

Gen Prayuth announced a three-phase plan leading up to the new elections, which includes two to three months of reconciliation and a year of drafting a new constitution and reforms.

The US and Thailand have long been allies – and have particularly strong military ties – so this will hurt more than the general condemnation that has been heard since the coup, says the BBC’s Jonah Fisher.

But it is still unlikely to make much difference to Gen Prayuth, our correspondent adds.

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In immediate reaction, China described Hagel’s statement and call as a “Threat”.

 

NST story:

31 May 2014| last updated at 07:47PM

China slams US defence chief for ‘threats’

BEIJING: A Chinese military official on Saturday blasted the United States for making “threats” after the US defence chief accused Beijing of inflaming tensions in the disputed South China Sea, state television reported.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had denounced China’s “destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” at a security forum in Singapore which both officials are attending.

The Chinese army’s deputy chief of staff Wang Guanzhong described Hagel’s comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue as baseless.

“Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of threats and intimidating language.

Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of encouragement, incitement for the Asia region’s instability giving rise to a disturbance,” state broadcaster China Central Television quoted Wang as telling reporters.

“Secretary Hagel, in this kind of public space with many people, openly criticised China without reason. This accusation is completely without basis,” Wang said.

Tensions have recently flared in the South China Sea, claimed almost entirely by China, which has lately taken bold steps to enforce what it says are its historical rights.

Wang added the value of the Shangri-La Dialogue was to encourage exchanges, sometimes blunt, between governments and think-tanks but China should not be accused without basis, CCTV said.

China’s official Xinhua news agency on Saturday accused the United States of raising tensions in Asia, following Hagel’s speech.

“The United States has been trying to practise its approach of ensuring the safety of its allies by maintaining its military dominance,” it said.

“It even adopted the strategy of stoking fires to do this with the influence felt and visibly seen behind the tensions on the South China Sea.”

China has sought to counter Washington’s foreign policy “pivot” to Asia, but it has also angered Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines — the latter two US allies — with what those countries say are aggressive moves in separate maritime rows.

Relations between China and Vietnam have worsened after Beijing sent a deep-water oil drilling rig into contested waters in the South China Sea.

The Philippines accuses China of reclaiming land on a disputed reef within its exclusive economic zone under a United Nations convention, while Beijing and Tokyo have a long-running feud over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

On Friday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, vowed that his country would play a larger role in promoting peace in Asia and called for the rule of law to be upheld in the region.

Another commentary published by Xinhua on Saturday dismissed the speech as seeking to mask Japan’s military ambitions.

“Such rhetoric is fundamentally flawed when it came from the nationalist leader who has been trying to conjure up the militarist past of Japan in a drive to re-arm his country,” it said.

– AFP
Read more: China slams US defence chief for ‘threats’ – Latest – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/latest/china-slams-us-defence-chief-for-threats-1.608996#ixzz33JY4yRiA

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The fact is that China’s protagonism strengthened United States allies within Asia-Pacific nations such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and Taiwan and formed closer co-operation with Singapore, the Philippines and now Veitnam.

Published in: on May 31, 2014 at 23:59  Comments (2)  

Lessons from Paracels XVI: The Panda Bluff and Snuff

China encroaching into neighbours EEZ territories as defined by UNCLOS (1982) and relationship is sliding downwards

The imaginary and unsubstantiated ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ where China is encroaching into neighbours EEZ territories as defined by UNCLOS (1982) and relationship is sliding downwards

At the annual military-diplomacy Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, it is expected that China through Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) maintained that Asian nations should not form military alliance with third parties, without directly naming the United States, as their ‘defense mechanism’.

Deputy Chief General Staff PLA Lt. Gen. Wang Gunzhong is expected to delivery this at his speech titled “Major Power Perspective on Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific” at the Fourth Plenary session of Shangri-La Dialogue 2014 on Sunday 1 June 2014. He would share the platform with Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Anatoly Antonov.

Channel News Asia story:

China to promote its security theory at Shangri-La Dialogue

China said on Friday it would promote its own security theory at an Asian defence forum this weekend, setting the scene for a clash with neighbour and rival Japan.
BEIJING: China said on Friday it would promote its own security theory at an Asian defence forum this weekend, setting the scene for a clash with neighbour and rival Japan.

Beijing’s delegation to the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore will be headed by Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

The Chinese delegation will “fully elaborate on China’s security concept in Asia”, he said at a regular briefing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is attending, will lay out at the meeting a vision of Tokyo — which has a security alliance with the US — as a counterweight to Beijing’s growing might, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported on Thursday.

But at a regional summit last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that countries should not build up military alliances in Asia.

“To beef up an entrenched or military alliance targeted at a third party is not conducive to maintaining common security,” Xi said, without naming names.

Beijing and Tokyo are embroiled in a bitter dispute over Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

Fu Ying, head of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, will also attend the Dialogue, Hong added.

Fu is a former vice foreign minister and ex-ambassador to London, and is considered a more effective communicator than most Chinese officials.

The three-day Asia Security Summit, starting on Friday, comes amid heightened tensions between China and its neighbours over maritime territorial rows.

As well as the dispute with Japan, China claims almost all of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, all members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and non-member Taiwan.

The row between Beijing and Hanoi is currently the most volatile, after China deployed a drilling rig in contested waters, and escalated this week when Vietnam accused a Chinese vessel of ramming and sinking a fishing boat nearby.

No one was hurt in the incident, which Beijing blamed on the Vietnamese vessel.

- AFP/gn

************

The irony is that China has been behaving very aggressive with immediate neighbours and around the region, with little regards towards diplomacy and international pressures. PLA has been flexing its muscle by demonstration of projection of power and force, which is actually reflective of its ‘expansionary attitude’.

In late April week long visit to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, President Barack H. Obama reaffirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s earlier in the month commitment of United States’ readiness to come into the aid of allies around the region, when the threat is eminent, ‘clear and present danger’.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his keynote address tonight committed readiness to play a more active role in region security, amidst rising tension between China and Vietnam in disputed territories.

30 May 2014 Last updated at 15:14

Shangri-La dialogue: Japan PM Abe urges security role

Mr Abe said Japan would support Southeast Asian countries in ensuring regional security

Japan’s PM says his country will play a greater role in regional security and support South-East Asian countries in territorial disputes with China.

Shinzo Abe made the comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

The three-day summit involves the US and South-East Asian countries, and comes amid growing tensions between China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Chinese officials said Mr Abe was using the “myth” of a China threat to strengthen Japan’s security policy.

Japan-China ties have also been strained over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

‘Seas and skies’
Mr Abe gave the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, also known as the Asia Security Summit, on Friday.

Japan, he said, would play “a more proactive role than it has until now in making peace in Asia and the world something more certain”.

“Japan will offer its utmost support for the efforts of the countries of Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] as they work to ensure the security of the seas and the skies.”
Chinese and Vietnamese vessels have confronted each other in disputed waters in the South China Sea

Top Chinese official Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying (centre) said Tokyo, not Beijing, was threatening regional security

Top Chinese official Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying (centre) said Tokyo, not Beijing, was threatening regional security

Mr Abe added that he supported efforts by the Philippines and Vietnam to resolve territorial disputes with China.

Earlier this month, the Japanese prime minister called for a new interpretation of the country’s constitution, which currently bans “the threat or use of force” to settle international disputes.

China, which had parts of its territory occupied by Japan during World War Two, has criticised the move.

On Friday, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying, who is also at the summit, said Mr Abe was “trying to amend the security policy of Japan” in a move that was “worrying for the region”.

Mr Abe had exacerbated regional tensions and the “myth” that China was “posing a threat to Japan”, she added.

Analysts say that although some Asean members will be reluctant to antagonise China because of their economic and political ties, others are likely to welcome an increased role from Japan.

‘Overplaying its hand’
China continues to unsettle its neighbours after declaring an air defence zone in the East China Sea and taking a more confrontational stance over disputed islands in the South China Sea, the BBC’s Sharanjit Leyl in Singapore reports.

The forum is a chance for senior delegates from the region to meet face to face and attempt to resolve tensions, our correspondent adds.

Beijing claims a U-shaped swathe of the South China Sea that covers areas other South-East Asian nations say are their territory.
Analysis: Jonathan Marcus, BBC diplomatic correspondent

Mr Abe wants to step up support for countries locked in maritime disputes with Beijing. He condemned those who wished to”consolidate changes to the status quo” by dictating to others – another stab at China.

Mr Abe wants to change Japan’s post-war consensus to allow the country to take a more active role in collective defence. And it wasn’t just what Mr Abe said – it was where he said it.

There is no collective security organisation like Nato in Asia and thus the conference known as the Shangri-La Dialogue has become the main annual security “event” in the region.

This was the first time that a Japanese leader had given the keynote address there – a sure sign that Mr Abe wants Japan to take a more expansive role in the wider security debate.
On Tuesday, a Vietnamese fishing boat sank after it collided with a Chinese vessel near a controversial oil rig in the South China Sea, with both countries blaming the other for the incident.

Vietnam has protested against China moving its oil rig to waters also claimed by Hanoi, at a spot near the disputed Paracel Islands.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is in the process of taking China to a UN court over its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said he would use the summit to raise issues “where we think China is overplaying its hand and presenting new challenges”.

*************

China which signed the United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) and the Document of Conduct (DOC) with ASEAN nations in November 2002 where it has been outlined that issues pertaining multiple claims and disputed territories should be be resolved through diplomatic channels such as dialogues, chose to deploy military units instead.

When the Philippines brought the contentious multiple claims on Scarborough Shoal to the International Court of Justice for arbitration, China’s rejection of the  move with the reaction that the United Nations body did not possess the necessary qualification to resolve the case.

It is obvious that China’s bluff can no longer hold water and their blatant and gross disregard to international opinion is reflective of their greed and self-serving attitude surpass even its own pride as an upcoming global economic and diplomatic power.

 

Published in: on May 31, 2014 at 02:00  Comments (3)  

Lessons from Paracels XV: Umpire in the Game of Screaming Eagle Vs Panda

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

United States President Barack H. Obama reiterates its commitment to resolve international issues more aggressively which include commitment armed forces, “Military adventures”. Speaking aloud at US Army premier West Point Academy is designed for China and Russia which started to be rogue nations, starting to impose themselves into neighbours territories.

Fox News story:

Obama signals reset in US foreign policy, urges against ‘military adventures’

Published May 28, 2014 FoxNews.com May 28, 2014:

President Obama delivers the commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.AP President Obama, in a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, signaled a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy — one that pulls back from what he described as “military adventures” while wielding American power in other ways.

The president described the new American foreign policy as one of “collective action” and restraint, deploying unilateral U.S. military force only when the American people are threatened. He outlined the approach a day after announcing his plan for gradually drawing down the U.S. force in Afghanistan once the war formally ends later this year. “The landscape has changed,” Obama told the graduating class at West Point on Wednesday, citing the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The president took on what he described as “interventionists” from both parties, and said that while “isolationism” is not an option, “U.S. military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.”

The president advised that crises around the world that don’t directly threaten Americans be met first with non-military options: diplomacy, sanctions and “collective action.” The president pointed to Syria as one battlefield where allies could work together to ease the crisis. He pledged to work with Congress to “ramp up support” for certain elements in the Syrian opposition who “offer the best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator.”

Separately, administration officials told The Associated Press that Obama and his team are weighing sending a limited number of U.S. troops to Jordan as part of a mission to train and equip certain moderate members of the Free Syrian Army. Republicans treated the president’s remarks Wednesday with skepticism. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the “new focus” on Syria, but voiced concern that the administration has been “weak” and squandered U.S. credibility abroad. “Since President Obama took office, a series of foreign policy plans and visions have been put forward; assurances have been made. But too often, strong words have been followed by weak actions, or no actions,” he said in a statement.

“The result has been a general loss of U.S. credibility, making successful foreign policy nearly impossible. President Obama’s diplomatic efforts cannot work if our allies lack confidence in U.S. commitments, and our opponents do not fear U.S. warnings.” The president’s address on Wednesday comes against a backdrop of numerous political and humanitarian crises around the world.

His administration, as it draws down troops from Afghanistan, is grappling with how to address violence and upheaval in eastern Ukraine, Syria, Nigeria, Libya and beyond. His address strongly suggests that Obama, in his final term, would be very reluctant to use military force for anything short of a direct threat on the homeland.

The president said the most direct threat continues to be terrorism, but called for partnering better with countries where those networks thrive. As part of that, he called for a fund of up to $5 billion to help governments in the Middle East and North Africa fight terrorism. “We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield,” he said, describing that as the test for intervention. Saying he is “haunted” by the deaths of U.S. troops, Obama said: “I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm’s way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed.”

If Obama signs off on the Syria program, it would mark a significant boost in U.S. support to the rebels, who have repeatedly asked the U.S. for military help in their four-year-long war against the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Administration officials said there is still internal discussion at the White House about the merits and potential risks of the program, which would involved instructing carefully vetted members of the Free Syrian Army on tactics, including counterterrorism operations.

However, the State Department, Pentagon and U.S. intelligence community, along with many in Congress who back the move, have concluded Assad will not budge without a change in the military situation on the ground, according to the officials. At the same time, there are growing fears about the threat posed by Al Qaeda-linked and -inspired extremists fighting in Syria, the officials said.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last week passed a defense bill that authorizes the Defense Department to provide training and equipment to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition. The U.S. already has covert support operations in place for the Syrian opposition, and it is not yet clear how the new program would work. The United States has spent $287 million so far in nonlethal aid on the civil war, now in its fourth year.

Rebel commanders for three years have been asking the U.S. for lethal assistance as they’ve seen gains wiped out one after another, but the U.S. has been reluctant to move to that kind of aid for fear weapons could end up in the hands of extremist rebels who might then turn on neighboring Israel or against U.S. interests.

The proposed mission would be coordinated by the U.S. but involve many of the regional players that are already active in assisting the rebels, including Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, the officials said. Saudi cooperation is critical and has been a main topic of conversation between Washington and Riyadh, including Obama and Saudi King Abdullah, in recent weeks, the officials said. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

***************

China Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been very aggressive in disputed territories around the region, in imaginary and unsubstantiated borders which they call as ‘Nine-Dash-Line’.

China PLAN has had military stand off in very aggressive nature with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and now, soon to be expected a skirmish would erupt with Vietname for CNOPC USD1 billion deepwater gas platform being towed into what clearly is under Veitnam’s EEZ, as defined by the United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

On the other hand, Washington Post report that Obama wanted more ‘Non Military’ approach to resolves these issues and even contention.

 

Obama lays out new postwar foreign policy, stresses nonmilitary options

Video: During his commencement address at West Point, President Obama declared that the U.S. remains the world’s most indispensable nation, even after a “long season of war,” but argued for restraint before embarking on more military adventures. 1123 Sh Obama lays out new postwar foreign policy, stresses nonmilitary options

Video: During his commencement address at West Point, President Obama declared that the U.S. remains the world’s most indispensable nation, even after a “long season of war,” but argued for restraint before embarking on more military adventures.

By David Nakamura, Published: May 28 | Updated: Thursday, May 29, 1:10 AM E-mail the writers

WEST POINT, N.Y. — President Obama on Wednesday laid out a new, postwar foreign policy after more than a decade of combat overseas, outlining a global counterterrorism initiative and arguing for a balance between interventionism and “foreign entanglements.” In a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy, he stressed the importance of nonmilitary options in addressing the world’s foreign policy challenges, as well as collective international action.

Video In a statement on Tuesday, President Obama marks 2014 as the year that combat operations in Afghanistan conclude and offers a preview of what the U.S.-Afghan relationship will look like in the future.

Read more: In Afghanistan, Obama’s troop withdrawal plan stirs fear Kevin Sieff MAY 28 Financial and security concerns are paramount, with one Afghan saying that “we will be in full crisis.” Transcript: Obama’s West Point commencement speech MAY 28 The president delivered the following remarks Wednesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. P

resident Obama’s West Point speech explained in 13 tweets Aaron Blake MAY 28 The Post’s chief White House correspondent, Scott Wilson, owns Twitter. Coming more than six years into a presidency that has been devoted to winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama’s announcement of his new foreign policy approach also featured a defense of his administration’s handling of foreign crises and a suggestion that some critics are out of step with a nation weary after 13 years of war.

He sought to strike a balance between those who want to avoid involvement in foreign conflicts and “interventionists on the left and right” who want to apply U.S. power to solve various world problems. “Each side can point to history to support its claims,” Obama said. “But I believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment. It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolationism is not an option. . . . But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.”

[Read the text of Obama’s commencement speech.]

With the United States drawing down its forces in Afghanistan, Obama called on Congress to support a new $5 billion “Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund” to respond to evolving terrorist threats around the world. The White House said the program “will provide the flexibility and resources required to respond to emerging needs as terrorist threats around the world continue to evolve.”

Obama also defended his decision during his first term to surge forces in Afghanistan. “America’s security demanded those deployments,” he said. “But I am haunted by those deaths. I am haunted by those wounds. And I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm’s way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.”

He said that “for the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism.” However, he added, “a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naive and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy — drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan — to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.”

As the United States transitions to a military training and advisory mission in Afghanistan, Obama said, “our reduced presence allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa.”

He said he asked his national security team earlier this year to “develop a plan for a network of partnerships” from South Asia to northern Africa. “Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity and facilitate partner countries on the front lines,” Obama said. “These resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who’ve gone on the offensive against al-Qaeda, supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia, working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya, and facilitating French operations in Mali.”

He said one critical focus of the effort would be the ongoing crisis in Syria, where three years of civil war have left more than 150,000 people dead and much of the country in ruins. He said the additional resources would allow the United States to step up efforts to support countries bordering Syria, which have had to host refugees and confront terrorists.

“The partnerships I’ve described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves,” Obama warned. “When we have actionable intelligence, that’s what we do.” But he said direct actions must conform with U.S. values. “That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where . . . there is near certainty of no civilian casualties,” he said. “For our actions should meet a simple test: We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.”

Obama added that he would increasingly ask the U.S. military “to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts.” While the intelligence community “has done outstanding work,” the need to protect sources and methods means that “when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government.” In concluding his 40-minute address, Obama paid tribute to Gavin White, a 2011 West Point graduate who lost a leg in Afghanistan and whom Obama met last year at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Now White is watching his sister, Morgan, graduate from the academy, Obama said. “We have been through a long season of war,” the president said. “We have faced trials that were not foreseen, and we’ve seen divisions about how to move forward. But there is something in Gavin’s character, there is something in the American character that will always triumph.”

Obama’s speech appeared aimed less at changing the terms of the national foreign policy debate in Washington than appealing to a war-weary electorate. It echoed Obama’s earlier defenses of his foreign policy — stressing such themes as multilateralism, Muslim outreach and ending torture — as a corrective to the approach of the George W. Bush administration.

Obama also aimed to use the images this week of him visiting troops and addressing the new Army officers to reaffirm his commitment to the Armed Forces after new reports emerged this month of falsified wait times at veteran hospitals, a problem the administration has struggled to respond to. Obama has long since moved past his initial skepticism about the United States’ role as an “indispensable nation.” He said Wednesday: “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

The administration’s request for $5 billion for the new counterterrorism partnerships in fiscal 2015 would also cover expanded or enhanced Defense Department efforts, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and Special Operations activities, the White House said in a fact sheet. Secretary of State John F. Kerry previewed the announcement early Wednesday in appearances on morning television programs. He also defended Obama’s decision to terminate the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 while keeping a residual force of 9,800 for another year and gradually reducing it to a small presence at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul by the end of 2016. Kerry said on NBC’s “Today” show that Obama is telling the Afghans “by a specific time they have to take over management of their own security and military.” He said the Afghans must realize that they do not have “all the time in the world.” He added, however, “This is not an abandonment of Afghanistan. . . . This is an empowerment of Afghanistan.” Interviewed on “CBS This Morning,” Kerry said the pullout would allow the United States to put resources into fighting terrorism in other parts of the world. In announcing the new counterterrorism fund, the White House said it was finalizing the Defense Department portion of the fiscal 2015 Overseas Contingency Operations consistent with Obama’s decision on troop levels in Afghanistan. It said the request would “reflect a continued downward trajectory of war-related spending.” The new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund would “build on existing tools and authorities to allow the administration to respond to evolving terrorist threats,” the White House said. “It will allow us to pursue a more sustainable and effective approach to combating terrorism that focuses on empowering and enabling our partners around the globe.“ Branigin reported from Washington. Scott Wilson in Washington contributed to this report. ************ are to Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Add to PersonalPost Share via Email Print Article More By David Nakamura, Published: May 28 | Updated: Thursday, May 29, 1:10 AM E-mail the writers WEST POINT, N.Y. — President Obama on Wednesday laid out a new, postwar foreign policy after more than a decade of combat overseas, outlining a global counterterrorism initiative and arguing for a balance between interventionism and “foreign entanglements.” In a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy, he stressed the importance of nonmilitary options in addressing the world’s foreign policy challenges, as well as collective international action. Video In a statement on Tuesday, President Obama marks 2014 as the year that combat operations in Afghanistan conclude and offers a preview of what the U.S.-Afghan relationship will look like in the future. Read more: In Afghanistan, Obama’s troop withdrawal plan stirs fear Kevin Sieff MAY 28 Financial and security concerns are paramount, with one Afghan saying that “we will be in full crisis.” Transcript: Obama’s West Point commencement speech MAY 28 The president delivered the following remarks Wednesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. President Obama’s West Point speech explained in 13 tweets Aaron Blake MAY 28 The Post’s chief White House correspondent, Scott Wilson, owns Twitter. Coming more than six years into a presidency that has been devoted to winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama’s announcement of his new foreign policy approach also featured a defense of his administration’s handling of foreign crises and a suggestion that some critics are out of step with a nation weary after 13 years of war. He sought to strike a balance between those who want to avoid involvement in foreign conflicts and “interventionists on the left and right” who want to apply U.S. power to solve various world problems. “Each side can point to history to support its claims,” Obama said. “But I believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment. It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolationism is not an option. . . . But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.” [Read the text of Obama’s commencement speech.] With the United States drawing down its forces in Afghanistan, Obama called on Congress to support a new $5 billion “Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund” to respond to evolving terrorist threats around the world. The White House said the program “will provide the flexibility and resources required to respond to emerging needs as terrorist threats around the world continue to evolve.” Obama also defended his decision during his first term to surge forces in Afghanistan. “America’s security demanded those deployments,” he said. “But I am haunted by those deaths. I am haunted by those wounds. And I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm’s way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.” He said that “for the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism.” However, he added, “a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naive and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy — drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan — to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.” As the United States transitions to a military training and advisory mission in Afghanistan, Obama said, “our reduced presence allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa.” He said he asked his national security team earlier this year to “develop a plan for a network of partnerships” from South Asia to northern Africa. “Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity and facilitate partner countries on the front lines,” Obama said. “These resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who’ve gone on the offensive against al-Qaeda, supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia, working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya, and facilitating French operations in Mali.” He said one critical focus of the effort would be the ongoing crisis in Syria, where three years of civil war have left more than 150,000 people dead and much of the country in ruins. He said the additional resources would allow the United States to step up efforts to support countries bordering Syria, which have had to host refugees and confront terrorists. “The partnerships I’ve described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves,” Obama warned. “When we have actionable intelligence, that’s what we do.” But he said direct actions must conform with U.S. values. “That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where . . . there is near certainty of no civilian casualties,” he said. “For our actions should meet a simple test: We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.” Obama added that he would increasingly ask the U.S. military “to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts.” While the intelligence community “has done outstanding work,” the need to protect sources and methods means that “when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government.” In concluding his 40-minute address, Obama paid tribute to Gavin White, a 2011 West Point graduate who lost a leg in Afghanistan and whom Obama met last year at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Now White is watching his sister, Morgan, graduate from the academy, Obama said. “We have been through a long season of war,” the president said. “We have faced trials that were not foreseen, and we’ve seen divisions about how to move forward. But there is something in Gavin’s character, there is something in the American character that will always triumph.” Obama’s speech appeared aimed less at changing the terms of the national foreign policy debate in Washington than appealing to a war-weary electorate. It echoed Obama’s earlier defenses of his foreign policy — stressing such themes as multilateralism, Muslim outreach and ending torture — as a corrective to the approach of the George W. Bush administration. Obama also aimed to use the images this week of him visiting troops and addressing the new Army officers to reaffirm his commitment to the Armed Forces after new reports emerged this month of falsified wait times at veteran hospitals, a problem the administration has struggled to respond to. Obama has long since moved past his initial skepticism about the United States’ role as an “indispensable nation.” He said Wednesday: “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.” The administration’s request for $5 billion for the new counterterrorism partnerships in fiscal 2015 would also cover expanded or enhanced Defense Department efforts, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and Special Operations activities, the White House said in a fact sheet. Secretary of State John F. Kerry previewed the announcement early Wednesday in appearances on morning television programs. He also defended Obama’s decision to terminate the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 while keeping a residual force of 9,800 for another year and gradually reducing it to a small presence at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul by the end of 2016. Kerry said on NBC’s “Today” show that Obama is telling the Afghans “by a specific time they have to take over management of their own security and military.” He said the Afghans must realize that they do not have “all the time in the world.” He added, however, “This is not an abandonment of Afghanistan. . . . This is an empowerment of Afghanistan.” Interviewed on “CBS This Morning,” Kerry said the pullout would allow the United States to put resources into fighting terrorism in other parts of the world. In announcing the new counterterrorism fund, the White House said it was finalizing the Defense Department portion of the fiscal 2015 Overseas Contingency Operations consistent with Obama’s decision on troop levels in Afghanistan. It said the request would “reflect a continued downward trajectory of war-related spending.” The new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund would “build on existing tools and authorities to allow the administration to respond to evolving terrorist threats,” the White House said. “It will allow us to pursue a more sustainable and effective approach to combating terrorism that focuses on empowering and enabling our partners around the globe.“   Branigin reported from Washington. Scott Wilson in Washington contributed to this report.

************

United States is a strong ally with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, which have border or multi-claimant issues and contention against China’s imaginary and unsubstantiated ‘Nine-Dash-Line’. United States is also a strong ally of Singapore and issues the Changi Naval Base as the region staging and technical support base even though Singapore is not in loggerheads with China.

Recently, Malaysia is also trying to be getting ‘chummy-chummy’ with the US Armed Forces, reflective in Defense Minister Dato’ Sri Hishammuddin Hussein’s commitment when he visited US Navy Pacific Command HQ in Pearl Harbour and Pentagon.

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak is making a unscheduled brief return home, to pay respects at Almarhum Paduka Seri Sultan Perak Tuanku Sultan Azlan Muhibuddin Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Yusuff Izzuddin Ghafarullahu Shah. HRH Almarhum Paduka Seri Sultan Perak’s  remains would be laid for the lie-in-state at Balai Rong Seri Iskandariah Palace in Bukit Chandan Kuala Kangsar for dignitaries and public to play respects.

Then a quick dash back to China, to continue his visit to commemorate the anniverasy of 40th year friendship with China, pioneered by his late father Second Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein on 30 May 1974 and made friends then with China Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong.

As part of the itinerary in this China visit, Malaysia would request a ‘softer’ approach to resolve border and multi claimant issues through dialogues and consultations, which has been outlined in the Document of Conduct (DOC) inked in November 2002 by ASEAN and China. In DOC, it was agreed to use UNCLOS as the reference basis, as a precursor to the Code of Conduct, which is the basis to resolve international and border disputes.

Probably the offer would be in the form of holding a regional summit hosted by Malaysia under the ASEAN sanction, where issues are brought to be resolved through consultations.

In reciprocity, it is expected that China would want Prime Minister Najib and Malaysia to play more extensive and effective roles in unwinding tensions build up so far with China PLAN’s arrogance and foreign policy attitude, by bridging diplomatic channels with ASEAN states such Veitnam and the Philippines and Japan.

President Barack H Obama and Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak making a joint media conference after a four-eyed meeting in Perdana Putra

Malaysia is also expected to slowly bridge the same message to the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. This is in tandem with Prime Minister Najib’s growing capacity and role as a promising regional leader within ASEAN and, effective role and visibility and popularity in the international arena of Global Moderate Muslim.

There are very interesting developments to watch, especially when issues pertaining to China PLAN maneuvres all over South and East China Sea off late have been nothing but aggressive if not hostile in nature.

After all if it is hydrocarbon is the prize, then the best route to resolve this stand off is to move towards a win-win situation such as joint development programs.

 

Published in: on May 29, 2014 at 07:00  Comments (7)  

Lessons from Paracels XIV: The Dangerous Panda

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China demonstrated its aggressive nature another step when vessel rammed into a Vietnamese fishing vessel and sink her, a few miles from the disputed Paracel Islands which was invaded by China in January 2014.

New York Times story:

China Tensions Grow After Vietnamese Ship Sinks in Clash

By JANE PERLEZMAY 27, 2014

BEIJING — Hair-trigger tensions in the South China Sea escalated Tuesday as China and Vietnam traded accusations over the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity of a Chinese oil rig parked in disputed waters off Vietnam’s coast.

The incident was almost certain to aggravate the already charged diplomatic and economic tensions between China and Vietnam, whose relations have plummeted to the worst in decades following anti-Chinese riots two weeks ago that killed at least four people.

In the latest incident, a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat about 17 nautical miles southwest of the rig on Monday afternoon, the state-run Vietnamese television network, VTV1, reported. All 10 crew members were rescued, the network said.
But Beijing labeled Vietnam as the aggressor, with the Chinese state-run news agency, Xinhua, saying the Vietnamese fishing boat “capsized when it was interfering with and ramming” a Chinese fishing vessel from Hainan, a province of China. Then China accused Vietnam of sabotage and interfering with the operations of the oil rig, which has become a flash point of tensions ever since Vietnam learned that the Chinese had set up the rig in waters contested by both nations.

Photo

A Chinese coast guard vessel, right, saiied near China’s oil drilling rig in disputed waters earlier this month in the South China Sea. Credit Hoang Dinh Nam/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
At sea, armadas of ships from both countries are jousting with each other as the Chinese try to protect the $1 billion oil rig operated by the energy giant Cnooc and the Vietnamese attempt to disrupt its operations.

Chinese and Vietnamese boats have rammed each other in the area around the oil rig, and the Chinese have acknowledged that they used water cannons to keep the Vietnamese away from the rig, which stands as tall as a 40-story building.

The rig arrived in the waters off the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both China and Vietnam, on May 1, a unilateral move that showed China was willing to create “facts” establishing its control of the waters of the South China Sea without consulting with other claimants.

“Suddenly Chinese fishing boat #11209 crashed into Vietnamese fishing boat DNa 90152 with 10 fishermen on board,” the VTV1 television report said. A deputy colonel in the Vietnamese Coast Guard, Ngo Ngoc Thu, said the Chinese ship had a steel hull.

An armada of as many as 80 boats, including some from the Chinese Coast Guard, now patrol around the rig, creating a wide perimeter established by the Chinese, according to Vietnamese accounts.

Warships from both countries, including five Chinese frigates, have been observed from outside the perimeter, American officials say.

Chinese social media sites lit up Tuesday with nationalistic postings inspired by the placement of the oil rig and Monday’s clash at sea. Users of ifeng.com, the website of Phoenix Television, a Hong Kong-based satellite network, sent congratulations to the Chinese ship for its action in sinking the Vietnamese vessel.

“Now this is showing some backbone,” said one anonymous user. “Good going, finally seeing some news of concrete action,” said another.

And the depth of anti-Chinese sentiment in Vietnam was on stark display last Friday when a 67-year-old Vietnamese woman set herself on fire and died in Ho Chi Minh City, an echo of the self-immolations by Buddhist monks in South Vietnam in the early 1960s during the Vietnam War.

In the latest incident, the woman burned herself at dawn in the center of the city, and she left behind papers imploring the Vietnamese government to act more aggressively against the Chinese oil rig, city officials said.

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Map: Territorial Disputes in the Waters Near China
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The episode between the Chinese and Vietnamese fishing vessels came after anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam resulted in the deaths of four Chinese workers and injuries to more than 100. China evacuated several thousand workers from Vietnam last week.

A report by Xinhua on Tuesday cited Cnooc as saying that the rig had finished its first phase of operation and would stay in the area until mid-August. The Vietnamese Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department said the rig was moved about a few hundred feet north on Sunday, but the significance of the move was not immediately clear.

In a signal of how China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, now views the South China Sea as a top foreign policy priority, the country’s vice foreign minister said Tuesday that the sea was central to China’s very existence as a global economic power.

“Being the lifeline for China, the South China Sea is far more important to China than to other countries,” the minister, Liu Zhenmin, told reporters in Beijing.

China and Vietnam have enjoyed good relations between the Communist parties that run the two governments, and according to people close to the Vietnamese, the parking of the oil rig in disputed waters came as a surprise.

Since May 1, China has declined to hold substantive talks with Vietnam on the rig or the territorial claims in the South China Sea, a further indication of China’s resolve to make its claims unilaterally, Asian diplomats say. In response, Vietnam has threatened to take the matter to international arbitration, as the Philippines has already done.

The United States has urged restraint on both sides, and Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, the commander of the Pacific Fleet, warned last Friday that the proximity of the boats around the oil rig could lead to a collision.

It was initially impossible to determine whether the Chinese government controlled the Chinese fishing vessel involved in the clash, said Dennis J. Blasko, a former military attaché at the American embassy in Beijing. “We don’t know enough yet if this was coordinated or an individual action,” he said.

Many fishing boats are part of the Chinese militia, which are part of the Chinese armed forces, he said. “If the boat was part of the militia, it could have gotten an order fro the People’s Armed Forces Department,” he said.

The Chinese have publicly acknowledged that 80 percent of China’s fishing boats, including those operating out of Hainan, carry navigation equipment that is subsidized by the Chinese government.

The Beidou navigation satellite system, considered to be a Chinese version of GPS, allows the boats to send instant alarms and short messaging services, according to Qi Chengye, a manger of BDStar Navigation, which provides the Beidou system to Chinese vessels.

“The Chinese government is giving large subsidies to encourage fishermen to install BDS,” Mr. Qi said in an interview in Xinhua last year.

Chau Doan contributed reporting from Hanoi and Chris Buckley from Hong Kong. Bree Feng contributed research from Beijing.

NEXT IN ASIA PACIFIC

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At another disputed island, China scrambles jet against Japanese aircraft near Senkaku.

CNN story:

 

Close call as China scrambles fighter jets on Japanese aircraft in disputed territory

By Tim Hume, CNN
May 26, 2014 — Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)

This disputed islands in the East China Sea are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Hong Kong (CNN) — Territorial tensions between China and Japan have flared after a close encounter between their military jets in disputed airspace over the East China Sea.
The neighboring rivals accused each other of potentially triggering a dangerous incident, after two pairs of Chinese fighter jets were scrambled and flew unprecedentedly close to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane and a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft Saturday.
The fly-bys occurred in airspace claimed by both countries as part of their “air defense identification zones,” while China carried out joint maritime exercises with Russia at the weekend.
Japan claims the flights were part of a routine reconnaissance mission near a group of uninhabited islands claimed by both nations, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
Japan, China in dispute over claimed space Tensions rise over Asian islands Japan arrests 14 pro-China activists
Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of National Defense described the move as a justified enforcement of the country’s air defense zone.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said it was the closest that Chinese jets had come to Japanese aircraft — passing about 30 meters from one plane and 50 meters from another.
“We believe this proximity and behavior does not follow common sense,” he said.
He said the flight crews reported the Chinese planes were armed with missiles. “The crews were on edge as they responded.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday that Japan had lodged a protest to China through diplomatic channels over the incident.
“This should never happen,” he said.
Beyond meeting the Japanese aircraft, the Chinese jets took no further action, and the Japanese pilots returned to base.
READ MORE: China’s ‘air defense identification zone,’ explained
In response, a statement from China’s Ministry of National Defense blamed Japan for the incident, saying that the Chinese and Russian navies had issued “no-fly” notices in the area ahead of the maritime drill.
According to the statement, carried by Chinese state media, the ministry had since lodged a complaint with Japan and called on it to “stop all surveillance and interference activities.” “Otherwise, all the consequences that might be caused will be borne by the Japanese side,” read the statement.

An image of a Chinese fighter jet released by Japan’s Defense Ministry after the incident.
Tensions in recent years over China’s increasingly assertive stance towards territorial claims escalated in November when it unilaterally declared an “air defense identification zone,” or ADIZ, that included stretches of disputed territory.
An ADIZ is essentially a buffer zone outside a country’s sovereign airspace, in which nations request that approaching aircraft identify themselves. The United States and Japan have both declared such zones around their territories.
Both countries immediately challenged China’s declaration of its ADIZ in November, with the United States sending two unarmed B-52 bombers through the airspace without notifying Chinese authorities.
The disputed island standoff regularly sees the coast guards of China and Japan tail each other around the island chain.
While the islands are uninhabited, their ownership would allow for exclusive oil, mineral, and fishing rights in surrounding waters, and their status has been a regular flashpoint in Sino-Japanese relations.

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These incidents are rude demonstrations of arrogant attitude towards neighbours. Clearly, the reciprocity would neither be kind nor condescending. It is interesting what is the remark if not reaction of United States, which is regard Japan as a strong ally and recent found friendship with once enemy Vietnam.

What is more interesting is Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s remarks, who is in China from today to commemorate 40th anniversary of friendship on 30 May 2014, where his father Second Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein pioneered from ASEAN. Prime Minister Najib is expected to attend a private four eyed dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China has had border disputes with Japan, Vietnam, India and Pakistan and territorial disputes which are against principles outlined under the United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) with South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China’s cry to its neighbours to resolve territorial disputes “Through talk, amongst ourselves as Asians”. However, China’s recent escalation actions are not reflective of neighbourly behavior and attitude.

Published in: on May 27, 2014 at 22:00  Comments (10)  

Lessons from Paracels Pt XII: Nusantara’s rejection of Panda-nomics

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China should back off from its aggressive maneuvers in South China Sea and stick to commitment of the Document of Conduct (DOC)  signed with ASEAN in November 2002, which agreed to resolve issues which include multiple claims on disputed territories via multilateral discourses based on United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) dated 1982.

The Wall Street Journal story:

China Must Exit Disputed Waters, Asean Leader Says

By BEN OTTO CONNECT
Updated May 16, 2014 7:17 a.m. ET
Officers of the Vietnamese Marine Guard monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel on the South China Sea, about 210 kilometers off the coast of Vietnam, on Thursday. Reuters
JAKARTA, Indonesia—China needs to leave disputed waters of the South China Sea, the Asean secretary-general said Friday.

The “next step now, we have to get China out of the territorial waters of” Vietnam, Secretary-General Le Luong Minh told The Wall Street Journal. “That’s the first thing.”

Doing that “will be conducive to restoring confidence” in talks to resolve disputed claims by several countries in the resource-rich waters, Mr. Minh said.

Mr. Minh, a Vietnamese national, was speaking amid an outburst of violence this week outside Ho Chi Minh City and in central Vietnam in response to a tense standoff over an oil rig China recently placed in contested parts of the South China Sea.

Vietnam says the Chinese oil rig is 241 kilometers from Vietnam’s shore, well within its “exclusive economic zone,” defined by the United Nations as areas extending 370 km from a country’s coast. China, however, claims jurisdiction over the waters, off the Paracel Islands, which are controlled by China but also claimed by Hanoi.

Mr. Minh’s statement was the strongest yet by a spokesman for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Four Asean members—Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei—have territorial disputes with China in the waters.

The statement also marked a shift for Mr. Minh, who during an Asean summit last weekend pointed to a joint statement that expressed “serious concern” over the Vietnam-China confrontation but stopped shy of criticizing Beijing.

On Friday, Mr. Minh said China’s move was a setback to regional talks and showed again that a declaration of conduct signed by China and Asean in 2002 “has not been effective enough in preventing these incidents.”

A lack of progress with China in resolving territorial claims has been “disappointing,” he said, and the latest incident made it all the “more important that we try to engage in substantive consultations and negotiations.”

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that he shared Mr. Minh’s view that “this is a very dangerous situation” and that he was calling on Asean members to “renew their thoughts on the South China Sea.”

Mr. Natalegawa stopped short of supporting Mr. Minh’s calls for China to leave the region, but said “China must deliver on its officially stated commitment to implement” the 2002 declaration and push forward with talks in earnest.

Currently, he said, there is “almost an attempt to deny there is an issue in the first place.”

Sek Wannamethee, spokesman for Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, declined to comment on Mr. Minh’s statement, saying the conflict was a bilateral issue between Vietnam and China.

The islands, reefs and atolls of the South China Sea, and the waters around them, are claimed in whole or in part by six governments. Though the disputes have prevented thorough exploration, energy analysts believe significant reserves of oil and gas lie beneath its seabed.

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ASEAN EEZ Vs China's claims over South China Sea with the imaginary Nine-Dash-Line

ASEAN EEZ Vs China’s claims over South China Sea with the imaginary Nine-Dash-Line

ASEAN Head of Government Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar last week upheld the call for all disputing parties in the region to exercise maxmum restraint and opt for multilateral discourses to resolve issues, as per the DOC inked in Phnom Penh tweleve years ago.

The Channel News Asia story:

ASEAN leaders adopt “Nay Pyi Taw Declaration” on cooperation

Added by admin on May 12, 2014.
Saved under Far East, Politics
Tags: featured
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have adopted the “Nay Pyi Taw Declaration” at the 24th ASEAN Summit held in Myanmar.

The declaration identified broad areas on how the leaders are committed to further enhancing cooperation among the 10 member nations and on how to better promote economic development.

It also included calls for all parties to exercise self-restraint and the non-use of force to handle confrontations in the South China Sea.

The leaders have all agreed to refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tension.

They aim to work towards an early conclusion of the code of conduct in the South China Sea.

The code will act as an instrument to prevent and help manage future incidents from happening in the disputed waters.

Another point which the leaders agreed on is to further promote ASEAN’s efforts in peace and reconciliation in the region through relevant mechanisms and entities associated with the grouping.

They also want to expedite the implementation of the remaining action plans to achieve an ASEAN community by end next year.

Myanmar’s President and ASEAN chair Thein Sein said: “It is also important to have unity among the ASEAN member countries to maintain credibility. We also set out our goals of peace and stability for ASEAN.”

This set of declaration is seen as a positive achievement for Myanmar, who is chairing ASEAN for the first time in 17 years since they joined the grouping.

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This is seen as very positive and the strong stand by ASEAN, Especially towards China’s arrogance to uphold its claim of the imaginary and unsubstantiated ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ in the South China Sea and increased in commitment of Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy assets and military units as projection of force.

The News Straits Time story:

16 May 2014| last updated at 11:29PM

Asean’s step in the right direction

By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

1 2 Google +0 0 0 comments

THE Nay Pyi Taw Declaration adopted by the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at the end of the 24th Asean Summit at Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar, on the 11th of May 2014, may turn out to be one of the regional grouping’s most significant documents.
The declaration spells out, albeit in general terms, a unified position on the contentious issue of the territorial disputes between China, on the one hand, and various Asean states, on the other, pertaining to the South China Sea (SCS).
It calls upon all parties involved in competing claims on the SCS to exercise self-restraint and to refrain from using force or taking action that will escalate tension. At the same time, the declaration urges both China and Asean to implement effectively the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS (DOC) in accordance with international law. It seeks an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS which is what the DOC is supposed to lead to.
A unified position might not have emerged if Vietnam and the Philippines were not incensed by what they perceived as provocative Chinese behaviour in the SCS.
China had moved an oil-drilling rig in early May into waters also claimed by Hanoi, off the Paracel Islands. It is alleged that Chinese vessels had then attacked Vietnamese boats. The Philippines had accused China of poaching in waters that are also claimed by the former. Eleven crew members of the poaching boat were subsequently arrested by Philippine maritime authorities.
Both the Vietnamese and Philippine delegations at the Nay Pyi Taw Summit lobbied hard for a united stand. It will be recalled that in the 2012 Summit held in Phnom Penh, Asean leaders failed to come up with a consensus on the maritime issue.
It is critically important for China to understand Asean’s unified stand this time. Asean is a region that China cannot afford to antagonise. The friendship and respect of its neighbour is vital for China’s emergence as a major global player. It should never give the impression to any of the Asean states that it seeks to dominate and control any individual state or the region.
It is partly because the Soviet Union dominated Eastern Europe, part of its neighbourhood, during the Soviet era that the states in that region and even those within the Soviet Union eventually threw off the yoke and asserted their independence.
Likewise, it is because of the United States’ relentless drive for hegemony over Latin America to the south of its border that a significant number of states in the region have revolted against US power and are now carving out their own collective path to the future.
It would be in China’s own interest, therefore, to show greater empathy for the position of various Asean states in disputes over the SCS and to abide by international law.
Just as China needs to empathise with Asean, so should Asean develop a genuine bond of fraternity with its huge neighbour to the north. It is a bond that should go beyond trade, investment and tourism.
Through education, culture and science, Asean should endeavour to add depth and breadth to its relationship with China. Malaysia which commemorates the 40th year of its diplomatic ties with China this May, and assumes the Chair of Asean next year, should be in the forefront of this mission.
While the Asean-China bond is crucial, the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration also signals an opportunity to strengthen unity and solidarity within Asean itself. Achieving political consensus on controversial and divisive issues facing the grouping has always been a challenge. It has now taken a small but significant step. It should build up on this minor accomplishment.
In more concrete language, Asean should try to develop a common policy position on its relations with China on the one hand and the US on the other. This is admittedly an arduous task given the differences in attitudes towards the two powers among Asean states.
Nonetheless, it is imperative that we make the effort. There is no guarantee that the relationship between China and the US will not take a turn for the worse in the future.
When the US feels that China’s ascendancy — not just in the economic sphere — is a direct threat to its desire for global hegemony, it may seek to confront China.
This may see the Asean region which is vital to both China and the US in terms of the assertion of their geopolitical and geo-economic power, transformed into a cockpit of conflict. And Asean states may be forced to choose between the antagonists.
This is why evolving a shared perspective on the role of the US and China in the region which may prevent Asean from being torn asunder is of paramount significance. Through sincere dialogue among not only political leaders and government officials but also between other sectors of society in Asean we may be able to craft a common position vis-a-vis the US and China.
This is a better path to take than to forge quasi-military alliances and security pacts with one side or the other which will only expedite the very conflict that we want to avoid.
Read more: Asean’s step in the right direction – Columnist – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/asean-s-step-in-the-right-direction-1.598040#ixzz31ud0mIdF

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The military stand off China is exerting to the Philippines and Vietnam is getting very serious and chronic. China as a permanent member of UN Security Council blatantly expressed its arrogance for non compliance of UNCLOS, which include to settle multiple claims on disputed territories through arbitration when the Philippines referred the case of Scarborough Shoal and Spratlys to the International Court of Justice.

China has made it clear that ASEAN nations, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines have been very reactive to China’s aggressive military maneuvres in the region, building and compounded since 2008. The PLA Navy (PLAN) has been making ‘provocative exercises’ well deep in the EEZ territories such as in Beting Serupai aka James Shoal, which is 50 nautical miles off the coast of Sarawak March last year.

Forty years ago, China invaded Paracel Islands which were part of South Vietnam. South Vietnam at the time was weakened, after a prolong war with North Vietnam and was unable to fend or make any substantial military reciprocity to the invasion.

Recently, evidence demonstrated that China under the protection of PLAN is building an airstrip at Johnson South Reef, that is deep in the Philippines territories.

China's imaginary and unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line

China’s imaginary and unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line

These have been seen as ‘potential aggression’ where United States expressed their commitment to check on China from becoming the regional neighbourhood bully from then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement of “US Navy’s commitment half of the Pacific fleet to South East Asia” at the Shangri-La Forum in Singapore. June 2012.

President Barack H. Obama’s week long tour of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines two weeks ago, renewed this commitment. United States would be committing more  presence of military instrument as a projection of force and power.

The over lapping claims between the Phillippines and China in the South China Sea

The over lapping claims between the Phillippines and China in the South China Sea

China’s gluttony  reflective in the gross apetite for the vast yet to be tapped oil and gas fields within the disputed areas in South China Sea is very apparent, with the mobilisation of CNOOC USD1 billion platform to a disputed area which should be within Vietnamese EEZ earlier in the month.

United States would also actively act against PLAN’s projection of force and power to exert ‘control’ in the safe passage of maritime waterways in South China Sea, the world’s second most important trade route.

What would be interesting is Russia President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing 20-21 May 2014 and the agreement that would be forged with President Xi Jinping. Especially, in the wake of Russia’s stubborn involvement in Ukrainian domestic instability and re-annexation of Crimea.

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein historic call on Chairman Mao Zedong

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein historic call on Chairman Mao Zedong, 30 May 1974

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak would be in Beijing at the end of May, to commemorate and renew the friendship forged by his late father, Second Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein forty years ago.

Striking the balance of Malaysia’s close and valuable friendship and trade with China against the strong message in the desire to ward off PLAN’s aggresive maneuvres as a projection of force, is a very delicate balancing act. Malaysia values PLAN’s involvement in the search of the missing Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER with tail number 9M-MRO with the flight number MH370 on a scheduled flight from KUL to PEK on 8 March 2014.

Never the less, China’s current Panda-nomics in the South China Sea for new hydrocarbon resources isn’t welcomed in its current form and exercise. Neither does the majority of ASEAN members. It is very much reflective in the recent riots in Ho Chi Minh City and demonstration in Manila.

Published in: on May 17, 2014 at 04:00  Comments (12)  

Lessons from Paracels Pt XI: The Panda Strip in Nine-Dash-Line

China is apparently building a military installation in disputed island of multi-claimants Spratlys, which is supposed to be deep in the Philippines EEZ as defined under United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

The Independent story (taken from Associated Press)

What is China building on this tiny island? Philippines government releases image of reclamation in the South China Sea

Government not clear what China would build on the reclaimed land, with an airstrip a possibility
OLIVER TEVES MANILA Thursday 15 May 2014

China PLA N building an air strip on the atolls which is clearly deep within the philippines' EEZ, as defined by UNCLOS

China PLA N building an air strip on the atolls which is clearly deep within the philippines’ EEZ, as defined by UNCLOS

The Philippine government on Thursday released military surveillance photos of Chinese land reclamation on a reef claimed by Manila in the South China Sea that it said showed Beijing violated a regional agreement not to escalate territorial disputes.

Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Charles Jose said the pictures show Chinese aggressiveness in asserting its claims over the entire South China Sea.

The aerial photographs were accompanied by a caption stating that they were obtained from “Philippine intelligence sources.” The caption said the “extensive reclamation” by China on the Johnson South Reef, called Mabini by Manila and Chigua by Beijing, was “destabilizing.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila had no immediate comment, but a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing has said that the area is part of China’s territory, and that any Chinese activities at the reef should be of no concern to Manila.

Jose noted that a 2002 nonbinding agreement between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations calls for restraint in conducting activities in the region that would “complicate or escalate disputes” and to not inhabit uninhabited areas

“We want to show people that (China’s) actions are part of its aggressive behavior to assert its claim in violation of the DOC,” or Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was signed by China, Philippines and nine other ASEAN members, Jose said.

Chinese-made structures stand on the Johnson Reef, called Mabini by the Philippines and Chigua by China, in the Spratly Islands in South China Sea (AP) Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said a stronger accord and international arbitration would offer more lasting solutions to the territorial conflicts. A proposed legally binding “code of conduct” between China and Southeast Asian countries is seen as a mechanism to prevent a major armed conflict in the disputed waters. Manila sought international arbitration against Beijing in January 2013 after Chinese government ships took control of a shoal claimed by the Philippines off its main island of Luzon.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday that it was not clear what China would build on the reclaimed land, but that an airstrip was a possibility.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the issue, said it could also be used as a military base and a resupply and refueling hub. The official said the reclamation was first detected by air force planes six months ago.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippine military has been monitoring Chinese activities at the reef for several months. “For whatever purpose (the reclamation was done) we still do not know, but we are almost sure that there will be a base,” he told reporters Thursday.

An airstrip or a military base on the reef would boost the mobility of Beijing’s naval and air forces in the South China Sea region, far from the Chinese mainland.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose accused China of ‘aggressive behaviour’ (AP) The pictures showed “before-and-after” images — from an untouched reef in 2012, followed by another showing a concrete building jutting out of the water, and the reclaimed land two years later. Philippine aircraft helping search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane in March reported reclamation work was continuing, Jose said.

Del Rosario said Manila lodged a protest against China last month, but that Beijing has ignored it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Wednesday that the reef was part of China’s territory and any construction there is covered by its “sovereignty rights.”

The Philippine government estimates that the Chinese have reclaimed a land mass of at least 30 hectares (74 acres) from the reef, which Manila says is part of its western Palawan province. What has emerged from the coral outcrop appears like a vast tree-less island of white sand in the middle of turquoise blue waters.

One of the released pictures shows a long pipe connected to a large dredging vessel on the northwestern edge of the reef. A concrete building, likely to be China’s outpost on the reef, stands on the southern edge of the emerging islet. A ship is anchored close by.

The reef, part of the Spratly Islands chain, is also claimed by Vietnam, which fought a deadly naval battle against China in the area in 1988.

AP

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It is very obvious that China is on empire expanding mode and they are really to take by force without having any shred decency to observe and reapect the UNCLOS and the DOC signed with ASEAN in November 2002 in Phnom Penh.

They were adamant to stake their claim, based on the unsubstantiated imaginary ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ and their strategy is get the aggrieved ASEAN member to go face-to-face bilateral talks to resolve China’s aggression, China is not interested to have a group dialogues for the multilateral claims and even go to UN ICJ.

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 04:00  Comments (10)  
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